Thursday, December 13, 2018

A Maker in December is a force to be reckoned with.

I am a maker. I make all manner of things throughout the year, but December is like my Olympics for making. I have a list of things I know I am going to make. And then there are all the little surprises that bump into the "to make" list.

This year, the interrupters ended up being the most "fun" part of the making. When I heard that my grandson's list included a "bow tie", I decided "I can make that." But I also think that a bow tie needs a vest, so now there was a vest on the list.

Let me take a moment to say how incredible the sharing is among makers on the internet. I found a free pattern from Melly Sews. along with a super step-by-step tutorial to make this vest.

Is it perfect? No. But is it perfect for a 5-year old. Yup.

Then came the bow ties - another wonderful tutorial I found online. I can't find the one I used right now, but suffice to say there are many. I made one for the holidays out of taffeta - and then a second one with leftover fabric from a Spiderman quilt.

I think I know which one will be the fave.

Making the taffeta bow tie triggered a need for a Christmas dress for little sister "Evvie", which resulted in this little number.

So much fun to make little people clothes. So fast. And good, because they will seriously only wear them once or twice. (But I do see that little vest getting a good workout with the Spidey tie and a t-shirt.)

Because this little lady needs some sun clothes for her upcoming trip to Barbados to visit Grandma and Grandpa with Mom, Dad and Jackson, I went through my stash and found fabric that was toddler-friendly and after picking up a little companion fabric, am creating some very cute outfits that will be the hit of Holetown in February.

Here are two reversible pinafores with matching "bloomers", a word that makes many folks giggle, including Evvie's mom. 

One more set to sew, with fabric on hand. Hope she is happy to wear these. I have a feeling that my years of being able to sew for her may be short. So I will have fun while I can.

Normally, this is when I post about what I am making for me, but this year I really don't need a thing. Maybe one dress for the brain injury fundraiser we attend while we are "on island". And the knit pattern that I hoped would be done - one of the projects that got interrupted by this other making - may need to be replaced by a little jersey dress. Stay tuned.

The last, and maybe best, thing to share is a rug hooking project that I have been working on since being there last year. I think I posted about being "gifted" an incredible portrait of a model named Chanda by my friend Vishni Gopwani. She and I have been virtual friends for a few years, since I first saw her art at the Gallery of Caribbean Art.  Last year, we met in the real world and she gave me this incredible painting.

I told her that I could only accept this gift if I reciprocated with a fibre interpretation. That way, we would each have a Chanda in our lives. I love hooking portraits - it may be my favourite thing to hook, but adapting a painting of a friend is another story. And I probably fussed more than I would have it were Van Gogh or one of the Group of Seven. In the end, I am pretty pleased with it.

Here is my fibre Chanda. I am pretty sure that Vishni will love it. I'm sure she will be amazed at the loops needed to recreate a single brush stroke. I loved being able to take a painting I loved and interpret it into the fibre medium. Although there is no "blending" as there is in painting, it is an exercise in values - which is a common denominator in all art interpretation.

Hopefully the wool will be as happy in that wonderful tropical climate as I am every year.

Back to more making today. Another sunsuit and a pair of bloomers. And then maybe that little jersey dress for me.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

I washed a rug! And I liked it!!

Ha ha - little nod to Katy Perry, because this is something I had never attempted before.

This is the mat that I hooked nearly 10 years ago. It was hooked specifically to go in front of the sink, which many people thought was just plain "crazy".  What if it gets wet? What if it gets spilled on? Yeah, yeah, yeah...

It's my own design, which I call "veggie chopsticks" and for those of you who ever played it in your early piano days, the lyrics for this rug would be, starting from the centre:

Carrot, carrot, carrot, carrot,
Asparagus, asparagus, asparagus, asparagus
Celery, celery, celery, celery,
Corn, corn, corn, celery, asparagus

back to
carrot, carrot ...........................

I know. I know. Hopelessly corny, but that is the song that came into my head as I was designing it. All the vertical veggies are in the centre, with the rounder veggies creating the border.

I hooked (not punched) this whole rug in yarn on rug warp, believing that I would be able to wash it at some point. That point came last weekend after a spill of ham broth on the corn cob on the right. Up til then, I spot cleaned it occasionally when things look a bit spotty. This spill called for more drastic measures.

So, I took it upstairs to the tub, added some baby shampoo and cold water and let it soak for a while. Then I scrubbed the lighter bits with a toothbrush and some more baby shampoo. Followed that with a LOT of rinsing and then came the task of getting water out.

A few towels later, I was ready to set it in the furnace room to dry. First, I hung it on a drying rack, but after one "sleepover", I could see the whipped edges starting to go a bit wonky. So I moved it to my foam blocks I use to block my sweaters and used pins to straighten out the curly bits.

Two more days on those and it was dry enough to be turned over, to let the back dry. One more sleepover next to the furnace and it was ready to go back into its rightful place in front of the sink.

I am very pleased with this whole endeavour. I was a little nervous that some of the darker yarns might run, but luckily, none did.

If your rug has been hooked on a water-friendly backing, you should be able to do the same thing.

Thanks for reading.

Be back soon to update the Christmas tree rugs. My students were here again last night, and the progress they made was fantastic. The rugs are so different - a true reflection on each of them.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

WOW - two months gone.

And they have been busy months. With hooking. With knitting. With a little road trip to Florida. With the "grands". With life!!!

So what do I have to share? A few updates. Fillippa Flamingo is still languishing on the love seat in the basement. She nearly got put on plywood a few weeks ago while I was in TO, but that didn't happen. Not sure of timing now, but in the meantime, she seems content to lie around, watching Netflix and reading from Rick's extensive library lol.

I have three lovely students who come to my studio on Wednesday nights. I tempted them with a Christmas project and they were all keen. So last week, I had many options to share with them. Ornaments, trees, cone Santas, 3-D snowmen and on and on. They opted for a tree pattern that I designed - and then the studio went black!!! A big power failure that covered much of the Peterborough area.  Class was over. Power didn't come back on till well after midnight. But we re-booked for this week to try again.

In the meantime, I enlarged the pattern and hand drew it four times - one for each of us - and got started on mine. Here's the design. It is 8" wide by 28" high and will be fun to hang in tall, skinny spot - or on a door. Lots of possibilities in here and a fun project to hook.

And here is my version of the tree segments hooked. I love how much fun it is to choose colours for each of the segments. I did the buffalo-check part first. Love lining up the wool to re-create the checks. A simple background and a colourful whipped edge and this will be done.

On the needles? My Boxy sweater is now ready for seaming and sleeves. I had a "duh" moment when I realized that I had knit the front and back on different-sized needles. Even the most energetic blocking wasn't going to solve the problem, so I frogged and re-knit the back. Yikes. A giant rectangle on 3.5 mm needles and sock yarn is not a quick fix. But I am much happier with the result.

Here is a picture - this is not mine - but isn't that a fabulous necklace. Want to try to replicate someday.

Also on the needles - a dress!! I fell in love with a picture of this in an ad for a not-so-local yarn shop. After calling to find out about the pattern, I ordered the yarn and it is now in progress. It is light-weight linen and I am hoping to wear it to the annual brain injury fundraiser we go to in Barbados. Nearly finished the front - still lots of pieces to get done.

And of course, the annual pair of socks for hubby. He LOVES homemade socks and doesn't need anything else for Christmas. The pair in progress is being knit using the Gros Morne yarn I bought in Gros Morne, Newfoundland. This was one of the National Park yarns created by Fleece Artist. They did one for each province.

Off the needles, hats for the "grands". Jackson requested a Ninja Turtle hat - and gloves!! What almost-five-year-old wants gloves!! Anyway, the hat is a success - the gloves not so much. Apparently, they don't quite fit. I will make a pair of mitts with the leftover yarn as a fall-back option.

And then the challenge of a hat for Everleigh who won't keep anything on her head. I chose a pattern with braids that also serve as ties. And an enormous pom pom. Turns out it was a hit! Let's see how long that love affair lasts.

So yes, things have been a tad busy around here. I will try to be more timely in my posts, and share the socks and Boxy when they are done. But you never know what life has in store to disrupt the best-laid plans.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Hooking is all done!

After an incredibly busy August and beginning of September, day before yesterday I pulled the last loop on Fillippa Flamingo. And the next day, I zig-zagged around the outside of the hooking to trim her down for turning under.

Here she is. After I finished the prodded wing, I hooked some row on her back behind the wing and then finished her underside.

Once I turn the bit of backing under, it will be on with the challenge of finishing her into a dummy board. For those who don't know what a dummy board is, here is a link to a few painted ones on Pinterest

I actually painted one many years ago for my sister and she used it in front of her fireplace when there wasn't a fire. I decided to try to create one out of this hooked bird, so that I didn't have to make her 3-D, just 2-D.

I know she will be mounted on a piece of plywood that will be cut out in the same shape, and I have a volunteer to help me with that. Then comes the challenge of getting her to stand up - and still look like a flamingo. For legs, I am thinking I will use rebar and put a large piece of wood behind her to secure those. My back up plan is PVC plumbing pipe.

And some kind of base for her to stand on. Not quite sure what that will be, and hoping to find a sturdy solution where she will remain upright. lol. She is a pretty tall gal.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Winging it.

When you are working on a bird this big, you know it is two things: a big time commitment and a big material commitment.

Fillippa got so big that I moved her to my cheticamp frame the other day, figuring I could isolate just the wing area while I was prodding it with all the fun fibres. It was a good decision and much easier to work on on this frame.  I was hoping I was half way through the wing when I moved her.

After this morning's session, I think I am probably two-thirds done the wing. And would have finished but ran out of some of the wool I was using. So back into the dye pot for more flamingo pinks. I mixed a few different textures to create slightly different values of the same colour.

I am calling this the 2/3 mark. Optimistic? Maybe.

And here is some more pink to go to the finish line. Well, not really the finish line - I still have to hook the body under the wing. But getting closer.

I will surely have had my share of "pink" when she is done. Hopefully, I can get lots more done this week before the "grandson" returns on the 6th. There is NO hooking when he is here. lol.

Lots of fun, but NO hooking.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

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 one is very simple "what you see is what you get".

So, after spending a week with our Grandson here, I got back to Fillippa Flamingo. I actually had posted a progress shot on Instagram last week, which I will share here.  Knew right away that the "hit or miss" was a much better way to go, for many reasons.

I did get more done on the neck before Jackson arrived, but pulled nary a loop while he was here. By the time he was ready for bed at night, so was I.

But back on track today and reminded about just HOW BIG this bird is. I took a "selfie" with me and Fillippa, just to show the scale. I am standing right in front of her - this is not one of the fake fishing shots. lol  (I am definitely NOT a selfie expert, but figured this was a good reason to take one - or half one.)

With this much hooking done on the neck, I decided to do a little playing with the wing. I have collected some fun fabrics to create lots of texture. And got enough done this afternoon to show you a bit of a preview.

I took a close up shot so you can see all the fun tulle, bathing suit fabric and other proddy wool bits.

And here's a shot that shows the height of the "fun feathers" next to the hooked parts. 

Fun, right?

Trying now to figure out how to move all the fun stuff around the wing surface, so have had to do a count of strips of the fun stuff and then fill in with the other stuff. It's time consuming, but a nice break from the hooking. 

Will update with progress as I go.

Friday, July 6, 2018

The Beginnings of Big Big Bird

Here are the first pictures of Fillippa Flamingo.

You can see from the very first image, with the hook and scissors in for scale, that she is HUGE. I think she will probably stand over 5 feet tall when she is finished, not counting the block she will be inserted into.

After transferring the pattern (thanks to Judy K in Fort Frances) onto backing and making a few modifications, it was time to figure out what to do with her. So I started with her beak.

Next step was to try to figure out HOW to hook her body. And my first attempt is not working for me. She just looks too stripe-y. Sure I want her to be wild and crazy - but in a flamingo way, not a clown. I think I will back up and start again with some feather-like shapes that I can hook hit or miss with all the textures and colours that I have. I am sharing this first experiment anyway. Hopefully, I will get started on the alternative approach tomorrow and can share that result.

So, why am I hooking a giant flalmingo anyway??? Fillippa will be a mascot/ambassador bird at the OHCG 2019 Annual in London Ontario, the theme for which is "BIRDS OF A FEATHER".

She will be a multi-fibre bird, using just about anything in the pink-ish range that I have in my stash or can find. And her wing will be WILD.  I have crazy yarn and pink feathers and I am thinking of adding some taffeta too - should be fun.

Once she is hooked (which I think will take quite a while), she will become a "dummy board" - or in this case a "dummy bird". What does that mean? She will be mounted on a plywood cut out of herself, given some rebar legs, which will be inserted into a block to enable her to stand up.

So stay tuned. I am hoping to give progress shots as she develops. Hopefully she will be as spectacular as I imagine.

I saw this saying on Pinterest and might just have to order a t-shirt with that on the front. Perfect, I think, to wear to the Annual.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

When Inspiration Strikes.....

For more than a year, I have been pondering a hooked headboard for one of the guest rooms in our house. I've had lots of thoughts, but nothing drove me to dive in - until this morning.

Over coffee, an idea hit and I did a very quick sketch in a nearby notebook. I decided this was it, and went downstairs and quickly drew it onto a piece of backing I had previously gridded. It has different proportions from the sketch, but I like the flow.

I should also say that while I have been ruminating over this "headboard rug",  I have also amassed quite a stash of bulky yarn, since I decided that would feel better against your head than wool strips. And then a couple of weeks ago, I found this yarn at Michael's.

I loved the colour combination and there are all kinds of interesting textures in the ball. I figured it would be great for hooking and would be soft against your head, if you leaned against it.

While I was still feeing the inspiration, I got started. And within a short time, since the yarn is quite thick, I had three swirls hooked. And I am loving the look of it. I also think it will be interesting hooked in straight lines for the "wave".

I think I may move it onto my Cheticamp frame so that it is always out and ready for a few loops. As usual, I have many competing projects. But I think that this might go quickly if I just don't run out of enthusiasm.  The finished size will be 2 feet by 6 feet. And I guess when it is finished being a headboard, it can be used as a rug.

Speaking of finishing, I am just sewing tape on the back of the "8 little dresses" rug, so it will be done in time for the One Motif, Many Ways class at Trent on the 17th.  This really was a fun project, from inspiration to completion.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Not just eight dresses. Eight backgrounds too.

Once again, more than a month has skipped by since my last post. Life just seems to get busier. A couple of stints looking after the "grands" since the last post. And a Wedding!! Our son Matt married Theo, the love of his life, in a fun-filled weekend of festivities last weekend in Chatham, Ontario, which is her home town. No pictures yet, but I will do a post when I get some.

In the meantime, progress continued slowly on the Eight Little Dresses mat. I am definitely in the home stretch, but didn't get it finished in time for my teaching gig tomorrow at Niagara College.

Here are a few progress shots. I realize that I didn't take a photo of all 8 dresses hooked, before I got onto the background. And what a journey that has been. I was originally going to do a grey textured background, but decided that since these dresses were a staple in Barbados, they deserved a background that was more suitable to their wear. They needed something tropical. And instead of just doing ONE background for all, I decided to create a different background for each one. And so the journey began.

Here is a picture of the original greens that I was going to use. WRONG!! The brighter greens were in conflict with the bright colours in the dress.

So, I decided to dull them down and make sure that they stayed "in the background". You can see the difference between the greens on the left and the greens on the right. I figured it was a good lesson.

Here you can see both sides done the same, and it really worked - no conflict with the "star" of the study.

So now the exercise became finding a different background to go behind each one, using the same colours and trying to not fight with the patterns in the dresses. It was a fun, albeit challenging, exercise.

Here is background 1 completed.

Here is background 2.

Background 3

Background 4

Background 5  (My finger is there to remind me I didn't quite finish this one. lol. )

Background 6  (I will re-do these quillies - they are too high for the hooking.)

Background 7 (Thumb here is just to old it flat.)

And I'm not quite finished yet. Background 8 yet to be hooked, as you can see.

It's very interesting to see that 8 different backgrounds can co-exist in the same piece, as long as they are all the same colours.  In the individual shots, the greens all looked quite different, but here you can see that they are all the same.

In fact, they are kind of a unifying element that brings all the dresses together.  In hindsight, I might have done them the same way that I did the cats - individually, and they would have made a fun installation. But I like to see how they do all live together in this one piece. And I think it will be a good "teaching " tool, in lots of different ways.

As a rug hooker who is constantly asking "What if....", this was another exercise that I loved doing. Repeating the same motif and hooking it 8 different ways was fun in itself. But challenging myself to come up with 8 different backgrounds - all inspired by Huntes Gardens in beautiful Barbados was another layer added on.

(Oh, in case anyone doesn't know what the black and white fabric is for, it is added to the backing so that it is large enough to fit in my gripper frame - I eked it out of a too-small piece and cheated.)

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Four Dresses Done

Starting to get settled in again, but today is the first time I was able to hook a single loop since I got back. And I am having so much fun translating these little dresses into hooking exercises. When I came up with the idea for the piece, I did a quick sketch and figured out which dresses would best translate into which style. And so far, the early ideas seem to be working.

Here's an in-progress picture. And a little blurb about the order in which I did them, and what I did:

Bottom Left:

The stripes on the dress are appliqued. But they are so small, I used thread instead of floss to attach them - no room for fancy stitches. The white hooked around them is polar fleece.

Bottom Right:

The circles in this dress are quillies. The hooking around them is 8-cut wool, which I had to hook quite high in order to be the same height to the quillies. I haven't done too many of these in my hooking life and still need some practice in getting them to feel good and secure. I spent some time with my new book "Coils, Folds, Twists and Turns" by Tracy Jamar.

Maybe the answer is hot glue instead of stitching them. Here's a link to a how-to-tutorial. 

Upper Right:

This is hooked with panty hose, mostly because I had the colours in the dress in my panty hose stash. And it was fun to hook, because the small size of the pattern sort of dictated a little stacked cross pattern, a bit like beading.

Upper Left:

This is a combination of hooking - the zig zag lines - and low proddy. Proddy may be an over statement. In fact, I just pulled up loops and snipped them, so it's more like a shag dress. Love the colours which look pretty much like the dress colours.

Four down. Four to go. Chances are I might just get this done in time for Trent. It's very much on topic for the One Motif, Many Ways.

The outline around all of the dresses is a loosely hooked black wool yarn. May use the same treatment for the grid line between them. And I will be using a black and white textured wool for the background on all of them. At least that's the plan.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Eight little jersey dresses.

Every year, I spend nearly three months in Barbados. That’s one quarter of a year! Everything I wear while here comes out of one suitcase. A suitcase that has to weigh under 50 lbs. This year was a complete success. I am down to the last four days and I am still happy with what i brought.

The key to my success is these eight little jersey dresses. As you can see, they are all different prints and colours. All but one are made by a young lady here on the island. I have collected them over the last few years, and add one each year. They are perfect to pack because they weigh next to nothing, roll into a tiny ball without ever wrinkling and have multiple uses while I am here.

I can dress them up with a bit of jewellery and flats for a dinner out. I can throw them over a bathing suit for the perfect cover up. I can even sleep in them - they are amazingly light and cool as a nightie.

When I wash them, they are completely dry in under half an hour, thanks to the Barbados breezes and sunshine. Because they are jersey, they don’t stretch or fade or go out of shape. They are perfect.

I guess they are my Barbados “capsule wardrobe”, which seems to be the “thing” over the past few years. I can totally understand why people opt for a uniform approach to dressing.  It’s incredibly easy to get dressed - no time lost in big decisions. And I love that they NEVER get boring.

These eight little jersey dresses will continue to work hard when I go back home this weekend. They have inspired a rug that will be perfect for my upcoming class “One Motif, Many Ways”. I can do many different styles on the various dresses. One lends itself perfectly for some quillies among the loops. Another will be a great demo for combining applique and quilting. A third is calling for a proddy treatment.

Stay tuned to watch my progress. I will try to post a bit more often when I get back home.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Yikes, it's March!!!

And I have already wiled away nearly 7 weeks in Barbados. (Actually had to check on "wiled vs whiled") The days seem long, but the weeks fly past.

We had our daughter, son-in-law and two "grands" here for a couple of weeks, which was pretty amazing. The four year old turns out to be a natural snorkeler and spent so much time under water, we thought he might grow scales and fins. Life returned to the slower rhythm after they left. Days filled with beach walks, swims in the sea, good books, good friends, potluck dinners and visits to our favourite restaurants. 

In the past week, I have heard from two of my Newfoundland rug camp students and they have given me permission to share their mats that were done in the Photo to Mat class there.

Here is Rhoda's piece, which she calls "Aground on Shallow Bay".  She said it was one of the photos that she took that feels very much a part of Newfoundland, and I think she captured the photo extremely well. The simple border and whipping make it look like it is framed. 

Within days of receiving the above mat, I got this one from Barbara - her grand dog Nixon, in his beautiful festive green velvet bow tie. She turned it into a pillow for Nixon's parents, who obviously are in LOVE with this very personal gift. 

It has been a cooler stay this year, with enough rain for me to do a bit of knitting and a couple of afternoons hooking. It has actually been the rainiest January and February anyone can remember, which is strange since it is supposed to be the start of the dry season. But as we Canadians keep saying "At least it isn't snow."

And speaking of hooking in Barbados, I finished a little piece that I brought with me - also adapted from a photograph. A friend who we sail with here shared a photo of himself and his grand daughter spending an afternoon on a beach on the east coast. I loved the photo and used all the teaching tools in my Photo to Mat class to create this little 6" x 8" piece to give to him. He is a "salty dog of a captain" with a soft spot for his grand daughter and many dogs here in Barbados. I think he will be touched - though he might wonder why the heck I did it!!

It was a great exercise to tackle so much subject matter in one piece. The two people, the dogs, the sky, hills, water and beach. I great lesson to share when teaching this class going forward.

So still another four weeks to go. They will waft by before we know it and we will be back home, counting down to next year.  Perhaps I will hook a few more Barbados photos before my return next year. 

Boxy Chevrons by the Sea

Happy to report that the colds are gone and we have assumed our positions down on the deck at the Beach Club by the sea. And after having ...