Friday, February 27, 2009

A Little Story About Briggs & Little.

Last weekend I started to finish my Totem 40 rug, which is now all hooked and ready to get whipped. After much consternation about the best way to finish it, I finally settled on a triple cord whipping. This is a finishing technique that was featured in RHM a few years ago – and coincidentally is being demonstrated at our next OHCG Teachers’ Branch meeting in April.

It involves whipping around the rug three times, with three different rows of cording. The first two are laid on top of the backing and whipped in sequence. The first is placed as close to the loops as possible. The next is placed next to the first, and the last is whipped in traditional “roll forward” or “roll backward” fashion. Needless to say, it’s a lot of whipping.

I figured for this project, it will create the illusion of a frame without being a frame. It should also help support the rug and keep it from curling when it is hung – this remains to be seen.

But, this is not the story that I want to tell today. Here comes the delightful tale about my dealing with Briggs & Little, whose wool I am using for the whipping.

I purchased the cord and first skein of wool for the whipping from the yarn and fabric store in Parry Sound. It was Briggs & Little “Tuffy” in a coca colour. My idea was to use more than one brown to give the illusion of molding, but they only had the one.

So this week, I emailed B&L to ask their advice on what would compliment the colour I have chosen – they have colour charts on their website, but remind us how every monitor is different. Figured I would go to the source and ask their advice.

The very next morning, a reply was waiting in my inbox from John Little. He did have a recommendation for me, but also advised that he had put sample cards in the mail to me, so that I could choose for myself.

Whoa! I’m totally impressed! I buy quite a bit of B&L wool for whipping, though usually here in Ontario and not directly from them. And here he is sending me the cards, which may arrive on Monday.

I don’t know if this is just a typical incredibly-nice-Maritime-person-thing or a incredibly-smart-business-person-who-values-customer-service thing. Either way, I am now a big fan.

Coincidentally, at a meeting the night before, when I told my friend and mentor Barb D’Arcy about my triple whipping undertaking and my B&L story, she said that she has the cards and uses them to plan all her whipping. She buys all her wool from them.

After this incredible gesture, I will too. I am adding their website to my links. Go check them out if you are a whipper. I can’t recommend them enough.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What a view

I had a new visitor leave a comment on my blog yesterday. She found her way to me though another blog - which is how we all seem to find one another. So I clicked my way to her blog - which is called "h00kw0rm" and has been added to my list of links.

This is the view out Julie's dining room window! And I thought my cottage view was amazing. Whoa.

She is a relatively new hooker, who like all good Maritimers, has the gift of the gab and tells a great story. She saw the Deanne mat on my blog and that prompted her to leave me a note. We have many things in common, aside from our respect for DF.

Her blog is delightful and I'm sure you will all enjoy dropping by. And it's fun to find another new friend in this wonderful wide world of web.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Inspiring messages.

Here is a picture of the lettering finished on my Deanne Fitzpatrick pattern. Every time I pick the rug up to work on it, the words really echo in my head. They are great words to live by, which is what drew me to the pattern in the first place. I like that they are not "perfect". Because the spacing differs from line to line, it feels more like a spoken word than a printed one, which I like.

And, as I work on the rug, the words are inspiring me to make it my own. Not only have I put me into the picture, but I have a wonderful idea for the mat I will be working on. I don't want to give it all away, but it should be fun and will hopefully not just bring a smile to me as the 'hooker', but to you as the 'looker' too.

Stay tuned.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Narcissism is all about me!

ha ha ha.

I just started a new project, the fabulous pattern I bought from Deanne Fitzpatrick when I attended the symposium in the fall. This is a picture of the very early stages.

As you can see, I changed the hooker in the design to be me. I decided I really didn't want to hook an image of another hooker, and this was how I was going to personalize it. But as I began hooking myself - although in a completely different style from the others - I realized that this is the 5th time I have hooked myself.

Girls' Weekend
Trent Friendship Rug
Negative Space Study
Totem 40
and the new rug "Stay Inspired"

And I started thinking that is really quite narcissistic of me.

There is an argument to be made in my defence. I really enjoy hooking people - I guess that's kind of my "thing". And, although I have hooked many people other than myself, I do seem to keep turning up in my rugs.

Mind you, in most of the pieces where I have hooked myself, I am not alone. And in the Negative Space study, I am barely recognizeable as myself. In fact, someone thought I was Connie Stevens. Hmmm...not quite sure how I feel about that.

And then there's the rug that Deanne hooked of me - does that make 6?

At any rate, I have rationalized this "N" tendency by concluding that if our rugs are meant to be reflections of memories - or things that are important to us, chances are we are part of that, right? So, it does make sense, I think.

In my list of rugs "to do", I have many more that have me in them, from a childhood family portrait when I was 4 to a recent "siblings" picture at my niece's wedding. But just so that you don't think I've completely disappeared into myself, there are lots of other concepts on the list that don't have me.

So, I promise to do a non-me rug next. (But I will be posting progress on the newest me in the next little while, so be warned.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Before and After Sweater.

I knit this wonderful sweater a while ago and posted a picture of it on my blog.
It was knit out of wool that I had originally purchased for a sweater for my hubby - he ended up not liking the fit and a "frogged" the whole thing. I knit him a different sweater and the wool hung around for a while until it became this sweater.

Because the camel-brown colour isn't great with my white hair, I found I didn't wear it very often and wished I had done it in another colour.

This past weekend, with my friend Jennifer giving me the moral support I needed, I dyed the sweater blue. I dipped a bit of unknit wool in the dye and decided I liked what was happening, so I went for it.

I am happy with the results and know that I will wear it much more often now. (Sorry the picture's not great - it's a phone picture.)It's great with jeans and it totally matches my glasses ha ha. It took quite a lot of blue dye - in fact all I had. And I wouldn't mind if it were a bit darker, so it may end up going back in the dye pot when I have the time.

But it was a good lesson in dyeing and in being brave enough to try something. And in having a good friend standing by to tell you it will be o.k.

Thanks Jen. I love my "after" sweater.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Bringing down the house.

Well, our "Hooked On Houses" hook-in was an amazing success! In fact, I don't know how it could have been better - and we will really have our work cut out for us trying to top it next year. We had over 100 attendees and I think every single one of them would say the same thing.

We picked our theme right after last year's hook in, so have spent a lot of time getting ready for the big day. Our results were outstanding. The houses above were chosen from the many that were hooked to demonstrate the theme. We chose two Ontario style houses - the Worker's Cottage and the Bay 'n Gable - which we based on the many houses in the Cabbagetown neighbourhood of Toronto. Then the members in our branch each hooked one or the other house - or both - in their own style. Since both of these houses can be found pretty much all over Ontario, many of the houses were based on homes that people knew personally - in other parts of the province.

Needless to say the variety was incredible. The cottage above was hooked by Elaine Copeman (who also hooked a close up view of the window box and filled it with proddy cabbages). The Bay 'n Gable was hooked by Trish Johnson, who also provided us with the sketches which became the basis of the two patterns. The picture of the house with the stark foreground and background is mine - based on an artist whose work I have admired for a long time. Her name is Jean Jack and she lives in Arizona. So my "Cabbagetown House" is situated in Tuscon LOL.

In getting started on our theme last year, I happened to find the Cabbagetown Preservation Association's website, which had illustrations of the two houses and information about the architecture and the history. I ended up connecting with the illustrator, who is very active in the CPA. Through our correspondence that began with my asking for permission to use the illustrations in our advertising, he offered to come and give a presentation on the houses. And it was amazing! He was a delightful presenter. His knowledge on the topic was bountiful and he gave us a virtual walking tour of the different houses, the architecture, the history of both the neighbourhood and the Preservation Association. He delighted the more than 100 women in attendance, that's for sure. He brought Newsletters to share and has asked me to write an article for the next issue, all about our exercise.

After his presentation, we had show and tell of our houses, and I presented him with small coasters I had hooked of each of his illustrations. New to hooking, there was lots of learning for him as well, and I think he enjoyed seeing what we did with his houses.

We also had a silent auction, lots of vendors, a 50/50 draw, yummy home baking, door prizes and the chatter of friends catching up with one another that makes these days so special. The sun shone, everyone smiled and it was just a perfect day.

As if it couldn't get any better, my good friend Jennifer Manuell ( spent the weekend with me, and we talked non-stop from her arrival on Friday to her departure before lunch on Sunday. We hooked, we exchanged knitting patterns, we drank wine, we ate good food and better cookies, we watched a movie, we dyed some wool (and a sweater) and we crammed more into a weekend than many can do in a week. We have such fun when she comes.

So, all in all, it was a pretty perfect weekend for me.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Absence makes the critic grow stronger.

It's interesting how, when you haven’t focused on a project for a while and then go back to it, you see things differently. Maybe being close to it for a long time, you get used to things the way they are. Sometimes you need to back away to gain perspective.

This weekend, because my Hook-in projects are finished, I had time to spend with Totem 40. Once I finished hooking the sky, I knew there were some things I wanted to change. I had actually made notes as I sat with the project, so I wouldn’t forget. I knew I wasn't happy with the noses on my kids. At the time, I wasn't sure what the problem was or how to fix it. But this weekend it became pretty clear.

When I hooked the faces originally, I did Matt first, Laura second myself third and Rick last. My face turned out best, and I think I realized it was because most of the lines on the nose were vertical and it made the shape and the shading look better, and I looked more like me.

Both Laura and Matt's noses had more horizontal loops in some spots, so when I did them over again, they were definitely better. And once the shape was corrected, they both looked more like themselves.

There are lots of ways to check your work. I have been using a minimizing glass/peep hole on this rug, since it is quite large. I have been taking lots of digital shots and looking at them on the computer. And I have been taking breaks from it, and looking at it with fresh eyes.

I'm sure I'm not done tinkering yet. I will continue to find things every time I look at it. That’s what I like – the ongoing lessons to learn.

Now is I can just figure out the best way to frame it….

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...