Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lessons learned from my Cheticamp frame.

After many, many, many hours working on Max on my Cheticamp frame, I came to realize that it has taught me a few valuable lessons. 

When I am at home, I generally hook on my sit'em which is a blessing and a curse all in one. Being able to turn your work means that you generally hook in your preferred direction. For me that is from left to right. And I turn my work so that I can pretty much always hook from left to right. Not sure if that's laziness or habit. (I know that when I first learned, I had to hook in all directions, but turning is just soooo much easier.)

Not so with a table frame. And certainly not so with the Max project. To recap, this piece is 6 feet long by 2 feet wide and will eventually hide the side of my stacking washer and dryer. To keep such a large piece interesting, I have incorporated a lot of directional hooking. The logs are all horizontal. The legs on Max are now all vertical. And the bear and raccoon both have lots of diagonals and curves.



So the directional hooking gives me a lot of variety within the one piece. I move from one area to the other if I start to grow weary of all horizontal or all vertical. In doing so, I've realized that with every area change, there's also a change in how I am hooking. I can't do left to right everywhere - although that is what I do for the logs.

With all the directions, I am hooking away from myself. I am hooking towards myself. I am hooking down on a diagonal and also up on a diagonal. And I realized that in moving from area to area and direction to direction, I was also doing something else. I was completely changing my hand position and the way I was holding the hook.

These pictures probably explain it best.

This is how I usually hold my hook. I nearly always hook with a pencil hook - I just find I like them better. I'm a south paw and I usually hook with my hand above the hook (like I hold a pen for writing).




However, when I'm hooking towards myself or away from myself in a vertical or diagonal, I hold my hook with my hand below - as this picture explains.



The added benefit I discovered to this moving around is that my wrist doesn't get so tired. And that's a good thing. In fact, this week at class, one of the students was having wrist pain from a combination of hooking, keyboarding and a little skiing bump. It was sore enough to keep her from hooking for a week - boo hoo - none of us like that. 

I suggested that she try a different hook and that she try a different direction and see if she could notice less strain on her wrist. She did!! It's good to know that simple changes can deliver not only interesting visual results in a piece, but also ergonomic benefits to our wrist and hands. 

I'm going to keep changing it up - even on my sit'em, since I know that I'll be all the better for it. And I have my Cheticamp to thank for my new found wisdom.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Taste of Spring in February

What an amazing weekend we had at the cottage - soon to be house.

Saturday and Sunday were picture perfect with clear blue skies and warm sun that really made you believe that spring is right around the corner. We skiied to the end of the lake yesterday and took another walk today.

I tried to take a few pictures with my blackberry to show how amazing it was, but the one that I like best is this one - our shadows on the snow with the tracks of countless snowmobiles showing through. Quite textural really - I'm thinking there's a rug in here somewhere.


Speaking of which, I managed to squeeze in a couple of hours in the early morning of each day to spend some time on the Max rug. More logs - more on Max's incredibly long legs, and by Saturday afternoon, I was ready for something else. I had been thinking of adding a chipmunk to the scene and it seemed like the perfect time.  I figured he could be poking out of a big knot hole and would look perfectly at home here. He was drawn and hooked in just over an hour, and he was definitely a welcome break from the large areas of directional hooking that this project needs.

Here he is. He's really kind of cute and it's amazing how tiny he is in comparison to his larger friends - just the way he is in the real world.




I am probably only two feet from the bottom of this rug now - which means 4 feet are already hooked. I was really hoping to have this piece finished by the time we moved up, but if the work begins on the basement next weekend, I'll be moving my frame upstairs to a temporary location. And probably getting less hooking done than usual.

Next week is the beginning of March, which will also be the beginning of some serious preparation for the move. Not only do we need to purge and pack here in the city, but we really need to do the same at the cottage, too, to try to make as much room for incoming stuff as possible.

Twenty-six years in the house and twenty at the cottage means two places with pretty much everything we need. And that's at least one too many of just about everything.

Except hooked pieces that is......


One Proud Mom



This is my son Matt at his Convocation at University of Guelph last Wednesday.

Finally, more than a year after he actually got his degree, we finally got to go to the ceremony that made it all official. That ceremony where he receives that piece of paper that makes us proud of his academic accomplishments and also the fact that he hung in there and didn't give up on his university journey. It took a while, but he got there!

His grandmother and dad and I got to go and sit through a wonderful speech from Pamela Wallin and a convocation address by someone from the states who apparently changed the face of engineering in the 70's. Oh yes, and the only baby stroller, complete with crying baby, ended up directly in front of us. I do love babies, don't get me wrong, but I just feel there are certain times when a sitter is completely appropriate - and this was one of them.

It seems like just a minute ago that Matt was a little baby - slight exaggeration, but I really can't believe that he's a grown man who requires me to go up on tippy toe to kiss on the cheek. And now he is waiting for the grown up part of his life to begin.

But isn't he handsome in his gown!!!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Start of the Future Studio Finish


These pictures are the first in a series I will share as my studio gets finished.

It is the one part of the cottage that didn't get completely done when the reno was taking place. Reason - we ran out of money - BIG TIME. For those of you who have renovated, this is not a surprise. It's more the rule than the exception. And I was happy to organize my space with vapour barrier and concrete block.

But now that the house is sold, we are getting this room finished before we move here full time. There's absolutely no point in filling the basement and then having to move everything out of the way for the contractor. So this weekend, we had two people come to talk to us about timing and cost. Yikes, here we go again!

In the bins are my studio things - plus some other stuff that got put in the basement during the reno - like toys, puzzles, games - that we just haven't gotten around to dealing with. The wall of odds and ends is a variety of goodies that also didn't find a place. So my son and I just organized it and labelled it - and now it's time to pay the piper and really sort through.

A lot of this is men stuff - tools and carpentry supplies that will go into a wall of storage shelves being built under the centre part of the cottage. The wall they are currently occupying will be filled with bins of wool and yarn when this is all done. Yippee!!

The men stuff shelves will be done first, so that all of this can get moved out of the way. Then the finishing of my room will begin.  I am very excited!!! It will have walls, doors and a real floor - plus some good lighting.

The plan is to make the finishes flow with the rest of the cottage, so there will be horizontal pine boards on the wall - it will give the same effect as the log, but be less costly, and easier to display stuff on. I'm hoping for a cork floor, so I can have the warmth of carpet with sweep-ability for all the wool dirt.  I'm sure the next owners will be more interested in a beautiful family room than a hooking studio, so that's the level of finish needed.

Next weekend, I will have to box up everything that is in my hooking area. Good thing I bought 10 rubbermaid bins yesterday. I still have 5 left, which I will fill with no problem.  And the room will be finished by the end of April, which is approaching at warp speed. So much to do at home as well as here to get both ends ready.

I'm looking forward to getting everything organized. And to not being the only person who enjoys this space - that I'll be able to entice people for classes and workshops - or just a wonderful day of hooking now and then. I have a few cottagers who are eager to learn to hook, so I know I'll have a few punches on my dance card.

Stay tuned.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Happiness is ...

We had our 5th annual Upper Toronto Branch hook in on Saturday and it was another in a string of successes. Over 100 eager hookers from all around the province came to enjoy the day.

The theme this year was "happiness is..." and our branch was invited to hook or bring a rug that made them happy. I didn't think I'd have time to hook a piece, with all the flux in my life, so I wrote this poem for my show and tell:

Happiness is in my hook.
It’s in every loop I’ve ever pulled
It’s in every piece I’ve ever made
It’s in the mat I’m working on
The one I’ve just finished
And the one I haven’t dreamed up yet.

It’s in every class I’ve ever taken
And every lesson I’ve ever taught
It’s in the noisy chatter of hookers sharing their craft
It’s in the quiet solitude at the end of a stressful day

And it’s in special days just like today
In a room full of happy, smiling faces
Of amazing women I would never have come to know
If I had never picked up my hook.

But I did end up making this little mat, which I think will be a wonderful addition to the future studio.


A great day was had by all. Our guest speaker, my friend Debbie Anderson talked about her work as an art therapist and finding happiness. It was an interesting presentation with just the right amount of science and creativity.

The sun was shining. No snow in sight. And a whole day to spend with friends catching up and sharing our passion. And I think the vendors had a booming business day - lots of people adding to their stashes.

And then I got to spend the rest of the day and evening with Jennifer, and gabbed and knit and hooked and watched Glee.

It doesn't get much happier than that.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

It is Sold!


On Tuesday night, we went to our Real Estate Agent's office to receive offers for our home and it is sold! Wow!!

The entire ordeal was relatively painless, especially when I think back 27 years to when we sold our first home. That was a killer experience that I wouldn't put my worst enemy through, so this was a cake walk in comparison.

Reality can really club you over the head, however, when you see the finality of those four letters 'S-O-L-D'. In 90 days we will move our lives out of this house and into the cottage. And for me, the strangest thing is that instead of 4 lives going there, only two will be. Our kids will be staying in Toronto and carrying on without us - or without us in this house.

So all of us will begin a new adventure. Our son will be moving into an apartment with a friend. Our daughter is already on her own, but anxious about not having us in the "hood" already. And Rick and I are experiencing a mixture of relief and anxiety about not only the move, but our new lives ahead. He is already done working full time. And I will be on the last Friday in April.

We have talked about this day many times in the past few years, and as a glass "half-full" person, I am looking at the whole thing as a big adventure, full of all manner of possibilities. It's the first time since I can remember that I had no idea what would come next. As a "half-empty" person, his outlook is not quite so sunny.

But we have a long history with our new home too. We are leaving one building filled with memories, going to another that has nearly as many. So that is very unlike going to a strange place. And I find great comfort in that.

Surely if we have been able to do the 2-hour drive virtually every weekend for 20 years, we can convince friends and family to come and spend time with us there. And with many others recently retired, or about to be, we will have the freedom to miss weekend traffic when the weather is good. And stay for as long as we are welcome.

I am excited. That's not to say that we won't miss this house. We will, for sure. My daughter cried when I called to tell her we had sold. But I reminded her that there's not a single bad memory here. And isn't that the best way to remember a place? 

Now a single mom with two kids has fallen in love with this house. And they will build their memories here too. And I feel really happy about that.

Monday, February 1, 2010

My homeless angel.

Well, it's now 6 days since the sign went on the lawn. It's the 6th day since the menfolk were banished to the cottage to avoid all the showings at the house. And it's the 6th day that I have had to hide somewhere until it was safe to come home.

My friend Elaine has been the best hideout angel! Not only has she given me shelter and food and drink at night, but she also made my lunch for the Teachers' Branch meeting that we went to on Saturday. (She even wrote my name on the brown paper bag - now that's a real flashback if there ever was one!)

Not that Elaine isn't always a great friend, but the woman really goes above and beyond for friends and family. She is so thoughtful and kind and never hesitates for a second to lend a hand, or a meal, or whatever. She has certainly taken care of me through this upheaval.

And she's no rookie to this whole moving business. I think she moved three times in the short while she was in Florida.  She's moved twice since she came back. And she has professional credentials as well, which make her so wise in her ways. She was a real estate agent in Florida and is a stager/designer here, so understands all the ins and outs of doing this (versus me who has only lived in two places in the last 30 years).

I'll have to think of something very special to express my thanks when this is over. Hopefully, tomorrow we will have an offer and I can start messing my house up again with things like food smells. (It's quite amazing how clean it stays when only one person is there and only for sleeping and the occasional cup of coffee.)

Anyway, thank you Elaine. I sure am lucky to have such a special friend!