Tuesday, June 30, 2009


For many years, a group of almost 10 rug hookers gathered at AJ & UBs for a week of rug hooking, chatting, and eating (lots and lots of eating). We hooked down in AJs studio whenever we wanted to, and sometimes went on little field trips into town to visit local artists and artisans, go shopping, and occasionally ate out for one of the dinners. Everyone would be responsible for a meal - bringing all of the food, last-minute prep and clean-up. As our numbers grew, some people doubled-up....and there was always plenty of delicious food to eat. It was somewhat like rug camp, only better! The four or five days we were together always seemed to pass too quickly....but lots of friendships were made, in spite the short, annual gatherings.

Yesterday I dashed out at lunchtime to go and meet with two of these rug hooking friends, Joan and Dorinda, over at AJs. The quick lunch break wasn't nearly long enough for us to catch up, but it was great to see them, even for a short visit.

Dorinda is recently back from a workshop at Deanne's and brought her work-in-progress to share with us. I think it looks really great -- I snapped a couple of quick pictures on my way out the door, and here are some close-ups...

I really enjoy seeing people combining styles to make things their own. Deanne has a very recognizable style...and Dorinda has combined some of Deanne's materials and methods with her own colours and technique. Awesome!

Dorinda had asked me to bring some textured wool and supplies for her group to use in their landscape projects this Fall....and so I played around in the dyepots again on Sunday. Here are the results....

Dyeing the slub is so much fun. Every time I think of the big box of skeins waiting to be dyed, it makes me feel happy. In all of the craziness that is going on in my little world these days, having things that make me feel so excited is pretty swell.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Dear Mr. Ripley....

Believe it or not, I did some hooking this weekend! I didn't get a lot done, but at least I've started. I was really loving what was happening when I was working on it, but after I spent some time staring at it, I was a little less sure. I am going to have to change my plan, but I haven't yet decided what the solution will be.

In the meantime, I'll just be gazing at it, mulling over few options....and trying to get the rest of the boring part (the flower skeletons) hooked...

Friday, June 26, 2009

more knitting....

I'm really enjoying this new rhythm I've developed with my blog posts. Trying to post every weekday seems to be working -- hey I've only missed one day in the last three weeks (Tuesday this week, if you're keeping track ;-) )

I still haven't yet started hooking - all talk and no action in that department, I'm afraid. Truth be told, it's been pretty hot and humid this week....and it's hard to feel like hooking in this weather.

Instead I've been knitting....another of the same, but with some modifications and this time knit with two different balls of Noro Silk Garden Sock Yarn. I'm hoping to cast off soon, but the rows are taking longer and longer to knit each one....and with 250 stitches right now, it seems like it takes forever. I'm really loving how the colours are coming together on this one and I predict it will be worn a lot this coming Fall....

Have a great weekend....hooking pictures for sure next week, I promise!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

you've got mail

I love getting mail. Not bills - that's not mail. I like getting the fun stuff: magazines, cards, letters, little notes enclosed with cheques...and most of all, parcels!

Do you ever notice that once you see something that you like (or really notice something for the first time), you often see something similar again very soon? Earlier this week, I read this post and I was reminded of how nice it is to use multiple stamps on one envelope. (it also reminded me of my stamp collection from back when I was a nerdy kid....and of all of the times I go to the postage and ask specifically for "fun stamps"....and of all of the stamps I must have squirreled away somewhere from all of the times the mail rates went up...) Fast forward to today, when this envelope arrived in the mail.....

What a coincidence - and a treat! ;-)

I also received a couple of parcels today. One was rug warp from Dorr - including a 10 yard bolt for my mum (to replace that which I borrowed this Spring in preparation for the Annual). The rug warp itself isn't really too exciting - apart from the enormous potential that exists in the remaining 30 yards. I'm sure that at least a few of the projects it yields will make me very happy. I love the little note that Nancy included...adding a personal touch.

The second parcel was the most exciting one. I've been waiting for it to arrive for a couple of weeks, and now that it's finally here, I'm really wishing that I'd not only started but finished my new purse. All I want to do is to dive in and start playing around with the contents of this box - but I know that once I do, it will be quite some time before I get back to hooking on purses (and I really need to get these purses done so that upcoming workshop participants have more to choose from....). I'm not ready to share a lot of details quite yet, but I will give you a little hint....

All this talk of parcels has reminded me of another parcel I received not too long ago. I reconnected with Jane at the Annual, and she shared with me a helpful tip to speed up the process of sewing the leather handles onto purses. 18 gauge syringe needles. Pop the syringe needle through the punched hole in the leather tab, then push regular needle through the syringe needle. No more searching and struggling to find the punched holes! I think this is a brilliant tip, and I can't wait to try it (must really get hooking on the new purse...) Thanks again Jane!

I wonder what surprises the mail will deliver tomorrow?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

the importance of saying thank you

In the busy-ness of our crazy lives, we don't always take the time to do the things that we should. Making a point of saying thank you is one of those things I've noticed lately has been dwindling. Proper etiquette seems to apply only for big events such as weddings and showers.

When I was a little kid, writing thank you notes following every birthday and Christmas seemed like a chore - one that I dreaded. I still have a difficult time with cards in general, and I don't think that I am alone in feeling inadequate when faced with writing inside a greeting card - regardless of the occasion. I even have a hard time picking out a card, even when the sentiment is conveyed in a pre-printed message.

Sometimes so much time passes that it's easy to feel as though it's too late to say thank you. You've procrastinated too long....and it will only remind the person how long it's been - does this ring a bell? When this happens to me, I try to remind myself that it's better late than never, and think of the times that I did not receive a thank you. I'm still waiting for a few and some of them still sting - mostly because the gift was special. It was handmade.

There's an old adage about never knitting a sweater for a boyfriend...have you heard it? It's something to do with the fact that you always break up with the boyfriend by the time the sweater is finished. So much time, attention and love go into making the sweater that it's unlikely the boyfriend will ever be able to show enough appreciation. IMHO, gifting hand hooked items also has the potential to ruin a relationship. Gift with caution.


A couple of weeks ago I received a surprise in the mail. My cousins sent me a nice thank you card and a gift card for a local shop, encouraging me to "pick out something beautiful." Chris and Lorrie have always been very profuse with their thanks and appreciation for anything that is handmade. Each of the stockings I've made over the years for their three children was always received with genuine enthusiasm and I have no doubt that they are treasured. I'm sure they told me no less than 6 times how much they liked the last stocking I made (for baby Tyler). Although the gift card was unnecessary, it was definitely not unappreciated. I picked out a beautiful necklace with a butterfly...and I will think of them every time I wear it (which seems to be about every-other day lately ;-) )

Speaking of saying thank you....I wanted to let you all know how much I appreciated your comments, both in person, in e-mails and directly on the blog. It's great to receive so much support for something that I derive so much enjoyment from doing. Thank you.

Monday, June 22, 2009

finally home!

I've been on the road all day today - to Toronto and back, to Algonquin Park and back, and to Dorset and back. It's great to be back at home ;-) I was really hoping to post before now, but technically as it is still Monday, I'm not really "late" ;-)

I visited random.org and the number that spit out was #4....so Alice will receive the books.

The weekend was busy, but not terribly productive on the crafty side of things. I will try to take a few pictures tomorrow to share...

Friday, June 19, 2009


I caught my thumb in a filing cabinet drawer at work this week - in the heavy-duty fire-proof one, of course! While it's finally stopped throbbing, I'm convinced it's left the largest blood blister I've had in 36 years (you can kinda see it in the following picture).

Since it's still quite tender, it has provided me with another excuse for procrastinating the start of my next purse. I'm a little worried that by the time I actually get around to hooking on it, I will have used up all of the momentum and ideas that I've had over the last few weeks and I'll "over it" before I get started. So, I'm really going to try to get going on it this weekend -- I know that once I start, I'll be finished before I know it.

I already have a good idea for my 4th purse, but I'm making myself wait until I finish #3 before I start that one....

In the meantime, I've been knitting away on my shawl this week. I keep wavering between liking it, loving it and hating it.....but still I keep going because I've decided that when it's finally finished, if I still don't like it, I'll just overdye it. We don't have this luxurious option with our hooking, do we? But just as with hooking, every row I add seems to change the look of the whole....so I won't really know how I feel until the very end.

Have a great weekend....I'll be back on Monday.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

getting the hang of it...

I think I might have mentioned that I did a little bit of dyeing on the weekend? I've now dyed just 8 skeins from my jumbo box....

My technique is slowly evolving....and this, the 8th skein dyed, is definitely my favourite so far.

Since the box still looks just as full as when it first arrived, I'm sure that there will be lots more "favourites" in my future dyeing sessions...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

limited editions nearing retirement...

There's been a little flurry on purse pattern sales lately, and if you've had your eye on one of my limited edition patterns, you might like to know that I am down to the final 3 patterns of each of the following...

Two Owls
No additional patterns will be printed for any of these designs....so to avoid disappointment, please contact me for ordering information.

Edited to add: there is now only one more Two Owls pattern remaining....

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I don't have very many pieces of rug hooking that was done by other people.... A few pieces that my grandmother hooked (2 of which actually belong to my mum...but as she says, "possession is 9/10ths of the law" ;-) ), a small pillow that AJ gave me when I was in university, some sculptured mushrooms that AJ hooked and gave an old family friend back in the 1970s (who, in turn, mailed them to me from California years ago when she heard that I'd started rug hooking). Oh, and a runner that my mum hooked - her first piece of rug hooking.

The only things that I have which were hooked by non-relatives have been pieces that were exchanged in various mat swaps. I consider myself very lucky to have two little mats hooked by Fiona de Biasi from Gravenhurst.

What I love most about Fiona's work is that she takes risks and uses colours in a way that I'm far to chicken to try....and it totally works. She uses mostly recycled wools in her work....and it adds some really intense and vibrant colours.

A couple of months ago, Fiona came to the Belleville hook-in and gave me a couple of issues of the Rugmaker newsletter, produced in the UK by Cilla Cameron. She'd read them, and passed them along to me to read, I passed them along to AJ and now they've come back to me. I'd love to pass them on someone else....

Please leave a comment and I will randomly draw a name on Monday June 22nd. If you want to share, I'd love to hear about your favourite rug hooking book --> if you had to reduce your library down to just one, which one would it be?

Monday, June 15, 2009

silk worms

Well, my weekend didn't exactly go as planned. I did get several of the things on my list done, but quite a few remain undone. This is what happens when I get an idea in my head - and I decide to just act on it, without thinking it all the way through....

After I got home from taking AJ shopping on Saturday, I finished drawing my new purse design and then I decided that it might be a good idea to dye some slub to hook into the new purse. I though just a few skeins wouldn't take too long or make too much mess, and since it was pretty breezy out, it might even be dry later that same evening - even though it was almost 5 o'clock.

While I was dyeing the slub, I decied that it would make the most sense to hook the main motifs with the slub....and then just freestyle the background (this will make sense when I show a picture hopefully later this week - starting the hooking was one of the things that didn't happen yet ;-) ). Naturally I couldn't really start hooking until the slub was dry, so I needed to something to do in the meantime....

Several weeks ago, I bought many (many!) yards of silk duponi with the intention of dyeing it and creating my own version of the sari ribbons. I'd already cut it all up into manageable pieces for dyeing, so how long could it take to dye a few pieces of silk?

The dyeing itself didn't really take all that long, it was the "everything else" that took the better part of a whole day: rinsing lead to thread-picking, drying led to ironing, sorting and stacking let to cutting, counting, bagging, boxing, etc.

I've decided to call them "silk worms"....since they are ready-to-hook strips of 100% silk. I'm really happy with all of the colours and the baggies look even better than when I'd first imagined them, right after the Annual.

Here are some before pictures of my pile of leftover bits (along with all of the crooked, mis-shapen off-cuts), and in the coming days I'll post some pictures of it after it's been hooked into my purse. I can't wait to start hooking with all of the odd off-cuts and leftover bits. I think my favourite thing will be the clean-cut edges -- and I'll get all of the shine of the sari, without the shagginess.

Oh, and did I mention that the slub I dyed on Saturday wasn't even the right colour when it dried? I guess getting tangled up the silk wasn't the only reason I haven't started hooking on the new purse yet....

Friday, June 12, 2009

happy Friday!

If I had to choose a favourite day of the week, I think it might have to be Friday. Fridays are filled with the promise of a weekend: plans, ideas, hopes....

I have a lot of things planned for this weekend....
  • knitting on my shawl
  • making a great dinner (done!)
  • finish drawing a new purse pattern
  • get hooking on said pattern
  • take AJ shopping tomorrow
  • make my Father's Day gift - or at least get started
  • maybe doing a little bit of dyeing
  • going to see my sister's renovation progress
  • watching the season II premiere of True Blood
...along with the usual sleeping in a little, tidying, grocery shopping, relaxing, etc.

There are also a few things I won't be doing...
  • hearing the buzz of my alarm clock
  • Posting on my blog
What? Not posting on my blog? Yes, I've decided that I'm going to take the weekend off. Writing a blog post might take some people just a few minutes, but I'm not that clever or that fast -- and this way I can spend the extra time actually doing some things that I can share with you next week.

What's on your agenda for the weekend? Whatever you're up to, I hope you have a good one...and see you on Monday.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

gingher love

My dad has a theory about buying tools...and I think that it apply to all tools, whether they be for woodworking or rug hooking: buy the best there is, and if you can't, buy the best you can afford. In my mind, there are simply no better scissors for rug hooking that then ones made by Gingher.

I must confess that I have more than just one pair - and more than the two pairs shown in the photo. I actually have three pairs. But I haven't always had this many pairs...

I started off with one pair and it was several years later before I purchased my second pair (I was down at Dorr and the combination of no tax and a good exchange rate made me weak). I quickly adapted to having two pairs, and quite liked always being able to find at least one of the pairs fairly quickly. That was until last Fall, when I could not put my hands on either pair. Panic set in and it was several hours before I could rewind my mind enough to help me find one pair, but only one. I could not find the second pair, even though I's searched for quite some time and felt as though I'd looked everywhere.

I finally came to terms with the fact that they were "gone" and I decided that it was time to replace my lost pair (again, back at Dorr with no tax and an awesome exchange rate, last Fall).

Another one of my Dad's sayings is that if it's not where you think it is, it must be where you think it isn't. Not exactly the advice you want to hear when you're frantically searching for something....but it's all too often true. I'd completely forgotten about packing up a collection of supplies for doing miniature punch on the train - and several weeks later I found my 2nd pair hiding in a ziplock bag, along with an assortment of other tools.....when I was looking for a pair of gloves!

I quickly hid my third pair away for safekeeping, adding a tag that clearly marks them as being "new ones"....because as self-indulgent as I am, even I can admit that no one needs three pairs of hooking scissors in regular circulation! ;-)

Last week, I treated myself and expanded my Gingher family of scissors. It was love at first sight when I first spotted the Cheetah handled sewing shears at my local Fabricland store several months ago, and I've been eyeing them ever since. I've almost bought them twice, but both times I've been saved by arriving after the store had closed. The rest of the time, I've exhibited tremendous self-control and been able to resist temptation - until last week, when there was 50% off storewide - and I finally succumbed. I have no regrets.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

in stock handles

I received a few new handles in the mail today....and since many people are curious about what I currently have in stock, I took some pictures...

Long & Lean (as used on Two Owls)...in red, amber, buckskin and nude

Perfect Pair (as used on Henry's Pom and Everyday Carré)...in Brown, Grape, Buckskin and Nude

Single Urban (a single handle/strap with buckles, as included with Perfect Pair)...in Grape, Brown, Olive and mossy Green

I also have a bunch (a big bunch) of handles on order, for those who have patience. (I will post here when they start arriving - which might not be for another month or two, yet.)

Attaching Grayson e. Handles...My preferred way

The Grayson e. leather handles continue to be quite popular....and my inventory is pretty low at the moment. I've placed a large order, and hope that it will take less than the two months that I'm anticipating. Exciting news is that they've added two new colours to the line-up: Dark Indigo (appears to be a navy-teal colour in the one photo that I've seen) and Wine (a burgundy colour) - both of which will work well with my tendency to hook with medium and darker values ;-) We tried to distribute a little card with each handle purchase at the Annual last weekend, but I'm not confident that we remembered every time....plus I know that there have been many other handles purchased in the last couple of months, so I'm posting them here for all to see. I hope they are helpful...
• • • • • • •

Attaching leather handles to hooked handbags...
Many people are interested in using the beautiful Grayson e. leather handles on some of my hooked handbag patterns (and some of their own designs, too). There are several different methods you can use, including sewing on the handles prior to hooking OR tracing the tab shape onto the backing and leaving the space unhooked (later sewing tabs in reserved space) OR simply attaching the handles right on top of the hooking. I have tried all of these methods, with mixed results.

My favourite method is to just wait and attach the handles right on top of the hooking, quite late in the assembly process. Not only does this reduce the likelihood of miscalculating the placement or leaving the wrong sized space for the tab, it also results in a more sturdy attachment. By sewing through a thicker foundation (i.e. backing plus hooking), I feel there is a more secure base. At the last possible moment (likely right before sewing the lining in place), sew handles to purse with coordinating upholstery thread. I like to use two strands of dark brown (it most closely matches the stitching on the Grayson e. leather handles) and I tend to backstitch, likely going around twice (until it looks good). Undoing any buckles will make sewing easier. Some suggest that upholstery thread should be waxed prior to sewing…but I have also sewn without it and never experienced any problems. I do recommend using a blunt (tapestry) needle to sew, since I find it easier to find the holes.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

new hooking book - and it's Canadian!

In case you haven't heard, there's a new book about the hooked carousel project. Wanda Wallace and her husband have created and printed books featuring all of the hooked horses and sharing the stories from their creators.

Hearing the stories behind the hooked pieces is one of my favourite parts of rug hooking get togethers.....and now you can read your leisure! It's a great keepsake for participants and non-participants alike.

The books are 8.5" by 5.5" and each horse has his/her own page...and the facing page holds the artist's story. Copies are only $20 + postage...and it's a great way to support our Canadian endeavours. If you're interested in a copy, Wanda will be bringing some with her to Trent next week or you can contact her directly at wanda DOT john AT onlink DOT net

M.P. by O.P. (Della Ann's 2nd bag!)

Have I told you how much I like receiving pictures of people's hooked purses? I don't just like it - I love it!

Della Ann and I have been exchanging e-mails over the last couple of months about her new bag. She took the large pattern and made it even bigger! With the brightly coloured flowers and cool little bugs, it practically shouts "Summer!" even if the weather has not been seasonal...

Della Ann writes...
I have attached a couple of photos of my "Leaving Home". You are so right about assembling it together. It does get easier and it is good for my patience ! I even found some very cute bugs at the local bead shop to add another level of interest. My granddaughter loves them. Some of my Ottawa friends still have theirs to finish. However when they saw my completed 2nd purse on Saturday they were inspired to go home to work on theirs during the summer. I have had many compliments on both my purses and some have even wanted to purchase it from me on the spot !!! I must be careful where I put it down !!!!
Thanks for sharing your photos Della Ann - your purse is lovely! ;-)

Monday, June 08, 2009


It's so great to feel back in the habit of almost daily blogging! ;-)

After feeling super busy for ages, I actually felt a little bored yesterday. (I couldn't believe it either!) Don't get me wrong, I had lots of things that I could do....but very little that was pressing. Plus, I woke up early (a quarter after 7), so there was plenty of "day" for me to fill.

I was finishing off the tidying, and I was getting tired to seeing the same pile of wool stacked up on the sideboard. I've been assemling a stack of commercially dyed colours for some time now (at least since last year's Annual) to marbleize "one day". I was about to relocate said pile to the closet....when I had a brainwave. Why not just marbleize today? The pile fell to the floor and I started stacking and rolling and tying. A few minutes later, the wool was on the stove...

A short while later, the wool was hanging on the drying rack. 8 yards of wool transformed from drab to fab...and the only thing that I can't explain is why I procrastinated for so long...

If you have commercially dyed wool that keeps getting neglected because it's too boring, maybe now is the time to whip up some marbleizing of your own?

Some of the effects are quite subtle...and that's a-okay with me. Truth be told, I have a difficult time using wool that's too variegated.

Once the dyeing was done, I decided to start some new knitting. My favourite local yarn store, Sheepstrings, is closing her doors. Shortly after hearing the sad news, I hoped in my car and drove out to Dorset to pick up some final wool purchases. My purchases included some balls of Noro sock yarn (which, IMHO yields the most comfortable handknit socks I have ever worn). I'd forgotten about it, but several months ago I saw a picture of a simple striped shawl knit out of this yarn. After finally remembering where I'd seen it, I found the pattern here.

I've given up on trying to master hooking the yarn with my index finger, so I have to take my hand off the needle to wrap the yarn for every stitch....I don't like to admit that it might slow me down. I'm far too stubborn for that! Although it's fine wool on thin 3.5mm needles, the constantly changing colour combinations make me want to keep knitting into the wee hours - just to see what it's going to look like.

I imagine that it will take me a while before I'll be able to wear my newest shawl, since I need to put it aside for a while and get back to hooking a couple of new purses. Luckily, I have a drawer full of shawls so I don't need to worry about being cold! ;-)

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Overheard at the Annual...

I know that many people struggle with the actual sewing together of their purse, and they're hesitant to just knuckle down and finish it. I imagine (actually I know there are, since many of you tell me) that there are more than a couple of hooked purses that are sitting tucked away in baskets or drawers, waiting to be assembled.

Yes, it does seem to be a little overwhelming at first, but I can honestly say that it does get easier with every purse that you sew together. Push your fear aside and take it one step at a time. You just need to progress slowly through all of the steps - and if it makes it any easier, know that I am not "a sewer", and I've done it many times. You can do it, too.

If you are one of those people who is just a few hours away from toting their bag all around town, I'd like to encourage you to "just do it!" In the wise words of a fellow rug hooker and purse maker I spoke with at the Annual, "The many compliments I received made it all worthwhile..."

Go and get your compliments - you deserve them! [and please send me a picture of your purse when you're done - I love seeing them! ;-)]

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Saturdays are for playing

....and for vacuuming, organizing, dusting, book-keeping, and other boring, but necessary chores....but sometimes other things get in the way of keeping house.

A couple of months ago, I ordered a bunch of slub yarn, in anticipation of dyeing it and adding it to my selection of wares for the Annual. As luck would have it, it was back-ordered and delayed, and although I was hopeful (right up to the day before leaving) that it would arrive in time, it only arrived this past Tuesday.

I was filled with excitement as I opened the box ....to discover the contents were not as I had thought. The wool was much finer and thinner than I was expecting and my elation quickly turned to worry (as ca-ching, ca-ching was playing over and over in my head - it was a pretty costly box). I hurriedly wrote to the company and questioned whether I'd received the wrong yarn and they reassured me that it would fluff and full when washed. I still wasn't convinced, so even though I had a long list of mundane tasks ahead of me, one of the first things I did today was to dye a skein of the wool.

Although I have dyed bolts and bolts of wool yardage, my experience with yarn is quite limited. I should have had a little more faith....because just like a yard of wool fabric changes when it's been dyed and/or washed, so too does wool yarn. All is well....and I was quite happy to discover that I don't have the world's most expensive box of rubbish on my hands -- it's more like a box of unpolished treasure.

With a long list of other chores demanding my attention, I'm going to delay more dyeing for another day...but I am looking forward to later this summer when I can again play, and put some beautiful colours on skein after skein of this glorious yarn.