Wednesday, December 21, 2011

just for Gayle...

....because she asked! :-)

3 decades, 2 makers, 4 reds....yet they all belong together

The stockings that started it all for my sisters and me.

The first two stockings I made + one for the next generation

more from my first year of making....

Actually, I was a bit surprised that I didn't have pictures of more of my 24....but here are as many as I could find tonight. I will try to take some more over the holidays (when they are out and up) to share.

Not that I want to push my wares, but if you're interested in sharing our family's tradition, I do have patterns and kits available. Email me in the new year and I will pass along the particulars.

one more makes twenty-four

I was a bit premature when I declared my holiday making finished a week or so ago. For starters, I momentarily forgot about a stocking I promised to make for the baby born in March....and then on Monday night I decided I wanted to whip up a few handmade ornaments for some special Christmas cards. Even though I had a few false-starts with the ornaments...I adapted quickly and in the end, I had developed a new process that I am certain to use again in many different ways (more on that later, probably in the form of a pattern next year).

But back to the might not know, but AJ's Christmas stockings are the reason I started hooking in the first place. They've been a staple in our family's Christmas celebrations for as long as I can remember -- my sisters and I received some of the first ones she made, and ours were crafted in 1977. Each time a new baby is born or someone gets married, a new stocking is created (the only 'rule' is that they are never created for boyfriends or girlfriends -- only for husbands and wives....). My sisters and I wanted to be able to maintain this tradition on our family, and somehow I was 'voluntold' to learn how to do it.

I've since made several stockings for a new generation of cousins, and also carried on the tradition with a couple of my very best friends. With this year's stocking, I've now made 24 since I started. Every year, the number of stockings made gets written on the wooden template. AJ made over 100, so I have quite a few more to make before I get to that level!

+ + + + + + + + + +

P.S. Thanks for all of the Jumbo love over the last few days. You gals are great - and your positive comments are motivating me to get back to work on this project in January.

P.P.S. Today is my last day of work at my 'real job' until January 9th - yippee! - and I'm starting my holidays with a bang. Tomorrow I'm heading to Toronto to see Mary Poppins with my littlest niece, and once I get back up north on Friday we will be knee-deep in preparations for several days of feasting. Christmas is a very family-filled time for me....and since I will be pretty busy for the next while, I'm forecasting a bit of a blog break until early in the new year. I might be back sooner, but if I'm not....I want to wish you all a very merry Christmas, filled with lots of fun, family times, fond memories and, fabulous food.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Week 31: 58.81 square feet

Well I did it! I met my short-term goal of being finished the long side before Christmas. After pulling the last loop late yesterday afternoon, I quickly started pulling back the furniture to make room on the floor for the grand unrolling....

(the colour is a bit more true in this next photo - without any flash. At this time of year I find taking photos a real challenge -- complicated all the more from the sheer girth of Jumbo)

Even after pulling stuff out of the way, it was a tight squeeze -- and impossible to see all of the way to the ends. I was immediately struck with one thought: "it sure is big!" immediately followed by "I must be crazy...." I don't know what I was thinking when I embarked on this ginormous project , but I'm totally invested now -- in more ways that one.

I do really like it, though....especially how the border is a bit darker than the centre, but still relates. I was a bit worried that the colours I chose more-or-less at random from my shelves for the border might not fit with the rest of the centre, but it works. At this point, I'm wondering if it really needs anything else on the outside edge (and I don't think this is just because I am eager to be finished.... LOL!)

P.S. Jumbo's current weight is a whopping 29 pounds -- it sure isn't pretty to see that number on the scale (I hop on holding the rug, and then again without it and calculate the difference)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Week 30: 57 square feet

It was a slow start to the hooking week this time around -- I didn't pull a single loop until Saturday afternoon. Luckily, it was a relaxing winter weekend, where I treated myself to just staying home for two whole days. After the last of my Christmas making was complete (late Saturday afternoon), I wrapped the rest of the presents and then mostly just sat around and hooked....and watched 'the Big C' (v. awesome show) on Netflix.

In my photo above, you can see my amazing discovery of the weekend. Up until now, I've been keeping the sausage roll off to the right of my frame as I hook....but this weekend I wondered why I hadn't just been sticking it through the centre hole in the back of the frame. Granted it makes the frame more difficult to man-oeuvre, but everything hangs a little better and it's definitely easier to move my work around on the top. When I'm done hooking for the evening, I just lift it off the grippers and let it fall where it may....

I'm feeling on track to have the long side completed before Christmas (my last night for hooking is the 20th)....and my reward will be unrolling it and seeing how it really looks, when I can see the whole centre and not just a sliver.

My so-called colour planning for the border has been very hap-hazard. When I first started, I would just pick and cut wool for the number of squares I was planning to hook that day/night. Now I prefer to plan for a number of squares at once, and find that an old baking sheet makes this task a lot easier. I basically just arrange the piles of cut strips in the same order I plan to hook them. The little odd bits of similar wool that are hooked in together are plucked at the last minute, just as I start hooking a given square, and then all leftover bits are returned to the same bin.

Since I'm just using up all sorts of little and big bits of wool from my shelves and large basket of skinny pieces, I am more or less just planning as I go. And, I'm getting very good at predicting the amount of wool I need to hook 9 square inches! Now when I cut strips from a bigger piece of wool, I cut enough for another square (or two, if that is all that's left)....loosely tie them in a knot and then place them in a basket. I'm hoping that having this basket of little bundles will speed up the hooking on the other long side, in addition to helping spread colours around. In the almost 200 squares that I've hooked so far, there have been few exact repeats.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

I really wish I could go....

.....maybe you can?

While procrastinating a couple of weeks ago, I decided to pop into Rug Hooking Daily to look at the recently posted pictures. I hadn't been there in ages, and I was curious to see that Mary Anne Wise had done some teaching in Guatamala and she'd posted pictures of some of her students' work. In a word: WOW! If you are a member of RHD, I encourage you to seek them out. Seriously charming, colourful work.

I took a class with Mary Anne a few years ago in Vermont.....and in the process of catching up on what she's been doing lately, I discovered that she's participating in a textile focused 10-day tour in Guatamala in February 2012, organized specifically with rug hookers in mind. If you would like more information, you can download a brochure here.

As far as I know, there are still a few spaces available. I've spent a lot of time dreaming about going, but it's just a little too soon after my England trip and a little too close to Christmas for my pocketbook....and it's happening in the middle of a busy time at work. Sadly, it's not possible to do everything I want, all of the time. Meh. Life is so unfair... ;-)

Monday, December 05, 2011

some videos

Just because it's Monday....and just in case you're procrastinating while you catch up on blogs, here are a few videos I've found interesting lately. Enjoy!

I discovered this video last night on Cilla's blog....and thought I'd share, in case you haven't already seen it....

This is the video (I think!) that Jen Lavoie referenced at the end of the previous video....

Rusty and the Hinesburg Hookers from Mt Mansfield Media on Vimeo.

Finally, I saw this video a couple of weeks ago, and I'm still thinking about it....

<a href='' target='_new' title='Murmuration' >Video: Murmuration</a>

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Week 29: 55 square feet

This week I set myself a little mini-goal of hooking 3 square feet. Since I was pretty dedicated earlier on in the week (hooking for the first 4 evenings in a row), my little trip to Toronto on Friday/Saturday didn't have a lot of impact. And, since I got home early enough yesterday to put in a proper evening of pulling loops, I was able to take a break today and work on my Christmas sewing. Buy the time I called it quits for the day and tidied, I was too tired to hook -- so I'm getting a head start on Monday (by posting this tonight), so that I can have the extra time tomorrow night for hooking! :-)

I am hoping to get this whole side (including the 25 squares on each of the ends) finished before I head up to my folks for Christmas. At that point, I will be 1/3 of the way around. Even thought the long sides are cumbersome to work on, I am going to do the other one next -- just because I think it will be easier to plan/move/choose the colours (i.e. it won't matter so much if the wools on the ends are a little different from the long sides) -- not to mention easier to roll the rug again in the same direction! :-)

I've been thinking about what I'm going to do to finish off the outside. There are a few ideas perculating for another little narrow border (~2.25-3", either 1.5 or 2 times as wide as the little checkerboard), but I am going to wait and see how things look when I unroll a bit more of the centre. If I still think I want to add something, then I think I will draw some options (to scale) and lay them alongside to help make a decision. No doubt I will be asking for some help then, too.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

and it continues....

I arrived home yesterday to not one, but two special mail envelopes in the mailbox. Lately there hasn't been too much interesting mail arriving, so needless to say, I was excited. Although I knew that both items would be arriving at some point -- they both seemed to get here extremely quickly: one short week from both the US and the UK. Go postal service!

A couple of weeks ago, I entered a blog giveaway for batiks on Debbie's blog: A Daily Dose of Fibre, never really thinking that I might actually win (I never win....). Batiks are my favourite fabric....and I can't even walk by without looking, drooling, and choosing some to purchase. Well, I guess you know how this little story ends....

Yippee! and thanks Debbie! They are beautiful and I can't wait to see how I end up using them....

The second package contained fabric samples for a top-secret, hush-hush project that I will be working on in the new year. I can't really talk much about it right now, but suffice is to say, I will share the full dish when I am able.....but it won't be for some months yet. Patience is a virtue...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas is starting early this year....

....and not just because of the Winter Wonderland that's being created outside, even as I type! My first gift arrived yesterday -- hand delivered by its creator: my Uncle Randy. UR is a pretty creative guy....and he makes some amazing stained glass pieces. I'm thrilled to have this loon join my collection, and already found the perfect place for him (her?) to live.

I've also been busy shopping, and happily have most of that done. I won't rub it and say that I've already gotten it wrapped. Oops, I guess I just did! :-D ....but if it's any consolation, I still have quite a bit of making that needs to be started -- and finished.

I know that some people like the last-minute shopping madness, but I'm not one of them. I do sometimes have to deal with 'last minute making'....but at least that doesn't have to happen in places that are swimming with people who are all madly rushing around (not to mention sharing with the world their least likeable traits).

This year I am making multiples of just one thing. I've got my fabric, thread, and pattern.....and the sewing will begin this weekend, I hope. I don't want it to interfere with my Jumbo schedule (I realized that if I can hooked 1/2 a square foot a night, 6 days a week = 3 square feet per week = I might be able to finish by early March). What are you making for gifts this year?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Week 28: 51.8 square feet

Cruising right along....but regretting taking a few nights off this week -- because I could have gotten MORE done. There are sure a lot of these little squares! It will be nice to get this long end finished off, so that I can feel about 1/4 is done. Right now I'm about 60% across.

I subscribed to Netflix over the weekend, and I'm thinking that there might be some serious TV show watching happening in tandem with my hooking. The rule will just have to be that I can't watch and not hook! :-D

Monday, November 21, 2011

Weeks 26+27: 49 square feet

Progress. Finally.

Not only did I get back hooking again on Jumbo this past week, but I pretty sure that I self-diagnosed the cause of my shoulder problem that resulted in a lost summer of hooking! Phew.

When hooking the centre of Jumbo, I was working from side to side (right to left and back again), but when I started work on the border I decided to start hooking on the long sides first. It made sense - at the time - to put my work on the frame with the least amount of rug/backing in my lap.....which meant that I would be constantly hooking vertically (top to bottom and back again). Not usually a problem for me when I use a lap frame, but with my bigger floor frame combined with my big rug, the result is that my right elbow is up and in mid-air the whole time I'm hooking. No wonder it was sore!

So this week, after the first half-hour of hooking vertically, I turned my work and now I'm back to hooking horizontally again. It's a bit more awkward, since the previously hooked parts of the border essentially end up being in my lap while I hook....but I think I can put up with it for the sake of progress. And, it's a pretty cheap price to pay for no pain.

I'm looking forward to making some great head-way this week. Now that the thermometer has dropped, it's kinda nice to play with wool again and be blanketed by a big rug while I work in the evenings. How about you - are you feeling the urge to hook?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bayfield Coin Purse Classes

Each class is special. It always amazes me how quickly I seem to fall in love with each rug hooking group that I visit.....and my trip to Bayfield was no exception. The fun started early, with a special invitation to join the group for their annual Christmas dinner (complete with yummy turkey and cranberry sauce!) and a silent auction of items from the groups library of books and magazines (I happily came home with several back issues of the Wool Street Journal).

After the first day of class, Marg (my hostess with the mostess) and I headed over to the open house at Patti Armstrong's in the evening. I already knew that Patti was a very talented rug hooker, but I had no idea that she was so talented in such a variety of other arts and crafts. Here are a few of her creations that I just couldn't resist.....and the more difficult decision - of deciding what will live with me and what will be gifted - remains. For now, I will just enjoy looking at them perched in my living room.....

It was great to see the students putting their own designs on the canvas....and putting their own ideas into a few of my designs. There are definitely some new twists in these CPs....

Diane's Dippers....

Marjorie's own design....

Cathy's Hoot....

Clair's own design....

Nancy's own design...

Linda's Bully....

Carla's God's Eye....

Kim's Klimt....

Teresa's Hooters....

Sherry's Hooters....

Nancy's own design...

Margie's own design...

Unfortunately two people had to leave early and I remembered to take pictures only after they had left....but they, too, had hooked some pretty nice coin purses. Thanks to all of the ladies who participated in the workshop....and a special thanks to Marjorie for organizing everything, and to Marg for taking such good care of me.

The drive home today was perfectly fine -- much better than what ended up being a very snowy start on Thursday. Winter is coming.....even if the snow from last week has already melted.

P.S. Here is a really good tip that I learned this weekend....if you're having trouble grabbing your needle when hand-sewing....take a piece of wide rubber band (like those that come free with your broccoli), and use that to help you grip it. An easy, free, and useful trick from Marg.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

it never gets tired....

I realized today, as I sat down to start typing this post, that my trip to Vermont on the weekend marked my 10th visit to see the "Hooked in the Mountains Show" mounted by the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild, at the Shelburne Museum. Beginning with my very first trip, with AJ, my mum, and my cousin's wife Shellie to see Patty Yoder's Alphabet of Sheep in 2001, I haven't missed a single annual show. I also haven't regretted a single minute of the 9+ hour drive each way -- it's totally worth it, to me. Whether I have taken a class, or two, taught, or simply taken in the show itself, it's always time well spent, and I consider it to be an 'annual pilgrimage' of sorts.

For me, it's a rare opportunity to see so many wonderful rugs up close and personal, that are mounted in a professional, attractive and thoughtful way. And, it's a time when I can chat with acquaintances and my fellow rug hooking peeps, most of whom I really only get to see during the show each year. I realized this weekend that I also appear to track and follow individuals' progress over the years -- and am amazed that I can recall so many past rugs and works that the same people have hooked. I really like it when I can identify the artist without looking at the description on the card.....and it makes me want to have a recognizable style, too.

One of the highlights of this year's trip to see the Show was the new program of Guest Speakers. On Sunday, we were able to take in a presentation by Ann Winterling and Peg Irish -- two rug hookers I've only known about for many years. It was wonderful to hear more about their supportive, collaborative relationship, and its influence on each other's rug hooking. Later in the day, Kris McDermet was on hand to share what she knows about hooking and braiding with silk, along with demonstrations of rug braiding in general. It was very informative -- and a lot of information was shared in a very short amount of time. Kris coauthored a recent book on combining rug hooking and braiding....and I'm looking forward to pouring over it come Christmas (thanks Mum! :-) )

It's not too late to plan a little trip to see the show -- it's still on through Sunday November 20th, and you can find out more about the planned speakers and scheduled events here.

Upon seeing the show each year, I always feel so energized and excited to start hooking when I get home. And, this year is no exception -- I will start working on Jumbo again tonight.....and get back to serious hooking for the first time in months.

This year, my mum and I took along two 'virgins': Wendie and Elaine, and it was fun to see it all again for the first time, through their eyes. Along with many of our old haunts, we also squeezed in some new places, too. It was a great girls' getaway weekend, for sure.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

wardrobe refashion - part 2

Back in August, I took 3 t-shirts from my closet that I was hardly wearing and overdyed them with some Dylon dye....and I was inspired to do something with some other items. This weekend, I took three things from my closet made from wool and gave them some fresh tints to breathe some new life into them.

Unlike when I dye yardage (and don't care whether or not the colour takes evenly), with the clothing, I start off by putting the garment into a roomy pot with enough hot tap water and some Jet Dry, so that there is lots of room for it to move around in the water After it's good and wet, the pot goes onto the stove and I quickly mix up my dye. I pluck out the garment with my gloves (the water isn't that hot yet), mix the dissolved dye with the water in the pot, and then start stirring almost constantly, as the garment goes back in the water. Once most of the dye has been absorbed and the water starts to clear, I assess whether or not I'm 'finished'. If I'm happy with the colour, then I add some citric acid to the pot and let it simmer.....but if I want to tweak it some more, I add more dye until I'm satisfied, then finish off with the citric acid. As I do with yardage, if I get impatient about the rate of dye absorption, I add some citric acid to the pot -- stirring constantly and making sure that there is free movement of the garment in the water.

After the dyeing process is complete, I rinse the garment(s) and then give it/them a little bath in Eucalan or Soak (don't rinse), spin and block.

Here is the before....

And here is the after.....

On the grey cardigan, I used 1/4 tsp of 729 Forest, 1/4 tsp of Avocado, and 1/4 tsp of MC Turquoise. On the Noro striped vest, I used 1/2 tsp of MC Red Violet. On the ball of silk yarn (that was an ugly scarf), I used 1/4 tsp of 826 Deep Orchid.

Needless to say, I am so taken with the results that I have to stop myself from indulging in the urge to just overdye all of my winter sweaters. I still want to dye a couple more, but I want to be thoughtful about what colours I could add that will make the item more wearable. Now that the grey cardigan has dried more green (not 100% wool....lots of various fibres mixed together and the turquoise didn't seem to hold), I think I will give it another turn in the pots. But, for now, I need to focus on getting organized and packed for Vermont -- girls road trip starts early Thursday morning....

P.S. When I was in Southampton a few weeks ago, I added a new tool to my dye box - these silicone coated tongs. If you have dyed any amount of yarn with any other tongs, I'm sure you've been frustrated a time or ten with the strands getting caught and tangled around the clam-shells. No longer with these smooth blade tongs! IMHO they are worth every penny! :-D