Monday, September 28, 2009

I never made Manistee

After talking about going to Manistee for many months, I'm now home from my trip -- and I never actually made it to the town. Instead I saw many other beautiful and interesting places in the County....and I guess I will just have to visit Manistee (the town) on my next trip! ;-)

In spite of not making it to Manistee, it was a whirlwind trip....and a very full one. Each afternoon, following class, there was an opportunity to visit the area. One night we drove down to the channel connecting Portage Lake to Lake Michigan, and walked through the sand to the causeway in Onekama (oh-neck-ah-ma, not one comma).....

Another night, we visited the local quilt shop (I bought some lovely batiks, but haven't yet taken any pictures) and drove to Franfort for a lovely dinner at The Fusion.

On my last night, we went on an adventure, travelling further up the shore.... Empire and climbing (just a small portion) of the Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Hi Joanne! ;-)

The pictures are deceptive -- it's steep and quite difficult to climb. My hips were humming later that night and into the next day (and I was feeling very much in need of returning to the gym!)

Following a fortunate detour, we also stopped in for a peek at Leland and its historic Fishtown marketplace, before continuing on to Traverse City. What a neat place! Of course, everything was shutting down for the day (and the season)....but I would love to return there again.

Michigan really surprised me. It is very much like Muskoka - minus all of the rocks, of course! I had a lovely time, met lots of wonderful people, ate many delicious meals, and left with a desire to return. I can't really ask for more...and must give a huge thank you to everyone for making my stay so delightful, and extend a special thank you to Alaina and the two Jims for their gracious hospitality and Joanne for playing tour guide ;-)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

the reveal....

After much discussing, evaluating, meeting and modifying....the first batch of my new handles arrived yesterday! Here is a sneak peek....

I decided to keep it simple to start, and made only wide handles (to replace the discontinued Urban) and buckle clasps (combine to replace the Perfect Pair). I was also able to have a small magnetic clasp mounted on matching leather for each of the Single Urbans to be sold without the larger buckle clasp (i.e. won't be included with the Perfect Pair, since it comes with the larger buckle clasp).

There will be a few different colours available: Black, brown (2 shades), red (2 shades), magenta, purple, and eggplant. I tweaked the following picture so that it's a more accurate colour representation of the colours currently available (I will post another picture when the remainder of my order arrives).

I will start working on designing a new brochure with details about the new handles (prices, dimensions, etc), once I return from Michigan on Sunday.

Aside about the Grayson e. handles....There is some talk of production resuming on the Grayson e Val hinted in a recent comment. I've spoken with the Canadian distributor and pending approval of samples made with a new leather, only the Long Rolled (I called these Long and Lean) and Short Rolled (shorter versions of the same) handles will be produced at first. There are no immediate plans to produce the Urban handles or buckle claps or either style of long straps.

Monday, September 21, 2009


The other day while flipping though a magazine at my Doctor's office, I happened upon a quote that I loved.....and I wanted to be able to remember it. I didn't have pen, so I couldn't write it down, and I didn't want to rip the page out of the magazine. Moments before I went out searching for a pen and paper, I had the bright idea to just send myself an e-mail using my phone.

"Creativity is synonymous with audacity"
--Patrick Frey, designer

Even more important than retaining the quote, was figuring out this simple solution to preserving good ideas at times when I don't have my trusty notebook at hand. I have a feeling that I will be e-mailing myself quite a bit from now on....

Sunday, September 20, 2009

like butter

I know I haven't been posting much lately, but it's not because I was being a sloth had nothing to blog about -- quite the opposite is true. I've been busy getting ready for some upcoming workshops, drawing patterns, shipping orders, knitting, and sewing linings.....and I'm hoping to get you all caught up on the recent happenings in the coming days.

I know that I raved about my new Gingher sewing scissors a couple of months back....but I really hadn't had much of a chance to use them until last week. They are divine....and they cut like butter. Like a hot knife through butter. They are so good that they almost cut by themselves. I'm in love all over again....and not just with the funky handles - those blades are pretty amazing, too.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

a preview

or "...just some of the 66 skeins dyed at my place today"
or "37 skeins still drying..."
or "I kept going - even after I knocked over a whole cup of dye...onto the floor, the counter, the wall, on cupboard doors, inside the cupboards...everywhere the eye could see"
or "I'm so glad my mum came over to help me today..."
or "one of the last great weekends of the year to dye yarn and dry it outside"
or "I think I'm getting the hang of this..."
or "I can finally see the bottom of my big box of slub...."

Regardless of how I say it, I am quite happy with the remains of the day. As the day went on - and I relaxed a bit - the dyeing got easier and the results more enjoyable. Dyeing wool is never boring (well, maybe a little when you're trying for really dark values.... ;-) ) and I'm really enjoying dyeing yarn in particular. I'm pretty certain that I'll be ordering another box of slub very soon.

I will be bringing slub - along with some other fun things - with me to R.U.G. on October 3rd. Hope to see you there!

Friday, September 11, 2009

night at the museum

On Wednesday, I trekked down to the city for a quick visit. After getting my hair cut and doing a bit of shopping at my new favourite store (they recently opened in Yorkville), I rushed a little further downtown to meet Wendie. We had plans a quick dinner before going to hear a lecture at the Textile Museum on "Hooked Rugs and the Economy" with Sharon MacDonald, followed by a sleepover and hours of chatting with Wendie. It was a fabulous 24 hour whirlwind trip.

The lecture was somewhat based on Sharon's recent journal article in the Material History Review, discussing the contribution rug making has made to the economy. She talked about four major commercial patternmakers (E.S. Frost, R.W. Ross, Diamond Dyes, Bluenose - John E. Garrett) as well as some of the smaller scale operators (Pioneer Mat, S.J Culley & Sons, Handley Wilson --> mostly wholesalers of fancy goods), cottage industries (Georges Edouard Tremblay, Madam Joyal(?), roadside stands, on reserves, etc.) and other various charitable endeavours (raffles, Grenfell Industries, etc.)

Highlights from the talk include...
  • finding out that cotton mop string was often used in the hooking of GE Tremblay landscapes, due to its low cost
  • seeing a picture of Emily Carr's studio with several of her own hooked rugs on the floor
  • hearing that in the 1930s and 40s hooked rugs were already being produced in China (usually easily identifiable as Chinese since they are not only very even and approaching machine-made perfection....but also hooked on a cotton foundation, similar to Monk's Cloth)
  • being inspired by the story of Madam Joyal (?) hooking over 900 rugs for Nettie Sharpe in the 1960s and 70s
  • seeing pictures of interpretations and variations (hand-drawn copies?) of commercial patterns next to the real thing. Apparently people were already copying in the 1940s...
  • hearing that one of the best folk art collections in Quebec is at the Musee de Charlevoix in la Malbaie, Quebec. I will have to put it on my list of places to go...
I've already forgotten much of what I heard and learned....but I think the most worthwhile thing that I retained was finding out that you can see pictures of the Textile Museum's rugs online. Did you know that there are pictures of 215 rugs on their site? It's definitely worth checking out...

I am really looking forward to our return to TMC on November 4th for a behind-the-scenes look at some of the rugs in the Museum's collection (I'm not sure if there is still room in the seminar or not, but you can find more information here). In the meantime, I know that I will be visiting and ogling these beautiful rugs again and again on-line....imagining which ones Wendie and I will be lucky enough to see up close and personal.

P.S. Things are starting to get back to normal around here -- now that I've finished reading all 9 of the Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse books (upon which the True Blood series is loosely based). I tend to gorge on books, so I have a hard time putting them down until I've read the whole book. And when there are 9 books in the series, it means that I get very little done apart from the essentials for almost two weeks ;-) This weekend I am going to be making up for lost time....dyeing, hooking, drawing patterns, and more! If you're looking for a light read, I really enjoyed the series.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Memories of My Mother Exhibition

It's been so long since I've seen this mat that I often forget that I made it. Once day it will make its way home again....

Before the exhibit heads west around Christmastime, it is on display again at the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre until October 23rd, 2009.

Monday, September 07, 2009

I can't believe I dyed this...

Yes, I've been having a little bit of a dye-in around here this weekend. I finally feel like the big box of slub is emptying a bit...and I'm certainly having a lot of fun playing around in the dye pots.

Dyeing this yarn definitely requires a different dyeing technique than I am used to - mostly because it takes longer to absord the dye, it's more difficult to imagine the finished shade and I have to have a bit more patience. I also find that it's hard to find the happy medium between stirring too much (and the colours blend into one) and not stirring enough (and there are noticeably light patches). Needless to say, I got lucky a few times and ended up with some gorgeous skeins. This one is my newest favourite...

My pictures doesn't really do the colours justice, but suffice is to say that if I were able to dye like this all of the time, I think I could quit my day job. Seriously. It's really beautiful.

limited edition availability update

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

just busy...

...not still suffering from my wasp/bee sting! ;-) I hadn't realized that was mentioned in my last post, until someone e-mailed me about it tonight. Not to worry, all is well - just been busy. I will be back very soon to share....