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.


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.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Big Things Ahead

Now that the small things are done - little sweaters and  baby blankets all delivered. One baby safely arrived, two more are imminent. The hand quilted panel baby quilt is finished and waiting for the baby. I really found that I enjoyed the hand stitching versus sitting tied to the sewing machine. Yes, it did take longer and No, my stitches were not perfect, but I found it very relaxing and spread it over a couple of weeks.

This little project was so much fun to do that I have decided to take on a much larger venture. Go big or go home, right? Next up, a queen size quilt that I will hand stitch into the design on this fabric.

I started looking for other projects like this online and eventually found some on Pinterest. Although this is not what is technically referred to as a "whole cloth quilt", I am not sure what else to call it. It is whole fabric and I am quilting it. I will join two panels of this 45" fabric - a queen size quilt bat - and a backing fabric and will quilt the shapes that are in the fabric (instead of piecing). I will do the stitching in a "long stitch" method with the Perle Cotton.

There are lots of natural valleys and shapes in here that I think will make it lovely too look at but also interesting to quilt. It will take a lot of weeks, since I think the queen size is something like 85" by 90". About four times the size of a baby quilt. But I LOVE the fabric and hopefully still will by the time I am done.

The other Big Thing in the planning stages is a hooked headboard for one of the guest rooms. I will reveal more about it in future posts. It will need to share the calendar with the quilt, so no speedy progress on either. But they will provide lovely distractions from one another.

In the meantime, off to Belleville on Sunday to teach a Borders class at Loyalist College in the Summer Arts Program.  All the students will be bringing something for which they will design a border - or perhaps multiples. This "in progress" piece will be my demo to use in class.

I will be designing a different border for each of the four sides and hopefully have a bit of each hooked for class. And this will eventually be a pillow to go with the hand quilted 'future queen' above.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Baby Season Ahead

It's not too often that I get to celebrate babies anymore. Well, unless my friends are becoming "grand" or "grander". But in my circle now - or in the next while - there are or will be three shiny new people among us. Two of those are "grands", but the third is a new babe for a young couple we have come to know.

So I have been busy making baby welcoming things. For the first on the list is a knit blanket in the colours requested to match the nursery scheme.  Here is a pic from the Purl Bee website where I got the free pattern. If you are not familiar with this website, I highly recommend you spend some time there. Each and every project is perfection in its simplicity and exquisite materials.

Baby number two is getting a quilt. Not a pieced one, but a pre-printed panel that I am hand quilting. If anyone ever says that we don't improve at any skill with practice, they should see the stitches in the first bit of quilting versus the ones after 10 or 12 hours. Not that I am going back to change anything, but I am definitely improving.  And to support the debate of machine versus hand, I am enjoying the doing, and not in too big a rush to get to the end.

This picture shows it pinned. I think I am about half way through the quilting and will share a pic when it is done. Cute zig zag fabric on the back completely disguises my stitches - good and bad, but also makes for a cheery reverse side.

Baby number three has already arrived.  And she is the third gorgeous girl for her family. I decided that not only did the new arrival deserve something special, but so did the two big sisters, so I am knitting this little sweater for all three of them.

I was a middle girl of three and I remember when my mother thought it was cute to dress us alike. I specifically remember one dress in particular that she got for the three of us - all in the same colour. So when you outgrew one, you grew into another - and another (if you were my sister Beth).

For these three beauties, I have chosen three colours, so that nobody has to wear exactly the same thing more than a couple of years.

It's fun to celebrate something as awesome as a new baby. At a time when many friends are facing the other end of the circle of life, I find this a very happy thing. And something that I am more than thrilled to spend the time on.

Here's a very warm welcome to all three of you, congratulations to your parents and here's to your many adventures ahead.