This and That

First I’ll finish up showing the items being worked on at our day long hook in last week.


Gail is making good progress with her railway rug ( the story of this rug is in the post entitled “The Spring That Isn’t”)

Here are some more pieces being hooked for the ploughing match.


Ann has completed her pig. I love the border. Those look like maple leaves in the corners


This is going to be a mobile, with the hearts glued back to back. What a super idea. Can’t wait to see it finished.

I have finished my six trivets, which were inspired by motifs found in various Klimt paintings.


I didn’t like the 6th pattern I drew, so I did another version of the turquoise and red one, this time in yellows and black.


There were other personal rugs in progress.


Marion is hooking a copy of a stained glass she has in her home. (I think it will be a pillow, but I’m not positive.


I love the dress in this Deanne Fitzpatrick pattern which is underway. There are the distinctive dots around the edge (a unique DF trick).

I love the story behind this piece which Charlene has under way.  Her friend was an accomplished artist, but was severely injured in an accident and can no longer paint.

Here is a picture of one of her paintings.DSCF6254

(please excuse the poor quality photo) The socks represent various members of her family.

Charlene is hooking a copy of this painting as a gift for her friend.


Now for an update on my Sir John cartoon.


Originally I had the text on the cake (as it was in the original cartoon), but I soon realized two things. 1)……there was an awful lot of background dead space. and 2)….even using a #2 cut doing script that small would be REALLY difficult. So I decided to move the text off the cake and into the background, where it could be considerable larger.

It took several tries to decide on  a cut and style that I liked.


Using a #2 cut with a #2 cut outline wouldn’t lie straight…it needed the #3 cut as the inside colourDSCF6210DSCF6211

I liked the black lettering, until I put the white around it, and then it was too puny.DSCF6217I finally settled on a #3 cut white inside, outlined with a #2 cut black.DSCF6218I think I’ll just put a maple leaf on the cake.

A “Woops” Works Out

OK first I’d better set the scene. I was ready to finish Sir John’s jacket, and hook his vest. The vest on the cartoon had always bothered me a bit because it was  the same fabric as the jacket, and didn’t stand out as much as I would have liked. DSCF5978


Using just black and white my options were limited, so I went ahead to repeat the same look. It had been a couple of weeks since I’d hooked on the jacket, and I couldn’t remember which wool I’d used for the nubby tweed effect. As I dug through the pile, nothing seemed right, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember exactly what I’d used. I finally settled on a grey herringbone which seemed the only likely choice, and began hooking the vest. Oh no, it was not the same wool at all, but to my delight, it created the same effect in a lighter shade and let the vest stand out nicely.


When I went back to the basket holding my wool for this project, the wool fairies had mysteriously returned the wool I had first looked for. It was right there where it should have been. (I know it wasn’t in the basket when I looked the first time).


My forgetfulness wasn’t finished with me yet! I couldn’t remember which cut I’d used, and cut a few strips of #4 to begin finishing the jacket itself. What a difference that 1/32nd of an inch makes in a fine plaid! It should have been a #3.


…as you can see (even though the photo is so blurry) the #4 patch on the right doesn’t match the other tweed at all.


Being retired is a mixed bag of blessings indeed! So much more time to do the things I love, so much time wasted by the occasional forgetfulness which catches most of us out when we least expect it. This topic was triggered by a funny video sent to me by my friend Jean this morning.

It gave me my morning chuckle. I hope it gives you one too!

Creating a Bottle of Hootch

One of the things that most caught my fancy when I first saw this cartoon, was the bottle of “hootch” tucked in Sir John’s pocket. What a funny tribute to his known proclivity for a “wee dram”. …..but I am ahead of myself…..I was working on his face, and then began his hair…I think the most difficult part so far….to get the shape the colours and the messiness all at the same time.DSCF6150

As I went along, I changed his ear lobes (which still aren’t right), and softened his hairline at the forehead (which I do like), then I sketched in more detail as a guide for the hair on the right.


Then typically, I decided to try something new, and wondered if I could hook the bottle of whiskey.

In my initial efforts at hooking his jacket, I had hooked the open pocket flaps at the edges of the bottle.


When I decided to hook the bottle, I immediately realized that this was backwards. The bottle needed to be hooked first, then the pocket worked around it. So that little piece of messy hooking came out.


Then using a #2 cut and a variety of greys, I tackled the bottle.


It’s surprising how long it took to hook this little bottle, and there was quite a bit of tweaking    and adding little touches here and there (there is more colour variety than shows up in this photo). When I was satisfied, I then added the pocket flaps back in,DSCF6161

While I was in the area, I went on to hook the cuffs of both the jacket and the shirt.  (his hand is another item which will require extensive renovation so it looks a bit more life-like)….but that’s another day’s project.


Today ,March 13th ,winter returned with a vengeance. The only good part being that the old dirty snow is once again covered in a blanket of pristine white. A good day for hooking.

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 New Twist on an Old Pattern

This old pattern is called “Twin Roses”. It is printed on burlap, and colour suggestions are printed right on the pattern. The roses themselves are painted to indicate the shading needed.  (not something one would usually hook on ). It may be an Eaton’s pattern, although it doesn’t say so.DSCF5447

In any case…being that I’m breaking all advice by even hooking on it…I may as well go whole hog and mess with the pattern itself! (In my defense…the burlap is strong and even and has no aroma, and shows no signs of deterioration at all)

It is obviously intended to be hooked with a fine cut, and done with detailed shading…but that’s not what I wanted to do. I wanted to use my dump dye wool on the scroll, with a much less formal shading, using a simple fade in and out of the colours, and this would look silly paired with fine shading. …So the question was… will I hook the flowers?

I collected up a variety of purples, and started with a 6 cut doing a bit of shading and paying some attention to the values of the paint.


Frankly it looked like a lilac blob! I knew it had to come out, but I was uncertain how to do them….how would I hook attractive flowers in at least a 6 cut that went with the less detailed interpretation of the rug I envisioned.

I puddled with the background while I pondered how to do the roses.

While I was shopping at Deanne Fitzpatrick’s store in Nova Scotia, my main idea in making purchases was to explore her colour combinations. With my “Twin Roses” rug in mind, I purchased this bundle of mauves and maroons.


….When I returned home, I used these colours (and some of my own as well) and did each petal in a separate colour…roughly keeping the forward ones lighter, and the distance ones darker.  For the leaves, I used the scroll wool cut sideways so I just had a dark green for the veins, and used bits of lighter green for the leaves themselves.DSCF5713

This rougher, less detailed interpretation seemed much more in keeping with the style I wanted…..and I loved the colours.

DSCF5715In my first version of the centre of the flower, I used various colours of roving and yarn, but I wasn’t happy with it.


I redid it in a simpler version which I felt popped out a bit more.


….so here is my wider cut non-shaded version of an old pattern as it stands to date. I’m hooking it for the bedroom of a very special person who loves purple.

Mission Accomplished

I’m feeling a little smug. At about noon yesterday, I completed the hooking on the barn rug and it has gone from something I actively disliked to something that really pleases me. I can’t thank Wendie Scott Davis enough for her suggestions and encouragement. She had originally introduced me the the Be Funky site (during her workshop “From Photo to Mat as Easy as That”), which let me see the photo with a whole new realm of possibilities, then she offered concrete suggestions about what to keep, and what to change.

Here’s a reminder of what it looked like before I started the redo. (the last few posts have detailed its transformation to this last final step)


The last area for tweaking was the central light coloured sapling. Here’s the be funky image, and you can see that it is much lighter than the other trees.

BeFunky_barn project

This is the pre-tweaked version…everything OK but the lack of highlights on that tree.


I’d added highlights in the upper sections, but Wendie felt (and I agreed) that highlighting the bottom as well would really “spark” it up.

Now you’d think that was a simple redo…but boy did I struggle. First was the choice of wool. I tried a pale silver grey, and the lightest mauve grey from the wooden section, and decided on the mauve grey since it “popped’ more. Then where in the tree to put the lighter part…I tried the centre, and it looked silly. I finally settled on the left side, but then it didn’t show up against the light wall colour. Then I tried changing the wall colour to a mossy green in the small section between the window and the tree. That didn’t work either, so I took that all out, put back the beige, and used the dark tree colour to outline the left side of the tree. I thought I was done.


….except…..the light section kept grabbing my eye. It was too prominent, and too stripy. By the next morning I was mentally comparing it to the stripe down a skunks back, and I knew I had to change it.

SOooo I analyzed what it was I didn’t like….the colour of the stripe, the depth of the outlining, the fact that the light wall colour next to the window was exactly the same width as the highlight stripe……and I set out once again to change it. I changed the mauve grey to the silver grey, just in the part below the wooden section. I changed the outline from the dark grey to the medium grey, and cut a narrower strip so that it wouldn’t be so prominent. I increased the light wall colour to fill in sections so that it wasn’t just one long piece all the same size. Once I made up my mind, this part went really quickly, and here’s the finished product:


It’s done, and I’m satisfied with it. Thrilled in fact that I was able to turn a piece that I actively disliked into one I’m happy to own.

Doing the Redo

I LOVE hooking with transitional wool!


I’m quite pleased with my batch of subtle transitions, and the new effect of the barn wall. I’m hooking it vertically, and I like the splotches of colour. Much more effective and like a painting, than the two colour squiggly effect of the first version,

I’ve also redone the right side of the window in different, and lighter colours…the left is still to be altered.

It’s been fun to see the effect of adding just a bit of some bright colours like the peach bits in the light wall, the pale blue in the window sash, and some bright apple green in the mossy wall.


Now the mossy wall…..that’s another story…I’m using the “befunky” version as a general guide, but with alterations when I don’t like the results. One section that’s coming out is the very dark green next to the tree….yuck to that part. The green is too deep and doesn’t blend with the other greens. I do like the bits of yellow green added for highlights, (thanks to JoAnne’s ugly wool swap).

You should see my hooking area! I’m knee deep in small pieces of wool! Always hunting for just that right tone.


The good news is that after a few weeks of the hooking blahs, I’m once again enthused and excited to see what I can accomplish with a hook and a strip of wool.

Revisiting an Unfinished Friend

When I’m working on a rug, the mess of wool around me can get pretty large, so I seldom work on more than one rug at a time, and I try to finish the hooking on each one before I move on. But of course there are exceptions.

Over a year ago, I had worked away happily on my barn rug until it was nearly finished. I left it hanging where I saw it all the time, and the longer I looked at it, the less I liked it. It eventually came to a point where I actively disliked it, and ended by rolling it up, packing the wool up, and putting it away altogether. Now it’s time to deal with it.

When the barn  project was first announced, Ray and I spent a Sunday afternoon driving around the countryside just north of town taking pictures of derelict barns, and I finally decided on hooking this photo.


I don’t hook in the room where my computer is, and I don’t have a laptop, so I printed off a copy of the picture just on 8.5 x 11″ paper, and that was my reference for hooking. I realize now that that was a  mistake because the printed version I was working from  lacked  highs and lows and definition particularly in the wall under the wood.  DSCF5364

There is only a bit of hooking left, and then I had intended to add some grass etc.  with yarn or embroidery along the barn wall, and add a bit of colour on the ground and trees. But the fact remains…I’m just not happy with it. It is SO boring!

On impulse, I put the original photo into “Be Funky” (as taught by Wendie Scott Davis at our spring workshop), and suddenly I loved the picture, and thought….if only….and …how could I???

BeFunky_barn project

I wasn’t sure what to do…..the project must be handed in in October, so a decision needed to be made. Would I ……finish it as I had originally planned……make some alterations to create a more painterly, colourful version like that in the be funky version……rip out the whole thing and start again…..or scrap the whole idea of the barn project altogether.

When in doubt, ask an expert….so I emailed Wendie (including the pictures) and explained my dilemma. What a lady! Within a few hours, I had a reply with both positives and negatives of my work, and lots of ideas of how to create more the “be funky” version without having to start all over.  (It’s not what you know….it’s who you know).


I started by completing the wooden section, and adding some stronger greens to the mossy parts.

On looking at it from a distance however, the darker part above the window looked more like a tree branch than mossy wood, so I reworked that part.


I took out the green section of the lower wall, and will rehook that with stronger greens covering the whole section.


I debated about the best wool to hook the rest of the lower section so that the values and different colours in it would be effective.

I gathered up a variety of wools in the colours I saw, but I would like them to blend into one another.


so….I’ve decided to try transitional dyeing with this lot. (again)  With my past mistakes fresh in my mind……I’m anxious to see if this will work…..stay tuned for the results.

A New and Improved Baxter

When I originally hooked Baxter, my standard schnauzer, on my memory rug, I was thinking primitive, basic outine, no detail. Well as you know that didn’t last long! As the other animals followed, I realized it was important to me for each pet to be easily distinguished, and to demonstrate a bit of his character. Yes….”his” . It’s been a long standing joke in our family, as the mother of three sons, I was the “Queen” and only female allowed….all male pets too.DSCF5144

This Baxter was too chubby, had the wrong stance (schnauzers are always ready for action and mischief), and I just wasn’t happy with him.

At first I thought I could cut down the chubbiness, so I took out the top half and reworked a skinnier version.  That was better, but I still didn’t like it. The “attitude” wasn’t there…and the schnauzer attitude and intelligence are what give us countless belly laughs each day.

How wonderful is the internet? I googled “profile image standard schnauzer” and up popped a wonderful pencil sketch which was just what I needed. DSCF5155_2So out came the whole original, and I made a new template. (I knew those old teaching file folders would come in handy for something).


The head angle and hind leg stance make all the difference . Now it exudes his character.


I traced this version in red so I wouldn’t get mixed up. (here you can clearly see his three time transformation)


Tah dah! That looks more like my Baxter!

…and here he is in person….


Of course….fixing one thing created a few problems elsewhere…and now I have to move Shingi…the little cat to the left who is now too close to Baxter….and as well, the fill that was under his legs will have to be removed and reworked. ….but what’s a little ripping out among friends.

My “Sisters” Portrait

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

Screen shot 2013-04-11 at 11.53.59 AM

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

Screen shot 2013-04-11 at 11.57.19 AM

…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.