Monday, April 30, 2012

Hooking Heaven

In keeping with the celestial theme (ha ha), I spent a heavenly afternoon hooking outside yesterday.
As I sat in my chair, I took some pictures to show you the view.

If you look really closely, you can see me reflected in the window - in the tree.

The sky and water colours were incredible.

It really was a perfect day.
April 28th was our 2-year anniversary for moving up full time. It boggles my mind that that much time has passed. That old "elastic time" syndrome. It feels like months or maybe one year, but certainly not two - until you stop and think about things that have occurred.

At any rate, a day like yesterday is the perfect reminder of all the reasons we made the decision we did. It truly was my "hooking heaven" - at least the outside one, cuz my studio is pretty amazing for inside.

I exchanged emails this morning with Peggy, who said she had a distinct picture in mind when she talked about Bev's chair in her hooking heaven. I am pretty sure it is different for everyone. The one thing I know is that hooking heaven is even better when there is someone there hooking beside you.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hooking Angels

On Saturday, I went to a Celebration of Life for a fellow rug hooker who lost her battle with cancer.
It was a wonderful service and I think if she had been there, she would have loved it - which in my humble opinion is the ultimate measure.

Before she was too ill, Bev asked Peggy to speak at the service. And speak she did - not a eulogy per se, but a very well-crafted, beautiful story. I had to sit on my hands to keep from breaking into applause. After she spoke of Bev and her family and friends, she said  that she could imagine Bev now.  No more wrestling with the ugly cancer giant (sorry for the bad paraphrase Peggy), but sitting in a comfy chair and hooking and laughing. It was an amazing image.

So driving home, I kept smiling to myself at the thought of hooking angels.  Imagining a group of those we have lost sitting around exchanging stories and wool and patterns. I am not a religious person, but the picture in my head made me very happy.

This is Mary Janet, a Trent rug hooking angel.
Almost to a person, the rug hookers I have met tend to be a really good bunch of folks. And I think in that group there are a number of "hooking angels" still among us. They share their time and talent selflessly. They are generous to a fault. They look after one another when it is needed most.

Everyone who spoke at Bev's Celebration talked about how important her rug hooking friends were in her life. None of us in the community would disagree with that. It is indeed a special bond. The number of hooking friends who drove from near and far to be there certainly showed that she was equally as important to us.

God speed, Bev. You certainly were a hooking angel among us. Your laughter was infectious and you touched the heart of everyone who knew you. And I know you will be with us at gatherings to come.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Secrets, Stripes and Snow

As I was getting ready to post yesterday, I realized that absolutely every hooking project that I am currently working on is a "secret". One is a theme rug for the OHCG Annual at the end of next month. One is a small part of a friendship rug. And the last one is a challenge rug. Oh, and I am also a tester for a fabulous new project for Jennifer, which is very hush hush.


So, what to share? I have two knitting projects on the needles - both top down - both striped.

The one on the left in the picture will be this pattern, which is called "Bulky Buttony". Mine is not quite so bulky and I am using the original pattern, which has gauge closer to mine. I will put all kinds of different coloured buttons on it, which will be fun. 

The one on the right is this one, called "Caramel", which is a finer gauge and slower going. I tend to have two projects on the go at once - an instant gratification and a plodder - satisfies both sides of my knitting brain.

I seem to be doing lots of stripes lately. I got a couple of striped tops in Florida and I got beautiful striped jersey to make a top. Not sure what's up with that.

Although it isn't doing it right now shhhhhh but here was yesterday.

We all knew we were going to have to pay for that 20 degrees in early March, but I hope this was a one-day thing. Seems to be gone this morning, but the forecast is a little iffy.

My consolation in not being able to share things right now is that I have a lot of future post material. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A "Knowledge" Swap is a Wonderful Thing.

Yesterday, my good friend (and fellow OHCG Teacher) Peggy was coming to my studio for a little one-on-one session to learn some tricks on her new laptop - to help her hook mats from photos. She had wanted to come to one of my workshops but had a conflict with the dates, so we decided to get together - just the two of us.

Truth be told, I was using Peggy as a bit of a guinea pig to see if the information I am including in the workshop is (i) exciting to someone other than me (ii) easily understood and (iii) easily adapted from Mac to PC.  Plus, I was pretty excited to have another rug hooker in the house - it's been far too long.

She arrived bright and early and brought me this wonderful present. It's a contoured pottery leaf, just perfect for holding worms for your current project. Plus, it looks beautiful on my wood studio table as you can see.

Peggy was the perfect student. Although she considers herself a techie 'rookie', she was keen and focused and in no time at all confirmed at least (i) and (ii) from above. As to (iii), I learned that there is a big gap between Windows 7 and whatever version of Windows I worked on in my PC days! So the two of us had a bit of a treasure hunt trying to find all the tricks and shortcuts on her shiny new laptop.

Once the computer time was over, we ate a nice lunch and then came back down to the studio for Peggy's part of the "swap". We had been corresponding about some "wooly flowers" she had been making and she volunteered to show me how.

Quick as a wink, we had created this little masterpiece.

It was fun and easy and a nice way to use up little bits of extra wool from other projects. There are actually three little "clusters" in this pot - two of which she made in the time I made one. Hers looked much better to me until we put them all together and then you couldn't tell one from the others. I guess that's because they were all made from the same strips, so they all blend beautifully.  She said they are addictive and I can see what she means.

By the end of our time together, we each had a new skill that we hadn't had that morning. Plus we had at least 6 hours of uninterrupted time to spend together, which is a luxury unto itself.

Wool swaps are nice. Artist trading card swaps are fun. But in my humble opinion a "knowledge" swap is the best!

Monday, April 16, 2012

My New Colour Theory

Over the years, I have come to realize that we all have our individual colour palettes. We tend to wear those colours, decorate in those colours and make things in those colours - like rugs etc. My palette tends towards neutrals - greys, taupes, denim blue, burgundy, black and brown with an occasional hit of red.

Traveling south this year really made me stop and look at how my palette seemed totally out of place with where I was. In both Barbados and Florida, everything is lighter, brighter and louder. Clothing, jewellery, artwork, buildings. I was definitely drawn to the bright colours, because they are so much a reflection of the culture. And I had to be reminded to "step away from the taupe", when shopping for things like bathing suits. I was automatically drawn to the colours I would wear at home.

I realized that part of the influence on our palettes is geography. Here's an example of two beautiful destinations. But the skies are different colours, the water, the trees. The very light itself is different.
Maybe our palette choice is less choice than we make it. 

 When I got home again, I started looking at my palette, particularly my wardrobe, with a more "travelled" perspective. It was definitely influenced by what I saw while away and the things I wore there.

On the long road trip to Florida, I did some sock knitting that was reflective of my destination - one pair in a green and orange variegated wool and one in a bright yellow that even has a bit of neon in it.  One pair of these socks are for my friend Jane and reflect her love of bright colours. I think all the years in Barbados have influenced her palette and she loves these colours no matter where she is. Whichever pair she doesn't choose will stay with me.

I bought this piece of fabric the socks are sitting on while in Florida - to make something to wear down south next winter. The bright orange and fuschia aren't exactly colours I would wear here in Northern Ontario. But now I am asking myself why not?

Maybe I'm deciding that I need a little "hit" of something bright to liven up all my "dulls". I am going to try to wear something unexpected every day -  it's an orange or fuschia lipstick or a bright turquoise scarf. Or maybe those incredibly loud yellow socks under my Blunnies. A little secret smile tucked inside my boots.

Who says you can't teach an old dog a new palette!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Some things to share in Black and White.

I feel like I have been away for years, not weeks, and my poor little brain is having a very difficult time getting back into the swing of things. I'm pretty sure that the chocolate high delivered by the Easter Bunny is not helping either.

Our trip to Florida was incredible!!! There were so many amazing experiences that I can't really figure out where to begin. Our hosts were incredibly well prepared and had a long list of experiences to share - wonderful talc-y white beaches complete with beach bars filled with character and characters; art galleries and colonies, a jazz and blues club (complete with a speed painter), dog races, too many amazing meals to mention, never-ending discount shopping  and on and on and on.

Today, I will share two amazing experiences along with links so you can take a longer look:

The first was the above-mentioned speed painter at the jazz/blues club called The Flying Dog, located in an airplane hangar near the Sarasota airport. This young artist was introduced at the beginning of the evening, when the house band took a break. There were several of his finished works behind the stage where the band played, and he was selling the speed sketches for $75 and his finished works for $100 - $150.

While a song played, using a small photo as reference, he created two paintings of artists who were recognizable before their songs were over. While we were there, he painted Miles Davis and Bob Marley - in about 3 minutes!!

Here is one of his paintings of Mick Jagger, so you can understand the rest of my description:

Starting with a black canvas, he uses white pastels and paint, leaving the negative space behind and creating incredible likenesses at lightning speed. When I got home and checked his website I found that he even has a dedicated "speed painting" section there. Check out his site - if you have a fan on your list who would love one of these, he ships anywhere for about $10. (You will see sizes and prices on the website.) While we were there, a guitarist from Sudbury who jammed with the band for an hour or so bought the Jimi Hendrix painting for his music room. Incredible!!! (Makes me wish I had a music room.)

The other link I am providing is to a wonderful cafe/restaurant we visited in Towles Court an art colony in downtown Sarasota. Unfortunately, we missed the Friday Night Art Walk, so we just ventured down there on our own, After going into several studios and talking to several of the artists there, we had lunch at Shoogie Boogies, a wonderful restaurant/cafe owned by a very fabulous photographer/entrepreneur.

When you read about her on the website, you will see that she has an abundance of style in everything she does - from her fabulous photography of children to the Garden Room. This is one of my favourite photos that she had on display. (And in keeping with the black and white theme of this post, it seems.)

So now we are back! We arrived home in time to enjoy a wonderful Easter weekend and hopefully a continued easy transition into spring. Although from all appearances and reports, this was pretty much a non-winter. And no real need to escape LOL.

And now it's just a matter of settling back into my "normal" existence with lots of rug hooking, more frequent posting and other things waiting for my attention.