Home Again!

Home Again!

We had a great time on our trip to B.C.  A beautiful drive down the Fraser Canyon led us to a very busy lower mainland. Spent time visiting with family and checked out 10th Ave. Found the lovely Figaro’s for a real cup of tea and dessert.

Saturday we headed out to Granville Island. We checked out the Market. I had great fun poking around, and picked up yarn for hooking at SanJo Silk and the Fibre Art Studio.  Also checked out Maiwa and Paper-Ya.  Picked up a quality notebook for next year’s household bullet journal.

Sunday we went on a very informative walking tour of Chinatown.  It was a free tour, which meant you tipped for it.  The lady who gave the tour was excellent.  She talked and walked us for 1 1/2 – 2 hours!  We finished at a Chinese pharmacy that had dried geckos in it, to treat asthma and back problems.  I’m curious how they’d use it…

We had a late lunch, and then walked back to my sister-in-law’s condo.  Checked out some design features in the cityscape on the way.

Monday we checked out the Gulf of Georgia Cannery Museum and the Britannia Museum. It was a day of lots of walking.  We had a beautiful walk down by the shore in Steveston.

Tuesday we headed to Vancouver Island to visit friends.

Brentwood Bay, B.C.

We spent Wednesday in Sidney shopping thrift stores and bookstores for anything rug hooking related.  I found a book on Celtic knotwork and calligraphy I plan to make use of.  I found a rug hooking book for my friend who is learning to hook now.

Thursday we headed up Island to Chemainus in the rain to visit Val Galvin of Renditions in Rugs in her home studio.  We took the Brentwood Bay to Mill Bay ferry.  Quaint and small, but got the job done.  A fun ride, even in the rain!

View from ferry heading to Mill Bay from Brentwood Bay, BC.

Val is very friendly and helpful.  I was able to purchase some pencil hooks from her, so if you’re looking, keep an eye on my page or contact me to have a look and a try.  Thanks Val!

Jean Ottosen and Val Galvin

Friday we took the ferry back to Vancouver to be with family.

Ferry to Vancouver (Tsawwassen), B.C.

My sister-in-law and I had a great time checking out Michelle Sirois-Silver’s studio on her Open Studio Saturday.  It was nice to see her again and chat.  I loved seeing her work with zippers in it!  While there I took a quick photo of the books on the counter.  I’m always on the lookout for a good book!  I’m curious to know which of these Michelle found most helpful.  Guess I’ll have to interlibrary loan them and check them out. 🙂

My sister-in-law and I checked out the Artisan Market in the West Vancouver Community Centre.  I dropped a fair bit of change on homemade jams and jellies, chocolates, etc. It was deadly on the pocketbook because everyone was using Square, meaning they all took credit cards!

We also attended the Vancouver Institute’s lecture Saturday evening on the global arms trade.  It was very interesting.  Mr. Andrew Feinstein from South Africa (well now from London) spoke.  I had no idea how widespread it was and how bad it was.

Sunday we were at the Vancouver Art Guild Show and Sale.  Lots of good work there, but the artists who stuck out for me were Beatrice Watson and Robert Kitt.  Margaret Stott had some whimsical work that was excellent as well.

Monday and Tuesday we spent the days driving home.

Evening in the Rockies.

Dawn in the Rockies.

It’s a long haul from Vancouver to Regina!  But Hubby was eager and I was glad to arrive before another snow storm.  Yes, Regina was covered in a blanket of beautiful white snow when we arrived, and more followed.  Hubby has been out shoveling and I’ve been busy with laundry and making a grocery list. And so life goes on!  A wonderful trip and a great big thank-you to everyone who made it possible!

 

There she be!


My new iMac. Still loading updates. Still have to configure mail.  I’m making this post off my iPad.  

I pulled out a new pattern to start hooking.  It’s called “Escapees”.  It’s a design of some nasturtiums escaping their fenced in garden and reaching towards the sun.  Again, an actual photo and place on Vancouver Island, B.C., Canada, where everything grows with wild abandon!  Last week I adjusted the pattern.  This week I’ll be dyeing fibre for the backgrounds. I need some medium toned Kelly green.  

This will be my demonstration piece for the Cathedral Village Arts Festival Street Fair on May 27th.   I will be between Montague and Athol Streets on the south side in the shade. That’s on 13th Ave. in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.  If you’re in the area that day come check out my booth!

New Gadgets!

New Gadgets!

We’re trying to figure out new solutions to old problems here.  My seven year old MacBook Pro laptop is about to go.  The battery is taking longer to recharge, is quicker to discharge, and is not always recharging the full amount.  On top of that my hard drive is full.

I’ve tried to alleviate the hard drive issue by purchasing a 4 TB external hard drive.  That has worked semi okay.  I am in the process of transferring files to it and taking them off my laptop.  Not sure what the total result will be there.  I am debating whether to replace my laptop with a desktop iMac or another smaller and simpler version of a MacBook.  I have several issues.  I need to be able to:

  • Read an SD card from a DSLR camera,
  • Do sophisticated photo editing,
  • Be able to connect to a DVD drive (portable or otherwise),
  • Afford it,
  • Consider portability.

The current MacBooks, while light, are expensive and do not have SD card readers attached to them, or DVD drives anymore.  But they are portable, unless you need to attach those peripherals to them.  Then they have to be on a desk somewhere.  Kills the portability.  However, the iPad I’m currently typing this post on is just as portable, if not more so.

I am not a Cloud fan and will not knowingly store data on the Cloud for photo editing or other purposes.  I just think Apple and other computer companies have no need to have access to my data or store it. I prefer to do that myself thank-you.  So, I am left with some cumbersome options, or expensive options.  An iMac or another MacBook Pro with peripherals.

So I’m thinking of buying an iMac.   It’s not portable, but it’s more affordable than the MacBook Pro.  Honestly, I cannot justify spending over $3000 on a laptop that doesn’t have all the features I need built in.  Having a dedicated desktop setup  and using this iPad for portability might be my ticket.  I just have to make sure I can post a blog post, complete with photo from my  iPad.

So above is the new keyboard for my iPad that is making this post possible.  Let’s try another.  A photo of the Legislature on a recent walk.


Hmm…a cursory glance at it tells me it’s okay.

So my question for the day is:

Have any of you encountered these kinds of technology issues and how did you solve them?

Weekly Review – Dye Jobs and other news

Well, here are the results of this week’s dye jobs.  The photos do not do the colours justice.  They are more intense and deeper than the photos show.  I really enjoyed dyeing these colours.  I’ve been away from the dye pot too long!

An added bonus this week was receiving Gene Shepherd’s “Prepared to Dye” DVD set in the mail Monday.  When I wasn’t dyeing fabric I was watching his DVDs.  He does an excellent job of making what some see as complicated into a much easier to understand and do process.  The first DVD in the set covers the basic traditional rug hooking dyeing methods.  The second DVD is devoted to various spot dyeing techniques.  And the third DVD is devoted to various dye bleeding techniques.  I am excited and eager to try some of his techniques.

All this dyeing and class prep got me thinking it might be time for another trip to my favourite rug hooking supplier in Cochrane, Alberta – Legacy Studio – for more supplies.  I’ve been making a wish list for the trip.

I am also busy preparing for tomorrow’s Start to Finish class.  It’s on colour planning and material selection.  By the end of the class we should be hooking rug.

I hope everyone has a good weekend planned.  This weekend is a special event for us.  Hubby is being honoured at a community event and his 65th birthday is Monday!  We plan to make the most of it.

Weekly Review – Exhibits & Sales

 

I’ve had an interesting week. It’s that time of year to be applying for exhibits and sales.  I’ve applied for two so far.  I’m not sure exactly where I stand in the application process on both of these exhibits and sales.  I’ll fill you in when I learn more.

I did manage to upload more product – rug hooks – for sale.

I also chatted with my web developer about more ideas for the website. I look forward to upcoming changes as time goes by.

I was able to prepare my sample pattern and fiber kit for the Curves class next Saturday.   I have also written more on my course outlines.

I pulled two books off my library shelf to help with a revamped business plan.  One is “The Creative Entrepreneur” by Lisa Sonora Beam, and the other is “The Right-Brain Business Plan” by Jennifer Lee.  I’ve used these two books before with considerable success.  So I’m not really starting from scratch.  Just planning what to do this year.

I finished reading “Canadian Folk Art to 1950” by Fleming and Rowan.  Lots of lovely photos of a wide cross section of Canadian folk art.  The text seemed excellent at times, but with long winded sentences at other times, making for a bit of an uneven read.  However, the overall message was there and it was a good read overall.  I enjoyed the few hooked rugs photos that were included as well.

Another book I am currently looking at is “Hooked on Cats” by Joan Moshimer.  The rugs in the photos are beautiful!  She uses Cushing’s Perfection dyes to dye wool for her rugs.  I don’t use Cushing’s, but my Majic Carpet and ProChem will work just fine.  Joan gives basic dyeing instructions in her book for onion skin dyeing, spot dyeing, dip dyeing, and for overdyeing.  An informative book with a lot of patterns in the back and a nice gallery of finished work.

It’s Warming Up!

It feels like spring outside. We’re finally warming up…for the time being at least. It’s only -13 Celsius.

Last week and over the weekend I managed to post 99% of the plaid and check swatches on the website. Check them out!

I also found out the iPhone version of my so called responsive theme wasn’t very good. I fixed the menu so it reads better for people…at least it does on my iPhone. Please let me know if anything else is amiss.

I was also distracted by my new laptop. I am still transferring data over from the old laptop. The photos are taking a long time.

This week, due to the nice weather, I plan to reconnect with various fiber groups here in town. I won’t be able to attend every week, but it’s nice to have a place to go occasionally to talk to like minded people.

The plan is also to hook more on “Moss”.

New Laptops in the House!

It’s been a busy week this week.  Tuesday Hubby and I finally had enough of malfunctioning laptops and went out and replaced our old ones.  We’ve been setting up new ones and transferring data ever since.  I am still working on transferring my photos.

Things are complicated as I’ve moved from the Mac platform to the PC.  I am much happier with the shift for two key reasons:

  1. I can finally find all my files again and see everything clearly at once.  No more guessing or using search to find out where Mac put things.
  2. It’s bigger and better for a cheaper price.

The one drawback is the screen colors.  It’s an ASUS and I can’t get the color and definition I’d like, even though I’ve reset the screen resolution to the highest level.  I’ve been told I can mess with the way the colors show, but I haven’t explored that yet.

What this does tell me is that other people using different screens and monitors are not always seeing the bright colors in my work!  The vagaries of shopping by internet I suppose.  Everything is looking greyed on my screen currently.  I hope this is not the case with my followers in cyberland.

In-between all that I did manage to upload more swatches for the website shop.

I’ve also been reading “Canadian Folk Art to 1950”.  It’s an interesting read.  The photos are good too.  When I get further into it, I’ll give a proper review.

Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Cheers,
Jean

In my studio…

african-dream

Here it is!  All finished.  African Dream.  I need to make hang tags for it, but that can wait.

Sunday we were up to Saskatoon to check in with ArtNow.  It was a cool exhibit!  A great variety of work from a variety of artists and in a variety of mediums.  Great stuff!

Company has gone home now.  In-between visiting I was hooking and re-carding some alpaca fibre a friend gave me.

I met up with another friend last week.  She’s coming over this week to give me more fibre and some carding paddles.  I hear there is some upholstery fabric she’s wanting to get rid of as well.  I feel blessed to have such generous friends.

I decided to change the name of my new wall hanging to simply “Moss”.   I am going to have to give more thought to the colour planning for this wall hanging.

I hope everyone had a good weekend.  I look forward to another busy week.  Happy hooking everyone! 🙂

wip-moss-1

Weekly plans

Errands and housekeeping day today!  Just came back from doing errands.  I am finally culling my books.  A trip to the liquor store for boxes was in order.  Also stopped by the pharmacy for medication and my annual flu shot.  And, I finally went for a haircut!  So all the errands are done this morning.  That leaves this afternoon for…

Housework…

This is a short week so my plans are few.  Not only is Remembrance Day smack in the middle of the week, on Wednesday, but Hubby is home today and we are focusing on housekeeping chores.   And, sometime this week the excavators are supposed to be coming to replace our sewer and water lines.

So…

  1. Draw a new pattern on backing – poppies?, studio piece based on the plein air barn I hooked last year?, or a studio piece based on the plein air scenery piece from this year?
  2. Colour plan rug,
  3. Take Christmas ornaments to shop,
  4. Get caught up on reading of business related material,
  5. Order OTT light bulb.

Today’s objectives

Autumn 3- 6" x 6" - $60CAD

Autumn 3- 6″ x 6″ – $60CAD

I need to get caught up on some sleep.  But, other than that, what’s a little daylight without some hooking or related activities?!

  • I’ll be working on creating a hanging system for Goldfish.
  • I also want to make a list of things to pile in the car for the Street Fair this weekend.
  • I also want to work on editing some photos of the other wall hangings.  I started on the weekend but didn’t get very far.  I need greeting card ready files before selling them.
  • I think it might be time to phone the OTT light distributor in Canada for a new light bulb for my floor light.  My old one burnt out months ago!
  • And I am contemplating what I might hook for the CVAF Street Fair demonstration.
  • I also need to print out my 2015 SCC juried logo  for the street fair this weekend.

Let’s talk hooks

A variety of rug hooking hooks.

A variety of rug hooking hooks.

Hooks are as individual as the rug hooker.  I recommend people try before they buy.  Every hand is different and different hooks will work for different people.  I have several hooks I switch between.

hook-types

Top to bottom: pencil hook, bent handled hook, and palm hook.

There are three basic types of hooks: a palm hook, a pencil hook, and a bent handled hook.  Each one is held differently in the hand.

From top to bottom: Primitive hook, coarse hook, medium hook, fine hook.

From top to bottom: Primitive hook, coarse hook, medium hook, fine hook.

On top of the types, there are different sizes of hooks: fine, medium, coarse, primitive. I  use different hooks for different fibres – a smaller one for fine yarns, and a bigger hook for fabric and stronger fibres.  But still keep to a size that easily pulls through the backing.

This brings up shank size.  The shank is the piece of metal leading down to the hook.  Some hooks have large diameter shanks.  These are for primitive hooking and open up the holes in the backing to allow thicker material to be pulled through.

Matching the hook size to your backing is crucial, or you will be catching on the backing every time you pull a loop.  Catching on the backing could also be due to using the hook the wrong way.  It is best to test hooks with a seasoned rug hooker.  Most people who sell hooks are knowledgeable enough to show you the proper way to use them.

Hooks last a long time and many a rug hooker has one of “Grandma’s hooks” in their collection.

Hooks can cost anywhere from $10 and up.  I buy my hooks at around the $20-30CAD mark.

~~~~~~~~~

This ends my informative blog posts on rug hooking.  I invite any rug hookers who can add information to do so in the comments. I’m back to my regular scheduled posts tomorrow.  Thanks for reading!  ?

Let’s talk frames

hoop-2

14″ ash hoop from Deanne Fitzpatrick’s shop in Amherst, N.S.

Frames, like cutters, also come in many shapes and sizes.  Beginners usually start with a hoop for about $30CAD.

hoop-1

14″ plastic hoop with ridge to keep backing from slipping. Available from Legacy Studios in Cochrane, AB.

They might progress to a lap frame (starting at around $120CAD) next.  There are many different styles of lap frames, some with gripper strips and some without.  Some also swivel 360 degrees, some do not.  You pay according to the features.

lap-frame

My original frame from 30 years ago. I have no idea if these are being made anymore.

Then, if they want, they can purchase a floor frame ($300CAD plus).  Floor frames can be round, square, rectangular, octagonal, you name it!  They can tilt and swivel 360 degrees if you want…for a price.  I have a rectangular floor frame with gripper strips to hold my linen backing in place while I hook.

floor-stand

Having said all this, some people hook with no frame!  For the majority of people it is easier with a frame.

The frame can be a determining factor in the size of rugs you hook, but doesn’t have to be if you chose carefully.  I have seen people with hoops hook large pieces. However you risk the weight of the rug breaking your hoop or frame if you are not careful.  I have had this happen with some of the weaker hoops I’ve used.  This is more of an issue if you hook wide cut or primitive and have a very heavy rug on your frame.

The determining factor for frame size in our house was the size of the space we had for me to hook.   It is an 8’x12′ area ringed with windows and bookshelves of wool and fibre.  I had room for a floor frame…just.

My frame is the rectangular frame made by Keith Small of Impressions in Woodwork in St. Mary’s, Ontario, Canada.  It has gripper strips around the edges to hold my backing taut and in place for hooking.

There are also large frames sold in Nova Scotia called Cheticamp frames.  These are large floor frames 18″ x 40″ and longer.  They are ideal for larger rugs, if you have the room for them.  They start at $400CAD.

Let’s talk wool cutters…

Wool

Wool “worms” or strips mixed in with hand torn and other fibre.

“Rug hookers measure fibre by width.  We have special machines called wool strippers or cutters.  They come with special heads that cut our even weave wool fabric to specific widths.  A #3 is 3/32 of an inch wide, #4 = 1/8″, #5 = 5/32″, #6 = 3/16″, #7 = 7/32″, #8 = 1/4″, #9 = 3/8″, #10 = 1/2″.  I use a #6 width for the most part.  Sometimes up to a #8.  A wide cut is anything #6 and over.”

There are many excellent cutters or wool strippers on the market.  This is not meant to be an exhaustive list.   If you know of other makes and can give a review, please leave a comment for others.

Wool cutters are the most expensive part of rug hooking.  Most new rug hookers use ones that belong to a rug hooking group they belong to, buy one secondhand, or hand cut with a rotary cutter and mat, or scissors.  Alternatively, some rug hookers just use yarn and avoid the cutter issue altogether!

Bliss cutters have suction cups that attach to a surface and metal wheels that cut wool the desired width.

Fraser 500 wool cutter.

Fraser 500 wool cutter.

Fraser cutters clamp to a surface and use metal wheels to cut wool the desired width.  The wheels need to be sharpened every now and then…about every five to ten years in my experience.  I found it cheaper to just buy new wheels than to send the others for sharpening.

Fraser 500 metal wheels for cutting.

Fraser 500 metal wheels for cutting.

There are also Rigby (I think these are only available used now) and Honeydoo cutters.  I have no experience with them.

Beeline Townsend wool cutter, cutting #6 strips.

Beeline Townsend wool cutter, cutting #6 strips.

Then there are the Bolivar and the Beeline Townsend.  The Bolivar is the Canadian equivalent of the American made Beeline Townsend cutter, but it is heavier in weight.  Though that is only an issue if you want a portable cutter.

Bolivar and Beeline Townsend are excellent cutters.  I own a Beeline Townsend and love it.  It cuts through wool like a knife through soft butter.  Just beautiful!  The Townsend and the Bolivar cut by using pressure against a steel cylinder.

One caveat with wool cutters – be sure you cut only 100% wool with them.  Synthetics, blends, and other fibres will pit and dull the cutting wheels and damage the more expensive wool cutters.

Cutters do not come cheap.  Expect to spend from $350 -1000CAD for a new one (including wheels).  That is why so many beginners look for a nearby guild or rug hooking group that may own a communal cutter.  Or buy a rotary cutter and mat to hand cut their own strips.  While doable for primitive or wide cut rugs, this becomes problematic with fine cuts.  You really need a proper cutter to do fine cut rug hooking.

In My Studio

This week is going to be short, but interesting.  Hubby is off work today, so I will be running errands.  Company is coming Thursday for the weekend.  So for Tuesday and Wednesday, and possibly part of Thursday, I will…

  • Hook on the paisley Prairie Sky,
  • Post more wall hangings and swatches to Etsy,
  • Get signatures on Certificates of Canadian Origin,
  • Replace light bulb in Ott light for taking photos,
  • Fill out forms for Dimensions 2015.

Getting My Art Out There

Had a phone workshop last night on this subject.  It’s my first phone workshop ever.  It was a weird feeling.  When I talked into the phone I couldn’t hear myself in the ear piece.  Really weird.  The workshop was really good though.  And the handouts that were delivered via email attachment beforehand are going to be very useful.

Ended up having a longish nap yesterday afternoon, so not much accomplished I’m afraid.  I did work more on the business plan.  It’s taking a lot more time than I thought it would, BUT I am turning up some really useful ideas/leads to follow.

Hubby was able to fix my rug hooking frame!  Have I mentioned how much I love him lately?!  What a nice guy to do that so quickly for me.  He must have sensed my mild anxiety (?!) over the thought of having to buy a new one.  Rug hooking frames do not come cheap.

I filled in my “Intent to Enter” form for Dimensions 2015 last night.  Off to mail it today.  Anyone else out there a member of the Saskatchewan Craft Council?  It’s time to think about mailing yours in!

It Broke!!!

My floor frame broke!  More accurately a glued section came unglued.  Hubby is reglueing it, but that means I have to wait 24 hours for it to dry.  Bummer!  So instead I’m working more on that business plan.

Today I’m taking the time to scout out the competition.  I’m checking rug hooking blogs and websites online and deciding what I do and don’t like about them.  Trying to find if there’s a niche that’s been overlooked.

I also decided to check out the ATHA magazine for advertising and see what I could find.  Interesting.  There are no Canadian rug hooking shops advertising in the ATHA magazine.  Hmm…wonder where they advertise?  Or if they need to?  A question to ask vendors at the TIGHR conference this fall.  Most curious…

I have Prairie Sunset all set to hem.  Just haven’t got around to it.  Lots happening here.  Just heard that Hubby’s step-dad had a  massive stroke and is not expected to live.  He’s in palliative care.  Yes, we did just go to the funeral for Hubby’s mother two weekends ago.  We could be making another trip soon… 🙁

In my studio today

backing-packedI received a welcome package of linen backing the other day from the States.  I was disappointed to see what customs and the exchange rate did to the price of my package though.   My backing is now $50/metre!

Townsend-CutterThought I’d post a photo of my new Bee Line Townsend cutter with it’s large blade on.  Makes life so much easier!  My back is very thankful.

WormsThis is my work area.  You can see I’ve been busy with the cutter!  Lots to hook on these days…including a larger studio version of this plein air piece…

The-Barn