Monday, November 30, 2009

See Jane hook.


This is my friend Jane’s first hooking project. Isn’t it great????

Jane is my longest non-Frederictonian friend. I met her when I first moved to Toronto nearly 40 years ago. In fact, it might be exactly 40 years ago.

She has moved around a fair amount – well anyone has compared to me, but we have always managed to stay in touch. She’s definitely one of my “quality not quantity” friends and we seem to be able to pick up where we left off, no matter how much time passes between visits. I love that kind of friend!!!

She lives outside Peterborough Ontario, which makes it far enough away that visiting spontaneously is a bit difficult. But email does help a bit, and one of her daughters is working here in Toronto and I got to have lunch with her a while ago. So, arm’s length, but still connected.

Two summers ago when I pitched my class idea at Trent, Jane came to see the rug display at the Open House. She was quite taken with the hooking and while at the show introduced me to her Wendy who is an experienced hooker, and another Jane, who also wanted to learn to hook. They cooked up a scheme to get together for lessons. And, although it took a year longer than expected, they did in fact get together. She calls the group she gets together with on Wednesdays, the Group of Seven. LOL.

I’m not sure why it’s such a thrill for me to have love of rug hooking be another connection with Jane, but it is. I guess whenever your passion “rubs off” on someone else, it’s exciting. I know I was thrilled when my sister Nancy fell in love with hooking.

So here’s to Jane! I think she did a fabulous job on her first project. And I hope there will be many more. I also hope that I can make my way to Peterborough and pull a few loops with her new hooking group. In the meantime, we will stay connected through email, this blog and our latest shared passion.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A very special studio.

From the moment you pull into the driveway of Martina Lesar's studio, you know you are in for a treat. This is the log building, with the amazing window box, that greets you as you park your car.


Then you venture inside and a warm wood burning stove and a cacophony of colours from wool and yarn and silk and more hits you in all your senses. Then you are greeted by Martina who is as warm and welcoming as her studio.

And then, when you're me, you give her a huge hug and thank her for sharing this special place with visitors. Here are a few of the pictures I took to inspire me when setting up my future studio.




And there's even more upstairs - this is magical place where the workshops are held and the patterns are drawn and kept, along with big bolts of wool. Isn't it perfect????
















I am a huge Martina fan and have been sending students to her studio, particularly if they like primitive patterns - which she does oh so well. I had met her briefly at the last Annual, along with 4,000 other people. But this was a chance for Elaine and I to do a road trip to her studio and see what all the students were raving about. I'm so glad that we did. Because I, for one, am continuing the raving BIG TIME.

Her supplies are a bit different from other studios and she has a selection of frames to try from vendors I had never heard about. I think in her pursuit of the perfect frame, she has become quite the expert on frame suppliers, gripper strips and ways to improve upon existing frames (she gave me a great idea for my Cheticamp, which I can't wait to try).

Elaine and I left with lots of goodies (including one another's Christmas gifts) and wool and patterns and studio stories to share with others. And,best of all, (I believe) a new friend and great person to know in the hooking world. Martina has a warmth and geniuneness about her that few people possess.

To top it all off, we went for lunch at the Belfountain Inn and enjoyed the picturesque drive along the Forks of the Credit before returning to the reality that is Highway 10.

Before we left, we invited Martina  to be a vendor at our Hook In February And happily, she has accepted. So, if you haven't already done so, visit her website and see for yourself what wonders await you there.

Thanks again Martina for letting us trespass into your little part of hooking heaven.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Jeanius of Port Perry.














These pictures are the Jeanius bags that were done at a workshop on Saturday in Port Perry. Aren’t they fantastic? All but one of the ladies are from a group that hooks together on a regular basis – constantly coming up with interesting projects and workshops, so I was flattered to be invited.


The one non-Port Perry hooker found out about the workshop while at Rittermere. She was doing bags for Christmas gifts and was using the article from A Needle Pulling Thread, so she was excited to come to the session. Hers are the adorable, non-Mola animals at the bottom of the images.

Actually the workshop was an “assembly” day, since all the flaps were hooked when everyone arrived. Thanks to a Mola workshop with Iris Simpson a month ago, there were beautiful, colourful Molas waiting to be turned into bags. And some other pretty wonderful subjects as you can see from the pics.

So the day consisted of making sure the flaps were the right width for the jean leg, whipping if they were and hooking additional or pulling loops if they weren’t. And then we were off on the assembly line. Among the group were a master quilter and another sewing machine maven who had both figured out how to attach their pocket using the machine. I still haven’t been able to figure that out yet, though am in full agreement that it would be much faster.
Every time I run a workshop, some kind of improvement that comes from the group. Since everyone approaches things a little differently, the cumulative thinking is always coming up with ways to make it easier.
As a result, the bags just get better and better.

The quilting guru also figured out a way to do a mitered corner border on this bag. It looks really good, doesn’t it? And it’s the perfect way to make a small image larger without additional hooking.

A ready-made shoulder strap from another purse (that had clips on the end) became a strap for one bag with built in key holders at the end. The clips were fished in through the lining, but will be most useful for holding keys. People just keep coming up with these brilliant ideas.

The group treated me to a yummy buffet lunch and lots of good hot coffee, which was great since we were working in a mid-reno church basement, in which the heat had been turned off. By mid day, we were all donning scarves and jackets to fight the chill.

All in all it was a very good day. They are a great and active group. It was great to spend the day with them. And as usual, they did me proud.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I can 'bearly' contain myself.

I love my new 3-day weekends!!! The very best thing about them is how much more hooking time I seem to get. And for me, more hooking time means I get to pick and choose which projects to focus on. This weekend, I spent time on three different things. I know that for some that appears a bit ADD, but for me, I like to think of it more like a curriculum – a way to divide my time and get a little bit done on lots of things.

So Friday after I did all my errands and grocery shopping, I spent a bit of time working up some more sketches for my 5 x 7 series. (I had a little exercise last week that convinced me that not every idea will work in this format. I would show you the result, but I’ve ripped it out already and will use the frame for another piece.)

After doing that, I designed a couple of pillows for our new quilt on our bed up north. I decided to base them on some cotton pillows that we have around the cottage that are piecework with a featured item in a centre window. I decided to make R and W be the featured visuals, and this picture is the first one well under way. They are polar fleece, which makes them really soft on the bed.




On Saturday, I decided to get back to the giant Max project and ended up focusing on the bear’s head, which is shown here. I ended up giving him quite a snout after doing some black bear research and I think he has real personality. He will definitely hold his own against the raccoon and the moose.




To put the size of his head in perspective, two of the little 5 x 7 sketches are equal to his head. That’s another reason why moving around among projects is so much fun. Scale and perspective are very different, as you might well guess.

Next weekend is an in-town rarity with a workshop on the Saturday, so who knows what projects will get my attention. But the city weekends end up being more work-oriented with less time for hooking, so Bear and the initial pillows will have to wait until I am back in Parry Sound.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Second sketch.



Here is #2 in my series of "on the waterfront" sketches. It is also a 5 x 7 study and was very quick to do - I think the design went on the backing on Sunday night (just before bed) and I hooked the entire piece in less than three hours on Monday night. Once I get going in such a small area, I just want to see what the next "bit" will look like, and so I stay up much too late getting them done.

I love the palette and everything is from my stash of yarns and wool bits. Again, it proves that you can fool the eye into believing there is a lot of detail when, in fact, there isn't very much. I have a few more waterfront ones planned, but may interrupt this series and go into my cottage picture stash this weekend. I'd really love to do a "fuzzy sketch" for each of my kids as a Christmas present, so will look for the perfect photo to begin the process.




Monday, November 9, 2009

A series of sketches.


As I am somewhat in between projects (that's only if you don't count all the UFO's - and Max up north), I have decided to do a few "sketches". This first one was completed in two short hooking sessions - probably a total of 4 hours from putting the design on backing to finishing. REMEMBER, it's only 5" x 7". (Sorry the image is a tad fuzzy, but my real camera isn't downloading properly so I used my phone camera.)

Since I am a huge fan of impressionism, I wanted to create a few "sketches" that would require minimal detail, but still capture the light and convey the impression (exactly what it's all about). I was inspired by this partly by one of the exercises that the lucky folks at Deanne's Impressionism workshop did, and partly by a little website of impressionist painters that I visit regularly for inspiration. They do 3.5 x 5 sketches that are amazing!! Check out this blog. This artist, one of my favourites, blogs and sketches daily. I know paint is faster, but the approach is the same.

When I used to paint, I always did small sketches before deciding whether or not to do a larger painting.
And I realized that there is absolutely no reason why this shouldn't work for hooking too. And I would say, based on my first one, that I think it will.

The first series I am going to do is all about water - since the theme for the 2010 Annual is "On the Waterfront". With all my cottage images, I have more than enough visual memories to create a series of these little practice pieces. And they would be wonderful as a collage - just the way they are.

I also figure that as a gift for friends and family, the sketches would be perfect! I can create something very personal that doesn't take a ton of time, and it will just be a little piece of textured artwork that should fit just about anywhere.

Plus it will be incredible practice for me to improve my impressionist skills.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Night at the Museum


Last night 14 lucky people got to have a "behind the scenes" evening with the rug collection at the Textile Museum of Canada. It was the second evening for rug hookers to go and learn more about the history of hooked rugs in Canada. The first was a presentation in September about "rugs and commerce" in Canada.

Last night's session was a very interactive experience of admiring, touching (with white gloves) and learning about several of the rugs in the collection. We also got to see some of the antique hooks in the collection. I didn't have my camera with me, but all the rugs are featured on the Museum's website. Plus, Jennifer Manuell took a lot of photos - and notes - and will be posting soon on her blog.

The rug shown here was one of my favourites. It's hooked from handspun wool, plus some roving on the sheep. I found it very timeless - almost contemporary in it's look. And the amount of detail was extraordinary compared to many of the others that we saw. It was hooked somewhere between 1925 and 1940 in Quebec. And the back was almost more beautiful than the front.

Many of the rugs were in a sorry state of disrepair, and not as much is known about many of them as about their quilt contemporaries, but they were incredible to see all the same. They ranged from the extremely primitive rugs (like those of the Gagetown Hookers) to really sophistocated designs created by two well-known Quebec painters who hired women to hook them. And of course, a few of Grenfell mats to complete the entire experience. What a privilege to get to share this collection with 2 of the curators.

I highly encourage you to spend some time on the website and take a look.  And be sure to watch Jen's blog for her post.

For those of you who are close enough to go to the Museum, there is also an incredible quilt display on right now, featuring 47 quilts owned by the Tannenbaum family. They are pretty remarkable as well.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Feeling a little punchy.


Here is my first nearly-finished punch needle project. I think of it as "test" more than anything else, since I really didn't know what to expect and I'm still feeling my way along. Although I had planned to have a private lesson last weekend at OHCG school, as it turned out simply seeing someone with the punch needle properly threaded was all I needed to have my "duh" moment and get started. Truth be told, I could still use a clean up clipping and shifting lesson, but for now this will do.

As suspected, it is incredibly quick to do, especially once you get into the rhythm. And for something as fun as a little snowman mat (which will probably go on a table top somewhere) it was a great exercise. If you look closely, I still have much shifting and clipping to do to clean it up. But overall, I am quite pleased. I love the little candy cane effect I got when working with red and white yarn together. And I think this indicates that choice of yarn and combinations created add greatly to the textural effect. The trees show a bit of that, although I had to pull from my current stash. I think I need to find some "sparkle" to add to this mat before I finish the edges.

Will it ever be a replacement for the other kind of hooking in my life? I'm not so sure. I don't find it quite as textural in appearance and, truth be told, I don't find the actual hooking as interesting. I'm sure with more practice, I would be able to master the "directional" hooking that would give it more dimension. So, it can exist as a complementary kind of hooking.

The other thing I realized is that I much prefer to look at my work "right side up" and see how it is evolving. For those of you who aren't familiar with punch needle, your pattern is on the side facing you, but the loops are formed on the under side of the frame, so you can't see your work unless you turn it over. And since the pattern is on the top side (while the loops are on the bottom side), there is no pattern to relate the loops to as you go. When you turn it over to "admire" your work, there are blobs of yarn with no pattern for context.

When I said in a previous post that the "veggie chopstix" rug would probably have taken me half the time (if not less), I think that was confirmed in this exercise. It would have been considerably faster. But I wouldn't have had the pleasure of admiring each veggie as it unfolded and running my hands over the loops (as I realized I am wont to do). Also, I learned that textured yarn, which is the entire border of the veggie rug, cannot be used in the needle, as it jams and pulls out loops.

Will I punch again? Undoubtedly, and it certainly is the speedy way to do simple designs. I have heard of teacher gifts that were done - start to finish - in a couple of hours and now I know that it indeed possible. And I have greater admiration for the more sophisticated punch needle projects I have seen.

But I think I will save the special projects for traditional hooking, which I now appreciate more for the tactile and admiration aspects that they offer me.