Production!

Production!

Face masks are finished!

Ken doll clothes are happening. There is a great disparity in sizes between free online patterns and commercial patterns.

Knife sheath attempt after all. Can’t get my domestic machine to sew through the suede leather, even with a leather needle. Will take moose suede to a leather worker and see what they say.

In my pile of things to finish by my chair. Notice the hooked heart hanging and coasters from February. They’ll be ready for next February.

I hope everyone has a great weekend, and a productive one. Till next time, take care everyone!

In the Making…

In the Making…

Happy Monday everyone! It’s been a productive weekend and day, primarily thanks to some unpredictable weather. Today has been raining off and on, making it a wonderful day to be in my studio.

I finished the doll clothes for the 16” Briar dolls. Here are the last few items I made. I shipped them all off Friday. I hope they all fit.

I moved onto the knife sheath. I had a chat with a friend who is a more experienced seamstress than I am and determined, after careful thought, that it just wasn’t going to work. The moose hide I have is actually quite soft. It used to be a woman’s suit jacket. I don’t think it will hold its shape well enough to hold a jackknife. I decided to make another gift for my nephew, and possibly include the moose hide in that.

I moved onto printing and cutting out the Ken doll patterns. Today I cut out all the pieces to sew. However…

I received a phone call from someone looking for the face masks this week. So I switched gears and cut out face masks. I’m in the middle of sewing them at the moment. I’m using the Olson pattern still. I use a batik quilting cotton for the front fabric, cotton sheeting for the liner, and a filter of diaper flannelette (single layer).

This weekend I decided to try selling some items on the Facebook Canada Rug Hooking Buy and Sell group. It was quite successful. I’m quite pleased with how it went. I sold several patterns. Time to update my website store to reflect the changes. I will be selling more that way.

My studio update as of Sunday? Hubby and I are slowly getting things sorted out. I went through all my rug hooking and made piles of what to mend, what to hang upstairs, and what to hang in the studio or downstairs. Basically we keep whatever is upstairs and whatever is downstairs is for sale. I sold a bin of old patterns over the weekend. Here’s the current messy, but functional, state of my studio.

Well that’s it for this weekend! I hope everyone has a great week! Take care!

Not Rug Hooking but…

Not Rug Hooking but…

I’m busy sewing doll clothes for my grandnieces and for a cousin’s daughter – one for 16” dolls and the other for Ken dolls of fashion doll fame. For the 16” doll clothes I’m using Simplicity 7644, McCall’s 8564, and McCall’s 2157. These clothes are for the Briar doll available at twigandtale.com They are available as instant downloads on Etsy. For Ken clothes I am using free patterns from Chellywood.com, plus Advance 2899, and Simplicity 5330. The first was easy to print off, the last two were instant downloads from Etsy again.

I’m currently on a sewing kick. I also have some face masks to sew and a leather knife sheath for a nephew. I might sew him something else as well.

I made all my father’s descendants a sewn item from his LL Bean shirts after he passed away. This nephew didn’t make it to the funeral, so he didn’t have a chance to speak up for anything. Eventually he said he needed a knife sheath. But Grampy’s shirts are not heavy duty enough for that. I have some moose hide from an old jacket one of my sister-in-laws gave me. I’ve decided to use that for the knife sheath. Grampy was, after all, a moose biologist.

Fast forward a couple of years and my nephew put in a request for “something” from Grampy’s shirts. I have a couple of pieces of old shirt left here and I’m going to see if I can do something for him.

Other that that, in rug hooking I have a Valentine’s wall hanging to bind, and some coasters to match. Plus I need to get back to my South Korea rug. I have designs I’d like to put on backing as well.

The studio is coming along fine. It’s usable. I still have too much stuff. I need to list some items online for sale. I’m part of a Canadian rug hooking buy and sell group on Facebook. I’ve been meaning to list items for sale there for some time.

I had Charlie put together the IKEA Havsta nesting tables and determined there was not enough room for them AND the coffee table and sofa bed we ordered. That means returning the coffee table. It’s going to be a tight squeeze in the seating area of the studio. I’m starting to reconsider having a TV down here as well.

Well that’s it for this week! I hope the Canadians reading all had a happy Canada Day! And I hope my American readers enjoy their Fourth of July!

Cheers!

The Painting is Done!

The Painting is Done!

The last coat of paint was finished on the last wall this morning. Tomorrow we can start moving things around again, including furniture. We need to fill the hole in the floor where the pellet stove used to sit. Then I’m placing a chair over it.

It was an interesting weekend. I spent time with Historian and figuring out just where my early photos were stored. Next up is to move everything to the PC laptop. I’ve been transferring fifteen years of photos the hard way due to technical difficulties with the PC and Apple products. I’m using a 4 GB USB stick on over 12,000 photos. It’s slow going. The iMac stopped acknowledging the 64 GB USB stick even existed! Tomorrow I hope to finish the job.

I’m also learning how to develop online courses. So far it’s been a steep learning curve, but enjoyable. I ended up purchasing Screen Flow to help with the editing process. It’s supposed to be an excellent program for developing video courses. We’ll see.

I’m also working on updating my website. At some point in the past my blog posts all had their authorship switched over to my web designer. My web designer has moved onto other things, and I just figured out how to bulk edit the posts. But there are thousands to go through. I can only do 20 at a time. That’s one page worth. I have over 120 pages of posts, old and new. It will take awhile.

Plus my shipping is way out of whack on my website. If you want to buy something, please use the “contact me” form. I will figure out shipping and get back to you.

I’m starting to get excited about my studio. Painting the walls white was a good call. The LED lights are on their halfway point between blue and yellow light. It’s nice and bright down there. I hope my studio will be ready soon for some hooking!

And it’s Out!

And it’s Out!

The pellet stove has been removed! I am pleased to have space for another chair in the seating area of the studio. Kudos to Dan Walker, his co-worker, and Charlie for removing the stove and repairing the wall. The walls have now been painted and it’s time to fix the floor where the pellet stove sat, so the chair has someplace level to sit.

In other news, I am selling all my scrapbooking supplies. I purchased storage on Forever.com, as well as their programs Historian and Artisan. I also purchased a PC laptop to run everything on! I’ve used PCs before, but it’s been a while. This could be a bit of a learning curve.

The laptop is a Lenovo Legion Y740 15″ laptop. This is, I suspect, a gaming laptop. However, it was one of the few I could find with all the specifications required to handle everything I need it to do. Next up, once this is set up, I’ll be looking at a scanner and a printer. I have a lot of old photographs and negatives that need scanning.

I continue to unpack and sift through our belongings. I am to the point where I am shredding entire boxes of journals and papers from when the girls were younger. I have no idea why I kept it all! Hopefully this move will ultimately achieve our goal of downsizing all our stuff, as well as our accommodation.

In my leisure time I am reading “In The Company of Women” by Grace Bonney. It is a wonderful book full of interviews from successful women entrepreneurs. It has some sage advice and great quotes.

I also joined Udemy this week. Their classes are as low as $13.99 each until June 20th. I purchased three by Doris Charest, an artist from Alberta, Canada. They are: “Teaching Art Classes Online”, “Composition Basics for Abstract or Realism for Beginners“, and “Starting an Art Business”. I learned quite a bit from “Teaching Art Classes Online”. I don’t expect to learn as much from the other two. They are more refreshers. Mme. Charest’s teaching style and delivery is very good. I appreciated her honesty about her subject.

This weekend’s project…

Have a great weekend everyone!

More Culling and An Offer We Can’t Refuse!

More Culling and An Offer We Can’t Refuse!

It’s amazing how much we collect, both in our personal and business lives. Nothing has shown me that more clearly than this move. I have STUFF! As fast as Charlie puts together IKEA storage units I fill them.

I made a decision. I’m selling all my scrapbooking supplies and going digital and online. I’ve been toying with the idea for a couple of years now. I don’t do much scrapbooking, but when I do I like to attend weekend scrapbook meetings and accomplish something in one fell swoop. I notice hauling around the supplies is getting to be an issue for me. That would be alleviated by going online and doing everything in the comfort of my own home.

I’ve made photo books online before and have had moderate success. I discovered an online business, forever.com, at one of the scrapbook meetings I attended. I’m giving them a try. I’ve seen some of their finished photo books and they’re great! They seem to be using good paper and good ink. Owners of the books claim the books are as good now as when they bought them years ago. I’m ready to try and find out.

I’ve also discovered I have a lot more rug hooking supplies than I thought I had. I’m sorting them out now and preparing to list some for sale online. I’m using my Facebook page – JLT Studios – and the newly formed Rug Hooking Buy n Sell Canada Facebook page. I will also use the local Kijiji and VarageSale.

Charlie and I took a break from working on the house last weekend and headed up beyond Canning, Nova Scotia. It is beautiful country up there. We stopped at Grand Pre National Historic Park on the way. We walked through the woods to the old Acadian church. I really enjoyed all the wild flowers on the way. There is also a great planting of coleus just before the statue of Evangeline of Longfellow fame. The colours were magnificent! I sense another rug coming on…

A friend has offered us the use of her cottage this summer, whenever we want it. We could both use it. I’m thinking of taking an artist retreat out there for about five days. Charlie has been trying to write a book on his laptop. There are trails in the area we could hike. It was very kind of our friend to offer the cottage, and we hope to take some advantage of it.

Studio Update

Studio Update

It’s been busy in my studio! Charlie and I put together more IKEA Besta storage last weekend. This time it was a console storage and a freestanding unit. I unpacked and sorted sewing and quilting supplies before packing them in bins and putting them on the shelves in the storage units.

We found bins, with lids, at Dollarama for $4 each. There is only one catch – the bins don’t fit in Besta with their lids on. No problem. I’m leaving the lids off. I’ll store them elsewhere and keep them handy for when I want to travel with the bins to workshops or elsewhere.

Charlie installed new light fixtures in the studio and they are great! They are adjustable LED lights. I have them set halfway between yellow and daylight. The daylight setting is very bright. I decided to go for something easier on the eyes, and use adjustable task lighting when I need to see colours accurately. I’m planning on purchasing an adjustable OTT light for each work station.

The new LED overhead lights were $19.99 at Home Depot, with a $7 rebate from our provincial government, making them $12.99 each. That price is hard to beat! The government is trying to encourage energy efficiency. They improve the lighting in the studio immensely.

I‘ve unpacked a lot of boxes this past week. We have one bedroom downstairs I call The Pink Room, because, well, it’s very pink! We’ve been tossing all the empty boxes, things we want to get rid of, and things that will eventually live in that room, in there. The boxes were piled pretty high – up to my neck – and in some areas, higher. Charlie went in and worked hard over the course of a few days. He managed to knock them down so we can see the floor again.

We put together a new kitchen table and repurposed the old as a cutting table. I have a small portable ironing board I use on the cutting table for my ironing station.

We made a couple of trips to IKEA to purchase some more furniture and home decor items. They opened their doors again last Monday. We picked up a small table to finish my work area. Plus a small filing cabinet on casters, and various end tables and coffee tables that will accommodate storage. We won’t be putting those together until we have a very old pellet stove removed and the rest of the room painted.

That’s it for the studio update. If you want the video version, check out: https://youtu.be/uaZsAfIOrsk I can’t wait to get in there and start creating!

It’s been a week!

We’ve been busy this week. Charlie put together furniture for the studio with my help. Lots accomplished, but lots more to do. Yes, there’s a big scratch on the builtin bookcase/cupboard unit. The shelf was a bit too big to fit in after painting. Charlie shaved them down after that fiasco. We’ll be fixing that this weekend.

I had to measure my studio again. Apparently the laser measure we took the original measurements with was off by quite a bit. My actual working space measures 11’x12’. The rest of the space is designated family room. It’s 11’x9’5”. For me that’s a small space to work with. I will adjust. I have to.

We had some friends stain our deck this week. They did a wonderful job! I put in the deck garden the last two days. We originally had a large gazebo on the deck. We would like to have it back in place. We’re thinking about how to do that and make sure the plants get enough sunlight.

We tried digging up and moving a rhubarb plant that wasn’t doing well, and found out why. The soil is gravel and a fine red dust – looks like clay. Whoever prepared the yard in the first place didn’t bring in topsoil after building and before planting anything. The backyard is a lovely meadow. Though there are a lot of weeds. We figure we’ll be bringing in wheelbarrows full of real soil and mulch to deal with the perennial garden issue. The backyard may just stay meadow for now. We’re focusing on creating a presentable front yard this year.

We also purchased a deck box to store all the garden supplies. That meant we could clear it all out of the dining area in the house, where they were stored previously. I’m hoping that means we can put together our new table soon.

Not much done on the creative front. Too busy trying to organize things in our new home. Hopefully things will be up and running soon, and I can start back at my creative pursuits.

Happy Monday!

Happy Monday!

Good Monday morning everyone! Charlie finished painting the first studio wall this weekend. It looks wonderful!

I painted 37 year old cabinets and bookcases he’d made for me as a young wife. What a sweetheart! Those cabinets have been used in every home we’ve lived in. It was sad selling four of them for this move, but we had to downsize. They went to a good cause. A teacher wanted them for her classroom. The remaining four will be in our kitchen and my studio.

Bookcase by Charlie. Painting by Jean.
Cupboard made by Charlie. Painting by Jean. It needs to be cleaned up a bit on the hinges yet.

Today’s activities include putting together furniture for the studio wall that is finished, and filling it. That will, hopefully, empty a few boxes, giving us more room in the studio to paint more walls.

Other happenings around the homestead?

We are having the deck stained. Our friends were here Saturday and Sunday to work on it. Today is the last coat and touchups.

After the railing was done. We actually have the first coat on the decking. Looking forward to the second coat today!

I found wild purple violets growing in our backyard. I picked them and tried to make candied violets, but failed. I made a sourdough banana bread from YouTube later in the afternoon and tossed in the candied violets. It was delicious!

Wild purple violet

I’ve been checking out the yard and cleaning up flower beds – both front and back. We have an interesting backyard. There’s some grass, but not much. What we really have is a meadow. There’s wild strawberries, forget-me-nots, wild purple violets, and dandelions. All of these are in amongst moss.

The fringe benefit of not having just grass is that we see a lot of different insects and wildlife. This morning I woke up to a robin and pheasant eyeing each other warily from about ten feet apart in the backyard. Neighbours have reported deer in the area too.

I’ve been checking out the flowerbed situation. It’s quite overgrown. We apparently have a major goutweed problem. I’m sorting through how to deal with that now. If you have any experience please post in the comments below!

The deck garden is coming along fine. Seeds are up. In fact, everything I planted is up. I’m a bit overwhelmed. I had over planted because in the past I’ve had issues with germination and damping off. So far everything is growing quite happily. Hopefully I can get it all transplanted and onto the deck this week.

I have too many squash seedlings, so I’m contemplating planting them near the goutweed in hopes their huge leaves will smother it. But I don’t know if that will work. I think I’ll try several methods in different areas of the yard and see which method is best. Then next year I’ll settle on one method and try and get rid of the stuff.

If you’ve been reading till now, thank-you. I hope you have a great day and productive week! As always, keep an eye on my YouTube channel for more video about the studio renovation. Talk to you later,
Jean O.

Weekly Review

Weekly Review

Hi everyone! It’s been a busy week. The IKEA furniture arrived yesterday. The delivery guys would only take it to the front steps. Our son-in-law was here to help us bring it into the house. He also helped my hubby, Charlie, put together the sofa. They also managed a great start on the large 4’x6’ Besta china cabinet/storage unit for the dining area. Charlie and I finished it today. I unpacked quite a few boxes into it.

Charlie also put together a small Billy bookcase. So far I’ve been able to unpack several small book boxes into it. I figure I’ve unpacked about ten boxes today – a fair bit of it glassware and china. So far only one item was chipped. The living room, kitchen, and dining area are looking much better!

We had the pellet stove technician in. He fired up the stove in the studio and gave us the situation. It’s a very noisy older unit and awkward to start. Plus the automatic shut off isn’t working. We have a few choices: leave it and be careful when we use it, don’t use it, replace with a newer model, or just have the thing removed and taken away. I’m leaning towards the last option as it would give me more usable space in the studio.

Right now all sources of heat in this house are electric, which comes in on overhead lines. We’d like to have a backup heat source that isn’t electric. We’ve been investigating solar. We have a wonderful southwest exposure to our roof. Plus there’s a provincial grant for going solar. We’ll see.

The pellet stove technician also works with air exchangers. Ours doesn’t work, but he said he’d do some research to see if he could find a suitable replacement and quote us for it and installation. It would be real nice to have one up and running.

I finished washing and repairing my main studio wall earlier this week. Charlie was down there to wash them again and do touch ups today. Hopefully he can tape it off and start to prime it tomorrow.

I’m excited to be getting the studio underway finally. But first I have a few pieces of furniture to refinish: a small cupboard, a small bookcase that fits on top of it, and an old table. All of them need a serious cleaning and painting before going to live in my studio and dye kitchen.

Well that’s it for this week’s review. I hope everyone has a great weekend. Thanks for reading. Take care everyone!

Planning

Planning

I’m excited to be planning my new-to-me studio! It’s the family room in the basement of our new home. Furniture arrives next week sometime, according to IKEA. But we shall see. With Covid-19 nothing is a sure thing!

Whether it comes or not, we won’t be ready for it. I have light fixtures and bulbs to replace and walls to prep and paint. There will be precious little time for that. Right now Hubby is busy prepping and painting his own office. Then my studio, then the master bedroom, before finally painting the guest bedroom. That’s as far as we can go without major renovations to bathrooms and kitchen.

We had intended on all the renovations being finished before we moved in. However, Covid-19 got in the way of that, so we’re living in a bit of chaos right now. That’s okay. I have some room to work. Though I’m not sure I’ll unpack much of the studio furniture when it does arrive.

Below is a floor plan with furniture placement of how I want the finished room to look. Right now we cannot buy sofa beds from anywhere because of Covid-19. That’s okay. We’ll wait on that. We can do the rest of the room. It’ll be a good chance for me to cull my stuff and see if I can get everything to fit.

Proposed Studio Layout. We’ll see what actually works when we unpack and start working in the space!

My primary concern is to improve the lighting. Right now the room is fine on sunny days. But if it’s overcast, evening, or night time the additional lighting in the room just isn’t good enough for me to hook rug and see colors properly.

We have a pellet stove in one corner of the room that looks like it hasn’t been used in ages. I called a pellet stove technician to come check it out and make sure it’s still serviceable. If so, great! If not, then it will be removed. I’m not sure we need one. It doesn’t get very cold here.

I made a video of the current “before” state of my room and posted it here on my YouTube channel. Check it out!

My Reading List

My Reading List

Hi everyone! Today I thought I’d take a look in my reading pile by the chair and let you know what I’m reading, why, and what it’s inspired.

One book I’ve been paying close attention to is “Creative Time and Space” by Rice Freeman-Zachary. It is subtitled “Making Room for Making Art”. While not devoted to rug hooking per se it does have an entire chapter on studio spaces of various artists. Since we’ve just moved I read that chapter and decided to do my studio up right this time. At the very least I decided to document the transformation from a very yellow family room to a studio. Keep an eye on my YouTube channel for a video in the next month or so!

Also in my reading pile is “Desire to Inspire” by Christine Mason Miller. It’s subtitle is “Using Creative Passion to Transform the World”. It is a book of ideas, techniques, and exercises that “help you discover your own strengths, goals and potential paths”. It explores the work of inspiring artists and their transformative art.

Following on the heels of that I still want to finish “The Secret Lives of Color” by Kassia St. Clair. It’s more of a fun cross between history and trivia on some of the more common colours used by artists of all kinds.

Then there’s “Living the Creative Life”, also by Rice Freeman-Zachery. The author interviews 15 artists practicing in a variety of mediums, including fibre arts, about creativity. It will be interesting. There’s a section on artist retreats by Sas Colby, a fibre artist. I’m interested in a fibre art retreat, but not with other people. I truly need to be alone, except for meals, which I’d love for someone else to prepare, while I just get some work done!

And last, but not least, I still haven’t read Deanne Fitzpatrick’s book “Rug Hooking with Deanne Fitzpatrick “. I’m hoping to read that as well.

Well that’s my reading list on the creative and fibrey end of things. What are you all reading these days?

A Bad Dye Job?

A Bad Dye Job?

I’m beginning to think there’s no such thing as a bad dye job in rug hooking. The fibre can always be used somewhere, or at the very least overdyed to make it fit in, or marry, with other fibres.

Earlier this week I made an effort to dye some fibre to replace a plaid. It was for a kit I’ve since backed down on. It didn’t work. I’ve decided kits are low on my priority list.

Back to the dye job that didn’t work. I used two techniques – spot dyeing, where you sprinkle a bunch of spots of dye over scrunched up material and bake in an oven, and painting on wool, where you actually take a paint brush to the wool and paint the dye on. But here’s the rub. I didn’t use paint brushes. I used small 10 cc syringes without the needle.

The spot dyed wool looked better once it dried, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well the painting-on-wool fabric looked when hooked! Check this out!

Dye Samples

I can certainly see trees in the darker painting-on-wool pieces at the bottom of the photo. Yes, the bottom three samples are painting-on-wool. I layered three pieces on top of each other, and thereby sealed my demise. It was a mistake. When painting-on-wool I must remember to do one layer only.

My other mistake was not having a spray bottle to mist the dye setting agent on the fabric. That meant I had to add liquid with the setting agent in it. It was too much liquid.

We all learn from mistakes and I definitely learned from mine. And, thankfully, I managed to make some beautiful wool to hook into my wall hangings.

I hope everyone is having a good week. I’ll write more later!

A Dyeing Sort of Day

A Dyeing Sort of Day

It’s been overcast and rainy, interspersed with the odd sunny day since I last posted to the blog. During the sunny days I’ve been working in the yard. On the rainy days I’ve been working on organizing the house and my studio.

I’ve also been designing my first rug hooking kit to send away. It’s an attempt at “The Wind”. I’ve been in business eight years now and have shied away from doing kits. That is primarily because a lot of the fibre I use is “as is” textures from the 1960s – 1970s which I purchased from my rug hooking teacher. I just can’t find them anymore, especially the plaids.

So today I’ve been trying to replicate a plaid, or come close to it, with a spot dye. It’s drying now. I tried to use a painting on wool technique earlier, but it did not work. However it did result in a gorgeous green/gold piece of wool! It’s a one-of-a-kind piece of wool. I have a lot of those…

Another reason I shy away from designing kits is because I paint with wool strips, one strip and colour at a time. I work with values a lot. It would be very difficult for another person to duplicate my work. It just isn’t doable, even if they had the same textures. So whatever kit I prepare is going to look slightly different than the original.

Yesterday I was busy dyeing tree trunks – gradated spot dye with Majic Carpet chocolate brown and black. I think it’s a bit on the dark side, but the darker values can be used for backgrounds. The three lighter shades will go in the kit for the tree trunk. However, they are not the exact same colour as the original tree trunk. The dye formula has gone missing in the move.


I’m enjoying getting back into dyeing and handling fibre again. I love colour and creating with it. I hope the recipient of the kit is happy with it and the end result.

Home Sweet Home!

Our new home

We’re finally in our new home! We had hoped to do renovations before moving in, but Covid-19 put a stop to that. For now we’ll have to make do. Hubby and I have been busy unpacking.

The move was eventful, as always. Our moves have never been easy. Last week Thursday Hubby tripped off the outside concrete steps at the landlady’s, carrying Rubbermaid bins to the car to make a trip out to our house. The result was a severely sprained ankle. We postponed the Friday move to Monday. Instead we made a trip to the ER in our new community where Hubby had x-rays and was seen by a doctor. He’s now sporting a walking cast and crutches.

Thankfully it was his left foot. There were a few tense moments as we decided if he could drive the moving truck or not. He did a test drive on Sunday and fared okay. So Monday the move was on!

We had a couple of helpers from the people we’ve been in quarantine with, and our son-in-law, who wore a mask the entire time. I confined myself to the kitchen and providing food for the crew…lots of homemade pizza! Hubby says he didn’t get a piece of the second pizza. I’ll have to make pizza later this week.

Since we moved in it snowed all day yesterday. That is probably a good thing because the yard needs serious work. Also because we have more than enough to do indoors. I’m hoping the snow all melts today so I can rake leaves by tomorrow. We’ll see. Hubby is insisting he rake leaves! Me? I’ll still have plenty to do. I want to have the deck power washed and re-painted before planting a container garden.

The beginnings of a garden. Yes, I know it’s late to start some of these, and I really am going to plant some squashes in containers. 😊 We’ll see what produces. Right now I’m having problem finding decent soil and getting it from point A to our house, thanks to Covid-19!

Today I am going to venture down to my studio and see what I can do down there. It’s full of boxes. Someone has ordered a pattern which I’ve never done before, and I’d like to get it out to them in two weeks. That means getting into boxes of fibre before my studio furniture arrives. Could get to be an interesting mess! First order of business will be to set up a table to work on.

I’m hoping to post more frequently on my blog now we’ve moved. Keep an eye out for more content!

Switching Gears

Good morning everyone! I’m afraid I haven’t managed to accomplish much rug hooking during this quarantine period. I finished the scrub caps. I decided to make a different bouffant cap, one more like a shower cap. I sent them on their way last week. They arrived at the hospital Monday. As far as I know, all is well.

However, since then it’s been recommended Canadians wear face masks when out in public. We have been told not to use the surgical masks or n95 masks, as those are desperately needed for health care workers. So our landlady and I sat down and sewed some trial masks for us.

We tried three different styles and finally settled on one made from a thick tight woven 100% quilters cotton, like batik, with a flannel insert. Results from a US study done in Wisconsin show it to be at least as effective as a surgical mask. Check out http://www.nbcnews/health/health-news/making-your-own-face-masks-some-fabrics-work-better-others-n117966

We are sewing masks for family, friends, and health care workers in Canada. Since starting this weekend we have sewn over fifty masks, mostly using our stashes of elastic, wire, quilting fabric and flannel. My serger has come in handy.

Our goal is to cover supply costs and shipping in this endeavour, not to profit. As such we charge nothing for health care workers, but do ask for them to cover shipping. Our family automatically gets the same deal. If, however, people feel called to contribute, we figure our costs to be about $10 CAD per mask. All payment is by e-transfer at this time. Check it out and, if you need masks contact me through this website‘s Contact page or send an email to <jo6865@gmail.com > . These masks will NOT be posted in my shop for sale because of the limited target client.

Just so you know…

Just so you know…

I haven’t totally dropped off the face of the earth! I’m here and doing fine. The last two weeks I’ve been in self-isolation because I have a cold. I still have a cough, but I’m thinking that’s related to other health issues. For now I’m up and being productive!

I offered to help a relative in the medical field with any sewing, should the hospital she works in need it. After a bit of back and forth a request came in for cloth scrub caps. So the last couple of days I’ve been designing and sewing those. I hope to have a box off to them by Friday.

I’ve also been doing a bit of rug hooking on my South Korean rug since I last posted.  But, to be honest, progress has been stalled with Covid-19 and the scrub caps.

I hope all my readers are well out there. Here in Canada our Prime Minister has invoked the Quarantine Act in an effort to get everyone to stay home and flatten the curve, reducing the burden on health care workers and hospitals. It seems to be working in British Columbia, our westernmost province. We are hoping it works across the rest of Canada.

Covid-19 has kind of messed up our plans for moving this year.  As a result of the quarantine I have postponed kitchen renovations and bathroom renovations at our new house. They are not essential. We don’t even know if it’s okay for the sale to go through. As it stands now, someone needs to go to the bank and get a bank draft to drop at the seller’s lawyer. Plus there’s a final check of the house. Plus we have to see our own lawyer. Both Hubby and I are high risk for developing Covid-19, so I’m not excited about these extra community contacts. I’d much rather we both stayed home. But we can’t live in our friend’s basement forever. While the timing may be bad, it may just be a chance we have to take. 

I’ve also decided to plant a garden this year, even if it’s just a container garden on the deck. I’m not confident about the availability of foodstuff from our local grocers. Hubby and I use online ordering to acquire food these days. They are slow at best, and didn’t have nine items on my list last time! I understand these are stressful times, but we still have to eat. I just wish people would quit hoarding so those of us who don’t can simply eat!

The decision to garden has been impacted by Covid-19 in more ways than that. Apparently everyone else has the same desire to garden this year. The main local seed store, from where I was going to order seed, temporarily shut down it’s online store due to a shortage of product. However, they plan to have it up and running again this coming week. It’s the panic over buying by some people, resulting in these interruptions in the supply chain, that is making Canadians nervous and fuelling more demand. It’s a vicious cycle.

Despite what’s going on in the world with Covid-19, I am seeing a lot of good in people and am thankful for many things. I am thankful for the skills, technology, and ability to help others. I’m thankful to have a roof over my head, food to eat, and clothes to wear. I find it useful for my mental health to look at the positive things around me…like our landlady sharing meals with us, and being able to bake with her. I am thankful that, while we’re on a fixed income, at least we have an income. And I’m thankful that I can contribute, even if in a small way.

As always, I hope this post finds my readers healthy and safe. Take care till next time…Jean

Weekly Review

Weekly Review

Hi everyone! We signed for the house, put down our deposit, and are looking forward to closing mid-April. It’s been a long haul. We’ve spent time browsing home building stores. I’m into the home renovation mode. I picked up several countertop and paint samples. We’ve arranged to check out the house again this week for measurements. While there we’ll take a few photos.

We have people lined up to help us move in the first weekend in May. We want to have as much work done on the house as possible before then. That gives us a two week window to renovate. So not doable if we use contractors, so I imagine most of the work will be done by ourselves.

In the home decor department I’ve finished the first cushion cover and am onto the second. I may, or may not, knit a third.

I’ve picked up the appliqué quilt again and am sewing more blocks. I hope to hook more on my South Korea wall hanging, and finish the “Hearts” coasters this week.

I’ve discovered Wayfair.ca this week! I’ve been exploring design options on my iPad. Mostly I’ve been disappointed with apps that advertise “Free” and then have crippled the app unless you buy a monthly subscription after you download it. So right now I’m trying to use Wayfair’s mood board feature. Haven’t figured it out yet, but I have browsed their shop for ideas and garnered a lot for my various rooms.

I have a wood floor lamp my mom turned on a lathe when I was a child. The lampshade sadly needs replacing. I’ve been struggling to find the right size and shape. Wayfair has it. For over $100!!!

A friend suggested I knit a lampshade. There is a design in “Sock Yarn One Skein Wonders” book I have. However it’s for a smaller lampshade. I’m debating it. I have the yarn already. It would take more time, and it would be a lot of texture…depending on the pattern used. I would have to recreate the pattern to fit the old lamp shade. Hmmm…

Lots happening, so keep an eye out on this blog! Hoping to have my studio up and running by Fall at the latest. Only one year late! Sigh. It is what it is.

Week in Review

Week in Review

Hello! I had a fun week this week. I was able to attend a short workshop with Lucy Richards and a friend of mine. It was hosted by Diann McDonald, an Oxford punch certified instructor. It was a great chance to meet Diann and get to know Lucy’s Wooly Mason Dye system. I was picking up my set of cool colourway ProChem dye cards while there. So excited to have my dye jars made and ready to go! Thank you so much Lucy and Diann! The eight value spot dye swatch turned out perfect by the way.

Aside from dyeing fabric I also finished reading Karen Miller’s book “Eyes Open to the World”. It was very interesting and I can hardly wait for her second book to come out. Only one suggestion, and it’s a practical one…Karen, ask your publisher to put a sturdier cover on your next book. I’m afraid I’ve managed to bend this one. Hubby, a retired librarian, and I are contemplating ways to reinforce it so it can withstand the wear and tear I’m going to be giving it. We think our best bet is to head to Staples and see if they can do anything with it. Thank-you for a great read!

I finished the second bed sock now. They’re a bit big, but nice and comfy for bed.

Bed Socks from Ella Rae yarn.

I haven’t had much time for the appliqué quilt this past week. Must get back to that. I would like to have the top finished by summer. I had some wonderful rug hooking friends donate some old freezer paper to the cause. For some reason freezer paper is difficult to find locally. I am doing freezer paper appliqué and will need a fair quantity of it.

We’ve finished house hunting folks! We’ve found a cute little split level with 2 bedrooms up and 1 down. It’s in a nearby community close to Halifax, N.S. It’s an R2000 home, meaning it’s warm. It needs updating in the baths and kitchen, but it’s small enough we can handle it. Other than that, it’s just a case of painting. I’m very happy and we’re excited to get into it…which won’t be until April at the earliest. We’ll see. Lots to do before then anyways!

I’m knitting cushion covers for the new living room furniture. The yarn is Sublime Organic Cotton DK. It’s showing the patterns beautifully! I’m using stitch dictionary books from a used bookstore and a garage sale as guides for ideas: Mon Tricot’s “Knitting Dictionary Stitches Patterns” and Maria Parry-Jones’s “The Knitting Stitch Bible”.

I finished the “Heart” wallhanging and am hooking matching coasters. These are fun pieces for around Valentine’s Day. They probably won’t be ready this year, but they will be ready for next year!

I hope my readers enjoyed reading and have a productive week. Take care!

What I’m Up To

I finished my first bed sock and am almost done the second. They are a bit large, but that’s okay. If I knit myself a real pair for walking I’ll go down one size.

I finished the first eight appliqué quilt blocks and am onto the next eight. Having a hard time finding time to do this, what with other distractions and only being able to do it during daylight hours. My appliqué stitching is a mess after the sun goes down, even with lights on!

I am reading “Eyes Open to the World” by Karen Miller. I’m really enjoying it! I’m halfway through the book now. I’m a slow reader.

I missed rug hooking, so I scrounged around in bins and boxes for some scrap linen backing. I freehand drew some hearts on it, on top of some squares that were already on the backing.

I commandeered Hubby to move boxes of fibre around so I could find the appropriate colours to prepare for hooking. I settled on pink, red, purple, and white. I am using my usual wool, silk, and nylon.

Then I discovered my portable lap frame had cracked during our move. I quickly mentioned it to a friend and she offered to bring one to our group meeting this week for me to borrow. I took my cracked frame to the meeting and asked for advice on fixing or replacing it. I was surprised the answer was try Gorilla Glue! So Hubby went out for some Gorilla Glue and is poised to try and repair my frame.

I hope everyone else is having a productive time. Take care and I’ll try and check in next week.

My hearts wall hanging
Weekly Review

Weekly Review

Today we’re having an “at home” day. The wind outside is howling and blowing snow around. Police are advising people to stay off the roads. There are a lot of snow drifts developing and accidents. We are taking their advice!

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I thought I’d take some time to fill you in on my latest reading:

I finished Meryl Cook’s “One Loop At A Time”. I found it a very interesting way to rug hook, having never heard of chakra colors before. I love the look of her work! I am so glad Meryl decided to pick up the hook and work her way through recovery using rug hooking! This book is the story of how Meryl worked towards wellness and recovery following surgery using rug hooking and her creativity. I find times of sudden illness have been life changing for me as well.

I am finally getting serious about Karen Miller’s book, “Eyes Open To The World”. I am loving her writing style! Both she and Meryl have great writing styles. They don’t waste words and they are very clear in what they say and mean. I like that.

I’ve finished chapter 1 on traveling and really seeing what’s around you. And I agree. It’s too easy to just go, go, go and not really see what’s around you. That’s what happened on our South Korean trip in 2017. Thankfully I captured a lot with my camera on that trip. It definitely helps to be a decent photographer when you travel, or to travel with one!

As one of the featured rug hooking artists in her book, I can see where I have an unusual word cloud of artists and people who’ve inspired me. I think sometimes we’re too narrow in defining which “artists” have inspired us. I have to include my grandmother, a fibre artist long before they were called such. She was an excellent needlewoman, seamstress, quilter, etc. She inspired me to make time for my creative work and to aspire to excellence in technique, as well as interpretation. She inspired me to create works with meaning – something I am still working towards at this time.

I also find my children’s poetry to be inspirational. They were pretty good poets as children – far better than I was! They created a large body of work and have given me permission to use some of it in my rug hooking. I am currently planning a three day retreat for myself in order to put more patterns on backing, color plan, and dye fibre for them. That’s a tall order for three days, but we’ll see how far I get.

Of course I am inspired by the usual Impressionist, Van Gogh, Emily Carr, Group of Seven, Georgia O’Keefe, etc. They all affect how I perceive and interpret what I observe. They teach me, as Karen writes, about light, perspective, and color.

I am also finding inspiration in unusual places. Take for instance, the manhole covers in downtown Vancouver. Don’t laugh! They have great designs I’d love to do a rubbing of some day. Unfortunately it’s rather crowded for that. I settled for snapping quick photos!

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Aside from reading and being inspired by Karen and Meryl, I’ve been busy quilting. The quilt I’m currently working on is from a South Korean quilt book a friend owns. I have no idea who the designer is or the name of the quilt, let alone the book. All I could decipher was the pattern diagram. A friend who used to be a quilt instructor gave me instruction on how much to enlarge it and how to quilt it using the freezer paper appliqué method. So far it’s working great! I have one block I have redesigned, as it requires tricky machine quilting to determine what it is exactly.

I’m hoping to turn it into a queen size quilt for our bed. We still don’t have a quilt for our bed. I’ve made lots of quilts for other people, so now it’s our turn. I have eight blocks completed and need at least forty-two total. That’s another thirty-four blocks! I can appliqué one a day.

I’m also knitting a pair of Merino wool socks from Ella Rae yarn. I was originally planning on making a shawl, but the yarn had breaks in it. In the end I decided to not only make socks, but to make bed socks. It’s cold where we live…especially at night. The breaks won’t matter if I’m just keeping my feet warm at night in them.

This morning I gathered up all my unfinished projects and took them to the upstairs living room, where it’s warmer. I stored them all in the large tote I have of projects I want to do or finish. I’m hoping to make strong headway on emptying that tote this year!

That’s my Weekly Review folks! Hope everyone has a great weekend!

January 2020

I have plans. Big plans. I sat down and went through some unfinished projects I’d like to finish, and some I’d like to start. It’s going to be a busy year!

Finished over the holidays were the following:
~ a soy silk/alpaca drop stitch scarf, modified free Ravelry pattern,
~ a soy silk/alpaca tuque, my own pattern,
~ an alpaca/Merino/bamboo set of wrist warmers, free Ravelry pattern.

In progress are the following:
~ a trip-around-the-world quilt…yes, I’m still working on that.
~ a South Korean appliquéd quilt pattern. I’m gathering supplies for that.
~ a needlepoint cushion cover. Yes, I’m still working on the hydrangeas.
~ the sandpiper crewel embroidery.
~ a hardanger wall hanging that just needs framing and hanging.
~ hardanger Christmas ornaments.

In the wings, waiting to be started:
~ a gold work wall hanging,
~ a robin needlepointing piece,
~ several sketchbooks of patterns to hook into rugs and wall hangings.
~ various scrapbooks from the last 18 years of photos.

This all sounds like a lot. But I have a partner in crime. Someone who can help me by encouraging me and holding me accountable. Not just my readers my friends, but also our current hostess/landlady. Our hostess is a craftswoman herself, and knows how valuable motivation in the form of accountability to someone else can be. She and I have decided to start a quilting challenge on Monday, January 6th. A block a day. That could be difficult for me as I’m starting with an appliqué South Korea quilt. But we shall see. Any forward progress is good progress in my view.

Beginnings and Finishings

I started the planning for 2020 by unpacking my Finished Work binders that contain photos, patterns, and instructions of various craft projects I’ve made over the years. It was a trip down memory lane and filled me with inspiration and anticipation.

I’ve decided this year, 2020, is all about finishing. I have numerous projects I’ve put off working on over the years. We are currently temporarily boarding with a very crafty lady. She and I have decided to embark on a finishing challenge for this coming year.

To that end I’ve pulled out my Trip-Around-The-World quilt again. I started it when I was seventeen, using fabrics leftover from my mother’s and grandmother’s sewing projects. It grew to include fabric from my sisters’ sewing projects. Until finally it grew so large I actually had to go out and buy fabric. It’s my experimental quilt. My first run at hand quilting (the center), AND my first run at machine quilting (the border). I used a mix of cotton and non-cotton fabrics…not the best choice I know now. But when I was piecing it in my late teens I had no idea. The backing is actually a piece of poly/cotton…also not the best choice.

I put a border I did not like on it at the suggestion of another quilter. Our hostess says she thinks it can be fixed with some judicious appliqué. We’ll see. I’m counting on her guidance. She used to teach quilting. I’m really just a beginner/intermediate level.

Aside from that I’ve pulled out the South Korea roof tile end caps rug and have been hooking it. I’m stuck. I want to dye some red-purple wool fabrics and silk for the design. I already spun the red-purple yarn I plan to use. However I have no place to dye fibre here really. It would be a major inconvenience for our hostess and for Hubby. But I’m thinking. I mean…I have a hot plate and drying rack. It’s definitely doable. I’d just have to have Hubby help unpack my dye equipment and supplies…and he is really not keen to do that. Our stuff is piled in boxes high to the ceiling here!

I did finish the Dropped Stitch Scarf from Ravelry. It’s a free pattern. I’ve yet to block it and weave in ends. Again, it’s for lack of space…and supplies. I could use a good drying mat for my knitting.

Other than that I have a needlework pillow top project, hardanger Christmas ornaments, the sandpiper crewel embroidery, another hardanger wall hanging to stitch, and one to frame. I also have a couple of quilts I want to sew…larger ones for our bed. Plus I have some needle painting and embroidery projects. Oh and a goldwork project. That will be it I think. If I finish half of that this year I’ll be doing well I think!

What about you? What are your plans for the year 2020?

Back at it again!

Back at it again!

Hi everyone! I’ve been spinning and knitting away. I managed to finish spinning the red purple and the golden yellow for my current project – the South Korea rug. We’ll see how that hooking project goes. I’ve determined the pattern is too detailed to add my silk fibre strips. The pattern loses definition when I do. This project will definitely be a learning one, but then, what project isn’t? I find I learn something with every project I do.

I’m also knitting more on the silk/alpaca Dropped Stitch Scarf. It’s a free pattern from Ravelry. Almost done. Only about ten inches to go! Looking forward to blocking and wearing it.

Dove of Peace Ornaments

Aside from the fibre activity I’ve been to the local rug hooking guild. They are a very talented group of ladies! They are a huge group! I visited on a day when some of them were selling crafts as well. I bought some beautiful small dove Christmas tree ornaments and took the phone number of a knitter. That reminds me, I must call her. I’m thinking I’ll put in an after New Year’s order. She knits wool socks and shawls.

I’m also reading. I finished reading “Hooked Mats of Newfoundland and Labrador” and was struck by the diversity of design within the region. There is a history of the Rug Hooking Guild of Newfoundland and Labrador at the beginning of the book. That is followed by many examples of hooked mats from various parts of the region. I found the history of the mats fascinating.

I’m currently reading “Silk Stocking Mats” by Paula Laverty and enjoying the history in that. I’m not a big history fan, but these two books include a lot of visuals to make it interesting and clarify what happened when.

Two days ago I processed the yarn I spun. I’m already noticing the difference between the humidity here and on the Prairies. It’s taken two days to dry instead of one!

Earlier this week we dug out Christmas decorations and decorated a tree and the main floor of the house where we’re staying.

We baked up a storm and hosted a cookie exchange for our landlady, daughters, and our son-in-laws. I hate to tell them, but our cookies are already gone! That’s probably a good thing, and we probably shouldn’t eat any more! However I know I’ll be making chocolates soon. So there will be lots of goodies yet for Hubby and I to share with others.

Cookies for the Cookie Exchange.

Well, it’s time to get going here. Take care everyone. Have a safe holiday season!