Monday, January 28, 2008


Well, it wasn't a quick and easy decision, but I think it was the right one.

I pulled nearly all the old red out of my background, replacing it with the new, darker one. There were under-my-breath curses as I did so, since there is a definite finish date for this rug. However, there was also some solace in knowing that I wouldn't have been happy with it looking all stripey.

So, I am about three-quarters finished the background (she said optimistically), and when I am done all of it, I will make the next decision whether or not to go back and remove the last of the old red. Perhaps I will let it stew for a while and concentrate on the outer border.

And, to my chagrin, I have run out of the pale ochre that is outlining the centre medallion and is the line between the inside field and the border. Luckily, I have a lighter value from the same formula, so at least I have a starting pointt. I will probably just overdye it to make it a bit darker, since it is already abrashed.

Another adventure in the dye pot.

Stay tuned......

Monday, January 21, 2008

Seeing red.

Saturday morning was spent in the laundry room, dyeing wool for the red field in my Oriental carpet. I had set aside the time to do what I felt was needed to complete the rug.

I’ve always been told that the secret to reproducing results is all in the notes. Luckily I had kept extensive notes from the first dyeing. Some had pencil notations beside them, where adjustments had been made. I recall that the blue had given me a bit of trouble. In fact I needed to do three batches before arriving at a colour I liked. However, the red looked as if it had worked without modification. So, I figured this wouldn’t be too hard.

As I watched my pot, even before I started to abrash, I was pretty sure that this batch was considerably darker than the first red. But, since I am a relatively novice dyer, I hoped the difference was wet versus dry wool.

Since I was dyeing a yard this time, I did 1/3 yard in one pot with the regular formula and the other 2/3 in a large pot with the recipe doubled. Once the yard was dyed, abrashed and dried, it was very different. It was easy to see the formula was the same, but it looked twice as dark. I know that Oriental fields have quite a bit of variation in the colour, but wasn’t too sure how this would work.

After hooking a bit of it into the rug, and mixing it up with the red already in, I could see that this was a much bigger jump than an abrash would give. I pulled out about 1/3 of the previously hooked lighter red and replaced it with the new colour. Then I tried hooking in a new area with the new colour and adding in some of the first batch.

I am not sure what I will do going forward, but I have a few options and a few lessons learned.

Option 1: I continue to pull rows of the light colour and replace with the darker, leaving a smattering of the lighter value to give visual interest.

Option 2: I pull all the lighter colour, use it as the outline colour in the outside border and replace nearly all of it with the new red, which I can hopefully match if I need more. In the event that I need to dye more wool to finish the background, I will get to that without a year passing in between. And the wool will come from the same bolt. I will use the same water and the same pot.

Lesson 1: I will also wet a piece of the existing colour I am trying to match so that I can tell when to pull the wool out of the bath. (Had I thought about doing this on Saturday, I could have used the rest of the dye to make another batch of a lighter colour for another project.)

Lesson 2: From now on I will try to calculate the amount of wool required for a project and dye it all at once, since it would appear that I am unable to recreate exactly the same colour. Should I dye too much wool in the process, it can always be used in another project.

Am I upset by the turn of events? Not really, although I am a bit disappointed at my inconsistent results. I guess it’s just a matter of getting into the dye pot a bit more and experimenting and building confidence. I envy those who enjoy the dyeing as much as the hooking. This is definitely not the case for me.

Once I try my options 1 and 2, I will hopefully not have to go back into the pot for this. Hopefully next time I can go through this whole ordeal next time with another colour. Yikes. The thought of that makes me blue.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Cat's Meow

This beautiful rug is the culmination of many hands over many months and is a true work of art. The name seems more apt than ever!

This rug has been hooked by the members of the Upper Toronto Chapter of the OHCG to raise funds for The Rug Museum of North America. On February 2nd, at our 3rd Annual Hook In, we hope to raise more than $1,000 to donate to this worthy cause.

Here's a bit of a story on how the whole thing began.

A group of women in Nova Scotia, in their efforts to open a museum for rug hooking in its rightful home, approached a number of different organizations with a wonderful fundraising idea. Each group would be given this whimsical pattern, if they pledged to hook it as a friendship rug and endeavour to raise at least $1,000 with it. Their hope was to have 100 groups rise to the challenge, thereby raising $100,000 to fund the museum.

Our group, when presented with the idea, jumped at the chance. We had been looking for a worthwhile project to get involved with as a group, and unanimously decided that this one was perfect!

So, over the next year, the rug moved from home to home and each member of the branch hooked a couple of cats before passing it on to the next person. What fun it was to see it evolve. Each time it came to a meeting to be handed off, there were more funny cats in glorious colours and we took great pleasure in seeing the progress.

With just a couple of weeks till the hook in, I have basted it for whipping and will drop it off at the whipper's home this afternoon. It will be finished and proudly displayed just two Saturdays from today. Some lucky person will get to take it home from the hook in. I'm sure there isn't one among us who doesn't hope it will be them.

We have created a label for the rug which commemorates the group and the cause. And we will have a group picture taken with this work of art.

In so many ways, it has pulled the hooking community - both local and national - even closer together than we already were.
It truly is the cat's meow.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The universe expands. And contracts.

This is a picture of Fredericton, New Brunswick, my birthplace and hometown for 16 years.

When I first moved to Toronto, I had no idea that Fredericton was actually the centre of the universe, but it became evident very quickly. No matter who I met - no matter where they were from, within minutes of them learning of my heritage, a connection evolved. They either had relatives there or knew someone from there, and a bond was formed. Nearly 40 years has passed and that is still the case.

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting two Frederictonians for business purposes. It's always fun to meet people from the "home team". There was an instant connection and much reminiscing about how much things have changed since I left. Things like the new hospital and high school, shopping and housing, and the closing of the Pony Club where I spent so much of my time.

We also talked about how much things have stayed the same. The population hasn't gone up much - still around 55,000. It's still one of the best places on earth to raise kids. And the friendliness is still so much a part of the place. For these fellows, one fell in love with the place while attending UNB and ended up there. The other grew up there, moved away to Toronto, but returned to marry the love of his life. They both love it there.

A second connection was formed within a heart beat. When I started to talk about my rug hooking, one of the guys just shook his head and chuckled. His wife is a rug hooker too. We laughed at how coincidental that was, but I wasn't surprised. The rug hooking community, which seems so small at first, comes shining through in all kinds of unexpected places. On a regular basis, my universe expands to include all these new people and experiences. And the degrees of separation lessen. (I'm sure I've blogged about that theory already.)

I have come to realize that the centre of my universe theory has to be amended slightly. It will now have two points of reference - the second of which has been there for some time, but now has totally dovetailed with the first. The world revolves around Fredericton and people who hook. If you happen to be from Fredericton and you hook, you are definitely in my epicentre

Monday, January 7, 2008

A whole new year unfolds.

January is a pretty exciting month. Each year, we get a fresh new calendar to fill with our lives. We receive a brand new year of challenges and opportunities. 365 days - give or take a few - to plan and look forward to. It’s amazing how quickly it all starts to fill in. Life has a way of interrupting your calendar, but in January, it all seems to be so neat and tidy lying ahead.

This year, the hooking part of my calendar is already off to a busy start. I have a beginner workshop that starts on the 23rd of January and goes for 4 weeks. I have my Upper Toronto Chapter Hook-In on February 2nd at Jubilee United Church. This is our third annual and they just keep getting better. (Leave me a comment if you would like details.)

I have several “jeanius bag” workshops booked and a few more waiting for dates to be confirmed. These two-or-three-day workshops will take me all over the province, which I think makes them all the more fun.

After making the mistake of not spending the weekend at the OHCG Annual last year, I will be spending the entire weekend in Midland this year - or at least commuting from the cottage. Trying to squeeze everything into one day was not nearly as much fun.

I am pencilling in the OHCG School for September, to either teach or take.
And, already booked since Christmas 2006, is my Creativity Seminar with Deanne Fitzpatrick, which I am very excited about.

Add to that all the projects for the year and it will be a busy hooking 2008.

So far, only one project is firmly on my calendar, since it needs to be finished by March 23rd for my daughter’s 25th. The fact that it is an Oriental means that nothing else can even be contemplated until after it is done. They will stay on the wish list and get moved onto the calendar once March has come and gone.

Putting things on the calendar is a bit of a preview of the year ahead. It’s also a reminder of just how quickly it will come and go.

Happy Calendaring to all of you.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Mat

Well, here is the little checkered mat in its new home. Happy to be sitting on Rick's side of the bed to warm his feet in the morning.

It was under the tree on Christmas morning, although not fully whipped. The rest of the whipping was done at the cottage, but it was finished and in place for the second morning there. Once again a deadline that was a tad unrealistic, was mostly met just the same.

Turns out that my husband thought that the "secret project" I was working on before Christmas was a sweater he had admired in a knitting magazine. I don't think the rug was a disappointment, just not the sweater he was expecting. So, for his birthday this Saturday, January 5, I have started to knit that sweater. Even I'm not crazy enough to believe that I could knit the sweater in less than a week, but I will have one piece finished and in a box with an IOU for the rest.

The sweater will have to share my evenings with the Oriental rug that I started last year. My daughter has decided she would love to have this rug as her very special 25th birthday gift (not unaided I might add). I think it's good to have a deadline for it, as I was starting and finishing umpteen projects around it and avoiding getting down to the task of completing it. It was becoming another UFO. Now that it has a definite timeline, it stands a much better chance of not only being finished, but being cherished for years to come.

As to the little mat at the side of the bed, it turned out so well that I think I will have to hook a companion one day for my side. In the meantime, one of my finished mats that will do very nicely, thank you very much.

So happy new mat and Happy New Year to any and all who are reading my blog. May we all enjoy a wonderful 2008 filled with health and happiness.

I look forward to many posts this year, sharing projects and deadlines and whatever else tickles my fancy.

Boxy Chevrons by the Sea

Happy to report that the colds are gone and we have assumed our positions down on the deck at the Beach Club by the sea. And after having ...