Ready for Summer

 Oh the frustration!…having just spent 2 hours writing this blog…. I went to save it…and the entire thing disappeared into cyber space….disgusted, I walked away….and now ….many hours later, I’m starting again….convinced I’ll never be able to say it the same way again.

We are home from our camping trip, and although I took lots of hooking with me, I didn’t pull one loop the entire week.Now in the air conditioned comfort of my hooking room, with Wimbeldon tennis to keep me company, I’m back at hooking my footstool. I think I’ve done as much pulling out as I have hooking. So many colours seem like a good idea until I see them hooked, and then I realize they aren’t right. I’ve tried a number of variations on the scroll, and finally dyed  wool for it using Gene’s  dump dye method and three colours of green.

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Now I’m experimenting with how best to use it .

I recently received a wonderful thank you gift of wool from Allyson Marcolini, and as it happens, it works in beautifully on this piece, and gives an added spark to my colours. Allyson , you must be psychic! The rose/wine mottled piece not only works in this flower by itself, but ties the colours together when it is used with my raspberry pieces in the large red flower. 

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Allyson..I’d love the recipe you used to create the muted yellow..I’ve never had a colour like it and it is perfect in highlighting without overpowering. I’m outlining all of the flowers with a light version of Taupe, so that they will stand out from the background darker taupe colour.

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Another piece sent by Allyson was a dark turquoise/ blue  mottled wool. Since turqouoise was one of the colours I wanted for this piece, I dyed several more pieces myself…mine are more of a green/turquoise but I like the effect of them all being used in this flower. I think it gives it lots of life.  I used my newly acquired ‘grasshopper’ pro chem dye for the lime green. That’s one of my favourite colour combinations.

Thanks again for your amazing gift Allyson.

My first chore when I got home was to complete the whipping on the canoe pillow. This pillow is the result of a request from a dear friend. She sent me a picture , and asked if I could hook a pillow from it , in memory of her son ( and my former singing student) who tragically died of cancer. It is to be given to  her daughter as a special memento of her brother, who was an avid canoeist.

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 By far the hardest part of this pillow was whipping the hooking to a pre-existing pillow cover. I was able to buy a sharp ended thick needle with a large eye that would accomodate both the bulky wool, and pierce the closely woven silky background, but each stitch was difficult to get through, and I could only do a couple of inches at a time before my fingers gave out.

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 Watching me struggle with this at a Sunshine Hookers meeting a couple of weeks ago, someone (I wish I could remember who) suggested that I use elastics on my fingers to increase the grip on the needle. I used two of those wide elastics that come on bunches of fresh broccoli and finished the whole thing in no time!  The picture doesn’t really show it very well, but I’m pleased with how the whipping melds the red border to the back of the cushion. It has been a labour of love.

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What I’ve been up to..

I realized this morning when scrolling down the blog page that it has been almost two months since I’ve posted just about my own hooking…it’s been such a busy time..so many beautiful rugs to see…..with RUG, the Annual, and the monthly tributes.

I’ve been working on small pieces. 

At the Annual, everyone was given a caterpillar to hook. The pattern was  designed by famed artist and cartoonist Lynn Johnston ( For Better or for Worse…syndicated in over 2000 papers world wide). Here’s my interpretation:

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I’ve just finished hooking this cute little guy (I’ve named him Charlie)…but I’ve no idea yet what I’ll use him for…one thought is to apply him to a tote bag…or small carryall…perhaps a shoe bag would be a good idea. 

I said I learned lots from looking over Jean’s shoulder…and here’s something I learned just last week. I noticed her doing a sort of intermittant hooking around the edges of her caterpillar, and asked her about it. She said it was a highlighting technique that Deanne Fitzpatrick had demonstrated. 

After finishing Charlie…I noticed that the edge of his bow tie got rather lost in the background…so I put a few skattered light mauve loops around that edge, and I like how it just lets the bow tie stand out …not so “in your face” as a complete outline.

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I finished the coasters for my sister. The background is actually drab olive…but looks very blue when hooked. I just figured out it is perhaps because of the blue in the eggplant colour…whatever the reason…I’m rather disappointed that the colours…although nice…don’t match Audrey’s furniture.

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I am pleased however with the finish. They are hooked with #4 and #6, and I cut #8 strips and glued them around the edges after backing it with felt.

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 I’d often had this finishing style described to me, but that’s the first time I’ve done it….won’t be the last though.

The Sunshine Rug Hookers as a group, are very thoughtful to members, and frequently send cards as a thank you or to those who may be ill. Our president asked if I’d make some up using a hooking photo…so I’ve had fun creating these cards with Adele on the front.

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My next project will be a footstool for the TV room. I got the pattern from Cindi Gay.

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She also provides complete instructions for building the footstool itself, and applying the hooked pattern to it. (that will be Ray’s contribution)

I’m gathering and dyeing wools to get started….but knowing me…this may not (probably won’t) end up bing the colours I use. 

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I’m having a bit of trouble dyeing a background colour to go with the chesterfield in the room. It’s called “mink” but isn’t grey, isn’t brown….and changes dramatically with the light. My third attempt is drying on the line right now….fingers are crossed!

A Tribute to Jean Chabot

The best thing about rug hooking is the wonderful hookers you get to know…. and one of the best things for me about hooking has been becoming friends with Jean Chabot. She’s not only a terrific hooker…but a wonderful person as well…and I have learned so much by just looking over her shoulder.

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This primitive pillow was from a workshop on combining penny rugs (applique) and hooking, taught by Bea Grant.

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Jean is a certified  rug hooking teacher,…and one of her students loved that pillow and wanted to hook it. Jean explained that it wasn’t her pattern, so she couldn’t reproduce it…but ever resourceful…she designed this ‘leaf’ rug using the same techniques , and did it along with the one her student did.

After retiring as a school teacher, Jean, who was a painter, knitter and weaver, wanted to learn how to do rug hooking…and fortunately met up with Linda Wilson. She recounts how in her first class, Linda gave them a piece of burlap with the edges marked and the centre blank. She then told her to ‘draw something’ , and  left her alone to figure it out. At first she was stymied, but..she ended up drawing a pansy, and then Linda helped her with the colour selection and hooking. She says it is a lousy pansy, but she is forever grateful to Linda for letting her struggle with that first design. It took away the ‘mystique’ and she has been designing many of her patterns since then.

One of her early rugs, a fine cut  “Annabelle”.  Jean dyed the wool and did a herringbone whipped edge.

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Jean never shies away from a challenge…look at all  these round and oval rugs…I still have not tackled one.

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This is one of a set of chair pads from her kitchen.

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This beautiful circular fine cut was done as a requirement for becoming a certified rug hooking teacher.

Another beautiful pillow: Luise Bishop gave a course on creative stitches for hooking, and Jean incorporated them here..

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She has a beautiful intarsia sweater, and replicated the pattern from it with hooking in a variety if stitches. (she brought the sweater so we could see it too, but somehow I missed getting a picture of it….dar n!) Isn’t that stunning!

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This fanciful star pillow was done in a course with Ann Hallett. She used Ann’s templates…the largest star represents her husband Serge.

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This native design was done in a course at Trent with Germaine James.

Jean became interested in the Caribbean mola designs, and on her own, designed and hooked the turtle piece. Others at Sunshine Rug hookers became interested in this style, and the group had Betty Lane come and give a course on the style.

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The larger piece was a result of the class…Jean said she used the Gieko Gecko (from the ads) as her inspiration for the lizard….love the colours in those cute guys.

Jean enjoys the effect of hooking with plaids…and used them in these funny ‘chicken jokes.

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Jean says these are just put away in a drawer…I might just sneak them into my kitchen. I think they are so funny!

Deanne Fitzpatrick has been an important influence with many of the Sunshine hookers. One year…12 of them made the trip to Nova Scotia to take a course with her.

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Jean’s Deanne inspired piece incorporates both mohair and silk.

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This piece was intended to be stained glass and  have birds or butterflies, but when Jean saw the foliage…it said ‘sea weed’ to her….so she made it an underwater scene.

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These colourful birds are done with nylons which she dyed herself. I apologize for the glare….it is framed under glass…and that’s the best this non-photographer could manage.

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This is a more traditional stained glass piece, which she designed and hooked for her mom.

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Jean and her husband love the Gaspe, and have visited  several times. Jean hooked this piece from her photo (shown above) while taking  a pictorial class at Trent with Marjorie Judson.

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This is Hamish. Another year at Trent…Jean was enrolled in a class with Jon Ciemiewicz, and knew she wanted to hook a big animal. She was inspired by a calendar photo she saw, and started by doing the pencil drawing, and then hooking it. I think Hamish is my favourite!

….well this bag runs a close second….

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This beautiful tote bag was inspired by an article and pattern in RHM. Jean wanted a very specific style of leather handles for it, and it took her over a year to locate and get them. Well worth the wait. The inside is lined with a tiger print. This is SOOO beautifully finished.

March 2011, Jen Manuell gave a workshop on her beautiful matrix designs, and this is Jean’s interpretation.

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Purple isn’t a colour she usually uses, but it is wonderful here. She is so clever with the colours she puts together. I admire her patience in finding just the right combination.

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…an intricate proddy brooch…(in Jean’s more usual colour palette)

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This three dimensional bird ornament is just beautiful. Linda Wilson gave a workshop on how to make them and I am so impressed with Jean’s…unfortunately mine is still in pieces in a bag. I can happily work on a 3′ x 6′ rug…but something tiny frustrates me to no end…sigh…

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This is Jean’s current small piece in progress. She picked up this pattern at one of our recent fund raising sales/auctions but hasn’t yet done the background. It looks as if it could fly off the fabric.

Thanks Jean for sharing  your beautiful work….and no less for your ongoing friendship and support.

More Annual Stuff

Some more rugs from the annual.

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I like the light sky behind these trees. There was a 3 dimensional factor to the trees as well…which originally caught my eye.

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This is the RHF pattern Canadian Moaiac…which I have hooked (features the wild flowers of all the provinces)….I’m always fascinated by how other people interpret things

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This rug was done with John Ciemowietz, and won the ‘fine cut’ award. 

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This is Jen Manuell’s Jumbo …which won the Rowan award for best overall….well named…it needed it’s own display area. Unfortunately the beautiful subtle colours don’t show up to the best advantage. She hooked it in 2 years….stunning! Just to the left you can glimpse the piece entitled Bertha at the Beach…which won in the wide cut catagory.

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This wonderful African scene won in the best pictorial catagory.

The Northern groups that hosted this year’s annual did a wonderful job of organizing the event. I would be remiss if I didn’t particularly mention the decorations throughout the venue. They were amazing, and were the talk of the weekend. The event was held at Nipissing University…and these wonderful creations were found everywhere. The centre pieces at the banquet were the highlight. …wonderful floral creations made entirely of fibre (38 different ones no less)…and each in a knit and felted container. Here’s just three that were closest to where I was sitting.

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There were also displays in the rotundas, at the cafeteria, and the display building. 

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This is just one example….the leaves were needle felted with the fibre critters perched on them….did I mention that the theme was …All About Bugs? Chosen because bugs and the north in springtime go together…but because of our unusual spring this year (or perhaps they just knew to stay away from hookers)…the live bugs (blackflies in particular) were in very short supply.

The accomodation was great. The three other friends I travelled with…and I…stayed in a suite in one of the university residences. We had 4 bedrooms…2 bathrooms, a kitchen dining area, and a sitting area…put to good use for evening socializing.

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That’s Lake Nipissing you can see out the window beyond the trees.

We took some time to visit the waterfront…and as you can see…the mood was quite serious!

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Lynda and Jean were taking off for a ride on the famous carousel.

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Here it is from a distance…Each of the horses on it has been hooked…it’s a wonderful story, and was featured in RHM. In case you aren’t familiar with it…here’s the scoop  in a link about the carousel itself and the hooked pieces of each and every horse on it. They went on tour, and are now I believe, at the Hooked Rug Museum.

http://www.rughookingmagazine.com/content/carousel-horse-slideshow

I couldn’t manage the trip up the hill to the carousel…so I enjoyed the shoreline….

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…and the calming view over the water.

The ship is permanently moored and is now a restaurant.

What a wonderful weekend…amazing rugs…amazing friends…what more could you ask!

I have a few more photos which I’ll include in the next post.