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 doing.....so 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?