Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Farewell 2008

I can't believe that it's already the end of the year. Yes, it was a busy one...and it's true that time flies when you're having fun, but I still can't believe it. Maybe it's true that the older you get, the faster time passes?

Christmas was lots of fun. It was great to spend lots of time with the kids and we were able to get in some sliding before the rains came. Our FBD (family bowling day) was one of the best yet.

Living without power at my folks for the last four days was a bit much, and i'm glad to be getting settled back in at home today (it still wasn't back on when I made my hasty departure this morning). Pioneer life is not for me....

I'm still working on my snowmen and hopefully will be back soon with all of the details. Mum and I went out to visit Karen and take advantage of her boxing day sale...and I've been knitting ever since. Soon the novelty will wear off I'm sure, and I'll get back to hooking.

For now, I'm going to be busy getting unpacked and then it will be time to start putting away my decorations. This little cutie was carved and painted by the multi-talented Cathy Henning.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

cleaning up...

...Just popping by to say "hi!"

The final preparations for Christmas are coming together, and I've temporarily taken up residence at my folks for the holidays. Between cleaning, wrapping, packing, tidying, baking and shopping...there hasn't been time for any hooking, yet.

I have heard back from Julie regarding the snowman pattern and she says that I can "just share the pattern" that is what I will be doing early in the new year. I still want to make two more snowmen over the holidays - one for a gift and the other one for me to keep. My plan is to take lots of pictures during their assembly and then blog all about it afterwards.

Over the past weekend, I took some time to do a bit of tidying up at my place. Wool had been piling up all over the place and I finally got it back into some semblance of order. As much as I try to keep things always gets back into disarray eventually. I have a lot of plans for projects I want to work on in the new year and rather than waste the first few days in January sorting everything out, I did my reorganizing in December this year. Some of you might recall that I did a similar thing a year ago.

When I organize my shelves this way, I don't like to include any really narrow pieces of wool, so everything that's less than 3-4" wide gets tossed into a basket in the corner. Over the last year, this process has yielded two big baskets!

Since I mostly hook with a #8 cut, I decided to just sort all of these small scraps by colour and then proceeded to cut them all. Hour and hours and a sore back and wrist later, they were mixed with my other leftover strips and transformed into these overflowing bins of colours...

Now, if that doesn't inspire me to get hooking, I don't know what will!

Saturday, December 20, 2008


I'm busy tidying and doing a few last minute Christmas preparations, while listening to one of my favourite holiday collections from the last few years. I am way (way!) behind on responding to emails and comments...and I hope to clean it all up over the next few days. Thank you for your patience.

Friday, December 19, 2008

quick scarf

If you follow any of the knitting blogs or if you're on have no doubt happened upon a plethora of versions of this in all kinds of beautiful colourways. I know that it was love at first sight for me - if only I could handle that much 1 x 1 rib - without needing to be committed and without it taking me forever to knit!

When I was down East in October, I picked up a couple of skeins of Noro Cashmere Island (60% wool, 30% cashmere, 10% nylon) at Heidi's and I must say that it is so, so much better than any of the other Noro I've used. Not only is it a lot softer - I didn't have a single knot in either skein! (I hope that I haven't jinxed myself with this statement! I've had such terrible luck with knots other Noro lately - sometimes with TWO knots in a single ball resulting in dramatic and sudden and unwanted colour changes).

Anyway, back to this quick scarf.... It's knit entirely in garter stitch and it's just 16 stitches on 5.5mm DP needles - using just 1 skein of colour #5 and 1 skein of colour #6. I alternated yarns on each row, so you really need to use DP or circular needles (I prefer the DP - much more compact), because you'll be both knitting and purling in order to maintain the garter stitch pattern - and your next yarn won't always be on the right side.

Knitting it was a lot of fun - and curiosity of what the next batch of colours will look like will keep you up knitting way past your bedtime. I know that I will be making a bunch more of these....just as soon as I can get my hands on more yarn!

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

In other news, I will be on Christmas holidays for the next two posting may be even more erratic than usual. Best wishes to all of you for a fabulous holiday, lots of great family time, more than enough cheer and a little time to relax.

tiny hats

I've knit several of these hats and used the same basic recipe for all of them, even though the materials and the needles have varied. It's worked out perfectly, since the snowmen heads are all different sizes - there's always one that it fits! ;-) The other nice thing about them is that they are a really quick knit - even for a slow knitter like me - so you can always just knit another one if it's not the right size. (Not to mention the fact that you will want to - they're lots of fun and a little addictive).

The smallest needles I have at home are 3.5mm, so this is what I used (except when I was up at my folks and I used my mum's 2.75mm needles to knit a couple of hats). I find it way faster and easier to knit it flat on just 2 needles and then sew up the seam in the back, instead of using 4 needles. If you prefer to knit in the round, you'll have to adjust the pattern accordingly (change all purl rows to knit rows).

Use any leftover bits of sock yarn or other fine yarn. I think that hand-dyed yarn looks very pretty.

• • • • • • • • • • • •

Cast on 44 stitches.

Knit 4 rows of 2 by 2 ribbing (knit 2, purl 2, and repeat).
Knit 2 or 4 rows of stocking stitch (knit first row, then purl the next row). 4 rows makes a taller hat, so you can fold up the ribbing.

Start Shaping...
1. K8, K2tog, K2, SSK, K16, K2tog, K2, SSK, K8
2. Purl
3. K7, K2tog, K2, SSK, K14, K2tog, K2, SSK, K7
4. Purl
5. K6, K2tog, K2, SSK, K12, K2tog, K2, SSK, K6
6. Purl
7. K5, K2tog, K2, SSK, K10, K2tog, K2, SSK, K5
8. Purl
9. K4, K2tog, K2, SSK, K8, K2tog, K2, SSK, K4
10. Purl
11. K3, K2tog, K2, SSK, K6, K2tog, K2, SSK, K3
12. Purl
13. K2, K2tog, K2, SSK, K4, K2tog, K2, SSK, K2 (16 stitches remain)
14. Purl
15. K2tog all the way across row (8 stitches remain)
16. P2tog all the way across row (4 stitches remain)
17. K2tog all the way across row (2 stitches remain)

Finishing... Pull yarn through 2 loops. Use tail from cast on to sew up seam.

As you will quickly discover, it's a very simple pattern and you will quickly have it memorized. If you like to work with stitch markers you can add them in, but I find it's easy to see where the decreases go.

P.S. This is my first ever shared knitting pattern and I know it doesn't conform to the standard set-up. Sorry! I hope you can decipher it....

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Frosty's Friends...

The Christmas making is almost complete for another year. I still have one or two of these little guys to bring to life, since I am determined to keep at least one for myself - and all of these ones are already promised (and two are already gifted).

I had grandiose plans of making fancy labels for the bottoms and giving each one a name...but realism and practicality and my beloved Sharpie won out in the end. I cannot stress how important it is to sign and date your work...since time keeps ticking and it does get hard to remember when you made things. I made some trees several years ago... and I would never have believed how long it had been if I hadn't read the date on the bottom as I was taking them out of the box last week!

Even though I had a day off from work on Monday...the daylight seemed to fade rather quickly, and it was late in the evening when I was about to start wrapping the little fellows before I realized that I hadn't done my picture-taking. So these aren't the best....but you get the basic idea....

I still haven't heard anything from Jule yet regarding the patterns. I really only made the first one from her actual pattern shape and the rest were just free-handed. The assembly method I used deviated a little, as well.

One thing that I would suggest is that you put some kind of a weight in the bottom - I used 20 pennies in each one - to help keep them standing upright. I also cut a round of cardboard to insert in the bottom. This provides a flat surface for it to stand on - and makes it easier to write on, too. While I did fold and baste the linen seam allowance prior to sewing on the wool back, I did not do the same with the wool - I just used a heavier, subtly felted, wool and sewed using blanket stitch. Before inserting the branch arms I poked a hole with a wooden proddy tool. Also, the twigs are not secured with glue or they can be easily removed for storage and/or replaced in the event they get broken.

Just in case you wanna's the nitty gritty on the supplies used... The little scarves and hats were all hand knit (pattern to follow), some from sock yarn hand-dyed by my Mum and I and others from the Fleece Artist and even some Jade Sapphire Cashmere (yes, I'm well-acquainted with my fibre fetish!) All of the eyes were from an old (fake), broken black jet necklace. My nephew, Wyatt, helped me to cut branches for the arms on Sunday and then I dried them out in the oven for about an hour at a low temperature (they were quite snowy when cut and also holding a lot of moisture). The noses were needle felted using fleece my mum bought at Heidi's. The tiny buttons were a last-minute emergency buy at Wal-Mart (my apologies - but it was better than driving 20 minutes to Fabricland), and the novelty buttons came from Michael's. The little birds came from Michael's (cardinals) and from my closet (chickadee cousins).

They were a lot of fun to make....and in the end the hardest part is deciding which snowman should go to whom. Since I really try to only gift handmade to those who truly appreciate it ** - I know that most all of the recipients will love and cherish their guy for many years. To make it fair, I wrapped them all up in identical boxes and then I'll let people choose one - it's much easier than for me to decide who should get which one. The good news is that I don't think there are any duds this time around so everyone should be happy - at least the six lucky recipients! ;-)

** If you don't already read the Yarn Harlot regularly and you like to give handmade, you should check out this post. It's directed at knitting....but much is transferable.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Snow Day

It's been a busy weekend! Presents were wrapped, party was super fun, Puritan was sold, and snowmen were made. Here's a sneak peak, taken with my phone--and I will be back tomorrow with more. For today is a snow day, so I'm avoiding the treacherous roads and relaxing at home. I'll be putting the finishing touches on snowman #6 and finally get around to writing my Christmas cards. I can't believe that the big day is in just 10 more sleeps!

Friday, December 12, 2008

christmas making continues...

I still need to hook a few more snowman fronts (I'm on number 6 of 8)...but I've been lured away again the past couple of nights by tiny knitting. Not only is the end product kinda cute, the progress is very swift - even for a slow knitter like me. I think I'm going to make a few more of the little hats...and when I make the same pattern twice, I'll write it all down and post it - just in case anyone else wants to knit some for their little guys.

Not too much planned for the weekend...I have my work Christmas Party tonight, and then I think Saturday and Sunday will be filled with snowmen, snowmen...and more snowmen, and possibly some holiday wrapping (I love this part!)

Good luck with your holiday preparations this weekend...I'll be back on Monday with pictures...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I am here...where are you?

So I have a confession to make. For the last week or so, I've been spying on you. Not peeping in your windows or anything creepy like that...just keeping tabs on visitors to my blog. Don't worry, it doesn't tell me "who" you are - in fact the most detail I can find out is what city you're in when you're reading - but it does give me an idea of how many people are visiting and general information such as where you come from and how you get here (from someone else's link, Google, going direct, etc.)

This map represents where readers over the last 10 days have come from. I suspect there are a few misfires in there - but I guess it's possible that there are rug hookers in Estonia, Argentina and Poland (and if you're legit readers...please say "hello" and introduce yourselves). What amazes me is the geographical spread and the fact that, in the last 10 days, there have been 167 different visitors who have visited a total of 483 times. Now I know that I have a very supportive family, but there aren't that many of them reading! So I'd like to thank all of you who are not my relatives (which means most of you!) for stopping by to read my blather. It's very encouraging ;-)

If you have a blog of your own and you'd like to start tracking your own should start today, since it's not possible (as far as I know) to go back in time. I'm using Google Analytics...and I found it to be very easy to set up and it's pretty simple to use, too. The only thing that I wish is that I'd set it up ages ago...

P.S. I'm very happy to report that for the first time in 11 days, I didn't have to brush snow or scrap crusty ice off my car. Not even once today. This makes me happy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I heart my new frame

So I realized that I've been holding out. Not on purpose, it's purely accidental. I guess I was too busy gushing about all of the beautiful rugs I saw and my fabulous class...and I just forgot.

If you've been reading this blog for a while - and you have a good memory - you might remember me raving about the Snapdragon frames back here. Well, true to my word...I did indeed pick one up this time around. And. I. Love. It.

Of course, I pretty much had to buy one after seeing Heidi's in October! She caused a serious case of green-eye to occur in me...

Since purchasing it, I have heard some anecdotal stories of people having problems with it making their backing so taught that it ripped! I haven't experienced such a thing I don't know if it's just an urban legend or what? In any case, I'm still definitely in the infatuation stage...and true to my word, the Puritan is up for sale (and possibly already sold!)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Christmas making

These cuties were designed and created by Jule Marie Smith. I wanted to make my own as soon as I saw hers...and I was thrilled to discover that she was selling a starter kit with the basic directions. With all of the busy-ness around the stocking workshop, I had to put my plans on hold...but with Christmas looming, it's time to get to work. Although I've already decided to make only one per person/family this year (all Misters, to be followed up with Missus next year) - essentially cutting my workload in half - my list of recipients seems to grow longer with each passing day. The list is already up to about 8! I'm hoping to be able to start sewing these guys together this weekend - but first I have to hook all of the fronts! It's easy to guess what I'll be doing every night this week....

...and more of the same!

Monday, December 08, 2008

fewer, better things

Like many people, I'm sister and I have been talking quite a bit lately about the state of our consumer-driven world. I laughed this morning when she sent me this link. The article mentions many of the things that we had already figured out for ourselves and that we'd been discussing for months. I always think it's neat when things like that happen and your ideas are confirmed.

stocking workshop recap...

Well it was a very busy day on Saturday! Once again, I forgot to take photos...sorry!

After teaching the same purse workshop so many times, this first stocking class was a challenge and a learning experience for me, too. People were very interested to learn more about making their own versions of our family stockings. A few struggled in figuring out the basic stitch - and if any of you are reading this, I have a couple of additional tips for you:

1. If you run the back of your hook along the row in which you'd like to be hooking - as though you're trying to draw a dark line with a hard pencil - it can help to separate the burlap threads a little bit (making it easier for you to locate the desired hooking row).

2. To make it easier to figure out where to hook the checkerboard at the toe....count 22 threads up from the lowest point in the foot. Hook one row all of the way across (in every-other hole • every 2 threads). Start hooking the checkerboard from the top, and work your down to the bottom.

Please share these tips with your friends on Wednesday (or sooner!) ....and thank you again for a really great day! Happy hooking!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

I made it!

Even thought I felt like I was driving through the middle of a giant
snowglobe at times, I arrived safe and sound in North Bay last night.
After a tasty meal and chat with Beulah, I was eager to get a good
nights sleep. With all of those late nights earlier in the week, I
was pretty tired and beginning to feel like a cold was coming. Alas
with my 9 hours of shut-eye and liberal doses of ColdFX, I think I
might have dodged it. Fingers crossed!
I looked over the class list last night, and it will be great to have
so many familiar faces in class later this morning. It should be a fun
day. Plus, if all else fails, there's always the candy canes I picked
up yesterday!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

things I know for sure...

1. Getting ready for a workshop take a lot of time. Evening and evenings of time...

2. I'm not charging enough for my kits, given the amount of time it takes to assemble them (dyeing, drying, cutting, counting, bundling, straightening, aligning, pining, cutting, folding, packaging...oh, and I almost forgot the printing, cutting, shopping...the list is endless).
3. I need to start placing a higher value on my time and my creations.
4. My apartment looks like a lint-bomb went off inside it.
5. I've had to brush snow off my car for 4 mornings in a row....and I'm getting a little sick of it.

On a more positive note...
I was asked to share more details about the upcoming stocking workshop. Our family's Christmas stockings are the reason I first learned how to hook. My aunt made these stockings....

....for my sisters and me back in 1977. With every birth and marriage, a new stocking needs to be created. Somehow I was elected to the post of official family stocking maker....and the rest, as they say, is history!

The stockings are very different from my regular style of hooking - and aside from the thrill I get from keeping the tradition alive, they are also a lot of fun to make. Plus, there a pretty quick project - relatively speaking, of course! I can hook a front in about 6-7 hours or 1-2 evenings of hooking. Since I took over from AJ in 1991, I've made at least one each year...for a total of 20. But I'm still a long way off from the over 100 that AJ produced.

When the ladies from North Bay invited me to come a teach a small project as soon as I was able....the first and best idea that I could come up with was the stockings. Naturally I asked AJ for permission, first....and then set upon the task of coming up with directions to explain the process to others. I've now created an instruction booklet, complete with colour illustrations, design charts, sewing patterns, etc. which will be available for purchase following my workshop this weekend (they will be my guinea pigs and I want to make sure that I haven't forgotten anything and that the instructions are clear before I print more copies). I'll post something on the blog when it's ready to go...

For now, I'm scurrying around, trying to organize the things I need to bring with me for the class....and just keeping my fingers crossed that I remember everything.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

great gift idea...

This year, more than any other, it seems to me that people are looking for innovative ways to give gifts that keep on giving. Last year, my sister was surprised with the gift of a piglet - not for her, but for a family in need. It really got me thinking about the number of token gifts I buy each year and how practically no-one I know needs any more "stuff". Of course, there are a few exceptions and a couple of "perfect presents" for some of the people on my list....but I am really trying to be more mindful and not contribute unnecessarily to the amount of crap that's filling our lives (and our landfills).

Because not every one would appreciate such a gift, I'll have to do some careful consideration during the next while before Christmas. I've been checking out a number of different sites in my searching, including: World Vision Meaningful Gifts, Unicef Gifts of Magic, Oxfam Unwrapped Gifts. All of these sites have great tips for giving such gifts - check out their FAQ pages.

There is one thing that I've come across so far that would easily appeal to a creative or artistic person - for just $20. I'm sure that it will be well-received by at least one person on my list.


Stocking information is delayed, but still coming - I was up late last night continuing my preparations and was too tired to start taking pictures. I'll try again tonight...

Monday, December 01, 2008

quickie post about the stockings...

My friend Marsha left a comment yesterday wanting to know more about the stocking workshop I'm teaching up in North Bay this Saturday. I haven't got time to blog about it right now, but if you go here, you can at least see a picture of a couple of these stockings. Such stockings have been a part of our family's Christmas celebrations for over 30 years AND they are the reason I learned how to hook! I'll try to blog more about it tomorrow. Happy Monday!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Right here, right now

What a crazy day! Up at the crack with my friend's 18 month old (cutie pie) at Yorkdale with a gazillion other folks (just plain silly)....out for brunch at the Abbot (yummy, as usual)...more visiting (and wishing they lived closer)....stopping in Barrie on the way home (Christmas shopping is DONE, but there's still some making left to do))...and if that weren't enough to call it a full day, I just finished dyeing 7 yards of wool for my stocking workshop next weekend!As I sit typing this, all I can think about is how much I wish that I'd cleaned up -- before I sat down!Enjoy the rest of your weekend...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

neat trees

I was wasting time just now and happened upon these nifty trees made from felted sweaters. I'm sure you could do something similar with wool fabric (although it would likely be more expensive)...

Friday, November 21, 2008

I love that place!

...and trust me, there's a lot to love!

For the last seven years, I've made an annual pilgrimage to see the Hooked in the Mountains show at the Shelburne Museum. Some years I've taken classes and other years I've just done a whirlwind trip on long weekend to see the show, shop and socialize.

The rug display is always fabulous (and pictures of that will be forthcoming, promise!), but the setting is also a real treat. The red barn is a magnificent building and it's as unique as most of the rugs on display within its round walls.

I don't think that I'll ever tire of seeing those typical of Vermont.

Yes, those are apples! ...and the mountains are peeking thought behind. I just love tree's so interesting to see all of the branches once the leaves have fallen.

Scattered on the grounds are dozens of buildings....some 30+ structures depicting various periods and architectural features. There's even a boat, the Ticonderoga! The only downside to going to see the hooked rug show is that the Museum is closed to the public at that time of if you really want to take advantage of all it has to offer, you'll just have to return again another time...

Many of the classes take place in either the Diamond Barn (on the left) or the Owl Cottage (on the right). I wonder which room I'll be teaching in next year? Yes, it's true! I am thrilled and honoured to have been asked to teach a class on purses next year. The details are still being finalized, but I'm pretty sure that it will be the last three days (I'll keep you posted).

So long for now, red barn...see you again next year!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Home - just in time

Although we encountered some light snow along our way through Vermont and New York this morning, it didn't slow us down. I was a little concerned when I heard about the storm we had here yesterday...but luckily it only really snowed when I was about five minutes from home. This is what it looked like...

It's great to be home (and it will be even nicer to sleep in my bed!) I'll post more about the trip real soon.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

some rugs from the Shelburne Museum...

As I mentioned in my earlier post, we were fortunate to be able to go and see some of the Shelburne Museum's rug collection during our classes today. Although pictures were allowed, flash was not, so a couple of the photos are a little blurry. My apologies.

First up, here's Christmas Tree (date unknown). I think that I've seen this rug in at least one book before...

The Shelburne Museum Rug (circa 1955) is thought to have been hooked to commemorate the founding or an anniversary of the museum, since it contains a variety of historic artifacts and structures found on the grounds.

Molly Nye Tobey (1893-1984) created a masterpiece series of 50 Statehood rugs between 1046 and 1961. Each of the rug designs incorporate aspects of the geography, natural resources, agriculture, industry and history that are representative of each state. This is New York Rug...

This next rug (maker unknown) is circa 1955...

Dog in Diamond (1931) is not unfamiliar....

Jumbo the Elephant (circa 1930)...

Molly Nye Tobey's Nebraska Rug....

And I've saved one of my favourites for last...Molly Nye Toby's Basket of Flowers (1966)

class with Heather Ritchie - day two

Today was another great day. We continued making flowers...and I continued to be entertained by Heather and her accent. Yesterday I had spied some knitting she had in her bag...and I was hoping that she would talk to us about how she made it. She calls it her proddy knitting and she uses hand-dyed yarn and locks of dyed fleece to create it. This curly fleece looks like angora mohair, but it actually comes for her local Wensleydale sheep. Here it is from the front....

And here it is from the back...

It's very neat...and the same technique can be done with scraps of fabric in place of the fleece. The only downside is that, without the curls, they can more easily be pulled out. It's another item to add to list of things I want to try...

Participants were able to go and see one of the museum's exhibits today, so it took away from my hooking time a little bit. All the same, I did manage to create three flowers that I'm quite happy with...

I wonder what we will learn tomorrow...