Monday, May 31, 2010

Day 4

I arrived home mid-afternoon yesterday, and after cleaning out my inbox, I finally sat down and hooked for the first time in days. I'd been missing it, and the familiar rhythm relaxed me and helped trick me into feeling like I'd had a bit of a weekend after all.

Right before bed, I started combining pieces of wool for future crosses. Bad idea -- I didn't want to stop and definitely had trouble turning off my brain and getting to sleep. Hopefully these piles will help speed things up a little, since I won't need to spend time choosing any colours for the next while...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Day 3

I've added some new colours. I was a little worried that it was starting to look a little bland -- and I have to keep reminding myself that this (little) section I've hooked is less than 3% of the finished rug. My plan for now is to hook mostly cooler colours in the centre section (all of these shapes), and then use mostly warmer colours in the main border. We'll see how long I stick to the plan....

This will be the last update for a few days -- I'm heading off to host our orientation weekend for our senior staff this summer.....and my rug is just too big to cart along with me. I hope to have enough energy left when I get home on Sunday to get back to work. Have a great weekend - stay cool....

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day 2

I tried posting this snap before I went to work this morning, but the internet wasn't cooperating. I'm going to go and hook for a bit...and worry about supper later....

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day 1

Before I could start hooking -- since I'm starting in the middle -- I had to roll and truss some of the backing, to try to keep it out of my way. Did I tell you how heavy it is? It weighs 11.5lbs right it was at least 11 lbs before the first loop was pulled. I'm a little concerned about the weight, so I actually pulled the piece completely off the frame last night. I also placed a little side table beside me to help reduce the pulling (just from the sheer weight of it), and also help to keep the jelly roll out of the way of my left (underneath) hand while I'm hooking.

I was thrilled with my progress yesterday: 1% of the overall size! Just to have an idea of the scale, the black cross is 15" across (and tall). The little plus sign in the middle is 3" tall. The colours in the picture are off -- the outside of the half-completed cross is more of a light green.

The beginning is always so exciting. I had to force myself to go to bed, because I easily could have hooked into the wee hours. I hope this early momentum lasts for a long time.... ;-)

Monday, May 24, 2010

the beginning....

Hooking a big rug is a big commitment. Many years ago, (when asked for Christmas present ideas), I jokingly told AJ that she could give me her big rug pattern....and now I know why they said "be careful what you wish for..."

The pattern is big -- at 9' by 12', it's so big that it needs its own Rubbermaid! The size, the emormous amount of wool it will need, the many months it will take to hook, and the knowledge that I will need to LOVE it for the rest of my life have all been barriers to getting started on actually hooking it. Enter the Matrix Mat method.....

I've decided that I'm going to flip the pattern over and make up my own design on the back. Yes, it will still be large (and I will have to move when it's finished, just so that I have room to spread it out), it will still use up a lot of wool (but I will have more flexibility with colours and matching won't be so important... plus I have a lot of wool that needs to be used), and it will still take a lot of time (but my guess is the straight line hooking will cut the time in half).

In fact, if I am able to maintain the productivity I realized on my previous AMMs, the math says that it will only take 180 days of hooking. That means that if I hook 5 days a week, I could be done in 9 months....just like a real baby!

I've spent a lot of time thinking about my design and colour ideas, and a lot of time playing around with charts, etc. on the computer to (hopefully) get the scale and layout right and avoid any unnecessary ripping out. But all of this planning and sketching is a poor substitute for actually seeing the real work, so I am finally ready to start pulling my first loops today.

Naturally I'll be blogging about my progress as I you'll be able to follow along and I'll be motivated to keep on hookin'.

Thursday, May 20, 2010's a secret

Things have been quiet for a couple of days because I've been working away on my "stocking challenge" contribution....and it's supposed to be kept under wraps until the big reveal at the Circle of Friends hook-in in July. This morning I had the brainwave that I could just disguise the photo in Photoshop and that might appease everyone.....

I've been having fun incorporating some leftover bits of my silkworms and silk snakes into this piece, and playing around with different ways of hooking with them. Here are some of the different things I've been doing....
  • twisting the strip as I hook it, turning it from a wide, floppy, flat piece into more of a string or thin rope, for a more pronounced loop
  • folding the piece in half or in thirds (lengthwise, tucking the cut edges inside) as I hook, for a smoother appearance
  • bunching up the wider pieces....hooking with the whole width, for a more ruffled look
  • doubling up the thinner pieces (since some of my leftover bits are quite wonky and irregular -- there all the drips and drabs remaining from cutting the more perfect ones I sell). I just tuck skinny ends underneath a wider section and, in effect, hook with two pieces at once....and this create more fullness in the loops.
I really love the added sheen and new texture using the hand-dyed silk is lending to my work. You could try similar techniques with all kinds of different fabrics (or linings). Throw in some liberal amounts of slub and yarn....and it's playtime!

Monday, May 17, 2010

new to you...I mean, me

It was a perfect weekend. Just the right amount of adventuring, reading, hooking, visiting, sleeping in, sunshine and laundry. Well, the perfect amount of laundry would be none, really -- but I do like clean clothes ;-)

My surprise acquisition at R.U.G. this weekend happened during the live auction, where I successfully bid on these three old rug hooks. The longest one has an antler handle....and the two coloured ones are very similar. I had originally though they were two different sizes (which is why I purchased both of them), but now that I have them at home I can see the hooks are virtually identical. Does anyone know anything about these two hooks? Something about them suggests commercial manufacturing....

I'm happy to add some antique rug hooks to my collection -- which until this weekend consisted of only one old hook. It helps to link our craft to the past.

Friday, May 14, 2010

flashback Friday - the rest of Grandma's rugs....

No time for text today....but I'm pretty sure these are the last few pictures I have of rugs hooked by Grandma (Muriel Reany Smith). Enjoy....and have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I wish I could go.... the 3rd Annual Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival, but I've got too many things on my plate at the same time (and I'm fast running out of vacation days). I've participated in both of the previous festivals and they were wonderful. The second one was even better than the first, and I imagine this year will be even better than last year. Momentum is a wonderful thing!

If you are around or available the week after Thanksgiving (October 12-16), there's a listing of events here. Sooooo many things I wish I could participate in -- hopefully there will be a 4th!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

dyeing before dinner?

Yep! Only nine skeins, but it was just windy and warm enough tonight for it to mostly dry, before the sun went down. My favourite Orillia sisters were requesting chartreuse and turquoise at the Annual, so I wanted to get a little done before R.U.G. this weekend. It's definitely a little different than I'm used to dyeing, but it looks nice and bright and summery....and I must say it's kinda growing on me.

Having a strong wind blowing really fluffs up the wool. I had suspected as much the last time I dyed, but I did a little more experimenting tonight to confirm it. The first wool I put out (when it was more windy) is more fluffy than the skeins I put our later on (when the wind had died down a bit). I think it's challenging enough to find a day when I'm in the right mood and I have enough energy and I have enough time -- now it seems I have to plan around the wind, too.... ;-)

spring cleaning

I procrastinated last night by fiddling around with the settings on the blog, to give it a bit of a more summery wardrobe. One of these days I think I'm going to have to break down and do my own thing -- and not rely on the basic templates -- but for now, the speedy factor can't be ignored.

I've also gathered a bunch of surplus stuff from my closets and cupboards and plan to have a side-walk sale of sorts at R.U.G. on Saturday. There is nothing wrong with any of the stuff....I just have way too much and need to free up a bit of space. Please come early for the best selection.... ;-)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ideas: they're everywhere!

...and particularly in this month's issue of Elle Decor. I was completely taken aback on Sunday when I started flipping through this magazine and saw a couple of matrix designs. First up was this simple pillow:

...and then moments later, this neat rug:

I love the idea of the Greek key around the border -- it alone was worth the $6.99 cover price! ;-) I might incorporate a variation of this into my jumbo rug, I think it will help to separate the centre from the wide border.

Where are you finding ideas lately?

Monday, May 10, 2010


I had heard the forecast, but I still had a hard time believing what I was seeing: snow on Saturday. It didn't really start falling until the afternoon at Wendie's, but while I was driving home it got heavier and heavier, and finally I could start to see it collecting on the ground and in the trees....

I had a lovely day at Wendie's....and it's so great to have her so close. It's really just an hour away now, and it has never seemed like a long drive through the countryside. There is always lots to look at.

Wendie's new studio is AMAZING.....and I'm sure that my eyes appeared a little greener on Saturday. I think she's going to share some snaps of it on her blog this week, so you will soon know exactly what I mean.

One blessing about the snow is that it makes it a little easier to get into the mood to work on my next project. I'm participating in a Christmas stocking challenge hosted by Rittermere-Hurst-Field, and need to have mine finished by early July. At least I've got a design idea in mind....and tonight I will work on fine tuning it, so that I can get to work on the hooking part. I don't really need to rush, except for the fact that I'm quite eager to get started on my BIG rug -- and I'm smart enough to realize that once I start it, I won't want to hook anything else.

Friday, May 07, 2010

flashback Friday - Grandma's Orientals

Let's hope the second time's the charm -- I was up early this morning, plucking away cropping and resizing pictures...when the power went out. Needless to say, I was wishing that I had finished getting ready for work first, instead of starting to work on my post....but c'est la vie.

Both AJ and my Grandma hooked many Oriental pieces. Family legend has it that my Grandma would take on an large rug project each year and spend the winter month hooking away on it. I will try to arrange the photos in order, from largest to smallest, but since it's been years since I've seen a couple of the rugs, I have to resort to guessing a little.

This first rug is my cousin's....and I just love the colours that Grandma used -- especially the rusty red, with the turquoise and the browns....mmmmm. I've only seen this once before, but thought it was beautiful. Hooking all of those repeating motifs must have resulted in some serious trance time...

This rug belongs to my Aunt. I was surprised to realize that AJ had hooked the same pattern, but with different colours and different it wasn't immediately obvious to me.

You may recognize this next one.....since it's been featured in the background of many of my photos. It's my mum's rug, but it's been living with me for over 10 years. It's about 4.5' by 6.5' and the background in the border and corners has faded quite a bit, it used to be much bluer.....

This is another of my -- oops, I mean my Mum's -- rugs......more faded blues, but still very lovely. It's about 4' by 6'.....

This is the only piece of my Grandma's hooking that is truly mine. It's about 2' by 3'....and although the colours are not really my favourites, I treasure it all the same.

This is my sister Sandra's's about the same size as mine, but hooked in more traditional colours.

P.S. If you click on any of the photos, they will open in a new window and you can see a larger image, with more detail.

Thursday, May 06, 2010


For the last couple of years, I've been telling anyone who will listen about the wonderful textile magazine called Selvedge....and often said that if I could have just one magazine for the rest of my life, it would be Selvedge. But last Fall, I had a crush on a new (Canadian) magazine called Uppercase. Their tag line is "for the creative and the curious", and while it is definitely a little more focused on a designer audience, there is always lots to appeal to other creative (and curious!) types, as well. I love it, and haven't once regretted purchasing a subscription -- it's worth every penny. In fact, these two magazines are just about tied for favourite in my book.

Here are a few snaps from inside the current issue....

And...hey, there's even a little rug hooking article, about something that was new to me: Red Spruce Rugs

You can get a good sense of the eclectic style -- and more and better pictures, too -- by reading the Uppercase Journal.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


In the flurry of activity during the week before the Annual, I did manage to get the hooking finished on Simple, the tape sewn in place, a border hooked and the final finishing completed (did you read about my secret weapon yesterday? The glovers/leather needle should become your new best friend).

I think I still have a few things to learn about attaching your rug binding tape to the backing -- specifically about how to avoid undesirable waviness and buckling -- but I cannot fault the speediness of this method of finishing. As someone who already loathes the amount of time it takes to whip (I once calculated it took me an hour per foot of circumference), I think I will have a hard time convincing myself to whip my rugs in the future. Instead, I'm going to go on a quest to find more colours of twill tape to add to my collection.
Simple is one of 12 designs I've included in my newest creation: The Amazing Matrix booklet. The booklets had their debut at the Annual at the weekend, and while I sold out there, I've already got the printer making more. They should be available in the next couple of days.
P.S. If you click on any picture, it will enlarge in another window....

P.P.S. The booklets are now back in stock ;-)

Monday, May 03, 2010

Baby, I'm back!

Back from the Annual, and back to normal -- almost! There is still some unpacking and reorganizing that needs to happen....but I am no longer going full-steam ahead, so it will be nice to have a bit more of a relaxed pace for a while.

What a great weekend! A huge, heartfelt thank you to all of you who popped by my booth, said hello, bought my wares, and were so supportive of me and my products. It was a really great weekend -- it was such a great, busy weekend that I came home with only one picture of a rug.

I did manage to snap a couple of pictures of my booth (after several helpful reminders from my sister)...and so you can get an idea of what it looked like, and my two helpful worker bees....

Since I'm a relatively new vendor, I never really know what to expect and I'm always experimenting with how I should display my items. Needless to say, we were often shuffling things around from one table to another over the weekend, trying to come up with the best arrangements. I was very grateful for my mum and Sandra's help -- they were essential people in my booth ;-)

Over the next few days I will be trying to get caught up on my blog and share with you all of the things I haven't had time for over the last few crazy weeks....but I'll just share a quick tip with you today: while tacking your foundation fabric in place on the back of your work, or sewing down the rug tpe on the back, I recently discovered that a "glovers/leather needle" (slightly larger than a normal sewing needle, with the 3-sided, harpoon-like point) will easily push through your backing and hooking, just like a hot knife through butter -- without a thimble! It not only makes this chore less painful, it also cuts your time in half (or more!) I think it's an indispensable tool for any rug next time you're in Fabricland, pick up a package -- you won't regret it! ;-)