Saturday, January 30, 2010

good to be home

After spending the last two days in Toronto, I'm home for the weekend, and then off gallivanting again on Monday. I'll be home again late Wednesday night, until Friday when I head to Wendie's for the weekend....and then I'll be gone again on the Monday until the Wednesday. It's nuts. This is always a busy time of year for me in my job, where I do lots of travelling, my nights in my own bed are cherished.....and I feel like I really need to make the most of whatever time I have at home.

I woke up this morning eager to make a dint on my stacks of as-is colours that I want to marbleize - until I realized that I have just a wee bit of citric acid -- not nearly enough. The lack of citric acid also prohibits dyeing more slub (before I forget how... ;-) ) or over-dyeing the 7-8 skeins of yarn I bought to knit myself a sweater (which is really too bad, since this would be a great hotel project).

Instead of pursuing any of those fun options, I'll be catching up on e-mails, tidying up my desk, and hopefully have enough time leftover to get to hooking this afternoon.

In spite of my busy schedule for the next couple of weeks, I will do my best to keep up with the blogging.....but it might not be quite as regular as it has been of late. Luckily this craziness isn't permanent ;-)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Flashback Friday

I had been hooking for less than a year when our beloved Fred died and I hooked this rug as a Christmas gift for my parents. I was very happy with his body and tail at the time...but just couldn't improve the face, despite numerous attempts. It was the best that I could do in 1990. (It wasn't until long after I'd finished the rug that I noticed that he wasn't grounded...which was true in a way - he'd already gone up to heaven!)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

almost like new again....

It was quite some time ago that I purchased my Ott floor lamp....and I've been very happy with its performance for many years. But a couple of weeks ago I noticed that it was starting to get a little wobbly. I ignored it. It got more wobbly. Finally I decided to investigate the source of the wobble and I noticed that there was a big bolt in the bottom of the base. I dug out my wrench (from my simple and sparse tool drawer)....and proceeded to tighten it. I turned and turned, and just when I started to thing that it was getting tighter, it would loosen again. Meh! - it was stripped.

Hmmmmm, now what? Call Dad of course! His first comment was "it must have been loose for a while to strip it...." and, after my guilty confession, his second comment was "Get some steel Epoxy -- it will either fix it permanently or break it permanently..." Having faced the hassle and expense of getting spare parts from the US for it once before (power surge killed the ballast - my fault), I was eager to try anything before shelling out a bunch of money, not to mention doing without my lamp in the meantime.

So the other night, I assembled everything....applied the epoxy, lined it all up and tilted it over onto the couch to support the heavy top -- and then left it all to cure for 24 hours (my Dad's third comment). I was anxious to see if it was going to hold...but I resisted the temptation to give it a little wiggle. The next evening I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it had worked! I'm not sure how long it will hold, but I'm going to baby it along, for as long as I can, and hope that the fix is permanent.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

cool video

This video is way cooler than anything else I could thing of to say on such a blah day....enjoy!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

a new beginning

I left work yesterday with the best of intentions, planning to go home and finish off at least one of the clutches and hopefully two. I don't know what happened, but before I knew it, it was well after 8 o'clock...and I'd barely started. Luckily I was smart enough to realize that I was too tired to cope with the final few fiddly steps, and could easily foresee it all going terribly wrong. The solution? Just start another one -- and so I did!

It took me a little while to come up with a design idea, draw it out, sew on some trim, and start picking colours. By the time I started hooking, I didn't have much time and didn't want to waste any of it getting up from my chair, so I just worked from the two bins I had beside me. I'm going to search for some dark slub tonight to fill in the crooks and crannies between the circles....then I'll hook the border, saving the insides of the circles for last. Fingers crossed there's a little less ADD tonight and I'm able to get a bit more done...

Monday, January 25, 2010

the best part of the weekend....

Along with the normal cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, and the much needed pattern-drawing (ugh!), I also had quite a bit of time to spend hooking and creating a new coin purse. While I still have to add the clasp and do a couple of other's very promising. Plus, I think I've devised a fix for the stripey one I abandoned last week (yay!)

The back (above) is my favourite, and I would be happy to have the same twigs repeated on the other side and say goodbye to the butterfly....but ripping out half of what you've done just doesn't fit with my DNA. Yet another example of where an extra 10-15 minutes of planning would have helped, but I was just too eager to get going. The body of the butterfly is hooked with sparkly nylons, which is going to look swell with the gunmetal clasp I've picked out.

The colours started with a piece of royal purple Ultrasuede....and I noticed a funny thing about my wool: I mostly have magenta-purples not blueish-purples. Needless to say, selecting the wool was pretty quick -- I just choose all of them....and mixed in a little magenta! When it was all said and done, I found the perfect batik for the lining in my stash, so I guess it was fate.

With any luck I'll have time this week to finish off both of the clutches...and maybe even start on the next one.

Friday, January 22, 2010

flashback friday

Since I haven't done any hooking all week, I'm left with little news to post about today. When I was gathering up all of my work in preparation for my talk last weekend, I realized that there are quite a few rugs and other things that I made long before I started this blog. Today I'm going to share one of them....

This is the wedding rug I made for my good friend Sheri and her husband Spencer when they married in 2002. The handprints on the left are from her side of the family tree and those on the right are from his side of the family. The parents are on the top branches, the sibilings in the middle (in age order, from top to bottom), and of course, the bride and groom at the bottom making the heart.

I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the inspiration for using hand prints as leaves came from one of Ann Hallett's rugs.

I also made this rug care card to present with the rug.....along with a little rug repair kit (a small lidded box filled with some of the leftover strips). So far I haven't had to make any repairs.....and the rug still looks great! ;-)

When I made this rug, I'd only been hooking for about 2 1/2 years....and when I look at it now, I notice things that I would do differently today. That makes me happy -- and I still love the rug! I can only hope that in 7 or 8 years from now I will look back on the work I've been doing lately and still be able to see new ways of doing it. Who wants to be stuck in a creative rut or max out on their learning and experimenting?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

close, but no cigar

I got far enough along in the construction of my newest coin purse to realize that my amazing idea was just "amazin". Rather than still finish it - and effectively waste one of my frames on a less than perfect purse - I've decided to just abandon it. Making the decision to abandon a project you really like is not an easy one, but I know that I will be happier in the end. (Plus this is a pretty small and quick project, so I didn't really have a lot invested - emotionally, monetarily, or time-wise)

I am feeling a lot more optimistic that the third try will be the charm. Even after making so many purses (20+), when you add something new into the mix (coin purse frame)....sometimes it takes a little while to work out the kinks. Hopefully I will have a success story to share by the end of the weekend...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

felted pillow

When my mum came over on Friday she remembered to bring my pillow with her (I first blogged about it here). After Christmas, she decided to felt it again, for good measure. The finished product is much fuzzier and also a little more hazy looking, but it's also more "together".

The front of the cardigan is now the back of the pillow, and by conserving the buttons, it's easily removable for washing, etc.

It's hard to believe that I first knit this sweater about 20 years ago! What surprises me the most about it is how many lights I used. Was it because that's what I could find in my mum's studio? Or was it what I wanted? I'll never know......but I do know that it's great to have this relic around once again, if only to serve as a reminder that I've done it before.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

madness due to my methods

I've been reminded (again!) of how important it is to make notes on your methods. They don't have to be onerous or detailed or even neat....but they are only helpful if they exist. If they're all just stored in your over-used and over-capacity brain, they're pretty much useless. And so are you, because you can't remember what you did last time (several months before). Or at least how you did it.

This pretty much sums up my dye day on Sunday. Too much time was spent figuring it all out again and re-learning what I'd finally realized worked the best. Sometimes when this happens I'm lucky enough to discover and new and improved way of doing things....but mostly, it's just an exercise in frustration, as it was this weekend.

All was not lost, though....I did end up with a pile of pretty wool -- but more importantly, I've made my notes to help me pick up right where I've left off, the next time. Learning the hard way is still learning, right? ;-)

Monday, January 18, 2010

new additions to the library

While at the hook-in this weekend, I was remind of the little thrill that comes with silent auctions. Truth be told, at rug hooking events a silent auction is almost always more desirable than a live auction IMHO. Let's face it, many of the donated items are not big ticket it's a relief to not have to sit though a tedious session of bidding for sales of a couple of dollars each -- and worse, items that no one readily bids painful.

Plus with a silent auction, there's the friendly competition that ensues when you're bidding against friends, the constant checking and incremental bidding on items of interest.....and the requisite hoping and praying that you will remember to return and check the item right before the auction ends. It's the last-minute checking that I need to work on....but obviously I'm getting better -- I came home with two books!

The first book was one I couldn't remember seeing before, but when I mentioned it to AJ, she thought she has the hardcover edition. Me thinks I'm going to have to take another look at her hooking bookcase the next time I'm over -- it's been many since I last did. I'm sure there will be lots of new (old) books for me to flip through, and many books that I glossed over when I first started hooking which would really interest me now.

What I like most about the second book is that it's Canadian. There's even a couple of hooked rugs on the inside pages.....and I saw a moose and some beavers featured on some of the other items - so it's really Canadian, not just in its name! ;-)

I haven't had too much time to check out either of them very thoroughly, yet. They've joined my bedside they will be a part of my evening routine over the next couple of weeks. What is in your book pile, waiting to be read? One of my new year's resolution is to read more and worry less about the time that it takes (and that it takes me away from some of my other favourite pastimes).


more on my fun in the dye pots later....and more on what else I've been up to, too! ;-)

Friday, January 15, 2010

snow unlikely

It's been a pretty busy week. In addition to all of the regular stuff and getting ready for the Hook-In on Saturday, I've been to three birthday parties since Saturday!

The preparations are going well, and I've gathered up almost all of the rugs and many of the other hooked items I've made so far....but I'm starting to regret not taking advantage of the light and fluffy snow we had a few weeks ago to clean some of my rugs. I've never tried sweeping any of my rugs - or any of my Grandma's either, for that matter - with fresh snow before. But, as I was sorting through the collection last night I couldn't help but notice that a couple are past due for a little freshening. With the thermometer already hovering around 0ºC this morning, I think it's unlikely that I'll be able to do much about it before I hit the road bright and early tomorrow. (and realistically I don't really want to have to worry about snow when I'm driving...)

I am going to try and remember to do it the next time it snows big fluffy flakes, though.....and I'll be sure to let you know how I make out. I'm interested to hear from anyone who's done it before.....particularly on whether or not you had problems drying them out afterwards (I imagine they'd be a little damp when they came back inside...? ) Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts....

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

so close

Well, the hooking is all done, the lining is sewn....and all that's left to do is the final assembly (which is the trickiest part, of course!). The only problem is that I've been procrastinating getting ready for my speaking engagement at Georgetown this I'm regretfully going to have to set it aside for a bit, until I have everything a little more in hand. Hopefully if I get a good night of work in tonight, I'll be able to take a little break tomorrow for TV and hand-sewing.

I am feeling quite positive that my plan can work. I hope I'm right.

Monday, January 11, 2010

new and improved

Over the years I've used a few different methods of storing and organizing my wool strips. They have evolved from zip lock bags (too awkward), to little baskets (too small), to cloth bins (too flimsy), and finally to shoe boxes (shoe storage bins, actually).

Last Fall at her studio, I noticed that Martina used large lettuce/salad containers to hold her strips and I immediately thought this might be the solution I've been needing (my cloth bins were flopping all over the place and the resulting Pisas were quite precarious - and had tumbled more than once!). I figured I would start eating more salad....and hoped that before long I'd have enough. It wasn't quite that easy. I needed a lot of bins.

Fortuitously, the big snow storm just before Christmas brought me to $@##-*@^% (yes, that big box store I try to avoid at all costs...sorry world!) and while I was there I looked for some alternative storage bins. I quickly found - and decided to buy - a bunch of the shoe bins. Why? They are light weight, but with sturdy sides - and lids! I can easily stack them without worrying about the emptier ones getting smooshed. They were only $1.19 each (or thereabouts). I can see what colour is inside, so I can quickly find the bin I'm looking for without having to look inside 12 others first. And, they hold a reasonable amount of wool. So far, the only complaint I have is that I wish I'd bought more!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

another whirl

I finally got around to hooking this weekend. It's so great to be back at the frame...and so quickly comfortable and relaxing. I've started on another coin purse/wallet, so I'm in a rush to get the hooking done to see if my ideas for assembly are going to work out. Only time will tell, I guess -- and hopefully it's sooner, rather than later.

Friday, January 08, 2010

My schedule for the next while....

It is always flattering to be asked to come and teach somewhere or to be invited as a guest speaker at a rug hooking event...and I wish that I were able to say "yes" every time. As many of you know, in addition to all of my rug hooking stuff, I also have a full time job (that requires more of my attention than I'd like). I've had a few years of some crazy-busy times of trying to juggle over-commitments, and several months of knowing that I had to make some changes...and fast!

My schedule for 2010, as far as rug hooking events goes, is pretty much set. I've added a few things to On the Road (over in the sidebar)....and I will add a few more once they are finalized.

The first event of the year is a gig as the Guest Speaker at the Georgetown Rug Hooking Guild's hook-in on Saturday January 16th. It's always fun to do something different and I'm looking forward to presenting a bit of a trunk show, First Ten, sharing projects from my first 10 years of rug hooking. I'll share the stories behind the projects.....and happily answer any questions you might have. I won't have everything I've ever made, but I will get my hands on most of it and bring it with me for the day -- including my very first rug.....

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

one year later...

As much as I am productive and get things done, I am also a serious procrastinator. Life is so full of contradiction. More often than not, I tend to procrastinate the most on little things -- small jobs that would take very little time to finish....if only I could get started. While I've suffered from this infliction for most of my life, I do go in fits and starts to try to overcome it. Such was the case this past weekend, when all I really wanted to do was hook.....but instead I tackled a list of little jobs that needed doing. This is one of them...

I finished hooking this rug last January and shortly thereafter dyed the yarn and whipped the edge and made a label. Around the same time I asked my dad to prepare a piece of wood for me to attach to the top edge to help in the hanging. If I recall correctly, he made it for me the very same day....but I hadn't fully thought through my plan. How was I ever going to sew through all of those little holes?

Enter the 18 gauge syringe needle. I was first introduced to this handy tool by Jane last May, as a handy way to attach the leather purse handles. It worked equally as well and as quickly for sewing on my piece of wood.

The process is simple: push the syringe needle from the back, through the hole you want to sew in.....then insert your sewing needle into the hollow syringe, pushing it through to the back.

Remove the syringe needle and pull your sewing needle to tighten up your stitches.

Note: You don't want to come up in the middle of a hooked loop - I find it quite helpful to bend my backing, so that I can make sure the hooked loops are out of the needle's way. Also, you can pick up the pace a bit by placing both needles through the back at the same time (as shown), then just pull tight on your sewing needle before inserting it back up through the syringe (i.e. you only need to use the syringe for every other stitch (where you are working from the side when you can't see the holes).

The rug is now hanging up on my wall. I'm not sure I'm 100% in love with this hanging method....but I'm going to give it some time and see how it looks in a few weeks. In the meantime I'll be tackling a few more jobs on my to-do list over the next couple of days....and then I've promised myself I can start on a new project this weekend. The ideas are swarming - it will be a stiff competition to see what materializes on the frame first...

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

In response to the comments, here is a photo of the finished piece....

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Opening a can of worms...

I watched an interesting documentary over the weekend: RIP: A Remix Manifesto. I had added it to my Zip list (Zip is kinda the Canadian version of NetFlix) ages ago, trying to add some variety and culture -- and it finally arrived over the holidays. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I found it very interesting and thought provoking.

Then, to my great surprise, I read an article about how there is an App for NFB shorts....and I remembered the film and that parts of it might be available online. And, it is ALL online here. The whole thing is about an hour and a half of if you want to condense it, my favourite bits happen in Chapter 2 - Copyright vs. Copyleft (talking about intellectual property and corporations vs. public domain), Chapter 3 - Culture Always Builds on the Past (one of the key premises of the film), Chapter 8 - King of Remix (talking about Walt Disney's origins in modernizing works from the public domain), Chapter 12 - Which Road to the Future (discusses US progress from an economy of things (manufacturing) to an economy of ideas), and Chapter 11 - Back in the People's Hands (there's a gem towards the end, speculating about the impact of copyrights and patents on medicine).

We hear a lot about copyright in the rug hooking world....and this is another perspective, based more on the music industry, but certainly with some relevant points. I don't agree with everything it says, but it did make me think -- and thinking is always good! ;-)

Monday, January 04, 2010

Drumroll, please!

Well, I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- the response to my latest giveaway is fantastic.....and I thank you all for taking part. One thing I didn't realize until today was that in addition to it being a new year, it's also the start of a new decade. Which totally makes sense in hindsight, since I started hooking in the month before "The New Millenium" and I've now been hooking for 10 years....but I had to read it to know it. Funny that.

Okay, now let's get down to the business of determining the luckiest...

I know I was a little vague in announcing the number of names that I'd draw (I had no idea how many people would participate - and I didn't want to be embarrassed by having more prizes than readers - but do you think 7 is a lucky number? Well, I"m not going to draw 7 prizes....but I will make your odds of winning 1 in 7, and draw four names.... (please pause while I get organized)

What's more fun than a random number generator? Printing off all of the comments! ;-) I printed, ripped, and folded all 28 comments...

And then I randomly selected the winners....

(Click on the picture to read the names...)

If you're one of the lucky four, please send me an e-mail with your mailing address (fisheyerugs AT hotmail DOT com)....and I will pop your wool in the mail. It would be awesome if you could please let me know ASAP -- I'd really like to get them on their way before the postage rates go up on January 11th! ;-)

P.S. I couldn't believe it when Wendie's comment was the first one I pulled out of my wooden bowl! I almost put it back (didn't want it to look like preferential treatment)....but then I remembered our conversation earlier today when she confided that she's never won anything before, apart from some crap prize when she was in grade 8 (or 8 years old? I must pay better attention...). So congratulations friend - you deserve to win just as much as anyone! ;-)

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Handmades received....

I've been making handmade gifts for as long as I can remember. [One of the earliest was a major flop -- I grated soap and mixed it with water and shampoo to make bubblebath. Luckily there haven't been too many that turned out like gross (and slimy, too).]

A few weeks ago, Wendie and I were having our usual MSN marathon at work....and she wondered about whether or not I received very many handmade gifts (which is what I call items made especially for me by the giver, not by a craftsperson/artist who's a stranger), and if I liked to receive them. To be quite honest, I don't really receive too many of them compared with the number I produce (which, in recent years, has resulted in fewer of these time-consuming gifts being given).

Strangely enough, this year there was a bumper crop of handmades for me under the tree...all beautiful -- and all greatly appreciated ;-)

Wendie made my this cute little fella.

This pretty scarf was knit by my Auntie Betty.

My Mum finished my gorgeous quilt top (and promises to have it finished for my birthday in March...yippee!)

My Auntie Betty knit me the cozy socks I'm wearing today.

There were two other handmades I recieved: an "I love you" candy bracelet from Sienna (did you know they have such toys/kits?) and a felted pillow from my mum.

My mum took one of my favourite Kaffe Fassett cardigan sweaters, felted it, and turned it into a pillow cover (perfect for one of those inexpensive down pillows I blogged about almost 3 years ago!). I haven't worn the sweater in years (I knit it about 20 years ago and it has the boxy look of the 80s), but couldn't bear to part with it it was great to see it given a second life. The pillow was accidentally forgotten at my folks place -- it's so cozy that it hasn't left the couch since it was unwrapped! -- but I will be sure to snap a pic as soon as it comes home.

I think that the key to holiday crafting is to not wait until the last minute to get started. So if you're at a loss for project, you can always get a head start on next Christmas! ;-)

Saturday, January 02, 2010

home again, home again

My holiday is quickly coming to an end, sadly. I wish I didn't have to go back to work - but of course I'd still want to get paid. Hmmm....I guess that is what retirement is for (and it sucks that at 36, it's still a long way off for me....)

It's been much more of a relaxing holiday time for me this year. I think it's mostly because I had some pretty simple goals for myself: rest, relax and have fun. I didn't start any new projects. In fact, I didn't do any crafting. Instead I played cards, I read books (4 since the flight home from NYC!), I went tubing, I went to see the Olympic Torch when it came to town, I had afternoon naps, I slept in, and I actually watched movies (without trying to knit or hook at the same time!) It was blissful.

My regular life resumes on Monday, so I'll be spending the next couple of days getting ready.....and hopefully I'll find time to start a new project, for the start of a new year. Happy new year everyone....and best wishes for lots of creative hooking and great dyeing in 2010. xxoo

P.S. I'm just amazed by the number of comments to my new year's giveaway. Wowza! I thank you all for taking the time to share your NYR with me....and for visiting and participating in the blogosphere with me all year long. There's still time to comment -- I'll wait and do the draw early next week... ;-)