Unpacking

Nope…I’m not unpacking my suitcase, but my rug. While some people have to fill in spaces when they have finished their hooking….I sometimes have to reduce the wool I’ve used. My tendency is to hook  too closely together. I try to be mindful of this as I hook, but over the large expanse of my big rug, even after steaming there was fixing to do.dscn1064-1I remove the strip that is too close….dscn1065….carefully cut it down a bit, and rehook it in the same space. I did that in a number of spots and it worked well and the rug lay flat.

However….the combination of my tendency to pack, and the wide expanse of echo hooking meant that when laid out on the big table…..it was no longer squared at the corners, or totally straight along the edges. It would need further adjustment.dscn1073I took  out some sections, and shortened many rows at the border. I ended up cutting some new strips in a 6 cut rather than cut them down by hand. dscn1082Ray helped me by setting up guides….with nails and mason’s cord.dscn1083When I had it as straight as possible,  he nailed the edges in place to hold it even. It was a lot of work, but yippee! The edges were now straight.

I needed to set it once again, and rather than steam it on the top side, I covered it with wet towels and left it overnight. (I’ve no idea whether that is condoned or not)dscn1085This morning I removed the towels and it is now drying in place. I still haven’t decided if I will give it a light steam or not before I remove the nails holding it in place.

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Next step will be to zigzag the edge and dye the yarn for whipping.

The Brier begins tomorrow, so I’d love to be able to watch those amazing Canadian men’s curling teams while I whip the edge of the rug….my idea of a great way to spend a week.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Changing Gears

It had always been my intention to hook my 5′ x 7′ rug “Oil on Water” in two pieces, then join them as late as possible.

My reasons for this were:

1.  Backing available from my usual suppliers wasn’t wide enough to do it in one piece and to have a large single piece shipped from the States was way too expensive for my meagre purse.

2. The only large piece I had seen done before was done this way.

3. Doing most of the work on the two sections would be much easier to handle than manipulating such a large and heavy piece of hooking.

4. I’d never seen much information on hooking a large rug, and none on joining two pieces of backing so I went with what information I had.

Then two things happened that changed my plan of attack.

DSCN0747 (1).jpgI was hooking merrily along and had even finished the blue section farthest to the right when:

1. The pattern at the far right seemed out of kilter….the blue was too big, or too far over or…..something bothered me about it.

2. Gene Shepherd’s Internet Rug Camp had several posts about large rugs and joining them together if using two pieces of backing.

After looking at it for about a week, it hit me that the last blue section needed to come out. I wanted the eye  to be drawn around in a sweep from left over the top and down the right to the bottom centre. I then realized I could only do that if I did the bottom section first then joined the two in a visually interesting way.

SOOOOOO…..I needed to change gears and  join the two sections now. (I admit that having made that decision….I procrastinated several days since I would once again have to face my sewing machine)

Luckily I had plenty of markings on both pieces to match the two sections up exactly, so it was a relatively simple job  (once I got down to it and thanks to the new details on how to do it supplied by the IRC).DSCN0752I began with a widely spaced zigzag stitch just inside the joining and overlap lines of both pieces. Then did a quick pin-together to make sure they still matched. (when I drew the pattern initially, I had drawn lines every 10 ditches to make the matching easier)

DSCN0755Then I did a careful exact pinning together and  basted the two sections together both top and bottom.DSCN0767Just an aside here……and a heartfelt thank you. I received this leather finger shield as a gift not too long ago and it is the most wonderful thimble alternative I could imagine.DSCN0766If you are as useless with a thimble as I am it is a tool you’ll love to have available. If you ever see one buy it! (or have a friend like Isabelle). No sore fingers now for me! Thanks again Isabelle.DSCN0768

I was pleased with how the design matched.

It is already heavy so I will hook the join areas first and I immediately started with the outside edge to give it some stability. I must admit I was both surprised and pleased at how easy it was to hook through the overlap.DSCN0772 (1)I’ll cut the fringe off only as needed to keep it from ravelling.

Whew!   It’s all joined together, and today I’m hitting the dye pots once again. Lots more dark blue background needed, as well as some dark rhodamine red. Thankfully this is the coolest day we’ve had all month!

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

A HAPPY ENDING

My beloved standard schnauzer Baxter will be fifteen in the fall and he is beginning to show his age.

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His ability to hold on when he needs to “go” has diminished (much to his horror and shame), and occasionally I’ve discovered a puddle at the back door,or a damp spot where he has been laying. DSCF7414

This geometric rug lies on the floor at the foot of our bed and was long ago claimed by him  as his bed.

With these accidents occurring, I checked the condition of this rug and discovered that indeed it was in a bad way. It was either throw it out, or try and wash it thoroughly.

I’ve never washed one of my wool rugs before, but in this case there was nothing to lose. If I couldn’t get the doggie urine out it would be in the garbage.

I laid it in the bathtub and let it soak in cool water, swished it thoroughly and rinsed it out. I was appalled by the dirt and sand (and yellow water ) that came out. I did this several times, with the same result each time. I headed to the store looking for ‘Zero’….the soap I used to use for wool sweaters back in the olden days when twin sets were still popular, but it has obviously gone the way of the dodo bird. It’s replacement is ‘Woolite’ so home I went with a bottle and high hopes that it would work and the dyes wouldn’t run.

I think I soaked, washed and rinsed it with the soap about 5 times until there was no grit or discolouration coming from it, then did it once more for good measure. Much to my delight, the dye stayed intact.DSCN0671

I hung it up over the grating on the veranda and left it there for several days to dry and be in the fresh air. I am absolutely delighted with the results. It hasn’t looked this good since it was first hooked.DSCN0672

It certainly isn’t going back on the floor though. I have a very washable blanket now folded up at the foot of the bed and Baxter seems to think that is just fine to sleep on.

I’m not saying that every rug would do so well with this treatment, but it worked well in this case.

I’m so glad I gave it a try and didn’t throw it out.

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.

 

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.

 

De”fence”-ing

DSCN0270My first project for the new year is to complete Grumpy Owl. Long ago, (several months at least) I stopped hooking the head feathers when I realized that the shading was dark to light on the left, and the opposite way on the right. While I debated how to deal with that, I finished other areas. Now I could no longer put it off.

DSCN0281My solution? Let them meet in the middle, with light wool on both sides of the merging feathers. (the jury is still out on this solution).

That leaves only the bottom section to hook.

DSCF7631Just a reminder….the original is a dot work drawing done by my talented son Mathieu and therefore doesn’t have the detail of a hooked piece. I thought it was a fence, and had tried out a version using the same technique as I had done on the side of my barn. BUT….when last home, Mathieu told me that he hadn’t intended it to be a fence at all….hmmmmm…..what to do? When in doubt….wait and ponder.

Well with everything else hooked, the waiting time was over, and decision time was upon me. I ripped out the old ‘fence’ and spot dyed a variety of fabrics with some different greys and a sand (I think it was khaki drab….but my recipe book is on a different floor, so I’m guessing)

DSCN0275I switched to an #8 cut and started hooking a rocky perch  for Grumpy.DSCN0277

The rock fissures and the details around the talons are the tricky part, and I’ll digress for a bit as I record how I kept the vertical aspect, while filling in around them.

If you have a  cutter with an adjustable guide, like the Frazer 500….DSCN0291….or one of the Beehive, Townsend, or  Ault type….DSCN0292…..you will probably have experienced cutting your wool when the guide is not set exactly correctly, and ended up with that first strip the wrong size…..DSCN0294In this case the first strip was wider than an 8. Rather than adjust the wool guide, I left it, and those wider strips are just perfect for filling in  the slightly larger spaces.

Of course there were spots that needed smaller sizes, and I am not averse to cutting a section or the end of a strip to make it fit smoothly.DSCN0302

….(Do you know how hard it is to hold the scissors, hold the camera, and also take the photo? ….this took several tries….and finally balanced the scissor handles with my knee.)

DSCN0307Here you can see how (upper right of the ‘rock’) the extra wide piece fits nicely between the black, and a smaller strip will fit neatly into the small space just to its  left. It’s slow going, but for me the result is worth it. The talons are unimpeded, and the rock face is going in the right direction.DSCN0274

Winter is fully upon us here in central Ontario, with a nasty icy day forecast. I’m staying home to snuggle up, watch the curling, and hook. I hope you have a nice day too.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Finishing Mug Rugs & Table Mats

A couple of weeks ago two different people came up to me to say thank you for a tip on finishing small potholders etc. They had both had difficulty gluing down a finished back without bumps and globs showing through. Since I was just finishing up some mug rugs, I thought there might be others who would appreciate seeing how I do it.

I love hunting for mugs which have a “hookable” picture on them, since they are fun to hook, and  my family really seems to appreciate them.

DSCN0211This one was an obvious choice as being easy to hook.

DSCN0243Both one son and his wife have names starting with “S”  so this was really appropriate.

DSCN0237I thought this was really pretty as well. I chose to hook just the one flower on the bottom.

I enjoy rummaging through my bits and pieces to come up with appropriate colours. DSCN0210.jpgThis one was a great exercise in hooking diagonally.

When the hooking is completed, I secure the edge by putting tacky glue right around the edge, and smoothing it out away from the hooking with a ruler.DSCN0220DSCN0221This secures the hooking for when the backing is cut away.

I use a fairly heavy black felt for the back, and cut a piece that is slightly too big.DSCN0224.jpg

Oops….I grabbed very dull scissors to cut this piece.

Apply tacky glue to the back of the hooking…..DSCN0225Then…(and this is the part I didn’t do at first, and ended up with a lumpy backing)….use a ruler or flat edge to smooth the glue into the hooking…DSCN0226I make sure the wool is covered and as well as a bit of the backing on the edges…DSCN0228 (1)….then gently press the felt down all over and let it dry.DSCN0230 (1)Then cut away the backing and excess felt from the top side making a smooth edge right next to the hooking. (good sharp scissors needed )DSCN0234 (1)The layers on the edge are even and ready to be covered.

I cut strips that are a few sizes bigger than the hooking (in this case the hooking is a #4 and the edging is a #6).

The final step is my least favourite, and I’m still trying to think of a way to make it less messy…..

I put a bead of glue along the strip and then drag the ruler along it to spread the glue (I did it on a plastic bag to save my desk from being covered in glue)DSCN0235This piece is smoothed along the edges for the final finishing touch. Finally, by pinching and shaping the corners while the glue is still wet, you can get a nice square turn.DSCN0236…….and here are the finished little mug rugs…..

DSCN0249DSCN0248DSCN0250DSCN0251I know that none of this is new to most hookers, but for those of you who are newbies, or have never tried this method, perhaps it will be helpful.

So from my house to yours…..DSCN0252…..I wish you the happiest of holidays and the making of wonderful memories with your loved ones.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Stained Glass in Fabric

Last week at Sunshine Rug Hooking, Linda Wilson gave a demonstration about hooking stained glass. Without my camera, I thought I’d missed my chance to share this technique, but as it happens, I wasn’t the only one to forget last week, and several people brought their stained glass work to share this week. So I wanted to show that work, and for those who may never have tried it, outline some basic steps to achieve the effect.

I have only hooked this one simple example, and you can see that I’ve never done the finishing. I always wanted to surround it with a real stained glass frame, but somehow that has never happened.DSCN0094

The day I got this pattern is one I’ll long remember. I had just started hooking, and my friend June Baker and I struck out one February day  to drive to Sheila Klugescheid’s house some miles away, to purchase hooking supplies. A raging snow storm blew up when we were on the road, and by the time we arrived, we had to struggle through about a foot of freshly fallen snow to get to her door. I found this pattern, and Shiela helped me choose the wool, then gave me the quickest lesson ever on how to hook stained glass. We couldn’t stay long for fear we would be completely snowed in.

Here’s the essence of her instructions for anyone who hasn’t tried it and might be interested….

Choosing wool:

-a dark colour for the leading (mine is deep taupe)

-spot dye or casserole dye for the background and details

Cutting wool:

-carefully keep the strips in the order in which they are cut and hook them in order (I used two sided tape affixed to cardboard to keep them in the right order)

Hooking

-Begin with the leading ( she suggested I cut it a size larger than the regular size,,,,in this case #4 for leading, #3 for the rest)

-Hook each section in straight lines (Shiela suggested sections touching go in opposite directions….although some people hook it all the same way)

….ANY ERRORS IN THIS INFORMATION ARE DUE TO MY FAULTY MEMORY….and are not the fault of Sheila!!!

Edie brought three examples to share today. Rather than a spot dye, she used a dip dye for the gowns.

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This little tree is mounted on actual stained glass.

 

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Jean made this piece for her mother.DSCN0088

She said she wasn’t pleased with it because she couldn’t keep the leading lines straight.

Her second piece didn’t start out as an underwater scene, but as she hooked the foliage, that’s what it suggested to her so that’s what it became. To keep the leading lines even in this one, she “tunnelled” the loops. DSCN0089

When she said this…someone in the group said, “I thought you weren’t supposed to do that! ” ….the reply?  ” You’re not….unless it creates the effect you’re after” How true for almost every “hooking rule” there is.

Kathy brought some examples of quilted and appliqué stained glass.DSCN0083

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What a wonderful way to decorate the house for Christmas. (such a talented lady)

Last week If I’d had my camera, I could have taken photos of beautiful  examples by several other people and included the extensive directions that Linda Wilson shared with the group . I apologize to them ( and especially Linda) for neglecting to do that.

Teresa has had a very productive fall. Along with a number of knitting projects, she has completed her shaded flowers piece,…..

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…..and a hit and miss rug for her bedroom,DSCN0092

Congratulations Teresa. Love them both.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dyeing The Colour Wheel

Early in November I’m attending a workshop and I’m to bring 1/16th yard of each of the colours in the colour wheel. So Friday I got out the dye equipment and got to work.DSCN0065To begin with….. Although I dye my own wool and do my own colour planning, I am by no means knowledgable when it comes to colour theory. In spite of trying, my eyes glaze over when someone starts discussing  split complementary harmony or analogous or tetrardic harmony………I rely heavily on the fact that I am a visual learner, and end up making my decisions based on what looks right to me. (and very often rehook what I’ve done because it DOESN’T look right to me). I’d probably save myself a lot of time and effort if I just followed the rules….but what’s the fun in that? So I even had to hunt for a colour wheel to refresh  my mind on the colours I needed to dye. Perhaps I’ll finally remember what they are and their order having done this exercise.DSCN0066

I began by going through all my dyes to come up with as many single dyes as I could that might give me one of the colours I needed. I don’t have  colour swatches to refer so this was the simplest method for me. Starting at the top and going clockwise, I chose Pro Chem Sun Yellow, (I thought plain yellow was too ‘lemony’) The pen indicates yellow orange (don’t have a dye that colour) Cushing Orange, Pro Chem Poppy Red for orange red, Majic Carpet Red, and under it Pro Chem Magenta (ended up using magenta), Majic Carpet Red Violet, Cushing Purple, Majic Carpet Blue Violet, both Cushing and Majic Carpet Blue (ended up using Majic carpet) , for blue green I thought (whatever that cushing dye is or Pro Chem Mallard Green …..neither of which worked) I thought bottle green would be a true green (wrong), and the last pen  in the place for yellow green .DSCN0068

Next I checked my stash to see what colours I might already have…..I found yellow green…..orange……yellow……and yellow orange.DSCN0069That left me with 8 colours to dye.

Most were straight forward. In checking “bottle green” I found it was distinctly blue green…..so I used it for that. The mallard Green was actually the closest to a forest green, but still a bit blueish, so I added a wet toothpick of  yellow to the dye bath. (I drop a bit of the dye bath on a paper towel to check colours before dyeing).

DSCN0072Here are my 8 colours on the line .DSCN0071

You can’t see the colours very well in this shot, but I like the look of them against the trees.

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Here’s my colour wheel  ready for the workshop. (although I may dye a different orange….the one from my stash is pretty dark)

I dyed each piece in the microwave….so much faster when dyeing small pieces. I used 1/16th tsp of dye to  1 CBW (cup of boiling water) for the dye bath and added vinegar to each dye bath itself. (probably could have used less in many cases…as sometimes not all the dye was taken up when the wool was at a satisfactory colour) The dye bath is added to boiling water in a microwave safe bowl (I have some designated plastic bowls for microwave dyeing) and set to cook for about 5 minutes . (longer as needed)

…..not scientific, not perfect, but fun and quick. (the whole dye session took me about an hour) and I love the results.

 

Now to see how they are used at the workshop.

Happy Halloween everyone. Thanks for stopping by.

Birds of a Feather…

Oh my….I realized a few days ago that I have some tweaking to do on Grumpy Owl. The tips of the feathers on the left are too dark, and the transition from light to dark on the right is too abrupt.DSCF7621I added a bit more shading to the transition from light cheek feathers to the dark head ones.

Before……DSCF7619….after….DSCF7624….a very subtle difference, but I feel batter about it. On the other side I changed the dark tips for a lighter tone, but then discovered a larger problem.

DSCF7622….for some reason, I began shading each feather dark to light (left to right) then realized after a full evening’s work, that the shading was backwards. It needs to be light to dark…like the other side of his head.DSCF7625So while I was waiting for the gumption to take out my mistake, I decided to dye some wool for the background. DSCF7626I love the colours, but I won’t know how they’ll work until I try them out. The photo shows them brighter then they really are, but you get the idea.

Still not inspired to redo the feathers, last night I began work on the fence. My idea is to have it a weathered grey (but a different grey than the bird) . I began outlining with a dark plaid. (Just an aside here….and reminder to myself …..when I cut the plaid with a #3, it was a bit “hairy” or “ravelly”, so I gave it a quick hand wash with soap and warm water and then dried it in the dryer. It fluffed it up just enough to make it much nicer to hook with)

DSCF7630Then I gathered up some possible colours for the fence.

The lightest is for the spaces between the boards. The main grey is wool left over from my barn project.DSCF7634I’m trying the fencing in an 8 cut , but I’m not sure yet if I like that. DSCF7631….or the colour. I’ll let it settle in my mind for a bit before I make a final decision.

I just bet I’ll start on the background colours next. I have absolutely no patience waiting to try something I’m excited about hooking. Fortunately with this medium that’s not a problem.

Finally I want to share the wonders and frustrations of technology that I’ve experienced today. For some reason, my computer would not upload my photos from my camera, and after trying everything I could think of, I finally messaged my son Mathieu in Calgary for help. He made several suggestions and finally wrote “try rebooting”. Voila! It worked. …but then he mentioned that he was not in fact at home, but rather eating breakfast at a restaurant with friends in Victoria British Columbia. ….my own personal technician who offers advice while eating bacon and eggs thousands of miles away…..

Thanks for stopping by.