Thursday, April 15, 2021

March Marched Right Past

Not sure how I missed a blog post last month, but I did. And now it is mid-April. The "showers" have arrived. Grass and trees are very happy, but it puts a damper (pun intended) on my daily walking. Despite best efforts, I have come to realize that I am a "fair weather walker". 

Lots of stuff going on in the studio. I hooked a little version of my Jeanius Bag (with a little proddy) for my front door, for the "shoulder season" - and I put some proddy flowers  on stems in my front entry planter.







It's been a busy time with lots of Zoom teaching. The OHCG is hosting its first ever "Virtual Annual" and I am delivering 4 workshops. I am loving Zoom teaching for many reasons: the no-travel part is great. No loading things into the car - and having everything I need right there with me in the studio. Everyone in the comfort of their own homes - no masks!! 

I think the students enjoy meeting and spending time with one another.  And I share any "lesson in the moment" just as I would in an in-person class. One 2-session Jeanius Bag class done, as well as the first Hooking in the Age of Technology. Two more Tech classes to go. Then it's off to the Virtual School in Nova Scotia to deliver the Jeanius Bag workshop again.

Speaking of Jeanius Bags, the students who have joined me in this class are creating so many wonderful bags, and everyone is giving me permission to share. So here are a few to be dazzled by:

The first two were hooked by Karen in a workshop in February. 




The next two are hot off the frame from the OHCG Virtual Annual Workshop - which just had the second session today. Andrea just took the idea and ran with it. BTW, she wove the strap to match this first bag. 



Here's her second one. Love that braided strap. It makes the hooked design SING.




Based on what I have seen from these students, I will have lots more bragging to do in the next while.
So much fun to see what everyone comes up with. No two are alike, that's for sure - students OR bags. 











Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Happy Sweaters. Snappy "Jeanius" Bags.

I am a knitter. I have a wardrobe full of hand-knit sweaters and I love them all. For me, store bought sweaters come and go, but sweaters that I knit stay forever.  

For the first time in a decade, I am home this winter instead of in my winter place in Barbados. I wear one of my sweaters virtually every day. They keep me cozy, make me happy, and I like to think they are happy to be worn again.

Here is a pic of what is in the wardrobe, which truly demonstrates my lack of "need" for any more sweaters. That said, hand-knit sweaters are as much about the journey as the destination. The therapy of making a new sweater is much better than retail therapy would ever be. And the pattern selection is unbelievable. 

Two days ago, I was wearing this one that I knit in 2008, December 10th to be exact. That's right, this sweater is a "teenager".  (This is the picture I posted on my blog that day.)


During COVID, I have knit 8 sweaters, 3 hats, 4 pairs of socks and a 2 baby blankets. And like most knitters I know, I still a stash that promises many more. 

Here is the latest sweater off the needles. It is called "Stripes" and is a fun pattern by Andrea Mowry. The bright colours were a perfect choice for a winter knit and watching the colours change kept me knitting, so it was quick as well. (Wow, the pose hasn't changed much, has it?)


 My COVID time is split between knitting, sewing and rug hooking. I break my days among projects, so there is always something waiting for me. I have also started teaching rug hooking workshops on Zoom. I started in the fall and have now done several, including my "Jeanius" Bags which are enjoying a resurgence in popularity.

It is the perfect two-session workshop and students have registered from all over North America. It is as much fun to do on Zoom as it was "in person" many years ago. For me, the best part is seeing the finished bags, which are as different as the students who create them.

The best part for a teacher of any class or workshop is seeing the finished projects. And being able to share them is the icing on the cake. Here are the first ones that were finished by the latest group:

A fabulous geometric with a full-length flap. 

Perfect lining and a hidden phone pocket. 

Two smaller flaps that are fastened with buttons. 

I look forward to seeing - and sharing - more, as I receive them from my awesome students!

Every class gives new insight into the class and I am learning some new flap finishing ideas from the questions students ask. I will do a few new samples for the upcoming classes in April and May. 

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks!! And who says you can't have fun in a long, cold Ontario winter. 








Thursday, February 4, 2021

GROUNDHOG DAY - EVERY DAY!

It's always been funny to me that Groundhog Day is an actual thing - sort of.  If you believe that 3 "rodents" can predict spring. Once I saw the movie "Groundhog Day", the importance of the rodents was greatly diminished. And Groundhog Day took on a whole new meaning. 

As we approach a full year of pandemic living, I have started referring to time as "Groundhog Day: Not the Movie". Here are a couple of my favourite Groundhog memes:





That said, since retirement there has always been a sort of rhythm to my days. But before COVID it was at my preference, not the pandemic's control. So now, the rhythm is sometimes a bit suffocating.

Thank heavens for technology! In particular Zoom and FaceTime. Without them, I wouldn't see my friends or family. And thanks to them I do, on a regular basis. Probably even more often than before this whole odyssey began.

And I wouldn't have been able to teach without Zoom! If you had told me a year ago that I would be teaching workshops and classes on Zoom - and loving it - I would have told you to give your head a shake. But there you go. As my friend Lisa would say, COVID isn't just "thorns". There are a few "roses" in there too. 

My Jeanius Bags are enjoying a resurgence in popularity, and today I will be teaching the first session of my third workshop on Zoom. It was always one of my favourite things to teach and works perfectly on Zoom.


I am teaching it again at the Virtual Annual of the OHCG in April. And in May with the Rug Hooking Guild of Nova Scotia's Virtual Rug School. Instead of rug hookers giving up and waiting for this to be over, teachers and students alike are embracing the Zoom. 

Add to that my Hooking in the Age of Technology, which I am teaching 3 times at the Virtual Annual, and you can see that my dance card is filling up quickly. 

Because I enjoy this so much, and because I think there will be a lot more Zoom teaching time, I am looking at other workshops to see how they could be adapted. I think in the future, virtual teaching will still have a place, even when schools and "in person" teaching are safe again. 

What are the benefits to Zoom teaching? Not having to go anywhere. Not having to load the car. Not having to unpack and repack your classroom at the other end. And students can come from anywhere. East Coast, West Coast, all across the US and even England. We may look like the opening of The Brady Bunch, but we actually do get to know one another a bit. And we all have fun!!

My hooking and knitting and mask making continue as well, so I am not lying on the sofa, and not binge watching too much Netflix. The mask making has seriously put a dent in my fabric stash, and I need to figure out what I will use for men's masks, since most of my remaining fabric is decidedly female. 

I just knit a pair of socks for each of the grandkids and made them each a Valentine's Day necklace. Little people socks go very quickly, but I know they will also be outgrown very quickly. I take comfort in thinking that J's socks may last long enough for E to inherit them.  Hopefully Canada Post will get the there before the 14th.


The "Stool Pigeons" are progressing nicely, and I love how happy I feel when I work on this piece. It's only the second mat I have hooked in yarn, and it's not the fastest piece, but I love it. Once the top was done, I realized that the birds were the most fun part of the design, so I have added them to the 4 side panels as well.  Here is a progress shot.


With many Groundhog Days ahead, I don't feel pressure to get things done. I just enjoy the doing and am very grateful to have all these fibre addictions to keep me busy. 

Hope you are all getting some projects done during this time. They sure keep me sane. 

Stay safe. 



Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Will 2021 be the Year of the Do-Over?

For me so far, January has been filled with do-overs. But they have been good ones. And I am glad that I did them.

First up, my knitting do-over:  "THIRD TIME'S THE CHARM."

Years ago, I bought this gorgeous wool.  It is Madeline Tosh Vintage and the colourway is Thunderstorm. It was love at first sight, but it wasn't the right pattern until third try. 


The first project was a Norah Gaughan pattern called Anhinga.  And I loved the look of this pattern. When you look at this picture, WHICH IS NOT ME, it looks like the perfect pattern for this yarn.  Not exactly sure what the problem was, but I think the yarn was a bit too thick and it didn't drape well. I just never wore it. 


But I still LOVED the yarn, so I found another pattern that looked absolutely perfect. Another designer I love - Thea Coleman - had this fantastic cardigan pattern called "Dark and Stormy". I did a gauge swatch and enjoyed all the cable work. (Note: this image is NOT my sweater.)


When it was finished, it just didn't fit me properly. It was wide through the body and I didn't like the way the front edges of the cardigan sat - one seemed a bit shorter than the other. Probably, I didn't pick up the stitches correctly. I was going to just ravel back the collar and front bands, but as I got into that, I realized that I mostly didn't wear it because it was too warm. 

So, another day spent frogging all that good knitting, and on to the next pattern. 
Today is the first day I have put it on since I finished. And I love it!!

This is Stillhouse Vest by Thea Coleman.  Another wonderful cable design, but in a sleeveless vest that was quick to knit and is NOT too warm. This picture IS my vest - you can tell because I am the worst selfie taker ever!!

Because this pattern asked for an even heavier yarn, I went up a needle size until I got gauge and then set off using this wonderful yarn for the third time. Because I cheated on the needle size, it is nice and lofty - and definitely not too hot. So I think it will get a lot of wear. (And I have enough left over to do a hat and maybe some mitts.)

A younger me would have given up and hidden that yarn away somewhere. But the old, wise me knew that this much-loved yarn needed to be made into a much-loved project.  I am so happy I persevered.

Now, for the hooking do-over. 'WHERE PUNCH GOT PUNCHED OUT."

My first hooking project for 2021 is an Ikea stool cover, a project offered by Cindi Gay on her website. I registered for this course close to two years ago, and have been mulling over a design since then. I finally came up with an idea, which I decided to hook with Briggs and Little yarn and punch needle. I have punched a couple of things in the past and figured this would go more quickly.

As I got into it, I wasn't happy with the loop side of the hooking. The pattern was fuzzy, the lines indistinct and despite grooming and trimming, I wasn't feeling the love. 


Time to bite the bullet and pull out several hours worth of punching and start over. Amazing how fast it comes out compared to going in.

But again, the right decision was made. I started re-hooking - with the yarn - with a hook, and immediately fell in love with it.


I am enjoying this project so much more now that I made the tough do-over decision. I will keep updating progress. 

Hopefully the entire year will not be a do-over of 2020. Hopefully the vaccines will get into everyone's arms before the end of it. And hopefully, we can see and hug our loved ones, before this year is over. 



Thursday, December 10, 2020

December

We are well into December and in many ways it feels like other years. Gifts are made or purchased, waiting to be wrapped. Tree is up (that only takes a couple of minutes, since it is a small artificial tree that stays in the basement, fully dressed, all year).


With nobody visiting, due to COVID, it's tougher to get excited about "decking the halls", but I decided that even if it is just for the two of us, we are worth it, and we will feel a bit merrier if we do. So, today I put out my snow people that I have collected over the years. They are guarding the fireplace, and I chose them over the Santas, since they can stay out for the whole winter. They do make me feel better when I bring them out. And even though the kids can't be here this year, they are represented in pretty much every Christmas decoration that I put out. 

It is fun to see them every year and remember where they came from. Talk about a trip down memory lane. A little papier mache fellow named "Joe Cool" that I made when our son was in Grade 2. Three graduated size snow folks made from tips cut off a neighbour's fence in Toronto. A driftwood one we bought at an early One of a Kind show. And one that I hooked while we were living up north. 




And this Davis "snow family" I made when the kids were small. Everyone has something on their "snow person" that was special to that time. Hubby is wearing his shirt that says "I'd rather be at my cottage", daughter is wearing her CWSA (Claude Watson School for the Arts) shirt, son is in Raptors gear - early logo. I have "button covers" on my vest. And our snow dog Misty is also there. I think that is around 1993. 



The William Morris stocking that I hooked a few years ago is hanging on the front door - on the inside where we can enjoy it and it is sheltered from the elements. It was originally going to be for our grandson, but he will have to grow into it. Maybe he will get it as a wedding present. 



Another sign of COVID Christmas: instead of sending cards this year, I made seasonal masks for siblings and their families. And I had enough fabric left to make a cheery batch for the hospital. 


December Santa is in the studio, keeping things merry there. Truth be told, we don't have the right spot for him upstairs, but I am happy to have him keeping me company where I spend a good part of most days.


Indeed this will be a strange Christmas. We will do a "gift drop" close to Christmas, with an outside visit and social distancing. There will be hugs - with masks - and lots of FaceTime and Zooming. And hopefully, this will be ONE TIME ONLY.

In case I don't get back here, have a wonderful holiday. Stay safe. And I'll be back here on the other side of 2020. 




Friday, November 6, 2020

A November to Remember.

It is incredible to believe that we have now entered the eighth month of "life with COVID-19". And I am pretty sure we have the same amount of time ahead of us before we see a vaccine.

Over and over again, I talk with friends about how grateful we all are to have a fibre arts addiction to get us through this. And as the winter looms, I am appreciative of a stash of materials that appears to be never-ending.

I move between knitting, rug hooking and mask making at will. Whatever I feel like doing, I do. And if I feel like starting a new project, I do that too. 

Here's a little hooked wall hanging that I created for a new baby. The design is to compliment a very graphic feature wall treatment. She seems to like it. 


I have a few other hooking projects on the go, and alternate between those, as the urge dictates.

And, I am thrilled to report that I have jumped on the Zoom Workshop bandwagon. Just last week, I did the second session of my "Jeanius Bags" on Zoom. I had eight eager hookers sign up for the session, plus a step-by-step booklet. And their enthusiasm was wonderful. I have been receiving pictures as they finish their bags.

This first one is indeed timely, although the maker did not set out to do a Remembrance Day bag. She just wanted to hook a beautiful poppy. And she did! And she found amazing lining fabric. 



Here's a wonderful bag called "COVID Kitties" and is an adaptation of a pattern designed by Karen Kaiser. Look at their little eyes!! Makes me smile. And more yummy lining.



I warned everyone that these little bags are addictive, and one student sure believed it. Today, she sent me her finished bags photo of THREE bags, and she said there will be more to come. Yes!!!  Great lining fabrics again.



I will share more as I get them.  I am also considering running another Zoom workshop on these bags before Christmas, if there is interest. 

On the knitting front, I started my third stranded-work project during COVID. I alternate it with solid colour knitting and love how it seems hypnotic following the charts. This project is "Ninilchik Swoncho". I got the pattern from Ravelry and all the yarn came from my stash. Amazing how it's not a colour palette that I would pick in a yarn store, but I am very happy with it, all the same.


I continue to make masks and have experimented with many different patterns. Lately, I have been on the search for the perfect "no fog" mask. And after trying a couple of different versions, I found the perfect one!!! It is designed by my friend Mary Dean, who created it for her husband. I am thrilled with this new design, and will make them for my glasses-wearing relatives.


The design above was posted as a YouTube video and started with a circle. It has the required "nose flap" that folds up and fits under your glasses, so was quite effective. It just didn't fit well on the sides.


This is the perfect pattern. Thanks again, MD. The flap that folds up and fits under the glasses like the other pattern, but this one also a great fit on the sides. Plus, it is self-lining, so is the fastest pattern yet. I am making a batch in flannel for a nice cozy mask on the cold days ahead.

I don't think the hospital will take this kind, as they need a light cotton lining, So I will continue to make the "bra style" that I have been making all these months.


So, onward and upward. We will wait as patiently as possible for this virus to loosen its grip. In the meantime, we fibre folks will be just fine until that happens.

Stay safe everyone. And stay sane!





Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Wow, months fly by, but so do decades.

Today, I just finished putting a new back on this pillow. I knew it was a few years old, but I couldn't remember exactly how many. So, I came and checked this blog - my virtual memory - and there it was. The original post was dated October 5, 2015.


So a decade ago, I created the pillow front for my daughter, as she hosted her first Thanksgiving dinner. And for 10 years, it has been saying "thanks" to friends who come to visit them, surviving the attention of Jasper the cat and their two kids, Jackson and Everleigh. On my last visit, I saw that the fabric on the back of the pillow was pulling away from the seams. I was more than happy to bring it home and to give it a new back, which will hopefully last for another decade.

Speaking of pillows, I just finished putting together a new one for my house. This one has a Tom Thomson pattern on the front, designed by Carol Shewan of Willow Creek Rug Hooking  I am a huge Group of Seven fan, and think Thomson may be my favourite. This pattern is called "West Wind". I have another one called "Jack Pine" that is waiting in the hooking queue. These are two of his best-known paintings.


Here it is in its new home - on a custom wool blanket created by my good friend Jen Manuell the maker extraordinaire at Fish Eye Sisters  If you do not know her work, please treat yourself to a visit.


All of this just in time for the cooler temps that are on their way. We will be snuggly warm under this wonderful blanket, that's for sure. 

Here's to a happy decade ahead for both of these creations.






Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Wow!!! I can't believe it has been this long!

During these last COVID months, we have all been living in what I call "elastic time". That's time where minutes can last forever, but months race by without notice. 

Parts of my life have become monitors. I walk every morning for an hour. And I have established a "walk of the day" calendar, so I am always mixing it up. Except for "grocery day", when I have to be at the store my 8 to take advantage of "seniors' hour". So that day, I don't usually walk - or didn't when the temps were 30+. May start to walk later as the weather turns cooler. 

Most other parts of my life are repeats of the simple things. It's kind of COVID Groundhog Day. Most days I hook and knit. And I usually devote some time to my ongoing mask making. (Truth be told, now that every single manufacturer has joined the mask parade, it is discouraging for those of us who are making masks by hand to see that you can buy 5 masks for $15.00 from many retailers.) That said, I am still making for the hospital, because I believe that many people who end up there don't necessarily have time to plan on bringing a mask with them. 

So I continue to make them every week. I took a bit of time off this summer when the kids and grandkids were here for a couple of weeks. And then when we rented a cottage on Lake of Bays for a week - the only cold and rainy week of the summer. Murphy's Law.

So, what do I have to share with you?

On the hooking front, I continue to add to my WIP or UFO pile (for those of you who don't know, that is Work in Progress and Un Finished Objects. I am embarrassed to be honest about how many things I have waiting to be finished. But I don't apologize for moving on to the next adventure.

My "kilt it" project is languishing, and could be done in a couple of sittings.  It is made entirely from up-cycled kilts, except for the background. It has one kilt, but I added some additional fabric so there would be enough. 


Our grand cat, Jasper, died in July. It was very sudden and very upsetting for everyone. I decided to hook a likeness of Jasper that can be the "guardian Angel-cat" in their home. I mounted him on foam core board, so they can put him in all his favourite spots. 


The quilts for the twin beds are finished and on the beds. I LOVE them, even more than I thought I would.  I still have to make matching pillow shams. Complete with rainbow coloured pom pom trim. Impossible to believe I still have 300+ squares left over. 


I made a second "mosaic stitch" baby stroller blanket for a special new person. Complete with matching hat. 



Also off the needles was a "leftover" sweater for me. A fun stranded knit that goes perfectly with a pair of pants I made a few years ago. For you Ravelry folks, the pattern is called Soldotna. 


Mask making continues. This is a batch in progress that I made for our grand son, out of two bandanas. Blue outsides and red lining, so they are reversible.  They are sooo soft and I figured if I made him a Monday-Friday supply that all looked the same, he might not lose them all. 


Back to hooking. I am working on a couple of Tom Thomson patterns, designed by Carol Shewan at Willow Creek Rug Hooking. They will be made into pillows for our bedroom. Two of his most famous works - West Wind and Jack Pine. Carol did a Zoom class for these patterns. She was awesome. 

Progress is a bit slow, as I am constantly interrupted by other things. But I did sign up for the "10 minutes a day challenge" with Deanne Fitzpatrick, and days where I don't get there are made up by days when I do hours and hours. 


Here is one of the interruptions. This little 8" x 8" mat is called "CLOSE YOUR EYES AND LEAP".

It is based on a workshop that I would have offered at the 2021 Annual: Daredevils and Thrill Seekers.

Listening to a piece of music, you draw on backing with a sharpie marker  WITH YOUR EYES CLOSED.  Then you put several handfuls of worms into a bucket or bowl and mix them all together. Again, WITH YOUR EYES CLOSED, you pull out one worm at a time and put it somewhere in the design you made. 

Full details will be available in the OHCG Winter Newsletter, but here's a sneak peak. Top image is the sketch - my music was "Defying Gravity" from Wicked. Middle image is the bucket of worms. And bottom image is the finished piece.  




It was lots of fun and quick little project. Very brave to just "hook" without knowing what you are going to hook next. 

So, that's what I've been doing instead of posting here. I promise to try to not be absent for so long again. 


March Marched Right Past

Not sure how I missed a blog post last month, but I did. And now it is mid-April. The "showers" have arrived. Grass and trees are ...