Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rugs & Dogs

Once again time has run away from me. Summer has come and gone. The garden was challenged by cool weather this summer but we did add blueberries, raspberries, some fruit trees and a few other things.
Here is the "Mini Sarouk" pattern that I recently finished – except for whipping and binding. This project was a joy from day one until the last loop was pulled. There may be some minor revisions…or I may just leave it as is. Now I just have to get around to dyeing yarn to bind the darned thing. And maybe figure out how to make fringe.

One reason I have been particularly busy is the addition of a new family member: Sasuke was born on August 4, 2010 in Salem, Oregon. We drove up on September 25 to bring him home and he has certainly won me over. He is a very sweet puppy…and smart! I believe that he is a healer and I hope to be able to write about that at some time.

Introducing Sasuke to 8-year old Musashi - who has been an "only" dog for two years now – was more traumatic than I had anticipated. Sasuke came to us weighing in at TWO pounds and Moosie thought he was a squeaky toy. After a week or so of constant supervision, they are now the best of buddies. They play and sleep and do doggy things together and really seem to love one another. Yep…change…takes time…

Monday, May 10, 2010

Catching up….Hooking

Mid-April almost always finds me at my favorite rug hooking camp at Friends by the Sea in Rockaway Beach on the northern Oregon Coast. This was my 10th year to attend in the 15+ years that I have lived on the West Coast. It's always such fun to see the same wonderful women I've seen year after year.
What a joy to have one's only task be to hook and create and learn. The food is wonderful and "cinnamon break" mid-morning is always a treat. This year my classroom was in the Lodge which is a great spot away from the bustle of the other classrooms.

My teacher was Carol Fegles and she is so gracious and generous. I took a trip to Eugene about a week before camp (yep, cutting it close!) to discuss my project and get some ideas for color-planning and dyeing. I decided to take the plunge and use Prochem dyes. I have used Cushings for years simply because when I started out I inherited a shoebox full of them. It seems that I never have one color to complete a formula so am constantly buying more of these annoying little envelopes. Carol ended up scanning some samples and sending them to me via email. From there, I chose a few colors, placed an order and within 3 days had my dyes. Of course this was over Easter weekend which is a super-busy time. So just days before camp began I was hustling to get dyeing done – some of it was still drying when I packed it up to drive up the coast.

This was a wonderfully relaxing rug camp – a real zen experience. Much of that had to do with the atmosphere Carol creates in class and much of it had to do with the project. I had decided to hook Jeanne Benjamin's "Mini Sarouk" (New Earth Designs). Her patterns are top-notch – on the grain, very clear, and high quality backing. I LOVE this pattern. I am really only using 3 colors – Forest Green, Gold/Toffee, and Evergreen…the "white" is a light wash of Straw (which ended up being dyed in an electric roaster at camp).
Here is what I got done at Camp...this may take a life time... 
Carol introduced me to a #2 cut – oh my! I fell in love! I've done a lot of #3 (3/32 inch) and have ventured in to 4-6…but never #2! It's like 2 threads…amazing. Of course I had to buy a new cutter head for my Bliss and was shocked to find they have doubled in price. Unfortunately when I got home I couldn't find the darned thing even after massive searches. Thanks to the generosity of hookers everywhere, Saundra from Delaware, sent me hers as she had never used it. I will be eternally grateful! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

10 Minute Challenge Update

I've been really consistent in keeping up with the 10-minute challenge. This is a pattern called "Water Nymph" that I must have started over ten years ago and had about 1/5 done. I kept trying to get the background darker and in so doing ended up felting the wool too much so it was very difficult to pull through the burlap. To top it off, I was using a #6 cut which is HUGE for me. I remembered that I had bought a Hartman hook back at Cape May so I dug that out and voila! It was much easier to do. Now that it's done, I kind of like this rug!

Catching up…Quilting

Time…never seems to be enough of it. Or perhaps there is simply an abundance of wonderful things in my life that continuously overflow. I am grateful that so many activities bring me enjoyment. It is a constant challenge to be diligent in discerning what is mine to do – and what is not! I am learning to say "no" to those things that do not make my heart sing and know that these same activities may be just the blessing that someone else is looking for in their life. Release it. Let it go. And on to the fun.
So many projects since my last post!
Here is the paper piecing put together – not sure what it will become. There are many possibilities.

Mid-March, my friend Sue and I took another class at the local quilt shop in how to use a new product called "Texture Magic". You sew it to your fabric using either a grid pattern or meandering and then steam it and it crinkles up – magic! It was a bit tricky to do but we had fun. Here is the tote I made during the class:

I do enjoy quilting and would LOVE to do more of it but I am trying to sharpen my focus on hooking at the moment…and then there is knitting, beading, scrapbooking, maskmaking…and on and on it goes.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Paper-Piecing Magic

Mid-February found me taking a paper-piecing quilt class at the local quilt shop. This always looks waaayyy too precise for me but a friend was taking it so I went along for the fun of it. What a GREAT technique! I fell in love with paper piecing. It's absolute magic. All one has to do is follow step by step and TRUST. Ahhhh, maybe it's not so easy.
Here are the two blocks we completed in class…

Now here's the tricky part. Paper piecing is really easy BUT one must plan in advance. Carefully sketching out the fabric placement, cutting all the pieces and arranging them in order takes some concentration and time. But it is well worth it. Here's the first triangle for a piece I'm working on. I just cut out and sewed the fabric for one section to see if I could even do it all on my own! Yesterday I cut out the fabric for five more triangles and hopefully this will work for the design I sketched.

So … here's the problem. Time. I need more of it. This month I also spent a day working on masks for a mask-making party that is coming up in March. And then there's scrapbooking. And don't forget beading. And the list goes on and on, Oh…and then there's work!

10 Minute Challenge

I finished the Fall leaves mat at the end of January. It felt good to be hooking with a #3 fine cut again. It is much slower going but certainly more control in shading.

The next project I picked up was one with finches on a fence that had not been started.  I started hooking a couple of flowers but for some reason was just very unhappy with them and finally set it aside.  This is the point when I probablywould have tucked my hooking away and not get around to starting anything new.  But having taken the 10 minute challenge I begrudgingly forged ahead.

I pulled out a piece called Water Nymph which I started quite a few years ago- probably more than 10. I put it away because in dyeing the background, I kept trying to get it darker so dyed and redyed until the wool felted too much. It is very thick - almost blanket-weight -and somewhat difficult to work with. When I was at Cape May a couple of years ago, I picked up a primitive coarse Hartman hook with a wide shaft and that has made the job a bit easier. Here is how it looked when I picked it up February 9.  This is in a #6 cut and is moving along fairly quickly.  How exciting!


I just love that Spring arrives so early on the Oregon Coast. Last October I planted some bulbs in a planter – something I intend to do every here. This is one of the tulips that has bloomed over the past two weeks. Flinging her petals open to the sky and sun each day, and closing up at night, it is so lovely.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ten-Minute Challenge Update

Despite an incredibly busy schedule these past few weeks, I have kept up with the ten-minute challenge and am particularly grateful for this commitment now. More days than not, the ten minutes are just that – ten minutes – but it keeps me moving forward. A great thing about all this is that I'm dealing with some really old UFOs or Un-Finished Objects. Without time to choose and color plan a new project I find myself picking up projects that were started in the past.
This is what I've been working on. It is from a mini-class I took at Rock River Rug Camp back in IL in 1988. We picked up some fall leaves, traced around them and hooked them. I had hooked about 4-5 strips – and in a #3 cut – that translates to 3/32" strips! I have no idea what wool I was using but I left those few strips in (on the tip of the large maple leaf). I've been using some shibori dyed wool that I never thought I would find a use for! Bright orange is not something I ever dye – thanks to Wanda Kerr for encouraging me to stretch during an online dye class she did last Spring.