Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Santa, Secrets and Students to Brag About

It's that time of year where nearly everything being "made by me" is a surprise for someone for Christmas. So, I can't share until the gifts have been given.

Luckily for me, I have received a couple of finished mats this week from some students who have given me permission to brag. Both of these projects were part of my Borders class at Loyalist. And one was also part of my Zen and the Art of Doodling at Trent.

When students share their finished work with a teacher, it is the finest compliment a teacher can receive - at least in my humble opinion. It means the student actually finished the project and was proud enough of the outcome to share with the teacher. In this case, both people finished their rugs with a rigid backing and have hung them for display. That totally warms the cockles of my heart.

Without further ado.

This is the Zen Doodle and Border Mat. The doodles were created at Trent. The Borders were added at Loyalist. I think it is a wonderful evolution and when I look at it, I think it is timeless. I can even imagine it as a contemporary room size rug!!  This student used only leftover worms, which is a great thing about both these classes. However, she says she only made a minor dent in her stash. Guess she'll have to do a bunch more.


And this happy little fellow is now a greeter to visitors in the hallway of his home. Who could not have a cheery time after looking at him. I believe he was inspired by a greeting card, but evolved into a unique little fellow who is a favourite to his maker.


Thanks again to both of you for letting me share this lovely work.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

An Amazing Celebration.

On Monday, I am going to Toronto to help celebrate the 80th birthday of a friend who has had far more impact on my life than I think he will ever know. He was my first "Mentor" - with a big M - who taught me more than anyone has, before or since then.

He was one of those people who, from the moment I first met him, had a profound affect on the rest of my life. Neither of us would ever know how resounding and everlasting it would be. But I think the truth of what the affect was - in hindsight - was he "found the me in me". He encouraged me to be the me I would become. And in truth, he didn't really get to see the "me" that resulted. He may not know the artist, teacher, grandma, fulfilled person I have become, but I am sure he would be proud.

He was my advertising-writer mentor. He was the 'wind beneath my wings' who made me believe I had a talent and ability. Without him, I might never have quite believed in myself. But with him, I was a force to be reckoned with. And there was no turning back. I absorbed his energy, his ability to be a mediator, a leader, a mentor - and I unconsciously modelled myself after all those amazing things he taught me.

When I first met him, I was approaching "30". I spent the very best of my working years with him - soaking up his ability to see things and be things that others might have missed. And he had a greater impact than he knew. Then I had babies. And I had to leave him and follow the path that lay ahead.

He only ever met my daughter, on my maternity leave, when she was wee. He never met my son. He doesn't really know how amazing they are. But because he raised amazing kids - and grand kids, I suspect he does know. And on Monday, I hope we get to catch up - even if for just a bit.  There will be lots of people there like me - who he has mentored - who will be vying for his attention, so I am not sure what will happen. But no matter what, his impact remains the same.

Now I am "65" and he is "80". All just numbers, but cumulatively, a lot of years. Big numbers. And a big relationship. Though many years and our individual lives have intervened, he has never really been out of mind, since so many of my written things - articles, blog posts, mostly everything I write - bring me back to the office we shared, while I was honing my skills. With him listening - and looking - on.

And, dear readers, there is a hooking part to this story too. So if you have hung in this long, you will get to see what that is.

At Monday's celebration, we were asked to bring a red rose with us to the celebration.  Gary loves them. And we will bring one. But I decided to hook a rose for him. To share a passion of mine he doesn't know about, and to give him something that will last long after the celebration.

The very best hooked rose that I have ever seen is this one - Gail Becker's "Eye of a Rose".  I decided that I wanted to adapt Gail's design and include it in a 4x6 card to the birthday boy. And when I asked Gail if she would be ok with that, she was more than gracious in her response to do so.


Here is my adaptation of her beautiful rose. Mine is not only smaller, but darker - a totally different palette - not because it needed to be darker, but because this was what was in my stash.


Now it is nestled in a 4 x 6 card with a personal greeting. It has a label on the back. It has a photo of Gail's rug on the front of the card. It has a tribute to her genius on the inside flap. And then it has my loops, inspired by her, inspired by him - resulting in a personal gift that I am giving to him.

Thank you Gary for everything you have given me.  Thank you Gail for letting me share the rose.

A moment in time - a lifetime in time - well celebrated.






Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Colours Are Amazing.

After such a dry summer, it is wonderful to look around and see the amazing palette that is fall. Those blue skies embracing the oranges, yellows and reds never get old for me. Perhaps it is because autumn is such a short sprint towards winter.

In our new hood, even a walk down the street is a feast for the eyes. I guess the proliferation of maples gives the spectacular colours that we all love so much, despite knowing what comes next. And after being brown for most of the summer, the lawns are all a glorious green again. We even saw a new batch of dandelions on our walk yesterday.

Before Thanksgiving, I decided to punch a large oak leaf for our front door. Using very bulky yarn, the project was going very quickly. In fact, in two sessions, I had it mostly done. Then came the 4-day visit with the grandson. Despite believing I would finish while he was asleep - either nap time or bed time - it came to a grinding halt until after the holiday weekend.

As soon as he was gone, I got back to the easy finish and knit two large acorns, which I attached to the leaf. I mounted it on a piece of foam core board and hung it from the hook on the door.


It is about 20 inches long and 10 across, so a great size to fill the door. Am thinking that it could use one more acorn, so will get to that in the next day or so.

Now that sweater weather is just round the corner, my needles are full with projects both in progress and waiting.  I have made a promise to myself to try to use up as much stash yarn as possible. We will see how that goes.

The success and speed of the punched oak leaf has convinced me to use my bulky yarn collection for at least one of the headboard projects waiting for hooking.

I will post as I go on progress.



Tuesday, September 27, 2016

More Bragging Rights

As a teacher - and I am sure it is true for all teachers, not just rug hooking ones - there is nothing better than getting positive feedback on a class.

Last weekend, I was with a wonderful group of women at Apps Ridge in Brantford. I had met many of them before, but there were a few "new to me" students and one very new student. Margot is extremely artistic, has dabbled in virtually every fibre art, so is a natural when it comes to rug hooking. She is so keen, she arrived with more supplies than anyone else in the group: wanted to make sure she had what was needed.

After class, I received this email from her, which I asked if I could share here:

I learned so much this past weekend!
I learned that as I suspected, rug hookers are a wonderful group of people. You could not have made me feel more welcome as a newbie.
I learned that knowledge is a beautiful thing and even more so when shared. You ladies were/are a tremendous pool of knowledge, I was blown away.
I learned that wide cut is not the only cut, I saw so many beautiful pieces of work with such great detail...I am definitely inspired.
I learned that holidays are great just not on the back of your rug hooking (thanks Wendie)
I learned that I have a lot to learn and that is a wonderful thing for me as I will continue to come to workshops and grow. You’re stuck with me!

It surely doesn't get better than this, right? 

But there's more to share....I received a few emails this week with finished projects - the other thing that I love to get. And I have permission to share them as well.

These are from a couple of the Apps Ridge students. This was Britt's large project, and her 5 x 5 free fall was nearly finished when we left on Sunday too. Hopefully, picture to follow. 


This was Linda's big project. Because of her colour palette, she wasn't sure it felt like a doodle, but she likes it.  Who says it has to be black and white? And I think that the use of the black and white around the frame really sets it off.



One of my Trent students, who followed my lead and did the same "doodle" four different ways, has finished hers and turned it into a pillow. It's pretty awesome as well.


As for my own hooking since returning from Newfoundland, it was interrupted by a two-week stint spent looking after our "grand dog" Jeffrey. Dogs, like toddlers, tend to disrupt the rhythm of the days, but I sure got close to the little guy.  But like all good "grands", he is happily back home with my son and his fiancee. So life is returning to normal here.

Hopefully some more sharing in the next post. 




Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Newfoundland Rug Camp is my New Found Heaven.

From beginning to end, my rug camp experience in Newfoundland was beyond incredible.  We flew into Deer Lake in two hours, which seemed very quick. Got our luggage and rental car in under 15 minutes. Off to a great start!

Visitor centre at Deer Lake Airport. 
My travelling companion, Jane Stewart, was the best. It's nice to have friends who are so easy to spend long periods of time with. I enjoyed being in her company very much. And she was quite the "sherpa" in sharing things she has learned to love about Newfoundland.

Our first day there began with another typical Newfoundland story.  I realized that I hadn't brought all the bedding that I needed for camp and when I mentioned it at the Holiday Inn Express and asked where they would recommend I go for pillow, sheets, towel, etc., they asked "Do you mind if they are lightly stained?" to which I said of course not. So two minutes later, out came a bag of "gently used" linens - everything I needed for camp. And for payment when I asked - "Just a hug."

So, we do know that none of those stories are exaggerated.  They appear to happen all the time. I heard several more while I was there and loved every one.

Off we headed in our little red Sonic from Deer Lake to Gros Morne Park and a 5.4 km hike into Western Brook Pond.  I think my chin was in my lap the entire way. The scenery was so incredibly beautiful - each turn in the highway more stunning than the last.  And the rain held off, leaving us dry to admire the incredible cloud cover on the mountains.

This sign shows the board walk that crossed the bogs. 
The expanse of the bog between us and the mountains.  
The cloud cover was incredible. 

A fabulous look out spot with more signs about what you are seeing. 

We didn't have enough time for the fiord tour there, but I will keep it in my pocket for another visit. A few of the ladies at camp had done it and said it was definitely worth doing.

Next, a quick trip to Rocky Harbour for some supplies and lunch and a poke around in some of the charming craft stores. I took this picture of a boat model - typical lobster boat - just like the one our childhood boat was built from.


Another relatively short drive and we arrived at Killdevil Camp in time for registration. As soon as I saw the place, I understood why it is called "Rug Camp".  It is a camp ground and very reminiscent of the camp I went to when I was a kid. Absolutely beautiful in its setting. The cabins were set up with three bunk beds per room plus the counsellors cots. Spartan, perhaps, but certainly all we needed to be happy during our stay.

Across the greens are the cabins we stayed in.

Our classroom from outside.
The view out the door from the classroom.
Doris Norman, our teacher, in the classroom. And that is Jane behind her.

The view from just past the canoe shot above. Incredible!
A beautiful path and this staircase took you to the beach. 
Low tide at the beach. Lots of gulls and rocks. 

Everywhere you looked, you were reminded of how rugged and vast this part of the world is. Hard to believe you are still in Canada.

For me, it was the perfect place to come for the first time. I am thrilled that this was my first experience. Camp will be there again next year as well and there is some discussion about making it a permanent home. I can definitely understand why.

The Celtic class was excellent. I learned a lot about Celtic design. And the biggest lesson of all is that you need to work on small areas at a time to not lose your way in the maze of knots and creatures that are featured in the work. Doris Norman, our teacher,  was extremely knowledgeable and happy to help everyone who ran into an issue with their "over's" and "under's".

I made the decision to reduce the size of my "D" pattern so it could be a sofa pillow. In hindsight, this was not a very smart move, since even with a 3 cut (yikes), I still had to edit some parts of my design out. They were just too small. But I made good progress and look forward to finishing this piece.


The dots on the outside in the background are referred to as "Rubication", which was a common enhancement of the illuminated letters. I think I will space them further apart and may even try french knots instead of loops.

In addition to the hooking and learning, there was much too much eating. The food was prepared by a kitchen staff that seemed to be peeling things every time we came into the "mess hall", which seemed to be every two hours.  The food was pretty authentic Newfoundland fare. And there was lots to be had.

A highlight for me was the soft molasses cookies from my childhood. Although we didn't put raisins in ours, the softness and taste was exactly what I remember. I took this picture so I could share it with my sisters.


In addition to the hooking and too much eating, there was lots of meeting and greeting. To a person, the group there could not have been more welcoming. There were lots of activities to encourage "mingling" and I got to meet an amazing number of women.

I think one of the great things about having the school in Killdevil camp versus St. John's is that there really isn't anywhere to go - at least not without a car. So the hooking campers stay and spend time with one another - laughing, singing, line dancing and generally having a wonderful time.

The Theme for this year's camp was "Western" and I have never seen so many cowboy hats and kerchiefs in one place in a very long time. Everyone got into it in a big way. There was live entertainment and a western themed meal: corn bread, brown beans and/or chili and seriously --- cowboy steak - a.k.a. fried bologna.  At dessert, I had my first taste of partridge berry pie and quite liked it. A little bit tart, but yummy.

The line dancing was fun for all. I will have to try to share the video I took with my iphone, even though it will be very dark. Not quite sure how to do that.

For my costume, I wore the "Trent Dress", which will be featured in another post. For those who don't know the story of the Trent Dress, it gets presented to someone every year and they are required to take it on an adventure and have their picture taken. Well, I honestly don't think that dress ever had this much fun!! It caused quite a sensation. And if I hadn't made an impression before then, I sure did with the ugly dress. Someone took lots of pics, so I will share them next time.

There was a rug show - small but mighty - in the big gathering room, along with 5 x 5 mats that were in the friendship mat exchange on Saturday night. Ironically, nearly all of the 12 people from Ontario ended up getting mats from other people from Ontario. Not sure how that happened, but I got a sweet little mat, even if it wasn't created by a Newfoundlander.


There was a viewer's choice for the favourite rug in the display. Here it is, hooked in yarn. What a gorgeous hooker/artist Gwen is. For those who don't recognize those things in the middle, they are cod - salt cod, I believe.  And the hit and miss border is just perfect.


On Saturday night the RHGNL Annual Meeting was held after dinner. Turns out that the camp is the largest gathering they have, so the perfect place to hold it. A bit more relaxed than the OHCG Annual Meeting, it was also filled with laughter and hoots of appreciation.

After the business meeting was done, there was a presentation made by one of the hookers about her project entitled the "Forget Me Not Blanket". This incredibly talented artist created a unique and historically accurate portrayal of the role that Newfoundlanders played in the First World War.

It was a powerful thing to behold. She says she got to know all about the soldiers represented in this tribute. Each flower stitched on the blanket represents a soldier who gave his life. Each battle is represented with the number who died. And for an island that lost an entire generation, this is a very touching tribute.




To top off my stay, as if the whole thing wasn't perfect enough, I won the draw for a tuition refund!! This is something they do every year - not quite a free school - but class costs reimbursed and I WON!!!  Couldn't believe it. Talk about icing on my "camp cake".

Oh yes, there was a bonfire on our last night. Apparently there is one most nights, but we did have quite a bit of rain. It was wonderful to sit around and listen to someone fiddling. Everyone sang, a few danced, but mostly we just sat and enjoyed.


Doris, our teacher, had to leave unexpectedly on Saturday because of a family matter. So Jane and I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to do another little road trip to Woody Point. It just so happens that while camp is on each year, Woody Point is host to a Writers' Festival -  the perfect way to convince my husband to come with me next year lol.

So after a quick drive, we visited the town of Woody Point, including a couple of craft stores, one owned by a fellow student in our class. Here's a link to Molly Made.  I ended up purchasing one of her little coaster kits of a puffin, which I will hook with the yarn provided and treasure for years to come.

Another scenic outlook yielded these beautiful shots.





And then, it was all over! Time to head back to Deer Lake. It was a very short trip that went by in a minute, but one I will treasure forever. And hopefully, I can extend my stay the next time I head there.

There is a spell that is cast by this magical place and I certainly fell under it. The people were even friendlier than I expected - and my expectations were pretty darn high. The scenery (you can never truly capture it with a camera) took my breath away at every turn.

Would I recommend this experience to every rug hooker I know? You betcha. If you don't have the time of your life there, then there's something seriously wrong with you. The Newfoundland hookers know how to have a good time and don't seem to take themselves too seriously.

Thanks Jane for being my great guide.
Thanks rug camp for being beyond my expectations. Kudos to Jane and Sue the co-directors for a job more than well done.
Thanks Newfoundland for worming your way into my "displaced Maritime" Heart.

As Arnold would say "I'll be back."

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

What happens at rug school ... goes to rug camp

Not quite the adage we all know, but when I tell the story, it will all make sense - at least it did to me.

While teaching in Belleville last month, the two other rug hooking teachers and I decided to spend a night at the movies. We went to see BFG, which we all liked, but that is not the story.

Before dinner, we went to Lone Star for a bite to eat. On the way out, I asked the girls to take a picture of me under the sign, since the restaurant used to be my son's favourite place for his birthday dinner every year. The one in Toronto - not Belleville. With me so far?

The next thing I know, Tina has erroneously told the hostess that it is my birthday and can they have the gigantic cowboy hat. And then, to add insult to injury, they brought out the "rolling saddle".  This is one of the many hilarious images that resulted.


After sharing the pictures with the co-teachers and my son, I had another thought. The theme for Newfoundland Rug Camp this year is Western, so why not hook a mini mat of this picture and put it in for the friendship mat exchange! It will be called "The Lone Star Cowgirl". (Ironically, this was also the theme for Trent Rug School this year and is the upcoming theme at Ragg Tyme School next year. I may get a lot of mileage out of this yet.)

So here is the little mat, which was fun to hook. And even more fun to add a fringe to.



Hopefully nobody who is going to rug camp is reading this, since it is meant to be a surprise.

Shhhhhhh!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

My Wonderful Doodle Class Debut

I love getting ready to teach a class I haven't taught before. And prepping for Zen and the Art of Doodling at Trent was amazing. I knew that doodling, zentangling and colouring were becoming more popular by the day and the reference materials out there were incredible. I was even able to find a colouring pad for the floor with nearly rug-sized doodles to colour, in case people were really stuck.

But they weren't. Our first couple of days were spent exploring doodles and getting students to come up with their designs. And they were incredible - as individual as the students were - again!  It never ceases to amaze me how our brains work in a creative situation.

I am missing a couple of the students' pieces, but this shows you how amazing they all were.


This was Diane's first study in this design. She is going to do a couple more.
Margaret is doing a series to spell her granddaughter's name. H above and O below.



Rhea's beautiful adaptation from a friend's zentangle-inspired artwork. 

Charlene's funky teapot. A donation for a future fundraiser. 


Connie's amazing bamboo with doodled backgrounds. 

Pam's first and second pieces. She took to this like a fish to water. 




Nearly everyone in the class was hooking with a small cut - necessary to get the detail into the small pieces. And for the first time, I could see myself embracing the 4 cut for these tiny works of art.
When you are working on pieces as small as 5 x 5 (shown in the bottom photo), you really need to think small.

On the third day of class, I made everyone go through an exercise of bravery and daring - lol. They had to grid a 5" square on a piece of backing and then, with no preplanning - no pencils - no sketches - they had to draw a doodle directly on backing with a permanent marker!!!  Everyone did it and survived. No CPR necessary - although one student was borderline for a while. Pam's bottom one shows how quickly she was able to draw and hook her little free fall piece - after finishing her first one.

It was a fun class, one I am repeating in the fall and hope to do again and again. Trust me, once you get started doing these little doodle pieces, it's hard to stop. And it's a great way to use up lots of worms.