Monday, December 17, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy

I missed posting last week because, like everyone else, I have been busy getting ready for the holidays ahead. Amazing when you think of all the preparation and then in a blink it is over.

Since I was a girl, I have been making homemade gifts for virtually everyone - much to some people's delight and other's chagrin. But I firmly believe that the time you spend in the making is time devoted to that giftee and I find that much more rewarding than pacing around Yorkdale trying to think of something to get - that they really don't need.

So, here is what I have been busy making (these are reference shots, not the real deal), so I am not really giving anything away. There is one thing I cannot share until after it is given, because it will be a dead giveaway.

How fun is this mustachio'd cowl - it is called Incognito and is free on Ravelry (actually a Knitty pattern) My son has already put in a request for one.
These pretty gloves were a quick and easy knit. I will make a few more pairs, since they only take a bit of yarn.
 This is Juliet - a sweater that I have already made twice before. My ma-in-law commented on one of mine, so I made her one. Her birthday is tomorrow, so I gave it to her on the weekend. She loved it.
And these wonderful gloves are a pattern from - a great website with wonderful homespun yarn. All there patterns are named after TV shows, or lines from movies. The yarn I used for the gifted pair was called "As God is My Witness, I Thought Turkeys Could Fly" from WKRP in Cincinnati. (I got another skein called "Vicious Penguins" for myself.) Go and visit the website - you will have a nice giggle there.

Add to that two more pairs of socks and a dozen red kitchen dishcloths, which are perfect car knitting. They are little gifts and stocking stuffers. And a few zillion for myself to replace ones that are old enough to vote.

In amongst all these other projects has been very little hooking, which is not good, since I have pillows to finish. They may be wrapped un-assembled and then finished up early in the new year.
Not exactly an "urgent" item.

But not everyone has ignored their hooking. I received another finished photo-to-mat yesterday and have permission to share.

Here's the pic and the mat. I think she did an amazing job for a relatively new hooker. Don't you agree?

In case I am not back to do a post, let me wish all of you the happiest of holidays and a healthy and fun 2013.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Another Finised Photo-to-Mat

As soon as I finished posting this morning, in came another fabulous mat from the Photo-to-Mat course, this one from Campbellford.

What a wonderful way to commemorate friendships that endure. Janice (third from the left) said that this group has known one another "forever". This picture was taken a a get-together in Florida, and I think she did an amazing job capturing the essence of these ladies.

The only problem I can see with this mat is that she is going to have to hook it four more times - five if she wants to keep one for herself. LOL

What is extra special about this mat is that Janice is a fellow teacher. This is the first time I have had one in my class and if she weren't such a sweetheart, it could have been intimidating.

Note to Self: Start Decorating

I promised I would have my December Santa up at the beginning of December. Ok, so technically I was not here for the 1st and 2nd, so today I will finish him and get him into position. But then that means I have to un-box all the other decorations that go with him and deal with them too. A slippery slope to be sure. One I relish every December.

I do have some great new ornaments that were hooked at Ornament Day here in the studio on November 25th. It was a fun day with bagged lunches and lots of chatter, which is what it is all about.
I cut out a bunch of templates from little foam sheets so that everyone could choose the ones they wanted to do and put a selection on a piece of backing and start hooking.

My ornaments all got hooked that day, and the edges glued; but they still need to be cut out and finished. Then I have to decide who gets what. The only one spoken for is the yellow curling rock, which will go to our friends Brian and Jo. Brian only likes to curl with yellow rocks and is very superstitious about it. He will love this little keepsake. (I realized at curling last week that technically, my greys are backwards on the rocks, but I don't think he will mind.)

Speaking of ornaments, I received this book in the mail a while ago to look over and mention on the blog "if I wanted to". Well, after last year's wonderful knit your own dog, and my own discovery of Knit Your Own Royal Wedding (by this same author), these books continue to tickle my funny bone and make me enjoy my knitting like an amusement ride.

The author is Fiona Gable and she has many of these delightful project books. I think we must be joined at the sense of humour. The photography and instructions in the book are whimsical and informative and you could definitely whip these things up in a jiffy if, unlike me, you didn't already have 4,000 Christmas projects on your plate.

I think that I will save these as a 2013 project and create a wonderful garland with all of them. I was going to try to whip up a few of them as ornaments, but I think the full impact would be better felt if they were all featured. Such fun!!!!

So, I will leave this post and go and finish the edges on December Santa, so that the first hurdle of my Start Decorating is behind me. It really is fun to pull everything out and place it where it belongs - you just have to "get started".

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Spectacular Sunset

Today seems like the perfect day to share this special photo-to-mat rug. The snow is falling outside my window and although it looks beautiful, it gets old very quickly LOL. I think it's an age thing - I loved the snow when I was younger.

This little mat was hooked by one of my students as a gift for a friend. Apparently, the reaction was stupendous. Why am I not surprised? Look at that sunset!!! And she found a perfect spot dye to re-create it. By moving the yellow areas on a diagonal, she was also able to create the movement that was in the sky in the photo.

Although Kathy found the class to be a bit of a challenge, she persevered. She is very pleased with the result. The recipient is ecstatic and Kathy will keep going on these little mats.

Bravo Kathy!!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

One Swan, Two Masterpieces

Over the years, I have met many new rug hookers who have found their way to rug hooking through another medium. Some are knitters. Some are painters. Many are multi-faceted artists.

The featured student today is one of those multi-talented individuals. She was part of my photo-to-mat class at Ancaster and she did an amazing job with her photo of a swan. The swan is hooked in yarn and the background is hooked in textured wools. The frame is from a plaid wool and it really sets it off. She calls it "table art" which I think is a great expression.

Right after she finished her class with me, she joined a group of 10 other artists for a painting workshop. She ended up doing a painting of the same photograph. Talk about being steeped in a subject matter for the two workshops. It was definitely her impressionist period LOL.

What an amazing experience to be able to exercise both sides of that creative spirit in a back-to-back situation. And even more amazing to have this much talent in both!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Students: Two - Teacher: One

Happily, I received two more projects to post about in what is becoming my "brag" blog.

The first is another photo-to-mat project. This student attended both my colour workshop in Belleville and my Photo-to-Mat workshop in Campbellford. Despite a bit of overlap, she seemed to be very happy to be part of each group. And here is the little mat that she created for a friend.

She used a couple of pictures to get what she wanted, but this is the one I have on hand. She addded the little pooch and he is just adorable!


The next image is a mat recently completed by one of my regular Wednesday gals. She lives about 40 minutes away which seems a bit of a trek, but once you live up here it's nothing to travel an hour to get somewhere. It makes me laugh now, because you can actually get from "here to there" in less time than it takes you to get "practically nowhere" in Toronto

This is her first piece that she brought with her to the studio. It is Bea Grant's "beaver" and I love this rug. Despite the fact that it wasn't going on the floor, Cindy decided she wanted to learn to whip, so she whipped it. And, the yarn that she found with colours she liked is actually sock weight - so she doubled it and did a LOT of whipping. As she is on the mend from some surgery, she said she had "lots of time to whip".  After a good steam/press, it will be a wonderful addition to her home. We have her next project ready to go - she is a keener.

All this activity by my students makes me feel a little behind on my own projects. But I have been busy with gifts - things that I cannot share, lest people be checking the blog (my son? I doubt it!)  Here is a timely fellow who I started right after Christmas last year and got back out the day after Hallowe'en (when the first tv commercials began - egad!) He is now hooked and ready to have a backing put on and be put to work on the 1st of December.  He will be the official "greeter" in the front hallway, along with a collection of snowmen.

Speaking of December, other than a dusting a couple of mornings, it's been relatively mild here for the past few days. So mild that the outdoor decorations are done before any frosty fingers needed to happen. Just in case, we have snow tires on both vehicles and are putting the electric snow blower on the front deck - kind of like an insurance plan.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Two More to Share

One of the very best things about being a teacher is seeing the finished results from your students. It shows that not only did they enjoy your time together, but that they were motivated to finish.

Over the weekend, I received two more wonderful pieces from my group in Campbellford. They are both fantastic and each person said they were going to continue on with a second photo-to-mat project. I truly believe this becomes quite addictive - in a good way.

This first one is a gift for the niece who is pictured in the mat. I feel pretty sure she will be blown away by it. Ann's picture actually included the photo.

The second finished mat came on its own. Here is the original photo.  Jill incorporated a real piece of string into the mat. Such fun.

Both of these little mats truly capture the essence of the images. This second one is also a gift.  And the first of many to come, I hope.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bragging about Brit

My new friend Brit, one of my students at OHCG School, sent me a picture of her sunflower mat finished. She was pretty close when we left, but it is now done and beautifully whipped.  See how she changed colour from green to grey/blue to match the hooking. It looks great!

I didn't even get time to post about it when two more emails arrived the next day with other projects she had just completed. The first was this amazing quilted poppy wall hanging.

And right behind it came this hooked poppy hanging. It's always amazing to see how different the subject matter can look in a different medium, even if it is another textile. Mind you, it helps that the creator is a very talented, multi-faceted textile artist.

While I am sharing Brit's talent with you, here is a pieced project that she shared with the class while we were at school. Can't wait to see it totally finished. The batiks in here are incredible. And just look at that eye!!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

T'is the Season

Man, the day after Hallowe'en the commercials started. Too soon, I say. Way too soon! Glad that Shoppers Drug Mart at least cut back on the Christmas music. Yikes.

That said, it is the season of Studio Tours and Sales of Homemade Treasures. Every year, I entertain the thought of doing something, but I end up making gifts instead, which take all my time.

This year, I was approached to take a gander at a book that addresses the whole issue of pricing your treasures for selling. In the world of rug hooking, it is a discussion as old as time. What value can you place on your goods so that you feel your work and artistic soul is "valued".

There were no strings attached to this offer, just a mailed copy of the book which is cleverly titled "How To Price Crafts and Things you Make to Sell". I would reserve my judgment about whether or not to talk about it until I read the book. (I got this picture from Amazon.)

It is a good book!! I was expecting the formulas and guides for pricing etc., since that is not new.
There is lots of information about online resources and the ability to do your own research into what others are charging for their work.  What I was pleased about was the subject of "value" that the author, James Dillehay, spends so much of the book discussing.

Here is a quote from the beginning of Chapter 1, titled What We Value: "If you really do put a small value upon yourself, rest assured that the world will not raise your price." - Anonymous.

He also stays with the belief that "Price is not typically the top buying criteria in the hand-made marketplace." and that "lowering the price more often lowers the perceived value."

I love to purchase hand-made things whenever possible and I don't begrudge a price that is reflective of the work and creativity. I just need to apply the same thinking to my own work - and I guess that is the message he is putting out there. 

The book if filled with tips to get organized and find a fair and equitable price for selling direct or selling to retailers - even selling online.

I am not sure I will ever be in a position to sell my wares - as I say, I prefer to spend the time making gifts, but if I do, I will definitely heed his advice. But the best thing about the book for me was the affirmation of the "value" of spending the time creating unique treasures. It definitely felt like a great pat on the back - even without the selling part.

The author is not only an artisan himself and a well-published author, he is the founder of the social network, and he blogs about craft business topics at

Thursday, November 1, 2012

More Bragging Rights

The best thing about being a teacher is the students! And I'm not sure who is more proud when they finish a project - them or me.

Today I am lucky enough to have three finished projects that I can share. The first is the finished dirt bike mat from the class on the weekend. According to the creator, her son and husband were thrilled and didn't even want it whipped - just turned under and hung - which it now, proudly, is. This is the picture she sent to me of the rug, in position.

The next rug still needs to be whipped, but you have to know that more than the top third of the rug was hooked in the 24 hours since end of class yesterday - and it is NOT a small rug. This creator says there is nothing like a rainy day to spur along the hooking, but I think she is simply "rabid". She has only been hooking since August 10th - had never pulled a loop before - and this is her third project!!!!! It is positively luminous and her confidence grows with each mat. (I think I spy a star ornament in the lower left hand corner - I'm sure she couldn't contain herself.)

And the third mat has been placed in a frame - a recycled window which the creator lovingly stripped and refinished to create this warm and wonderful surround for her project. This log cabin masterpiece was her first experience with textures and with applique, which she used for the moon and stars. It took her outside her comfort zone, but I think she will quickly become comfortable in this new zone and many more to come.

Yes, indeedy, the very best thing about teaching is DEFINITELY the students!!!!!!!

Monday, October 29, 2012

School's Out

What a wonderful weekend in Ancaster at the OHCG School. This was my third time teaching there, and once again it was my "favourite". I had an incredible class of very keen students and they made me extremely proud at "show and tell" yesterday.

The subject was "Photo to Mat, as Easy as That", and they really rose to the challenge. As you will see, the subject matter in the photos was as varied as the attendees and I think that kind of variety makes it much more interesting for everyone. And it certainly provides the teacher with lots of little lessons along the way.

There were many lessons about little shortcuts using the computer and although some were far less tech savvy than others, they all appreciated the demonstrations and will practice at home - or not.

Here is the class picture and a few of the mats-in-progress with their photos. (Someone was not at  the group picture - I just noticed - and I didn't get her mat-with-photo shot, so I am showing both at the bottom - sorry Gail).

There will be more details soon on the OHCG website  - from all the classes.

My wonderful class with their projects in progress - one missing.
This swan is hooked in yarn - the background in wonderful textures.
Beautiful mountains coming to life with glorious colours.
A vintage car with a vintage grandma being hooked in lovely sepia tones.
An incredible sunset cruise - look at that sky!
A close up on a happy sunflower against a stone wall with a collar of foliage.
Sorry for the bad "gymnasium" lighting -  this cardinal is incredible!
Another sunflower, this time against an incredible blue sky.
A wonderful shot of a competitive dirt biker - incredibly finished in 3 days!!

A special house - winter shot, summer hooking.
A wonderful backyard oasis - sorry for the flash on the photo.
The missing shot and mat-in-progress. Well under way.
Now that I am done bragging, it's time to put the studio back together again.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Wonderful Kind of Tired

I am back in my studio after 5 days on the road. I had two back-to-back workshops in Belleville and Campbellford, Ontario, which are 4+ hours away from Parry Sound. Lots of driving - thankfully in good weather and mostly in the light.

The first workshop was two days devoted to Colour in Belleville. It meant staying with my ma-in-law the night before and driving the rest of the way in the wee hours of the morning, watching the sunrise.

The second was two days spent in Campbellford turning photos into mats. Campbellford is also a hop, skip and jump from my mother-in-law's, so I drove there after the first workshop and drove from there to the second one.

Both of the workshops - and the groups - were incredible!!! And although it was a very action-packed time - and I do have a bit of trouble sleeping in strange beds - I came home feeling excited and exhilarated.

Between workshops, I tend to forget how amazing they are, and I sometimes get caught up in the preparation ahead of time and the distance that I need to travel to get there. That definitely falls away once I arrive. There is such an energy in these classes that you just get caught up in it and sleep doesn't really matter until you get back home LOL.

I had amazing hostesses in both groups who welcomed me into their homes. Special plans were made for dinners - one out and one potluck - and the homemade snacks and treats were amazing. A little hiccup in the second workshop meant that we had two different locations for the two days, but it all turned out incredibly well.

To a person, the women in both classes were very engaged and eager to learn. They stayed riveted throughout and worked as hard as I did. The material covered in both workshops was new to them and I think everyone enjoyed the explorations that we took into the world of colour and interpreting images as fiber art.

Here are a few pics that I took of the two groups.

The Colour folks in Belleville began with an image they brought and then moved the colours from that image  around an inch mat.

The Photo to Mat folks in Campbellford created patterns from cherished photos and got started on turning them into hooked keepsakes. As you would expect, the subjects were as varied as the participants. (They have promised to share their finished pieces with me, so I will be able to as well.)

Here are a few pics of the early stages of a few of them:

I think the thing I like best about teaching is getting to spend uninterrupted time with people who love this fiber art form as much as I do. And, as I always say, the shortest book ever written would be "Unfriendly People I Have Met While Hooking."

It was a pleasure to spend time with these two groups and we are already planning for next year!!!
Thanks so much to everyone for making me feel so welcome and so appreciated.

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...