Monday, June 28, 2010

Pillow #4 and the G20

Thanks to the miserable weather this weekend, and the G8 and G20, I got quite a bit done on pillow 4. Here is a progress shot.

I have really enjoyed hooking this one - not sure why - I guess the motifs are smaller and you change colours more frequently, but this one truly makes you keep going so you can see what the next "plus sign" will look like with the others.

I took my hooking upstairs this weekend and watched the coverage on CBC and shook my head in disbelief at all of it. It was kind of like a train wreck unfolding and you couldn't look away. But the media kept playing the most sensational clips over and over, so putting my head down to hook didn't make me miss a thing.

The fact that the more militant protesters were still at it after everything was over said it all to me. I felt extremely sorry for the peaceful folks who were there to truly support what they believed in.

Rick and I took a trip to Toronto last Thursday for Rick's cracked filling and then had dinner with the kids, so we got to see the downtown core without anyone in it. Thought we would be caught in the motorcades heading to Huntsville on our way back north, but we must have been behind them, because our trip was even a bit faster than usual.

Another big event last week -  Fedex delivered the pillow forms that I ordered online, which I guess I hadn't noticed in the shipping info. Rick nearly fell over from shock that they would come all the way out here. LOL

So this week, I'll finish hooking this last one and begin the assembly of all 4. I hope to have them finished before the kids arrive on Friday for the long weekend. I'll share a picture of them all as soon as they are.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Lesson from Pillow #3

I finished my third pillow yesterday and when I was done, took a picture to send to Jenn. She's always so excited to see other people's work, or as she calls it MP by OP (my patterns by other people). 

This one is called "Simple", but ironically, I found it the toughest thus far - with one more to go.
I think it's because of the size, it's only 12 x 20, and the small number of squares within squares. Colour planning was very tough. Unlike a bigger piece, you don't have the real estate to balance it all later. Oh well, by the time I had used the colour pencils to do a few grids, and hooked the last square, I was happy.

As soon as I took the picture, I could see a couple of things that needed fine tuning. Not big things, just individual strips that were blurring the lines between the outer squares and the inner squares. Jenn saw a couple of others. Once again, this reinforces the value of moving back from your work, with either a reducing glass (peep hole) or a picture on your computer screen. 

It astounds me that such a small "just a loop here and there" change would have such a big impact. But see for yourself. As soon as I changed the questionable strips, the inner squares became crisper - no more blurry lines.

I put little red ovals around the areas I changed and you can definitely see the difference it made. I zoomed in a bit so you can see.

Now I'm off to grid pillow #4, which will have smaller motifs and more of them within the pillow-sized area. Hopefully, it won't present the same colour challenges. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy First Day of Summer

It's hard to believe, after the incredible May and parts of June we've been having so far, that this is in fact the first day of summer. Summer here in my new "hood" is amazing! For those of you who know this area, you know what I mean. For those who don't, here's a taste.

Friends were visiting last week, and just like everywhere else you live, when friends visit you tend to do the things you wouldn't on your own. So we did two of the local features last week. First was the 30,000 Islands Cruise. We were so spontaneous, no one had a camera with them, but luckily their website had some great shots.

This is the Island Queen, which is the cruise boat. Because it's not high season yet, there weren't too many people aboard and we had no trouble getting upper deck seats. The weather was perfect and the whole 3-hour trip a wonderful experience. Here are some of the things you cruise by:

As you can see, the scenery is spectacular. You go through some very narrow channels and other places are vast and, as far as the eye can see, filled with islands. We learned that there really are 30,000. They are all numbered and to get a number, must be at least an acre. So they don't count the little ones that fill the in-between spaces. The guide said that the islands start at over $1,000,000, so that explains some of the spectacular places we saw. All water access only.

You can see what inspired the members of the Group of Seven and this beauty rolls by the entire time you are out there. We think that there could be Georgian Bay cable channel (like the fireplace channel) and you could just watch the scenery go by for as long as you liked if you couldn't get here to see the real McCoy.

As if that were not enough, we decided to do another local favourite - Henry's Fish Restaurant, which is near Sans Souci. It is accessible only by boat, water taxi or float plane. And since we don't have a boat on the bay, or a float plane, the water taxi it was. Not an inexpensive choice, since we were the only passengers, but another wonderful trip on the Bay, albeit a lot faster.

Henry's has been a destination for as long as we have had our cottage - we just never got there before, so this was all new to us. And definitely worth the trip. Here are some pictures that I found online.

Again, since we were ahead of the season, there were not nearly this many boats tied up. And we didn't have to line up to get in. They serve simple, delicious food. And we had pickerel and chips, since the perch wasn't available yet. The prices were more than reasonable, which helped offset the heft price tag for the taxi. All in all, it was definitely worth the trip. And we would do it again.

It's easy to see why the population here goes from 6,500 to 35,000 in the summer. It truly is one of the most beautiful places in the world. And it's the perfect place to be this time of year. We think it is in the winter too, but we've yet to be here for an entire one. Stay tuned for that post in February or March.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pillow Talk

I am in the process of hooking four pillows for the brown leather sofa and love seat in the great room.

Thanks to Jennifer's fabulous Matrix Mats, I am able to do four coordinating pillows that are all based on her 1" grid. And, just as she promises, they go quickly. I have nearly finished two and the second one I will have finished in a week (with only a bit of hooking each day versus dedicated stretches of time).

I will finish the second one today and then grid off the third and fourth, for which the colour planning is already done. These are mostly hooked from leftover wool from other projects and I have bags of #8 cut worms in my studio. 

If you check Jennifer's blog (if you're not following it already), you can see the fruits of her design at work in a room-size rug. Wow, what an undertaking. But, as she promises, you can't wait to see what the next motif will look like - not unlike the stair staining. There's gratification at every step in this process.

Although you can't tell from these pictures, my pillows will be 12 x 20 and will sit at the arms of the furniture versus the backs. When my friend Elaine helped me stage the house in Toronto, she loaned me rectangular pillows and I LOVED how they looked. I think it means I will have to create my own forms, but I haven't looked online to make sure yet.

When I am done, I will work on some more studies for my sketches series, which will be at the totally other side of the hooking spectrum. And isn't the variety what it's all about? But in the meantime, two more to go.

Hopefully, I will have the third finished in time for next week's post. 

Monday, June 7, 2010

Another Before and After

In anticipation of my first northern hook in this past weekend in Powassen (which was fabulous), I made some revisions to my giant 6-foot x 2-foot project "Maximilian Moose". For those of you who have been following along, this strangely-shaped mat is being hooked to cover the side of my stacked washer/dryer in my main floor powder room. It is probably 90% complete.

Max has been rolled up and put away for quite some time now, interrupted by more time-sensitive projects as well as the move. When I unrolled him for the first time in ages - to show Jennifer Manuell the progress - she made some constructive comments, which I incorporated this week. The biggest change was to his snout. Jennifer suggested that he looked like a platypus (a tad harsh in my opinion LOL), but she was right that it needed a little change. So I changed the shape and rounded it out a bit.

I also realized that the light value outline was totally out of keeping with the other elements in the rug. So I changed that to black. Amazing how a single row of hooking - changed to what it should be - can affect an entire piece.

Here is the before:

And here is the after:

I am much happier with the change. 

And the entire experience reminded me of something a very smart art teacher said to be a long time ago. When I was unhappy with progress in a painting, he said to put it away for a while and then take it out again with "fresh eyes". It always works - I had just forgotten.

Now that the nose is better, I have realized a couple of other things. Since you only see half of Max, he obviously only has one leg - but boy, is it close to the centre! I will move it over a bit to the left although I am restricted by the little chipmunk who is just out of frame. Now that I'm in the moose renovation business, why not?

And as I posted this, I had another eureka moment. Poor Max has no ear!!!! How did that happen? Yikes. Another correction required for sure.

Anyway, I am always intrigued by how much each rug teaches us. Whether it's about perspective, our own hooking, or our own habits - it's always enlightening.

I came to the conclusion this weekend that if I were to describe what kind of hooker I am, my answer would be "curious". I'm still very much at the "what if" stage of my hooking - hungry to try anything and everything. And my head is filled with a very long list of what I want to try next. Hence many notebooks laying around to capture all the crazy notions.

I will try to devote some time this week to finishing Max, but I think this is going to be a busy work week. grrrr. But I'll update the progress for sure.

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...