Thursday, May 31, 2012

my favs (part one)

There were lots of fine rugs on display - and not all of them fine cut!  LOL!  I wasn't able to take pictures of all of the rugs, but I did manage to snap some quick shots of some of the ones that caught my eye.  Here are a few of the pictures I took.....  (I will post some more in the coming days)

So You Think You Can Dance • adapted and hooked by Nancy Barber

title unknown • designed and hooked by Verna Bielby

Lady Bugga Shoe Shopping • designed and hooked by Verna Bielby

 Sweet Pea •  hooked by Debbie L. Harris

I Think We Are Going To Need More Rain •  hooked by Patrice Forbes

 Above Gull Lake • adapted from C.A. Henry paining and hooked by Kathy Smith

Gramma's Garage • designed and hooked by Kathy Smith

 Mark Street Posies • designed and hooked by Jean Benninger

Nature's Canopy • designed by Martina Lesar and hooked by Susan Grant

Complementary Study III • designed and hooked by Ruby Clarke

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

the highlights

Every OHCG Annual has their best parts - the parts that set the bar high for future hosts. (In case you didn't know, this event moves around the province, held in a different location each year).  This year, IMHO, the highlights were the venue (nice, bright, large space - where for the first time in my memory, you could see each rug bathed in a natural light) and the decorations.  I don't think that there was a single person in attendance who didn't notice the amazing decorations!  Many hands went into crafting all of the flowers and critters, artfully lead by Doris Sanderson and her handy husband, Ron.  Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of the gorgeous butterflies, free-standing bugs, bees or beatles....but I did take a quick snap of all of the magnificent centerpieces on the tables for the banquet.  What you can't really see in the photos is that the base, for each of the 28 pieces, is a knitted and felted pot. 

These photos were just snapped on my iPhone, so some aren't the best....but I really wanted to show the sheer volume and variety of the creations.   Enjoy!

Sunday, May 27, 2012


....and exhausted!  I am home, safe and sound.  Here is a quick summary of the weekend, in just one photo....

(my sister made me promise to share this on the blog)

A great big thank you to everyone for their support, acknowledgement, encouragement, and kind words.  So much love and sweetness this weekend, that is for sure.  Wowza.

I will be back soon with a full report. But first I am going to go and spend some quality time with my couch - I think it missed me!  :-D

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

progress is being made....

....and after working until after 10 last night I have only a few things left to do on my list.  None of which are really essential, but it would be nice to have them done in time.  I'm pretty sure that my evenings this week will be busy ones - trying to accomplish the stragglers on my list AND all of the things that haven't yet made it to the list!  Ha ha! Luckily most of my must-watch TV shows have wrapped up for the season... ;-)

It was a really gorgeous weekend here - but HOT!  I finally broke down yesterday and dug my AC out of the back of a closet and did my best She Ra impression to get it installed.  It seems to get heavier each year.  This is one of the times when it would be wonderful to have a man around....LOL!  But if you're ever in this predicament yourself, I find the best tool is a pair of gloves - you don't need to worry about cutting your hands or hurting yourself on any of the sharp edges and (good heavens!) accidentally dropping the beast.

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, May 18, 2012

what I've been up to....

It's hard to believe that the OHCG Annual is almost upon us.  Just one short week (yes, it will seem very short with a long weekend tossed in! ;-) ) from now, I will be motoring up the highway for the shortest drive to an Annual ever for me!  Woo-hoo!

I've been stockpiling boxes full of goodies in my winter stairwell -- and there are still several more boxes to be added to the stacks!  I think this picture pretty much sums up why I've been a bit quiet around here lately -- and if I took a picture of my living room, then you would really understand....  LOL!  Many 1/2 packaged items waiting for containers or items back from the printer, etc.  Hopefully I will get what I need to finish them off today.....and I can instill a bit of normalcy around my place - and here in this space, too.  It's exhausting to live in complete chaos.

No FF&F today - sorry....just too busy the last few days to find interesting things.  Happy long weekend friends!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

the first one

In case you didn't already know.....I live on a farm.  Mostly beef cattle, but some chickens and turkeys in the summer time....and a few years ago there were pigs, too.  One of my favourite activities at this time of year is monitoring the calf activity.  Once they start arriving, every morning I am scouring the pen looking for new arrivals almost as soon as I wake up in the morning, trying to spot and count to see if there were any overnight deliveries.  Later, when I'm driving to work, it takes me about five times longer to get to the end of the driveway - I'm driving so slowly while watching the antics.

Yes, there has been some heartbreak over the years - I think there always is whenever animals are concerned....but luckily I am pretty removed from most of that -- and far, far away from all of the associated work of farm life. 

I'm not sure how other small cattle operations work, but here, each calendar year is represented by a letter of the alphabet (this year = Z, 2011 was Y, etc.), and the calves are numbered in birth order.  So this little one, 1Z is the first born for this year.....

 I just snapped this quickly on my way home from work tonight.  I think s/he was actually born on Monday night or early Tuesday morning - still very new, and oh, so very clean and white.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Happy Monday! 

All in all, it was a pretty relaxing weekend.  I puttered around Friday night, was pretty productive Saturday, and then acted like a regular person on Sunday.  Friday's puttering resulted in the dissolution of several 'piles' that have been accumulating like bunnies around here.  The most dramatic transformation occured on my wool shelves.  Hooking all of those hundreds of squares in Jumbo's border ate up a lot of wool, and my shelves were looking pretty picked over after it was all done.  Before heading to RUG last weekend, I decided to comb the shelves for pieces of wool that had been getting passed by for the last few years – whether I didn't like the feel of the wool, the texture, the weave, or just had too much of the same – and clear it out.  Now when you look at this picture, you will think that I rejected a lot of the wool on my shelves....but really, there was very little taken from here (most of what I brought to RUG really came from the closet - a whole other 'can of worms', so to speak :-) )

The picture above shows the 'before'.  I took another shot once I had put away some of the newly dyed wools (I'm bundling and stripping half - and the other half of every dyed piece is now on the shelves), and now here is a picture of the 'after'....

There is still a few 'holes' in the collection - but with organizing my wool this way, it's very easy to see where the deficiencies lie.  Not only is my wool supply looking replenished, but with a bit of R&R this weekend, I'm feeling rejuvenated, as well.  A great way to start the week! ;-)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Fabulousness and Favourites

Another week goes rushing by....and I always know that it's been a bit crazier than normal when I have a hard time recalling great discoveries for the week.  So here is a list of prior discoveries that had a fresh burst of excitement for me this week.

:: David's Tea.  A couple of months ago while I was on an interview trip, I happened upon this shop in Kitchener-Waterloo (sorry, I never know which of the cities I'm in when I'm there....and need to rely on the locals for guidance).  It's a Montreal-based company with shops across Canada – including North Bay, as I discovered just this morning on their site!  I purchased some tea during my first visit and I've been savouring every cup.  With Mother's Day just around the corner, I wanted to get some for my mum....and placed an online order.  Service was speedy - 24 hours later I had my tea :-)  My personal favourites (from an admittedly small sampling) are: Read my Lips, The Earl's Garden, Cranberry Pear and Buttered Rum.  If you're already a David's fan, I'd love to hear your top picks - especially as I am definitely going to be checking out the store in NB when I'm up for the Annual....

:: Wabora is a delicious Japanese fusion restaurant in nearby Bracebridge.....and the home of many yummy dining experiences for me.  They have a new location in Toronto, and while I can't vouch for it, I can say that I've never had a single bad or even mediocre bite.  A new yummy, but rich, discovery is the Volcano Roll.  The sisters and I had a feast on Sunday: tasty salad with ginger dressing, Lobster Tempura Roll, Sundae Roll, Volcano Roll....and finished with a fried banana.  yum, yum, yum!  A great place to stop for lunch when you're driving by, on your way to the Annual in a couple of weeks.

I'll be working hard this weekend, on the final few things for the Annual prep....and hopefully taking the whole day 'off' on Sunday to spend time with my mum.  Happy Mother's Day to all of the mums!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

oh, happy day!

These arrived today, delivered right to my door by the best mail lady ever.  Now I feel like I can finally have a sigh of relief – at least I hope I can!  Why am I so happy about it? 

From the moment I first discovered the leather purse handles, I really haven't wanted to make a purse without them.  And I'm not alone.  At RUG on the weekend, my friend Dorinda was sporting her hooked purse that she had made a few years ago.  It looked smashing – and I told her as much.  She smiled and said that she had recently replaced her fabric handle with a leather handle, and ever since she is frequently the recipient of compliments.  Before, there was the odd one, but now (with the leather strap) there are noticeably more.  A leather handle IMHO really elevates a hand-hooked handbag like nothing else - taking it from the handmade realm to finely handcrafted.  Who knew that a simple handle could make such a difference?!

But the back story is that it hasn't been quite so rosy.  Liking something, wanting something and getting something doesn't always happen in unison, don't you know....and from the beginning it's been a real roller-coaster ride for me.  From purchasing them retail, to buying from the Canadian supplier, to months-long waits for product to arrive,  to dealing directly with the US distributor, to more long waits for certain colours and styles, to the manufacturer suddenly ceasing operations and the discontinuation of all of the handles, to sourcing a suitable replacement and dealing directly with a leather-worker, to having her say it was too much of a hassle and she didn't want to make any more, to finding and working with another leather-worker to make more, to being very restricted in available colours, to happily discovering that the original manufacturer was restarting with a limited selection of styles, to the devastating news that she was closing up for good.....and finally to a phone call a couple of months ago with the good news that the distributor was going to start making their own.  Sigh.

Now the distributor is finally in complete control, and I am looking forward to having reliable access to the handles for the very first time.  No longer will I have to place an order in January to hopefully have enough handles for May.  No longer will I have to request an inventory before I order, so that I don't bother ordering TOS items, and end up with half (or less!) of the number of handles I was expecting.  No longer do I need to feel nervous about anyone placing a large order and wiping me out – I can reorder with confidence!

So here are the details....the leather is the same saddle-leather of the original handles, so it's a bit stiffer, but it's dyed by hand and the slight mottling really complements the texture of the wool IMHO.  The handles are still hand-made and hand-stitched in the USA.  Colours (shown above) are limited to the better sellers: black, brown, red, olive and amber (golden orange)...but I am hoping that they will add more to the mix going forward (and I will keep requesting a nice dark blue or navy! :-D).   The only downside is that the prices have increased - the new Single Urbans will sell for $38 each and the Long Rolled pairs are $54. 

I still have a good selection of the other handles (with the softer drum-dyed, more solid-coloured leather) that will be sold at their original prices....but once they're gone, they're gone.  Here is some photos of my recent inventory.  At the moment, I think I still have all of the colours available, but I suggest you order early, to avoid disappointment. 

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

more on finishing...

A while back, I wrote a long post detailing how I applied the twill tape finish to the edges of my rug hooking.  It's now a year later, I'm working on binding Jumbo and I've refined my technique a bit and reordered the steps a little, too.  There have been a lot of questions and interest in the 'how-to', so here is what I'm doing now.....   
If you have any questions at all, please leave a comment and I will reply there, so that everyone can benefit.  Thanks!
Wash, dry and press your binding tape, in advance.  If you have a big roll, I would just wash the whole thing as once, to reduce waste (over/under estimating quantity) and save time for future projects (since you'll be able to skip this step).

Measure an inch out from the last row of hooking (with newer rug warp this is usually 12-13 threads), and pull the next thread from the backing. I use the stretch zigzag stitch (marked with a dotted line) and sew (on the hooking side) of the pulled thread). At the corners, I do lots of reinforcing, as shown, so that when I later cut away some of the excess, it's very stable and secure.  Trim away the excess backing (cutting in the ditch), and sew all of the way around again, just to be safe (= 2 complete tours around).
Why do I use the stretch zigzag for any sewing around the edges that I do, regardless of the backing? Because it’s made up of 3 little stitches in each direction instead of just one, and all of these stitches work to hold the backing together much better than a regular zig-zag or straight stitch.

Begin stitching one side of the tape to the edge of your hooking.  With my rug face up, I work in a clockwise direction (starting end of my tape on the right, rest of the roll on the left....and working from right to left)  I begin by attaching the tape right next to the hooking, on the top side of the rug, so that there is no visible backing between the tape and the last row of hooking.   For this step, I use a leather/glover's needle and super strong or upholstery thread that matches the colour of the tape.

I start off with my thread coming up in between two loops on the outside edge of my hooking....

I catch a small amount of tape (directly across from where my thread came out on my previous stitch), tug it up towards my hooking before going through the backing....

...and bring up my needle in between my loops of hooking, two loops over (sewing on an angle) or approx. 1/4" over.....

I've found that if I hold the tape where I want it to end up -- before I pull the thread tight -- then it usually stays there.

It does take a little bit of practice before it starts feeling less awkward.  Placing your thumb on the underside and bending the back over it seems to make it a bit easier (for me, at least).

If you take your time to do it properly (it's not a step to rush....), they you will find that you can get very close to the hooking and no backing will be visible when you fold things around to the underside.....

I sewed a short section in contrasting red thread, to give a better idea of what the stitches in this step really look like.  The view underneath....

....and from the top side...

I pin the tape in place as I work, using just 1-2 pins and moving them over as I come upon each one. I pull the tape fairly tightly, and pin every 3-4". At the corners, I simply wrap the tape around -- nothing fancy....

For this step, I like to use the same super strong or upholstery thread and a long darner (my package reads John James Long Darners, size 1/5), and find that I need to make a conscious effort to just fold back the rug warp, and not to pull it back. If you pull it back, the edge will actually start to roll under and your outer loops will splay....and you don't want that!

As I sew, I make sure that I am catching more than just the backs of my loops in my stitches (i.e.  there is backing being sewn, too), and I also catch a generous amount of the seam allowance, as you can see in the following picture....

 I like my needle to come up on the other side of the zigzag rows. When finished, the stitches should be about 1/4" long and 1/4" apart and look like this.....

I trim away the excess at each corner - only as I come to it, and quickly stitch in place to secure the miter.  (sorry my cut is a little crooked, and I forgot to take a picture of the 'after' until after I'd already sew the tape in place over top...)

This is the easiest step of all!  I fold the tape over and sew it down on the back of the rug, mitering the corners as I come upon them (and stitching them down to close up the fold).  I use a small leather/glover's needle and the same thread.....and sometimes find I need a thimble or the protection of a band-aid for this step, if I'm working at the finishing for long stretches of time. 

Where the cut edges meet, I fold the ending edge underneath and then overlap both pieces by about 1/2" or so. Again, I stitch this edge down, all along the fold.

Finito Bambito!  You can now sit back and admire your fine handwork... ;-)

Note: I am right handed, so if you're a leftie, you will need to adjust all of the instructions accordingly....

P.S.  There are many different ways to finish the edge of a rug.  I recommend that you try lots of different methods and use those that work best for you.  "Learn to do by doing" is more than just a Guide motto - it actually works!  You might discover that you want to combine many different approaches and create your own unique method.....