Annual 2016 Post 4

The vast number of amazing rugs on display at this year’s annual was truly a feast for the eyes. Here’s the last instalment of those I managed to photograph. DSCN0573DSCN0562DSCN0582DSCN0541I’m sorry this is out of focus. It is hooked entirely from ‘as is’ blankets cut by hand.DSCN0528DSCN0572DSCN0555DSCN0554DSCN0587DSCN0575DSCN0543DSCN0566I can almost feel the hot sun! The use of light is soooo effective.

DSCN0571DSCN0558DSCN0556DSCN0599DSCN0578DSCN0560DSCN0557DSCN0592DSCN0520DSCN0527DSCN0509DSCN0550DSCN0552DSCN0565….another reversed hooking background…DSCN0553… proddy flowers creating a 3D effectDSCN0539The skill and diversity  of the hooking artists of Ontario was certainly evident at this wonderful exhibition.

While I was off feasting my eyes and enjoying my weekend, Ray was home by himself, and having to sleep alone…….well not quite… spot in the bed was immediately taken over.DSCN0604Thanks for stopping by.



Annual 2016 Post 3

As it’s name implies, traditional rug hooking was primarily for creating rugs. While that is still a large part of what we rug hookers create, more and more we see both works of art to be hung on walls or utilitarian objects for other uses being created.

Here are some of the non-floor items on display last weekend. I’ll begin with a few of the utilitarian items I saw.DSCN0591

DSCN0590These bags were made at a workshop given by Bea Grant. The hooking is done right into the wool fabric (as opposed to the more usual backing)DSCN0602.jpgThis one uses both pennies and appliqué.

There were many lovely pillows to be found, but these three stunning examples really caught my eye.DSCN0523DSCN0526 (1)DSCN0498…decorative items…..DSCN0586The pumpkin stems are real…DSCN0529a vase….created by hooking into a crocheted base…..DSCN0544…sculptured hooking….

DSCN0600….and even hooked slippers.

Many are created as works of art to be given place of pride on a wall.DSCN0518The polar bears are stuffed appliqué.DSCN0532DSCN0536.jpgDSCN0549DSCN0588DSCN0577.jpgDSCN0563.jpg

DSCN0547DSCN0574DSCN0534 (1)DSCN0548DSCN0545I must apologize to Kathy. I shouldn’t have used the flash, because this beautiful abstract actually shows only as deep purple/blues.DSCN0559DSCN0589The background of this piece is done in reverse hooking (literally hooked from the back) which allows the foreground to stand out with a 3D effect.

I’ll finish with two pieces that really had a personal impact on me.DSCN0593‘The simplicity and elegance of the design and the very restricted colour palette made this beautiful piece one I’ll long remember.

DSCN0576….and this  literally brought tears to my eyes. The title is “I Want To Go Back”.

I’ll finish up tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by.

Annual 2016 Post 2

Every year, the annual has a theme. 2016 is the 50th anniversary of the founding of OHCG, and the theme this year was “Going for Gold”.DSCN0504

Members are always invited to hook a piece reflecting the theme, and these are then displayed in a group and a winner is chosen. This year the hooking reflected a wide interpretation of the theme idea, making for a fascinating variety in the display. DSCN0514DSCN0511DSCN0507DSCN0505DSCN0515DSCN0506….and the winner was….13124607_10154120938930762_3407957103574331152_n….this delightful footstool, hooked entirely with reminiscences from 50 years ago.

Rugs can be on display only, or entered for competition in a variety of categories. Once again, somehow I failed to get photos of all the winners. I’m missing the ‘oriental’  and the ‘fine cut’ winners, and I apologize for being unable to show them……but, here are the others….

DSCN0597The winner of the wide cut classification…DSCN0595The pictorial winner….DSCN0570This fascinating piece was affixed to a round shape, and the woodpecker was sculpted to stand out from the tree. Unfortunately that doesn’t really show up in the photo.DSCN0601

This amazing rug won two awards. The award for original design, and the R0wan ‘People’s Choice Award.’ The detail, and the stories in it require a very long look, and I’m sure it will be a family treasure for generations to come.

I still have many more rugs to share, so tune in tomorrow for the next instalment.



OHCG Annual 2016 Featured Artists

I’ve just spend a wonderful weekend at the OHCG Annual. (Ontario Hooking Craft Guild). This year it was held at Deerhurst Lodge near Huntsville Ontario in the heart of beautiful Muskoka, about an hour north of where I live. The stimulation of seeing soooo many beautiful rugs was sometimes overwhelming. Every time I walked through the exhibition hall I saw rugs I’d missed before. I’ll do several posts on the events, and the first is about this year’s two featured artists, Diane Ayles and Shirley Lyons.

This stunning pictorial by Diane was one of my favourites in the whole show.  The way she captured the light on the leaves would catch your eye from across the room.

DSCN0501This water lily also demonstrates how she can capture the light  in nature and the serenity of a woodland pond.DSCN0502When I got home, I was dismayed to realize that these were the only two photos I had of her work, but they certainly demonstrate her amazing skill.

The other featured artist was Shirley Lyons, a long time, well known teacher in Ontario. Many of her  students are now teachers themselves and her skills with a hook are legendary in our area.

Few can match her realistic shaded flowers.DSCN0494…..her orientals….DSCN0492DSCN0491…pictorials…..DSCN0496DSCN0487DSCN0488DSCN0486DSCN0497…and other myriad styles….DSCN0490DSCN0495DSCN0485DSCN0500….and my personal favourite…these wonderful tessellated geese.DSCN0516 (1)It was wonderful to see and appreciate her body of work.

Each individual group had a display, as well as many vendors. I’ve much more to share in further posts.

Of course seeing the rugs and shopping for supplies is only one facet of such a gathering. What makes it so much fun are friends to talk and laugh with…..DSCN0481DSCN0474DSCN0480Business to attend to…..DSCN0482And of course the surroundings weren’t too shabby either….activity on the golf course….DSCN0466.jpg….sunset from the window in our room….DSCN0469

Is it any wonder I was smiling?DSCN0477Much more to follow.

Thanks for stopping by.



Finishing Grumpy

The hooking of Grumpy has been done for a few weeks now, and I spent a while deciding on how I would finish him. DSCN0443For rugs intended to hang on the wall, I often just turn the edges under . I like the ‘tapestry’ effect it creates. However, sometimes that doesn’t work and Grumpy is a case in point. The bottom of Grumpy is hooked vertically, while the upper background is hooked horizontally. I don’t think the blank edges would look good because of that. I don’t want a border, or a prominent whipped edge, so I’m doing a very small whipped edge with no binding tape on the back.

The first step was to dye yarn to go with the two different colours. Jean (who has much more experience in dyeing yarn than I) told me to allow 1 foot per inch then add some. (I would have just divided the skein in two and dyed it all (and wasted a lot of yarn in the process).  Not wanting to run short I added four extra yards  to each hank……

DSCN0428….secured it loosely so it wouldn’t turn into a rat’s nest in the pan….and spot dyed it with the same colours as the top and a second skein with  the greys for the bottom.

Into the electric frying pan it went….DSCN0430….and now it blends nicely with the background sky.DSCN0431I measured and drew a line 1.5″ from the edges of the hooking, and zigzagged around the rug just inside the line.DSCN0435I cut off the excess right along my pencil line……DSCN0437 (1)and clipped  the edge back(using my faithful red quilting clips….so much batter than pins) gently leaving just enough backing showing that it wouldn’t pull the end loops over. (this is what will determine how wide the whipping will be and I want mine as small as possible).

I whip from the front, but make sure that each stitch goes into the same line on the backing so that I have a nice straight edge on the back.DSCN0442It is hardly visible from the top….DSCN0448….but makes a nicely finished view on the side.DSCN0449When finished I will turn under the raw edge , steam it, and slip stitch it in place.  As you can imagine, this is a slow process, so I alternate between whipping and working on ‘Oil on Water’.

Here’s how it’s coming along.DSCN0446 (1)The hooking now covers about 42″ x  32″. It’s getting harder already for me to hang it up with clamps for viewing.

My ulterior motive in writing a blog this morning is to distract me from thinking about my schnauzer Baxter, who is undergoing surgery. Nothing serious, but three different procedures . He’s fourteen years old and a very special member of our family. Hopefully I’ll hear from the vet before long that it is over and all went well.

Thanks for stopping by.


Progress Report

Just a quick progress update before I potentially lose power. The weather report is for about five hours of freezing rain this afternoon on top of the snow which fell overnight. UGH!!

So here is “Oil on Water” over the past week.DSCN0425The flash rather bleached it out in this photo. (I never notice these things at the time).DSCN0426I was pleased with the first ‘flame’ motif….DSCN0427….but it’s pretty ‘glaring’ as I add the second larger one….DSCN0432The dark background is doing its work in toning it down and absorbing some of that colour.

Right now I’m pondering a number of colour choices. I plan to remove the blue/purple dump dye wool in the middle of the blue in the middle, and I’m considering a number of options. I’m also thinking that I will change the slightly lighter blue upward sweeps on the left. I thought they would be much more prominent and I think that side needs more interest than they will provide.

The whole thing is like a voyage of discovery, and it’s a lot of fun to watch what emerges from my hook.

Now to hunker down and wait until the freezing rain storm passes.   SPRING….where are you????


Since I’m an avid curling fan and this past week was the Brier Tournament (Canadian Men’s Championship), I spent lots of time hooking and cheering the past few days. All my cheering didn’t help my team win, but at least ‘Oil on Water’ is now underway.

Here’s a record of my progress.DSCN0402DSCN0403DSCN0404DSCN0405DSCN0409DSCN0420DSCN0424What I’ve hooked so far  is about 38″  wide.

There are several spots I’m not pleased with, but for the most part I’m leaving them for now until I get further along. I’m drawing in the design as I go using a black coloured pencil with the grid as reference.

I have a basketful of wool dyed, primarily using pro chem colours: rhodamine red, raspberry, cantaloupe, brilliant blue , and navy (with small additions of some other dyes) over Dorr natural, oatmeal, and a wide variety of textures.DSCN0415All the lighter blues 2nd from the right, I plan to overdye  with navy so that they more closely resemble the very darks at the end. I really like that deep blue as the background and I will need an endless supply. I haven’t dyed a large amount of any of the other colours yet as I’m still experimenting with what I like. I just realized that this photo distorts the cantaloupe colour. It is more ‘peachy’ in real life.

I’m enjoying the process of creating this hooking….a new way for me to work…..I choose a small area, decide on the shapes and colours, draw it with my trusty black pencil  (my new most important tool), and then hook the details and fill in the background.

Oh…and I almost forgot…I learned something new last week (at least new to me). When overdying previously dyed wool, presoak it in cold rather than hot water. Thanks Gene Shepherd for that tip.

Now off to start the gigantic job of grooming my winter-shaggy standard schnauzer.

Thanks for stopping by.

Lessons Learned

A couple of posts ago I opened with this statement…..”I love this part of the rug hooking process…the getting it all ready part. The pattern is decided upon and now the fun begins.”  WHAT WAS I THINKING!

Oh the unsuspected trials and tribulations ahead of me at that time…..but “Oil on Water” is now finally underway, and I can laugh about its rocky start.   For sure I have learned lots along the way. DSCN0399

It finally makes me happy.

So here’s my list of lessons learned (or maybe…mistakes made).

The first thing I learned is that when joining two pieces of backing with the cut edges on the sides, there is only one way to be sure that you have the exactly the same width (i.e. number of ditches) for both top and bottom……you have to count them.DSCN0362I marked them at every 10th ditch. (and had to take a break several times so I didn’t go blind) ….there were nearly 800 ditches across each side. …but it allowed me to continue the side edge lines knowing that they were even.No big deal for a small piece, but when your rug is five feet across….that’s a lot of ditches to count.  DSCN0366

Then I basted the two pieces together very carefully matching all my 10 ditch markers (I’ll eventually cut off the edges sticking up), set up the pattern and backing on the light table, turned on the lights….and discovered to my horror…….you can’t use a light table when the pattern is too dark or when it is blown up so large that the edges become blurry. It simply didn’t show through clearly enough to draw. At that point I walked away for a day or two (that was lesson two).

Back to the drawing board (literally). When I was ready to tackle it again, I drew a grid on one of my photocopies of the pattern…DSCN0369

…..dividing it in eighths up and down, and quarters side to side, then drew the same grid ratio on my backing.DSCN0370I made no attempt to draw the details of the whole pattern, but drew freehand the major points of the circles and ‘flames’, using the grid as a positional reference point.  ( and my friend Jean belatedly said….”I wondered why you didn’t do that in the first place”…I’m a slow learner Jean). That was lesson number three……ask your friend Jean ahead of time.

I thought I would use the photo as a guide, and simply fill in the details free form as I went. There are lots of hookers who do this so successfully, often not using a pattern  at all.

But guess what?  Not me. (lesson number four) I tried it (I didn’t take a photo since I hated it immediately), and I thought it was ugly. I didn’t like the colours, and I didn’t like the form, I had no idea where to go next….. Again I walked away for a couple of days and even entertained the thought that perhaps I couldn’t do this rug. I’m just not a ‘free form hooker’ but I guess I’m a stubborn hooker. I’ve known the joy of looking at something I’ve hooked and had my heart swell with pleasure, and I was determined to figure it out.

The first positive step was solved with the  dyeing (which was the subject of the last post). I would use 3 or 4 even shades of each colour. I could use the small dip dyes by cutting them in thirds, and further dyeing I would do with the lazy swatch method. DSCN0397

(I kept the dip dye pieces in order to make a smooth transition  using double sided tape on the ruler).

Now how was I going to hook it so that I was happy with the result. I felt it needed mostly directional hooking to achieve the movement of the oil and water, with smooth sweeping curves. I’m just not artistic enough to do that without a guide. Yesterday I came up with a solution that I think will work for me. Using a black coloured pencil, I sketched the outlines of just the grid square I was working on, making and drawing adjustments as necessary, and not making a heavy line until I was satisfied that it would work.

So here it is once again (I’m using an 8 cut)…..what I’ve done to date, and I’m finally happy with the result.

DSCN0399Just to put the size in perspective…..(and you’ll notice the shape  is representational not exact)DSCN0310….I have hooked the medium sized circle highest up on the left and there will be considerable background beyond this photo….

Now for a day of hooking and watching the finals of the “Scotties”. I hope for great curling and happy hooking.

Thanks for stopping by.


Redistributing Dye

“Redistributing dye” is just a fancy way of saying “fixing” a dyeing mistake, and that’s what I’ve been doing today. The mistake part is not the fact that it turned out wrong, but rather that I dyed my wool the wrong way, and now I’m hoping to fix it.

I often dye my wool to be intentionally ‘blotchy’ which gives me movement, and highlights in my hooking. I do that by adding 1/2 of the dye solution to the dye bath, and then after the wool has taken a lot of that up, I spot the rest of the dye over the top , mixing minimally. This particular wool turned out to have very strong ‘splotches’ because without thinking of the result, I added the vinegar to the dyes in the mixing cups, so it was taken up very quickly without dispersing very far.DSCN0390

I dyed several pieces for my ‘oil on water’ with this method, BUT discovered when I started hooking, that I needed a smooth even colour to create the right effect.   So now I am hoping to remedy that mistake to make my 1/2 yard of wool usable.

The first step is to try and remove some of the dye. To do that I simmered my wool in a dish soap solution (or whatever you use to open the wool prior to dyeing).DSCN0391It took about an hour before the water was significantly coloured with the released dye.

Then I removed the wool, added a glug of vinegar to the water(or citric acid if you prefer), then reintroduced the wool and stirred it to make sure the dye was evenly taken up…..the result is not perfectly even, but much better.

The second fat quarter I did the same way, but since I wanted it darker than the first, I added 1/32 tsp of dye in 1 CBW to the dye bath along with the vinegar before I put the wool back in the pot. (they are both deeper and evener than this photo shows)DSCN0396

My initial foray into dyeing for this rug was a little more successful (but not much). It was intended as a ‘test run’ of colours. I prepared 1/8th yard strips of natural and oatmeal and dip dyed them using the microwave method.DSCN0380This involves adding boiling water to a microwave safe bowl (designated for dyeing only) , adding the dye bath with vinegar added as well, and dipping the wool immediately in the very hot water. When satisfied with the intensity, finish with 5 minutes in the microwave. I find this is an easy way to dye small amounts of wool quickly. To set the wool, simmer on the stove in clear water for 1 hour. DSCN0385

While I can use all of this wool, I now realize that Gene Shepherd’s ‘lazy swatch’ method will give me the best wool colours for this rug. This involves adding pieces of the wool to the dye pot at about 30 second intervals to create, light, medium and dark versions of the same colour.

Don’t you love that vibrant pink in the centre? It’s Pro Chem Rhodamine red, a new dye (for me) that  just arrived in the mail. I’m not sure yet how much (if any) I’ll dare to use, but I sure like looking at it.

Thanks for stopping by.

20th Women’s Day Art Show

This past weekend was a busy one in our little city. With temperatures hovering in the minus 20’s, We hardy Central Ontarians enjoyed activities of both a sporting and artistic nature.

On an outdoor theme, our winter carnival featured (among many other activities), ice bowling on the lake, a huge snow slide down the hill on the main street, and a polar dip in the  frigid waters of Lake Couchiching.CbM0gtkW4AAMszH

Meanwhile the Arts community was treated to three openings. At OMAH (the Orillia Museum of Art and History) the very popular Women’s Day Art Show opened, as well, an exhibit called HERself   featuring various women of Orillia who have been exemplary in their community contributions,  and across the street at the Peter Street Fine Arts Gallery and Studio,  The Singing Heart Studio opened  a Fibre Art Show entitled “Mentors and Students” featuring hooked rug creations  by several well known local hooking artists as well as several new to the art form.

This was the 20th annual Women’s Day Art Show, and this year the theme reverted to the same one used the first time it was held “Women’s stories”. 140 artists from our area have  displayed their art encompassing a wide range of media.

DSCN0336The crowd was large….and taking unimpeded photos was difficult. I’ll be back when it’s not so busy, but I did manage to get pictures of most of the fibre art examples.

Five of the Sunshine Rug Hookers have a piece on display.DSCN0361

This is Mary’s delightful and fanciful “Garden Story”.

DSCN0339Cheri’s free standing hooked piece entitled “Becoming My Mother” , created by crocheting as a base, and then hooking into the crocheting. (I waited in vain for the lady in the black coat to move so that I could get a better shot)


Gail’s wonderful and imaginative creation uses a wide variety of fibres and unexpected shapes. I did read the story, but I plead over stimulation in that the details have completely left my brain.

Cynthia’s  work is about three feet tall….lightly stuffed…and completely endearing.


It is her grandmother, who was born in Newfoundland and died in 1938 when Cynthia’s mother was only 13. She is holding a photo which helped reveal a side of her that her daughter (Cynthia’s mother) had never seen following the tribulations of the Great Depression. This photo became very precious to both daughter and granddaughter and is now a treasured part of the family history.DSCN0333My “Sigma Meus Vita” is familiar to readers of this blog, but is making its first public appearance. …..intertwined symbols from around the world which are significant in my life.DSCN0335

My friend Sandi even managed to take a picture which I could use as a profile picture on Facebook. (I’m wearing my Cheri Hempseed necklace of my sister and myself…a treasured keepsake).

Other fibre art examples include…this arresting panel depicting where the artist has lived:

DSCN0352In Saskatchewan (represented by the wheat fields)DSCN0353Alberta….and its spectacular mountains…DSCN0354Amidst the icy splendour of The North west Territories….DSCN0355

….the vivid colours of Australia’s sky…(sorry about the shadow of my head)DSCN0356

and finally the beautiful water and rocks of OntarioDSCN0358

Each artwork is accompanied by some sort of comment or explanation  written by the artist.

Some meanings are self evident….DSCN0351DSCN0360Some are explained by the artist….as this on the role of motherhood…DSCN0359….or this self portrait in wire and metal…


….while others remain an enigma….DSCN0349….which even after reading the story, my simple brain does not really comprehend, although I can fully appreciate the artistry.

I’ll be back to the museum to spend some quiet time with many more of these Women’s Stories. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tiny glimpse of a wonderful art show.

Thanks for stopping by.