Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Projects done. Baby can come now.

Any time now - according to the doctor.

So, I am very happy that all the necessary knitting and sewing are done. Off the needles are this cute little dress and a stroller suit.

The dress was a pattern found here and the gorgeous yarn came from my LYS here in Peterborough, Needles in the Hay. The stroller suit was also from the same store, from a kit from Fleece Artist, whose yarns I love. But this pattern was not my favourite. Very vague instructions  - and very small!!! I did the larger size, but think it will truly be newborn size. (Note to self: read all comments on ravelry before embarking on a pattern.)

Anyway, they are washed and blocked and ready to go.

So the next project was the "big brother Spiderman quilt". I bought the panel and the other Spidey fabric online and then went to my Fabricland for the red fabric and the backing. Most of the panel was quilted on my machine, but then I had some fun hooking by hand. Some small areas on the panel and the eyes on the upper and lower print panel. It is also washed and ready to go.

Now we wait. Daughter is more than past ready to have the little one here, but as the doctor said, "she could come any time." So our ears are on alert for the late night call and we will zoom to TO and stay with Jackson until his sister arrives.

Maybe tonight.......

Monday, August 28, 2017

Baby Nest is now a Hornet's Nest.

Here are some pictures of the finished Baby Nest plus the waterproof liners that I made for it.

But as I was sewing the last seam, Health Canada was on every news media warning about risks of suffocation. They continue to offer other advice such as "never leave baby unattended... many ads depict babies sleeping unsafely i.e. on their tummies...the best way for a baby to sleep is on their back, alone in a crib (that meets Canadian regulations)".

I heartily agree with all of that. But I wonder if, used correctly, a nest poses any bigger suffocation risk than things like blankets, sofas, comforters on beds or pillows placed around a baby. What poses the biggest risk of all is leaving a baby unattended. And that can be said for just about anything to do with babies.

Whether it is a commercially available nest, or one like mine made following a DIY tutorial or two, every single one I saw always specified SUITABLE FOR 0-4 months. That is because 4 months is often when a baby learns to roll over from its back to its front. And that is why you wouldn't use it once that stage of development was reached.

So, is the nest destined to become a cat bed after all? Perhaps. But that decision is up to our daughter, who would NOT leave her baby unattended. She would also never put a blanket on a baby, put it on its tummy to sleep, put bumper pads in the crib or co-sleep, while many choose to do so.

I am sure she will make the right choice - for her and her baby. And maybe for her cat.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Camp Killdevil Killed it Again.

Whoever said "You can't go back. It will never be as good the second time." has obviously never been to rug camp in Newfoundland.

From the moment I landed until take off 5 days later, I was once again charmed and delighted with the province and the people who live there. One of the camp directors, Sue, met me at the Airport and drove me to camp. Since my flight was late, we made the trek in the dark - a dangerous activity because of moose on the road at night, especially in Gros Morne. Luckily, the hundred or so frogs (plus one bunny) we slalomed around took the place of moose and we arrived unscathed.

Here I was, back again, and in the morning, the site of the cabins and the smell of the air were already familiar. And since we had a free morning, Sue generously offered to take me to Woody Point, where I bought a wonderful piece of art. The lupins of my youth interpreted in driftwood, beach stones and sea glass. 

This year, I was back as a teacher, with my 'Photo to Mat' class, filled with very personal memory photos. We had lots of dogs, two cats, one grand child, a boy in a pumpkin patch, a black and white wedding photo from 1939, a father-in-law, and a few harbour scenes.

Here is the wonderful group that came along for the ride. As you can see, it was a totally serious bunch.

It's ironic to do an internet-based class in a place that has no internet, but since all the prep work was done in advance, I didn't see it as much of a hindrance. And with all emails to and fro with the pre-work, I developed a relationship with everyone (and their subjects) even before I got there.

Each student had sent me their image weeks ahead - I had run it through some photo editing sites and sent back a few options. Based on the choice, I prepared a colour plan. For class, I had presentations on how to use the different tools versus a live demo on the internet. With these step-by-step instructions, they can play on their own computers at their leisure.

Each year at camp, there is a "theme". This year it was Elvis. And the students rose to the challenge of representing THE KING. Here's a video that just shows you how the folks from Newfoundland take on a theme challenge for a party. Within three beats of the first song, everyone was on the dance floor and pretty much remained there until the last beat of the last song of the encore.


My Elvis costume for theme night was a hooked Elvis face mask plus Hawaiian shirt and leis to be Elvis in Blue Hawaii. The mask doubled as a teaching tool, since it was hooked from a royalty-free photo. It also was my entry into the theme challenge and won first place. My prize was free membership in the Guild for a year.

At the festivities, lots of folks had their picture taken with it. Here are a couple of my students and one of the directors as "instant Elvis".

After the party, Saturday and Sunday passed in a blur of activity. Lots of hooking and one-on-one time to make sure everyone in the class was at a point where they could finish without me. I didn't take any pictures of work in progress, but one of the class members offered to be the official photographer. She is lingering behind in Nfld. with her hubby, so I will do another post when she is back in Ontario and sends them to me.

We had a little time to visit the other classrooms and see what everyone was working on. There were a few vendors selling wool cloth, wool yarn and other goodies. And Saturday night, there was a bonfire with lots of singing and an accordion player. I fell asleep to "Kumbaya". It doesn't get much camp-ier than that!

Sunday morning class went by in a flash, our last lunch was over, and camp was finished for another year. Everyone was sad to go and the rainy weather reflected the slightly melancholy mood. Lots of hugs and "see you next year" rang across the campground.

Luckily, I was in for another afternoon of Newfoundland magic before my evening flight back to TO. I was hosted by Jane, the other camp director, and her husband Jerome, who have a charming cabin in Woody Point where they spend their summers. We wiled away the afternoon sharing stories around their wood stove. I was treated to an incredible salmon dinner, prepared by Jerome and then chauffeured to the airport and hugged goodbye.

So, you definitely CAN go back. And sometimes the second time is even better!! If I'm lucky, there might just be a third. A couple of the Elvises (or is that Elvi?) told me they are taking my class next year. Apparently, there is a move afoot to get me on the teacher list for Photo to Mat 2018. Let's just say, I would be thrilled to return and teach it again.

Here's a link to the RHGNL (Rug Hooking Guild of Newfoundland and Labrador) website. Winnie Glavine, the publicity and social media co-ordinator, will be sharing whatever images are sent to her by all the campers, so keep watching for those. In the meantime, grab a cup of coffee or tea and take a peek around the site. You'll enjoy the visit.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Building a Nest is NOT so Easy.

In anticipation of Tadpole 2's arrival, I talked to my daughter who was lamenting that she hadn't received a "nest" as a gift. After learning what they were, and seeing hers in her registry list, I am not surprised. They sell in the $200+ range - yikes!

"No problem", says the doting gram. "I will make one for you." They are all the rage on Pinterest, so how hard that it be!! Like everything else, I am sure my prototype is the true test. And after umpteen hours already, I am about to start sewing.

Just so that you are aware of what a "nest"is, here is a link to see a few on Pinterest. And here is one picture from one of many blog posts that offers advice on making one. Seems they are more of a "thing" in the Scandinavian countries than here, but they appear to be catching on.

Many thanks to jaggedrose and her blog for guiding me through here. She even calls it the "Scandi Bed", and most of the other patterns and images were from Sweden, or somewhere else with a language I couldn't read. (The image above is from her sew-along on her blog, which was excellent.)

My daughter and grand-daughter-to-be picked this palette for their "nest". The grey chevrons are for the bottom, the white for the inside, and the pink to make bias tape for the top, where the cord goes through to draw the shape into the nest.

Yesterday was pattern day. I saw lots of pictures on Pinterest, in a few different sizes, so decided I would make my own. Since math is NOT a strong suit for me, I resorted to blowing up and tracing one pattern onto many pieces of tissue, taping them all together and coming up with something that quite closely resembled the pattern I wanted.

Today, I used that pattern and cut out the top and bottom. I then moved on to making my own bias tape, which of course included a trip to Fabricland to buy a bias tape maker. Then a 45-minute search for my rotary cutter (which has not been used since we moved here and I had to remember where I packed it.) Now I am ready to begin sewing. Well, I will be once I try my trusty new bias tape cutter.

I will share progress and completion shots here, so that we can all enjoy the end result, hopefully.

Must confess to thinking, on first blush, that nests look suspiciously like cat beds. So, if this should turn out less than Tadpole-worthy, at least my grand cat Jasper will have a nice soft place to sleep.

Stay tuned.....

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Whole Lotta Burpin' Going On

With a few other babies arriving the same time as Tadpole 2, I decided to make a bunch of burp cloths for each of them. 32 burp cloths in all - quite the pile.  When Jackson (aka Tadpole 1) was born, one of his mom's favourite gifts were some shoulder-sized burp cloths, which she found so much easier to put over her shoulder than full on receiving blankets.

So I found a free online pattern on Pinterest and decided to make each expectant mom 8. I chose genderless patterns and they will each get two of four prints. This pattern even has a little shape around the neck to keep them in place. Pretty brilliant!!

The first batch was delivered a few weeks ago, just before the arrival of the first burper "Clementine". She is safely here, her new mom is over the initial shock, and I am pretty sure the cloths are getting more than their fair share of action.

The other arrivals are slated for August and September, so I am done with far more lead time than before.

Tadpole 2 is being "showered" this Sunday, and I got a few other goodies ready for the party.

Sweater number 1 is Gwen, from a free Debbie Bliss pattern here.  It is meant to be Taddy's "homecoming sweater" and I worried it looked a bit large.

So, with the leftover yarn, I knit sweater number 2, which you can find here.  It does appear to be a bit smaller, but not by much. She may end up with two sweaters that she can rotate through her fall wardrobe lol.  And there's enough yarn left for a second hat - mostly pink - so she has a choice there as well.

Tadpole 1 is a hot little dude - can't wear sweaters. Loves hats though. Hoping Taddy 2 loves sweaters, cuz there are so many cute little girl ones, I can just keep cranking them out.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Clip Art Cat Gets Nine Lives

Next week I am show casing a possible class for Trent Rug School in 2018. The proposal is to hook one piece of clip art different ways, with a mini lesson each day in various techniques.

I have always loved the "possibilities" that every new project presents. In addition to the design are the decisions about colour plan, technique, materials. For me, this is the creative phase, making these choices and going for it - the loop pulling is the therapy and the journey.

If you have been following my blog, you know this is not my first rodeo. A few years ago I hooked One Moose, Four Ways.

This is the Primitive Version 

This one is done with alternative fibers. Click in for a closer look.

She is my "impressionist" moose.
She is my "realistic" moose, or as realistic as you can get in an 8 cut.
A while later, getting ready for a Zen and the Art of Doodling class, I hooked this version in polar fleece. It was fun and another way to hook my same beautiful moose.

I decided my next exploration would go in a new direction and I was searching through royalty-free clip art and found this handsome cat.

I initially drew him on a piece of backing six times. And before very long, he became these six feisty felines.

This is Proddy Cat (with a nod to Maude Lewis)

This is Primitive Cat with Snow Balls 

This is Doodle Cat with the palette from Doodle Moose.

This is Realistic Cat who looks very serious.

This is Applique Cat, with buttons.

This is Painterly Van Gogh cat.
When these six were done, I was pretty sure there were lots more ways to go and decided that since a cat is reputed to have nine lives, I would come up with three more. And this trio of cats bounded off the frame.

This is "inch mat" cat, peeking up from lower frame. - I accidentally put him 1" lower. 

This is "calico cat", hooked like the fabric. 

And this is "Abstract Cat". The clip art cat cut apart and arranged in this way.

This was a fun exercise and I loved every one of these. They are all around 6 x 8, but each took on their own dimension as I hooked them. I certainly don't expect any student to do this many renditions of their clip art, but it's fun to consider the possibilities.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Yikes, where have I been?

I can't believe I didn't do a single post last month, but I guess it is because I didn't have anything finished to share. Not that I haven't been busy with things - in fact, quite the opposite - but I like to have final projects to show when I post here.

That said, here is a list of projects that are under way:

Burp cloths.  I have gone into production in a big way on these things. When Jackson was born, my daughter said that the best thing she received were some burp cloths that were rectangles that just fit on the shoulder - versus receiving blankets that required folding and adjusting.

I found a pattern for a shaped burp cloth on line. Here is a picture.

So I went to the fabric store, selected four different gender-neutral flannels for the tops and big piece of white flannel for the backs. And I have cut out and am making 32 of these bad boys. They will be divided into four batches of 8 cloths, since there are four new babies on the horizon.

One of these will be a new granddaughter for Rick and I. A new baby sister for Jackson. Here is how they announced it:

Pretty cute, huh? And a good thing it is a girl, since that is what Big Bro said he wanted. lol.

On the knitting front, I am on the sleeves of this project - Laneway, from Ravelry

Mine is a darker grey sock wool with a variegated striping yarn for the stripes and I am nearly done one sleeve. It has been in and out of production and I got back to it when I got back from Barbados. But since warm weather is (supposedly) just around the corner, I have set it aside (again) to work on another project that may be more appropriate for the season.

Here is the new one, Dark and Stormy, also from Ravelry. Although this is a worsted weight cardigan, I think it will be a good "chilly nights" summer sweater and I really want to have it done to take to cottages and rug camp in Newfoundland.

On the hooking front, there are several things that have been keeping my hook busy. The first thing I started when I got back from Barbados is a show case for Trent this year, for a class that I hope to teach next June 2018. It involves finding a piece of clip art (royalty free) and coming up with many different ways to hook it. So far there are six versions - one left to hook, but I am hoping to do NINE, since it is a cat and I love the "nine lives" angle.

Here's a picture of the progress to date. So far I have hooked Primitive Cat, Proddy Cat, Applique Cat, Doodle Cat and Van Gogh Cat. The one unhooked on this panel will be Impressionistic Cat. And I do have ideas for the three to follow. Such fun coming up with the ideas. And for the class next year - if it is a go - there will be a lesson each day on a different style.

So, lots has been going on and the studio is humming. For that reason, I have been remiss here. Will try to update progress on a more regular basis. If you are reading this, thanks for hanging in with me.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Knitting in Barbados

Well we are into our final week. As always, the time 'drifts' by in the beginning and speeds up the closer you get to the end. This week it is flying at warp speed.

Instead of bringing hooking with me this year, I brought knitting. I had cast on a sweater for my daughter's birthday, with a promise of presenting it done on our return. And ta-da! It is. Because of consistent lovely breezes, I was able to knit in my usual perch - a chaise lounge overlooking the sea at the beach club where we hang out most days. Here are a couple of pictures taken there.

This is the sweater in progress. The pattern is "Bello" and you can find it here on Ravelry.  I was able to find a version knit by someone who is as tall as Laura and incorporated her modifications into the sweater as I went along. Once she tries it on, I will block it to whatever we need.

Pulling out knitting at the club unearthed a slew of other knitters. Suddenly there were lots of socks being worked on and lots of discussions with newly found knitting friends about events across the country like "Knit East" which is taking place in St. Andrews in late October.  If I weren't already going to Newfoundland to teach at Rug Camp this year, I would be sorely tempted....

Here is my third "sock by the sea". The first two were actually started on the plane down and finished and given to a friend who is a non-knitter but LOVES home made socks. The ones on the needle in this picture are short sneaker socks which will hopefully come back with me next year for my early morning walks each day. This one is finished and its mate is now on the needles and will probably get finished on the plane ride home next Tuesday.

Here is a picture of the finished sweater. It was a great pattern and I think the sock weight yarn will make it the perfect not-too-hot sweater that will get lots of wear.

I certainly missed hooking for this much time, but knitting is far more portable - not only for the plane trips, but also for at the deck. Can't really see hooking there, but who knows - maybe next year.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Howdy from Holetown

How remiss am I in my posting on this blog!!! I guess being in Barbados and not having brought hooking with me this year, I am feeling a bit detached. And sharing too much of the scenery here seems to be a bit unfair. We are more than half way through our stay here. I explain to people it is not a holiday: more like a trip to the cottage which happens to be a 5-hour plane ride away.

That said, I have hooking to share that is not mine, but the work of students who have shared with me and given permission for me to share here.

First up is a remarkable sunrise mat hooked by a student at OHCG school a couple of years ago in my "Photo to Mat" course. Not only did she do an amazing job, but she astonished her husband (and possibly herself). It is easy to see why.

This is the same class I will (hopefully) be teaching at Rug Camp in Newfoundland this coming August.

Another student who hooked with me in my studio in Parry Sound has been working on some mats that are for a special stool in her home. She sent me pictures of the series she has created. Her grand kids love to sit on the mat and love the whimsical patterns.

Although I didn't bring hooking this year, I did bring knitting and have been working away on a sweater for my daughter's birthday next month. Amazingly, it has been windy and cool enough to knit on my perch on the deck by the sea. The sound of the waves and the palm trees swaying are quite a different scenario for knitting from anything at home.

Here's a progress shot of this beautiful pattern "Bello" which you can find on ravelry.  One of the knitters who shared her project is tall like my daughter, so I was able to see the modifications she made to make it longer. Nearly finished the body and I will get going on the sleeves shortly.

This is a picture of the sweater finished and the lovely designer who created it.

Before starting Bello, I finished a pair of "scrappy socks" for a friend, knit with leftovers from all my other socks. If this gets done with time to spare, I have yarn for another pair. And if I don't get done, the socks will still be the plane project for the flight home.

Keep warm everyone.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Guess what I got for Christmas? Patience!

Or maybe just a little more self control.

A couple of my recent projects have called on me to "do the right thing" which means not throwing the entire thing into a bag and walking away. It means "backing up" to where you went astray.

The first is the Inspira Cowl I am knitting. I bought this as a kit from The Needle Emporium  in Ancaster when I was teaching at the OHCG School last year. I finally got around to starting it and was more than 1/2 way through when I realized I was complicating the pattern by twisting my yarn behind as I carried it along (old school technique when doing stranded work - not necessary on three stitch pattern).

It wasn't awful, but I knew it didn't look as great as some of the others on Ravelry. So I frogged the whole thing and started again. It's amazing how quickly you can frog versus knitting - even stranded work!

Now it is perfect and I LOVE the colours. Just a few more rows to go and it will be off the needles and warming my neck.  BTW, Julie at The Needle Emporium's kit is a much faster knit in worsted weight than the one shown on Ravelry. And she has about 6 of them on her blog A Really Good Yarn 

The other exercise in patience is a wonderful new dress that I made to take to Barbados. It is from another Marci Tilton pattern - Vogue 9112.  Since it is already packed, I am showing you an image from the pattern sleeve. I will take a picture when I wear it in the sun.

I made mine in a yummy coral red linen and it turned out beautifully. Like her other patterns, it is quite an architectural feat to assemble all the parts. I think there were 15 pattern pieces - here is a sketch from the pattern sleeve which shows how much stuff is going on. That's what make her patterns so interesting to sew.

The exercise in patience came when I attached the front to the back - about halfway through the assembly. Since linen doesn't have a wrong side, and since I didn't think to clearly indicate which was the right side, the fronts and backs did match and the side seams clearly indicated I had done something wrong. I had left front side to right back side - or something like that.

I decided it was easiest to undo the shoulders and the back seams - only FOUR! and re-do them. Note to self - check progress before finishing seams. About an hour later, I had reassembled and was on my way. Must confess there was a momentary urge to "bag it" and try again much later.

But my new "cup of patience" totally paid off. The dress is wonderful and I will definitely be making it again - having learned from my errors. Will make sure to choose fabric with a visible difference between right and wrong sides.

Is it maturity that gives us the ability to remain calm and "back up"? Or just the experience in knowing that if you take the time to undo - the end result will be worth it.