Friday, January 30, 2009

My week on the Learning Curve.

No, this is not me, nor is it either of my children, nor a grandchild even. This is what I have felt like this week with my computer.

I pride myself on being pretty computer literate, but what I am able to do I have learned on a "need to know" basis. And I become better by doing, as I think we all do. So this week, I have had fun and frustration, in equal measure, in the world of technology.

First of all the two new hooking social sites The Welcome Mat and Rug Hooking Daily have provided stimulation and entertainment in spades. My dilemma is trying to allocate the right amount of time to them, to allow for the balance of the other things in my life. So, I try to respond to comments and find new folks, but in measure so that I can get my day job done as well as my nocturnal activities - hooking and knitting.

The other new task this week is designing a newsletter for the OHCG Teachers' Branch, of which I am the new editor. Since I don't have the software that the previous editor used, I decided to create something in InDesign on my Mac - on which I am an infant for sure!!!

Under the excellent guidance of a co-worker who is a whiz at this, I am having lunch hour tutorials and learning as I go. This will be a valuable resource going forward, since I am very familiar with what the pros can do with this software. And the more I can do, the more confident I feel. Don't we all.

So the week has been extremely rewarding. Nothing concrete to show for all this cerebral activity, but I must say I have a feeling of quiet satisfaction in tackling new things and incorporating them into my life.

I guess that's what it's all about. Life is a big learning curve and as long as you control your speed, you'll do just fine.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A better view of Norah's sweater.

So, here is what the sweater in the earlier post looks like on.

As I said, definitely not for everyone, but I was definitely drawn to it the first time I saw it. Today, I have a simple, long jersey skirt and long-sleeved T. but I think it will also be great with a white long-sleeved T and jeans. I saw a few of them on Ravelry and people seem to like them with jeans.

A little bit different, for sure. But I'm happy to say it looks better on me than on the floor. Thank goodness.

Progress Report

As you can see from the pictures, it was a pretty productive weekend.

The coasters are done - at least hooked - so I can easily finish them this week.

It's hard to tell what the next picture is, but it's a funky Norah Gaughan sweater that has two long tails in front. I am wearing it today and will get someone here at work to take a picture of it so it makes more sense, but it's quite quirky and I'm sure not for everyone. I'm very happy with how it turned out.

The last picture is the progress on the mobius wrap. It's all leftovers that I don't have enough yarn for anything else and I love the palette. I realized as I was working with it that it is definitely my favourite hooking colours. I tend to wear more blues, but I love hooking in these classic "Group of Seven" colours. I love wraps because they aren't as warm as a sweater, but definitely take away the chill. And this one will be great with jeans and just about every top I own.

I didn't get to hook on Totem 40 because when I went down to the "future studio" yesterday morning, I discovered that we had a frozen septic pipe. Yuck! That meant that everything that should have been going into the septic got trapped in the pipe on the weekend and wasn't going anywhere. Eventually, it pushed up the flange on the master toilet and water was coming out of the pipe. Double yuck!

Our handy cottage keeper came to give us his opinion, and try to fix the problem. He's back there today (hopefully) with a plumber to remedy the situation. So, needless to say, we hightailed it out of them and came home.

Since our son came home for a visit (and a home cooked meal) I couldn't abandon him to my hooking. So, I watched the Raptors win and sewed the Norah sweater together instead.

Nancy's bag and the pattern will have to happen during the evenings this week.

Oh well, it's all progress, right? And I will make my deadline on everything, I'm sure.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Projecting Ahead.

For me, January is always a time for organizing and starting fresh. A whole new year ahead, with all the possibilities it holds. Hard to believe it’s the 23rd already, when New Year’s Eve seems to be day before yesterday.

I invariably start the year by doing two things. I make a list of projects that I would like to do. And I clean up my space – as if organizing my desk and my mind to prepare to get on with those projects.

Part of that list is those UFOs that lie around. Some of them are hooked pieces that only need backgrounds finished or whipping. Some are partly-knit sweaters, or partly-raveled sweaters that are no longer in “my favourites” and will be re-invented as something new. Every one of these has been added to my project list, along with the new ones.

That’s right. I actually created a spreadsheet in excel to be able to scan at a glance all my great ideas and projects that I have outlined for myself. I guess it’s my attempt at putting order to my creative process. Truth be told, I think it almost works the other way. The more I tell myself to focus on the list and not add to the list, the more ideas that churn around inside my head. And get added to the list.

However, the list also serves as a reminder that I already have an inventory of great ideas that are waiting to be explored or hooked or knit or designed or whatever. In case I'm feeling uninspired. But, if I want to keep adding to that list, that’s perfectly fine. The longer the better, as long as I live to be 150+.

Part of living with the list is organizing the short term and the longer term projects. Some have actual deadlines and those are the ones I need to focus on. I have always was deadline-oriented. Always will be, I suppose.

Here is this weekend’s project list, the supplies for which will come to the cottage with me:

1. Finish hooking two “house” coasters for guest presenter at hook in.
2. (If fnished 1) work on Totem 40 on Sunday morning (deadline for Annual).
3. Car and movie knitting – start mobius wrap from leftover yarn.
4. Finish assembling sister’s purse – an IOU from ages ago.
5. Draw house pattern on backing for silent auction.

Not sure how much of the list I will get done, but I got a good start on the first coaster last night, so I am feeling optimistic. And the weather forecast is for -24 up north, so I think that might be a bit nippy for X-country skiing.

Less skiing = more projecting.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A colourful workshop.

My first Colour Planning with Monet workshop was held yesterday at Mia Wilkinson’s studio in Ancaster. Thanks to the Oakville branch of the OHCG for being such eager students and giving such positive feedback to this endeavour.

Although there aren’t any photos of “product”, there are a few of “process” and that’s what I am sharing here. In typical fashion, people took the concept and ran with it in a number of different ways – which is what makes the whole thing so exciting.

The venue was perfect, as you can see from the pictures, for a workshop on colour planning. Having this many colours to choose from was not only a functional need, but being surrounded by this much beautiful wool was truly inspirational.

The day was a mixture of technology – a computer demo of colour planning with Paint as well as good old fashioned trial-and-error laying wool out in combinations that pleased the eye, the mind and the group.

This whole week has been one in which hooking occupied about 80% of my brainpower. Pity the poor clients who got the other 20% - just kidding; I really can focus when necessary. But every minute of non-working time was spent percolating about colour and projects and upcoming events. It was very stimulating.

Our hook in is just around the corner (February 7th) so our branch meeting was a lot of show and tell of people’s finished houses. They are fantastic, and as individual as our members. I will have lots to show after the day – figure it’s not fair to reveal ahead of time.

The two new social networks “The Welcome Mat” and “Rug Hooking Daily” were a constant source of joy and camaraderie throughout the week, with so many nice comments left of my page. And a bounty of rugs to be admired on everyone else’s. It’s a virtual rug show that you can take part in and visit any time you want. But I can see why facebook became such a problem for many employers. I could easily spend the whole day here.

I really enjoy the weeks with this much hooking in them. They feed my soul, my imagination, and my face time with other hookers - all the parts of me that love this craft so much.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Practically Perfect Weekend

Some weekends are just better than others and this was one of them.

I had a list of things that I wanted to get done, but when two days of crystal blue sunshine greeted us, I was ready to toss the list aside, just to revel in the beauty that can be winter.

Luckily, since there are more hours for me in a day than there are for my wonderful husband, I was able to do much of the list while he slept in. I've written before of my love of mornings - taking a cup of coffee to the future studio and working for an hour or so until he is up and around. And so this weekend, I got a bit of hooking done before he was ready to get going.

The first picture above is for a colour-planning workshop I am doing next Saturday. I had already put the plan together and chosen my "worms" so my morning task was to create an inch mat and put the colours into it as a demo for the class. I have a few more to add this week, but that was my first one and I was curious to see how it would come together. The good news is the answer is "quickly".

The second picture is what I worked on this morning with coffee. I finished the water in Totem 40. I actually was able to steal an hour yesterday afternoon, so between then and this morning, I got more sky in and finished the water. Look at how the sunshine pours in the window across the work. Isn't that beautiful. I guess we haven't had a ton of sunshine lately, because I was positively euphoric at the sight of it.

Yesterday was so beautiful that we decided to don our skis and have our annual, inaugural ski on the lake. We have seen lots of snowmobiles whizzing by and determined it must be safe for us. And I'm sure we were, but a couple of slushy patches sent us scurrying back home, so our outing was cut short.

Undaunted, we headed for the nearby Cross Country Club instead and did an 8 km trail there. Add that to the time we were on the lake - and figure that it is our first time out this year and you can quickly add up to two tuckered idiots. I was positive we were going to pay big time this morning with very sore bodies. Thankfully, that was not the case and we went for a long walk this morning, just to make sure we had worked the kinks out.

All weekend long, I was hypnotized by the incredible shadows the sun was creating everywhere (boy, we really musn't have had much sun lately). How blue they are. How amazingly white the snow is - a wonderful juxtaposition to our ugly brown sludge in the city. I took this picture through the sliding doors just to share it with you.

I love the days at the cottage. There aren't so many chores beckoning to me. And there aren't a million errands waiting to be run. So I can squeeze a lot into a day. And love every minute of it. Not to mention a practically perfect weekend.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Two new virtual places to get together.

What a wonderful year this will be.

Today I received two invitations that will keep me connected, in a virtual way, with people who love this art form as much as I do. What a wonderful way to start the year. Friends invited me to join Rug Hooking Daily and The Welcome Mat. You can check them out at "The Welcome Mat" and "Rug Hooking Daily" .

Like facebook, these are sites where people can come together, chat, visit (in a virtual sense), exchange pictures and share ideas. Unlike facebook, which I don't visit that much, I think these will become a part of my day - whenever possible.

Maybe it’s because I love rug hooking so very much and it is so much a part of my life. Maybe it is because I know many of the members already. And, like me, many of them belong to both, which just shows how happy we are to commune with one another. If we can’t be together in person, then this is the next best thing.

Logistically, many of us are miles apart – in different cities, provinces, regions – even different countries. And that is the biggest gift that the internet has given to us - an ability to communicate across the miles in an instant, cost-effective way.(I know some people are romantic about hand written letters and hearing a person’s voice on the phone, but I guess I am just too much of a chatterbox and who uses those options sparingly.)

Thanks to the internet, we are more in touch with one another than ever. We have email. We have blogs. And now we have these social sites which will keep fuelling our creativity and satisfying our desire to get together. And allow us the engage in our love of “show and tell”.

Especially in the winter months, it’s much harder to be physically together. How much snow shovelling have you been doing lately? There aren’t as many schools and hook-ins (remember our upcoming one in February), so this is a welcome ray of sunshine on these overcast days.

I hope many of you will take the time to join these sites. There is lots to see and do and you can be as active or as passive as suits your purpose. But isn’t it grand to have the option? Astounding to think that all of this has happened in the blink of an eye.

As another new year unfolds, I am reminded of just how quickly technology is changing things. It seems like just a minute ago we were wringing our collective hands about Y2K……

Monday, January 5, 2009

Santa brought a new camera.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a new camera under the tree. I certainly wasn't expecting one. This has more bells and whistles than the last one, including a touch LED screen on the back - which is great. I'm sure I'll have figured out everything by next Christmas.

But I did promise a better picture of Deanne's fantastic mat. Certainly the colours are much better here and there are no wonky shadows. It makes me smile every time I look at it.

And someone asked to see the soapstone hook. It is a work of art as well. And feels amazing in my hand.

Lucky, lucky me.

Thanks again Deanne.
You too Santa.

Happy 2009

Hope everyone’s holidays were a joyous celebration of friends and family. Ours definitely were. Santa left more than enough goodies for everyone and seemed to do the same for all around us. After our Christmas and Boxing Day festivities, we finally headed up to the cottage on the 27th and it proved to be a very interesting time, indeed.

Our actual drive north was relatively uneventful, despite the rain, until we turned onto the first of the cottage roads in. Rain sitting on top of ice made things a little dicey to say the least, so we cruised at a speed that didn’t require much braking. The first vehicle we passed in the ditch was a large pick-up truck, which is never a good thing to see. But our little Outback did us proud and got us here safe and sound, including stopping and turning on the gentle incline that is our driveway.

It was great to be here after all the hustle and bustle. I was looking forward to some serious down time, which we got in abundance the next morning. I am an earlier riser than other family members, so I turned on the coffee pot and sat down with a book. The rain had continued over night and was now accompanied by gale force winds that had the trees swaying, or should I say flapping, outside. Not a good thing here in the north where trees and power lines don’t co-exist very well.

Within minutes, the lights flickered, but came back on. I re-started the coffee maker and then things really went black. Luckily, the trusty generator that we had hooked up during the renovation kicked in exactly when it was supposed to, so the coffee was started a third time with back up power.

The good thing about having a generator, and the essential things connected to it, like furnace, fridge, stove and kitchen lights is that you can stay, even during a power outage. So we stayed put. And the power stayed out – for 5 days!

Checking the status of repairs via cell phone (as phone lines were out as well) proved rather frustrating, since the forecast for restored power changed every day to another 24-hour delay. But the number of downed lines was well into the hundreds and apparently the easiest way to get repairs done was to shut off the entire grid. More than 35,000 people were without power – some longer than us.

Our company came and went. Meals were prepared and enjoyed. Life continued without much fuss. And I enjoyed the different activities that reduced power encouraged. Jigsaw puzzles. Card games. Long walks. Early bedtimes.

I hooked and knit while the light was good and actually managed to finish my mat for the Hooked on Houses display at our Hook in February 7th. I also spent some time organizing my studio space in the basement (as per the photo above). Even without any finishes, it’s cozy and comfortable – and I love not having to clean up every time I set down my hook. Some day the concrete block, insulation and concrete floor will be finished, but for now, it’s perfectly fine. I even had a radio and TV down there to keep me company if it gets too quiet - and there is power.

The town of Parry Sound had pockets where power was only off for an hour and others that lasted a few days, but grocery stores and other retailers were open for business, so food supply was never an issue. Our delicious New Year’s Eve dinner was prepared and eaten in the kitchen. At 4:45 on New Year’s Day – slightly ahead of the last prediction – the power came back on. That’s a pretty nice way to start the year, I think.

So now it’s January 5th, we're back home and I am back at work. As I post this entry, and look at that picture, I am reminded once again how much better I like sitting there than sitting here.

Oh well, maybe this will be the year that we make the leap to full time. You just never know. I think that would make 2009 very happy.

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 h...