Re-Icing the Cake and Dyeing Off White

YIKES! When a few Sunshine Hookers didn’t recognize  that what I had hooked was a piece of cake…it was time to do some fixing up!

OK, I’ll back up some. Here is the cake before I did the icing.


Instead of the text I drew a maple leaf.


…and hooked it…DSCF6275

I thought it looked a bit like two eyes and a mouth, and when neither Gail or Cynthia at first even recognized it as a piece of cake, I knew change was really needed.


So here’s my new and (hopefully) improved birthday cake and candle.

Aha! only the background to do now….but alas, my natural white wool has not arrived. I intend to mix both white and natural in the background for a bit of variety.

Then it hit me…’ve got lots of white….just dye some with a mild tint and carry on! (Sometimes I’m a little slow with the obvious!).


Just this much maple sugar dye on a tooth pick.


Add some vinegar….the wool (1/16th yard)….pop in the microwave until it clears (I did 2.22), and……DSCF6287

I have some off white wool to mix in my background. (it will be a little lighter when dried).

Now to decide the style of hooking I’ll use there. I’ve been paying attention to the backgrounds of rugs for ideas and examples of what I might like.

Since my last post, we’ve actually had two  snow storms, but hopefully that’s it! I’m ready for spring.



Tweaking and Making Cake

I’ve heard many people say that hooking hands is difficult. Now I agree. My first effort sure didn’t please me, so I resorted to my usual route when I’m not happy with my work….I hang it up and look at it for a few days. DSCF6257 The easy part is figuring out what’s wrong….the hard part is figuring out how to fix it! The choppy angles looked silly. My first inclination was to take out parts of the hand to smooth it out, but eventually, instead, I added more black.( I wanted to keep the hand knobby and chubby overall) DSCF6265 I’m still not completely happy with it, but I’ve moved on for now. Somehow when I transferred the writing from the cake to the top, the” ? “at the end became an” ! ” I didn’t even notice it at first, and when I eventually did, my first reaction was  just to leave it. DSCF6217 But it really does change the impact. Canadians are well known (and made fun of) for their  frequent use of “eh ?” at the end of a phrase, and the “interrogative uplift of the voice” is very distinctive. I tried to fix it by just removing the top part of the “!” and inserting a hook, but eventually took it all out and replaced it.

DSCF6269 Now it is truly a Canadian phrase.

I made two adjustments to my pattern by shortening his right thumb, and bending the tines of the fork over to make it more realistic…..then I started on the cake itself. (not sure what kind this is) DSCF6266 …and the candle. DSCF6267 Hooking with a #2 cut has its own challenges. First, many wools don’t have a tight enough weave to hold together when cut this small, (so my choices are limited), and the loops are so narrow that they “flop” somewhat and must be snuggled up closely to another row of hooking. There are fixes to come with the candle flame. My dilemma?…my black cashmere is by far the best to hook with in a #2 cut, but it is too strong for many places……decisions, decisions…..

I’m waiting for my order of Dorr natural to arrive….I’m going to try mixing the natural and the white in the background and see how it looks.  DSCF6271

A lazy Sunday afternoon stretches ahead. It’s cloudy and raining, so I plan to hook and watch the Blue Jay Game, then Ray and I are going out for dinner. Spring has finally arrived (well our version of it)….the snow is melting (and the basement has water in it of course)…. there are actually some Snow Bells sticking up their heads, and the garden centres are opening and have boxed pansies already available. We’ll be sure to have one last “kick at the cat” snowfall….  but I’ve actually been out twice without my snow boots on. Yeah!!!!

This and That

First I’ll finish up showing the items being worked on at our day long hook in last week.


Gail is making good progress with her railway rug ( the story of this rug is in the post entitled “The Spring That Isn’t”)

Here are some more pieces being hooked for the ploughing match.


Ann has completed her pig. I love the border. Those look like maple leaves in the corners


This is going to be a mobile, with the hearts glued back to back. What a super idea. Can’t wait to see it finished.

I have finished my six trivets, which were inspired by motifs found in various Klimt paintings.


I didn’t like the 6th pattern I drew, so I did another version of the turquoise and red one, this time in yellows and black.


There were other personal rugs in progress.


Marion is hooking a copy of a stained glass she has in her home. (I think it will be a pillow, but I’m not positive.


I love the dress in this Deanne Fitzpatrick pattern which is underway. There are the distinctive dots around the edge (a unique DF trick).

I love the story behind this piece which Charlene has under way.  Her friend was an accomplished artist, but was severely injured in an accident and can no longer paint.

Here is a picture of one of her paintings.DSCF6254

(please excuse the poor quality photo) The socks represent various members of her family.

Charlene is hooking a copy of this painting as a gift for her friend.


Now for an update on my Sir John cartoon.


Originally I had the text on the cake (as it was in the original cartoon), but I soon realized two things. 1)……there was an awful lot of background dead space. and 2)….even using a #2 cut doing script that small would be REALLY difficult. So I decided to move the text off the cake and into the background, where it could be considerable larger.

It took several tries to decide on  a cut and style that I liked.


Using a #2 cut with a #2 cut outline wouldn’t lie straight…it needed the #3 cut as the inside colourDSCF6210DSCF6211

I liked the black lettering, until I put the white around it, and then it was too puny.DSCF6217I finally settled on a #3 cut white inside, outlined with a #2 cut black.DSCF6218I think I’ll just put a maple leaf on the cake.

An Unusual Guest

Tuesday we had our second work day to prepare items for sale and/or display at  the ploughing match this fall. Along with all the Sunshine Hookers, we had an extra guest present.


Yes, it’s Sir John A. MacDonald himself! Isn’t he wonderful!. I’m not sure who had the idea to create him….I strongly suspect it was Linda Wilson. Luise Bishop hooked his head, and Linda and some others (sorry I should have found out exactly who) searched out the clothing and created the body. He is so life like it is eerie!. I kept looking over to the table to see who was sitting there. He will be appearing at a variety of events in the near future, including R.U.G., The Ploughing Match, the annual, and of course will play a large role in his own  200th birthday celebration next January. (Just a reminder for non- Canadians…Sir John A. MacDonald was the first Prime Minister of Canada)

He was created using this picture:



My version of him is when he was older, and being a cartoon isn’t very flattering

His presence no doubt stirred us all on and here are pictures of the work being done for the ploughing match. Most are trivets, or mug rugs….although there are also many other items as well, which I’ll show in the next post.



Linda’s cow makes me smile! DSCF6230


She is just now adding the warts to these beautiful pumpkins.DSCF6231

Liz has made trivets on a variety of subjects.


I’d like a blue teapot like that!


Jeanne is creating beautiful day lilies. She decided to “square out” the round corners.


Edie is making this colourful maple leaf with some of her left over worms. She too has squared the corners.DSCF6237

Fiona’s cat is in the style of a particular person? artist? toy? (which she told me) and I have now totally forgotten. Sorry Fiona!DSCF6238

Diane is making a variety of geometric trivets and mug rugs.DSCF6239

This little cat is going to be so cute.




I love the colours of the background for this sheep.DSCF6242

A colourful fall pumpkin in the works here.DSCF6243

Red abstract….love it….by Helen.DSCF6244

Helen’s spiral is now finished….great fall colours.


Teresa has made 6 colourful  mug mats and has them ready to go in groups of 2.DSCF6248

This tractor hooked by Karen is the perfect trivet for a plowing match!


I think this rooster is trying to wake someone up!


I love the outline style of all three of Karen’s pieces…so simple and effective.


Gail is doing a series of sunflower mug rugs. They will make a wonderful set.

I’ll save the rest for my next post, plus tell you about my struggles doing the script on My Sir John piece.

Yeah!!! It’s finally above freezing during the day. Still below freezing at night, so the maple syrup is running, and apparently will be a great harvest this year. Yum yum…pancakes coming up.



A “Woops” Works Out

OK first I’d better set the scene. I was ready to finish Sir John’s jacket, and hook his vest. The vest on the cartoon had always bothered me a bit because it was  the same fabric as the jacket, and didn’t stand out as much as I would have liked. DSCF5978


Using just black and white my options were limited, so I went ahead to repeat the same look. It had been a couple of weeks since I’d hooked on the jacket, and I couldn’t remember which wool I’d used for the nubby tweed effect. As I dug through the pile, nothing seemed right, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember exactly what I’d used. I finally settled on a grey herringbone which seemed the only likely choice, and began hooking the vest. Oh no, it was not the same wool at all, but to my delight, it created the same effect in a lighter shade and let the vest stand out nicely.


When I went back to the basket holding my wool for this project, the wool fairies had mysteriously returned the wool I had first looked for. It was right there where it should have been. (I know it wasn’t in the basket when I looked the first time).


My forgetfulness wasn’t finished with me yet! I couldn’t remember which cut I’d used, and cut a few strips of #4 to begin finishing the jacket itself. What a difference that 1/32nd of an inch makes in a fine plaid! It should have been a #3.


…as you can see (even though the photo is so blurry) the #4 patch on the right doesn’t match the other tweed at all.


Being retired is a mixed bag of blessings indeed! So much more time to do the things I love, so much time wasted by the occasional forgetfulness which catches most of us out when we least expect it. This topic was triggered by a funny video sent to me by my friend Jean this morning.

It gave me my morning chuckle. I hope it gives you one too!

The Spring That Isn’t

Although spring has officially arrived, here in central Ontario we are still gripped with winter weather. This morning the temperature was – 17 C  (almost 0 F), and yesterday we awoke to a fresh snowfall of  23cm (nearly 10 in).DSCF6197

I took this this morning from the balcony door….the snow on the balcony is waist high, and the bank in our neighbour’s driveway is well over 6 feet high. No tulips or crocus for us in the foreseeable future!

SO with smiles on our faces, and boots and heavy coats still very much necessary, a few of us got together to hook.


Gail is working on a wonderful piece for the Sir John A MacDonald 200th birthday celebration. As Canada’s first prime minister, MacDonald was largely responsible for the development and implementation of the railway system across our vast land which was a vital cornerstone of confederation.DSCF6181

The symbolism in her design is inspired!. The map of Canada is created from the smoke from the engine, and the background shows the aspects of the country from sea to sea. The rails run into the Pacific in the foreground, then as you move east  into the background, you see the Rockies, the wheat fields of the prairies, and at the horizon tiny details of the east. Wow!

Others were working on items to show or sell at the ploughing match.


Ann’s sow is well on its way.

DSCF6182Jeanne has almost finished hooking her ploughing scene.

….and I’ve completed my 6 trivets which will be on the sales table.

DSCF6188 DSCF6189 DSCF6190 DSCF6191 DSCF6193

Woops! Well that must be a freudian slip! I like these 5, but not the 6th so much, and mysteriously there is no photo of it!

Teresa found a treasure through a sales venue (I can’t remember which one) . For a very reasonable price, she got a sit on frame (I’m really jealous), plus a variety of wool etc, plus this Deanne Fitzpatrick pattern (already begun) and all the wool to finish it.  She said it was really difficult to get going on it since someone else had started it, but she’s off and running now.DSCF6177

(Don’t you love her colourful socks! She’s a master knitter!)DSCF6178


I had hoped to have Baxter all groomed by now, but we only managed one session on the grooming table…..but indeed under this….


I found this…..DSCF6196

….so now it’s off to the grooming table to reduce the wooly body to that of a sleek gentleman. (well at least sleek….anyone familiar with schnauzers knows they are monkeys not gentlemen!)

Hairy Chores

I spent the weekend with one “hairy” chore and expect to spend the week ahead with another one.

Hooking Sir John’s untidy mop was both fun and a challenge. I used the original cartoon as a general guide, then went my own way. The challenge was to get the movement, and yet not have it look stripy. to have some “clumps” but have them still look like hair.


I put very little detail into the pattern of the hair  when I drew it….just a general outline as a guide, and I began blindly by hooking a few black lines.


….then adding a variety of greys. I found that even a #2 cut black was very strong, so on the left side I changed the black out for a dark grey


Before starting the right side, I drew in some extra detail , then started with the black lines, and filled in the rest.

I used quite a variety of greys to get the effect of the hair.


Along with a bit of white, these are the wools I used. ( note…the wool 2nd and 4th from the left is all one piece, and I didn’t use the section that has a greenish cast.  Another chore was to select greys of the same tone)


Done….with the exception of changing the black at the bottom of the left side. It sticks out, so I’ll redo those lines in a finer cut of dark grey. (I think they must be #3 not #2).

Now my subject for the second hairy chore won’t likely be quite so cooperative!

DSCF6167 DSCF6169

Under all this mess is a standard schnauzer. Poor Baxter. I haven’t groomed him all winter. He’s 12 years old now and beginning to feel the cold, so I decided to let his coat get long. I strip his coat by hand, so we have many hours ahead on the grooming table. Not terrific  fun for either of us, but I’m sure there is a handsome dog somewhere under all that hair, and I’m determined to find him!

Creating a Bottle of Hootch

One of the things that most caught my fancy when I first saw this cartoon, was the bottle of “hootch” tucked in Sir John’s pocket. What a funny tribute to his known proclivity for a “wee dram”. …..but I am ahead of myself…..I was working on his face, and then began his hair…I think the most difficult part so far….to get the shape the colours and the messiness all at the same time.DSCF6150

As I went along, I changed his ear lobes (which still aren’t right), and softened his hairline at the forehead (which I do like), then I sketched in more detail as a guide for the hair on the right.


Then typically, I decided to try something new, and wondered if I could hook the bottle of whiskey.

In my initial efforts at hooking his jacket, I had hooked the open pocket flaps at the edges of the bottle.


When I decided to hook the bottle, I immediately realized that this was backwards. The bottle needed to be hooked first, then the pocket worked around it. So that little piece of messy hooking came out.


Then using a #2 cut and a variety of greys, I tackled the bottle.


It’s surprising how long it took to hook this little bottle, and there was quite a bit of tweaking    and adding little touches here and there (there is more colour variety than shows up in this photo). When I was satisfied, I then added the pocket flaps back in,DSCF6161

While I was in the area, I went on to hook the cuffs of both the jacket and the shirt.  (his hand is another item which will require extensive renovation so it looks a bit more life-like)….but that’s another day’s project.


Today ,March 13th ,winter returned with a vengeance. The only good part being that the old dirty snow is once again covered in a blanket of pristine white. A good day for hooking.

Sir John on the Go

I’m surprised at how much fun I’m having hooking with mainly #3 and #2 cuts. I’ve never before used a #2 and it’s been years since I’ve hooked anything entirely in a #3.

I started with the jacket, just hooking blobs as I saw them.DSCF6124

I’m using black, a grey tweed, and a grey cashmere. It’s amazing the colour variations you can see when you really, really look.


…A case in point is the oval pin in his cravat. When I first looked, it seemed white, so I hooked it this way.  Then I realized it didn’t look right, so I looked VERY closely, and then rehooked it this way.


Much better. Of course I have to jump all over the place (no patience), so I tried working on his face, beginning with his lips. (I normally start a face with the eyes, but decided not to this time).


Sometimes when you hook what you see, it isn’t just right, so I adjusted the top lip.


I gradually worked my way upward, and then tackled the right eye. This black and white version doesn’t allow me to follow any of the steps I have learned for hooking eyes, so it was truly trial and error.


I probably should have gone right on to the eye on the left while I was on a roll, but I took a break and went instead to the cravat.  DSCF5978

As you can see, it has very prominent white ovals on a black background, and I searched and searched looking for a wool I though might give me that effect. Then I remembered a wonderful black and  white two coloured border Jean had hooked as the outline in her Holstein cow hot pad, and thought perhaps that might work.


It gets rather messy on the back as you alternate a white then a black loop, and the ends need to stay at the back, but as this will always hang on a wall, it doesn’t really matter, and I got the effect I was after.


I’m stalled at this point while I dye some more black wool . I’m going to overdye some dark plum cashmere with black and bottle green, and hopefully I’ll get to that later today.

In the meantime, I’ve been having fun using brightly coloured worms to hook the Klimt motif hot pads. Again, I’m jumping around from one to the other.




This afternoon, I’m off to the opening of the International Women’s Day Art Show at the Orillia Museum of Art and History.  I’ll check on how Emma Sue is holding up under the scrutiny!

A Final Tribute to Hilda Hayes

On Tuesday, March 4th our dear Hilda passed away peacefully at home in Orillia in her 97th year.


She was an inspiration to us all. In spite of near blindness, she continued to hook, to encourage, and take great delight in “seeing” what everyone else was working on, to joke, and to live life to the fullest. She has left behind many memories for attendees of Trent School of Rug Hooking, which she attended faithfully until just a couple of years ago. She broke her hip in the fall, but within days of leaving the hospital, came to a Sunshine meeting in a wheelchair to say hello and see what we were up to.

Her last large project was a pair of bench covers depicting the four seasons designed by and hooked for her grand daughter Adele. DSCF2447

Although I have had a long connection with her family through music (having taught singing to 2 grandchildren, her daughter, and her son-in-law) , it was as a hooker that I got to know and love her. She will always serve as a beacon to me in the art of graciousness, enthusiasm, and loving kindness. I will miss her sweet smile, kind words. funny witticisms, and unfailing vitality.

Rest in peace my dear friend.