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. 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Sharing the Christmas Present Pics

Now that they have all been gifted to their owners, I can share my "makings" for this year.

First is the Jeffrey pillow. Jeffrey is our "grand dog" and this was hooked from his adoption photo.
Matt and Theo - his owners - were thrilled to receive this and have even shared it on their Facebook stream.

Next up, the "beer" pants I made for my son, son-in-law and grandson. Jackson's are made from the leftover fabric of his dad's and his Uncle Matt's. They are the funniest of all. If you look closely at the red ones on the left, you will notice that I cut the fabric upside down - look at the bottles.

Home made socks are always on the list for my family. They all love them. So here are two pairs I made. The first are "leftover socks" that are knit with 10 rows of one yarn followed by 10 of another, with no real plan of colour order. They are a great way to use up leftovers. The next pair are from a skein of yarn I bought in Fredericton. I had no idea they would turn out like this - I thought they would just be striped. I think they look like the background for lettering in Marvel comics. Rick loves them!!

Here is a little mug rug that I gave to a dear friend in Fredericton on my visit. I decided to give her this instead of an ornament so that she could use it all year long. It looks completely different in every orientation - kind of like a rorschach test.

And to end this post, a gift that I didn't make but have permission to share. On Christmas Eve I received an email from someone sharing the Jeanius Bag that she made for her grandson's girlfriend. I am sure she was thrilled.

Two days left of making in 2016, which will have some sewing and hooking in them. Then a whole new year to create more treasures.

Happy New Year to everyone. May the year be filled with health and happiness for all.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Wonky Little Tree, Freddy Beach and Counting Down.

December 13th!! Wow, that came quickly, didn't it.

Here is a little gem that came in my email last week from a student at Apps Ridge. This was in the doodles class and I think every home should have some of these little "wonky trees" for the season.

Luckily, my "to make" list is getting shorter. A few glitches along the way - like an upside down print on one pair of PJ pants - but headway is being made. I think I will get everything done, except Rick's socks. The yarn will be in his stocking with an IOU.

My mini sojourn to Fredericton last week took away a few days of production time, but it was worth every second! Big thanks to my sister Nancy for prodding me into a long overdue trip home. And we sure squeezed in a lot of stuff into what I am calling the Whirlwind Freddy Beach Tour of 2016.

It seems like we spent a lot of time eating lol, but there are some favourites that just don't taste the same anywhere else. Fried whole clams and lobster rolls are at the top of the list.  I sampled both at our arrival lunch at the Blue Canoe. Apparently, it is a tradition that brother Bill and Nancy have shared for years.

There were many highlights during the tour. A big one was a hike across the old railway bridge. There is a new micro brewery and restaurant cafe on the "other" side of the river, which is where we started. It was a brisk day, but the walk was invigorating and there were shops and galleries beckoning from the other side, so there was a nice interlude before heading back across. Apparently, in the summer, the bridge is packed with hikers, bikers, roller bladers, dogs and just about everyone who wants a good walk with a great view.

An Advent Choir Recital was the other surprise highlight event. It happened to take place in my old church, St. Paul's United, where I haven't set foot since my Dad's funeral 40 years ago. A nice reason to go back and enjoy an evening that for me kicked off the joy of the season.

Catching up with a high school pal and seeing her wonderful new apartment on the river was neat too. So much development (like everywhere else), but there seems to be a split between condos and rental units there. And, also like everywhere else, the big box stores are reproducing like rabbits "up the hill" in Fred. I couldn't think of a store that wasn't there.

A nostalgic trip around the old Pony Club was the event of the last day. The horses have been gone for over a decade. The indoor ring apparently collapsed a couple of years ago because of the snow. And now it appears to be a shed for all the equipment for tending Odell Park.

So, in hindsight I learned that you can definitely go home again. The one take away is that in the 25+ years since I have been there, a lot of residential development has taken place. And where our old Golf Club Road house once seemed to be on the "other side of the earth", there are now streets and houses all over the place, which make the house seem further down the hill and closer to the road - neither of which are true. Perspective is everything.

Thanks Gaye for being the best hostess ever. Sorry about that teapot lid. Will find a way to get another one to you somehow. And thanks for arranging your "deer" visitors during my stay.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Santa, Secrets and Students to Brag About

It's that time of year where nearly everything being "made by me" is a surprise for someone for Christmas. So, I can't share until the gifts have been given.

Luckily for me, I have received a couple of finished mats this week from some students who have given me permission to brag. Both of these projects were part of my Borders class at Loyalist. And one was also part of my Zen and the Art of Doodling at Trent.

When students share their finished work with a teacher, it is the finest compliment a teacher can receive - at least in my humble opinion. It means the student actually finished the project and was proud enough of the outcome to share with the teacher. In this case, both people finished their rugs with a rigid backing and have hung them for display. That totally warms the cockles of my heart.

Without further ado.

This is the Zen Doodle and Border Mat. The doodles were created at Trent. The Borders were added at Loyalist. I think it is a wonderful evolution and when I look at it, I think it is timeless. I can even imagine it as a contemporary room size rug!!  This student used only leftover worms, which is a great thing about both these classes. However, she says she only made a minor dent in her stash. Guess she'll have to do a bunch more.

And this happy little fellow is now a greeter to visitors in the hallway of his home. Who could not have a cheery time after looking at him. I believe he was inspired by a greeting card, but evolved into a unique little fellow who is a favourite to his maker.

Thanks again to both of you for letting me share this lovely work.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

An Amazing Celebration.

On Monday, I am going to Toronto to help celebrate the 80th birthday of a friend who has had far more impact on my life than I think he will ever know. He was my first "Mentor" - with a big M - who taught me more than anyone has, before or since then.

He was one of those people who, from the moment I first met him, had a profound affect on the rest of my life. Neither of us would ever know how resounding and everlasting it would be. But I think the truth of what the affect was - in hindsight - was he "found the me in me". He encouraged me to be the me I would become. And in truth, he didn't really get to see the "me" that resulted. He may not know the artist, teacher, grandma, fulfilled person I have become, but I am sure he would be proud.

He was my advertising-writer mentor. He was the 'wind beneath my wings' who made me believe I had a talent and ability. Without him, I might never have quite believed in myself. But with him, I was a force to be reckoned with. And there was no turning back. I absorbed his energy, his ability to be a mediator, a leader, a mentor - and I unconsciously modelled myself after all those amazing things he taught me.

When I first met him, I was approaching "30". I spent the very best of my working years with him - soaking up his ability to see things and be things that others might have missed. And he had a greater impact than he knew. Then I had babies. And I had to leave him and follow the path that lay ahead.

He only ever met my daughter, on my maternity leave, when she was wee. He never met my son. He doesn't really know how amazing they are. But because he raised amazing kids - and grand kids, I suspect he does know. And on Monday, I hope we get to catch up - even if for just a bit.  There will be lots of people there like me - who he has mentored - who will be vying for his attention, so I am not sure what will happen. But no matter what, his impact remains the same.

Now I am "65" and he is "80". All just numbers, but cumulatively, a lot of years. Big numbers. And a big relationship. Though many years and our individual lives have intervened, he has never really been out of mind, since so many of my written things - articles, blog posts, mostly everything I write - bring me back to the office we shared, while I was honing my skills. With him listening - and looking - on.

And, dear readers, there is a hooking part to this story too. So if you have hung in this long, you will get to see what that is.

At Monday's celebration, we were asked to bring a red rose with us to the celebration.  Gary loves them. And we will bring one. But I decided to hook a rose for him. To share a passion of mine he doesn't know about, and to give him something that will last long after the celebration.

The very best hooked rose that I have ever seen is this one - Gail Becker's "Eye of a Rose".  I decided that I wanted to adapt Gail's design and include it in a 4x6 card to the birthday boy. And when I asked Gail if she would be ok with that, she was more than gracious in her response to do so.

Here is my adaptation of her beautiful rose. Mine is not only smaller, but darker - a totally different palette - not because it needed to be darker, but because this was what was in my stash.

Now it is nestled in a 4 x 6 card with a personal greeting. It has a label on the back. It has a photo of Gail's rug on the front of the card. It has a tribute to her genius on the inside flap. And then it has my loops, inspired by her, inspired by him - resulting in a personal gift that I am giving to him.

Thank you Gary for everything you have given me.  Thank you Gail for letting me share the rose.

A moment in time - a lifetime in time - well celebrated.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Colours Are Amazing.

After such a dry summer, it is wonderful to look around and see the amazing palette that is fall. Those blue skies embracing the oranges, yellows and reds never get old for me. Perhaps it is because autumn is such a short sprint towards winter.

In our new hood, even a walk down the street is a feast for the eyes. I guess the proliferation of maples gives the spectacular colours that we all love so much, despite knowing what comes next. And after being brown for most of the summer, the lawns are all a glorious green again. We even saw a new batch of dandelions on our walk yesterday.

Before Thanksgiving, I decided to punch a large oak leaf for our front door. Using very bulky yarn, the project was going very quickly. In fact, in two sessions, I had it mostly done. Then came the 4-day visit with the grandson. Despite believing I would finish while he was asleep - either nap time or bed time - it came to a grinding halt until after the holiday weekend.

As soon as he was gone, I got back to the easy finish and knit two large acorns, which I attached to the leaf. I mounted it on a piece of foam core board and hung it from the hook on the door.

It is about 20 inches long and 10 across, so a great size to fill the door. Am thinking that it could use one more acorn, so will get to that in the next day or so.

Now that sweater weather is just round the corner, my needles are full with projects both in progress and waiting.  I have made a promise to myself to try to use up as much stash yarn as possible. We will see how that goes.

The success and speed of the punched oak leaf has convinced me to use my bulky yarn collection for at least one of the headboard projects waiting for hooking.

I will post as I go on progress.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

More Bragging Rights

As a teacher - and I am sure it is true for all teachers, not just rug hooking ones - there is nothing better than getting positive feedback on a class.

Last weekend, I was with a wonderful group of women at Apps Ridge in Brantford. I had met many of them before, but there were a few "new to me" students and one very new student. Margot is extremely artistic, has dabbled in virtually every fibre art, so is a natural when it comes to rug hooking. She is so keen, she arrived with more supplies than anyone else in the group: wanted to make sure she had what was needed.

After class, I received this email from her, which I asked if I could share here:

I learned so much this past weekend!
I learned that as I suspected, rug hookers are a wonderful group of people. You could not have made me feel more welcome as a newbie.
I learned that knowledge is a beautiful thing and even more so when shared. You ladies were/are a tremendous pool of knowledge, I was blown away.
I learned that wide cut is not the only cut, I saw so many beautiful pieces of work with such great detail...I am definitely inspired.
I learned that holidays are great just not on the back of your rug hooking (thanks Wendie)
I learned that I have a lot to learn and that is a wonderful thing for me as I will continue to come to workshops and grow. You’re stuck with me!

It surely doesn't get better than this, right? 

But there's more to share....I received a few emails this week with finished projects - the other thing that I love to get. And I have permission to share them as well.

These are from a couple of the Apps Ridge students. This was Britt's large project, and her 5 x 5 free fall was nearly finished when we left on Sunday too. Hopefully, picture to follow. 

This was Linda's big project. Because of her colour palette, she wasn't sure it felt like a doodle, but she likes it.  Who says it has to be black and white? And I think that the use of the black and white around the frame really sets it off.

One of my Trent students, who followed my lead and did the same "doodle" four different ways, has finished hers and turned it into a pillow. It's pretty awesome as well.

As for my own hooking since returning from Newfoundland, it was interrupted by a two-week stint spent looking after our "grand dog" Jeffrey. Dogs, like toddlers, tend to disrupt the rhythm of the days, but I sure got close to the little guy.  But like all good "grands", he is happily back home with my son and his fiancee. So life is returning to normal here.

Hopefully some more sharing in the next post.