Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Wishes

Well, it is Jackson's due date today, but he has decided to take his sweet time and is not coming today. I really hope he doesn't pick December 25th to arrive. It may seem like a good publicity stunt in the beginning, but not a fun birthdate to have for the rest of your life.

In preparation for the day - be it his birth one or a few days later - here is his official First Christmas Hat. It was a free pattern on ravelry and was fun to make. I will hopefully get to share a picture of him wearing it after he gets here.

Meanwhile, here in the woods, it has been snowing, snowing, snowing and snowing. I can't remember a December in 20 years up here with this much snow. Even the local folk say they don't remember this much falling all at once. And if it has, it has been much later in the winter.

Here is my front door.  My poor hanging baskets look like they were sprayed with shaving cream. You can even see the giant flakes falling in this picture. Yes, I know it's pretty - but when you have to move it around every single day, the joy wears off, trust me!! lol

Tomorrow we head to Toronto, to make camp at our friends Elaine and Harvey's home, as they are heading to Florida for a couple of weeks. It's a perfect arrangement - we house sit for them and they provide the house for us to "sit".  We will entertain our daughter until stork time. And then we will be nearby to lend a hand to the shell-shocked new parents.

So, here's wishing you all a very special holiday time. May your days be merry and bright. And may 2014 be filled with joy and wonder for all of us.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Babe Watch

Can't believe it is nearly a month since my last post, but there you go.

Things have been busy getting ready for the holidays - or not - since everything is up in the air waiting for the arrival of little Jackson James Richard Saville. My daughter's last day of work was Friday, so she is ready to welcome him any time. His due date is December 18th.

Despite iffy weather conditions, the students are still managing to get to the studio on Wednesday afternoons, including two new hookers who came to try their hand. I made simple, festive little mats for them that involved mostly straight-line hooking and they really rose to the challenge.

They came for one lesson, worked for one week and came back and finished the hooking last week.
Unfortunately, they have decided that hooking is not for them at this time of their lives (with teenage kids on the go), but they are grateful to have learned how and think they will probably return to it one day.

Winter has settled in around us and the snow has been falling steadily for three days here. Luckily, I escaped to Toronto for the weekend and missed a lot of it. Part of the reason for the trek was to take a Shibori Dyeing Class at the One of a Kind Show.  It was made even more amazing because we used indigo dye!!! The class was a Christmas gift from Jennifer and was an incredibly, thoughtful, useful gift.

Each of us walked away with a unique cotton scarf and a sample square of some of the other "resist" techniques.

Here are my two projects:

This is my scarf. I used pennies and chick peas for the circles at the ends and scrunched the centre.

My sample square using simple fan pleating.
The other event on the weekend was the presentation of a "more than friendship" rug to my mentor Barb D'Arcy. A group of her students got together to make a tribute rug for her. Each of us hooked a square that represented a piece we had done while in her classes. Needless to say, there were tears - and not just from Barb. The rug is truly amazing, and she figured out almost everyone's square with no prompting.

Here is a picture of the rug with lots of the artists' feet present. I will have more pics to share later, with fewer feet and shadows.

But for now, I must go and help rearrange the snow.

Monday, November 18, 2013

This Sure ISN'T Cuba.

I was awakened this morning by howling winds around 4:30. Scary, but for some unknown reason, we DIDN'T lose power. We always lose power, so I was waiting for the generator to kick in at any moment. Apparently lots of the rest of the province did, so we got off easy.

Here is what we got this morning.  And now calm has returned. November really is icky!! (technical term)

And to think that just 5 days ago, we were here:

The Lagoon rooms at Melia Cayo Coco
Our balcony which was nearly always too hot to sit.
Our shady perch where we retreated between beach walks and dips.
It was our first trip to Cuba and it won't be our last. The people are incredibly warm and friendly and the cost of this "all inclusive" was incredible. We tried doing the math for what things should have cost and couldn't figure out how they can sell the packages that cheaply. I guess buying 8 months ahead helped us get a really good rate. And it sure helped us get through November.

meanwhile, back in the woods....

We are getting more and more excited about little Jackson's arrival. If he is exactly on time, he will be here exactly one month from today. But he is a baby after all, and they do what they want, when they want. And our daughter says she is ready. He can come any time after December 6th - her last day of work for 6 months.

There will be another little "great" a month later. My niece is having her first, so I will be a great aunt - again. Her baby is also a boy, Grayson, so he and Jackson should have fun growing up together. In preparation for his arrival, I made this:

If is a combination of flannels that make it incredibly cozy. And all of the flannels are more "big boy" than baby, so it should last a long time. It makes a great lap quilt as I learned while hand stitching the binding.

For this quilt, I purchased a walking foot and it sure made the quilting part easier. I am learning something new from each of these quilts. Squares are easier than triangles. And machine quilting is soooo much faster than hand quilting. Note to self: next time, avoid plaids. Although I am relatively happy with this, they did pose a bit of a challenge. Second note to self: fabric is never printed "on grain" so random prints are best for quilting.

Also did a bit of dyeing yesterday, one for my stash and one for a student. Haven't been in the pots for a while and feeling good about the results. Both formulas are from Christine Little spots book "Sky Blue Pink With a Green Smell" (best title ever!)

That's Golden Green on the left and SkyBluePink on the right.
So, that's almost hooking, right? Well, I think once I put the sewing machine away - one project to finish still - and get the "rush" sweater done, I will be back on the frame again.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Some People ARE Hooking.

That's right. Maybe not me, but lots of my students and friends are getting things done and sending me pictures to prove it.

It is so gratifying when people send pictures of finished projects to me. I can't even tell you how special it is. And it is a gentle nudge for me to get back into it too.

So here are a few projects that have bragging rights in there.

A beautiful "jeanius bag" done by a fellow hooker in Ottawa for her granddaughter.

One of two pillows done by a local gal for her two sons. 

A wonderful primitive mat done by a student at Loyalist college.
It's so nice to have a post about rug hooking again after so long. Even if it's not my own. LOL.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Big Sister Monster

The knitting projects continue to roll off the needles.

This week, I finished the Monster for the Big Sister "Abby" in Montreal who is expecting her little sister in late January. All those little things last post are for the new babe, but I believe that every older sibling deserves something special when the new arrival comes along.

So meet "Vinnessa" - the girl version of Vinny V in Rebecca Danger's "Knit a Monster Nursery" book.

She is considerably larger than the first little monster, but even more fun to knit. I think she will be perfect for a 2-year old to haul around or just sleep with. She is very soft and snuggly and I love her little feet and hands, which have been attached and then reinforced well, so as not to be tugged off.

Here she is with her little sister monster. I see a bit of a family resemblance, don't you. Something in the eyes maybe????

I believe there will be a few more monsters off the needles before all these babies arrive - and afterwards as well. In the meantime, there is a quilt on the cutting board for Grayson, my niece's first - also expected in late January. It is a simple project, in flannel, so it will be cuddly and warm for a January boy.

So the hooking famine continues - at least for a bit longer.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Good, The Bad and The Adorable.

Knitting and sewing continue to dominate my life.

The knitting is going well. Another sweater off the needles and perhaps my favourite in a long while.
I think it's the combination of the pattern and the yarn - simply the most comfy thing ever knit.  It is called "Relax" and I got the pattern from here.

 It is a lot of simple stockinette stitch - small needles, but moves quickly. I am about to do a second one for my son's girlfriend.

Some adorable projects are also off the needles. These are the gifts that are going to my very good friend's daughter who is expecting her second girl. These are all from the Monster Nursery Book I featured in my last post.

From left to right - a little monster, monster booties, and a monster hat. All sitting on a receiving blanket that still needs to be hemmed.  These little knits make you smile the whole way through, from cast on to cast off. And I think they will create the same effect at the other end.

There will be a "Big Sister" monster to share soon. Just one leg to go and then stuffing and putting on a face.

I also finished one sewing pattern that I will use as a cover up while south. It was from this book. In fact, it is the dress on the cover.

Here is my version, which is in a great batik fabric.

Mine ended up being sleeveless because the sleeves were TEENSY. Since everything else about the dress is perfect, I am not sure what happened. But it is probably better sleeveless anyway, or so I will convince myself.

Today's project is also not going swimmingly. This is the pattern - and the fabric. Doesn't look that hard, does it?

But it seems that the logic sphere of my brain is not as developed as the dreamy, creative side. I just can't seem to look at the pictures and figure out how to move the straps out of the way while assembling the bodice. So, even though I was sure I was doing what was in the step-by-step instructions,  I have been doing a lot of "ripping" and "growling".

Sort of feels like assembling Ikea furniture. You have to do it wrong to figure out how to do it right.
Trust me, it's much easier to "undo" hooking boo boo's than sewing ones.

Stay tuned. Hopefully, it will sort itself out - or be re-invented as another version of the pattern.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Loopless in Parry Sound

It has been ages since I have pulled a single loop. Well, except for the jewellery projects, which I guess technically have loops.

All these baby projects and other things have been getting in the way, I guess. Not that I am begrudging any of them. In fact, it's nice to have a slightly different focus for a while. And there are no deadline-driven hooked items on my list right now.

But last Thursday, as I scrambled to finish another Jennifer-inspired necklace to wear to my daughter's wedding service on Friday, I happened to look at my table and realized it looked scarily like the inside of my brain felt.

It made me laugh out loud, so I took a few pics with my phone

A good overview of project overload.
At this end, we have a felted sweater in progress.
Look, necklace stuff, knitting stuff but behold - a bit of empty table space left.
Bin of sari silk for the necklace - more on the floor behind.
Blue yarn bag on chair - because there's no room on the table.
What is that expression "If a cluttered desk is the sign of a busy mind, what is an empty desk a sign of?" I would really hate to see the inside of my mind......

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Oh My, It's October

And it's been a fast start to this month.

The work truck has been parked on my desk for a few weeks - the paying stuff, that is.
The baby present production line is in full swing.

I finished the quilt on time - squeaked in under my "end of September" artificial deadline. And I am so happy with the results that there is already another floating around in my head. Here is a picture of the little quilt with the edging on. Amazing how that just really finished it off.

A also finished four receiving blankets in bright colours to go with the quilt.  I love how the flannel is so much cushier than the ready-made blankets. And the plan is to do a quilt out of the little scraps and another flannel to tie everything together.

A couple of simple little newborn sweaters are off the needles, one still needing the buttons on. The colours in this photo are really off. The front one is a nice teal and the back one is actually a greyish periwinkle colour, not pink.

The Caramel cardigan is finished - just darning in the last of the ends. Will see if daughter would like it for a maternity sweater through till little Jackson arrives. But I have a feeling it is more my taste than hers, and she says that her pregnancy furnace is working overtime and she is always warm, so it may not work. (This is the designer's version - not the one I did - will post a picture later)

And in between all of this, I made this little critter for a friend's son. His name is Kwazii and he is an Octonaut. I had never heard of them before, but jokingly said when I saw them that I bet there was a knitting pattern for them. There wasn't but there was a crochet one, and though I am not great with a crochet pattern, here he is. I made one little 4 year old boy very happy.

And just to make sure there are lots more projects for the needles, I have fallen in love with this book and virtually everything inside it.

I have been a big fan of the designer for some time, and this book is just the cutest. There will be booties and hats and blankets, oh my. Good thing there are three little ones in the making, so I can do lots and lots without looking completely crazy.

There might just be a monster rug waiting in the wings too - you just never know.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Gem of a Workshop

I am basking in the afterglow of a 2-day jewellery making workshop with Jennifer. It was held at the Purple Sock in Coldwater and was absolute heaven.

Jenn is a teacher who goes over the top in preparedness, sharing of her brilliance, and assisting everyone "hands on" when necessary. Everyone in the class was over the moon with what they made and what they learned.

Enough said, on with the show.

Here is what I made on Day l - the day of learning the techniques and creating something simple. This is on a simple neck ring and was made to go with a particular dress (though I already know of many more things that will be enhanced by it.)

And Day 2's creation was more of everything! More space, more hits of wonder, and a new way to make a neck hanging mechanism. I was surprised a little by the outcome, since it is a real departure from my usual colour palette. but I think it has enough going on to complement many different looks. In fact, as I type this, I am wearing it with browns and it is great!

As feared, this is a hopeless new addiction! So many possibilities and really a great way to feature broken jewellery pieces or other special bobbles in your collection. I see a "blue" version in my near future.

If you get a chance to take this class with Jennifer RUN DO NOT WALK to register. You will enjoy every second. I know that she is offering it in Deanne Fitzpatrick's studio on November 16th, so you east coasters can join the club of bejewelled devotees.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Nutty Little Knitting Project

I am heading to Jennifer's jewellery workshop this week and wanted to do something a little special for my wonderful hostess for a Monday night sleepover. The operative word here is "little". In fact, this makes all the little Jackson knitting I have been doing lately look like big projects.

So, what is this even little-r project? Knitted acorns. Pretty darned cute, aren't they.

They are a free pattern on ravelry which links here. Actually, it is absolutely incredible how many "acorn-themed" patterns are on ravelry. You could go a little nuts knitting all kinds of acorn-y things for the fall.

My first attempt was on sock yarn, which was just a little too tiny for four needles, so these ones are done on scraps of worsted weight. But the pattern can be done in any weight and seriously takes about 20 minutes once you figure out the pattern.

I think there will be a few more done - without stems  - for my Thanksgiving table. And I am sure I can find a pattern for oak leaves too. Hmmmmmm.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Falling Back into September

Somehow it is now September 9th and I feel like we really didn't get much of a summer. But with the arrival of September (besides the overwhelming urge to buy a new pencil case) it is a time for changing wardrobe, changing food, changing activities and getting back to the old routine.

In keeping with that, I got back to some hooking on the weekend. Well, actually more "proddy-ing" on the border of my "Hook What You Love" mat - still another side to go before I share. But it was the first time I had pulled anything in a long time. I also corrected a word section that had an unhappy background and it was worth the effort.

Here's a before and after comparison. The before was barely legible, but the after is easy to read. The dark parts in the hounds-tooth check in the before were making the type look blurry. But the simple texture in the "after" has solved the problem. I may still re-hook the lettering, but it's a big improvement already.

In addition to the hooking, I did some little knitting too. Little things are so fast and rewarding, like a short story versus a big novel. I have to keep telling myself not to make too many of these "tiny" treasures, since they are outgrown so quickly. But with the quilt as the "long-term" creation, these accessories are just plain fun.

Here is a baby version of the Fish Hat that I knit for my son last fall. Pretty darn cute, huh? Made with leftover sock yarn. And what is that sitting behind it?

That'd be baby booties that are positively adorable. Here is a closer view of them. I just love how they aren't perfect mates. One foot has stripes of purple and orange, while the other is mostly the plain apple green.

Supposedly, these ones actually stay on. I will believe that when I see it.  But they take next to no yarn and are a great little project for all those leftover bits. I see a few more hats and booties in my future. Since there are 3 little people expected - all within a month of one another - a niece/nephew and a second child for a near-daughter, I will have lots of little feet and heads to cover.

Since another part of fall means new TV show episodes versus re-runs, easy knitting projects are just perfect for September.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Top is Done!!!

I guess in quilting hours, I did pretty well getting this all pieced together. And I am pretty pleased with the results.

I do see things in there that I doubt others will notice, but that is human nature to focus on the little errors because you are the one who made them. Not all my triangles were exactly the same size, so some of my squares are a bit wonky and my finished size is a bit smaller - I think from trimming everything at each stage.  And despite my best efforts, there are a few places where there are colour matches or clusters.

That said, if it were all perfect, it would look like it was made by a machine, right? Not an excited Grandma-to-Be. I am sure a more precise person would have achieved a crisper outcome, but at the end of the exercise, there will be hours and hours of love put into a wonderful homemade keepsake.

It's interesting that before embarking on this exercise, in my mind I had decided that it was less time-intensive than a rug hooking project. Now I am not so sure. I think the heavy lifting of the piecing is over, but there are hours and hours of hand-quilting yet to come and then the finishing.

If I were to hook a project that was 40 x 40 and dedicate the same hours to it, I wonder if it would be done in less or more time? I may just have to challenge myself to find out, but not right now.

Next week - or the week after, since we have incoming next week - I will build my quilt "sandwich" and get it ready to start quilting. There are notes on the Purl Bee instructions page that warn the novice hand quilter that there are many layers of fabric in the ditches and it is not a notive project. I am thinking I will move slightly away from the ditch and follow the squares - see what happens. Trial and error ahead.

I think I will use my cheticamp frame and keep it set up in the studio so I can do a little bit whenever I have a little time. My goal is to have it all finished in a couple more weeks.Let's just see how that goes.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Squares, Squares and More Squares.

As a quilting neophyte, I am learning in leaps and bounds. Mostly by error, but sometimes by trial. After squaring up 100 squares - well 98 actually (I had to quickly stitch a couple more) I have now arranged all those squares into strips and then laid them out into 4 large squares.

The best way to see if I was happy with the arrangement and also avoid any eye-catching conflicts was to photograph the 4 squares with my iphone and then look at them on the computer. I actually did that twice! The pictures below are the second set, and I have tweaked again since I took them. I am pretty happy now with how they are looking. I will take one more final set which I will use as my guide. I also think I will leave them laying in position on the studio floor rather than trying to remember what went where.

Without more heightened clairvoyant powers, I really can't imagine how the four squares will look together, but I am sure that the same cheerful busy-ness that is in the squares will somehow all come together in the end.

Here is how it is looking. It's amazing that every time I look at it, my eye follows a different colour around the block. I am sure I could drive myself completely crazy if I don't stop adjusting at some point. But the tumbling of the lights and darks - the lure of the orange (Jackson's dad-to-be's favourite) and just the energy in it is so great.

So this week, with four rainy days forecast, I will begin the assembly- first squares into strips - then strips into 4 big squares and then put the squares together. However, as soon as I say this, I can feel the work truck backing up with lots to keep my from doing this.

I will be happy to get all the piecing done. I can't believe that I actually entertained the thought of doing this all by hand - for about 30 seconds that is. Kudos to my friend Jo who does all her quilt work - start to finish - by hand. She is an amazing quilt master.

I am looking forward to the actual quilting, which I will do by hand. It is straight line stitching, following the shapes in the triangles and squares, so hopefully not too difficult. I am sure my stitches will be a bit rusty in the beginning, but I am sure I will be an expert by the end.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Happy Jackson Quilt Progress

Ok, so I am not totally an amateur at quilting. After all, I did make an applique quilt over 30 years ago - that is still with us in a somewhat faded version of itself. But this piece-quilting business is turning out to be a wonderful "learning" experience. And I am quickly finding out all the things that I shouldn't be doing.

Make sure there are only two triangles of fabric when you sew things together. Those extra triangles  can really hide in there and you don't realize till you start to press.

Also, don't try a short cut on your first venture. Save that for when you really know what you are doing. My short cut turned into a very long detour - nearly a road block.

Let's just say with both these lessons, I have spent a lot of time with my seam ripper.

Yesterday, I almost started to giggle when I realized that in quilting, there is a crazy circle that really only makes sense to a quilter or quilt lover.

Buy fabric in large pieces
Cut the fabric into squares
Cut the squares into triangles
Sew the triangles into squares
Sew the squares into strips or larger squares
Sew the strips together to make a quilt sized piece

Really, when you think about it logically, there isn't any. 
I am making progress, despite my frequent "back ups". I have over 40 squares made and they are great. I am very happy with the results and with how much I have done. I didn't think that I would have this much time to dedicate to it this week, but a slower work week and rather cool days are making this a perfect project for right now.

Here are a couple of progress snaps (nothing trimmed yet):

The shortcut ended up having the triangles sewn along the long side - wrong!!
Here is a sampling of the squares. I love how the orange pops. It will be a happy quilt.
When I first started putting the triangles together, and then the squares, I was over-thinking the arrangements. I have learned to "trust the fabric" and know that just about every combination looks good. And there is some thought to darks and lights. When I get there, the assembly process will be somewhat random.

Otherwise I will totally go crazy when it comes time to putting it together. Ah, that should be crazy-er!

Monday, August 12, 2013

My Ongoing Summer of Colour

The Beekeeper's Quilt continues to grow, whenever I can grab a bit of time to add "puffs" to it.
Here is where I am to date - this is the side where the knots are tied.

Keeping the colours in a pleasing order is a bit of a challenge. First rule: make sure no two puffs of the same colour are together. Second rule: try not to put solids together (there aren't very many of them, so they need to be "seeded" throughout). Third rule: try to come up with a rule for placement.

After trying several different tacts, including a colour sketch and a bad attempt at mathematical calculations, I have resorted to just trying each puff in a couple of places and then"go for it". Hopefully the "winging it" technique will continue to yield a pleasing arrangement. So much for "rules", but so far I think it is working!!

My second colour exercise last week - a hooking one this time - took me into the dye pot. I did a casserole dye with three formulas for the OHCG Teachers' Challenge Mat I am working on. I decided to put three wools into the pot together - a light beige herringbone, a piece of natural heritage wool with a strong thread weave in it and a piece of natural Dorr.  I used three dyes - orange, red fuchsia and turquoise. Here is what came out of the pot.

The largest piece is the beige herringbone, which took the least amount of dye. The vertical strip to the right of centre is the heritage wool, which took the most and gave a lot of deeper reds with that one beautiful fuchsia spot. The Dorr natural gave the nicest sort of orange areas. The good news is that all three marry nicely and are working well for the intended purpose.

And if two colour exercises weren't enough, I added a third one to the pile. Since I was going to my ma-in-law's for the weekend, with a large fabric store nearby, I decided to put a plan in place for future grandson Jackson's first quilt. I am using the pattern from Purl Bee called "Broken Dishes" which I love because it isn't just a baby quilt - it can be a forever quilt.

The colours are taken from a Pottery Barn quilt and bumper pad set, which my daughter really likes. She will get the bumper pads and some sheets, but she really loves the Purl Bee quilt and was happy to have my offer to make it.

Here was my plan of attack. I used Paintbrush (like Paint, but for Mac) and sampled the colours in the fabric from Pottery Barn, to take the equivalent of a swatch to the store with me.

And here are the fabrics that I ended up with

Laura is very excited about the selection. Luckily, she is like me and doesn't believe in pastel baby colours. So Jackson will have a quilt that may start in the crib, but can follow him along for years to come. 

And I get to continue my summer of colour as I put together all these bright and cheery projects.

Big Bird is Coming Along Nicely

First of all, welcome to another "theme" for my blog. The last one was just too hard to navigate - as an author or a visitor. This...