Dream Big

I’m demonstrating for a day at the upcoming International Ploughing Match, and obviously have to have some hooking to do. Having just completed my last project, that meant I had to get something underway quickly. Hmmmm  what to do???  Cheri and Gail came to the rescue.  They’re both investigating “graffiti” which  is the theme for next year’s annual….and were amazed and excited about the scope and intricacy  of this “street art”. Sounded like a great idea to me.

…..something simple and not too big that I can get working on quickly…..this caught my eye. Not the colours, or the text but the style.


…… then out with the pencils to sketch ideas. When I was satisfied with the lettering, I traced it with a sharpie,

DSCF6759then used my printer to enlarge it to 8.5 x 11,


added some “extras”DSCF6761

….then headed to the Copy Shop and had them double the size to 17″ x  22″


I don’t have a light table, but this is a small project, and I was anxious to get it underway, so I used the window method to transfer the pattern to my backing.DSCF6770

All this involves is taping the pattern to the window, then (having drawn the dimensions on the backing), taping the backing over top, and drawing the pattern directly. It’s not as accurate as my usual method, but great for a simple project. (just don’t save money by buying your green paint tape at a dollar store as I did….it didn’t stick well and kept slipping).

So now it’s started.DSCF6773

Now my only problem is to go slowly enough that I still have some to finish while hooking at the ploughing match…..or I could begin planning my next project….


Hooking in the Heat

I’m sure most people think of hooking as a cool or cold weather activity, but I get a lot of hooking done in the summer….that’s because I don’t function well in hot humid weather, and I shut myself away in my hooking area with the air conditioner on full blast. That’s what has happened for the last few days.

I’ve been filling and tweaking. I drew the pattern freehand on an 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper, then had it blown up, and some of the discrepancies are magnified in the large version. The pattern itself is not symmetrical but I want it to be at least balanced. I thought the two  Maouri friendship twists were at a different angle to the sides and contemplated major adjustments to correct them….but when I checked…..

DSCF6631DSCF6633….they are both at exactly the same angle….I’ll just have to extend the border on the right about 6 ditches further over.

The peace sign did however need some adjustment both in the oval outside, and the inside parts.DSCF6585…since it was partially hooked when I did this, it required lots of rehooking both of the peace sign, and the elements it was touching.

DSCF6635 I’m much happier with it now. In this photo you can see how dark the maouri twist is at the top…(unlike the one on the other side) so I reworked that as well to get some light green in the top section.


I completed my “three sons” at the top….

DSCF6640….so the last big “fill” is the swan.


….and finishing the tears…..doing more tweaking…….and deciding on both a colour and hooking style for the background…..lots to keep me busy while it’s too hot to do much else.


Happy Canada day to all fellow Canadians. I had tears in my eyes this morning as I watched the boys’ choir from BC sing O Canada on the steps of Parliament Hill. So moving.


My Creative Process

I know…I know….I was determined not to start anything new until I had done all the finishing on completed pieces. I didn’t mean to…..it just happened.

Well….sort of…..here’s what transpired. As I was whipping Lunenburg Harbour, I couldn’t help but think about what I might like to hook next, so I started clipping inspiration ideas for a large hall rug.

DSCF6595 DSCF6596Then the new Rug Hooking Magazine arrived, and while reading the article “Folklife Rugs”, I started sketching symbols of my life. DSCF6599

I didn’t like it at all.  It was very literal, and everything just plopped down, but I did like the concept, so I started looking for symbols.  I liked the treble clef in the centre, not because music is any longer the centre of my life, but because its shape allowed me to overlay the other items around it. Then I realized that celtic symbols did just that, so I started researching them. That led to symbols found in other cultures, and I eventually ended up with a variety which I felt were all significant to me.



I replaced the treble clef in the centre with an african symbol for creativity which would allow me to “hang” the other symbols on its arms.


It’s a west African Adrinfa spider symbol called Anaise and denotes creativity and wisdom (but I’ll skip the wisdom part for me).

I drew several sketches which I either discarded or redrew.DSCF6602

A chain denotes friendship, but I couldn’t see a way to include one, so I searched other cultures for friendship symbols that I liked. I found the Maori Pikorua .


(sorry it’s so fuzzy)

Married love and fidelity doesn’t seem to have been a high priority with “symbol makers” but eventually I found this lovely one…DSCF6600


After many tries, and thanks to a great eraser, I came up with a design I was satisfied with, then took it to the local “Copy Shop” and had it blown up to 36″ long.

DSCF6561 ……drew it on “red dot” then transferred it to my backing.

DSCF6583….male symbols for my three sons


….peace in my soul, my life and my family….


….marital love and fidelity….DSCF6588


…..friendshipDSCF6587……….motherhood….and scattered throughout….the tears of sorrow and loss and grief….(the treble clef I dropped to the bottom to anchor the whole design.

At the same time I had no idea about a colour plan that might work. I just felt I’d know what it was when I saw it. (and I’m still not certain that what I have so far is what I’ll end up with).

I liked this photoDSCF6604oops fuzzy again….so I decided to try dip dyes.

This colour scheme caught my eye a few days ago. I think it’s done by Donna DiPalma and I ran across it on The Welcome Mat.DSCF6605

I got out the Jewel Tones swatches and came up with this….DSCF6606

….so yesterday I started dyeing a few samples and got these…..DSCF6572

…..which of course I had to try last night….


It’s called “Signa Meus Vita”….the symbols of my life.

I will get back to the finishing…..just not sure when…..




Hooking a Vimy Ridge Memorial

2014 marks 100 years since the beginning of WWI and there will undoubtedly be many events commemorating this terrible war in the next few years. In particular, Canadians will be marking the battle of Vimy Ridge (fought in 1917) for many consider it the beginning of Canada’s true nationhood.

Wikipedia has a brief description: “The Battle of Vimy Ridge was the first occasion whereupon all four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force participated in a battle as a cohesive formation, and thus became a Canadian nationalistic symbol of achievement and sacrifice. France ceded to Canada perpetual use of a portion of land on Vimy Ridge under the understanding that the Canadians use the land to establish a battlefield park and memorial. Wartime tunnels, trenches, craters and unexploded munitions still honeycomb the grounds of the site, which remains largely closed off for reasons of public safety. Along with preserved trench lines, there are a number of other memorials and cemeteries contained within the site.” pic_wonder_vimy_lg

The two towers represent Canada and France, united forever in friendship.  125px-Canadian_National_Vimy_Memorial_-_Mother_Canada

One of the statues is called Mother Canada, or Canada Bereft and represents the nation of Canada mourning her dead. (3,600 Canadian soldiers died at Vimy Ridge)

You might well ask…What has this to do with rug hooking? Let me back up and tell you what happened. I was taking photos of people’s work at our meeting on Tuesday, and came to Ann Hallett, who had two piles of wool in front of her she had obviously been cutting by hand. What are you working on Ann I asked? She proceeded to pull out her “just started” piece and ended up speaking about it to the whole amazed group.DSCF6312

I’m hooking a tribute to Vimy Ridge she told us. My grandfather was killed there you know!

…and what a poignant story…..

Her grandfather had written a letter to his wife shortly before the battle, and tucked it in his pocket. The letter was found on his body, and sent to his wife, who received it two weeks after learning of his death.


As Ann read the letter, there was hardly a dry eye in the room.

…and as if that weren’t significant enough, she is hooking the whole piece using ” used stump socks” from the Canadian army. (woolen socks used to cover and protect the  ‘stumps ‘ of amputated limbs) They are 100% wool in order to absorb any moisture from the stump, and to keep it warm.


They come in various sizes and she dyes them as needed. then hand cuts them for hooking. (cross ways as you do when hooking nylons)



This is the template she used for the two towers, depicting Canada and France.


…and she drew Canada Bereft on a mylar sheet for transfer to the backing…


She has just recently learned that she is actually holding lilies in her right hand that is hanging down, so she’ll adjust the pattern to include them.


When completed, this wonderful tribute will hang in Saint James Cathedral in Toronto. A moving tribute to such an important part of Canadian history, created by a dedicated and talented Canadian fiber artist.

I’ll keep you updated on its progress.



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!)

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 Work Day for the Plowing Match

This September, the International Plowing Match will be held near the village of Ivy , not far south of where I Iive in central Ontario.  The annual Quilt and Rug Fair is to be included as a part of the plowing match, and will run for a week (instead of a weekend) and have exposure for our work to many many more people than we could normally expect. This is a big deal for rughookers in our area, so we’re busy preparing for it now. (of course rug hookers need little excuse to get together for a hook in!!!)

Last Tuesday we held an all day hook in to get sale items underway.DSCF6086

Wearable art/jewelry particularly brooches are always popular.


Margaret is making a variety of small waldoboro pins for different seasons.

Proddy brooches seldom lie on a sales table very long.



Cynthia, ever creative, has devised these beautiful pins .

DSCF6070I was fascinated by how she made them. The silk had holes cut out for the hooking , then was  decoratively sewn on both sides of the linen, allowing the hooking to be done on the linen with the silk background already there….here they are in progress….

DSCF6072…this is the back side…and this….

DSCF6071….is the front. The strip was inserted into the hoop to hold taut for hooking.

Hot pads are another favourite sales item, and we have a variety of them in progress.


Jean  is doing a series of animals (appropriate for a plowing match).


Helen found this article on how to create a spiral, and is trying that.DSCF6082DSCF6097

I’m doing some which use Klimt motifs.


Christmas articles are also always popular, and we will have a nice variety.


Cathy is making lots of these sweet hanging Santas.


…and perhaps my favourite….Jean has made one little bag, and plans on making more.


DSCF6058Gail couldn’t resist and so we have our first sales…

Edie found these patterns which had been tucked away for a long time. They too will make lovely hot pads.


It was a fun and productive day.DSCF6090DSCF6085

….and just to put the icing on the cake…..2 curling gold, and 2 hockey gold for Canada. I am a happy hooker indeed!

People, Places, Passion..A Tribute to Margaret Kennedy

The Sunshine Rug Hookers were treated on Tuesday to a wonderful talk and the reminiscences of Margaret’s life , particularly through her rug hooking. She began by explaining that as soon as she developed the ability to design and hook her own patterns, she was moved to create pieces significant to her in one of the three “P’s”….people, places, and her passions.

…But of course, before she got to that point, she started with the (then) obligatory shaded flowers. She didn’t like the pattern, or the flowers or the colours, and joked that it was a wonder she ever finished it…but finish it she did,,, and now she loves it, and it lies beside her bed where she happily steps on it every morning as she gets out of bed.


Deanne Fitzpatrick was an early influence…


….and she was beginning her own expression by adding Ontario symbols around the border. She laughingly recounted that she had read about Deanne’s suggestion of the staggered outline, and that was why this dear lady has large black freckles on her body.


She eventually travelled to Nova Scotia for a course with Deanne, and by now her style and subject matter were firmly her own. This is her son and their Standard Schnauzer ivy.

She  was very interested in her ancestors who had settled in western Canada, and did several small pictures copied from old photos.


A large version of one of these is on her ‘to do’ list.

Margaret is an avid hiker and loves nature, so these maple leaves ar very close to her heart.


Her sister and their activities together are  frequent topics for her rugs.


….it looks like a very happy memory….

This piece of the two of them skating as children, is hooked entirely from ‘as is’ blankets cut by hand into strips about 1/2 inch wide.


She had to set it aside until she found a blanket the right colour to complete the ice at the bottom. This has recently been found, so she can now finish this wonderful memory rug.

She showed us the original pattern she drew for this rug, and you can see that it evolved into something quite different as the planning progressed, eventually losing many of the background details and even many of the people.DSCF6020

This wonderful rug was hooked for her husband, who wanted a rug to go on the floor and to be only neutrals.  It is entitled “The Fen” and contains outlines of plants and animals found in a marsh near their country home.


Margaret paid a lovely tribute to the Sunshine group, who she said, were not only a wonderful and supportive group of people, but she so appreciated the many ideas that she was exposed to through the workshops presented by the many talented teachers  in the group.

Her bird….taught by Linda Wilson…


….an introduction to needle felting….DSCF6017


This is a cosy for her coffee pot which wraps around the pot and fastens with the loops.

….a workshop on special stitches….


….(which she says she can’t finish since she wouldn’t then be able to see the back and know how to replicate the stitches),  and many other small projects done through the inspiration of the group…

DSCF6004Margaret keeps a file of ideas and inspirations, and draws her patterns from these pictures. She shared the germ of several future rugs with us….these wonderful japanese designs….


….and this inspiration of a cross country skate style skier.


Margaret is an avid skier, and in fact had a skiing date right after our meeting.DSCF6018

….as you can see here on the left, she is appropriately and elegantly dressed for a rug hookers meeting, but with one swift movement…..DSCF6028

(sorry that it’s blurry….I was laughing too hard to hold the camera steady) ….off comes the dress……..on goes the ski jacket……


…and she’s ready to go! Thanks Margaret for a wonderful morning.

Starting and Ending

I’m on the last legs of the hooking for my eldest son’s ‘dog memory’ rug….(about time since it was for his birthday last July).


Hooking the background was fun and relaxing and straightforward . I did some tweaking of the colours, removing all  of the dark red colour that I felt popped out too much. Then it was a search through my worms to find wool for Winston (the lab) and Jessie (the shepherd/huskie).


WInston is hooked with leftovers from Adele.


….and Jessie from bits and pieces of unknown origin…


He is almost finished. Jessie has a special story. He was acquired from the SPCA in Regina Saskatchewan by my middle son Mark who at the time had 3 small children. Unfortunately one of the children was rough with Jessie, and he retaliated by nipping him. Mark’s wife no longer felt it was safe to have him, and Mark tried to return him to the SPCA. However, having bitten a child, Mark was told he was now unadoptable, and would be euthanized. Mark was devastated, and as a last resort, phoned his older brother in Ontario to see if he would save Jessie’s life. Scott agreed, and so Jessie made the long trip by air from Regina to Toronto, and lived a happy life with Bogey (the lab/great dane)  in the Ontario woods of Medonte.


….so that’s the “finishing part”…..I have been “starting” my Sir John cartoon……well actually getting prepared to start.

Having decided on a size, I drew a grid on the picture. I actually goofed with this, and drew 1 cm squares, when it should have been 2 cm squares.


I fixed it as best I could, and numbered and lettered the squares for easy drawing reference.

Using red dot on my 2″ grid board, I then drew the basic outlines of the cartoon. (I pretty much ignore the 1″ dots on the red dot as I’ve found they are not entirely accurate….the 2″ grid you see in the photo is from the board underneath))

DSCF5979….in progress….



This was then positioned and pinned on the background and slowly drawn over with a sharpie to produce the pattern….


….Ready to start hooking.

I’m in the process of getting the wool for this project, so it will be awhile before the hooking actually begins. You might think …black and white….what’s so hard about colour choice with that???? …..  but it’s not quite that simple. Thanks so much to Elizabeth Marino,  Wanda Kerr,  Michelle Halber, Ivi Collier, and various Yahookers for their colour help and suggestions about how best to hook a cartoon entirely in black and white. I’m excited to get this project underway.

Winter texting

We’re in the middle of the “polar vortex” (along with the rest of North America) and once again the temperatures are frigid and the snow banks are huge.


This is the view out the window beside my computer. I must add that we are faring better than areas that aren’t accustomed to large snowfalls. Our roads and sidewalks are plowed, although the sidewalks are beginning to look like tunnels.


(photo by Brad Windover)  So needless to say, I’ve been staying in and doing lots of hooking.

Lacking a smart phone for communication, my texting has been of the hooking sort.



I used a 6 cut for the lettering (large enough to stand out, small enough for me to handle the letter details).


…then I used a 4 cut to outline the lettering. I have no clue how I’m going to incorporate the text into the Magdelena style blocks!

So when in doubt….do something else….so today I’ll go back to the dogs and work on Winston (the yellow lab) and Jesse…the “huskie” type.

In the meantime, with Ray’s mathematical help, I’ve figured out the size I’ll hook the black and white Sir John cartoon.

DSCF5830Here’s the thinking process we went through….the cartoon is square, with Sir John’s head sticking out the top. A square is not considered a visually pleasing shape for a picture, and the only way to change it was to add on at the top.  We fiddled around with what looked best, and ended up by extending it 2 cm. This made the cartoon 19.5 cm x 21.5 cm. Then using my pressing board which is covered in 1″ squares, we blocked out an area simply converting centimetres to inches as a starting point….but to our surprise, that size looked great! So the hooking will be 19.5 inches by 21.5 inches. The next step will be to draw a grid on the cartoon at 2 cm. intervals, which I will then use to draw on red dot on my 2″ grid board. (It’s actually easier to do than to explain!)

Stay warm everyone!