Friday, April 24, 2020

What a difference a pandemic makes.

I had to look here to see how long ago it was that I posted. Wow!!

Although we still had time left in our island paradise, everything changed there, just like here - on March 14th. So, the COVID stupor descended on us all. And we self-isolated for our last 10 days there. We ended up leaving earlier than originally planned, but got bumped once before we were able to get home.

Once back, we were in forced quarantine for 14 days. When that was over, not much changed. The big change was going from ordering groceries online to going into the store. And scary as it is, the stores are doing a great job of creating an environment for social distancing and protecting their workers.

Masks have become a big part of my "stay home" days. At first I decided to make masks for my family - kids, grand kids, siblings and their families plus a few friends. I experimented with two styles and have now made close to 100 masks.

The Peterborough Regional Health Centre put out a challenge to get 1000 home made masks a week. To do a small part, I decided to deliver "19" masks a week until I run out of materials. I try to make 5 masks a day and the last three weeks, I have delivered some.

I have only been out 6 times since I got home - once to the drug store, twice to the grocery store and 3 deliveries of masks to the hospital.  The first trip to the grocery store had more than half the customers with masks. The second one - I only saw a couple of others with masks. Not sure why that would happen. I realized that it's hard to tell someone's expression behind their mask. I came home and took a selfie with my mask on and smiling. Couldn't tell. And that inspired this little mat that I finished this week.

What else have I been working on? I finished a Mandala mat that was a challenge for the OHCG Teachers' Branch to display at this year's Annual which was supposed to take place at Deerhurst, but was cancelled due to COVID.  The theme for this annual was "Everything Under the Sun" and we added to the challenge that the pattern had to be hooked with "everything under the sun but new wool". I used polar fleece, yarn, sari silk, t-shirt material, buttons. The other teachers used velvet, ribbon. as well as yarn and t-shirts. They will be featured in an upcoming issue of the OHCG Newsletter.

I am also working on two quilt tops for the twin beds in our grand kids' room. I managed to cut out all the 4" squares needed without purchasing any fabric. Same for the masks - all made out of leftover fabric from other projects. My stash is definitely shrinking with all these projects.

This picture was taken about 6 strips ago. I try to do a few strips a week, but it is not as urgent as the masks, so I am taking my time.

On the BRAGGING side of things, I received this image from a student in my Portraits class at the Rug Hooking School at Trent last year. Robin was one of the brave souls who decided to do a "art effect" on the portrait of her son. She used the Kandinski style on LunaPic. And I think she nailed it. I am always so happy when students share their finished pieces. 

All of this year's teaching has been cancelled - and I am happy about that. I think that until we have a vaccine, I don't want to be in a classroom - no matter how much I love the teaching. Happy that there are lots of ZOOM and FaceBook live opportunities to get together. And no shortage of youtube videos.

Stay safe. Keep hooking. And keep in touch with one another until we get out the other side of this.

Saturday, February 15, 2020


Sometime during our winter stay in Barbados in 2019, someone took this great shot.
Here are Paul, Gary, Claude, Peter and Peter, fondly referred to as “The Pool Boys”.

They are like “canaries in the coal mine”. If you see them sitting at the edge of the pool,
you know you won’t be swimming in the sea that day. As a fibre artist, I
knew this would make an amazing hooked mat. 

With the help of an online photo editing program, I cropped the image to get in closer.
I also used an art effect to produce a simple-value sketch, sort of like paint-by-number.
The online editing software is called PhotoMania. It has many artistic effects that help
create these simple “paintings”.

There were many challenges in creating this mat.

First was the perspective. It is fore-shortened, so the torsos are much larger than the lower bodies.
The skin tones above the water are completely different from the skin tones under the water.
And the refraction of the light and movement of the water create the "illusion" of legs and feet.

This was definitely an exercise in “hook what you see, not what you think you see”. 
There was much trial and error. Much “backing up” and re-hooking many parts.
And it taught me more than any other piece I have created in close to 20 years.
So it is very special.

Here is the finished mat. Each of the "boys" and their wives will get a print of this mat,
but the original will stay with me. As a fantastic memory and an excellent teaching piece.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Barbados cottage - first week done.

After 10 years coming here, we describe our Barbados trip as "going to the cottage". We see the same friends year over year. We stay in the same place. We know where everything is, and it's exactly the way we left it many months ago. And we love it just as much every time we come.

Each year, the first week is all about settling in. Getting stocked. Adjusting to the weather. Getting back out walking at 6:30 a.m.with my friend Liz. And going to and from the pool/deck/sea hangout. After walking very little at home, it's absolutely no trouble to get in 10,000 steps a day here.

Seeing sunshine out the windows is another one of the wonderful adjustments. All that green after leaving grey days at home is heaven. Here's a view of our back yard and our front/side yard. No matter what window you look through, it's a nice, green view with blue skies.

Well, most of the time. I did my first load of laundry on Tuesday and finally had to bring it in on Wednesday, after at least 16 additional rinse cycles thanks to Mother Nature and her rainy disposition. When it rains here, it is often car wash strength. It REALLY rains. And this first week has provided much of that. As well as warmer-than-usual temperatures. 

Glad I brought hooking and knitting projects with me. Plus a lot of great books. So no problem doing any of these things on the screened-in porch.

Here are some previews of projects:

I am working on a 7th The Shift Cowl (man they are addictive) and love the colours in this one. I bought this yarn at the Cobourg Hook In from the woman who owns Yarn It in Cobourg. The colours are yummy. I have a bit more done than shown here, but already had this picture. 

Here's #6, which is knit from leftover stretch cotton sock yarn I had in my stash. I don't like cotton much for socks, but it was the perfect thing to wear on the flight here. Kept my neck warm on the plane and wasn't too hot when we landed.  These colours were a total surprise - that's what happens when you work with variegated yarns. And I think that's why this mosaic knitting is so highly addictive.

Because I love this knitting so much, and because I need to make a baby blanket for someone, I decided to see if I can figure out a rectangular stroller/car seat blanket pattern. I am using 6 different yarns from my stash, and plan to do an i-cord edging all the way around when the knitting is done. That is the plan at least. And I thank Andrea Mowry for more than a little inspiration.

Re the hooking projects, this first one is nearly hooked. But I'm not ready to show it just yet. This is the photo run through PhotoMania that inspired the pattern. We call it "Pool Boys". This is what happens when the sea is too rough for swimming. These fellows sit in the pool feeling sorry for themselves lol. Like canaries in the coal mine. Putting the image through the photo editor helped reduce the complexity a bit, but didn't make it a cake walk. 

I think this is the biggest challenge I have ever faced in a mat. The foreshortened perspective is the first hurdle. The "partial limbs" under the water is the next one. They required a completely different flesh tone palette than what is above the water. This will definitely be a teaching piece. It has certainly taught me a ton - including a lot of patience!!!!

The next one, when this is done, is for my 5-day class at the Rug Hooking School at Trent in June. My class is called Cozy Characters, and students are going to create a unique tea cozy or French Press Cozy. I need to have at least one sample for each. the tea cozy is done. My adorable grand daughter's image captured forever.

This is the design I have come up with for the French Press Cozy.  It will have a velcro tab to fasten it inside the handle of the press. This is just the pattern for the wrap. 

The design is inspired by an incredible Zentangle artist named Joanne Fink. Someone introduced me to her "dangles" this year, and I LOVE them. The day I came up with this much-simplified design, my printer was misbehaving, so I used markers to do my colour plan. (May do this from now on.) I brought yarn to hook it with, while I am here.  I actually did a tiny bit before I left home, to make sure the yarn was the right weight for hooking. 

As to books, I am 3/4 through George Washington Black and I am really enjoying it. Several people recommended it, so I figured it would be a good one.  I would pass that recommendation along. I just finished Testament by Margaret Atwood and enjoyed it as well. It, and Handmaids Tale, seem to have that Love/Hate thing going on. I'm on the Love side.

So, it's been a busy settling in. Glad to have so many things with me that a little rain doesn't ruin a single day here in Paradise.

Be warm and safe back at home. 

Friday, December 20, 2019

Some knitting, some gifting, and some serious rug hooking student bragging.

December is traditionally a crazy-making month for me, but this year, I cut back on many things. No more pyjama pants. Only two pairs of socks and a simple headband.

But what would December be without cramming in just one more project in time for gift giving. My 5th version of The Shift is ready to be gifted tonight. And I got it done in 5 days, start to finish! It is from stash yarn so cost nothing other than my time. The giftee commented on the one I was wearing last Friday, and jokingly said "Will you make me one?" She is the kind of person who will not only be shocked that I did, but will love it every time she wears it. The best recipient of all.

Yarn for a 6th is already wound and ready to go. It is for me. I just love them. They keep my neck and shoulders warm without the work of a sweater. 

With that off the needles, I got to return to a sweater in progress. Pattern is called Sipila and you can find it here   I am doing the short-sleeved version. Gives me the option to put a long-sleeved tee underneath, without it being too warm. Now that the stranded work is done, it's just straight knitting for 12", then some ribbing and then the sleeves.

In the middle of this making, I received two images of finished pieces from students at two different workshops. The first one is from someone who took my "Initials" class at Trent this year - it was just a two-day class and she found an interesting way to do a lot with the letter P. Both she and her husband are P people, so this pillow is perfect.

This next piece was done at the Cobourg Hook-in at the end of October. I inherited a "Doodle class" from another teacher who had some serious surgery a bit earlier. It was a great class and I am sure everyone's pieces are spectacular. This one surely is. There is a lot going on in this piece, but the motifs and the careful colour planning have created an intriguing piece that would change every time you looked at it from another angle. It is a gift for a very lucky person. 

I hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday - no matter what you celebrate. May it be filled with family and traditions. We will be watching our 6-year old grandson and 2-year old grand daughter on Christmas morning. It will be carnage of the best kind. Christmas is so much more fun through the eyes of a child, or two.

See you in the shiny new year ahead. And thanks for following along.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

A bit of a Mosaic stitch obsession.

I have been knitting since I was 10 or 12 years old. I made my first sweater when I was 12. I still remember it. A variegated raspberry colour yarn. Probably Canadiana worsted. This would have been 1963 and there were no fabulous yarns that were available at that time. In fact, I would bet, there were no fabulous yarns period.

I accidentally knit two fronts for the same side. When my mom said I would have to ravel one back, I said "no way" and solved the problem by having one side "wrong" side out and the other one "right" side out. To balance that, I put one of the raglan sleeves in "wrong" side out as well.  Hmmmm, me thinks the lazy side of me - or the designer side of me - emerged in that sweater.

Too many sweaters later, I still love making them. I have a blue cupboard full and work hard to wear one every day. Unlike store-bought sweaters, I keep them forever. Occasionally I reclaim the yarn and make something else. I have a few sweaters that had a previous life.

So these days, I am doing more cowls and socks and fewer sweaters. And these days I find myself hopelessly in love with all things "Mosaic". I think I am late to this party, since there are 112 pages of results on Ravelry. I just think a wonderfully talented young designer made it extremely popular right now. Four cowls down - at least two more colour plans bagged and ready to get started.

More mosaic in this beautiful sweater. which was finally soaked and blocked this week. It is by the same designer who did The Shift.  Her name Andrea Mowry and the pattern is available here. If you go to that page, you will see that she has sold 998 patterns for this sweater. And the combinations are incredibly delicious. Seriously, pour a tea or coffee and take a peek.  Because you will also want to check out all her other patterns. Yikes!!!

Not quite off the needles yet are these "Ugly Duckling Socks". Pattern here. A different Mosaic, but Mosaic all the same. They are a Christmas gift for my son-in-law - his favourite colours. There will be at least one more pair of these.  A Christmas present for my husband, who requests a pair of new socks every year. As the pattern says, this is the perfect solution for an orphan ball of striping yarn that isn't quite as beautiful as you had hoped. Just put a solid with it and voila.

When these are done, I can move along to cowl number 5. No addiction here!!!!


Friday, November 1, 2019

Shift #4 Done and Jeffrey Approved.

Here are some pictures of grand-dog Jeffrey with his dad in their matching cowls, both knit from The Shift pattern by Andrea Mowry.

Pretty darn adorable, even though it proves that I have lost it. The good news is that there was enough yarn left over from Matt's cowl to make Jeffrey's without adding anything else from the stash. They are truly matching.

The amazing thing is that - as mathematically challenged as I am - I somehow figured out how to adapt the pattern to be half size. And it worked!!! I ended up eliminating some repeats from the different sections on the pattern. I figured if I had the same number of stitches on the two sides of the seam, when it was done,  it would be OK. And I was right, it seems. 

This picture is "Taffy" the model I used to make sure it would go over Jeffrey's head. I was so relieved to find out that it did. This is the first project that I have shared on Ravelry, because I thought maybe some folks might like to see the modifications.

I can't recommend this pattern enough and have a few more versions of it sitting in my stash.  With my new life with PMR, most of my sweaters are too warm, so a cowl is perfect. 

I don't see any more dog versions in my future. lol. Now onto some mitts for the two-legged "grands".

Saturday, October 26, 2019

"Procrastiknitting". My new favourite word.

Someone shared this expression on FaceBook lately and it really tickled my fancy. And for good reason.

When I am overwhelmed with how much I have on my plate, I knit. Or "procrastiknit" so I don't have to deal with it. The good thing about it is that you end up with a knit lovely at the end, so it is definitely not a waste of time.

Lately, I have been tackling things on my knitting UFO list. I have knit three versions of this wonderful pattern called The Shift. I am not the only knitter who loves this pattern. There are 3,873 others on Ravelry - and mine are not even in the count, since I have not shared them.

Here is a picture of two of the finished ones and a fourth one started yesterday. The third one was gifted to my son after a special request when he saw the first one - the black, grey and white one.

Here is my son hamming it up in the one that I made for him - his colour selection. If you notice the one that is just begun on the needles, it is in the same colours. And it is for his dog - our grand dog - Jeffrey. Apparently, he likes this one, so I am making a smaller version for him. Please note that there is math involved - or at least a semblance of - as I try to figure out how to reduce rows and stitches. He is NOT a big dog. Fingers crossed that this works. 

There are a number of reasons to love this pattern. I find the "mosaic stitch" very interesting to knit, once I figured out the difference between "wyif" and "wyib", which mean "with yarn in front" and "with yarn in back".  It wasn't that I didn't know the difference, I just kept forgetting and screwing it up a bit.

Another thing to love is that it has a seam in the back, making it kind of like a bandana. Which means once you put it over your head, there are no ends to fiddle with, like a shawl or scarf. 

And then there is the abundance of choices for colours, yarns etc. The yellow and greyish one is all from stuff in my stash. Although the yellow is not a colour I would normally choose, I got a transitional coat that was created by a woman in Newcastle. She used a vintage mustard-yellow coat and refashioned it with a warm and lovely white and grey plaid. So I knit this Shift to fill the neck on a colder morning.

When all you need is a bit of warmth versus a whole sweater, these are incredible. Like a little hug. And perfect with just a t-shirt for a warmer day.

I have another combo set aside for yet another Shift. But there are a couple of pairs of Christmas socks that need to get done in there too. 

And three hooking projects which I will share in the next post. Right now, they are just sitting in the studio - patterns on and materials selected, but nothing done yet. 

Hence all the procrastiknitting. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Whoosh - what a whirlwind start to the month.

As if August wasn't busy enough, the start of September has been a bit crazy.

I did another Portraits workshop in Westport from the 9th to the 12th. Just enough time to catch my breath from the last one and get everyone ready for this one.

Loretta Moore - aka Hooked on the Lake - hosted not only me (for the full length of the workshop) but the workshop itself. Here is a peek at some "work in progress" from the students. (Loretta has it on her blog as well.) It was a smaller group than Newfoundland and they all took to the value lessons and are creating amazing pieces.

Karen's beautiful grand daughter.

Loretta's dad - quite the character.

Wendy's grand daughter.

Edie's mom. 

Andrea's daughter as a little girl. 

Louise's grand son. 
This is the first portrait class that I have taught that didn't have any furry family members. Although Loretta's three cats made sure that at least the feline side was well represented.

I got home at about 7:00 on Thursday night and immediately had to re-load the car with some rug hooking display pieces for the first ever Hands On Creative Festival, held here in Peterborough. Unlike a sale, this was a chance for people to talk about their art form, demonstrate, let people have a try and generally "share the joy".

I was curious to see if any of the folks we talked to over the weekend would be "hooked" as we like to say. And sure enough, someone joined us at our weekly group this morning. She sat with us and practiced pulling some loops. She has taken home some backing, a frame, strips and a hook and will practice some more. She took to it right away - seemed to have no problems and will be back next week to join us and get going.

Now a bit of a breather until my next teaching gig, which is at the hook-in in Cobourg on September 30. It's called The Heat is On. I am teaching Hooking Doodles. Looks like it will be a fun day. And hopefully vendors there so we can do our fall shop.

Before I sign off, I received a couple of pics of finished portraits from Newfoundland. Always great to see and share these when they are done.

Here is Barb's grand daughter who LOVES hockey.

Marnie's grand daughter, hooked and framed. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

And now my 69th year has begun.

Wow - the number just looks big, doesn't it? And from someone who lost both parents at 60, each number above that is truly celebrated every year. Very quietly this year - just a nice dinner out with my wonderful hubby.

Freshly back from Newfoundland, where I taught my Portraits class in Lewisporte, I was more than a little tuckered. This was my third time on the Rock, but my first time in central. When you go there, you fly into Gander. And if you want to fly direct, there are some pretty crazy flight times. I arrived at 3:14 a.m. on Thursday morning. And we flew out at 6:35 a.m. on Monday.

I didn't take many pictures once school was under way. But I did manage to take a couple on the first day as we made our way to the camp. This was the view from a spot where we stopped for some seafood lunch.

This was a little "food truck" at a place called Chelsea's where they sell fresh fish and seafood. 

And this is the lobster sandwich and the squid rings we split for lunch. Delicious!

Rug camp was fantastic, as always, but I must say that I preferred the Gros Morne location of Killdevil Camp more than this. It was a bit more rustic, but the scenery was spectacular and as soon as you opened your eyes, you knew you were somewhere special. 

My class was filled with amazingly talented rug hookers who were totally dedicated to getting their portraits of beloved people and pets well on the way by the time I left. It is a short time - Thursday evening, Friday and Saturday day and then done by Sunday at noon. Whoosh!!!

And it was back-to-back following our cottage rental on Lake of Bays the week before. That was a busy, loud week with both grand kids our daughter and son-in-law for the entire week. And our son and daughter-in-law for the first weekend. Plus a few people who came to visit from Sudbury, since we were halfway there. Hectic but fun for everyone.

The weather was a little mixed and this was a storm front moving in that I was able to catch. Jackson was having fun in the water and then 10 minutes later, the wind was blowing the rain sideways. Look at that sky!!!!

So another summer comes to a close. And back to school mindset is everywhere. It's amazing how that beginning of the school year excitement seems to stay with you, no matter how old you are. A time to get organized, make lists of projects and settle into the long fall and winter ahead.

Today in the studio I was looking at the many projects I have on the go and have decided I will need to give each one a "day of the week" so that I can make progress on them all. It makes me think of women - like my mother-in-law - who dust on Monday and do laundry on Tuesday and so on, I will not be doing that. But I will be with Edith on Monday (my giant kilim), my 'kilt roses' on Tuesday, my tea cozies on Wednesday, etc. etc. etc. 

Hopefully by my next post, I will have progress to show on each of them. 

Happy September.


Friday, July 19, 2019

Cozy Evvie is Complete - well at least the hooking part.

Here she is.

She is all hooked. She has the "best saying ever" on her shirt - printed on fabric, since it was way too small to hook. She has her waterspout hairdo. And she has a tulle overlay on her skirt (which, by the way, she doesn't wear - I just thought it was cute.)

I chose a lining fabric to go with all the colours on the front. I have a dark red wool that is a similar colour to the outside hooked line that will be the backing. And I got the heat-retaining batting at Fabricland, so I am ready to go - when i am ready to go, that is. Luckily, there are lots of DIY Tea Cozy instructions on Pinterest. So when I am ready to assemble, I will have some step=by-step instructions.

Think I will hook a couple more samples first. And then save all the assembly for when I am done. And will also do a French Press Cozy - it won't have the head above the rest, but will be an easy thing for folks who don't do tea, or want a simpler project.

Will share progress.

In the meantime, stay cool. It's over 40 here today with the humidex. Luckily the basement is like a cold storage room, so hooking is not a problem here.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

How Summer Flies When You're Having Fun

It seemed to take forever to get here - after that horrible spring (or lack thereof). And now it is going much too quickly. Seems like once you put things on your calendar, September feels right around the corner. 

We do have a run of things that will finish the month. A trip to Toronto to look after the "grands" for the weekend, while their folks have a winery weekend in Niagara. Followed by a visit to friends in Meaford - a long overdue visit. And then Jackson (grandson) coming for a few days here in Peterborough on his own - a tradition each summer. 

Had a pedi yesterday and decided to do something the "grands" will love - jellybean toes. The gal who did my toes was so into it, it was even more fun. Will pack some polish colours with me and paint their toes to match. Jackson loves a good polish. And Everleigh may or may not follow his lead. Have you ever tried putting polish on an under two's toes. Maybe not the best idea.....

And then there's my much anticipated trip to Newfoundland in August to teach at Rug Camp!! Doing my Simple Portraits there as well - and have connected with all my students. Will be fun! Did I say FUN!!! Theme this year is "Diamonds and Denim". Perhaps a theme for the next pedi.....

What have I been doing in July so far? I have been busy on the frame since Trent Rug School. The students in my class this year are very keen to hook a tea cozy, after seeing the very fun ones in this video.  If you have never watched it, you will love it. Whenever I am feeling uninspired, I watch it. And it is something that I share with EVERY class I teach. The reaction is always the same. People feel their creative juices flowing - and feel themselves opening up to new possibilities.

As I said, this was the starting point for next year's class, which as a concept, I am calling "Cozy Characters". This idea of having a tea cozy with a head on top opens a gazillion possibilities, and I started sketching several as soon as I was home from Trent.

The first one I am working on is based on a picture of Everleigh - an adorable picture of her taken at her day care. Everyone had kerchiefs put on their heads that day. Here is that picture:

And here is my progress so far on Cozy Evvie.

Can't wait to add those little "water sprout" ponytails. And a little tulle overlay over her skirt. Plus the very wonderful words on her t-shirt which will become a printed fabric patch, since the letters were too small to hook. 

So much fun to have something like this on your counter top - hugging your teapot! And the possibilities are endless - people, pets, celebrities (from royalty-free images, of course). 

I will try to share progress as I go along. Not sure how much will get done with all the things on the calendar. But it is on the frame and ready for loop pulling at any time.

What a difference a pandemic makes.

I had to look here to see how long ago it was that I posted. Wow!! Although we still had time left in our island paradise, everything chan...