Monday, July 28, 2008

Signature palettes.

While thumbing through my latest Rug Hooking Magazine last week, I realized how individual people’s colour palettes are. When I read the article by Karen Kahle on primitive flowers, I found I recognized not only her style, but her colours. And I’m sure if I spent more time noticing, I would see it applies to many of the featured hookers among us.

Certainly, I have noticed that I gravitate to the same colours. I guess that’s why all my rugs all seem to work together. The colours I choose over and over again are quite similar and that keeps them harmonious.

If you look at these two rugs as an example - one primitive and geometric, the other a fine cut oriental, you will see the same colours present in each. This was not a conscious decision and they were done a few years apart, so my palette has not evolved very much.

Some of my friends have such a consistency in their colour choices that I can pick their rugs without even looking at the label. Some people gravitate to brighter colours, while others stick with a more subdued palette. It is definitely not a reflection of their personalities, because some of the most outlandish hookers I know consistently choose a very quiet palette.

Why are we drawn to the same colours over and over again? It’s fascinating to think about. It’s also interesting to think that they are the colours that we notice as well. Are we drawn to rugs that have similar palettes to the ones we use? This might explain why everyone seems to have pictures of different rugs after the Annual.

I think our colour palette is just another example of what we inherently have inside us. Like a singing voice. Like a signature. When I used to paint, I was a real blender. I always wished I could be more impressionist in my approach - just lay paint on and leave it. But I was a blender and continued to be a blender. That was my painterly voice. I could consciously will myself to paint differently, but it was not my natural voice.

I have hooked projects in different palettes. Some called for something different. A few were gifts that were hooked in the recipient's colours. But, they are not what I would choose to use, and they always feel a bit odd.

I’m happy to stick to my signature palette. It’s definitely where I feel most comfortable.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Wrist Rest

For the past week, I have been experiencing increased weakness, numbness and occasional pain in my left wrist - by the way, I'm left wristed, so this is not good.

I am wondering if it is the "after shock" of all the hooking required to get ready for both my Trent Showcase and my Rosseau Farmers Market Day. Even I have to admit, there was a bit of a sprint to the finish line for both of those.

But then, I am also thinking it could have been all the hand cutting I did at the cottage a week ago. I thought I had left my cutter there and was dying to do some hooking, so I cut by hand. I guess this is an unusual motion for my hand - or at least a different one, and on Monday I thought it felt a little tender.

As the week progressed, so did the discomfort. Yikes. In the midst of it all, I saw my dear friend Jennifer's (Fish Eye Rugs) post about her rotator cuff injury - is my wrist in cahoots with her cuff? Could be. Luckily, I have a brace tucked away in one of my bathroom cupboards, so I pulled it out and started wearing it at night.

You see, I have been down this road once before. A few years ago, I knit everyone socks for Christmas. In total, I think I knit 24 pairs. Again, a fixed deadline meant lots of sock-knitting, no matter where I was. And, sure enough, I rang in the New Year with a little carpal tunnel syndrome.

So, this has been a forced slow down week. Not complete stop, mind you, because that would be like going "cold turkey". I had to allow myself a little time on the frame each day - or at least every other. This is what happens when your passion causes you pain. When the thing that centres you most causes stress and strain. This is not good.

Can I give up the keyboarding at work that also seems to irritate it? Not likely. Because there is a pay cheque attached to that demand. So, the self-imposed slow down on the hooking front will remain in place for a few more days.

Luckily, I have some other things to do to get ready for Rosseau Day 2 - including creating a sandwich board - so I will be distracted for a bit. But I do have a few things on the list for August 8, so I hope I'm right as rain soon.

I know I am not alone in experiencing this overworked wrist phenom, but in this case misery really doesn't love company.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Rosseau Farmers Market - Day 1

Well, here is my booth at the market. It went up without a hitch, thanks to the help of my wonderful husband, who not only helped me set up, but also stayed with me for the day. The booth was borrowed from my friend Sheila, and I was a little anxious about doing it on my own. It definitely turned out to be a two-person job. But we quickly figured out how to connect the panels with the little black plastic slip ties, which turned out to be perfect for displaying the rugs – since they fit right into the holes between the last row of loops and the whipping. That was my first stroke of luck.

The second was the location of my booth. It faced the beach and the lake beyond. The Town of Rosseau spent a great deal of time and tax $$ turning their waterfront into a destination. In addition to the market on Fridays, there are swimming lessons, slips for visitors to dock their boats, and easy walking distance to the charming shops in town. A band performed under one of the gazebos, which I’m sure must be a regular occurrence at the waterfront.

The weather seemed iffy, and certainly the trip up north on Thursday night had me fearing the worst. The word among the vendors was “no rain” and they were right. It clouded over several times, but the sun always managed to break through and by lunch I could feel the sun on my shoulders. By 2:00, I was a lovely shade of pink. Virtually every other vendor had a tent or awning, which afforded protection from both the rain and too much sun. We had brought along our deck umbrella, but didn't open it because it would have blocked the display. I think a tent is definitely in order.

The other vendors at the market were fantastic - friendly, helpful and very welcoming. The few that I had met at the meeting in May all came by to see how I was settling in. For the most part, they are there every Friday, and many of them do the other local markets in Bracebridge and Gravenhurst as well. One of them turned out to be a fellow hooker and is eagerly awaiting a hooking companion when Rick and I move up north.

From the moment the booth was organized, I had a steady stream of visitors wanting to chat about the pieces, see a demo (I was working on a piece on my lap frame), and just talk about rug hooking in general. It’s really quite amazing how many people are connected to this art form, even if they don’t do it themselves.

I met a woman who has an original Bluenose pattern she inherited. I met another woman who had two very special rugs, which had been hooked by an elderly caregiver when she was a child. She had fond memories of watching her hook and when she saw me pulling loops, she was delighted to share her story. I met people from all around the area as well as many from Toronto who are cottagers or vacationers there.

I had a sheet at my table for people to give contact information if they were interested in learning more about rug hooking. The sheet ended up with quite a few names, for a variety of different reasons. One person was looking for a teacher in the Pickering area, so I will have to “hook her up” with someone there. Another was interested in kits, so I will send her a list of possibilities as well.

There was a great deal of interest in the finished rugs on display. For many, it was first time they had seen them on a wall and they were quite taken with this textural art. I heard many positive comments about the designs, the colours and the creativity. It’s pretty tough to beat a beautiful day spent outside getting positive reinforcement about your work.

One visitor (who was from Utterson – like my friend Jennifer – who knew Utterson was such a hot bed of hookers) was telling me about the large tapestry rugs she hooks. She said that her dog has damaged one of them, so I said I would try to put her in touch with someone who can do a repair for her.

A few people were intrigued by the idea of commissioning a custom piece to reflect something unique. I had prepared a little handout on things to think about when considering a commission. I definitely gave a few people some food for thought. It will be interesting to see if I hear from them.

I brought some hooking with me on my small lap frame, and although I didn’t get much done, it was fun showing people how traditional rug hooking is done. One seven or eight year-old girl told me all about the latch hooked rug of a horse she is working on at home. She seemed quite taken with the traditional method.

The day flew by. I’m not sure it was quite so entertaining for Rick, but he was a trooper and hung in for the whole thing. He even bought me a sausage on a bun from the sausage vendor. I didn’t get to get to look around at the other booths, but hope to do so when I go back on August 8th.

So now I have a day at the market under my belt. I walked away feeling very happy to have been there. Although business was anything but brisk, the conversations were rewarding and I connected with quite a few people who I can get to know better when I am there full time.

Was it worth the $35 booth fee? Yes it was, in surprisingly delightful ways. I am very much looking forward to going back for Day 2.

Monday, July 7, 2008

A perfect wedding.

This weekend my dear friend Elaine's daughter Cody was married on the beach. It was a spectacular day in every respect. The weather couldn't have been better, which is pretty important for an outdoor wedding. And every detail for this event was planned and executed brilliantly - by the bride herself. Cody is an event planner and I haven't been to any of her other shindigs, but I would have a hard time believing anything could top this one. She thought of everything.

Every sense participated in these nuptials. It was a feast for the eyes (every tiny detail tied into the colour scheme and beach theme) - gourmet fare from the h'ors d'oeuvres to the custom marshmallows for the bonfire - the sound of the water and great music for dancing. Ah yes, not to forget the tactile sensation of the sand on your feet, once you kicked of your shoes. It was all there.

It's wonderful to be part of a celebration that is so filled with joy. Too many gatherings of late are to mark the passing of parents and friends. This one was all about beginnings - a new life for Cody and Dan. The theme for their ceremony was "friendships" and I think they really understand how important that is to a marriage.

I was so happy to have been part of this very special day. It was positively perfect!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Some day my studio will come....

If you look carefully at this picture of the cottage, you will see two windows on the lower left side, barely visible through the trees. These are my future studio windows, which have a wonderful view of the lake.

Thanks to the not-so-wonderful weather on the long weekend, and a dedicated day with an oh-so-wonderful helper, I have now set up a hooking spot in my future studio - and I can look out those very windows.

The entire day Saturday (after attaching my new purse handle) was spent with my son Matt going through the big pile of stuff in the basement that had yet to be unpacked. (I broke up 20+ boxes and took them to the recycling station, so I know I made definite progress.)

My aim was to clean out the centre of the space and set up a work station under the windows facing the lake. So the first order was to move all the unused dressers and other pieces of furniture that could be used for storage to the outside wall. Once we got them there, we could actually unpack the millions of boxes and put things away - labelling them with painters' tape so that we could see at a glance what was where.

We did what we could to make it "homey" and comfortable, including creating a little sitting area with a couple of folding chairs, a cot, an old TV and a big mirror to bounce the light. It is adequately functional and will do until the budget is there to finish it properly. Just being able to set up my hooking and leave everything "as is" is such a luxury, aesthetics are definitely an after-thought - and they will get there eventually.

The space may not be glamourous and yes - it is in an unfinished basement with concrete floor, vapour barrier and concrete block - but it is all mine! If I squint really hard, I can see how amazing it will be with real walls and ceiling, good lighting, all my supplies and a couple of tables, etc. etc. I'm sure I will wile away many hours in this special place. In the meantime, I am happy to steal away any moments I can to work on projects that are already set up and ready to go. What a difference that makes. And I can get a feel for the future Rugged Moose studio. Yippee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Feels like a brand new bag.

My face bag is my all-time favourite hooked purse. Just one little problem with it - the strap was starting to self-destruct and I was on the hunt for a replacement.

When I saw Jennifer Manuel's new bag(Fish Eye Rugs - see link in favourites), I knew those handles were exactly what I needed. They are leather and are manufactured by a company called Grayson. She buys hers from a yarn shop in Huntsville Sheep Strings (see new link at right). I called Karen, the owner, and asked her if she could send me two pairs - one brown and one black. They were on their way the same day, and arrived on Friday. I'm pretty sure it would have taken me longer to try to find a local supplier and get there to pick them up.

So, first thing Saturday, off with the old and one with the new. It was a little tough getting into all the pre-punched holes on the attachement parts, but after a few pricks and some choice words muttered under my breath, the strap was on. It's amazing in so many ways. It looks better. It's much sturdier (is that a word?)and it doesn't slip off my shoulder.

The colour selection is incredible, including fuscia and purple (yummy). They are sold in pairs, but you do have the option of putting on a single or using two - depending on the size of the bag. Now I'll have to think of another bag for the black one, since I am sharing both pairs with my sister Nancy.

It's also fun to see how a simple thing like changing a strap gives an old bag a whole new lease on life. Hey....I'm talking about my purse.

Knitting in Paradise

Every year when we come to Barbados, I pack a knitting project or two. Usually socks to knit on the plane and something to take to the ...