Monday, March 28, 2011

Frugal Me.

Are you the type of hooker who leaves miles and miles of backing around a pattern you design yourself? Or are you, like me, the type who hates to waste anything and leaves the bare minimum to make it to the gripper strips? (I've even occasionally had to hold mine in place with string or wool strips wrapped around my frame - tsk, tsk)

In keeping with my frugality, and picking up on a great hint from Anne B., I was getting ready for today's hooking class in "alternative fibers". (We will be hooking with yarn, fabric, ribbon, old sweaters, pantyhose, even garbage bags - I'll show progress later.)

And here is what I did with three small pieces of rug warp:

First, you find one of those old t-shirts that has been set aside for the dust rag pile. Then you cut off the part below the armholes and cut the back and front apart.

Then you zigzag your small piece of backing into the centre of one of the pieces, like this.

You can't see the stitching on this side, but it is outside the black marker line. This piece is about 10" by 12" (and the outlined part is about 7 x 9) - too small to fit in either a hoop or frame.
This is the zigzagging on the back - and yes, that does say Cannes. Rick got this t-shirt when he went for the advertising awards there about 10 years ago (maybe longer).
 Just a close up of the zigzag stitch - it's the one on your machine with the little stitches within the zigzag - that allows for extra stretch.
I did three of these for the students. Next step is to cut away the t-shirt from in front of the backing.
But, as you can tell, the t-shirt is now large enough to fit into the hoop or frame. (The white-ish one was actually recovered from the dust cloth bin.)

When Anne B. demonstrated the trick, she showed it for Artist Trading Cards and she had zigzagged around each one so that she could cut them out individually as they were finished, but still have something to hold the others in place.  I think it is completely brilliant!!!!

Before witnessing this, I had been sewing strips of fabric to the outside of my wee pieces, which was far more time consuming. So, not only am I saving backing, I'm also saving time. Yippee!

Monday, March 21, 2011

My love-hate relationship with lettering.

After nearly two weeks, I got back to my hooking last Friday and worked on my Grandma's Trunk project. I was making such headway, I thought I'd be done early.

Then I started on the lettering!!! Not just lettering, but script, i.e. childish handwriting. And did it ever put a crimp in my speed. Not only did I have to size down to a 6 from an 8-cut, but I had to outline it right away before I lost the letters. Luckily, I could go back up to an 8 for the rest of the background.

Here is the result - I think I can show you just the lettering without revealing anything else in the challenge piece.

I realized I don't particularly enjoy lettering, yet I seem to do a lot of it. I guess it's my love of words. I'm attracted to phrases and they usually involve lettering LOL. It made me stop and think about the number of mats I have done with words.

One of my favourite pieces is this pattern of Deanne Fitzpatrick's. Not only is she a fantastic artist, she has a definite gift with words - on this mat and on her blog.

This is the most lettering I have ever done on a mat, and although not perfectly hooked, it is readable - even from across the room. No one comes into the studio who doesn't stop to read the words.

Here are a few more "wordy" mats.

I guess this attraction to letters will be something I just need to slow down for. I can't see it abating any time soon.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

From here to the land of ice and snow.

Despite Canada Customs very best delaying tactics (3.5 hrs last nite) we did manage to get back here safe and sound, albeit very close to 1:45 a.m.!!!!!

The 8 days flew by, but we jammed them all full of a mixture of relaxation and discovery. It was so wonderful, we've already booked three (3) weeks next year. I guess that's about the best you can say about a holiday.

Anyway, we didn't take many pictures, but here are a few to share.

This is our first night - so happy to be there.

These two speak for themselves. The day view and the night view.

This is North Point. We rented a car one day and had a bit of a tour. 
This is what happens when the Caribbean meets the Atlantic - incredible water 
and what a change from where we were.

Our day on Sinbad, an awesome catamaran complete with rum punch and Bajan lunch.


We swam with the sea turtles who somehow returned to the island a few years ago 
and are now very protected and thriving. They are adorable and very friendly.

The view of the shoreline from Sinbad. Let's face it, it's paradise from every angle.

Can you say the word "relaxed"?

Our last supper at Spago - those are our friends Jane and Peter.
Rick is much browner - I got some brown, but lots of freckles. 
(this is  the outfit from the last post - I did wear all my "trousseau")

And  waiting for the taxi to come back - Rick somehow doesn't look quite so happy.

On a hooking note, I did see two things in my travels. Some very small punched mats at North Point in one of the gift shops. They had the bright colour of molas, but were punched with quite a small hook.

In another shop, we saw the most exquisite bags that were a combination of punch needle, beading and other embellishments. They were quite expensive, but worth every penny - maybe next year. Or just inspiration....

Monday, March 7, 2011

Creativity Thrives in Small Places

Yesterday, I finally started hooking on my piece for the Rug Hooking Daily challenge "Grandma's Trunk". I can't tell you what my piece is, but I can tell you a story about it.

When I first had an email from Sunni about the challenge (since I had participated in her last one), I didn't think I was interested. I hardly knew my Grandmother. I don't know if she had a trunk and I sure don't know what would have been in it if she did.  I thought that I would just let this challenge pass me by.

The following day, I was struck by a memory of my Grandmother that was so strong and vivid, it was like being hit in the head with a 2 x 4 (not that that has ever happened to me) I decided to make it into a mat and to participate in the challenge. I know that technically, this might not be something you would find in any Grandma's trunk, but when something that powerful happens to you, you have to go with it.

As I've been hooking on the piece, I'm reminded that sometimes we are the most creative when we face a challenge that puts us in a small place. The confines of the challenge seem to free up a part of our brains that is often overwhelmed by the vast universe of creativity. Being creative with no guidelines is nearly impossible - at least for me.

The bra project that I have been participating in is a fine example of creativity in a small space. Tell people that the challenge is to "hook a bra", something outside the realm of normal hooking, and the creative juices start to flow.

This is not just a phenomenon of hooking either. I remember when my hubby and I used to host the neighbourhood Hallowe'en party. If you left the thing wide open, half the people didn't bother to dress up, but if you told them to come as ...something that starts with the letter 'H', they would rise to the occasion and be very creative.

In my professional life, I have worked as a copywriter in advertising, where not a word is written or a concept thought of until a "creative brief" is prepared. It sets the stage for the parameters of the project - who you are talking to - what do they think about your product now and what do you want them to think - and you go from there. Sometimes, it does feel like you have one hand tied behind your back and both feet glued to the floor, but invariably, you manage to be the most creative inside that tiny space.

And that's how I feel about this challenge. The story and the mat would never have happened without it.

And in a few weeks, I'll be able to share both.

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 ...