Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Very Classy Class.

Once again, I seem to have lucked into an amazing group of women in my OHCG class. I knew a few of them this time, which is always nice, but none had been in a class of mine before. But as soon as we were together Thursday night, I could tell it was going to be a great group. And I was right!! The sharing of information between the more seasoned hookers and the novices, and the conversations going on between those who had just met demonstrated the great combination in the room.

Since there were many students who brought multiple projects, the volume of work at Show and Tell on Sunday was amazing!  Many of them worked Thursday night and Friday on one project and then switched on Saturday to the other project they had brought. Others just needed a little advice on their secondary projects.

The joy of an Open class is the variety. Each project presents a teaching opportunity to share with the rest of the group. Those are the things that a teacher can't anticipate before getting there. And, as usual, I learned as much from them as they did from me!!

So, in the room we had:

3 dog portraits
3 Deanne Fitzpatrick patterns
1 Penny rug
1 Giant geometric colour study
2 Orientals
2 Nutcrackers
1 Wisteria runner with birds (no picture)
1 Leaf rug with an amazing cat
1 Very colourful Hen Party

As promised, here are the pics to show how amazing the works-in-progress were:

I'm sorry that I don't have a picture of the other Oriental. Not sure why it wasn't in the show on Sunday.

As you can see, these students all did their teacher proud! Thanks to all of them for making my weekend so special.

Monday, October 26, 2009

There’s still something about Mt. Mary

Two years ago when I taught for the first time at the O.H.C.G. school, I blogged about it. That was in my early days of blogging and teaching. And it was very special. Here it is, two years later and after my second stint at Mt. Mary, I’m back to blog about it again.

Often, after a special experience somewhere, we believe that expression “you can’t go back again”. But I’m here to tell you that you certainly can. And many of the students in my class (and the rest of the school) have been doing so for years and years.

What is it about Mt. Mary that’s so special? All of it! Like every other school, it has its own DNA. It’s a relatively small school, compared to many others. It’s housed in a venue that is magical for so many reasons. The acreage upon which it is located is a study in serenity, which is a good thing for a retreat. The grounds are vast and tree-filled. Many returnees talk about seeing deer early in the mornings on their walks. There are ginkgo trees amidst every type of evergreen you can imagine. And the fall colours are gorgeous, despite the overcast weather. As someone said, the brilliant foliage out every window finds whatever light there is and shines it back on you.

When you enter the buildings, the tranquil feeling continues. As soon as I walked through the front doors of the main building, I had an olfactory memory of the place from the last time I was there. It seems to be a combination of wax and warmth, and like an old song, I felt instantly at home.

There were five classes this year, each in a room that reminds you of your childhood school days, complete with wooden desks and old fashioned windows. The rooms are all bright and cheery and soon were hives of hooker activity.

The meals are all homemade. Good basic stick-to-your-ribs fare, with delicious desserts. With breakfast, lunch and dinner and two snacks served, you really feel as if have eaten your way through the weekend.

The smallness of the school encourages mingling. You can visit other classrooms to see what they are up to. And over weekend, you can talk to nearly everyone in attendance. The camaraderie within the classrooms spills over into the corridors, the common spaces and at night in the Villa and Manor where everyone sleeps.

Although utilitarian, the rooms have a certain charm. The open-door policy encourages visiting from room to room. And the common area in the Villa is the perfect spot for getting together in the evening.

This year, Jennifer Curran the school Administrator, had a couple of “extras” that made the weekend even more special. A gentle stretch yoga class on the Friday night was the perfect way to work out the kinks of the day. And the unusual offerings at the Prohibition-themed party on Saturday night will undoubtedly live on in the stories of the school for years to come.

The standard attractions of every good hooking school are there in abundance. Lots of vendors selling patterns, wool and books. A great silent auction that allows everyone to part with some items so that they can acquire more. And a Sunday morning Show and Tell that demonstrates how amazing each class was and how much you can get done in a Thursday-night-to-Sunday-morning time frame.

Another little extra is the fantastic yarn store located directly across the street from the retreat – The Needle Emporium - where knitters and hookers alike can discover exquisite yarns to add texture and flair to their next projects.

As a teacher who now has a few more stints under her belt, I can highly recommend this school to hookers of all ages and stages. It’s intimate. There’s lots of opportunity to learn and share and enjoy the company of others for those glorious three days.

If the OHCG School is sometimes forgotten in the roster of places to go, let this be a reminder of all the wonderful reasons to reconsider the reasons why there’s something about Mt. Mary to charm each and every one of you.

I’ll post again tomorrow or later in the week about my own class, so you can see their projects and find out more about how very special they were. Stay tuned…

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wendie and the midnight veggies.

Well, not quite midnight. But I did stay up a bit late to finish the last pepper, beet and potato and their backgrounds. I was so close, I just couldn't resist staying up till the last loop of grey background was pulled. Don't we all back ourselves into those corners once in a while.

I am amazed that I actually finished all the hooking (except for finishing the black line around the outside), since I had a deadline of the end of October in my head for this rug, which I wasn't sure I'd make. I have a lot of other stuff on my plate - including a weekend OHCG school this coming weekend - and the prep work has been biting into my evenings. However, give this gal a deadline and I will usually come through!

This is the largest project I have done in all yarn, and I hope it meets the challenge of being easy to clean, since it is going in front of the sink at the cottage. It's nice to be able to strike this off the UFO list. Such a feeling of accomplishment when that happens.

Ironically, I will be having a mini lesson in punch needle this weekend and will probably find out that I could have done this rug in a fraction of the time had I punched it. That's o.k., I'll be doing a companion piece for the door to the porch, so will have an opportunity to practice on it.

Not sure it will be veggies (midnight or otherwise), but I will use the same colours to tie everything together.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It's all about the food.

Another Thanksgiving come and gone - at least for us here in Canada.

While everyone else was heading out of town, we actually stayed put this weekend. Rick's mom came on Saturday morning to spend the weekend. And his sister joined the kids, Rick, myself and Gram on Sunday for the feast. It never ceases to amaze me how much time and effort goes into the preparation of Thanksgiving dinner and in a matter of hours (or less if you happen to eat at the speed of the Davises) it's all over - except the leftovers.

Our bird was delicious and I tried a new Gingerbread Pear Cobbler recipe that I found in the paper last week. Many thanks to Bonnie Stern - it was delicious. And there is still some left for dessert tonite, along with a little apple and pumpkin pie. The turkey is pretty much gone thanks to a shepherd's pie last nite, and a goodie bag for lunch today.

Even when I wasn't preparing food this weekend, I was hooking it. My veggie rug is progressing nicely. I did my first sliced tomato yesterday and so now one of every type of veggie in the border has been hooked. The rest will just be pulling loops - 10 veggies left to go.

I was hoping to have this mat finished by the end of the month, but too many things have gotten in the way. With a new course of teaching just begun, there were beginner kits to put together and 8 mini kits for this week's class. Since Elaine is in Nova Scotia with Deanne Fitzpatrick (or wending her way as we speak) I will be on my own with the 8 students on Thursday, so I decided to do a "fun" lesson and let them play with yarns and suede and t-shirts and felted sweaters and polar fleece and panty hose and whatever else I come up with before class.

I could get used to have an extra day every weekend. I would put it to good use every week, I'm sure. But I wouldn't want to see that much food every time. In fact, I think I'm good till Christmas. The only veggies I want to see till then are the hooked kind.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Gaining perspective.

I missed a hookin this weekend and was very disappointed to have to do so. However, as the cold I have been nursing took a turn for the worse on Friday, I told myself that staying in my pjs for the day on Saturday would not only help me recover, but would also protect those very people I was anxious to see from catching my cold.

I listened to my own advice - the same I would give to my kids. And I feel much better for having done so. The other thing that a pj day did for me was allow me to sleep in, lie on the couch, devour several movies and knit - all without moving very far. This is a very different perspective for me, since I am usually on the tear from about 8:00 a.m., but I must confess that after getting over the missing of the event, I quite enjoyed the rainy day.

Sunday was a much better day all around. I felt better. The sun was in and out. And I got things done. I took Max off the frame so that I could take a picture of what I have done. If you look closely, you can see the toes of my moccassins at the bottom, which gives you an indication of how big this is. Then I asked my husband to take a picture of me holding the project, so you could really gain perspective. In reality, I wasn't feeling quite that blurry yesterday, although this picture would dispute that fact.

And I actually tried holding it against the side of the washer/dryer to see if the size was right - and it is! Yippee. But I think I am going to make a kind of screen for it, so that I can affix it to the wall and the floor, rather than rely on magnets to do the trick. I think it's going to be far too heavy for that.

So, now you can understand how BIG this is. Even I have gained a new perspective. And will cut myself a little slack that it's taking a while to finish.

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 ...