My “Sisters” Portrait

When I went to the photo mat workshop two weeks ago, I had chosen two possible pictures to do.

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…this one….which I thought was probably the best photo, but the colours weren’t interesting.

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…and this one …which has better composition (Wendy told me that).

I decided on the second,…and got to work. I found it both rewarding and frustrating. …rewarding as I saw my sister’s face start to develop….and frustrating  trying to capture myself, and figure out how to do the background.

After trying different versions of the waitress in the upper left, I finally decided that the background bore no importance or interest in the photo and eliminated it altogether. Then came the dilemma of how to hook it.

I gathered a variety of colours, and draped them around the hooking, finally choosing to make a half frame with a small piece of dip dyed wool pink to grey, then filling in the rest. I tried the mottled pink first , but eventually took that out leaving it only as the outline around my head, and I used a spot dye and squiggles to fill in the rest.


….here is my first finished version. I like the background….not happy with my face…nose off centre, chin too broad and lopsided, eyes still too wide, (although at this point I’d already reduced them once)

So I spent Saturday evening reworking the eyes, lips, nose and chin. DSCF5093

I extended the shadow above the right eye,  added a small strip below each eye to reduce the size, made the smile wider and the upper lip smaller, reworked the teeth, reduced the nose and centered it better, and trimmed down the chin. Did I mention that I reverse hooked the teeth? That way they sink into the mouth….a neat little trick. (not original of course….someone else at the course was reverse hooking for a special effect…I think it was Linda Wilson….and it suddenly dawned on me that it might be a great way to make the teeth more realistic…..sometimes it pays to snoop at what your neighbours are doing )

I’m still not thrilled with my face, but I think at this point it’s the best I can do with my present skills. I’m really interested in increasing my abilities in “wide” cut painterly style portraits. (well not exactly “wide” this is a 6 cut) …..and I’m looking forward to tackling another one.

HOWEVER….that’s not what I plan to do next. I’m preparing to venture into the world of primitives….for the first time.  I’ll tell you all about my plans in the next post.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wendie workshop Part 2

On the second day of the workshop, Wendie showed us how to use our computers to create a colour palette for any photo we wanted to hook.  I think this will be a VERY useful tool for me, and I’m looking forward using it.

Then we spent the rest of the day working on our mats.DSCF5015In the last post I showed this pattern before Wendy (with a Y) started hooking….it was mostly squiggles….I love how the moose and foliage is beginning to emerge.DSCF5013Linda chose a picture of their hotel in Cuba. She chose to hook shiny nylons to give life to the flowers in the garden. I wish the picture showed how effective this was.DSCF5016

We were encouraged not to hook figures, but shapes in each colour, and be patient until it all came together. Helen is doing just that.DSCF5014

I’m looking forward to seeing this as it progresses.DSCF5021Moose are popular wildlife to hook in our area. Looks like this one was on the move.DSCF5023

Karen has her giraffe underway.DSCF5022

People chose all sizes of wildlife…..From the very large…to the very small….Lynda is hooking a chipmunk.DSCF5024

Cecelia chose a photo of her son’s two golden retrievers.DSCF5025…….and Diane is hooking a picture of her grandson on a rocking horse.DSCF5019

Jan is starting a still life incorporating a coffee mug.

DSCF5018Marion has started a portrait of her house.DSCF5020There is such a touching story to go with this photo…I hope Pat won’t mind that I share it . She sold her cottage and was moving to town. This was taken on the last day she had possession, shortly before they left. Her grand daughter and her friend were sitting on the end of the dock saying….goodbye lake….goodbye dock…..goodbye trees. DSCF5017Kathy’s photo also has a special story. These are her parents sitting in the garden. Her father used to hand feed the chickadees, so she has added them (one in his hand, and one on his head) as a special memento of her dad. (you can just see the outlines for the birds).  She was able to alter the picture to remove a third person sitting on the bench, and add the birds to make it a true memory mat.DSCF5032I have to confess, I didn’t take a picture of my portrait of my sister and I as it existed on the second day. This was taken the next day when I had made significant alterations. Although it is mainly a 6 cut, I used smaller cuts for the eyes and some other details. I reverse hooked the teeth (hooked from the back side), which worked really well….letting them sink behind the lips.DSCF5033At this point, I’ve started my own head…but it still need major changes…to the eyes, mouth, and chin. I have to say I REFUSE to hook in my double chin….I’m claiming artistic license!

I took a break from the portrait on Sunday, and made some changes to my Wanda landscape.


When I looked at it for a time…I decided I wasn’t satisfied with the haze around the moon, so I googled pictures of moonlight on water, and realized that the moon was only hazy if there were clouds in the sky….Duh…..DSCF5031

So I did lots of taking out, and reworked portions of the sky.

Ta dah….it’s done.

Thanks for stopping by.

A Tribute to Marion Brumwell

As I was originally preparing this post about Marion’s work, my only sister lost her long battle with cancer. It has been a difficult time…..relief that her pain is ended, and her struggle over, and a deep sense of personal loss. I no longer have that ever constant friend to share the large and small details of everyday life. Even last night as I was uploading the pictures, and couldn’t remember the correct name for some of Marion’s techniques, the thought passed through my mind….I’ll call Audrey….she’ll know what it’s called. Although not a rug hooker, she was the finest craftsperson I ever knew. So my heart is sad, and I’m two weeks late posting about Marion’s beautiful work.

Regular readers of my blog will know that on the first Tuesday of the month , the Sunshine Rughookers meeting features a “show and tell” of the work and life of one of the members.  January’s featured member was Marion Brumwell.


This is a friendship rug, and although hooked by a number of artists(including Marion), there is wonderful unity in the colour scheme.

Marion is first and foremost an embroidery artist, although she also loves rug hooking. She explained that although the majority of her time is spent on the intricate and delicate historical forms of pulled work and embroidery, she knows that her eyes will eventually force her to give it up, and she will then have rughooking to fall back on.


We all like to see each hooker’s  first rug….Marion’s was a German street scene done in latch hook.


She likes to do small pieces, mostly pillows, since she only hooks at meetings. I love the colours in these geraniums.


She designed this pillow at a workshop on fractors.

She showed mostly examples of her amazing embroidery. The intricacy and variety boggles my mind. (I can happily tackle a hooked piece that is huge….but I’m all thumbs even trying to thread a needle). Marion explained each of the various styles, and told us how they were done, but with the stress of the intervening time, I have to admit my memory is now sketchy….so I hope you’ll enjoy the photos, and forgive any errors on my part.


I think this is called white work. The threads are drawn out to create the spaces, then the design is worked by combining the remaining threads she has also done raised work on top of that. If you look carefully at the picture, you can see the 3 dimensional aspects of it.


The detail in this small portrait is amazing.


This is also raised work…this is quite tiny, and soooo intricate….done with gold threads.


I think this is a more in the style of embroidery that I have done with a variety of stitches.


The work in these last three photos simply took my breath away. They are so wonderfully tiny and detailed. This one is a needle case, again done with pulled white work. Each thread is counted and specific ones removed then the spaces knotted or tied to create the patterns


This was my favourite of all….a little sewing kit with needle case, pin cushion scissor holder, all of which fit into the beautiful box. It was so tiny and delicate, from where I was sitting, I couldn’t believe it was all embroidered, and had to get up for a closer look…it looked like a fine porcelin painting.


…another sewing kit…..which all fits into the little box. Marion’s skill and knowledge seemed unlimited. She is continually taking courses both online and by extensive travel… learning the historical methods of this wonderful work done in great variety of methods in a wide variety of countries….and she has taken this all up since retiring as a school administrator. I never cease to be amazed by the skills of our Sunshine members.

Mostly Off topic

I usually keep pretty strictly to rughooking on this blog….but this time is an exception. My son’s girlfriend has just completed her MA in Biomedical Toxicology, and as you can imagine, has been ensconced in a lab, and papers for several months. To celebrate her school completion, they have embarked on a cross Canada camping trip for a month….and had a wee time with us before taking off.

Elyse had expressed a desire to learn to knit….so Friday afternoon, while our son finished the last few preparations, we sat down to the task. I covered the basics, knit, purl, cast on , cast off, and away she went.


Talk about enthusiastic! This was taken Saturday morning about 6:30 am, standing in the kitchen waiting to leave! (notice how well she’s already controlling the tension with her right hand) I’m so proud of her.


Checking to make sure all is well….she is a natural…the tension is even, and there are no dropped or added stitches. Lucky lady…she can knit in the car. ( I would be car sick in an instant) so she’ll have plenty of time to knit as they wend their way to the west coast.


Two of my favourite people heading out the door for a wonderful adventure……I, on the other hand, have not accomplished nearly as much whipping as I had hoped. I think someone added an extra mile around the edge of my hall runner….

I did however find a wonderful alternative to a million pins holding the backing and binding ribbon in place.


My sister purchased these little clamps for quilting, and offered them to me when I complained about the pins being a nuisance ….pricking , and falling out of such a large piece when it is moved or rolled up .


They work perfectly….I love them, and plan to get some for myself.

Now it’s packing and preparing for a wonderful September camping trip. This is my kind of weather!

My Very Special Quilt

Anyone who has read my ramblings on this blog, will know my sister plays a very significant role in my life. She is not a rug hooker, but a skilled craftsperson in many areas, especially knitting and quilting. Everyone in the family treasures the quilting she has given us on various occasions. You may have noticed in the first picture of the previous blog, what appears to be photographs on the bed beside my pile of wool. They are actually a part of a very special quilt.


This quilt was made and given to me by my sister, as a gift for my birthday a few years ago.  (I won’t say which one).


She used 12 pictures from my childhood, including a baby picture of me, our whole family, to various events such as Christmas, visits with Grandma, etc.


The last photo is of my sister and I at the park in winter. (I’m the baby of the family) Originally I thought to hang the quilt as a wall hanging, but she insisted it should be used as a regular bed covering, so it has had a place of honour there ever since. I feel lucky to have such a wonderful family record, and such a wonderful sister. Happy Birthday Audrey!!!

My First Rug


Late in the 1970’s my father saw a lady demonstrating rug hooking at the mall in Barrie. He thought it might be something I would enjoy and purchased the pattern, the cut pieces for the foreground, and a moshimer hook, and gave them to me as a gift. This rug is about 18″x 30″ and done in a 4 cut.  I had never heard of traditional  rug hooking, but he demonstrated how he had seen the loops pulled, so I jumped right in.  I did a lot of crewel work at the time, the design appealed to me, and I was fearless.  (looks like I’ve come full circle doesn’t it…quite a resemblance to my current  project)  However my enthusiasm faded, and it ended up on a shelf unfinished for about 13 years.

While I hadn’t pursued rughooking, I had been busy with machine knitting, crocheting, and crewel embroidery. My interest in these crafts was lagging and I wanted to try something  new. With the express purpose of finding an interesting new craft that appealed to me, my husband and I went to Creative Stitchery, the big yearly craft show in Toronto. As luck would have it, there was a beautiful display of hooked rugs, and Jeanne Field was there explaining and promoting the craft. I was smitten  (a second time). She gave me the name of a teacher in my home town, and I began hooking again. This rug however, remained unfinished. (I’ll talk about my second rug next time). It wasn’t until about 2004 that I hauled it out to complete. I finished the few unhooked flowers, and added the background.  By then my father had passed away, and this little rug he had given me had added meaning to it. I completed it and gave it to my sister for Christmas. I know she treasures it and the connection it has with our dad.