Thursday, December 29, 2011

Our Family Christmas Timeshift

Due to a conflict in our son's work schedule, we celebrated Christmas yesterday, December 28th.
Our time-shifted Davis Christmas yesterday was perfect  - complete with snow that arrived on the 27th.  Here is what our Christmas morning looked like as the sun came up.

It remained clear and crisp all day - just the way you hope it will. The kids' first gift to us was a shoveled driveway. which we truly appreciated. And the rest of the day was filled with love, laughter, favourite food, gifts, games and movies. Plus a little online ukelele lesson for me. (Rick remembered that i said i wanted to learn to play. how can you resist an instrument that makes you laugh.)

It made for a very quiet 25th, since we wanted to have the full experience - from stockings to turkey with all the trimmings - when we could be together. So, part of the 25th was spent working on this pattern that was percolating as I worked on all those knitted gifts.

here is the full design which is about 20" x 18"

and here is a closer peek at the face in the frame

I am determined to get him done while still in the mood - I doubt I will feel like working on him in July. And then he will be ready to welcome the month of December.

Not  sure if that makes today a time-shifted Boxing Day LOL, but I still have my kids for 24 more hours. Yippee!

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Snowless and Loopless Christmas

I can't believe that we have absolutely NO SNOW! I know there are still a few days left, but the long-range forecast is not looking very white. How strange it all seems.

I also can't believe that I have not hooked a single gift this year. That is a definite first!

Knit - check.  (three pairs of socks, three hats, a cowl and a scarf - and two dogs!)
Stitch and sew - check.  (5 Santas and a couple of ornaments)

In fact, I am stuffing the remaining 2 Santas as I write this. And this morning, I quickly adapted the pattern to a little ornament for my brother in NB.  I made it light enough to fit inside his card and he will be wending his way east today.

But no hooked ornaments, or decorations of any kind. First time since I started hooking, I think.

This morning as the stark realization hit, I sketched out a few possible mats for next year. I've had one particular design dancing through my head (with the sugar plums LOL) for a few years, and it is finally sketched out at least.

The good news is that the new challenges that presented themselves were on a new learning curve and with those behind me, I will probably start the new year with hook in hand. And perhaps by next Christmas, there will be a few new hooked treasures to share.

And - who knows - there are still 6 days left, right?????

Monday, December 12, 2011

All Through the Night Santas

On Friday, a group of us made Santas from this pattern. You can find the pattern here, along with a bunch of other great folk art applique patterns. I purchased it when we were in Vermont. This one, called Seven Santas, is on the 3rd page.

We did the stuffed ones on the lower right, but the runner is very cute and may be on the "list" for next year. I forgot to take a picture of them all together, but did get one picture of my friend Kathy's and my first one. And then I took a picture of my two "New Brunswick tartan" Santas together. They will be gifts, so I have a few more cut out and ready to go for me.

They do end up turning out completely different, even though the steps are all the same. And each one has such great character. It would also be fun to combine the applique with a hooked background in a runner. Food for thought....

The other big accomplishments this week are for our office party on Friday night in Toronto. It's a "Whacky Tacky" theme for gaudy festive wear, and since we couldn't find anything, I made us each a sweater. Plain red sweatshirts/hoodies with lots of stuff sewn on. I can just take the basting out after the holidays and we have wearable, red tops.

My hoodie looks quite lovely until you realize that the trim is a plastic 9' garland that goes all the way  around and those snowflakes are reflective. There's a huge one in the centre back. Rick's is quite hilarious and has a Santa door knob hanger on the back, complete with bells. I'm sure we won't be the tackiest, which is a scary thought, but it was fun to design and baste them.

Oh, the things we do at this time of year!!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

New Dog. New Tricks.

Well, doggie number 2 is done. And he was quite a bit trickier than his pug sibling. First of all, the yarn that was the right colour for a silver lab - see below - was hard to find. The research I did into the Silver Lab was extremely controversial! Man, the dog people can sure get their knickers in a twist!

how cute is this little fellow?
The yarn I found was quite a bit thicker, so up a needle size or two and the knitting was tighter. Assembly was more difficult - wire in the legs - and the longer legs made balance an issue. (At one point I skewered the poor thing with double-pointed needles to get the legs lined up.)

I'm awfully glad I didn't do him first. But I am happy with the end result and amazed at how much expression is built into the patterns. Because he is looking up, it was a bit difficult to get a shot of him.

This fellow is about 8" long (not counting his tail) and about 10" high at the tip of his nose. I'm glad there are no more dogs on the Christmas list, but I'm pretty sure I'll be back to do a few more in the future. And for anyone who has the urge, the directions are fantastic in the book and do yield great results.

Now on to the tacky sweaters for the office party......

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Dog Day of Winter.

That's what today was. A snow filled day with a little bit of dog in it.

Majorly winter - from the moment I woke up this morning till the sun went down. Here's the proof.

It all looked so much more beautiful when the sun came out around 2 this afternoon.

So after rearranging the snow in the driveway with Rick,  I came down to the studio and assembled the pooch. Lots more smiling to myself as he started to emerge.

Tough to get a picture of his cute little push face, but he definitely is a cutie pie!! A little fiddly in the construction, but worth the effort. I'm not even a pug lover, but I think his new owner will adore him.

And as I finished the last of the stitching and the picture taking, here's what I saw out the window.

Yeah, I know. It's always beautiful the FIRST day.....

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I'm knitting a what??????

A pug.

Yup. A tiny little pug from this book. When I first picked the book up in the store, I'm sure I chuckled out loud. And the merriment hasn't stopped yet. I highly recommend both it and Knit Your Own Royal Family - if you are so inclined.

The knitting was very quick. Yes, there are a lot of pieces, but they are small, so the sewing won't be like assembling a sweater. (When I blocked the pieces this morning, all of them fit easily under the width of a tea towel, which gives you some idea of scale.)

The finished pooch is only supposed to be about 4.5 inches high by 6 inches long, so not a lot of stuffing required.

Since my offspring really want a dog, I am giving them each one!!! Maybe this will hold them off from pressing us to get one LOL. Stay tuned for a finished pug and a "silver lab" (who knew there were silvers - but two people mentioned them last week, including my son).

Monday, November 28, 2011

Vermont is Becoming a Memory

Well, you do hear that time passes more quickly as you age, but man, I can't believe my trip was two weeks ago already. And I haven't even shared all my pictures yet.

Here are the rest that I took of mats I particularly liked - well, not the last, but I'm saving a few for a different kind of post later.

These are grouped together, since many of them appear to have come from photos and others look as if they did.

This panel of crows was very tall - nearly 5 feet and I thought the detail was amazing. The moonlight on the crows and the branches was incredible.

The foliage and the borders on this one were really well done.

I loved everything about this one!

You could disappear into those eyes. What a beautiful monochromatic study.

and speaking of monochromatic - I think this was called Aries.

Just a segment of this rug. The blue vein in the feathers ties it all together.

This is a c/u of the rug below. The dark lines make it look like an underpainting.

The palette and hooking style make this rug look really old, I think.

Incredible shading in the pine cones and the spruce and birds and I love the little movement in the background.

Another one that called to me from across the room. It is hooked very fine - almost looks like yarn.

The colours in the snow - the swirls in the shrubbery and the pulled up collar - I can feel the cold.

Doesn't that sweet pooch just stand out against that background? Love that birch too.

Ok, so I fell for the tilted head on the pup - along with everything else in the rug. The daisies echo the innocence.

 I thought the background in this bluebells piece made it look like a snow globe.
Truly inspirational, each and every one, wouldn't you agree?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Another Rug Commentary from Vermont

Here are a few more rugs that I took pictures of. Each one has a reason why - over and above being fantastic.

I loved the textures in this one. So much interesting movement, yet they are not in conflict.

This was a beautiful wedding rug. On its own it is lovely, but the little outlines of the cups and coffee and tea pots around the outside was that special little extra that really did it for me.

This was another rug by the woman who did the large one with the fox and the owl and the tree (in my first post from Vermont). I'm pretty sure they are punched with wool and this one had a title about "a Lobster in my Garden", which appealed to my Maritime sensibility. Plus it's absolutely fantastic. (Sorry for the dark top, but it was in the lower gallery and in a dark corner.)

This one was from a previous year's Viewers' Choice. I have never seen such perfect lettering. I think this may have been in Rug Hooking Magazine (as have many of the rugs that were there).

This was just a fabulous piece, with so much interesting texture going on. And the colours - and the finishing - amazing!

And today's final four - what a collection. A farmer in the four seasons with his corn. The main images in each one are so appropriate for the season, but the borders have their own stories to tell. Such a creative endeavour. Ya gotta love the winter one!

Just a few left that I will share later. As you can see, I have divided them among several posts.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Back to Bev Conway's Special Rug Backs

I was lucky enough to get a picture of the back of one of Ben Conway's rugs from my friend Elaine, who couldn't believe she didn't take a picture of the front. But this is what I wanted to share before.

Because it is a little hard to see, I will tell you what it says:


This is a wedding rug with initials and date in the lower left corner. And yes, that is the BACK of the rug. I don't know if that is an original saying, but how perfect for a wedding rug. And what a fantastic way to make a gift even more special.

I still have more rugs to share from the show, but need to organize them a bit first. The weekend got busy with Christmas knitting and some company yesterday.

I'm happy to report that I did get my first stair riser on the frame and it is about 60% hooked. I think these are going to be a lot of fun to do and will put a little bounce in my step as I go up the studio stairs.

Another Blankie Baby for the Brag Blog

Last week, I received a picture of "Gavin and his blankie" - the first one that I knit for the "Brooke Avenue Grandbabies".  Brooke Avenue was our street in Toronto where we lived for 26 years. And we were lucky enough to have some incredible neighbours and we developed life-long friendships with the parents and the kids. Now those kids are having their own kids - the Brooke Avenue Grandbabies.

Gavin was the first to get a zig zag blanket. It became the prototype for the blanket for Abby that I posted a while ago. Gavin's mom Julie, who happens to be a formidable knitter, follows the blog and saw Abby's picture and knew it was time to feature Gavin on the Brag Blog.

I can't believe how big he is already! He is the happiest, brightest little fellow - at least in pictures. And he sent the best Thank You note ever! It has his picture at the top and "Love Gavin" at the bottom (with a little hand writing from his parents Julia and Robin).

Thanks Gavin. You look pretty adorable on your blankie.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hooked on Whimsy

I promised to share some more pics and indeed I will. I just popped over to Jenn's blog and she has lots of pics today. Again, it is interesting to see what pictures everyone took. My friend Loretta is also posting pics on her blog and they are different again.

Anyway, the pics that I am going to show today are a few of the rugs that made me smile. I think that is always a good thing. Any kind of emotion, from awestruck to a tickled funnybone is a great experience.

Here is one I particularly liked, for the the thinking, the hooking and the smiling it caused.

Here is another one that definitely had me chuckling. Sorry the pictures aren't great - it didn't show up too well against the pale wall, but the caption was "Follow Your Heart", which this little fellow is doing.

He's pretty darn adorable, isn't he? (Don't know why I have decided it's a boy pig....) I love that his little legs are covered in the same plaid as the hooking.

There were lots of Bev Conway rugs that had been hooked by Bev and many others. Bev was one of the featured artists and her body of work was amazing.

This is one of my favourites of her designs, full and a close up.

Another person who hooked this rug changed the "he" to "she", which I think I would do if I ordered the pattern. This is definitely a saying I would like to have hanging on my wall.

Here is another of her pattern that someone else hooked and personalized.  I had to take a close up of the rolled down stocking. Love the proddy hair and there were earrings and a real hook.

Here are some of Bev's stair riser patterns that were on display in her feature area.  I have 8 of them, waiting to be hooked: all log-cabin-appropriate critters - and I am now motivated to get going.

One of my favourite things about Bev's display was that several rugs were hung so you could see what she does on the BACK. There was some kind of message - or saying - usually pretty witty and very appropriate to the rug or the occasion. I'm not sure if she does it on every rug, but what a great thing to do. I thought I had taken a picture, but guess I didn't. I will see if either of my traveling companions did.

In a binder next to her display, she briefly described her process. Apparently, she reverses the lettering, which she hooks first - in very low loops on the back. Then, when she hooks the front design, the higher loops hide the lettering on the front.

Many of the words were very funny - all were witty and meaningful, and I only wished I could have been there Tuesday when she was scheduled to talk about it.

The last thing I learned about Bev (since she was another "legend" I got to see in the flesh) is that she has totally captured herself in caricature and she is the star in many of her mat designs.

More rugs to share tomorrow.

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 ...