Friday, July 31, 2009

And the Jeanius just keeps spreading....

This morning I received an email and this photo from another Trent student - who made the bag with the stars while in class but then went ahead and made the "mini" companion on her own.

This student was the newest hooker in the group and took to it like a fish to water. Not only was she a natural in the mechanics of hooking, she took to the addictive qualities as well - colour, texture, dreams of all the projects that lay ahead - all of it!!

And the fact that she would create a second bag within a few weeks of completing her first school experience is awesome.

We are hoping to hook up in the fall when our weekly classes resume, which suits me just fine. She would be a perfect addition to our class, and we would be lucky to have her.

Way to go, Becky!!

For those of you reading this - I am heading up to the cottage for vacation - 2 glorious weeks. Although I have some internet access there, it is dial up and very slow, so not sure when I will get a chance to post. I do have to come back to the city for a wedding next weekend, so may just update things then. If not, I will have lots to tell when I get back. TTYL

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Another Jeanius Bag to Share.

Here is an adorable bag that was started at TRENT in June. Sandy made it for her niece who has two calico cats. (I think this feline is reubenesque enough for two, don't you?)

She sent me a picture of her lining fabric as well, and it's always fun to see what people choose, since it is the little surprise inside every bag. And, the silver charm on the cat's collar came from a cheap-and-cheerful little girl's necklace that Sandy acqured.

This kitty is en route to the west coast as we speak. When he arrives, I feel pretty certain there will be a delighted new owner at the other end.

Thanks Sandy for sharing.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

All rain and no sun makes me a busy gal.

Knowing in advance that it isn’t going to be a great weekend means being prepared. I packed my new Bolivar cutter and my trusty old sewing machine in the car, so that if the weather did as predicted (remember my joke a week ago?), I would have no down time. Even less down time than when I just have hooking and knitting waiting.

So, the first picture above shows my cutter in its new habitat. It is a thing of beauty and hopefully will be a joy forever. I actually didn’t take it out until today (Sunday) since I spent yesterday sewing, so I’ll talk about that first.

My sister Beth’s birthday (she is plenty-nine just like me) just came and went and in typical Scott Girl fashion, we couldn’t get everyone’s calendars to work re a date to get together. So, it will now be on the 19th of August, which is technically closer to my b’day than hers, but that’s also typical of a Scott Girl get together, and we are quite used to doing 2-fers.

Anyway, one of her birthday requests was a canvas shopping bag – one with shoulder straps, which aren't nearly as plentiful as those without. No problem, I would just make her one – custom. I happen to have some canvas lying around the cottage, left over from the window coverings that I made for our screened-in porch. Perfect for shopping bags, and lots of other bags, too.

So I spent Saturday afternoon making bags- first the one Beth specifically requested, and then my own personal version of the famous Bean type bag. I liked the prototype of the second one so much that I made a third. So three bags in one sitting – not bad. And I will give Beth her pick of the litter, in case she likes the shorter strap better after all. Now that I have created this pattern, I can re-purpose all the old blinds into bags. I do love to recycle and this will be a great way to wrap all those upcoming Christmas gifts. After all, the canvas is green.

This morning, more rain - no problem. I took my coffee downstairs to “future studio” and removed my wonderful new cutter from the plain brown box. It is quite a piece of hardware, just look how it glistens. It took me a couple of minutes to figure out how to turn the blades, but eventually I got it, and I was off to the races.

When people say "it's like cutting butter", they aren't exaggerating. Of course, this one is even better, because it is mine! And I realized what else it is when you use one that you can’t quite put your finger on – it purrs!!!! The cutting is effortless and the machine actually makes a wonderful sound as it cuts, which sounds just like a cat purring – or an engine purring - and that’s a nice sound to make, for a cat or an engine - or a cutter!

Does a faster cutter turn you into a faster hooker????? Hmmmmm. Not sure, but I finished the head of my little raccoon – got the log finished between Rocky and Max, and managed to fill in some antler wool to boot. All of that is less than three hours. That’s fast, even for me.

No, I didn’t swim. I didn’t paddle boat. I didn’t kayak. I didn’t even go for a big walk. But, I sewed, and I cut, and I hooked and I knitted.

And not a single ray of sunshine was needed for any of them.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

It's what's inside that counts.

At first glance, this looks like just another plain brown box. But inside lurks something truly magical, so in fact it's a box filled with secret powers that will go forward and do marvellous things.

Because inside this box is my Bolivar cutter!!! Needless to say, I'm pretty excited about having it.

Like many before me, I resisted the urge to own one, convincing myself that my two little cutters - however crappy - were good enough to do the job. That was until I tried other people's Bolivars and Townsends.

Word to the wise - don't ever try one unless you are prepared to buy one. They are the "crack cocaine" of the hooking world. Once you've had a taste, you can't go back. I said the same about my sit'em too, and I think I was right. I'm convinced that the round hoop is just a stepping stone to something more logical - something large, with gripper strips, that lets you hook in all directions.

Maybe that's the real test in hooking. If you can survive the beginner tools, you get to continue and find out how much easier it all is with good good scissors.

My friend Jennifer is very wise about her hooking tools. She garnered her wisdom from her Dad who taught that it is always smart to "invest in the best". And I think those of us who have finally succumbed and purchased good hooking tools will have to agree. There's no point in being handicapped by a cutter that cuts uneven strips and shrieks and moans at the mere sight of synthetic fiber.

Rumour has it that this "baby" cuts everything - even leather. So, I will take this plain brown parcel up to the cottage this weekend and give it a whirl on many different fibers - although not leather just yet. And I will thank my little Bliss and my little Fraser for their years of service and then set them aside for my future students.

No point in spoiling them right off the bat. We need to see if they can stand the test of poor cutters and wooden frames. We need to find out what's inside them first too.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Veggies for Max

Well, the weather may not have been rainy, but it threatened to do so the entire weekend - that is until we started cleaning at 4:00 yesterday. Then, of course, the sun came shining through. So Jenn's Friday joke is still somewhat relevant, especially since today is sunny and gorgeous - both here and in Parry Sound.

However, since both kids were with us, our days were full of activities and good food. My daughter is an amazingly good influence on me, so we had two long speed walks, followed yesterday by a long paddle boat ride and a quick and furious double kayak workout. Upper, lower, all parts of the body well employed - surprisingly, today I am not sore, so I must be in better shape than I thought.

We finally replaced our 18 year old paddle boat with a new one. You would think that because it is smaller and lighter it would go faster, but alas the opposite is true. My theory is that it sits lower in the water, thereby increasing the resistance on the paddles. Whatever the real aerodynamic cause, it's a much harder workout to go around the island. But on the sunny side (no pun intended), this one steers. The old paddle boat only turned in one direction and then only if it felt like it, which made for interesting outings.

As to hooking time, there wasn't a lot, but I did manage to grab a couple of hours here and there. Enough to get a good start on Max's antlers and try a little bit of the log background complete with a knot. The secret to a piece this large is to move around - give yourself some variety. Maybe that's the secret to every piece....

But when I went to take a picture with my Blackberry, the low battery signal was flashing and my charger was at home in Toronto. And when I asked Laura if she could take a couple of pics, her memory was full on hers. Ahhh, technology when it's not working is a frustrating thing, isn't it?

So, today's pic is the veggie rug which has come out of the UFO pile and is back on the frame at home. The second carrot is finished, along with the second cob of corn. Still a long way to go, but like an Oriental, one of everything is done now, so it's just a matter of following the other vegetables. Easy, mindless hooking, which is a great thing for night hooking.

I will take some Max pictures next weekend and will hopefully get a bit more done. I realized yesterday that the visible area in my Cheticamp frame is the same size as, if not larger than, many entire rugs I have done before. This is a BIG project indeed!

Maybe Max shouldn't eat any of these veggies. The last thing I want him to do is get bigger. LOL.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Rainy with a bit of hooking.

Jennifer just sent me this joke:
Q: What do you get after 2 days of rain?
A: Monday
Lately, that seems to be the case - and we used to joke that Toronto summers (and maybe all of Ontario) were famous for that.

I must confess that OCCASIONALLY (note the caps), I like to have a rainy weekend at the cottage, since I can do two things. Catch up on some zzzz's - there's nothing better than lying in bed listening to the rain; and catch up on some projects without feeling like I am missing the day outside.

In an email this week to a friend, I counted off the number of projects that I have currently on the go, and must confess to scaring myself. Even for me, this is a little overwhelming. Mind you, each project has a specific location - i.e. car or cottage or home - so they never overlap (or rarely ever). The other good thing is that none of the current ones have a definite deadline. That may, in fact, be a bad thing....hmmm.

However, if we do get rain this weekend, Maximilian will make some progress for sure. And since I didn't touch him last weekend, that would be great. He is such a big project, I'd like to keep it moving.

Anyway, regardless of the weather, my weekends at the cottage are always a wonderful respite from my weekdays in the city. Everything is different there - and mostly better. I will enjoy all the minutes and they will go by too quickly.

Luckily, this weekend the only company we are having is/are our kids. And they definitely don't need to be entertained. Fed, yes. But entertained, no.

So let's hope that Jennifer's joke isn't completely true. But a little bit would be good for me.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bragging rights!

Two of my "Jeanius" bags are one of the features in the Summer 09 issue of A Needle Pulling Thread.

I've known about this for a very long time, since the bags had to be finished last December, and I got the colour palette and submission instructions last fall. But somehow, actually seeing the issue and reading the article makes it all so much more real.

Thanks to my friend Loretta Moore (who was featured in the previous issue), my name had already been given to Carla as a potential contributor with the bags. And an email with a sample picture attached paved the way to the feature.

I really enjoyed the journey, from designing the "Fireworks" bag to the telephone interview with their writer, and all my correspondence with Carla. And it's always a relief when you read what a writer you have never met pulls snippets from a lengthy interview and you are happy with the outcome. Whew!

The magazine is really worth subscribing to. It always has a rug hooking feature and lots of other interesting projects for those of us who dabble in many fiber arts. My friend Elaine said that she picked up a copy at Chapters, so I think if you are interested in finding a copy, you can try there.

Better still, go online to the magazine's website and subscribe.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cool weekend. Warm company.

This past weekend, Rick and I had guests at the cottage. My sister Nancy and her husband Bill (who have rented their own cottage for the summer) and my dear friend Jennifer.

The weather was very un-July-ish - cool and cloudy until well into the afternoon, and not conducive to water sports, so the three women sat and knit in the afternoon overlooking the water. (We all brought knitting and hooking and magazines - cottage heaven.) I wish now that I had a picture of us sittin' and knittin' - it would have been a much better image for this post, but alas one was not taken.

Jennifer and I are both working on February Lady, a free sweater pattern that has been featured on Ravelry and the Purple Purl and is really lovely. (Actually Jenn posted about it on Friday on her blog too, so you should go and have a peek.) I spent more time "frogging" than knitting and eventually got so frustrated that Jenn offered to get my lace back on track while I went to make brownies - a fair exchange I figured.

Not only did she get me back on pattern, but I also realized by purling her knit row that I had been mistakenly doing a "YON - yarn over needle" stitch instead of a "YF - yarn forward" stitch, hence the odd looking twist in my pattern that didn't exist in hers.

Jenn's sweater is for winter, in a beautiful plummy/blue/brown/burgundy yarn which she overdyed herself. Mine is recycled cotton from a sweater than lost its shape and is now being reinvented as February Lady. Since the gauge is finer, the needles are larger and the lace pattern is much more open. I figure this will bide well for a summer sweater, but truth be told, I like hers much better, (as did my hubby...) so, I will probably do another one in merino which can actually be worn in February.

Nancy was making a hat in a great pattern for people with small heads and/or small hair. It is comfy and very flattering. Her only problem was that the beautiful black wool she was using was turning her fingers black where she held the yarn. I'm sure a little soak in vinegar should solve the problem.

The knitting projects came out several times over the course of the weekend, while we sat and chatted (and weren't eating). Nancy's hat got finished. Jennifer's sweater is in the home stretch. And mine - well, at least it's back on track and I figured out where I was going wrong.

Good food, good company, no-fuss entertaining and weather that suited knitting. I'd call it a pretty wonderful weekend. Even if the weather felt a bit more like sweaters than bathing suits.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Max and the Nightshirt

I have many moose things that people have given me over the years. In fact, I've had to curtail moose gift giving as I am running out of room for any more. But one thing that I love are the moose night shirts I have received over the years. On Friday night, I hauled out an old favourite and had a eureka moment. This particular shirt has a moose with only one antler and the caption is "Is that your final antler?" ha ha ha.

But when I looked at the face on this moose, I realized that poor Max was looking more like a horse than a moose, so some changes were in order. In fact, I spent most of my Max time ripping and re-drawing with green marker. I think I replaced all the undoing, so I don't feel like I went totally backwards.

This is a picture of Max with a new lease on life. He now has an eye and a nostril drawn in - neither of which were in the original plan. I think he is looking quite stately, and I like that he is watching me as I hook him. The weather was so amazing yesterday that I actually carried my big Cheticamp frame upstairs and out onto the deck. It was wonderful to hook outside. Very peaceful listening to the birds and the water. I think he enjoyed it too.

This morning, as I looked at this picture I took on the trusty Blackberry, I noticed my foot at the bottom of the picture. I decided that rather than cropping it out, I'd leave it in for scale. See, I told you this was a big piece!

We're having company next weekend, so I'm not sure how much I will get done. Max is just too big to tote back and forth to the city, so progress is a bit slow. I'm secretly hoping for some rainy days on our holidays so that I can get a big chunk of hooking time.

If Mother Nature falls for reverse psychology, by saying that the first two weeks of August will be gorgeous! If not, we may have typhoon season like last year....stay tuned.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Canada Day Projects

Yesterday was Canada Day. It was the first time I can remember it falling on a Wednesday versus being part of a long weekend spent at the cottage. But, because we stayed in the city, it turned into a day in which I got lots of projects done.

This was my first one. Organizing my wool on the new shelves I got for Mothers' Day - which meant rearranging the whole room in which I store it. Sorry the very fuzzy picture(taken with my Blackberry). These are the wire shelves that Cindi Gay raves about in "favourite studio equipment page" and since the price is right, and you can add to them indefinitely, they seemed like the perfect choice for me. I got them at Canadian Tire, since we don't have Target here - yet.

They were easy to assemble and once I took my wool out of all the various tubs and containers, and arranged it (loosely) by colour, it was the first time I was able to look at all my wool at once. I know compared to many (including Cindi Gay), this is a modest stash, but now that it's all out there, it seems pretty big to me. (My worms are all stored in see-through shoe boxes on a shelving unit in the laundry room, but someday, I'll add extra cubes to hold those as well. And I definitely count my worms as part of my stash - it's amazing how many times I go there first.)

Amazingly, the actual stash is pretty much as I remembered in my head. More than half is recycled and there are quite a few pieces from my dyeing experiments. I need to start adding by colour - definitely some yellows and greens. But now that I have the space to see everything, I'll make a list for myself.

The rest of my mid-week holiday was spent sewing drapes, helping unpack and hanging art at my daughter's new apartment: then preparing an appropriate Canada Day feast for the family - steak, potato salad and caesar salad - always a crowd pleaser.

Now that my wool is organized, I feel motivated to do the same with my desk and filing cabinet. I hope I get to both of those before next Canada Day (ha ha).

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 ...