Monday, November 24, 2014

How I spent Snowvember

Since my last post, it has been a winter wonderland here on Salmon Lake. Yes, even I an avowed snow hater had to admit it looked beautiful - for the first few days. But after starting each day shovelling 6-8 inches of snow from around the cars so that Rick could use "Lurch" (our a-bit-too-mighty snowblower) to do the driveway, the gild was quickly off the lily.

Then last week, we made the Global newscast - right up there with Buffalo for the amount of snow received. We were pretty much locked inside, and my internet went down for weather-related power outages, so my days took on a different rhythm. Lots of knitting and bad movies!! Ok for a week, but my tolerance was waning.

Anyway, I did get a few projects done, so not a waste of time, for sure. A couple of pairs of socks knit in worsted weight. Man, are they faster than sock yarn!! I had forgotten. One pair for my son-in-law's birthday gift and a second pair for my hubby - just because he loves them. Simple pattern, quick to do, and a great way to use up a bunch of yarn I bought for a long-ago-abandoned sweater coat project.

Another zig zag baby blanket used up a few balls in my baby stash of yarn. Since most of the babies lately have been boys, it was the perfect chance to use the soft greens and pinks that are in this. Each time I make this blanket, it seems small to me. But, I think it is a good swaddling blanket and will be a good stroller/carriage blanket and then later - much later - a doll's blanket.

I also worked on this little hooked piece, for which I had no pattern - not a single thought of what would go where - just a big basket of worms that got placed wherever whim took me. What a freeing thing it is to hook with absolutely no idea where you are headed.

The black and white beading lines sort of dictated a little bit of direction for the worms beside them, but other than that - total free fall!! I think this will become a little bag of some sort. I will just fold it in the centre, whip the sides and add a zipper. I really like the other one I did, and am sure it will come in handy for someone for something. 

Since I am planning on doing some hooking in Barbados this winter, I think I will cut a big bag of worms from non-wool fibre -  pantyhose, ribbon and t-shirt material and take that with me to do the same "free fall" hooking while I am there.

Today internet is resolved, most of the snow has melted so this week will be different again. Mind you, the forecast for tomorrow is snow again. Poor Mother Nature has had a bad month too. Let's hope December is a bit kinder to everyone.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Different Take on Photo to Mat

When I was first corresponding with my Edmonton students about my classes, one of them contacted me to say that instead of rug hooking in the class, she wanted to interpret her photo using a combination of applique and embroidery. She has hooked before, but this type of needlework is her true passion.

Not only did she interpret it once, she did it three times. Each one a little different from the other and all results outstanding. Yesterday, she emailed me two of the finished pieces.

First, here is the photo that she chose (after being edited in befunky)

And here are the results of her efforts. You need to know that these are only about 5 x 7 (maybe 6 x 9) - so the work was incredibly tiny and details are amazing.

The first piece is actually painted first and then embellished with some paper applique and then beautiful hand and machine embroidery.

This version is appliqued fabric pieces that have been embellished with hand and machine embroidery.

 It was a treat for me to be introduced to this kind of needlework in the classroom. For show and tell one day, she brought along a framed piece and an album she is creating to feature all these masterpieces.

I think that everyone was as fascinated as I was to see her at her table working away on the different versions.

Thanks so much for sharing Armande.

It is a beautiful image too, which someday one of us should hook as well.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

More Impressionism This Weekend

And this time, as a student. Every two years the OHCG Teachers Branch has a continuing education weekend, and this year, the topic was Impressionism.  The committee did an excellent job of presenting lots of information about the Impressionist Art movement and that of Post Impressionism - our Group of Seven and other favourite artists who are so great to interpret in fibre.

We arrived to find a packed agenda, very informative handout notes and a piece of backing set up to do a number of small 5" x 7" studies.  This image of a sailboat was one of the choices in our folder. It seemed to be the first piece most of the people jumped into.

The interpretations were as varied as the 20+ teachers in the room. Every palette imaginable. Every cut imaginable. This is mine.

For my second study, I chose a tiny (2.3" x 3.5") clipping of a wonderful painting of a nature scene. A pond with beautiful colours reflected in the water.  I got a bit started before I had to head back home.

Today, while it was still fresh in my mind, I finished the piece.  I am not sure it reads exactly as the painting, but I love the colours and enjoyed the freedom of doing my "impression" of an "impressionist" painting.

Now I will have to try all the wonderful finishing techniques we were shown to make the most of these little "masterpieces".

Thank you committee for a great weekend. Good company. Good topic - in fact, one of my favourites. And unbridled hooking for a couple of days.

Western Bragging Rights

One of the Photo to Mat students sent me a picture of her finished piece this week.  For a teacher, this is a wonderful thing. Not only do we get to see the final piece, but it also means that the student was inspired enough to finish.

Here is Joan's Littlemama cat, looking as though she is holding court for humans. Don't they all.

What an excellent job. I love the texture wool in the cat and in the quilt.
Well done, Joan. And thanks so much for sharing.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

More Western Fibre Arts

Since my gig out west was brought to me by Focus on Fibre Arts Alberta - versus just a rug hooking guild - it stands to reason that there were lots of other fibre arts around to see. Incredible fibre art and not only as eye candy, but truly inspirational for someone itching to try something new.

There was lot of "show and tell" in class, as people brought in some of their other fibre arts to share. Here are a few - pretty amazing.

This felted cat was shared by Charis.

Pieced and stitched beautifully by Karen.

Another of Karen's pieces - pieced fibre and hooking.
An amazing pieced and stitched piece of canola fields by Armande.

In an earlier post, I shared some of the winners in the Prairies show. I was lucky enough to see the real deal on one of my days off and took some photos of some of the pieces. Then realized that they are all professionally captured on the FFAA website. Here is a link so you can go and see for yourself.  You will be glad  you went, trust me.

As with every show, it is so much better to see the actual show. Some pieces were just mind-boggling when you saw them in person, and it was amazing to see all the different fibre arts displayed together.

It is a hooked piece by Lynn Roth (not Faye Swenson as per the credit on the website). It is called "Blizzard" and it is hooked deer in the headlights during a swirling blizzard. Notice the windshield wiper and the seat belt, as well as the red metal window frame. The needle felted swirls of snow are amazing. It was a very powerful piece when you saw it in real life.

Every detail of this exhibit was steeped in talent and stitchery.  This is one of the fibre posters at the entrance to the show. Even they were quilted!!

And as if this was not enough to totally whet my appetite for a bunch of new endeavours, I was the lucky recipient of two pieces that are outside the rug hooking zone - wet felting and detailed stitchery and box making.

An incredible felted bag made by registrar Vicki. I love everything about it.
It is the twin to her bag that I admired so much. Lucky me!!

A little fabric covered paper box, hand stitched and assembled by Jean,
who excels at every fibre art known to man. Every little kernel is outlined.
Before I close this post, here was another western phenomenon that I really loved.
Worm sharing!!! In both workshops, people brought big containers full of worms and offered them to all in the group to use at will.

Definitely food for thought of doing a workshop that is just about using worms. No lack of choice here.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Pretty Impressive Impressionistic Mats

The second workshop in Edmonton was called "Hooking in an Impressionistic Style". Each student was asked to choose a painting - in the public domain or with permission - that they would interpret in wool.

Van Gogh was a popular choice. Lawren Harris was interpreted in a fun and youthful way. A new-to-me Canadian artist's painting was exquisite, both in the original and in the mat version. A colourful cat painting by another artist I didn't know before came to life.

Some of the most fun works in the class were those from far less recognized artists - with a more personal connection.

Two sister students did paintings that had been painted by one of them.  Two other people brought "grand" art - created by their grandchildren. And two more brought paintings that had a personal connection in their lives. One was a family homestead painted by a relative. The other was a friend's colourful painting of a horse - again, perfect for this class.

As with the first workshop, this class ranged in experience from rookie to expert. And many of the previous class were in this one too - 9 out of 13. That made it nice for me, since I got to spend even more time getting to know them.

So enough chatter. Here are the ones that are finished (or nearly). The rest will be posted as I receive them.

Artist: Ken Gillespie (with permission) 

(A little note re this painting. Because the student was travelling in Europe with spotty wifi, I contacted the artist on her behalf. He was so thrilled to be asked and enthusiastically said yes. He said he is sick and tired of seeing his images on everything from paper napkins to playing cards. It was a pleasant change for him to even be approached.)

Here is a Van Gogh well under way. Can't wait to see it done. It's amazing when you look at the images on line of these famous works - the colour range is unbelievable.

This feline got a new background and foreground, but still retained its 'catitiude'.

Another Van Gogh, done by the newest hooker in the class. She was so excited to get it done - with 5 minutes to spare on the last day. She definitely captured the directional hooking of the brush strokes.

Here is Chagall's "Cow with Parasol", as interpreted by 5-year old Theo, and then hooked by his very proud grandmother.

The other budding artist, Josephine's original and her grandmother's hooked rendering. A very accomplished knitter, Arlene is relatively new to rug hooking, but you sure can't tell.

A horse of a different colour - quite a few, actually, as the original painting and as the mat. Cathy's first passion is quilting, but she sure did a great job on this mat.

Two more pieces that were well under way by the end of class. These pictures were both painted by Louise.  She and her sister Laurie were two of the students who did multiple mats in the first class. So they went much larger this time and the pieces are going to be stunning. Lots of talent in that family. Here is Louise's lobster.

And Laurie's very handsome and regal raven.

(The little blue patch (I think it is a cat) in the bottom of Laurie's mat is what happens when you leave the room - someone hooks something into your open space. Kind of like being "hook bombed".)

As you can see, it was an incredibly talented group. It was the first time I taught this class and it will be at the top of my list for years to come. So much variety and inspiration from the artists long dead and very much alive.

I will share the rest as they hit my desktop.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Afterglow of Edmonton

Back home in my studio, surrounded by piles of things that still need to be dealt with, I am chomping at the bit to share the amazing time I had. It will take a few posts to do it all.

Everything about the experience surpassed my expectations! It was a little scary going into a strange place to do two workshops back to back, and I must say I was a bit apprehensive. But once that snowball started rolling down the hill, it gathered speed and the two weeks passed much too quickly.

The people were so friendly - kind of like Western Maritimers lol. They entertained me on my break days and many came to support me at my Lecture at The Royal Albert Museum - another adventure to be sure.

The first workshop - Photo to Mat - was held in an unusual venue to say the least. We were in the Igloo Room at Commonwealth stadium. This is the club house of the Edmonton Eskimos. Big, bright with a window onto the field. After a few of the team helped carry our stuff down some stairs on day one, we got to watch them practice. Here are a few shots of the view:

Ahead of the class, all the students had sent me their photos that they wanted to work with. I used two of the programs that I would share in class to do two things. First I used befunky (my personal favourite photo editor) to create a painterly sketch of their image. Then I used Paintbrush to do a colour plan for each image.

Since both workshops were sponsored by Focus on Fibre Arts Alberta (FFAA), there were a number of fibre artists in the room for whom rug hooking was not their first discipline. There were others who are masterful hookers, certified teachers, and basically speed demons. Some finished more than two projects while in class - they were smoking!!

One student introduced me to Tambour stitchery, which I hadn't seen before. Here is the picture that she chose for the class.

And here is what her mat looked like by the time I left.  I am hoping to get a picture of the finally embellished piece. And I hope to try this technique in the near future.

Jean, the creator of this piece, is a major force behind the FFAA and the workshops. She is a wonderful, warm person who ferried me to class every day, made sure that my every need and want was looked after and someone who is talented in so many ways, it would be impossible to name them all. She does every fibre art, it seems, and incredibly well. Both her talent and her heart are HUGE.

Here are some other photos with the finished mats from class. Everyone has promised to share their finished pieces, so I will wait for the others before sharing.

Here is Fritz, Laurie's wonderful equine friend. I am showing the original photo and the finished piece (not yet blocked and whipped).

After she finished this piece, she did a picture of someone's cat (I think her niece).

Her sister Laurie who is an artist and an equally prolific rug hooker, chose this picture of her cat "Picatso" for her first piece.

And when he was done, she whipped up this crow/raven in a colourful palette.

This interesting image of icebergs was completed in three days by Janet, another speed demon.

Sheila, a rookie hooker, chose this flower picture to adapt. And she finished all the hooking in class.

this is the befunky image.

Cec adapatd a picture of her fun folk art deck (created by her husband), Jerry. Her palette, I quickly discovered, is bright and cheery - just like she is. We spent a fun day at West Edmonton Mall and she treated Jean and myself to a wonderful dinner.

Faye chose to do a painting instead of a photo for this first class. A very accurate adaptation of a card she received from a friend.

I will show the rest of the work when the students get finished, but they were all off to a great start and all promised to share photos when they are done.

I apologize for not being more vigilant in the picture taking because after taking initial ones to check values on the computer, I neglected to take pictures of the ones that weren't yet finished.

Posts to follow about non-hooking work that was shared plus the amazing Fibre Arts show I got to see. And the Impressionism class photos.

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...