Tuesday, April 28, 2009

racing against the sun

You don't have to hang around here for very long to realize that Wendie and I are card-carrying members of a mutual admiration society. When my shipment of handles arrived last week, including some new narrow straps, I immediately thought of her (Wendie is a) Jeanius bags, and I just knew that there would be one in my near future.

Because there is no such thing as "too many" purses...I soon started digging around in my pile of clothes and other odd bits waiting to go to the Sally Ann, looking for a pair of old jeans. All of those I found are some sort of boot cut, so I won't be dealing with perfectly straight sides, but I think it will be okay (I cut a ways up from the bottom, where there's a little less flare).

I was anxious to get started and though I could have rushed it last night.... I convinced myself to just wait and take my time. I was really hoping to get started right after work today, but I got preoccupied with tidying, dinner, e-mail, etc. By the time I got around to cutting my jeans, determining the size of my flap, drawing my design (even though it's small, it still takes me some time)...time was ticking. By the time I'd finalized my drawing, the sun was fast setting.

Rather than dig out my lightbox, for such a small piece, I did it my old way: the window method. I don't recommend this approach for anything big, since the backing can drape in awkward ways and it can be a challenge to accurately transfer your design. For a piece this small, it's easy to just wing it - and so much faster, too. Just tape your picture to the window and then tape your backing on top. It's much easier to line things up if you draw your outline on the backing first (before you hang it on the window).

When the backing is held back against the drawing, it's a lot easier to see the lines than it appears in the picture.

While the sun had almost disappeared, there was still enough light to transfer the pattern. Now that this job is done, I'm anxious to get started on the hooking. I'm off to do that right now....

Monday, April 27, 2009

weekend recap and a surprise find

The springlike weather I was anticipating this weekend didn't end up arriving until today. Luckily, I had a few blooms indoors to help me pretend over the weekend....

And the poor weather meant for a little bit of hibernating inside and working on getting ready. "Getting ready" is starting to seem like a never-ending activity around here. Everytime I start feeling like I'm almost at the end, I remember other things that need to be added to the list or encounter some sort of obstacle. With some other everyday life commitments (work, family, etc.) taking place between now and the Annual, I am trying to be ready well ahead of schedule....just in case I get any rude surprises.

I keep reminding myself that any progress is good... And there continues to be progress, which is even better! ;-)


I have a couple of sets of keys. I don't like to keep everything on the same ring - not only because it would be too bulky and heavy...but because if ever I lost it, I would be completely screwed. One of my keychains holds my work keys, amongst others that I don't use daily. Because I don't use them every day, it sometimes gets misplaced. The lack of a fob wasn't really helping.

In the process of looking for something to attach to the ring on the weekend, I happened upon the pendant that Wendie gave me last Fall. Perfect!

Now some of you might think that this is an insulting use for this gift....but I don't see it that way at all. I will be able to see and treasure it all of the time - much more often than if it continued its life as a pendant.

Sometimes we treasure things so much that we never really use and appreciate them. Saving things for "good" just means they're destined to be another dust collector... What things do you have hanging around that can be re-purposed and put back into circulation?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

more goodies

There was more in one of the boxes that was delivered mid-week, and in my excitement, I forgot to take pictures of everything. I also ordered a few skeins of spun silk thrums and spun ribbons....and then repackaged them into smaller amounts...

It's so colourful, yet rarely too bright. I think it will be a lot of fun playing around with this stuff...

The playing will have to wait a while longer, though. I still have quite a few little jobs to cross off my list first. Today I'm going to be tackling the final stocking kit assembly - and before I can do that, I need to pull out the dye pots and do a little tweaking.

Hope it's the beautiful day they've been promising...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

the Easter Bunny arrived late

What's just as good as candy and chocolate? The two parcels I picked up at the post office yesterday. They were filled to brimming with this:

and all of this:

which (although it's hard to tell), is this:

With these new arrivals, I'm starting to feel quite ready for what I hope will be a very busy Annual at the end of May. I'm just waiting for one more shipment of stuff -- and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it arrives in time.

Monday, April 20, 2009

spring sorting

At this time of year, it's common to do a bit of tidying and cleaning. I spent much of the day yesterday doing just that and I finally saw the bottom of my "basket". Do you have one of those? A place when you place important papers and other interesting things while waiting to be filed, paid, or otherwise dealt with.... Sometimes it gets so full that I have to start a second one - but I never let it get so bad as to need a third! ;-)

Near the bottom of my basket, I found a pile of clippings that were all ready to be added to one of my journals. These journals began as homework for a class I took with Mary Anne Wise a couple of years ago. I found them to be such a useful source of inspiration, that I've kept the practice up since.

After I'd pasted all of the clippings from the basket into my books, I wanted to keep on going....and this was a perfect time to tackle my magazine mountain. I love magazines and although I really try to limit buying them (such a waste of paper!)....I can't seem to resist. Although I keep Rug Hooking and Selvedge, I don't usually hang onto too many others. Instead, I rip out any articles of interest, great sounding recipes, and inspiring pictures. I'm more than half-way through my magazines, and I have quite a pile of new images waiting to be pasted inside my books...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Moira Mat Makers Hook-In

What a great time in Belleville! The Hook-In was a lot of fun, and although I rambled through my talk, it went well. Apart from the lively conversation, the very yummy treats and beautiful projects at the actual hook-in, one of the highlights took place on Friday evening. Glenn, my hostess with the mostess, invited some of the members of her group over for a delicious dinner. It was a great opportunity to meet people and get to know some of the ladies a little bit better.

Their group has been working on a messenger bag project for the last while, and many of the finished bags were on display at the hook-in. I hope they don't mind my showing them here....and I also hope that someone will fill me in on the missing names (thanks Christine! ;-) )

Flo Woods

Wendy Nickerson

Christine Walker-Bird

Mary Anne Keast

Glenn Ryley Cotton

Gloria Jonkman

Glennyce Sinclair

Joan Foster

Maribeth Bateman
This final purse just needs to be sewn together, but it gives you an idea of how they are all constructed.

Even though I have made over 20 hooked purses, I don't know everything....and I love to get new ideas. The best tip I picked up over the weekend was to wax upholstery thread before hand-sewing. Blocks of wax for this purpose are available at Fabricland. By running your thread through the wax prior to sewing, it not only makes it slide a little more easily, it also helps to preserve the thread and make it waterproof. Thanks ladies, I am going to try this...

• • • • • • •

The Grayson e. handles were very popular and although I was thrilled by the frenzy, I was also feeling a little anxious about having so few left to bring with me to a couple of events next month. In case you're wondering why this would be a problem....apparently the lady who makes the handles received a defective batch of leather and this pushed her production back. Some items won't be available for two or three months. Luckily, I've been able to order a few more items that are in stock and they will soon be on their way...in lots of time for RUG and the Annual. Included in this shipment will be a number of narrow straps, just like those the ladies used on their messenger bags (above).

the drive home

I decided to drive home from Belleville the shorter, winding road way...rather than taking the longer, boring highway. Both trips take about the same amount of time, it's just the distance that's different.

Several times during the trip I kept telling myself that I should stop, get my camera, and snap a few pictures. Afraid that I would only regret these delays later, I kept on driving. By the time I got to the Park (Algonquin), I could no longer restrain myself and had to start clicking. (It helped that I was feeling pretty good, and knew that I could be home in about an hour ;-) ) Sadly, I think that I missed out on some of the best shots from earlier in the drive, but here are some of the ones I did get...

This part of Spring is so underrated....sometimes we just need to open up our eyes to what is around us...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

my trunk is full

The car is packed, my place is tidy (well, vacuumed at least!), and I'm ready to get on my way. I'm heading to Belleville tomorrow at lunchtime (it's about a 4 hour drive)...and by suppertime I'll be visiting and chatting with about 10 fellow hookers. It's going to be a great weekend!

If you're in the area, the hook-in starts at around 10am and goes until about 3pm. It's being held at the Belleville Recreation Centre - 116 Pinnacle Street. If you're able to make it, please bring a brown bag lunch, a mug, $4 and your hooking. Refreshments will be served and there will be door prizes.

I'll be bringing my camera...and hopefully I remember to take it out of it's bag. Since I'll be leaving my laptop at home, any posts over the next few days will be short and sweet (if they happen at all). Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

It's 10:09pm....do you know where your Sharpies are?

I had a rude surprise when I went to my local Staples store yesterday. They no longer regularly stock my favourite Sharpie Rub-a-Dub markers. Of course they can special order them in, but it will take 6-8 weeks for them to arrive. I can't wait that long!

See these guys?

See how there is only one marker still in its package? See how there are a total of only 5 markers? They are the only Rub-a-Dubs I have in my house! I don't think I've had so few since I started hooking almost 10 years ago.

One brand new marker and 4 already in use (for how long, I'm not sure)...and I'm starting to get worried. And when I'm not feeling worried, I'm feeling regret and remorse for all of the 1/2 dead markers I've thrown out in the last couple of weeks, in an effort to "get organized". Sure they didn't work perfectly, but some is better than none. ....and once I get my last few patterns drawn, I'm worried that "none" will be all that's left.

Does anyone know of anywhere else where you can find my favourite pattern-drawing markers? I am going to Belleville on Friday and returning home on Sunday....and given the dire circumstances, I am prepared to make a detour along the way and off the path.

(And for those of you who don't believe in the power of the Rub-a-Dub, I'm not about to be converted any time soon, so you might as well save your breath... ;-) )

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

printed, at last!

The last few days passed by in a blur...and though I thought more than once over the weekend that there was no way I was ever going to finish writing and editing my instructions in time, I did it! After some frantic printer problems at the eleventh hour last night (okay, maybe just the 9th hour ;-) ), I dropped them off at the printers first thing this morning and they were ready before lunchtime.

I've been busy drawing the accompanying patterns onto rug warp...and am developing a little bit of a stockpile. I still have a few more that I want to get done, and hope to knock them off when I get home from work tomorrow.

In the meantime, I'm trying to pull together an updated pattern brochure....and hope to have it ready in the next couple of days. If you'd like me to e-mail you a copy of my new brochure, please let me know by sending a quick note to fisheyerugs AT hotmail DOT com

• • • • • • • • • • • • •

Drawing so many patterns over the last week or so has really make me thankful for my lightbox. My Dad made it for me a few years ago for Christmas...using cherry cut on their property.

Depending on the size of the piece to be transferred, I can choose how many lights I want to have on. Usually it's either two or three....

...and there's a nice wide lip all the way around that makes it easy to haul around (which is especially great since I live in a small place and it can't live permanently on top of my dining room table!)

In case you're curious...the dimensions of the top are 30" square, plexi-glass is 24" square, height is 9".

Friday, April 10, 2009

still at it....

I could no longer procrastinate writing up the purse instructions....and finally got down to business yesterday afternoon. As with most things, once I got started I was soon wondering why I had been postponing... They are far from complete, but there is still hope ;-)

I began today by reading over and marking up the draft I printed just before bed last night....and so next I will start correcting all of the typos, formatting problems, gross omissions, etc. Then it will be time to play around in Photoshop to come up with some illustrations to accompany the words. All the while wishing and hoping that the broken hinge on my laptop doesn't wreck disaster (the part has been ordered....and it should be okay, but many little wires are involved.)

I've been toying around with a better name for the Pom purse, but no keepers as yet. I was pretty much decided on Henry's Pom (in tribute to Jonathan Rhys Meyers' sexy scene devouring a pomegranate in the Tudors - you can watch it here (my apologies for the cheesey trailer - skip to 0:20 for the real scene))...but then I watched the first episode of season 3 last night and let's just say that now I'm not so sure...
Do you have any good ideas?

I'm hoping to make great progress on this today, and maybe even finish up the Pom instructions (fingers crossed) so that I can get started on Everyday Carré tomorrow.

Tonight we're having our fancy Nanna Supper, where we attempt to recreate our childhood celebrations at my grandparents - my Dad carves at the table, the plates get passed down to my mother (and my sisters and/or me) to serve the vegetables, and we use all of the fancy dishes and silver. Yes, it's a lot of work and an endless amount of hand-washing....but it's always special. Happy Easter everyone!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

5 totes full

This is the scene at the dining room table last night. My camera battery only had enough juice for one photo....so the rest of the photos are from the end of the process.

Green bins are for more than just food! All told, there were five bins FULL of wool - some were even over-flowing...

I think these little "Bundles of Joy" are perfect for hooking purses. The subtleties and variety that sometimes go unnoticed in a rug are key in a purse - since you are almost always seeing it (and admiring it ;-) ) from very close.

I also dyed bundles with wider strips for backgrounds and some larger pieces for purse trim. The inspiration for many of these colours came right from the Grayson e. handles...

I wasn't sure about these golden orangey, toffee colours I dyed to match the Buckskin handles....but laughed out loud when I set them on the counter- right beside my new notebook that's the exact same colours ;-)

I also dyed some wool for more stocking kits....but didn't trust my recipes, so a little tweaking is needed. Just another example of why I don't use recipes - you just can't trust them! ;-)

Off to pick up my parcels from the post office before it closes. I suspect more handles are here....

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

beautiful mess

I can't take credit for the title of this post - it was lifted from a song that was just on the radio. Something tells me that the man wasn't singing about the state of my kitchen last night...but it fits ;-)

I had a 8-hour dye marathon last night, and there are now three shopping totes filled with wet wool awaiting their final rinse, spin and dry. I've conquered more than 2/3 of wool mountain, and I'll be finishing up the rest today. Then I'm going to haul the lot up to my folks and sit with my mum ripping, folding and bundling it all into pretty packages. Since you never really know what you have until you pull it out of the dryer, I thought I'd share some of my process with you in the meantime...

I don't know anyone who dyes the way that I do. It's a crazy evolution almost ten years in the making. I primarily use an electric wok and deep electric fry pan (both gratefully received in mint condition from a old friend, although she'd had them for years). I dye in both pans simultaneously, and in between I place a large insert pan. I mix up about half a dozen cups of colours and randomly start adding dribbles and glugs to the pans. Once a cup is empty, I mix up another colour. When the wool is not picking up the dye as quickly as I'd like, I add a bit more citric acid. As soon as my piece of wool starts looking like something I want, I pluck it out of the wok, squeeze most of the liquid out by pushing it up into the bottom of a tilted measuring cup, and place it in the centre insert.

As I work though one basic colour family, I keep all of the wool bundles in the same pan. This way, I can quickly identify any outliers, pieces that are too bright, too pale, etc. and also see that I'm collecting a range of colours and values. I don't like to have too many pieces looking too similar.

...sometimes I need to start piling a second layer on top of the first ;-)

Once I've completed working on a colour, I put all of the wool into a couple of pots, along with some more citric acid, to "cook off". I don't really time this step - I pretty much let them cook until I'm finished dyeing the next colour (and I need the pots!) By keeping similar colours in the same pot, any bleeding is minor and doesn't have a detrimental effect.

As I'm placing the wool into the cooking pots, I am a little selective about what goes where. Even through the steam, you can see in this next photo that one pot contains more tealy blues and the other is filled with more true blues.

I use mostly Pro Chem and Magic Carpet dyes....and one of the best things I've done to organize them is to glue a small swatch onto the lids of the various colours. It makes it much easier (and faster) to find what you're looking for. I still need to do it with the new colours I bought a couple of years ago (all of the black lids). Things were definitely simpler with fewer colours! These old pop crates are perfect for holding dye jars.

At the end of my dye session, I put my dye catching cloths into the pot to simmer, too. These typically get used several times until I fall in love with the colour of the moment.