A Day to Relax

What a wonderful holiday I have had. Three different celebrations…all so special, and opportunities to visit with loved ones. The house is once again empty except for Ray and I, and today and this weekend will be quiet times to read, hook, and recouperate.

Christmas day here was not white….( just a dusting fell during the day), which is really unusual for us, but since then, we’ve had enough snow to create a wonderland all around.

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I took this photo from my back veranda

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This beautiful tree was along the street.

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This is my sister’s back yard wishing well. 

I’ve done a bit of hooking along the way and finished the background of the hall runner. The fun’s over with it and the finishing’s to be done.

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I’ve started hooking my little 8″ x 8″ spring Four Season’s swap piece, but they are to remain a secret until they are sent…so I’ll have to save it’s progress until March.

For nearly two years I have been working on big projects…the hall rugs, and the Klimt adaptations, with various other projects inserted along the way. Now with the big projects hooked I’ve been searching for a new source of inspiration. I have a number of new projects in mind, but I’m looking for something which will challenge and expand my skills, and be exciting to try and interpret with hooking.

I may have found it in the paintings of Dahlov Ipcar….you may be familiar with the rug ‘tumbling cats’, which I fell in love with some time ago. She hooked the original (although she is not a hooker). She paints mostly animals, but in a fastastical way with spectacular backgrunds. She is 92 years old , and lives in New England, and still paints on a regular basis. I have been in touch with her son, and have received permission to hook any of the images from her book Black and White. I’m in the process of getting ready to put a pattern together, and hopefully it will be ready to share here soon. …black and white jungle animals…against a multi coloured background.

Happy New Year to everyone…may it bring joy to your soul, a song to your heart, and inspiration to your hook.

Hall tryout and Hygieia Hung

With the hall cleared out and the painting started, I decided to lay out the new hall rugs to see how they might look.

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I hung over the bannister to take this photo of the unfinished runner in its eventual spot.

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This one goes at the front doors (one door is stripped, and one not)….still lots of work to complete.

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I like how they stand out against the floor.

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This is the long view down the hallway.

I took those pictures last week, when the painting was just started.

Now Hygieia is finally installed. The new wall is finished, the other walls and ceiling are painted, and we have stopped the renovations for Christmas.

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I think she looks quite at home.

I’ve been working on completing the background of the hall runner, and with just a wee bit left to do, I had to dye more wool. That’s  a full yard more to complete what wasn’t finished in those pictures. I wonder how much wool is in both rugs? A LOT! 

Since family is arriving today for the holidays, this will likely be my last post before Christmas. I want to wish everyone a happy and safe holiday, blessed with the joy of being with loved ones. Merry Christmas everyone.

Winter Birches

I’m in a bit of a holding pattern just now….waiting for a parcel to arrive before I decide on my next project. ( I have been thinking of a number of possibilities)

I’ve dyed more antique black and hopefully I now have enough to finish the background on my hall runner. i feel a bit lost…that’s the only thing I have to hook on right now.  Of course I could be doing the whipping on any number of pieces….but I only seem to be motivated to do  that when I have a deadline to meet!

Recently I participated in a “Four Seasons Swap” with the Yahookers. We were to keep them ‘secret’ until they arrived at our swap partner’s home. Mine went off at the beginning of December, and arrived safely, so now I’ll share it here.

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This is the finished piece.

It was to be exactly 8″ x 8″ so the four swaps (one for each season) could eventually be joined if wanted.  I hunted for inspiration, and at the bottom of a drawer found an old Christmas card, which pleased me.

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I drew a portion of it on a scrap of linen…

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and went searching for wool in my stash. I didn’t end up using the light purple as it was too solidly one colour.

I took it with me when we went camping in September. It was a great size to travel with. I used a small embroidery hoop, and the hoop and all the wool fit easily in a small fabric bag.

It’s all done with bits and scraps. 

The snow was from the left-over background of this stained glass piece. 

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The evergreens are done from a piece of wool that ‘didn’t work’ when I tried some marbelizing awhile ago….I used it also in the light blue/mauve section of the matrix rug. Amazing how useful that ugly ‘mistake’ turned out to be.

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It’s the drab colour in the light row.

The birches, I hooked with the left overs of a spot dye piece I used for the barnyard in a farm scene, plus some bits of grey and black.

I also used some bits left of a mauve 5 value swatch.

When I first finished the trees, they looked like up-side-down cherry ice cream cones.

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I’m a novice when it comes to doing landscapes, and I was just going with the general info I had….dark at the back, and lighter as you come foreward….but in this case it didn’t work…..so if the rules don’t work for you…do something else…( a good motto don’t you think?)

I took out the darkish colour at the base of the trees, and put in a lighter colour. …which while not great….I liked better.  Hopefully I’ll do a better job on my next landscape. I’m contemplating the “Canadian barns” project that the Huronoia branch is launching…more about that later.

A Tribute to Gail Mueller

Another first Monday has arrived, and what fun it was to see Gail Mueller’s work, and hear her story.

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Although Gail was born in Kalamazoo Michigan, she grew up in the Beaches area of Toronto, attended U of T, and became a physio therapist. (she said nursing wasn’t an option because of all the blood and needles). She and her husband later moved to Orillia where she worked in home care, had two daughters, and retired in 1997. Retirement only lasted a few months, since as she said …she grew bored in a hurry. While at a nearby greenhouse one day…she casually asked the owner if he needed some help…and was immediately put to work. She ‘helped’ part time for 12 years.

Gail is proficient in many areas. She took a carpentry course, became a master spinner,

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and weaver.

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She has done quilting, smocking, cross stitch and painting.

Her ‘first’ introduction to hooking had come when she was just 12….

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she and her mom hooked this rug in the 1950’s while at the cottage. Neither of them had any experience, and they left all the tails on the back side…

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but as she pointed out….it didn’t pull out. It’s now a very special keepsake.

She took up rug hooking proper in 1995,

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and did the obligatory fine shaded flowers….her first piece.

She thought she  might never have continued hooking after this experience, but fortunately met up with Willa Mercer, and was introduced to designing patterns, wide cuts and using recycled wools…..this was much more to her liking.

Her first ‘real’ piece, was a drawing by her young daughter, which Willa helped her with…and then she was truly ‘hooked’. (I would have sworn I took a picture of this rug….but it isn’t on my camera….so sorry…:(  )

She loves taking courses, and many of the pieces she brought today are evidence of that.

She took a course with Jeanne Field in Newfoundland on miniatures.

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This depicts Jeanne’s husband proposing to her in a forest. It’s about 3″ square.

At a Trent course on the Grenfell style with Germaine James, she hooked this wonderful piece using nylons which she also dyed.

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The picture was drawn by her daughter Jill.

At a course in Haliburton, she hooked Ann Hallet’s corydale sheep,

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from one of Ann’s photos. (complete with pieces of fleece from the actual sheep)

Her usual style is wide cut, and using a wide variety of materials, but in 1999, she did this oriental in a 3 cut, and was amazed at how she enjoyed doing it.

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She claims that once the colour planning was done, it was restful….quiet hooking.

….at this point in Gail’s story…Ann Hallett piped up, and commented that she has an oriental drawn too, wool chosen, and rolled up ready to hook when she’s in a nursing home…..and needs ‘restful’ hooking.

I love these ladies…no doubt inspired by the Deanne Fitzpatrick style of hooking.

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Day Dreaming hooked in 2008

Her favourites now are abstracts.

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This is a recent piece.  ‘Abstract’ hooked in 2010.

She claims her most fun however, now comes from her two grandchildren….and (she says with glee) she gets to babysit them.

What’s next????

All the hooking is completed on Fat Cat.

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He’s waiting to be steamed, but since all my hall furniture is currently in the living room , and on the dining room table ….I’m putting it off for a day or two. (Fixing the wall to hang Hygieia has turned into a major reno and redecoration of the entire foyer, and downstairs and upstairs halls)….exciting… but messy at this point!

True to my word, I’ve been working on the background of my hall runner. I was rather surprised when I got it out. In my mind I didn’t have so much to finish.

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….the top

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…the middle

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….the other end

Guess I thought that the “hooking fairies” might have been busy on it while I wasn’t. I’m also going to have to dye more background wool. Ordinarily I love dyeing…but doing this antique black is a messy business and I always end up with black fingers for a few days. (I have an aversion to wearing rubber gloves!!)

I started this project two years ago, and I’m finding it interesting now to look at it and realize how my hooking style has changed in that time.

I’ve changed my mind about hooking a seat and back for my walnut armchair…decided that it really needs to be caned…as it was originally. However I have an urge to hook a chair…so my attention has turned to my victorian nursing rocker…

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which badly needs new upholstery.

It sits on this rug,

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so I’ll try to use this colour palette…I’ve lately read several articles about dulling down colours, and I think they’ll come in handy if I go ahead with this. It will be an exercise in restraint for me to hook something muted!!

 I can’t see covering this in anything ‘modern’ or ‘abstract’ so I’m considering using aspects of the Jacobean ‘tree of life’.  I downloaded a variety of pictures to give me ideas and inspiration.

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I don’t want to hook it in anything smaller than a #6, so next thing is to get out the paper and pencils, and see what I can come up with.

The city sidewalk plow just came by to remove the snow…first time this season….maybe winter is finally here!