Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Student Rug to Share

Just when I think I am becoming a horrible blogger because I take so long between posts, I get rescued by a student. And end up doing a second post right after the long-overdue one.

This is Judy's rug from the OHCG School in Ancaster. It was a free pattern in Rug Hooking Magazine - June/July/August 2014.  She got a good start on it over the weekend and sent me a picture of it finished. I love how much texture and movement are in the background. And I love the single line of red around the outside.

This rug serves as a nice reminder of how many wonderful free resources are out there. Each issue of RHM offers a free pattern, together with a materials list and instructions.  And when they turn out as well as this one, why not go for it.

Nice job Judy!

Monday, November 23, 2015

What does the fox say?

I have been having a lot of fun working away on the William Morris Fox stocking pattern that I got from Encompassing Designs.  It is going to be a "forever" stocking for my grandson Jackson who is not yet two.

There is a story behind the choice of the design, and it is all around the video "What does the fox say?" by Ylvis, which if you haven't seen yet, you should go and watch.  From the time Jackson was very tiny, whenever I saw him, I would sing the different sounds from the video, and he thought his Grandma was hilarious.  Even over the phone, I could evoke giggles galore by just singing the song.

So when deciding to hook him a stocking, I settled on this design. For now, it will still evoke the video and funny sounds, but when he is grown, it will just be a beautiful William Morris classic design that will hopefully be appropriate at any age.

There has been a lot of learning in this project. The thing I have always loved about William Morris designs is how they seem to glow. The dark background and the lightest value around the leaves is lovely, even when you use textured wool, which is what I chose to do.

When the body of the stocking was done and I had the top part left to do, I tried a number of different combinations for the backgrounds behind the crown. I had worried that the candy cane stripe might be too bold for the design, but I really want to line the stocking with candy cane stripe cotton. Turns out the proportion is ok and the red does appear in the flowers below the fox.

The first attempts at the colour behind the gold crowns were too bright and they didn't relate to anything else in the design, but I think I am happy with where I have netted out. I will look for some navy velveteen for the back of the stocking and possibly some cording/piping as well.

I will share a finished picture when all is said and done. He will never know how long his Grand spent on this crazy project, but hopefully he will always smile when he looks at it and remembers "What does the fox say."

Thursday, October 29, 2015

OH, OHCG school was great!

A week ago (already) I left to teach a wide cut open class in Ancaster at the Ontario Hooking Craft Guild School. It was my fourth time teaching there, but every time, I am reminded of what a beautiful spot it is. A quiet little retreat (literally) in the middle of Ancaster, which is a quaint little village. Beautiful heritage buildings and all kinds of interesting shops and restaurants. A fun destination, even without the hooking.

I got to see another side of the village when we went to see the Blue Jays game on the Friday night. A lovely restaurant/bar played host to the Jays 'faithful'. We hung in until the rain delay and then made our way back to the school, finding out their fate in the morning.

My class was filled with 14 women with different experiences and just-as-different subjects.. The chemistry in the room was wonderful and we had a fun-filled time together with lots of laughter, learning and a fair amount of shopping in the rug store down the hall.

The mat topics ranged from a few kinds of flowers to primitive houses, a snow scape, a fruit study with beautiful grapes that changed from purple to green, a photo-to-mat of an extraordinary sunset/sunrise (I can't tell them apart), an exploration in plaid, a wonderful interpretation of a tile, a couple of fall leaf mats, a large bunny mat, and a brave geometric journey on the diagonal.

Here are a couple of pics taken by one of the students on the weekend.

On the Sunday morning, all the classes gather in the gymnasium and show their progress over the weekend. We were such a large class that Pat took the picture from the balcony to fit us all in. 

This is me working with Betty on her giant tulip mat. You can see all her yummy colours in the foreground. And if you look over her left shoulder, you will see a somewhat unusual poster. No surprise that there is a lot of religious symbolism in the old convent school, but somehow the Wanted poster seems a little strange to me. 

I look forward to sharing some finished projects with you as students send them to me. I think that is always the sign of a great class is that people actually do finish what they worked on with you. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

TWAS (The Wearable Art Show) Here I come!

I just finished my first sewing project in my new studio. And I am very happy - even if I have not-so-great photos of the outcome. I will be wearing this to a reception tomorrow night in Toronto for The Wearable Art Show. (Tickets still available for the show on Saturday - two for one if you purchase online - link here.) You will find details re venue and artisans on the site too.

I had no clue what to wear to something like this. I only knew that it didn't exist in my closet, so I decided to make something a little different. Not that mingling with talented artisans will be intimidating.

Last post, I showed you the pattern and talked a bit about my odd choice of fabric.  Here's the pattern:
And here's a picture of the fabric remnants, so you get some context for the photo of the finished tunic. It is a windbreaker fabric with a definite shinier side that I used for the 'good' side. The net result is that it definitely has the body I was hoping for. In fact, it almost looks like leather (faux that is). But windbreaker weight.

So here is a picture of the front - yes, the hanger is the model for now. Will try to get some shots when I wear it.

And here is a picture of the back. You have to love it when you look as good 'going' as you do 'coming'.

Which gets me to the real reason for this post. I have written before about the fabulous Tilton Sisters in Oregon - Marcy and Katherine. They are both pattern designers and Marcy designs for Vogue while Katherine designs for Butterick. They are awesome and I think if I lived closer, they would be my friends!! They have a knack for designing exciting clothing for women of a certain age and I love just about everything they do. So do a lot of other women who sew much better than I do - you can see a few of their followers on their sites.

This pattern truly represents the experience of sewing one of their garments. A little daunting at the beginning, cutting out all 19 pieces, but the journey was worth it. This was like a great movie or an engrossing novel that you just don't want to ever end. Every step delivered a great result and the step-by-step pattern instructions finished with a garment that looks just like the one in the picture. 

Truth be told, you have to have time to spend with these patterns. This is NOT instant gratification - which is usually my favourite fare. This is "slow sewing". And so worth it! I have had the same satisfaction with all their other patterns I have made as well - have even made some of them more than once (a true testament to a great pattern).

Now that my tunic is done, I am even happier with my fabric choice, because I think on milder fall days, I will wear it as a outer layer vest with a long-sleeved tee under it. Though it could be worn without a tee under it and look very funky and evening-ish with some awesome earrings.

Tomorrow night I will wear it with cropped leggings and flats - more like the picture on the left. I may opt for a body tee underneath, just because. But I will go through my earrings or perhaps model some for one of the artisans. 

And I will feel like I am wearing a truly "wearable art" piece that I created myself. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Studio Drought is Over.

Not sure if it is the cooler temperatures, or just feeling a bit more settled, but October and I are very very busy. The studio is firing on all cylinders - hooking, knitting, sewing. And we are both feeling very good about it.

A new Marcy Tilton pattern is my current sewing project, with an unusual fabric choice. Here's the pattern. A fun and functional vest pattern that I figured I could wear with or without something under it. But when it came to choosing fabric, I wanted something a bit different and that's what I picked. A light weight fabric that almost feels like windbreaker fabric. My rationale is that it has the body to reflect the construction of the 19 pieces in the pattern. Yikes. We shall see.

On the needles: I just finished a minion hat and mittens set for Jackson's first Hallowe'en. I figured he is too young for a costume, so a hat and mitts that make him look like a minion but keep head and hands warm all winter is probably a good idea.

And on the rug hooking front, I am happy to report that there is a newly formed rug hooking group here in Peterborough that will meet once a month at "Activity Haven", a re-purposed public school that is filled with, as the name suggests, activity. Line dancing, tai chi, rug hooking. A busy place. And a great turnout for our first day yesterday.

In anticipation of going to that, I ordered the William Morris "fox" Christmas Stocking for Jackson and spent a bit of time colour planning on the weekend. I have been wanting to do a William Morris design for some time and this is my change - albeit with a few liberties taken, such as mostly textured wool. It is an excellent pattern, so a big shout out to Christine Little at Encompassing Designs. 

I will share a picture when I get a little further along.

But it sure feels great to be back "making" again.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

September the what?

Moving is a black hole. You disappear in there for months and when you emerge, your brain is not quite what it was when you began. I think that is because everything is different. Nothing is in the same place as it used to be and, at least in my case, my poor addled brain is trying to set up a new planogram for my life.

Most of the house is coming together and the hanging of our artwork certainly makes it feel like it is ours versus just us squatting in someone else's place. And our beloved painter, Ian, is done - at least until he comes back for the next project.

So, how goes the studio in this scenario? Slow and steady. Which is how it got to be September 16th.

I ordered three Kallax bookshelves from Ikea which were delivered to my door and assembled with a little help from my Ikea-loving son. Three 6' cases with 25 cubbies each!  Here is what they looked like empty:

And here is what has been put in there so far:

I know!!! Pretty amazing.  However, so far, there are no books, Rug Hooking Magazines or sewing fabric in here. And I suspect that there is still another big box of wool hiding in the garage. So there will not be any empty cubbies when I am done.

As to the actual hooking, I have pulled a few more loops - at a gathering in Campbellford on Monday afternoon, but all my spare time seems to be not-so-spare right now. That too will come.

I did receive a nice email from another Loyalist student who gave me permission to show her finished project. Thanks Pauline, it is beautiful. You must be very proud.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

More Loyalist Bragging Rights.

I just love it when students share their finished projects!! It is rewarding to see that the momentum held and that they finished. Too often a class project gets put aside - I think I vie to lead that parade - so it takes dedication to go home and finish.

This little Van Gogh study was done by Susan in the class, who is relatively new rug hooker, but for whom I reserve the term "rabid". She is hungry to learn, to try, to experiment. And she arrived at class with two projects to work on.

This one is finished. I think it has lots of amazing movement, but still leaves the tree as hero. And the colours are wonderful. Post impressionism lends itself so well to rug hooking that the brush strokes create quite a plan for hooking. Susan is not the first person to take on Van Gogh, but I think her rendition is very pleasing and true to the artist.