Tuesday, April 27, 2010

in a picture....

I was so busy this weekend, even though I was doing lots of fun and colourful things I only took 3 pictures. This was the best one....and I could go on and on about the relevance - cooking with too many pots at once, etc...but I don't want to sound like a whiner ;-)

My hand is much better, and I was happy to finally able to get to the dyepots -- with a little bit of help. On Saturday, my sister Chris and I dyed silk for more silkworms....and on Sunday, Mum and I dyed some spectacular slub. In between all of the dyeing, drying, ironing, and cutting, I also managed to work on my rug again and finish off the hooking on it. Yay! The tape is sewn and the edge is zigzagged, but it's been waiting since Sunday at 11:05pm to be pressed. Hopefully I will get to it tonight and somehow find time to flip back and stitch the edge in place sometime between now and Friday....

Yes, it's going to be a busy few days as I wrap up all of the loose ends and other things I need to do to finish getting ready for the Annual. It seems like each time I cross one item off my list, 3 more things are added....so I expect it will be a little quiet around here for a bit. Back soon!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Flashback Friday

How fitting that on my 500th post, I'd be blogging about the first rug hooker I knew: my grandma Muriel Reany Smith. Several years ago, our family gave a presentation at R.U.G. on three generations of rug hooking....and in preparations, I took photos of all of the rugs we could find in the family.

Here are just a few of my grandma's rugs....I will try to post more in the coming weeks. She h

She hooked this rug for my mum for her first Christmas away from home - hooked with my mum's old clothes.

This rug is huge - I don't know how she hooked all of those hit and miss rows without abandoning ship mid-way.

I'm pretty sure this is a Rittermere pattern. I remember this being on the floor in our house.

This is another Rittermere pattern - I love the texture she's hooked into the land, just jogging her rows every few loops.

If nothing else, looking at these rugs reminds me of the importance of a good foundation -- and why I don't hook rugs on burlap. My grandma didn't start hooking until 1967, and many of these rugs have been out of active duty for quite some time.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

glorious inspiration

No time to blog today, but I wanted to share a cool site I discovered recently. Although it features printed fabric, the colours and colour combinations are wonderful....and it's great to be able to see so many related fabrics in one place. Check it out if you need a little bit of eye candy...but be ready to be inspired.

Monday, April 19, 2010

dying to dye!

Shortly after I first started dyeing wool, I received almost a full set of Cushings Dyes, of various vintages (thanks AJ!) But with 100 or so colours in the collection -- and some the "old union colours" and others the newer dyes, it was impossible for me to try to keep track of which was which and to associate the names of the dyes with the actual colours. I did a bit of experimenting, but I never really got the hang of the Cushing dyes.

I latched onto the idea of Pro Chem in the Fall of 2001 - touted to be more concentrated dyes, not blends and there were only a few available colours. So I started off with just the primaries, a few secondaries, black and navy, and over the next few months, I accumulated the rest of the 20 or so colours. I really liked the idea of getting to know each of the colours -- and I thought that with so few colours, this was achievable.

Over the years, Pro Chem has been adding more colours to their collection...and without actually counting, I wouldn't be surprised if there were around 100 different colours to choose from now. So the problem I was avoiding all along has resurfaced. Somewhere along the way, I've collected two plastic Coke crates full of Pro Chem and Majic Carpet dyes.

I decided a few months ago that I would really like to downsize my dye collection....if only to make it easier on myself, and return to my dyeing roots, with fewer colours to keep track of and sort through. I delayed placing an order for many months....until I was out of some of most favourite and essential dyes. Around the same time, I had a moment of weakness when I realized that Pro Chem had added some pretty new colours to their collection and I couldn't resist giving them a try.....

Which brings us to today. All of these little pots of pigment will be joining their cousins...and even though there are some duplicates and triplicates of some of my most favourite and often used dyes, it would appear as though my downsizing plans have been put on hold for a little while....

Now if only my hand would heal, I can start playing and trying out the new colours....
I can't wait!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

zero books read so far

Despite the bandage on my right hand, I haven't exactly been enjoying the life of leisure I was imagining when I first had my incident. It's doing a lot better but I still can't get my hand wet or dirty, which rules out most of the things that I really want to be doing. I've been amazed - and relieved - by all of the other things I have been able to do over the last couple of days....including working on the final draft of the Matrix Mat instructions (it's with my editor right now) and a bit more prep for the Annual.

Most importantly, I found the time and the where-with-all to do my taxes. I was determined to get them done today, and despite a few frantic searches for receipts, an error in my spreadsheet, and several recalculations...I finally finished about half an hour ago. Yay! My brain is tired...and I am finally going to get around to spending a few minutes with my first book, right before bed.

Friday, April 16, 2010

flashback Friday

I think I'm pretty much posted all of the mats and pieces I made before I started blogging....so today's mats were made just a couple of months into my life as a blogger (when my posts were extremely sporadic). My sister was on my blog the other day and complained to me yesterday about the absence of pictures of her rug...so even though I first posted about them back in December 2006, I promised they would make a reappearance today.

My oldest sister, Chris, has four kids and lots of pets -- there have been many, many pets over the years, so I decided to pay tribute to the current crop of pets in this checkerboard....

I stole the idea for only using part of each pet from a previous rug I started years ago (and still only one pet or about 1/15th of the rug has been hooked). Since simplified matters, and I was on a deadline, I think it worked out well. At the time I made the mat, they had only these 10 pets....and I laughed out loud when my nephew asked me a year or two later when I was going to fix it -- and replace the departed pets with the current crop. Not a chance!

I have had to fix the mat a couple of times over the years...mostly pulled loops caused by the cat, that I've noticed while visiting. I've resorted to using a dinner fork and another time, a big needle, to pull up a couple of loops on these occasions....what different things have you used when a hook's been out of reach?

And just to keep things even (as we sisters ought to), here is the mat I made for my other older sister, Sandra's, two kids....

It's aptly called Six Feet Under, since I watched most of the series while hooking this piece....and it commemorates a particularly special day of looking for turtles with Wyatt and Sienna on my parents lake, where we saw a record number. I know there is not enough contrast in values in this piece...but my excuse is that the rug is true to nature -- it's difficult to spot turtles in real life, too.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

MP by OP -- Deborah's Bala Bag

Talk about perfect timing -- just when I'm at a standstill with no work of my own to talk about...pictures of a completed project arrive! ;-)

This lovely bag was hooked by west coast artist Deborah Groom. She took my Bala Blank Canvas pattern and designed her own motifs to decorate the surface. I love it....and the colours are screaming Spring to me -- in a very good way.

She writes, "The design is a contemporary take on the evil eye amulets that you see throughout the Mediterranean. In a couple of weeks I'm heading to Istanbul so this will make a nice conversation piece."

Oh, to be able to travel inside Deborah's purse....
• • • • • •
You should check out her site, where you can see some of the very cool pine needle baskets and other things that she creates....and her blog, where she writes sporadically about interesting things.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

sudden stop

I’ve had a bit of a rash of bad luck lately. Now that the more serious misadventures add up to three, I’m thinking that I should be done for a while — except for the lingering effects. My latest incident involved burning my hand and wrist...and while it’s all bandaged up for the next week or so, I can’t hook, I can’t dye, I can’t whip, I can’t baste — I can’t really do any of the things that I want to and need to be doing to get ready for the Annual.....
What to do instead? I guess I’m just going to eat, watch TV and read (and try really hard not to freak out about all of the things I'm not accomplishing). Any good book recommendations?

P.S. Thank you all for your lovely comments about my Matrix Mats lately...and for taking the time to comment at all. It’s be great getting so many comments over the last few days ;-) I wish I didn’t have to wait to try out some of your suggestions about the border. I do love the idea of browns vs. blacks.....but since I have only black and navy for tape choices, I’m thinking that blacks will win for the convenience factor alone. I'll be back again once I'm able to do anything worth blogging about....and provided I haven't jinxed myself further...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

growing fast

It's hard to believe that I only started hooking this last week. The portion you can see in the photo (hooked over 6 evenings) is about 24" square....and I'm going to add two more rows of big squares to make it about 24" by 32".

I think the hardest part will be deciding what to do for a border. Right now I'm leaning towards a few rows of black/dark and, for the first time ever, binding tape instead of whipping. I'm planning to sew it on once I figure out how wide my dark border should be.... Any suggestions?

Monday, April 12, 2010

where did the weekend go?

Yep, this picture pretty much sums it up. I basically spent the equivalent of three days of work sitting at the computer pecking away and working on the instruction booklet for the Matrix Mats and playing around in Photoshop to create all of the illustrations. Although it's still not ready to go to the printer, I'm going to set it aside for a couple of days and revisit it again with fresh eyes and a fresh mind later in the week. Tonight, the hooking resumes!

Friday, April 09, 2010

flashback Friday

I hooked this little mat in the Fall of 2005. It was started (and mostly finished) during a 3 day workshop at Deanne's place. It was a trip full of firsts: first of many trips to Nova Scotia (this Fall will be my 5th), first time hooking with roving, fleece and yarn (thanks to Deanne and Doris Eaton), first rental car, first time rafting, and first time travelling for such a long time on my own (10 days). It was all very wonderful.

When I came home, my sister told me it was her favourite thing I've done so far. It wasn't enough to make me give it to her, though - it hangs on my wall, bringing back lots of happy memories each time I see it.
• • • • • • • • •
I'm running out of early works to share, so not quite sure how many more of these flashbacks I'll be able to post. This might be the last one....

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

the latest creation...day 2

I'm so wrapped up in my hooking that I can barely force myself to go to bed at night. It's a great feeling -- until I have to go to work in the morning! Progress has been swift, which is always encouraging, and I've been able to use up a (very small) few of my leftover strips.

This is another mat in my "Amazing Matrix" series....a pattern/instruction booklet will be forthcoming this month. Promise.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

various stages

Even though it was a four-day weekend for me, I spent most of it working. On rug hooking stuff. I've been busy getting ready for my booth the Annual at the beginning of May (see sidebar for details - I've also added a couple of classes this Fall in the last week or so). It's a lot of work.....and I'm starting to feel a little bit like more things are getting added to my "to-do" list than are getting crossed off. I'm not freaking out -- yet! Right now, I'm still hopeful that most of the more time-consuming jobs were taken care of this past weekend....and that I'll be able to breeze through those left to be done.

I also squeezed in some time to attend a couple of family suppers, finish the hooking on my zipper runner and pressed it, finish whipping the above mat, and start on another rug -- just last night. By the middle of the day yesterday I was feeling more than ready to take a break.....and so I just started hooking, without any real colour ideas in mind. My thoughts cycled all evening long - from love to hate to indecision - and by the time I went to bed I decided that I only really needed to replace one block of colour. Things looked a little differently this morning.....so I shall have to wait and see what I end up doing come hooking time tonight. Hopefully it will be picture ready soon and I can share a photo...and hopefully I don't end up ripping too much out. I hate to do too much of that - it's so counter-productive.

Friday, April 02, 2010

flashback Friday

In 2006, I responded to a call for entries for "Memories of My Mother," an exhibit organized by the Bruce County Museum and Archives. This is the mat I created....

It doesn't matter what you look like, as long as you're warm • February & March 2006

And here is what I wrote at the time....
My mum, Mary Manuell, is still very much alive....and I speak with her almost every day. It was impossible to choose a single memory to be the focus of my work. Instead, I decided to incorporate several phrases and works that will serve as "seeds of my memories", prompting me to recall events from the past and present, both now and in the future. Many of the words and phrases are unique to our family and my mother in particular. My sisters and I had great fun coming up with the master list.
The rug was hooked with wool strips and slub yarns....and all of the words were needle-felted on top of the hooking, using yarn that was dyed and hand-spun by my Mum. The triple-whipped border was a major pain....but really helps to frame the piece, since it won't be going on the floor.

Here is the legend....

BATHLESS GROGGINS...when my sisters and I were dirty as children, our mother would call us bathless groggins.

DO UNTO OTHERS...We had all heard the golden rule of "do unto others as you would have done unto you" so many times, that soon we only needed the shortened reminder of "do unto others"

...SIT FOR A BIT...when my mum is whirling around getting organized for company, she inevitably wants to "just sit for a bit" and take a break when help arrives (usually in the form of one of my sisters or me)

WAWAESE...my mum has many unique word pronunciations--once we were old enough to realize this fact, and after many failed attempts at correcting her, we now attribute her inconsistencies to the fact that she grew up in Wawa.

BARNEY...in 1987 our family camped our way around Lake Superior...staying at almost every provincial park along the way. Over the weeks we added several words to our family vocabulary. A "Barney" is when two or more people are grumpy--at the same time!

TOAD IN THE HOLE...my mum has 6 grandchildren, and she often makes them "toad in the hole" when they come for sleepovers. She claims that she used to make it for us all the time when we were kids, too--but none of us remember ever eating it. Now, all unknown events or those not remembered are attributed to the days when Mum used to make us toad in the hole.

OKAY...OKAY THEN FINE...how do you know that my mum is ready to end a phone conversation? She starts saying "okay..." and follows with several "okay then, fines" before a quick "bye bye".

OH, IS THAT NEW?...you can be wearing the same sweater for a couple of years, and my Mum can still ask "Oh, is that new?". Either she thinks that I shop a lot, or she doesn't pay too much attention to what I wear most of the time...

MARY LAND...when Mum isn't firmly rooted in the present, she's off visiting "Maryland".

VOLUNTOLD...my Mum is very active in her community. All of her friends always thought that it was so nice of my sisters and I to volunteer whenever needed...but it was not so much voluntary as it was expected, so we coined the term "voluntold" to more accurately define our reluctant participation.

HUBBARD...I went through a phase where I called my Mum "Mother Hubbard", which was later shortened to "Hubbard" and eventually became "Hubbie".

HURLEYS....when I was in high school, I used to read Harlequin Romances to pass time. My mother would sometimes read them, too, when she wanted some mind candy. We referred to them as Harleys for a while...but then we thought that "hurleys" was a little more appropriate since they can be very nauseating and highly predictable.

READING HOLIDAY....once my Dad retired, my Mum became very involved with her craft business. After a busy time getting ready for a craft show and returning from the show exhausted, my Mum would go on a "reading holiday" where she did very little other than eat and read for several days.

GOING BALLY...when my Mum falls asleep in the car, she slowly starts to curl up, starting with her head falling forward, followed by her shoulders...and it looks like she is curling into a ball, hence "going bally".

E.B.D. ...once my sister learned to read and spell, my parents could no longer utter "b.e.d." between them at the appropriate time in the evening. They just inverted the letters and continued their secret code a little longer.

LET'S PLAY PIONEERS...was my Mum's solution when the grandchildren started to tire her out. They'd all trot off to the bedroom where the kids would hop on the horses (straddle the foot board), hold the reins (a scarf or tie wrapped around the cannonballs) while my Mum would ride in the wagon (lie in her bed and read!)

BLACKFOOT TRIBE...it is not uncommon for my Mum to go barefoot in the summertime--hence her claim to being a proud member of the "Blackfoot Tribe"

I CAN'T SEE ANY BLOOD....so you can't be hurt too badly!

DOG HAIR...like everyone, my Mum has had a few bad hair-dos over the years...the most famous of which was a curly perm on long hair, fondly referred to as her "Dog Hair"