Monday, June 29, 2009

Maximum Moose

This is your first peek at my newest project. In case you can't tell what it is, it's the 21-inch head of a moose - Maximillian Moose - aptly named because he will be 6 feet tall when done.

He and a couple of other woodland creatures (including a bear and a raccoon) will be hiding my stacking washer/dryer in the main floor powder room at the cottage. I was going to have something built to hide them, but then had this idea to hook something instead. The dimensions (2 feet x 6 feet) sort of called for a moose - what with all the sightings this summer. For sure, it was a sign!

As I transferred the pattern onto the backing, I had an inkling of just how big a project this was, but it was when I pulled my first few feet of outline loops that it really hit me! This thing is huge and is really going to take a lot of wool

Luckily, I have decided to do this in a primitive style - to go with all the folk art fish etc. in the room. I can use a multitude of browns in Max and I'm doing a log background to match the walls in there. I'm hoping for a primitive tremp l'oeil effect - that they are actually in the room with you. Should be lots of fun in there when it's done. A little (or should I say big) surprise when you first open the door, that's for sure.

But with gardening, weeding and feeding my flesh to the deer flies, I didn't get much hooking time this weekend and really don't think I'll be steaming ahead at my usual pace.

It's set up on the Cheticamp frame and I'll try to devote a few hours each weekend, so I will keep you posted on the Max progress.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A bit of a dog and pony show.

Here are my two latest "Jeanius" bags that will both be wending their way to their new owners today.

I took both of these hooked fronts with me to Trent, thinking I would get them finished there. But my days were long and full and I really didn't have any time to get even the whipping and assembly done, so they got put together last night.

The dog bag is for my friend Linda in Fredericton. She is the Florence Nightengale who has been looking out for my brother Bill since his heart attack a while ago. "Breeze" is one of her golden retrievers, and I found out from my sister Nancy that she is the dog that Bill walked during his recovery. If that isn't kismet, I don't know what is. I hooked the bag using a picture from Linda's website, Ten Penny Kennels - I just really liked her face. I think I captured her likeness. I hope Linda thinks so too.

The horse bag was a commission for my friend Gaye (also from Fredericton), whom I have known since childhood. We grew up on horseback together, and Gaye still lives in the horse world, albeit here in Toronto at Woodbine Race Track. She sent me a clipping from a magazine to see if it would make a good bag design and I ended up finding the artist, Jennifer Mack, who painted the original work. I posted about her earlier (May 19th to be exact) and you horsey folks should all go and visit her website. Her paintings are incredible. I'll be sending Jennifer a copy of this picture today as well.

I really enjoy doing "custom" bags, since they have such an emotional connection to their owners. And they give me something new to try, which is always good. It's also good to have them done. I am sure that both new owners will show them off with great pride.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The great equalizer.

When I think of rug hookers, we are a bit like the "Borg" from Star trek. Not in the creepy, we-have-no-free-thought way. More like we are a huge collective, all connected through our love of this amazing art form.

I do realize we are all individuals with lives outside of hooking, but we tend to think about one another in the context of our hooking. I know people's colour palette - their preferred subject matter - I even know their style and their tension.

We do share stories about our husbands, our kids and grandkids, but it seems we mostly don't talk about our careers. I'm sure there is a good, therapeutic reason for that. We are hooking to get away from that part of our lives. But as in every cross-section of life, hookers do have incredibly interesting lives outside of hooking.

Becky in my class at Trent is an freelance accountant for TV and film production. She is the person who tells the producer whether or not there is money in the budget for that helicopter shot that the director just came up with and wants to do. She travels with the crew on location and punches numbers to keep the budget on budget.

I learned about Pauline's career because she had an amazing tip on her scissors - a special cap for surgical tools in the Emergency Room where she was a nurse for many years. I heard that Gwen's daughter Susan, in the classroom next door, is a doctor. But I knew her from the mother-daughter hooking team and from the incredible Maude Lewis mat she was creating.

We had quite a few recent retirees who are settling very nicely into their lives of hooking and spinning and knitting and creating. They are quite happy to leave their working lives behind. Others are still juggling non-stop to find time to do it all (I count myself in that group of late night hookers).

All of these things remind me that we are definitely much more than just hookers. We are writers and doctors and lawyers and teachers and wildlife biologists and as many occupations as we are people.

Our collectiveness (new word) is our hooking. Aren't we lucky to have this passion that brings us all together? That lets us escape from our other lives, if only for a while?

I think so.

Monday, June 22, 2009

My Classy Class of Trent '09

Here are the 12 lovely ladies with whom I spent my week at Trent. How do I describe these wonderful women, other than to say they made my week the best it could be.

They came from all over the province. Some stayed and some commuted every day. Some were veteran hookers – others were relative newbies. But the one thing they had in common was their love of this wonderful craft.

We laughed – a lot. Sometimes we laughed so hard we cried. We learned. We listened. We shared - wool and yarn and beads and candy and stories about our lives. Every single day was jam packed from the time we arrived in the classroom until we reluctantly left.

We created incredible works of art – a lot of them – as you can see from the above pictures. Nearly everyone created one bag and started a second. There were belt buckles and pendants and glasses cases and business card holders and signs.

It was the fastest week of my life, and one of the most rewarding. I’m sure that no matter how many week-long schools are in my future, this will be the one that I will remember the most. This first time will be the benchmark against which all others will be measured.

Thanks again ladies for making it so special.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tuesday at Trent

Well, I survived Day 1 - more than survived, I thrived!!

I have an amazing group of women who are all enthusiastic hookers from all around the Province. They are all well into their first "Jeanius Bags". In fact the first purse is done!!! Truth be told, Jill had the flap hooked when she arrived, but it turned out beautifully! A perfect example of how a simple design is so effective. A couple of other bags are just slightly behind her.

We have such variety among the bags - cats, stars, flowers, a robin, a native art symbol. They are all reflections of their makers. Colourful, vibrant and fun.

I'm sure our class will be the envy of the school when we have finished projects for show and tell on Thursday.

The days race by and there is real progress and satisfaction in each one.

I'm enjoying my first full week as a teacher - and I'm not fried yet. Mind you it's only Tuesday.

Check back Thursday for an update.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My not-so-empty nest.

After getting used to the idea of having no kids at home, all of a sudden I have both of them back!!

My son is finished university and has taken a summer job to buy him time before looking for a "real" one. He has no idea what he wants to be when he grows up and I think he's a little shell shocked about the prospect of starting that journey. So, he's doing property maintenance for the summer. He's already buff and tan - but I think a little bored with the work.

My daughter, who is three years older than her brother and has been living away from home for a few years, is suddenly back - with her cat. The classic scenario of a relationship she was in not working out and needing a place to re-group until the dust settles, the lease is up on her apartment (at the end of the month) and her heart mends (I'm pretty sure not by the end of the month). Her 6-month old kitten Jasper is part of the deal.

So, we have gone from just Rick and myself to two grown kids, a lizard, four fish and a cat!!!! Yikes. There's too much of everyone's stuff everywhere and no place to put anything. There's too much laundry, too much food, too much volume for our tiny, perfect house. So, we have to accept our everything-in-its-place norm until these two sort out their situations.

I love them dearly. And I really hoped we weren't going to join the statistics of empty nesters with rebounding kids, but there you go. We are parents for life and we will do what we have to to help them along. And I guess this is just part of that deal.

I think I am beginning to believe that we may not be doing them any favours by giving them such a soft place to land. When we were their age, we certainly did not have the same options as they do - for a number of different reasons. (Don't I just sound like an old you-know-what when I say that.)

But I'm pining for my nest to be empty and organized again - soon. For their sakes and my own. And I'm glad I'm escaping to Trent next week where meals will be made for me and there aren't piles of laundry waiting to be done.

I'm sure the nest will be just fine without me - and vice versa.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Countdown is on.

Now that the Annual is behind me, I am counting down to Trent. I will be teaching there next week - my first week-long gig. And trust me, the prep time is onorous at best.

As I keep remembering MORE things I have to pack, it reminds me of the friendship rug that Elaine and I hooked for Trent a few years back. Although I don't need to bring the drying rack, dyeing jars and hot plate this time, I have more than replaced those with things I do need. It's quite incredible how quickly the car fills up. I'm hoping there will be enough space left for me.

I have been in touch with most of my students since just after Christmas, which seemed so far away at the time. But the organizing and corresponding are pretty much done, so now I am just making lists and checking them thrice so I don't forget things.

My class is called "1-2 Hook a Few" and everyone will be making a few small things instead of starting another big project. It seems to appeal to the instant gratification in all of us, and I have 12 eager students.

Among the lists of little projects are belt buckles and pendants, for which I need hardware. I am anxiously awaiting one last shipment from the States and I sincerely hope it arrives this week. Otherwise, I may have to take apart my own buckles to donate the hardware. I'm crossing my appendages.

And, as luck would have it, work is crazier than ever. Which goes to show that Murphy is alive and well. Following months in which the pace was normal, we are now in high gear trying to meet an impossible deadline for a new client. And for me to get all the changes in hand on a presentation for another. It never fails!

So, today's task will be printing out all the handouts for the class and organizing them into file folders for each day. (Don't I just sound like a real teacher?)

Stay tuned.

Oops. Missed one.

I realized that I didn't include this rug in my posts last week, so I apologize for the oversight.

This was the winner in the Primitive category and it is a wonderful interpretation of a Deanne Fitzpatrick rug, hooked by Elaine Alerton. What a wonderful palette in this rug and her colour plan is excellent and really balanced. Sometimes the Deanne rugs can become a bit of a mash of colour if not planned carefully. This one truly succeeded.

I'm sure that judging this many amazing rugs was no easy feat. There were so many great entries in every single category, it must have been very difficult choosing just one winner.

Kudos to all the judges and the winners.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A new rug blog.

I received a link to this new blog this morning and went to take a peek.

It is called Red Jack Rugs and is only a few days old. However, there are already a slew of great links and resources and a wonderful rug display. April DeConick is the author and you may already know her - and her work - from the Welcome Mat.

We all love to visit back and forth and see what's new with everyone. So here's another place to go.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

More amazing animals.

There are fewer days in the week than category winners, so I have decided to double up today.

This amazing Chimpanzee portrait was the winner in the fine cut category and you can definitely see why. It is an adaptation of a photograph and the detail here is extraodinary. I can't remember the name of the winner and will need to see if I can find it for you. But in the meantime, you can enjoy it.

The canoe crew was the winning entry in the wide cut category, and again, I cannot dispute the choice. This rug is so full of joy, it was a great crowd pleaser. All the details are incredible and come together nicely to create a timeless classic piece. The sky simply glowed in real life and I hope you can see that effect here. Again, I do not have the name of the hooker of this piece, although I did have the pleasure of sitting with her at dinner on Saturday night. I'll do a follow up post, when I find out all this information. Jennifer (FishEyeRugs) was much better at getting details than I was, but she didn't feature either of these in her posts.

I am sure there will be a feature on the winning entries on the OHCG website as well, so I will link you to that when it is done.

This year will be a tough act to follow, I'm sure. But I think I say that every year, and I am never disappointed with what I find each show.

Next year it will be in Coburg, so again, not too far to travel - at least for me.

I'd better get busy planning my entries. The theme will be "Hooked on the Waterfront", and I think I have an idea already....

Stunning Swan

Here is the rug that won the Pictorial award, and it's easy to see why - even in a picture. It is hooked by B. Nonnemitz, who is apparently a second-generation hooker - daughter of another amazing hooker.

What you may not be able to see is the incredible sculpture in the top of the wings.
Or the detail in the background. The texture that she has incorporated into the water is amazing. Such movement, it's nearly as hypnotic as real water is to me.
Be sure to click on the image and look at it more closely, so you can fully appreciate the work here.

It's funny, because I wouldn't have considered this a pictorial at first, but I guess in my head a pictorial is more in the landscape category. But when you think about it, this definitely is "pictorial", just as the word describes.

A couple more to show tomorrow. And make sure you go see what Jenn has been posting on her blog, if you haven't already been doing so.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Well Deserved Beginner Award

Each year, the OHCG Annual judges two categories for beginners. One is a general category for all styles of rugs. The other is the Rittermere Hurst Field award for fine shading. Some years there are many entries. Other years, not so many. But this was a good year for entries. The display looked great. The caliber of the new hookers was very good. And this is the winner from the general category.

It is a Maud Lewis pattern, hooked by Jane Pilskalnietis. Jane is the daughter of Mary Anne P.(our or recently past President of the Upper Toronto Branch), so there may just be a genetic predisposition for her abilities.

I would also like to believe that Elaine and I played a small part in Jane's auspicious beginnings. Jane was one of our beginner students at Fairlawn Community Centre winter before last when we did a 4-week sampler workshop. She was a natural. Her extensive needlework experience probably gave her head start. She already was adept with the hook and her colour sense was intuitive.

From our little launch, Jane went on to have classes with Barb D'Arcy, who was her teacher on this endeavour. As one of Barb's proteges, I can assure you there is no better teacher to guide through the finer points of colour planning and all the little details that take a rug from good to great. And this is a true example of just how amazing Barb is.

Ironically, there were a couple of other versions of this rug on display at the show. And none held a candle to Jane's. It was definitely head and shoulders ahead of the others, because of all the details.

Congratulations to Jane on a rug well done. Rumour has it she is already well on her way to the next project.

No rest for the addicted. You go girl!!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Another Awesome Annual

It's the Monday after the Annual, and my head is recovering from an overload of everything!

Too many amazing rugs to process. Too many reunions with friends I only see at hooking events. Too many new acquaintences swimming in my head whose names I hope I will remember when I seem them next. Too much bad conference centre food. Too many wonderful vendors to whom I gave too much money. And all in all too good a time to recount in one post. So I will try to do one every day this week. Some posts will feature other award-winning rugs. And some will just be rugs I like.

This photo is the rug that one first place in the Original Category and also the Rowan Award (which is our name for Viewers' Choice). Isn't it incredible!!!

It was hooked by Trish Johnson, an incredibly talented artist/hooker who belongs to both our Upper Toronto Branch and the Georgetown Branch of the OHCG. Not only is she one of the most creative designers I have ever met, her hooking is impeccable. Put those two things together and she is an awesome adversary in the original category.

Her rug was the first one that caught my eye on Friday when I arrived and I knew that poor Totem 40 was completely blown out of the water. But there is not a single spec of me that holds a grudge - just huge admiration for a talent that is so large the rest of us get left behind.

This rug is called "Memories of Oak Point", I think, and it's a historical piece based of photos of Trish's grandparents place in Oak Point. Not only are the photos incredibly well done (complete with those wonderful old-fashioned corners), but placing them on the map with the leaves scattered on top just makes it feel like a wonderful scrap book page. You can almost smell that newsprint smell that permeated your nostrils when you opened a scapbook to look through.

The detail in real life is unbelievable and I kept coming back to it over and over again all weekend to simply gaze at it. So did many other people.

Congratulations Trish. You continue to amaze me with your talent.

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 ...