Sunday, September 26, 2010

last few days...

I've been keeping my head down and my butt up for the last few days....hooked two more medium-sized coin purses and started getting patterns ready for classes. My poor sewing machine was working very hard yesterday – and didn't appreciate the sweat-shop like conditions. The feed dog gear (that orange wheel) is missing quite a few teeth on the top. Grrr!

I just got back from dropping it off in Orillia for repairs....and am now busy crossing my fingers it will be ready for me to pick up when I go to RUG on Saturday. If I though praying might help, I'd do that, too!

On a more positive note, I am loving my two newest coin purses.....

Each one is like it's own mini-experiment in colour and design....which make them so fun - and quick - to hook. Now if only the finishing were happening with as much speed and enthusiasm....hmm, I guess I will need to work on that as soon as my machine comes back (I was in the middle of sewing linings when it died).

In the meantime, I'm going to change gears (no pun intended) and get to work on assembling my ideas for my upcoming inspiration and creativity class. I've been planning it all in my head for months....but now that it's fast approaching, it's time to organize them in a useful way.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

last night

These are not only fun to do, they are the ultimate in quick hooking projects. Off to try and hook another one tonight.....

Monday, September 20, 2010

weekend hooking

When I wasn't knitting (or unravelling knitting or re-knitting or just being frustrated by my silly knitting mistakes – are you sensing a trend?) this weekend, I was hooking....

I designed and hooked this little clutch on Saturday and the teeny Klimt coin purse on Sunday.

There is still room on my backing to hook a few more, so I will wait until those are done and assemble them at the same time. I'm really excited about the baby coin purse and can't wait to get one finished (so that should be good motivation, in and of itself to get the rest hooked ASAP). It's smaller than the owl one that I've been using since March – definitely more of a "coin" purse than a wallet.

These little projects will help me practice assembly and also serve as demos in the classes I'm teaching in early November. At the pace that September is zooming by, it will be November before I know it....

Sunday, September 19, 2010

a little buying binge

Some of you might recall that I put myself on a wool buying diet at the start of the year. For the full year, I would endeavour to not buy any wool yardage. I was/am feeling like I already have enough for now.....and seemed to be accumulating it at a much faster pace than I use it.

I've been able to live up to my personal pledge, up until last Tuesday. Yes a few pieces of wool have snuck in throughout the year....but always as a prize or gift. Of course, wool yard does not count! ;-)

Already on a bit of a shopping high following our visit to Passionknit, I just couldn't resist picking up a couple of pieces of wool when we stopped at Martina's.

The wool on the left is called "Tomato Soup" and it's a very worthy name -- not just because of the colour, but because of the feel of the wool: it's snuggle-soft and comforting. I just know that this is the sort of wool that you can never have enough of......and I will be wanting more long after it's all hooked up.

The other two wools are not quite as soft, but the colour is wonderful. The middle one is a beautiful green with hint of blue....and the autumn plaid will be wonderful for Fall. It reminds me of a scrap I had once and used up quickly.

When I first started hooking, I was encouraged to buy wool in 1 yard or 3 yard pieces (sufficient for a background). I don't subscribe to those "rules" any more. I would rather have several smaller pieces than one big piece, any day -- there is always more beautiful wool to be discovered.

Usually I will buy just 1/4 yard or 1/2 yard pieces of wool and I generally only buy 1 or 2 yard pieces when the wool is truly wonderful -- the feel, the feltedness, the colour, the weave, and the price are all perfect. Since it can be so difficult to predict how a wool will wash up, it's better to be left wanting more than to be left with a pile of wool you can't/won't hook with. Bolts are really just reserved for known staples, like oatmeal and natural or a neutral herringbone.

While I am a little bummed that I binged on my wool diet, I have to be honest and admit that I'm surprised I managed to hold out for eight and a half months. Plus, I will soon be heading down to Dorr, so I can just regard this little blip as a warm-up....and keep my fingers crossed that it's taken the edge off so I won't go totally crazy when I'm there. Who am I kidding? ;-)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

My new baby....

I didn't think that I would ever find another cutter that I love as much as my Bolivar. That was, until my new Bolivar arrived last week.....

Shortly after I started hooking, I added my name to the list of people wanting a Bolivar. The wait was expected to be a couple of years, and while the cost was steep, I figured it was cheaper than buying 3 Frasers (most hookers I knew then had multiple cutters, to avoid having the change the blade). For those of you who are new to hooking, this was before Townsend and others started making cutters with a similar cutting was the original Cadillac of cutters.

My first cutter came with 3 fixed blades: 4, 6, and 8 cuts. It has served me very well and cut many bolts worth of wool over the years, without complaint and without any issues (so long as I periodically cleared out the lint).

I never begrudged the money -- not once over the past 6-7 years. I've also never felt the need to splurge on a Townsend – although I did try one in Vermont years ago. There was nothing wrong with my Bolivar and I didn't really need - or use - any other cuts. Plus, I was more than happy to buy Canadian (but that's a rant for another day....)

The only regret that I had was that I didn't know about the extended cutter heads when I ordered my cutter. The longer heads effectively allow you to cut twice as much wool at once (e.g. a standard blade cuts 3 #8 strips vs. an extended blade cuts 6 #8 strips).

When I started cutting the Crazy Eights this past Spring....I longed for anything that would speed up the process of cutting those many yards and yards and yards of wool - and then I remembered the extended cutter heads. I almost ordered one many times, but I kept reminding myself that I didn't really need it, I just wanted it. But when my Crazy Eights bags started selling like hotcakes, that want turned to need and I could finally justify ordering my baby Bolivar, with the #8 long cutter head (which is about 90+% of my hooking, anyway).

Again, there was a wait, but a mere fraction of my original waiting time. I was thrilled to receive my new baby last week.....and I've already given it a workout. I can't believe how much faster it makes cutting wool. It's literally twice as fast!

If you're like me - and have one cut that predominates - I definitely recommend splurging on a longer cutter head. I also like the smaller size and lighter weight of the single base. Perfect for travelling! No regrets, just love.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Colour planning Jumbo....

I received a couple of e-mails and comments requesting more information about my colour plan for Jumbo. It's not really very scientific, but here's what I'm doing....

With a project this size, I am hooking it knowing that I need to love it forever. Since I (hopefully) have more than half of my life still ahead of me, forever is a very long time. I intentionally tried to stay away from a trendy colour scheme, while at the same time including a lot of different colours (so that it can be matched to many different decorating schemes, I hope), but all colours that I love (note the absence of yellow - ha ha!). Darks are many shades of black, brown, charcoal, navy, plum, teal, green....there are also pinks, reds, purples, and a bunch of light neutrals. I've made a concerted effort to add in the lighter colours.

In the centre section, the only real value rule I've been using – other than including a wide range of light to dark – is to alternate the outside of each main shape between lighter values and darker values. These main shapes are somewhat stepped (on a slight diagonal), so the edges of the darker shapes are always butted up against lighter shapes.

Within these main shapes, pretty much anything goes. There is no formula for light, medium or dark within each of the main shapes – I just want the overall effect to be random. I try to float the colours and textures around....and to have a noticeable change in value. Sometimes I'm successful, and other times not so much, as you can see in this greyscale version of the previous post's picture.....

Due to the scale of the shapes (the outside section is about 1/3 of a square foot, which translates into about 1/6 of a yard of wool), I don't want to have to worry about having enough of any one wool for a section, so I choose a main piece/colour for each section and supplement it with leftover cut strips from my bins. The amount of supplementing varies, depending on my mood, the colour, the size of the piece of wool , etc. Not only does this method eliminate the fear of running out, it also makes it more interesting to hook and adds some nice subtle movement....

I also think it will add some great camouflage, when it's in service on the floor! :-)

I am still uncertain about the borders. I was planning on moving the pinks, reds and purples out into one of the borders (still debating about whether or not it will be wide as I had originally planned or narrow), using the dark and medium blues, blacks, browns and greens in a wider border, and also thinking about maybe having a skinny, 3" or less black and white (i.e. light and dark) border. My ideas are definitely changing as I hook. It's very difficult to imagine the scale. Alas, there is still lots of time to figure out the borders -- I still have 18.75 square feet to hook in the centre section first.

week 15: 27.4 square feet

If nothing else, this week's incredible progress demonstrates the importance of goal setting. I am definitely the type of person that works best with a deadline (it's all my mum's fault!) -- even when it's self-imposed. When I did the math, I was amazed to discover that I hooked the same amount in 1 week as I had in the previous 8 weeks combined. And, I had the aching hands to prove it!

Seriously, thought, it was really easy to keep motivated to keep hooking the last bit on the weekend. I was very eager to unroll it and see everything I have hooked, at once. When the time finally came, I could not have been happier......

Seeing it on my floor, I just wanted to keep on hooking....and so I did just a little bit more, finishing off a partial shape on the other end. I would have loved to keep on going yesterday, but my hands really did need a rest and now that I had reached my goal, it was a good time for a break. I will definitely be eager to get all of my class prep work done, so that I can return to hooking on Jumbo. In the meantime, I will enjoy being able to tidy up all of the piles of wool and strips from the floor, table, couch, stool......yep, they are pretty much everywhere with a project like this....

P.S. The RHM is just to help you envision the scale. The actual measurements of the hooked area is 60.5" wide by 71" long at the longest point (vs. 63" by 75", which are my charted dimensions). It currently weighs about 20 lbs.