Monday, November 29, 2010

Worth the drive to St. Joseph.

Ok, yes the distance was a bit ridiculous (5+hours). And yes, it was only from Friday afternoon to Sunday after brunch, but this weekend's hooking retreat was sooooo worth it. Many thanks to Marjorie and Patti for organizing it and for including us.

After having missed this year's OHCG Annual (because of the move) and this year's Teachers' Weekend (because of a wonderful wedding celebration in Toronto) and no teaching gigs away, I was more than ready for a treat.

And it was that in spades.

First of all, my wonderful navigator Jennifer, came and stayed the night before, so it made the weekend feel like a whole day (or at least night) longer.  Having a friend along for the ride makes the highway fly by unnoticed. She had brought along another friend on CD - Deanne Fitzpatrick - who was with us in spirit on her audio book (when we could stop talking long enough to listen).

It was a bit of a scary start, with the year's first white stuff falling as we departed, but in less than an hour, the sky was clearing and we were well on our way. We chose the route that took us all around Georgian Bay and even if the highway had been a bit faster, there was much more to see on the scenic path.

We stopped for coffee, stopped for late lunch and stopped for a little shop in Southampton at a store called Sisters, which I had heard was full of "Wendie clothes". It was!!! And given the fact that I had forgotten all my "upper" clothes on their hangers in my closet at home, I actually had an excuse to shop.

Our destination was not much further and we arrived to find most of the other 20 women already working away on their knitting and hooking projects. Before long, we were at it as well, and the chatter and laughter rang throughout the place.

Don't we all appreciate a table full of hooking paraphernalia and a warm fireplace in the same venue? This place was right on Lake Huron and the weather and wind had big surf rolling in for most of the weekend. It was awesome.




Two mini workshops, great meals, a Saturday visit to Shari Robinson's studio and then a visit to the wonderful stores in Bayfield, and the day was nearly over. But still time to knit and hook
before and after dinner.

Sunday morning, more project work and chatter before our delicious brunch and then back on the road to come home. Somehow the trip back was an hour + faster than the trip there. I guess the shopping did add into the tally on the way.

I will finish unpacking all my stuff later today and see how much work I actually got done. But a retreat, unlike a school, doesn't have that pressure to buckle down and work - you do have the freedom to do whatever you choose. Which is exactly what we did.

And I look forward to doing it all again next year.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Brilliant Bra Workshop

Saturday was a special day for me. It was my first "hook in" in the new studio space. Six wonderful women of the north made the trek here to work on the Bra Project. And we had a blast.

Here are the wonderful women





Don't you just love a busy table full of hookers?

And here are the "bras in progress".


Mary is hooking the lower part of a bustier and then will needle felt the bra cups to match - very ambitious!



Jenn is hooking right into the lace of this beautiful undergarment. And adding bling as she goes.


Barb is making strawberry sundaes - with actual cherry steams in the cherries - remember that the darts need to be worked into the design, which is why they do look like pac men.



Wanda is doing luminous butterflies which she calls "Lovely Ladies" and they definitely are.



Karen is making "brioche" with a wonderful warm colour swatch. She also had an amazing article on the first bra and how it was constructed - very interesting!!


And other Barb is doing plaid kitties - I forget what the title is for her bra, but when they are done, I will post again with the correct titles, which are part of the fun.


And last but not least is my penny-rug-style bra, which I think I will call "Show me the Monet", since the background behind the pennies reminds me of Monet.

The day went by far too quickly, partly because we kept stopping to eat the incredible food that everyone brought. Baked goods for coffee, amazing chilli for lunch and then delicious, fattening desserts for dessert. We didn't even get to the apples and cheese that were brought as well.

I hope that I can have many more groups come and hook for the day. It is a bit of a trek for some, but so worth the drive. And up north, everything is "an hour away" anyway.

Thanks gals for making it such a great day - for such a great cause.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Zipper is Ready to Go

Well, here it is, all finished.



I think the colours are very rich and delicious, which is what happens when so many textures come into play in the colour areas. Kudos again to Jennifer for such a great concept.

I'm sure Daniela will be thrilled with this gift and hopefully she will soon be in her home and able to start rebuilding the wonderful eclectic feel she had before. I can't imagine how awful it would be to lose a lifetime of art and memories, but watching her go through this process gives me a greater appreciation than I had before. The insurance company and her contractor should be shot. They are examples of how awful the post trauma can be.

There may have to be a companion pillow at some point, but pre-Christmas is not a good time.
Maybe I can convince her to learn to hook and start making her own.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Striking While the Urn is Hot

I have never dressed my Christmas urns in balmy temps like I did today. Usually, it's cold enough that you need gloves and a repeated run inside to thaw the fingers.

But this is our first Christmas here in Parry Sound, so we decided to get a jump on things while the weather was so wonderful. We put lights across the entire lake side of the house, on top of the railing. What a nice view that will be from the living room once the snow flies - and now that it's dark by 5.

On the driveway side, I would like to put up some lights too, but first things first. The urns. They did have artificial fall leaves in them, which looked incredibly bright once the real colour was off the trees. I thought they would attract the hunters who are out and about in those bright orange jackets and hats.

It's so nice to not have to pay for the things that go into the urns, like you do in the city. All free donations from Mother Nature found on our property or on our walks. I  can always add some "sparkle" later if I decide that I need it.


Here's a closer peek at one.


And a close up of my little metal moosies too.


As much as I'm not anxious for the snow to arrive, all these seasonal things are more beautiful once it does.

And since yesterday's big errand was for the putting on of snow tires, I am ready! (well, as ready as you ever are for that inevitable first dump).

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Knitting Bag Letdown

There is nothing worse than knitting a project - especially a hooded long cardigan project - and being disappointed at the end. Unlike hooking, you can't just change it up as you go along. You finish the project and then see whether or not you are going to love it.

Here's how the story goes....

For my birthday, my darling husband gave me the most glorious yarn I have ever purchased. Four skeins of Madeline Tosh Pashmina!!! For those of you who don't know, it's close to the equivalent of spun gold. It's like knitting with honey - so fluid on the needles - almost slippery. But it feels like heaven.

Here's a picture of the yarn, colour "Honeysuckle" and the hood that was knit that I have just taken off the original sweater, which I am frogging (or ravelling or unravelling depending on your point of origin).


Yummy - isn't it??

And here was the original, intended pattern. Also yummy - called Slouchy Cardigan - and finished and worn constantly by many happy knitters on Ravelry, including this one - a favourite blog I follow "A friend to knit with".


It's supposed to be the sweater you toss on over everything - wear everywhere. And I was so drawn to it that I forked over the $25+ and ordered the book Greetings from The Knit Cafe from amazon.

When I finished knitting - and there was a lot of stockinette in this puppy - I could tell almost immediately that it was "off". The drape was all wrong - I think the absolute fluidity of the yarn went against it. It didn't have enough body to hold the shape. And when I wore it - and I did that only once - it kept slipping off my shoulders and I was constantly tugging at it. I knew the "frog" was waiting for this one, for sure.

So, I started hunting for suitable replacement patterns. You don't spend that much on yarn and a book and not make it in to something else!! At least not at my house. (And the spending is not finished yet, dear reader.)

I found several contenders. In fact, I think I downloaded four different patterns, which I paid for each time. All possibilities, but nothing that really said "This is it!", until I found Olive. What a name for a sweater - who names these anyway.

Here she is


Everything about this pattern holds promise for the yummy yarn. The fluidity will be a bonus, since it will drape nicely. I like the 3/4 sleeves and that type of neckline is flattering on me. Plus I can't see any tugging possibilities here.

Since it needed a contrast yarn for the yoke, I went to the Purple Sock yarn store in Coldwater on my way home from a meeting on Thursday and found a wonderful baby alpaca that I think works well with it. It's a sock weight with lots of interesting colours in it, including the honeysuckle. So I think it will work well.

I started the yoke to test the combination. Here's a peek


I know it's a bit early to be showing it, but I felt so optimistic, I decided to share. And that's a good thing because I was SO crushed by the previous iteration.

I am the last person who needs another work in progress, but somehow, just getting it started and feeling like it will work puts me over a hurdle of sorts. I must focus on the gift knitting before I get going to far into this. But it's the promise on the needles that I needed to share. And that fact that when I finish my "most expensive sweater ever", it will hopefully be the love of my life.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Zippering Along

I'm definitely making progress on the new Matrix pillow, despite the workload and curling forays. It is from Jennifer's "Zipper" schematic in her Amazing Matrix booklet.

Barring any unforeseen disasters, it will definitely be finished in time for deadline, which is good, since there are a number of other projects right  behind it.

Here is an in-progress shot.



and here is the shot of the rug again, which I think it will compliment very nicely


When I showed my husband my progress yesterday, he asked if I was only making one - I guess cuz I made four for us. Obviously another one who doesn't truly understand the time involved  - even though he's under the same roof as me. LOL

Only three more colour blocks to go and I will order the pillow form today (with a couple of extras, just in case) - I think I already shared that information, but in case I didn't, the company is Pillow Decor and I ordered from their website www.pillowdecor.com

Hopefully, I will be done easily this week and can do assembly next week. That's the plan.