Tuesday, December 11, 2007

yep, it's a new post!

Well, four visits from the same Bell guy and a couple from his friends have finally gotten our high speed up and running at work again. For how long, we're not quite sure...they aren't promising anything because we're about as far away from the tower as you can get and still have service.

Not too much else is new around here. It's still snowy and I've been busy getting ready for Christmas. The shopping is all done....and I'm hoping to get it all wrapped tonight. I love wrapping presents...choosing the paper, making the ribbons into bows, crafting the gift tags. It's all fun for me. A good wrapping job definitely adds to the gift (or at least helps to make up for a gift that's a little less than perfect).

The scarves are all knit - I'm pretty sure I have enough - and I'm going to arrange them in a basket for their first delivery/selection tomorrow. In the end there were 7 made + 1 hat (knit from the leftover dyed wool from my whipping - here is the promised picture...)

The Clapotis (free pattern from knitty.com) is complete and even blocked. I think that I will keep this one for myself. The colours in this photo are not quite right, but I was in a rush to take the pictures this morning. I used some wool from Handmaiden called "Mini Maiden" and modified the pattern accordingly. It's 50% wool and 50% silk and feels so soft and lovely. If I could, I'd like to have a sleeping bag knit from it!

Thanks to Kathy, my sewing machine is back in business and I could no longer procrastinate the stocking making. For some reason this one came together quite quickly - I started on Sunday night around 5pm and hooked until bedtime...and then just a few hours of hooking and sewing last night and it was pressed and ready for hanging. I'll be dropping it off this weekend when I'm in the city for this.

Friday, December 07, 2007

still kickin'

Life's been busy for the last while....and now I've been without internet for the last few days, too. Just popped in quickly on dial-up to say sorry for the lack of posts - I'll try to make up for it very soon....

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

on the newstand...

The next time you're standing in line at the grocery store, check out page 11 of the Winter 2008 issue of Canadian Home & Country magazine. The page is filled with ornaments hooked by Micheline Mann. At $32 a pop, it is refreshing to see the time and energy that goes into the creation of hooked items being reflected the price. On the rare occasion that I actually see rug hooking for sale, I typically come across prices that appear to undervalue the considerable effort and skill invested in the piece. Not only does this undervalue the creator and their work, but other hand hooking, as well.

If you click on the above link, you can also see some of Micheline's hooked rugs, too.

Friday, November 23, 2007


If you're anything like me, you feel as though you must own absolutely anything and everything ever written about rug hooking. When I first started rug hooking, I bought every book I could find about our craft. This wasn't too hard, since there weren't many books available. Lately though, there seem to be more and more new ones coming out all the time - which is great!

Here are a few new ones I've added to my bookshelf recently...

I met Linda Rae Coughlin at Deanne's Symposium last month, where she was one of the speakers. She features quite a few series of hooked rugs in this book, including all of Patty Yoder's Alphabet of Sheet rugs, the Art Cards, the Circus Train (I think!) and quite a few others. It is interesting to see multiple pieces hooked by the same person, or on the same theme, together in one place....something not really covered in the same way in other books I've seen.
Apparently she had too many rugs to fit in one book, so a second book was born...

I'll bet there are few rug hookers alive who haven't heard of Jesse Turbayne. She's back with another book of rugs...a companion to her book released last summer. There are quite a few Canadians featured in this volume. I was very flattered to discohttp://www2.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifver my work included in this book, too. Both the alphabet rug I hooked for my nephew Wyatt and the rug of AJ were completed early in my rug hooking adventures.

Happy hooking this weekend. Myself, I think I'll continue knitting on my clapotis...I'm probably the last person to knit one.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Wish it was mine with a snap of my fingers...
(photo shamelessly stolen from the Snap Dragon Frames site)

When I was at Dorr last week, I got the chance to see one of these frames in action. It is truly great - and I want one! If you're in the market for a new frame, I encourage you to check them out. The pictures don't really do them justice. The top section is all real wood - cherry and poplar - and beautifully finished.

You just lay your backing on the top and reach underneath to pull down each of the 4 levers - snapping them into place...and your backing is tight as a drum. To release and move your backing, just snap each of the levers back to the starting position and lift it off...no pulled loops.

I didn't let myself consider adding this frame to my collection at the time (I already have 3 frames). It was only later, when Cathy suggested that I could sell one of my other frames, that I started to get excited. I will definitely be picking up one of these babies the next time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

just in time...

This is what I woke up to see this morning. I'm so glad that we made it home before we had to deal with winter.

Believe it or not, the photo wasn't modified - it just looks like it's black & white.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

beauty everywhere...

What a fabulous couple of days! Shelburne was just as expected: lots of beautiful rugs, gorgeous wool and friendly faces.

Although there were considerably fewer rugs this year (reportedly only about 450 vs. 900+ last year), the quality of the show did not suffer one little bit. There was no shortage of lovely things to look at - that's for sure ;-) The work was mounted in a more pleasing, if not artistic, display....and it seemed to me to be easier to take it all in. I took heaps of pictures - at least until the battery on my camera died (and of course, the spare was at the motel!)...and I have tried my best in the absence of Photoshop....

Imagine our surprise to discover Cathy's rug front and centre when we entered the round barn (and most deservedly so!) If you have seen her Tower & Turrets of Queen's University, you will know the picture below doesn't do it justice...

Wendie - I took pictures of your faces on display....

The weather has been great, as well. Yesterday and today were both mostly sunny days and made for some pleasant driving. We're keeping our fingers crossed that the snow waits until we're home again before it starts blowing...

We had a delicious supper last night at Pauline's. It was so yummy we decided to return there again tonight! It is definitely going to be added to the list of must-go places for my annual pilgrimage to Shelburne.

I'm in a rush to finish and head off to bed. It will be an early start tomorrow. More pictures to follow in the coming days...

Friday, November 16, 2007

we're here!

We're staying in Lebanon for the night tonight. The drive was long, but relatively uneventful. There was a little bit of snow through New York, and surprisingly more in the mountains in the south part of Vermont. We were glad to see the end of the snow once we got off the mountains.

We've been doing a little shopping so far, taking advantage of no sales tax in New Hampshire...but we're saving ourselves for Dorr tommorrow. We're planning on an early start to the day and on being the first ones in when it opens at 9 (it's about 30-40 minutes drive). So we're off to bed. Goodnight!

Thursday, November 15, 2007


My bags are packed and in the car. I'll be heading out of town in about an hour. I'll be stopping along to way to visit my friend Dayle and (not so little) baby Evan, in Toronto. Then, it's off to Cathy's for supper.

I'll be bringing my laptop with me, and plan to do some posting while I'm gone. I can't wait to see all of those beautiful rugs. Oh, and some new wool will be nice, too.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

dangerous discovery

When I was a kid, one of my favourite treats was Turkish delight. We would buy it in little chunks at the department store in Davenport, and eat it straight out of the paper bag before we even got home (and sometimes before we'd left the store!). Over the years I have bought Turkish delight whenever I happen to see it - not the "Big Turk" variety, but the stuff that usually comes in purple wrappers.

When we were in Halifax last month, I discovered these jumbo Cadbury's Turkish delight bars at Pete's Frootique. They are delicious! We consumed two of the bars during our trip and two others came home with me for my sisters. They were delighted with their gifts (pun intended!)

The other day,I was thinking that it would be a good idea to try and order some for Christmas. Before I started searching online, I checked out our local candy store, the Nutty Chocolatier, yesterday. Imagine my surprise (and later horror) to discover they carry these oh-so-yummy chocolate bars. I can see the future and it does not look good for my new (smaller) pants. ...some rules will definitely need to be set about the circumstances under which I will allow myself to buy and consume these chocolates. And soon.

When I wasn't busy savouring my chocolate (yes, I bought some yesterday!), I was busy working on the runner. I finished off the whipping last night, and had time for another quick pressing. I'm really happy with the way it turned out, and I think there will be more colourful, geometric rugs in my future - they're a lot of fun and pretty quick to execute. The dyed yarn worked well, and I'm sure I'll be doing that again and again - it's so much easier than blending several yarns and threads together and gives a more even finish, too. (pictures will follow when I'm home in daylight hours ;-) )

In total, I used just under 20g (less than half) of a skein of Ultra Alpaca light to whip around the rug (about 9', if my mental math is correct). At $5.85 for a skein, it was pretty inexpensive. This yarn is nice and soft, but a little bit hairy, though - so I might try a different yarn the next time around.

I will be visiting my LYS today and getting some feedback, so I will be sure to pass along Karen's suggestions.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

pictures at last

I miss my Photoshop, that's for sure. Enjoy!

Monday, November 12, 2007

happy monday!

First up, there will not be any pictures today folks - and it's not because I didn't take any! Apparently the new operating system (Leopard) I installed on Friday is incompatible with my version of Photoshop...so I can't modify, crop and reduce resolution in my normal way. I'm sure that I can do something similar in iPhoto, but I need some time to play around first.

The owl purse was finished and delivered. It looks so, so much better with the hand-sewn trim - I can't believe the difference. I imagine the Ultrasuede will likely be staying in the drawer for a while now...as I switch allegiance to wool.

I successfully dyed some yarn to whip my squares runner. I don't know too much about dyeing yarn, but here's what I did... (please let me know if you think I need to adjust my method - all help is appreciated ;-) )

I started off with 2 skeins of natural coloured Berroco Ultra Light Alpaca (50% Alpaca/50% wool), soaked in some warm water and Jet Dry. I squeezed out the excess water and lay one skein out on a clear plastic garbage bag.

For attempt #1, I used 8 colours of dye (712-Juniper, 729-Evergreen, 725-Forest Green, 719-Grasshopper, 68-Paprika, 349-Fushia, 808-Raspberry, 306-Turkey Red). In separate containers, I used 1/64 tsp of dry dye and the equivalent amount of citric acid in about 30-40 ml of boiling water. Poured each one on in sections and rubbed it in. then I folded it up in the plastic bag, making it small enough to fit in my microwave, and cooked it on high for 5 minutes. The results were surprising. There was very little movement of dye and very little runoff when I rinsed it. The overall colour was a little lighter than I wanted, so I mixed things up a bit for the second skein.

For attempt #2, I used 6 colours of dye (713-Olive Drab, 714- Mallard Greet, MC Moss Green, 306 Turkey Red, 808-Raspberry (+GS), 351-Bright Red (+GS)). I used more dye - 1/32 of each colour and the equivalent of citric acid in the same amount of boiling water (30-40mL). I also added Glaubber salts (GS) to a couple of the reds. The additional 4/64 tsp (or 50% more) dry dye gave a more medium colour, which was closer to what I was looking for...

I squeezed out the excess water between a couple of old towels and hung it up to dry. Several hours later, I was running out of patience and broke out the blow dryer to get rid of the last bit of dampness. A few minutes later I was winding it into a ball. Last night I whipped for a while, and I'm already a third of the way around!

Hopefully I will play around with my computer tonight and have some pictures tomorrow....

Friday, November 09, 2007

quick comment on comments...

I do appreciate your comments and questions and I try to respond in the comments section of the same post, so please check back there. Thank you!

still here

Well, I've been a bit lazy with my posting this week...sorry! I've been a little busy playing around with my new computer at work. It's been fun, and I'm thinking that my eyes should be adjusted to the (much) bigger screen by sometime next week. If you're in the market for a new computer, I've been using Macs for the last 8 years or so and Ican't say enough good about them. Meow, meow.

I've also been knitting on the Christmas scarves. I did a quick count and I think that I need 9 or 10 to give as gifts. I'm more than halfway there (not counting the washing and blocking, of course).

I abandoned the green #8 cut strip scarf...and instead hooked one with #6 on the same 12mm needles. It worked out a lot better (sorry, no pictures yet). From choosing the wool, to cutting, to knotting, to knitting, and fringing, the project was completed in the same evening. Gotta love that! I was a little worried that it would be a bit bulky, since I like to loop my scarves around my neck....so I just decreased some stitches in the middle section to make it a little narrower. It worked out alright.

I have vowed that I will not purchase ANY more yarn to knit these scarves. Consequently it's getting down to some pretty slim pickings. I'm sure that I'll be raiding my wool fabric stash to knit more strip scarves before too much longer. It semi-defeats the purchase of using up the yarn - but at least I'm not adding to the problem buy purchasing more. Right?

· · · · · · · · ·

Bye bye Ultrasuede, hello wool. Hand-sewn wool trim can give a much better finish than the machine-sewn Ultrasuede...and I have finally acquiesced. As much as I love the durability and feel of the Ultrasuede, the hassle of attaching it is too much to bear sometimes. I've finally worked up the nerve to rip out the top trim off on the owl purse (I just realized that I hadn't posted a picture of the completely finished purse - sorry!). I was not very happy with the way it sewed together. After using the purse for the week I was East, I knew that some modifications were necessary.

The Ultrasuede is all off now, the plan is made and wool is cut out. I'm still waiting for my sewing machine to come home....so I'll be sewing it together at my folks tonight, I hope. I'll be sure to take some pictures of the new finishing. Next week, the purse will be going to it's new home with AJ - but I'll still be able to see it regularly ;-)

Have a great weekend everyone! It looks like it will be good hooking weather ;-)

Monday, November 05, 2007

ooops! I forgot....

Here's the greyscale copy of the runner photo. I am so happy to see the light bits, and the dark bits, too ;-) There's a few muddy parts, but overall not too bad...

Speaking of light and dark....I have a love-hate relationship with time time of year. I LOVE waking up and it being light outside already. I HATE driving home in the dark. I know that it's better now than in another month or so, when the only time it's light outside is when I'm at work...but I sure miss the long summer days.


I hooked like a fiend on Friday and I'm happy to report that I finished the runner (and had it pressed) before bedtime. I am still trying to decide on what to use for whipping....and have almost convinced myself that I should dye a hank of wool with various reds and greens - trying to not have too much overlap of colours (avoiding too much browny-grey). I'm thinking that I will just cook off the skein in the microwave. Does anyone have any experience with this? In any case, here is the runner B4 whipping....

Dimensions: 17.25" by 39.5"

I've now turned my attention to knitting scarves. Unfortunately I've been coming up against numerous obstacles along the way. Here is what I accomplished last night - and haven't already decided to abandon... (two other projects didn't make the cut)

I over-dyed some kid mohair on Saturday morning to use together with the Colinette yarn I splurged on this Spring to knit this. The mohair is actually more of a navy colour than it appears in the photo above. I'm happy with the way it's turning out but unfortunately there isn't anywhere near enough yardage to finish the scarf. Once I finally admitted this out loud, I set the knitting aside until I can dye some more - and see if it matches. (Dyeing without a recipe is not always a good thing ;-) )

For someone who doesn't really call herself a knitter, I seem to have a lot of yarn. I bought this stuff several years ago, and I'm finally putting it to work. I like the little shiny bits peeking through - I just hope there's enough wool to make it a decent length (hence the shiny stuff every 3rd row!)

Several years ago I was at Shelburne at the same time as Heather Ritchie. One of the many cool things she had in her classroom was a mat she was knitting using very wide strips on very large needles. I haven't forgotten about that, and when sitting right beside the piles of leftover strips (from the runner), I procrastinated away by knitting some up. The strips are #8 cut on 12mm needles. There are only 7 stitches on the needles, and I've pulled all the knots to one side as I knit. The scarf is a bit heavy - if I had larger needles, I'd try those....or maybe a #6 would work on the same needles. It works up quickly and is quite addictive...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

the artful rug hooker 2008

What are you doing next October? If you want to join together with other rug hookers and be inspired, you should think about signing up for Deanne's 2nd Symposium. I'll be there!
I received an e-mail from her this week and it's already two thirds full, so you'd better hurry. All of the details can be found here. Aside from the actual Symposium, there is lots to see and do in Nova Scotia...and lots of yummy seafood, to boot.

welcome to november

A pinch and a punch for the first of the month! That's what my childhood best friend Ruth and I would say (and do!) to one another when we were little. October was a busy month - filled with lots of posts. I will try my best to maintain the same level of activity this month...

I am right on target to finish my runner. If I hadn't decided to add the extra 6", I could have finished the hooking last night. I've just got two more moves on the frame left to go (and then one more row of border around the first half...). I'm not sure what it is (inherent laziness, supreme efficiency or general dislike) that stops me from shifting my working around on my frame too much. It's not because it's hard or time consuming - I use a gripper frame. All I know is that I seem to take extra time lining everything up "just so" before I tug the backing into place...just so I won't have to readjust it. Weird. And silly.

I did snap a couple of quick pictures this morning....but they're a bit dark (the light is so crappy at this time of year). I will wait and (hopefully) take better ones this weekend, once I've beaten it into submission on the Elna.

I also want to try converting the picture files to black and white to check out the value distribution over the whole area. Have you ever tried this? I've really been trying to add more lights and darks to my work...and it's a challenge, for sure. The last time I've added my own work in show and tell section of the R.U.G. sack, the design motifs of the owl and flowers were barely recognizable....

Although I have used a lot of different colours and wools, they have all been very close in value to one another. I'm looking forward to being able to measure my success (or not) with my latest piece. I'll post some pictures of that, too.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

back on track

I hooked some more squares last night. Strangely enough, the more I get done, the more difficult it seems to choose the colours. I'm using in excess of 75 different wools, but for some reason there seemed to only be about 10 last night. Funny, eh? I'm hoping that it will be easier tonight... (and I again apologize for the lack of pictures)

In other news, I finally got around to booking the hotel (motel, really) for Shelburne. I can't believe that in just over two weeks time I'll be blissed out in the middle of the round red barn at Hooked in the Mountains, surrounded by hundreds of hooked rugs.

I've already had a long talk with myself about the upcoming trip to Dorr. I know that the exchange rate is going to be complicating the issue, but I really need to be realistic about my wool needs. I was looking for wool a couple of weeks ago and was struck by the sheer volume I have squirreled away in my closet. As a result, I vow to only buy wool that is exceptional. Not just good. Not just pretty. Not just soft. Not just a really good deal that is (almost) too hard to pass up. Exceptional. Only.

Please note that such fierce restrictions apply only to wool yardage...not to any other hooking materials. I will still be making my pilgrimage to Knitter's Laine (although I will make every attempt to exercise restraint).

Monday, October 29, 2007


Well, I was hooking like a madwoman on Friday...and so happy with my continued progress. I totally had visions of completing all of the hooking by the end of the month (like, in two more days). I knew that I would be out on Saturday and I was looking forward to spending a good chunk of time hooking on Sunday - and this was key in achieving my goal. Instead, I spent much of Sunday confined to "Leaf Torture" at my folks (which, by the way is the first year we've had the additional burden of snow floating through the air while we rake), and the rest of the day feeling miserable. So miserable that I just lay on the couch for the night without hooking at all. Not one single loop. Plus, I've almost decided that I may be happier if I add on another 6" to the length. The overall length will be 39" instead of the current plan of 33" (because I want all of the corner to match, I have to add in 6" increments). I will be happy if I can finish it sometime this weekend. (I already had the brainwave to bring it with me to Vermont in a couple of and I can just whip it in the evenings...)

The good news is that I am feeling better today. Not well enough to go to the gym (sigh), but good enough to go to work.

I was able to finish the knitting on another scarf this weekend and start a new one. So if you're on my Christmas list this year, odds are pretty good that you will be receiving a handknit scarf. I hope that's alright.

I also wanted to point out that Deanne Fitzpatrick has updated her diary to include her inspirational speech from the final day of the Symposium. Reading it is (almost!) like being there...as long as you have an active imagination. Check it out.

Friday, October 26, 2007

i heart my new rug

(my apologies for the poor colour in this photo - I was in a rush this morning. I will try and take one in better light this weekend ;-) )
Sometimes when you start a new project, you know right away that you will like the finished product. Other times you are uncertain until the very end. This time, I know that I am going to LOVE it. I can't hardly wait to finish and spread it out on my table. Is there a rule about how early you can start decorating for Christmas? ;-)

Winter's on it's way. I snapped this picture this morning from the top of my outdoor stairs. Frosty, frosty...it's time to start digging out the scarves, mitts and hats, for sure.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Colour Wheels...

I know that I have seen several hooked versions of a colour wheel over the years. If you have created one, you might want to check this out. Joelle is one of the owners of Purl in New York City.
(and I promise this is it for today...)

two months from today...

I'm starting to stress a little about Christmas already. So far I only have two scarves made (one of which still needs to be blocked) and two small part-presents bought. I have a lot of people on my list. Part of me would like to be able to make all of my gifts this year. Not only could this save a lot of money (especially since I likely have almost enough supplies on hand), it can also result in a more personal, thoughtful gift. The biggest problem - after finding the time to actually do the making - is coming up with ideas of appropriate gifts for everyone on my list.

Over the years I have made many gifts for friends and family. I cannot remember a Christmas that hasn't included handmade gifts. Woodworking, knitting, quilting, rug hooking, sculpting, painting, drawing, embroidery, beading....I've gifted them all. Many of these gifts have been treasured and loved, others not so much. Sometimes the person hasn't even taken the time to say "thank you", let alone send a thank you note.

I've also heard my share of horror stories from friends. A friend's dad painted a picture and mounted it in a inexpensive frame, and the recipient thought the gift was the frame. Another friend knitted sweaters for a neighbour's children and saw other children wearing them in town a month later. I'm sure that you have your own tales to tell, too.

I've finally come to terms with the harsh reality that not everyone appreciates the time and care that goes into a handmade gift - they would be just as happy (if not more so) with something picked up at the mall. I try to save my energy for those who truly do appreciate my work...but still every once in a while, I get a rude surprise.

I've tried several strategies over the years to deal with this problem. I've sworn off ever giving them anything I've made again. I've tried limiting handmade gifts to people who actually make things themselves. But even this doesn't work - the fact is that I like to create...and sometimes my passive-aggressive side shows at Christmas time.

What will you be making and giving this Christmas?


First off, I might say a great big Thank you! for the comments. It's fun to read them on other people's blogs, and there is usually a range of styles from very supportive to disagreement, offering advice or ideas, and sometimes it's just someone trying to toot their own horn. It amazes me that some bloggers receive in excess of 200 comments on a single post (and every post they write). Not that I'm complaining - I'm very happy with just a few comments (I just didn't want to receive none).

I've embarked on a hooking marathon of sorts. The last couple of nights I've done little more than hook, hook, hook... watching TV at the same time. The good news is that my squares runner is growing. It's 15" wide, and just a bit bigger than a square right now, which I'm thinking is likely about half way. If I can keep up this pace, I should be done sometime next week ;-) I'll post a new picture in the next few days...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

comments, please....

Over the last year or so, I've been reading quite a few different blogs. There are some that I check out religiously every day, looking for new photos or new stories. Others I read once in a blue moon, and many I've only ever visited once.

I've often wondered how many people read this blog. I know that my friend Wendie, my sister Sandra, and my friend Roxanne all check it often....because they bug me when I don't post regularly. I'm sure that there is somewhere or somehow you can get statistics from Blogger, but I haven't been bothered to look into it yet. (Does anyone know how to do this?)

In the last few weeks, I've been amazed to discover that there are more than just those three people who have been reading along. Whether you've been reading from the start (back when I took that pottery class...) or you just started reading last week, it would be great to have some feedback. There is an opportunity to comment at the end of each post (just click on "# COMMENTS" and type away. You don't have to be signed into Blogger or a techno wizard, you can also leave an anonymous comment).

As always, thanks for your support (and please reveal yourselves! ;-) )

Monday, October 22, 2007

back to reality...

I arrived at work this morning to 500+ e-mails waiting in my inbox. Thankfully I am already down to just 10 waiting to be dealt with - the amount of junk and spam is ridiculous.

Our return home was relatively uneventful. We drove down to Pugwash for pewter on our way to the airport on Saturday, just to add more weight to our suitcases. Luckily we didn't have to pay any extra (Mum's big bag was right at the limit at 50.2 lbs...so she was very lucky!) The weather on Saturday was a little miserable, so we did have a rougher ride home - made even longer by the fact our personal TVs weren't working on the plane. It was a good thing afterall because I starting reading my book again. I had bought it a couple of weeks ago, and I was saving it for my holidays. It was a good read (I finished it last night). I still think that The Samurai's Garden is my favourite of her books.

I unpacked all my bags on Saturday night and laid out all of my purchases on the table (except for a couple of pairs of socks and my new t-shirt - they went straight into the laundry)...

I must say that one of the best things about going on a hooking holiday in Canada is that there is absolutely no need for any anxiety about having to go through customs on your way home. seriously - it's a great relief ;-)

I also brought home a few more heart shaped rocks...

I've been collecting heart shaped rocks for a few years now, and while some of these aren't the best, they were the best I could find on the beach in Parrsboro that day.

For those of you who subscribed to the newsletter last week, I checked at home and I do have enough copies of the last issue to send to all of you (and they should go out in the mail tomorrow). If you haven't subscribed yet, I have 2 copies to spare.

I'm slowly getting out of holiday mode. Eating at home is a treat ;-) I haven't made an appearance at the gym yet, and I'm spared from today because I have an appointment to donate blood this afternoon - and the two don't really mix.

I'll be hooking away on my squares rug tonight. Ideas for the challenge are still chasing one another around in my head....thankfully I still have a few more days before I have to start.

Friday, October 19, 2007

day seven: overloaded

What a fabulous couple of days. A fabulous week, really. The Artful Rug Hooker Symposium was a resounding success, and I am so glad that I came. Not only did I have the chance to meet lots of people, I was also able to reconnect with people I'd met before - even someone who was in a class I took in Vermont and another person I'd met at the American Folk Art Museum - both over five years ago!

There was a good selection and variety of talks: thoughtful, inspirational, educational, funny, controversial, challenging, emotional - many some or all of these. We always had an opportunity to ask questions at the end of each presentation and even to speak one-on-one with each of the presenters in a more intimate setting, if desired. This really helped to contribution to an atmosphere of interaction and collaboration.

I have so many ideas swirling around in my head and I cannot wait to get started. The hardest part will be deciding what to do first. Mind you, this is made a little simpler by the challenge Linda Rae Coughlin issued today... Everyone was given a different image, and we were challenged to create a small mat (maximum dimensions of 18" by 18") inspired by this image. The project must be started within the next week and completed by September of next year. The intention is that the finished pieces and the actual image inspiring the work will be displayed together at next year's Symposium. It will be great fun, and I am looking forward to the challenge (although to be honest, feeling a little scared at the same time). I will try to post a picture of my image once I start working on the project. (within the next week, of course! ;-) )

The funny thing about this type of challenge is that I (foolishly) look around at other people's papers and instantly suffer a minor case of "green-eye". Why is it that I seldom happy with what I have been given? Why do I always feel the need to compare? I'm sure that it's not just because I have two sisters and we are always comparing and evaluating whether or not things are "fair". Maybe it is just that it's human nature to look for an easier route....and part me knows that I will never have to actually execute my ideas for someone else's picture. I will admit that my picture has been growing on me this afternoon...and hey, it is supposed to be a challenge, after all.

The only drawback of the two days? I hardly got any actual hooking done. I never really seem to get much hooking done in class, and I brought this simple project, hoping it would help me get more done, but it didn't really seem to make much difference. Seriously, this isn't really a problem, but I think that next year I will just bring some knitting with me - it's a little more portable and it doesn't take up nearly so much space in my luggage (my hooking stuff filled a bag all on its own). And hey, I can knit on the plane, too!

Sadly it's time to start packing and finding room in my bags for all of my new wool, books, and cans of Keith's light. Tomorrow I'll be wearing my new rug hooking t-shirt proudly on the plane tomorrow...as I say TTFN Nova Scotia...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

day six: overwhelmed

What a day! From the time the alarm buzzed at 6:30 this morning, it's been go, go, go all day long. The Symposium has been really great. There are just over ninety people, and it is a perfect number -- great for interacting, meeting people, and bonding as a group. Throughout the day, we ran into other rug hookers at the restaurant, at the store, at the other exhibits....and even discovered some are staying at the same place.

The rug hooking community is a pretty small world - familiar faces pop up all over the place wherever you go - maybe someone you meet at a previous workshop, or sat beside at lunch during a school... it is great to be able to reconnect with some of these folks (and meet new ones, too).

Okay, this is taking too long and I am pooped. Suffice it to say that I have already signed up for next year and paid my deposit ;-) It has been fabulous so far, and the best part is there's still another whole day tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

more proof

I received an e-mail from my friend Wendie today, and she writes,
The monument shot looked exactly like one of Deanne’s rugs, so for sure she’s not making it up.

Well girl, here is some more proof of the realness of the rugs....

I've already started accumulating my reds and oranges! ;-)

day five: pretty everywhere

We had a beautiful, leisurely drive along the coast this morning. Starting from Truro shortly after eight, we drove through many small places along the way. Economy, Parrsboro, Spencer Island, Advocate Harbour, Apple Lake (?), Joggins...and everywhere else along the way. I also dragged Mum and AB off the paved road to the Cape D'or Lighthouse, just outside of Advocate. This is a must-see destintation if you are ever in the area. I stayed in the lighthouse keeper's cottage 2 years ago when I was here...and the food in the restaurant is divine. The only drawback is that you have to hike down from the parking lot, and then back up again when you're ready to leave. If you have mobility problems, you should still make a point of going -- the views from the top are spectacular, too...

This next picture was taken on the short road to the lighthouse...

We arrived in Amherst around one and went right away to Duncan's for lunch. It was just as yummy as I had remembered.

A few steps away is the doorway to Paradise. When I was here before, Deanne's studio was still located in her house, but she has recently moved into town. It is a really great place, filled with lots of beautiful rugs that you want to take home and hang on your wall...bundles and oodles of wool and other fun hooking supplies...and most of all with an exciting energy. We had not been in the store for 5 minutes when Ann Hallett popped in! It is so funny to see people from home when you're travelling. After our chat with Deanne and having filled a basket full of yummy bits of wool, sari silk and a package of notecards....we were off.

We made it to Heidi's place, encountered more hookers and naturally, more wool joined us for the journey home. I'm beginning to feel like the Pied Piper of wool - it just keeps following me, wherever I go!

We're all excited about tomorrow...not quite sure what to expect, but I know that it will be a great day! It is going to be pretty busy, though, but I will try to post (I wouldn't want to ruin this latest posting streak, after all ;-) )

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

day four: score!

Today was the best day of our trip so far. With a quick stop in at the coffee shop by the hotel, we hit the road bound for Peggy's Cove.

We couldn't believe how quiet it was - we were the only people visiting up by the lighthouse. Luckily, we arrived just in time to take all of the photographs we wanted--by the time we left several tour buses had arrived and we met about a dozen more on our way out of town! yikes! Here is a postcard shot of the lighthouse...

Here is another stereotypical shot of the fishing village...

We stopped at the Swiss Air Flight 111 monument, just outside of town. It is very tastefully done and quite a picturesque spot. All of the blueberry (?) bushes are turning a beautiful shade of red this time of year...

The only blip for the day was our most unfortunate encounter with an RCMP officer eager to meet his quota. Of course, it was only afterwards that both Mum and AB recalled having recently heard how fiercely they enforce the speed limits in the province. There will be a little less wool bought as a result of our (involuntary) contribution to the infrastructure fund.

After vowing to never, ever, return to Chester again, we headed for Lunenburg and Mahone Bay. We had a lovely lunch at the Knot Pub (great recommendation, Kathy!) and then had a great time visiting Have a Yarn in Mahone Bay. One of their staff will be coming to the symposium, too, so we will be watching for her. Mum finally let a few moths out (of her wallet) and bought her sea urchin from Amos Pewter that she'd eyed in no less than four different places before.

The highlight of the day was our visit to Doris Eaton this afternoon. She is truly a delightful lady and I loved every minute spent at her place. Doris will be one of the guest speakers at the Symposium in a couple of days...and I was glad to be able to have a visit with her before I have to "share" her with all of the other rug hookers ;-) This was the second time I've been to visit with her, and both times I have left wishing that I could stay for days. She is so welcoming and easy to talk to...I wish I lived closer and could visit whenever I wanted.

Tomorrow will be a busy day...driving along the coast, visiting Deanne's new digs, stopping in to shop at London-Wul, and eating at Duncan's. I can't wait!

Monday, October 15, 2007

day three: cheers!

Today was a pretty low-key day. We did some shopping, some strolling and more eating. I returned to Loop (from Day 1) and purchased some wool to knit a couple of scarves for Christmas presents. It really is a great little shop.

Definitely one of the other highlights of the day was the trip to the Alexander Keith's Brewery and tour. Okay, so the sampling at the end of the tour was truly the highlight ;-) The brewery is conveniently located right near our hotel, just a short walk down the hill. If you are in the area, I would recommend the tour. It's a bit overly dramatic, but okay and the sampling at the end is very tasty.

Did you know there is such a thing as Keith's Light? Apparently you can only get it in Nova Scotia, because Labatt doesn't want it to compete with their #1 light beer, Bud Light. Personally, I never buy or drink Bud Light, but I would buy Keith's Light. In fact, I will be bringing some home in my suitcase (too bad the carry-on limit is 1L of liquids).

Please raise your glass to Mr. Alexander Keith...

Tomorrow we are hoping for an early start as we head off to explore the South Shore. Keep you fingers crossed for a beautiful day for great photos ;-)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

day two: Halifax

After a good night's sleep, we awoke to a gorgeous sunny day in Halifax this morning. After a quick (and very yummy) coffee at the place across the street, we started walking down along the waterfront. It is such a nice time of year to be here - it would be hard to share the space another time with all of the normal summer tourists ;-)

This is such a cliche, but it really happened this morning...

We saw this container ship, too. It is amazing that all of that cargo can travel together (and not at all surprising that so often some of the containers are lost at sea - they are stacked pretty high).

I think that I am ready to move into this place.... yeah, right!

The highlight of the day for me was seeing the Maud Lewis house at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. I had seen pictures and heard stories before, but nothing compares to seeing it up close and personal. It truly is very, very small. It is difficult to imagine a single person living in such a small space, not to mention a couple. There is a no photography policy in place at the museum...but I was able to snap this picture of Mum and AB by this beautiful bird, right outside the doors...

We saw lots of beautiful handcrafts today. So far nothing is going to be taking up residence in my suitcase, but I'm sure I won't be coming home empty-handed.

We got surprised by the rain this afternoon, but thankfully it was short-lived. This afternoon, we went down to Piers 21 and 22 and also checked out the Mary Black Gallery.

Tonight we strolled along the waterfront again, and it looked quite different from this morning. We had a delicious dinner at McKelvie's - yummy seafood (scallops, shrimp and salmon). So far I've kept true to my promise of eating seafood every day ;-)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

we made it!

The flight was uneventful, and we had the fastest departure from Toronto I've ever had. We just got back to the hotel, and we are all feeling exhausted. It's been a busy day and tomorrow will be busy, again. I forgot to bring my camera with me today, so no pictures (sorry!)

Highlights of the day include... yummy seafood chowder, cool yarn store called Loop, great performance of Drum, and the feather pillows I'm laying back against. Later.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

busy bee

Wow! What a week!
2 big Thanksgiving dinners (yummy)
1 party (lots of fun)
1 dyeing session (a mini-session, really)
1 newsletter finished, printed, folded, stuffed, stamped and mailed (it should arrive any day now…)
I new project drawn, colour planned and started (see photo above)
2 purses sewn together (well, they will be by tonight – I’ll show pictures soon)
3 pieces of work prepared for exhibit at Shelburne (labels made, pictures taken and forms completed)
50+ small errands (I want a concierge)
…oh, and a whole lot of regular daily life, too.

All that I can say is that I’m glad I decided to take the last few days off and extend my holiday. There is no way that I could have gotten everything done otherwise – at least, not without medication ;-)

We are heading off to the city bright and early tomorrow morning, and then we fly out to Halifax on Saturday morning. I’m planning to bring my laptop with me, so hopefully I’ll be able to keep you apprised of all of our fun times in the week ahead.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


I took this picture yesterday morning, standing at my front door. I love this time of year. The leaves seem to change so much from day to day, I often think that if I had the time to just sit and watch that I would be able to actually see it happen.

I've been busy working on the newsletter...and I'm happy to report that I have a draft done. The only things left to do are a 3rd read-through, creating a free pattern for the centre pages (any ideas?), my letter and the table of contents. The covers are done, and here is a tease for you....

Things are happening are right on schedule ;-)

Monday, October 01, 2007

progress - part II

I was just re-reading my post and realized that I had forgotten to give a progress report on the owl purse. Well, it's got the darts sewn together, the sides sewn on and the lining cut out....but now I'm pretty much at a standstill until my sewing machine is resurrected. I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will come home very soon (and so is AJ, since she is hoping it will come and live with her) ;-)


Hooking has been pushed aside in favour of the next issue of the R.U.G. sack. I usually finish up an issue 3 weeks after the meeting takes place - but 3 weeks from Saturday's R.U.G. would be when I am getting back from Nova Scotia, so that won't work. I really want to get it out in the mail before I leave, which means that I need to take it to the printer next Tuesday (so I can pick it up on Thursday and proceed to fold and stuff and seal and stamp all evening long). Yup, that's just 10 days after the meeting, with Thanksgiving weekend thrown in, too. So, as I said at the beginning, there hasn't been much hooking happening.

Don't think that I don't already have my next project picked out though. I need something fairly simple to bring with me to Deanne's symposium. It also needs to be small, since I'll be schlepping everything with me on the plane and I will only have my small, small Turtle Creek frame. I have decided on a red and green themed geometric runner. So there will be lots of speedy, straight-on-the-grain hooking! I can hardly wait to get started ;-)

R.U.G. on Saturday was another great gathering of rug hookers. I always love going to this event and spending time with such a creative and enthusiastic bunch of ladies (and a couple of token males). My only regret is that we don't get together more often or for longer. Since I don't really belong to a group or regularly hook together with anyone, this is my chance to check in with many of my rug hooking friends. Even though I never really have enough time to say everything to everyone I want to tell and talk with, there is always a bustling energy that is exciting for me. Until I go home and crash from exhaustion, of course!

I was so overwhelmed by the variety in the Mini Ramona pieces the Grey Highlands Guild brought to share. It is so amazing that there is such a range in colours and styles - it is sometimes difficult to see that it is the same pattern underneath it all. If you subscribe to the newsletter, you'll be happy to know that the coloured cover will be "covered" front and back with all of these beauties.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

sewing time

So I drew, sewed, hooked and pressed... and now I'm ready to put it all together into a purse. I was happy to pull the last few loops last night and drag out the elna press to work its magic. In retrospect, were I ever to use this type of handle again, I would just baste them in place, hook tightly around them, remove them and then wait to sew them properly once the pressing was done. Not only would this keep them out of the way and from being a nuisance...it would also be a little better for them. They didn't really appreciate the steam bath (not that you can really tell unless you look closely).

I am anxious to start sewing the darts up and the sides on tonight. Unfortunately I won't be able to do too much more than that until my sewing machine returns. I still need to make my lining and sew it into place...along with adding a zipper closure and sewing down the top trim. I have a sneaky suspicion that this won't all come to pass for a while yet.

I am off to R.U.G. at the Simcoe County Museum in Midhurst on Saturday September 29th. It is always a goog day when rug hookers gather together....and this is a great event. If you are anywhere nearby, you should try to come. Registration and Vendors open at 9:30am, program starts at 10. Things usually wrap up mid-afternoon. Please bring a mug, a bagged lunch, and something for show and tell.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

owl love

Just over three weeks ago, I enjoyed my first 24 hour period of time alone in my place in months. To celebrate, I started pulling wool off the shelves, grabbing lining fabric from the stash and choosing some Ultrasuede to go with the pile...

I came up with an idea. I've wanted a purse with an owl on it for quite some time - ever since I saw my cuz Laura's cute jacket (I will take a picture next time I am down and post it for all to see). I sketched (and modified) my motifs. Found some backing. Got out the lightbox. Drew the pattern. All before Lunch. Then crisis arose and much time was wasted when I broke my sewing machine. No Singer meant that I was unable to sew my top trim in place or make my handles. I started hooking anyway - I was so eager to get started.

I hooked everyday for the next five or six days. Have you ever noticed how your hooking changes after a long lapse? I am not only much slower, I tend not to pull my loops up quite as high and cram them a little closer together. I was getting a little frustrated with my lack of progress and more and more annoyed about my lack of Singer. I used that as an excuse to take a break (after all, I needed to leave lots of room to sew on the pieces) for a week or two.

Then last week, I went to visit Karen at my favourite local yarn store, and discovered the most gorgeous hand-made leather handles. With my name written all over them - a perfect match for my owl purse! This was all the motivation I needed - that night I had the handles sewn onto my backing before I even stopped to make supper...and I continued hooking until I forced myself to go to bed.

I hooked for the next few days, and was amazed at how quickly it was filling in...

Both sides are now at about the same stage. I am hoping that my sewing machine will be back at home soon....but if not, I've already decided to go and impose on AJ this weekend and use her's. Just so I can keep up the momentum - and because I promised myself I couldn't start the next one until it's finished.

Even though I haven't been hooking for the last couple of days, I refuse to put my wool away. That's a surefire way to delay progress.