Sunday, April 13, 2014

Small Space. Big Reminders.

Today was the first day this week that I had time to spend with Dear Edith - the name for my inherited kilim. And although I tackled only a tiny motif, I was reminded of many truths about all purchased patterns, all kilims and burlap.

Here is the little area (please excuse the bad photo):

I guess this is the first place in the pattern where precision kicked in - or in my case - didn't.
For all the hooking I got done today, there was as much if not more ripping out and here's the first lesson I had forgotten (I can hear Barb D'Arcy wagging her finger at me as I write this...)

Check your pattern!!
Printed patterns are exactly that - printed. And as much as reputable companies do their best to ensure that they are "on the straight of grain", things shift and sometimes the straight lines running across a motif are anything but. And the print falls on a line of the burlap and you hook slightly above or below it on one repeat but not the next, your precision will be very "unprecise".

So Barb, when I get to this part on the other side of the centre, I will take a ruler and line up all the tops and bottoms of these little flying arrows.

It's not always best to hook the outline first.
Since I had to keep pulling it out anyway, I would have been smarter starting with a centre line in the rust colour and taking it right across the motif. Then I could have hooked everything above and below it to the outline - and then done the outline.

Don't jump up or down a thread.
When you are hooking with a #4 cut, and hooking on burlap, it's very easy to accidentally shift up or down one thread. In a non-geometric wide cut, a single thread shift is not the end of the world. Here it is! Or at least in this precise little motif it is. Lucky for me, it only appears above and below the large centre motif, so I don't have to deal with it too often.

Burlap isn't Rug Warp!!!
I can't remember the last time I hooked on burlap, but there is a reason why I don't. It's called irregular thread size. Invariably you run into that the biggest thread in the worst possible place. That is why I switched to rug warp a long time ago and haven't looked back since. Rug warp has the most regular thread count ever, which is why I love it so much. It makes it much easier to hook in a straight line every row.

I did persevere and got all my rows even - all my outlines are where they should be, and I will be much smarter on this motif when it comes around.

These were all good reminders of things I already know. So is hooking in a 4 cut in a straight line. But when (notice I did not say "if") this project is completed, it will truly be one of a kind. It will be the only project that I undertake in this cut size - or a 4' x 6' size.

But fear not, Dear Edith. I am not deterred. Simply more determined to give you your fair share of attention and one day walk all over you and the many reminders you hold for me.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Feeling More Settled

It was a quiet week without little Jackson around. But he wasn't out of mind. This week he turned 3 months old. And I know that with my own kids, that was a turning point. Sleeping through the night.
Almost laughing. Here are a couple of pretty sweet pics of him.

I finished a little cardigan for him and a "Monster" to go with it. Knitting for babies is such instant gratification. Cardigan is a Debbie Bliss pattern and Monster is from Rebecca Danger's "Knit a Monster Nursery".

I also got back to my hooking. I finished the last proddy border on my "Hook What You Love and You Will Love What You Hook" mat. One of those things that I put off and put off and it really was only a couple of hours to do the border and finish it.

But the project that got a bit of real momentum this week was the Tribal Kilim which I will forever call Dear Edith. This is the rug that I inherited from a rug hooker in Toronto who knew she would never finish. I vowed to do it for her, but have managed to not do too much in the 5 years since I bought it from her.

Since I didn't have a new project on my plate, I decided to spend some time with it. It's quite a different hooking experience when it is more about the mechanics than the creativity. Quite mindless and relaxing - I would lose a couple of hours listening to the sound of the loops. And it is good practice to hook in a smaller cut and pay attention to tension.  And you really do get coverage if you spend the time.

Day 1: A large motif finished

Day 2: Outlining and some saw tooth shapes above the medallion

Day 3: Filling in between the side and the large motif - aiming to do one section right across the width

Definitely seeing headway, but a very very long way to go still. And I am tracking my time, which should be very scary as I go along.

In the meantime, the sun is out. The snow is melting. Did our first snow shoe on the lake yesterday and it actually felt warm when we got moving. I know that spring is still a long way away but the warm sunny days make you hopeful.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Beach and Baby Bliss

Nearly 2 months since my last post and my time has been well spent. My 8 weeks in Barbados flew by faster than I could ever imagine. How could I have believed that it would be too long!! And watching the weather from paradise turned it into an excellent spectator sport.

People came from all around the world and everyone shared one common topic: the craziness that has been this winter!! The Brits had all the flooding. Portugal was unusually cold. Germany was in a deep freeze. And well, you all know what happened in our neck of the woods. Not happened - happening!!

Even Barbados had unusually wet weather this year. In fact, the umbrellas that had sat in our suitcases since our first trip there 4 years ago became an extension of our hands - we took them everywhere, including the beach.  If the showers looked like they "wouldn't amount to much", we just hid under our brellies till the sun came out again. This became a popular position.

There were lots of adventures during our stay, many repeats of what we have done in the past, but we did make it to our first polo match and a few new eating spots, the best of which turned out to be the "cheap and cheerful" options.  One of our new favourites is Bombas, a beach bar/restaurant with great food and an amazing view.  We had early dinner one evening to try to catch the "green flash" (a flash that happens at the exact second the sun goes down into the sea). We didn't see one because of the cloud cover. But if you click on this picture, you will see what else was blocking the view.

That's right - one of those climbing ice bergs got parked in the exact spot where the sun went down. Too funny really!

We flew back on March 12 and made excellent time till we got to Toronto. Then we sat on the tarmac for an hour waiting for a place to park. So many flights were grounded that day that there were no empty spots. We drove to Oakville and saw our car sitting under nearly 18 inches of snow. Yuck!!

The silver lining to our return was that our daughter Laura and grandson Jackson came for a 10-day stay. Yes, we were able to get new pics and videos and the occasional skype session plus imessage daily while we were in Holetown, (technology is wonderful!!) but it's amazing how incredible it is to catch up with this little bundle who was only 15 days old when we left.  Now he wiggles and giggles and kept us entertained throughout his visit.

The house will seem quiet without him this coming week. But reality will seep back in as will that "to do" list of things waiting for me to tackle, including income tax stuff. grrr.

Rug hooking is back on the radar screen this week, especially since my students are returning to my weekly classes - barring any blizzard conditions that get in the way. And before you know it, the OHCG Annual in Oshawa will be here at the end of May, followed closely by my class at Trent Rug Hooking School. The Annual is always a fun weekend of catching up and a great rug show. And the Trent Rug Hooking School is a total blast - summer camp for rug hookers. I understand there are still some spaces available there if you haven't already booked.

As to the next "beach time", according to the forecast here, it will be a very late spring, so no water activities for a long, long time. But baby bliss is just 2+ hours away and there will still be daily imessaging and occasional pictures and skype to fill the gaps.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Hooking in Holetown

For the first time in our four trips here, this year I actually packed hooking supplies. I brought my small gripper frame, a small piece of backing and a bag of alternative fibers such as ribbon, panty hose, sari silk and a few other things hanging around the studio. I figured the small size and the lighter fabrics wouldn't be too hot to work with here.

Four days shy of our two week mark, we have run into a patch of rainy weather. Seems like the minute we head to the beach, down it comes: the minute we go back inside, out comes the sun.  So yesterday, after a few "ins and outs", I decided to pull out the hooking and sit at the table in our little covered area and pull some loops.

I packed mostly blues and greens to bring - either subconsciously knowing those were the colours of the sea - or just because I love the colours. And, inspired by the sea and the images around us here, I drew a spiral design on my backing. Is it the waves of the sea? Is it a chambered nautilus? I don't know.

Whatever it is, I  think it will be a purse front, since it is too small to make into much else. But I have been comforted by the loop pulling. And relieved that it is not too hot to do so. Hooking in Holetown is like Hooking in Heaven.

Here is what - and where - I am hooking.

The colours of the sea and the sun, in the shape of a nautilus.

Here are all my fibres and a peek at my Holetown hooking table. 

The chambered nautilus in its natural habitat - well, I guess palms are not its habitat.
When I was finished yesterday, I realized that this design looks suspiciously like Karen Kahle's spiral chair pads - in fact, I went to her blog to see. If she subconsciously inspired me, I thank her for it. But I do think it was more the shells and the sea and the brightly coloured fish that really got me going. And a couple of rainy days to make it happen.

But lest I despair about the rain, I think of the crazy weather back home - the -32 this week and the never-ending snow - and count my blessings. The people staying at our place are more than welcome to all that snow removal for a while. And I will gladly tolerate the rain. 

In hindsight, I wish that I had brought a bigger piece of backing and more material with me to make a bigger piece that would take a bit longer. But I am sure if I feel like doing more, I will be able to track down what I need. After all, I am NOT hooking with wool.

Friday, January 3, 2014

What a Happy Holiday it Was.

Jackson finally arrived and is the best holiday present you could ask for. He came right between Christmas and New Year's on the 28th. He weighed in at 7 lbs. 3 oz. and was 20" long.

And for his entire life, I am sure he will hear the story of "The Ice Storm" that I am convinced he decided to wait and miss. We had just settled into our "home away from home" at our friends Elaine and Harvey's house. On our second night, the power went out somewhere around 2 a.m. due to ice encrusted trees snapping in half and pulling down power lines. When we walked outside that morning, it was a mixture of sheer beauty (the ice on the trees) and devastation (thousands upon thousands of mature trees gone!).  Nearly the entire province of Ontario was affected and it is now clean up time, which is a huge job.

We were without power for 3 very cold days. for my darling daughter - already overdue and over anxious at this point - went into full melt down mode when they lost theirs for 4 days. But little Jackson waited out the storm, and once power was back on and their apartment toasty once more, he decided to arrive. We were luckier than many who were 10 days or longer without power, including Christmas Day.

Here is Jackson with his beautiful mom who can't believe he is hers.

Here he is with his proud Uncle Matt.

And his ecstatic Grandmoose and Grandpa.

He sure is a sweet little thing. Here he is all dressed up for his first doctor's appointment. Not sure we have any pictures of him where he isn't sleeping. But we all know that will change.

He has already wormed his way into everyone's hearts and I can see that 2014 will be a happier new year for all of us with him in it. We are so happy to have joined the Grandparents Club.

By the way, the Christmas tree hat in the last post didn't get used this year. But I think I will be able to add onto the bottom of it for next year, which will technically be "baby's first Christmas".

Health and happiness to all of you for 2014.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Wishes

Well, it is Jackson's due date today, but he has decided to take his sweet time and is not coming today. I really hope he doesn't pick December 25th to arrive. It may seem like a good publicity stunt in the beginning, but not a fun birthdate to have for the rest of your life.

In preparation for the day - be it his birth one or a few days later - here is his official First Christmas Hat. It was a free pattern on ravelry and was fun to make. I will hopefully get to share a picture of him wearing it after he gets here.

Meanwhile, here in the woods, it has been snowing, snowing, snowing and snowing. I can't remember a December in 20 years up here with this much snow. Even the local folk say they don't remember this much falling all at once. And if it has, it has been much later in the winter.

Here is my front door.  My poor hanging baskets look like they were sprayed with shaving cream. You can even see the giant flakes falling in this picture. Yes, I know it's pretty - but when you have to move it around every single day, the joy wears off, trust me!! lol

Tomorrow we head to Toronto, to make camp at our friends Elaine and Harvey's home, as they are heading to Florida for a couple of weeks. It's a perfect arrangement - we house sit for them and they provide the house for us to "sit".  We will entertain our daughter until stork time. And then we will be nearby to lend a hand to the shell-shocked new parents.

So, here's wishing you all a very special holiday time. May your days be merry and bright. And may 2014 be filled with joy and wonder for all of us.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Babe Watch

Can't believe it is nearly a month since my last post, but there you go.

Things have been busy getting ready for the holidays - or not - since everything is up in the air waiting for the arrival of little Jackson James Richard Saville. My daughter's last day of work was Friday, so she is ready to welcome him any time. His due date is December 18th.

Despite iffy weather conditions, the students are still managing to get to the studio on Wednesday afternoons, including two new hookers who came to try their hand. I made simple, festive little mats for them that involved mostly straight-line hooking and they really rose to the challenge.

They came for one lesson, worked for one week and came back and finished the hooking last week.
Unfortunately, they have decided that hooking is not for them at this time of their lives (with teenage kids on the go), but they are grateful to have learned how and think they will probably return to it one day.

Winter has settled in around us and the snow has been falling steadily for three days here. Luckily, I escaped to Toronto for the weekend and missed a lot of it. Part of the reason for the trek was to take a Shibori Dyeing Class at the One of a Kind Show.  It was made even more amazing because we used indigo dye!!! The class was a Christmas gift from Jennifer and was an incredibly, thoughtful, useful gift.

Each of us walked away with a unique cotton scarf and a sample square of some of the other "resist" techniques.

Here are my two projects:

This is my scarf. I used pennies and chick peas for the circles at the ends and scrunched the centre.

My sample square using simple fan pleating.
The other event on the weekend was the presentation of a "more than friendship" rug to my mentor Barb D'Arcy. A group of her students got together to make a tribute rug for her. Each of us hooked a square that represented a piece we had done while in her classes. Needless to say, there were tears - and not just from Barb. The rug is truly amazing, and she figured out almost everyone's square with no prompting.

Here is a picture of the rug with lots of the artists' feet present. I will have more pics to share later, with fewer feet and shadows.

But for now, I must go and help rearrange the snow.