Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Handles Available....finally!

Last year I posted about the EB arriving late....but this year he is definitely early! Not only did I receive some chocolate Easter treats at work today, I arrived home to find a couple of parcels, my GMRHG newsletter, and a new issue of Selvedge. Something tells me there won't be a lot of hooking done tonight!

I must confess that I've been holding out a little on announcing news about handles - afraid that I might jinx myself if I spoke too soon. I am happy (thrilled, actually) to say that I finally have handles in my possession. The current offerings include 4 varieties, from a couple of different sources.

Long Rolled handles.....these handles are again being made by Grayson e. in California. The new leather is softer and more uniformly dyed...and it also has more of a matte finish than its predecessor. A pair sells for $46. Length is about 27" from end to end....but when mounted on your purse the resulting armhole is about 10.5" from the top edge of your bag.

Current colours are: black, brown (fairly dark), indigo (turquoise), olive, green (lime), buckskin (taupe) and hot pink (magenta).....

This is the style of handle I used on both my big tote bag and Two Owls purse, and I think they would also work well for a Bala Bag (provided you are not hooking the flap) or on a Large purse (from the paper pattern). I've also see the pair split and a single handle used on a bag.

Single Urban handles.....these handles are again being made by Grayson e. in California. The new leather is softer and more uniformly dyed...and it also has more of a matte finish than its predecessor. A single handle sells for $35. Length is about 37" from end to end....but when mounted on a Bala Bag, the resulting armhole is about 11-13" (from the top edge of your bag - it's adjustable).

Current colours are: olive, green (lime) and buckskin (brownish gold - old stock, firmer leather)...and I have more colours (black, brown, indigo/turquoise, red, grape/purple, hot pink/magenta) on backorder and hopefully they will arrive soon.

Grayson e. is no longer making the buckle/clasps...so these handles will not have matching buckle/clasps available. These were the original straps used on my Bala Bag series. The Single Urban handle is are also great for the Large paper pattern purses.

Bala Sets.....these leather handles are made in Canada and are bundled together with a large buckle/clasp with magnetic closure. A strap with buckle clasp sells for $62. Length is about 37" from end to end....but when mounted on a Bala Bag, the resulting armhole is about 11-13" (from the top edge of your bag - it's adjustable).

Current colours are: black, medium brown and red ...and I am expecting greenish grey, navy and deep plum/dark burgundy sometime in April.

Single Bala handles.....these handles are made in Canada and are bundled together with a magnetic clasp mounted on leather for easy attachment to your purse. A single handle with small magnetic clasp sells for $37. Length is about 37" from end to end....but when mounted on a Bala Bag, the resulting armhole is about 11-13" (from the top edge of your bag - it's adjustable).

Current colours are: black, medium brown and red ...and I am expecting greenish grey, navy and deep plum/dark burgundy sometime in April.

All of the handles come with pre-punched tabs that allow for easy attachment to your purse (hand-sewing).

Monday, March 29, 2010

a window of quiet

Phew. What a busy weekend. I almost feel like I need a weekend from my weekend. Friday night was a house warming party that ended with me coming home at 2am. Saturday morning was cleaning and laundry...and just after lunch I headed for Wendie's. 24 hours later I was on the road again, stopping briefly at home to change. Sunday afternoon I went up to my parents for a belated birthday dinner. Three celebrations in three days makes for a pretty busy weekend - but the yummy birthday cakes (though I have to deal with being a year older, at least I got to enjoy two cakes!)

Needless to say, there was very little hooking time. I did manage to finish basting the cording into place on my mat and get the whipping started....and then I hooked for about an hour last night before bed.

This is the only picture I took during the busy-ness of the weekend. I love the blankness of the ice and how the reflections of the trees resumes in the open water....it's such a pretty spot where Wendie will soon be living....

Friday, March 26, 2010

flashback Friday

This is just the second piece I hooked, and the first piece I designed, back in 2000. It's a special rug to commemorate a special event - the birth of my nephew, Wyatt.

I can remember spending weeks and weeks on the drawings, trying to get them perfect before transferring them only the rug warp. I'm a little wiser now -- I know that you don't have to hook exactly as drawn and that you can easily modify the lines as you go.

I had most of the centre hooked and brought it with me to my very first class, on the Maine Coast with Jule Marie Smith. I drove over two days, staying in a Bates motel along the way....the only vacancy because it was leaf peeping season. I felt so intimidated and overwhelmed when I arrived at the camp. I didn't know about "colour plans" and there were several famous rug hooker and teachers at the camp, that I had only read about before. Needless to say, I settled in and survived...and I've taken a couple more classes with Julie (who is amazing) since then.

Since I have 6 nieces and nephews - and only one has a rug so far - I have some evening-up to do. Maybe I can wait and hook wedding rugs for the rest? ;-)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

pretty purses in progress

When I was away last week, I had a chance to hook up with a group of rug hookers working on purses. Some were just starting the hooking, others were working on their assembly....and as always, all were beautiful. You can see for yourself - here is a sampling....

I always get a little thrill when I see my designs hooked by others -- you can really see their individual style. Even though it's a pattern, they are all different. And, it goes without saying, all lovely. Well done ladies! ;-)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

the best book I've read in ages

I've heard many good things about The Road, and although I had bought my own copy months ago, I never seemed to be in the right frame of mind to start reading it. I brought it with me on my trip and, after finishing a couple of other books first, finally got around to starting it on the plane yesterday morning.

After a busy day or travelling and unpacking....I went to bed a little early, to read a few pages before going to sleep. A couple of hours later - and well past midnight - I read the final page. In spite of the fact that I had to go to work this morning, I still kept reading. I could not put it down, and I've been thinking about it all day today. It is a great book. (It's been turned into a movie recently, but I don't think I'll be checking it out any time soon. I'm afraid it will spoil the impression the book has made...and the book is still so fresh in my mind.)

Monday, March 22, 2010

home sweet home

I had a wonderful time in New York and New Jersey....but I am happy to be home again, too. I've been spending so much time travelling lately for work, that it is nice to finally be home for more than just a few days in a row - and not have to go away again any time soon.

There were busy days and quieter days....and just the perfect blend of shopping, hooking, reading, chatting, eating, walking and exploring.

One of the highlights of my holiday was a trip to see the Grounds for Sculpture in New Jersey. It is a very cool place and unlike anything I've experienced before. There are over 250 sculptures carefully arranged amidst spectacular landscaping (even if the trees were just starting to bud). Here are some of pictures I took while we were there....

There are so many different styles and themes. There is truly something for everyone. One of my favourites was The Nine Muses....

(Not sure why I only ended up with close-ups of seven.....but it was all very cool.)

If you are ever nearby, I would definitely encourage you to visit. Plus, I hear the restaurant is pretty good, too ;-)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

before and after

I finally got around to organizing my wool shelves this weekend. Since it's right in my living room - and I was having company over last night - I couldn't really procrastinate much longer. It does look much better. Here is the before picture....

And now here is the after.....

I was able to find room for almost all of the wool I've dyed over the last while. There is just a short stack of reds sitting in the wings. I also have a bag full of wool waiting to be reincarnated and transformed into something that's screaming to be hooked - instead of just plain screaming.

I am going away for a week....heading off to NYC again for a couple of days and to visit with some friends in NJ for the rest of the time. I might post a little from the road, if inspiration strikes....but more than likely I'll be back posting after I get home. Have a great week everyone - hope you get lots of hooking done ;-)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Great progress

Right about now I've lost count of how many times I've wished that I'd brought my other rug, too. Since I so rarely get to be the passenger, I took advantage yesterday and sat whipping most of the way -- until I realized I wouldn't have anything to do on the way home.

Still a couple of hours away, I guess I'll be able to sit and soak in the beautiful scenery, instead. Nice work if you can get it. It's another beautiful day...

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

still whipping

It takes a long time to whip along 11o inches. It takes even longer when you take several days off in a row....

I'm off to Ottawa this morning, so I'll be bringing my runner with me and hoping to get more done during my down time. At a pace of about a foot an hour, I have several more hours to go before I'm done. Plus when I'm done I still have about 100" to whip around the other one....so maybe that's the real reason for my procrastination? Hmmmm....

If I were more certain of the finished dimension of my pieces I might consider trying the tape finish...but knowing my luck (and my propensity to change my mind), I would never sew it in the right place to start with....

(BTW - my runner lies on a table my dad made from Cherry harvested from their land, which sits on a rug hooked by my Grandma. The rug is actually my Mum's....but, as they say, "possession is nine-tenths of the law" ;-) If you click on the picture, you can see it a bit better.)

Monday, March 08, 2010

a sign of impatience

Several years ago, my one and only dye pot sprung a leak in the middle of my dyeing session. It was an old enamel pot and one of the chips finally gave way.

At a loss for what to do - I had a sink full of wet wool - I looked in my cupboard to see what I might be able to use. My eyes fell on a Lagostina pot I'd purchased a couple of years earlier from Winners....and with barely another thought, it was on the stove. Since I can no longer use it for cooking, I make a point of hauling it out almost every time I dye. Even though it's a little smaller than I'd like, I use it anyway....in my quest to get the CPU (cost per use) down to mere pennies. What was a sure sign of instant gratification and foolishness has remained a useful tool. With it's solid bottom and thick sides, I'm sure it will outlast me -- and it will owe me nothing. At least that's what I keep telling myself...

Sunday, March 07, 2010


With the kits I've been making lately (more news to follow in the weeks ahead...), my wool cubbies are starting to look a little depleted. For the first time in ages, there is actually room to spare in many of the squares that are almost always overstuffed.

It was definitely time to hit the dye pots and work on filling some of those holes. I spent much of Friday night getting ready....pulling out off-the-bolt wools and snipping and ripping it into chunks. I also started scouring the wool still in the cubby for pieces that could stand a little tweaking. Over-dyeing pieces of wool that you've already dyed can yield some truly amazing colours. I think it's one of my favourite ways to dye.....and it takes something you know you'll never use and turns it into something you want more of -- in just a matter of minutes.

I woke up early on Saturday, thanks to the early morning sun, and the pots were on the stove by eight. Six hours later, I was ready to haul the lot off to the laundromat. Here's what I brought home....

Going to the laundromat does make the whole process of washing and drying a lot faster, since they have those big machines, but it also yields a lot of strange looks. (Especially when you think about how you might look after your dyeing session.....ha ha!)

Now I have to do a little sorting of the shelves to find room for these pretties (and these marbleized pieces from a couple of weeks ago, too). I think that at the same times as I stack and sort each cubby, I'm also going to start a pile of 'uggers' in need of a makeover. This way they'll be ready for my next big dyeing day.....as long as I remember to do it, when I finally get around to reorganizing.

Friday, March 05, 2010

flashback Friday

My mum purchased this pattern (designed by George Kahnle) for me the first year I went to Shelburne -- AJ, my mum, my cousin Shellie and I piled into my Bosses' Buick Regal (my van was waaaaaay over it's kilometres) and headed on a road trip. We visited Dorr, the Dog Team Tavern and the show at the round barn. I remember looking back and seeing a pile of bolts stacked between the 2 passengers in the back seat -- and AJ winding down her window in the back seat to talk to the customs officer (even though she'd been given instructions to sit silently).

This moose rug was a real departure for me. It was the first time I started mixing together lots of different wools together in the same motif...and I still love it today. My favourite parts are still the eye (it looks like an olive to me, and I love the directional hooking around it), and the trees (even though they took forever to hook, and caused a delay in my progress as I avoided the last few....). It was hooked between August 2001 and April 2002 (I think I pulled it out to finish the last few trees in time to take with me the next year to share).

As much as I love it still, it also serves as a reminder to me that my hooking style is not compatible with Monk's Cloth. It's my first and (hopefully) my last project hooked on this foundation. Monk's cloth is just too stretchy - and distorts far too easily - for my liking. And, there's other backing's that work better for me, so there's really no need to compromise. I think it's important to figure out what works for you....and keep searching until you can find the tools you love. There's something for everyone.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

I love....

Cotton Batiks. I think I've been in love with them since I first spotted them several years ago - and they make a great purse lining!

Earlier this week I received a notice that my local quilt store was having a sale....so I popped in on Tuesday to see what I could find to add to my dwindling stash. I had a really hard time choosing, so I came home with quite a few....

To get the full picture (sorry!), the fabrics need to be opened up, so that you can see bigger sections....but these images give you an idea of the range of colours and some of the many different motifs in relief. My experience in sewing with the batiks is somewhat similar to using painted yarns and spot dyed wool, in that it is very difficult for me to convert the love. I rarely seem to like anything I make as much as I like to admire the colours in the skein or the larger piece of fabric. Something seems to get lost in translation. The effect is often muddled.

I don't seem to have this problem when using the batiks in purse linings, though....which is a blessing ;-)