Thursday, December 23, 2010

Week 21: 40.5 square feet

I'm posting this update early, because I am heading out shortly to go up and stay with my folks for a week or so. There will be no hooking while I'm there, but hopefully lots of reading, some knitting, movie watching, sliding with the kids, making and eating yummy foods, and generally just having a bit of a holiday. It will be a nice break.

However you celebrate at this time of year, I hope it includes some wonderful family time, good eats, and lots of laughter. See you back here next year....

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

christmas making continues....

I whipped up this stocking over the weekend for the newest member of our family -- my cousin Laura married Mark in October....and the tradition continues.

Yes, that is them (kinda) with a tree for their first Christmas as marrieds.
(If you click on the photo you can see the designs a little better -- crappy photos happen when you rush. sorry!)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

in a perfect world....

I would be sending out these for Christmas....

Instead, I made a last-minute dash to the mall to sift through the already-seriously-picked-over Hallmark cards. Hopefully this idea of mine (which I've had for a few years now) will actually come to fruition next year.....but in the meantime, you're welcome to borrow it for your own cards.

Here's the basic how-to....Line up your wool strips (and stump and star), sew down the centre and then both the right and left sides to make a 'tree'. Trim off any excess wool from each strip. I didn't use tape or glue - just held the wool in place with my fingers while I sewed.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Week 20: 38 square feet

Oh, soooo close. When I was getting ready to hook yesterday, I decided to just unroll and expose the remaining centre section....hoping it would be motivational. There are only 6.5 square feet left to go, and I'm feeling pretty confident that I can meet my self-imposed deadline of January 4th. To do so will mean some long days (and nights!) of hooking, but it will be worth it.

As I've been hooking for the last couple, I keep thinking about what to do about the borders.....and I am still very undecided. Some days I think that my initial idea might be the best, and other days I imagine all sorts of various alternatives -- both in pattern and in colours and in number of layers. I reckon this indecision will provide me with a good excuse to take a bit of a break (once the centre is finished, of course!) from hooking on Jumbo, while I play around with some other ideas that have been bouncing around in my head. A new year is a time for new beginnings, after all.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I can hardly wait for June....

...and it's not because I'm tired of winter already. I'm not.

Yesterday I was ordering some books online and had that feeling that there was something I was forgetting to order. So I randomly started searching different topics to try and jog my memory and when I typed in "rug hooking", this popped up.

I've blogged a little bit about Doris several times before... including here and here.....and words cannot express how delighted I am to discover that she is writing a book. I have no doubt that it will be wonderful and now I just want it to be June, so I can soak it all up....

Edited to add: the photo above was snatched from this previous post....and it was hooked by Doris using wool sweaters.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How to hook faster • How to get more hooking done

It is f-f-f-f-freezing here today -- minus 25ºC on the way to work. But despite the cold temperatures and the very windy nights, I can't help but feel that we got off easily compared to many others.

One of the great things about being holed up at home in the winter is having lots of time and little excuse not to hook. Between getting home from work yesterday (just past 5) and the time I went to bed (not long after 11), I was able to hook 15/16ths of a square foot on Jumbo. I could barely believe it myself, but it got me thinking about things I do -- and can do more often -- to get more hooking accomplished in the evenings....

1. Turn on the Radio (and turn off the TV) -- whether I think I am not really watching or not, having the TV makes me look up and see what is happening on the screen. When I listed to the radio, I am always looking at what I'm to compromise, I try to only have the TV on when there is something on that I really want to watch. I don't know if you ever listen to CBC or not, but I love Radio 2, and most nights I listen to both Drive and Canada Live until 8pm. Podcasts are also good (I love the NPR live concerts), as are books on tape (but sometimes I get so wrapped up in the hooking that I lose track of the story).

2. Try not to get up. If I get up to get one thing, it can easily be 5-10 minutes (or more!) of other distractions before I sit back down again. So if I sit down to hook, I try to assemble everything I need ahead of time: cut wool, hooks, scissors, beverage, phone, controller, chapstick (hey, it's winter!) ....and have it all within reach of my chair.

3. Try not to second guess yourself. With the Matrix Mats things are constantly changing -- every colour added changes the look of those around it. It is easy to let doubt creep in, especially since I can only see a small portion of the rug when I am working on it. Plan the work and then work the plan. Take the time to make a lot of decisions at once about what is going to go where, and then just sit and hook. If you plan a big section at once, it's more likely to all work out in the end, rather than just flying by the seat of your pants....

4. Don't clip every tail as it appears. It takes barely any more time to trim 5-6 tails as it does to trim just one (especially when you start timing from the moment you put down your hook to pick up your scissors, until you are hooking again).

5. Focus on pulling up loops to the right height, in one fluid movement -- without having to adjust. When I first started hooking, I would over-pull my loops (higher than needed) and then tug them down to the proper height (with my underneath hand). If you can eliminate that adjustment step, after some practice (okay, lots! ;-) ) you will automatically pull up your loops to the right height, and with some focus, you will get faster.

6. Make a simple supper. Not only does the making take less time, but the tidying up does, too.

7. Ignore the computer. Have you ever noticed that you can sit down to write one e-mail and you are still there an hour later? Since I am by a computer all day at work, it is good (albeit sometimes very difficult) to ignore it at night. Instead of dealing with each e-mail as it arrives, I try to dedicate blocks of time to respond to a number of them at once. I read on another blog that you should save your prime time of focus and creativity to do the actual making and creating, not waste it on administration (and then be too tired or drained to do anything much afterwards). It made a lot of sense to me, and I've been trying to keep it in mind since I first read it a few weeks ago.

Most importantly, you don't get anything done, if you don't sit down and actually pull the loops. There is no faking in rug hooking -- you have to spent the time and do the work. Motivating yourself to do it is whole other matter.... ;-)

I'd love to hear your own tricks and tips of what works for you. What makes you sit down and hook? How do you speed up your progress?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

MP by OP • Therese's Cornflowers

Is it just me, or does it seem like December has half of the number of days of the rest of the months? Whoosh, it is all speeding by in a blur, and despite my best intentions, posts have been sporadic at best. Sorry for that.....but I will try to make a concerted effort to post more regularly over the next couple of weeks - starting today! ;-)

I was thrilled to get this picture in my inbox....Therese made the most gorgeous purse this spring in New Jersey, and now she has done it again....

This beauty is a Christmas present for her sister -- what a lovely gift made with lots of love.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Week 19: 33.5 square feet

I finally had a chance to colour plan in the daylight on Saturday up until then, the rug lay spread out on my floor. I must say that seeing it out all week long has really motivated me to get a push on to finish (at least the centre).....and I sat and hooked the rest of Saturday and most of the day yesterday, while it snowed....and snowed....and snowed.

With about 11 square feet left to hook in the centre section, I am now setting a new goal of finishing it off by the end of my holidays (I'll be taking two weeks off and return to work on January 5th).

I find that goals are very important with a project this large -- if I ever want to see it finished. Without them, I know that too many other projects would take precedence and I would never dedicate the (gazillion) required hours. So this week, I will be pushing to get as much done as I can....after all I also have a stack of books waiting to be read over the holidays, too.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Week 18: 30.9 square feet

I took the weekend off. Well sort of. I didn't hook - but I did draw patterns. I didn't do any e-mail (will resolve that tonight, for sure), but I did start sewing some Christmas presents. My niece came for a 24+ hour sleepover and we had lots of fun. I started colour planning the rest of the centre of Jumbo on Sunday afternoon, but started too late in the day...and just barely got started before it was too dark.

I am starting to feel a little overwhelmed and conflicted between all of the things I want to do, and all of the things I should do....lately Hedonism has been winning! I am anxiously awaiting my holidays over Christmas, and hope that I can find some balance during my two weeks off from work.

I haven't completely abandoned the idea of finishing the centre by the end of the year, but I am slowly coming to accept that 15 square feet in 3 weeks is a lot of hooking -- and a lot of time. I think it's going to take more than a couple of 'snow days' to make it happen, so I will wait and see how it goes. I know that if I get close, I can sprint to the finish....but there is still quite a ways to go before I am 'close'.... ;-)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Week 17: 29.3 square feet

Any progress is better than no progress, right? That's what I told myself last night, after adding up my week's worth of hooking (3 short nights in reality). Hopefully this week is a lot more productive -- it will have to be if I'm going to reach my goal of finishing the centre section by the end of the year. There are about 17 square feet left to go....

Back soon with a report from the retreat. In the meantime, you can probably get some news on Wendie's blog....

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Better late than never....

I was looking for a photo of Jumbo unrolled the other day, when I stumbled across these photos -- and immediately realized that I forgot to post them. These great coin purses are from a class I taught a couple of weeks ago at RHF. I'm missing a few pictures, but here is a sampling....

I'm heading off to a fibre retreat this weekend. Wendie and I are heading out on a road trip....and will no doubt have some adventures along the way. I was going to bring some CPs of my own to work on, but waited until the last minute to organize everything and just ran out of time. Instead I am going to bring some knitting and my bra to finish (hopefully).

I'm looking forward to having a whole weekend of fun and relaxation -- with a chauffeur! I've packed my camera....and will be back next week to share some snaps documenting our activities.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


When I was in Manistee last fall, Joanne got me hooked on MetroMint chocolate water. I know it sounds strange -- I was skeptical, too.....but it's really quite delicious if it's cold (infact they recommend you enjoy it at -2º). During each trip to the US since, I've looked for it everywhere I go, buy as much as I can get my hands on....and enjoy it while it lasts. The sad part is that it doesn't last long, since it's so delicious. (This is the only bottle remaining from my recent trip.)

The good news is that I've recently discovered a close (and much cheaper!) substitute - minus the cocoa flavour. I punctured a small hole in the foil seal of a bottle of "Pure Mint & Peppermint Extract" and add 4-5 drops to a large glass of cold tap water. Subtle, yet yummy....and a nice change to just plain water. Try it sometime....

Monday, November 22, 2010

Week 16: 27.8 square feet

I did it! While it's a measly 55 square inches closer to being done, just the fact that I am started back is huge. Now that it is getting dark so early -- and light so late -- I am really going to have to find some time to colour plan ahead a bit, since most of my hooking is done after hours.

P.S. While it's been many more weeks since I started hooking this rug and tracking it's progress, I am only keeping track by the active weeks -- not counting those weeks where I consciously took a break. I do count the weeks where I hook very little -- and sometimes none at all -- in the middle of a hooking spell.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

playing catch up....

After a busy few weeks, I finally put the brakes on and had a break last week -- in the form of a few nights in the row of just lying on the couch and the occasional nap. Towards the end of the week, I resumed playing around with my sewing machine and started work on a few Christmas gifts....

I have been learning a lot -- and there is still a lot to learn. Today I started playing around with the free-motion quilting....and had to force myself to stop and get to work on my job list. I can see lots of experimenting with that in my future. Instead, I tidied up and got caught up on my e-mail. I can relax now that my inbox is empty....but know that it will be short-lived.

I still haven't gotten back to work on Jumbo......but I am really hoping to start tonight (maybe typing it will make it true?). With the arrival of my new sewing machine....and re-discovery of a few bins of pretty yarns in my closet, I am feeling drawn in too many directions. I decided I am going to try to work on Jumbo in the evenings, during the week, since it's easy to start and stop and doesn't really require a whole lot of figuring and experimenting at the moment. Then I will will fill my weekends with savouring new discoveries, sewing and knitting, for the next while....

Pretty sad when you need to 'schedule' your hobbies.....I know. But I also know I will regret not working on Jumbo -- it's not going to hook itself, and I'm a little afraid of losing momentum. I really need to get on it again -- it's been almost 3 months since I last hooked on it....

P.S. If you are in Canada and looking for something to watch on TV tonight (Sunday), there is a 1-hour documentary on Cape Dorset on Bravo at 8pm that sounds interesting:
Kinngait: Riding Light Into the World (E)
This one-hour documentary profiles the artists of Cape Dorset’s famed co-operative arts-workshop on Baffin Island in Nunavut. This film introduces some of the finest artists working in this isolated community of 485 that has the largest per captia concentration of artists in Canada.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

the goods...

Have I told you lately how much I love batiks? Well, just in case you forgot, here are some new beauties I picked up in New England....

I know it might look like I went a little overboard, but considering they were almost half of the price they are here at home....I'm surprised I didn't buy more! ;-)

My yarn stash was only a little enhanced with these guys...and I've already started some knitting with two of them, so obviously they were needed, right?

Here are the places we hit on our travels....and we bought something(s) at every one!

Yarns for Your Soul • Manchester, VT
HodgePodge (yarn store) • Newport, NH
The Quilter's Workshop • Newport, NH
New England Fabrics • Keene, NH
Garden of Stitches (quilt store) • Bethel, VT
Vermont Yarn Company • Middlebury, VT
Middlebury Sew-n-Vac • Middlebury, VT
Knits & Bolts • New Haven, VT
Northeast Fibre Arts Center • Williston, VT

P.S. Thanks for all of the comment love lately -- it's been wonderful! ;-)

Friday, November 12, 2010

wonky trees

These photos have been sitting on my desktop for the last month, patiently waiting to be posted. I saw this rug at R.U.G. at the beginning of October and was immediately in love with all of the texture found within it. As its creator, Gail Mueller said, "it's hooked with everything". T-shirts, sweaters, ribbons, many different yarns, you name it - it's in there! Despite all of the texture, it still has a fairly clean look to the surface -- not super shaggy (as sometimes happens...)

Hopefully some of these close-ups show off some of theses different materials....and encourage some experimenting! ;-)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

MP by OP • Matrix Mats

Remember Jill's first AMM? She's back with another one -- and I think it's even better!

In her own words....
I found it was a very real challenge to choose each colour. I had no idea that would be so difficult, but it was a valuable exercise. I used some of your Crazy 8s that I had left from my Zippers mat and then used wools from my own stash, as well. It surprised me that I made such a bright, happy rug. I'm naming it "Happy" in memory of a friend who had that name.
Something else I learned to do when I finished this rug was to make and print a label which includes a photo of the mat itself. I'm attaching a photo so you can see how cool this is. I don't know if you know of this product but here's the info on it, in case you're ever interested in trying this: It's called "InkJet Printing for use with Inkjet Printers & Injet Copiers by Jacquard". It's cotton on backing paper. I got it at Michael's. The package contains ten (10) 8-l/2" x 11" cotton sheets. It is not adhesive backed, but once you print the label, you peel off the cotton and affix it to your rug. As you can see, I used a very amateurish blanket stitch. This produce is not cheap--the package costs about $25 or so--but I figured the rug was worth it. I had heard of taking a photo to attach to one's label so that there will never be any mistaking what rug the label belongs to so I decided to try that and I'm quite pleased with the result.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Finished CPs from Class

I spent a delightful few days teaching a group of 13 ladies -- from 10 year old granddaughter to grandmother, and everything in between -- how to make their very own coin purses. It was a very fun three days, and we all learned a lot.

I'm pleased to report that everyone left with a finished project......

Shelley's Poppy

Lisa's Bloom, Lexi's Hoot, Ellie's Bubbles and Sammy's one-of-a-kind creation

Cynthia's one-of-a-kind creation

Sue's Hoot

Martha's Fleurs

June's Hoot

Eleanor's Hoot

Melinda's Dippers

Sharon's Hooters

Sue's Hoot

As with all things hooked, the photos don't really do them justice -- they are even better live, and in person. Thanks everyone for a wonderful weekend.

P.S. the thread you see sewn on the tops of many of them is not's just temporary until the glue dries :-)

P.P.S. At the present time, coin purse patterns and instructions are only available to students enrolled in one of my CP workshops. They are a little fiddly to put together, so I'd rather be there to walk you though the steps the first time around...then you can make more at home.