She came armed with a few of her rugs.
More rugs than you can believe.
More rugs than one human should be able to hook in a lifetime.
And each one more beautiful than the one before it.
With so much variety, it was hard to pick a favorite, but this story rug might just be mine.
Charlotte designed it with elements from her own life: her husband's boat on Chautauqua Lake, her goats and sheep, along with the trailer they used to haul them to sheep shows across the country each year, and the family swimming pool and her dog that barked each time the kids went swimming.
The colors were stunning and the subject was so personal to Charlotte that you couldn't help but fall in love with this rug.
This crazy chicken rug was one of her favorites.
I'd have to say that no chickens like these have ever walked the chicken yard at That'll Do Farm!
What is most amazing is that her rugs are usually hooked in a 3 or a 4 cut. For non-hookers, that means absolutely nothing. But say, "She hooked them in a 3" to a hooker and there will be an audible intake of air followed by a look of utter disbelief.
Three or four refers to the width of wool strip used for hooking. The smaller the number, the thinner the strip. The thinner the strip, the longer it takes to hook a piece, yet you can get much more detail and color variation with thinner strips.
You can also go insane.
But hooking with a 3 or a 4 cut sure makes for rugs that are pieces of art.
Here, she hooked the same piece two different ways. Which do you prefer? I'm leaning towards the one on the left. It has a little "happier," less dark-scary-thing-in-the-woods feel to it.
This rug was designed and hooked to show the progression of the seasons through leaves.
And this one was designed for Charlotte's bathroom. That's right, she uses this one in front of her shower. Every head in the audience snapped up when she said that. Most hookers would never dream of putting their valuable rug in so vulnerable a spot as before the shower. But Charlotte thinks rugs should be out and enjoyed on a daily basis so in front of the shower it is.
After her show, we got down to the serious business of hooking our own rugs.
I brought an alpaca rug for "Show and Tell" that I love. It was hooked for the farm by Lauren of Rugs and Pugs.
This rug will hang in the farmhouse and also travel to all the alpaca shows with us as booth decor. Lauren did a great job and the colors, especially in person, are perfect. It's hooked in an 8 or a 9 cut, giving the rug less detail but more of a primitive, country feel to it. Thanks Lauren!
Guild members showed off what they were working on.
This is the rug I've started. I ususally hook in a six cut, which is not small, so you'd think this rug would take no time at all. Are we taking bets as to what year it will be done?
My money is on 2014.
The hookers, and one knitter, were back at the farm last week.
I am slowly making progress on a rug I started last Spring.
The inside is finally done, now its just trees, flowers and background and I'll be done. So let's see, that's about another year's worth of work. That's all.
Jane was working on a vase rug, with beautiful needle felted flowers.
Lauren was at a loss as to what to hook next, so she just decided to start a little sheep rug.
I agonize for months about what to hook next. I think about it. I ring my hands. I talk myself into and out of so many rugs before finally deciding what to do. And when I actually pick a design, I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders. Yup, all that over one little rug decision.
But Lauren is not plagued by the decision-making demons that follow me around. Nope. She said its hooking night by golly, and I'm gonna draw me up a sheep. In my next life, I'm coming back with the ability to do that.
New Fiber CSA member Katrina came by to meet her alpaca and knit with us for a bit.
That's Farmer Gal Marilyn getting Annelise under control for her close-up. Annelise had just had her shots and was not too excited about more human touching. But once she realized that there would be no more shots that day, she calmed down and allowed herself to to touched ... just a bit.
Katrina is knitting a cover for one of those ginormous exercise balls, which she uses for her chair at work.
That's going to be a whole lot of knitting. I'll be anxious to see her progress.
If you knit, hook or spin, join us for the next Sit-n-Knit Day, which is this Saturday from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. spend a few hours with us perfecting your craft and laughing. While we take our respective crafts seriously, we are not serious while we are working on them.
Hope to see you Saturday.
The rug hookers arrived on Wednesday night, armed with hooks and frames and ready to work.
Well, that might not be entirely true. They also came armed with pastry, chocolate and potato chips, so just as much junk food eating was going on as rug hooking. Not sure which one I prefered!
I do know I like this:
This little rug is now mine, a gift from rug hooker Lauren.
She was working on it the last time she was at the farm and I commented that I liked the colors and it would really look nice at my house. Voila! Here it is, all finished and now belonging to me. Who knew that's all it took to get a rug!
This is the latest project Lauren is working on:
Let's see if this works. "Lauren -- I love this rug. The colors would go really well in my house. It's perfect for me." I'll let you know how this works out for me! If it does, I may try it on other things, like cars, houses and clothes.
Melissa worked at putting the binding on her rug.
I know you are mature readers and will not snicker at all when I say she is one fast hooker. One day, I too will be fast, but right now, I just keep plodding on, slowly hooking the same rug.
I am fighting with a crochet edge for my chicken rug. But once I win that battle (have I ever mentioned that I might be a tad bit stubborn), I will post pictures. No chicken rug is going to get the best of me!
Yesterday was the start of our new, all-day, second and fourth Wednesday of the month Sit-N-Knit/Spin/Hook. That's a mouthful to say, itsn't it.
What it means is that on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month, the farm is open to anyone who wants to come to knit, rug hook, spin . . . or whatever other fiber addition (legal, of course) they practice. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and people are welcome to drop in anytime.
And drop in they did.
We started the morning off with the hookers.
They came armed with completed rugs.
Rugs in progress.
Rugs with a touch of glimmer and shimmer.
Some of the hookers came armed with knitting. These are multi-talented fiber addicts. Why limit yourself to one addiction when there are so many out there.
Shortly after the hookers/knitters left to find lunch in the near-by town of Oberlin, my cousin and her friend showed up to needle felt and learn to spin.
My cousin Renee is a fiber newbie. She CURRENTLY doesn't have any sort of fiber addiction, but I'm doing my best to fix that.
Renee brought her friend Glenna to the farm to learn to spin.
But we couldn't let Renee sit here, on a beautiful day, without any sort of fiber in her hands.
So we handed her really sharp needles and a bit of wool and told her to get busy.
Soon, she was a expert at needle felted pumpkins . . . and bandage application.
Perhaps another addict is born? Time will tell.
Glenna experienced the same difficulties I did when learning to spin. But after a few hours, she was starting to get the hang of it. Who knows, maybe two fiber addicts were born yesterday. One can only hope!
Later in the day, more hookers came to spend a exceptionally warm fall evening with us.
Melissa assured me that her turkey rug was not going to be done for Thanksgiving. It is a Christmas present for her parents. I was starting to feel my old friend Mr. Underachivement visiting me, but knowing that this rug won't be done in mere weeks made me feel better.
But then, she pulled out two recently completed pillows and underachivement came flying right back in.
It didn't go away anytime soon because Lauren, one of the students at a recent Deanne Fitzpatrick-style hooking class held here at the farm, came by with her completed rug.
My rug from the same class is still without sky, completed houses or rolling hills.
But I'm taking my cues from Scarlett O'Hara and not going to let it botter me today. I'm going to think about that tomorrow.
Today, it is an unseasonably warm and sunny day. I'm going to go "play" in the herb garden . . . and dream about completing a rug.
By the way -- our next Wednesday, all-day fiber addict adventure is November 14. Come on out. We're also here this Saturday, October 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for more of the same.
Katie has traveled to Amherst, Nova Scotia to take a week-long class with Deanne and to bring back this unusual (for most of us) style of hooking to our little corner of the world.
In Deanne's words, "Each piece I create is different from the last. I use recycled cloth, gather old wool clothing from real people in real communities. The clothes are washed, dried and torn apart. It is then hooked loop by loop on a a backing of burlap or linen."
The rugs are vibrant, beautiful and a touch wild -- just like the Canadian landscape they depict. There is a lot of movement in each piece and to me, they just scream with emotion. This ain't your primitive, country rug!
The hooking is very random and uneven -- to my traditionally trained brain, two words that don't normally go with rug hooking. It was hard to allow myself to let go of what I knew from the past and just hook.
But once I got going, it was darn fun. I chose the "Boats & Shack" pattern because it reminded me of the fishing boats and colorful houses I saw on a post-college trip to the Gaspe Peninsula.
Others in the class chose the "Poppies on the Edge of Town"pattern.
This is Deanne's finished version:
Can't you just feel the cold sea air and smell the salt. Makes me want to hop in the car, drive for three days and stand in this exact spot.
We had a happy group of hookers for the class. But really, how can one be uphappy when surrounded by wool?
And doughnuts. Hookers are fuled by doughnuts and coffee.
In between teaching and color planning, Katie read from some of Deanne's books and also told stories about what some of the rugs mean to her.
This rug is very special to Katie. She hooked it when her mother became ill. Her mother always told her a floor isn't really clean unless you've cleaned it on your hands and knees. So Katie began to hook this rug with her mother in mind.
And now that her mother has passed, she has this rug to remember her by. How nice to have a piece of art in your home that can take you back to happier days when those you loved were still here. No store-bought rug can do all that!
We had two brand new hookers with us for the class. They didn't struggle at all with preconceived notions of rug hooking and just hooked away with abandon.
And whenever someone was stuck, Katie was there to lend a hook.
It was a wonderful way to spend the better part of a day. This rug should hook up much faster than my other rugs. I will keep you posted on my progress.
Ladies and gentlemen, hold on to your hats. Take a seat if you're standing. For what I am about to tell you will blow your socks off.
After four thousand six hundred and fifty two years, I have finished a fiber project! That's right, a 100% complete, honest-to-goodness finished object.
May I present to you "Sheep in Sunflowers," designed by Joanne Gerwig and hooked by me.
I started this rug back on September 29, 2010.
I am proud to say that it did NOT take me two years to hook this baby. I am four, count 'em, four days shy of having completed this rug in two years. Yes, I know, I should really be ashamed of myself for taking that long. But in my defense, I've knit a few things, finished another rug and started a million other projects in that two year time frame.
So I'm sticking with proud. Next up, putting a border on my "finished" chicken rug. Then the bragging begins. Two rugs completed in the same year. I'd better rest. All this excitement -- I'm getting the vapors.
I'm guessing here, but I'll bet the Olympics are a boon for crafters everywhere.
So far, we've had night after night of compelling sport watching, and my crafting is through the roof.
The Olympics, while really good, are still games that don't have to be followed too closely. The games are not, for example, a television series ike Downton Abbey. That is a show that can't be watched while crafting. It has to be followed second by second or you're lost. Miss a minute of this over-the-top melodrama and you have no idea if Mary is upset her intended has drowned with the Titanic and she has to marry her working class cousin or if she is really in love with him and happy about the prospect. This is an important fact you need to catch if you plan to follow the storyline.
Really, how can one be expected to knit and pay attention to stitches while all that is going on.
But the Olympics are different.
You can knit an entire row while the beach volleyball athletes are tugging at their tiny suits, making sure no wardrobe malfunctions will occur while spiking the ball at 90 miles an hour. A whole scarf could be made while the marathon is on. They are, after all, just running. Look up from your craft after five minutes and sure enough, they are still running. Nothing major has happened; they've just run another mile.
I am determined to finish a felted scarf during the games.
I started with this indigo-dyed alpaca yarn.
I will not set an Olympic speed knitting record, but I've come this far:
Once it's done, I'll throw it in the washer and it will instantly felt and become this:
Except mine will be blue, and it will have a different button. Oh yeah, and that's not me in the jean jacket. But other than those difference, it will be exactly like this.
A few rug hooking friends came by the farm today to do a little hooking.
Check out this rug in shades of black, grey and off white.
Here's the picture of what it will become when done.
I've never worked on a monochromatic rug before. I think it would be very difficult to get all those details in while working only with shades of the same color. And yet I have no doubt this rug will be stunning when finished.
As will this one:
I'm working on another rug as well, but haven't gotten very far.
At my current rug crafting rate, this will be done by the 2016 Olympic games.
But I will have a finished scarf to show for the 2012 Olympics. You'll see.
I'd be a wealthy woman if I had a dollar for every time I had someone tell me, "Why are you knitting that? You can buy perfectly good scarves (socks, hats, sweaters, etc...) at the store really cheap."
And they're right. You can buy perfectly good scarves, sweaters and hats at the store. Beautifully made. And you can buy them with much less effort than goes into making them yourself.
But that's all they are. Things. Things you've purchased, but aren't "involved" with. Things that don't have a history behind them.
You haven't put hours of your time into them. You haven't crafted a memory.
Memories. That's the important piece that's left out of the buy-it-at-the-store equation.
Handmade items are more than just the sum of their parts. They are honest to goodness memories.
Recently, I asked my knitting friend Pam, who also quilts, if she would make a t-shirt quilt for my daughter's high school graduation. She said she'd never made one before, but she'd give it a whirl.
And what a whirl she gave it.
I'm in love with this super soft quilt and so is my daughter. Because of the memories. When she is away at college, she'll have a piece of home with her and the knowledge that it was made especially for her.
For me, the memories are two-fold.
One, that a friend would take time out of her life to make something so meaningful for our family means the world to me. I will never look at this quilt and not think of Pam. She has sealed her fate as a member of our extended family. That's a wonderful tie. She has crafted a strong memory indeed.
And two, the individual t-shirts in the quilt will always remind me of events in my daughter's life.
Hours upon hours of soccer games. In the heat, cold, rain, snow, sleet -- one t-shirt can bring it all back.
This one will remind me of the weekend trip we took to Bloomington to check out Indiana University. Trying to buy the shirt without Meredith knowing what it was for was quite a feat.
But now her new life as a college student will be tied to her old life back home. That's what handcrafted things can do.
This handmade sweater will forever remind me of my knitting friend Stacey, who has tremendous faith in my ability as a knitter. Much more than I have in myself.
She told me I could knit it, and by golly, she was right. There were countless hours spent with her and other knitting friends -- hours that found us all laughing, eating, drinking and general socializing together during the construction of this sweater. So while you see a simple sweater, I see my friends.
Recently, I spent a beautiful day working on this sampler rug with Katie Allman and a group of very nice rug hookers.
We spent a few hours hooking on the sidewalk outside a nice little store in a small town on the shores of Lake Erie. A boy scout troop was selling hamburgers down the street. They came by to take our order, and then brought our burgers back, complete with young boy toothy grins and service with a smile. We never had to leave our chairs. Then we walked next door to an old fashioned ice cream parlor for an ice cream cone. It was as close to a Mayberry moment as I've ever had.
So this rug will always be a reminder of that perfect day. A relaxing day filled with friendship and memories.
If you don't currently do some sort of handwork, I really would urge you to give it a try. What you make doesn't matter. Knit. Crochet. Rug Hook. Rubber Stamp. Spin. Find a group of like-minded people and start creating.
You are crafting memories that are so much more important than the end product.
Katie is a certified McGown instructor with many years of teaching under her belt. I'm currently taking her sampler class and learning a ton.
Plus, a class with Katie is pure fun. Laughing and hooking in such a relaxed atmosphere that you actually forget how much you're learning.
On Thursday, September 27th, she's bring that spirit to the farm to teach a completely different type of hooking.
Canadian Artist Deanne Fitzpatrick's style of rug hooking is vibrant and dynamic -- a "no rules" type of hooking that most rug hookers aren't used to. I know I'm not. This class is really going to be a stretch for me!
Unusual fibers, roving, mixed cuts, and a "close your eyes and stick your hook" in style -- all things my orderly brain is going to have trouble with. But I love the finished results and I want to break out of my box and give it a whirl.
Having visited the Maritimes right out of college, years ago, I can say that Deanne's rugs capture the feel of the place. The crystal clear sky, the bright houses perched on the edge of rocky cliffs, the rugged yet beautiful land bursting with color. It's a feeling of aliveness -- the same feeling I get when I look at a Deanne Fitzpatrick rug.
Katie will bring a few of her rugs for show and tell, and then entertain us with a slide show of her adventures to Nova Scotia. After that, students will get down to the business of hooking freestyle.
Class size is limited to 15 and the cost is $50, which includes instruction and color planning, your pattern, a light lunch and the slide show/lecture. Add $15 if you would like your pattern on linen and not burlap.
Students will have their choice between two 12x16 patterns: Poppies on the Edge of Town (pictured above) or Boat and Shacks, below.
Katie will bring some wool and various fiber packs for sale ($10 each), in addition to other wool for your rug. Please feel free to bring any of your own wool that you would like to use. A variety of wool strip cuts can be used, anywhere from a 3 to torn wool.
This is a not-to-be-missed class. Sign up early so you don't get closed out.
Then bring your imagination and creativity and leave your ideas of traditional rug hooking behind. This promises to be an adventure.
I went back to school over the weekend and I enjoyed each and every minute of it.
This is what I'm learning how to make at school:
Katie Allman of Kidl'-De-Divey Woolens in Ashland, Ohio came near my neck of the woods on Saturday to teach a hooking samplers class. She gave us a history of samplers and what their original purpose was and then we got down to hooking.
Wellllll, that might not be exactly true. First I got down to shopping.
Wool shopping that is. Katie carries a large selection of beautiful wool, some overdyed, at the Chairmaker and Friends shop in Vermilion, Ohio -- home of our class.
If you're a fan of windsor chairs and harvest tables, stop in this shop. In fact, take a few hours to walk around the whole town of Vermilion. You won't be disappointed. It's right on Lake Erie, offers great views of the water with all the boats coming and going, and is home to an excellent homemade chocolate shop. Try the sea salt chocolate covered caramels. You won't regret it. Your hips will, but you personally won't.
I've always loved Vermilion. When I was a kid, my aunt lived there and we would visit frequently. One Winter, I was ice skating on the lagoons in front of her house and broke through the ice, stopping myself just short of going under. I thought it was an adventure worthy of Laura Ingalls, but it sure sent the adults running around and screaming. You've got to love a town that can provide that kind of excitement!
Katie is a fun and energetic teacher. Her hooked rugs cover the walls of the hooking room providing years worth of inspiration.
We go back later this month for a follow-up class. I have to work on my letters in the sampler. I've never hooked letters before and I'm guessing it is going to be quite the challenge. Animals, houses, flowers and fences -- I'm o.k. with all of those, but letters frighten me. We'll see if I can get them to look like actual letters.
I will keep you posted.
Yesterday, I showed you some of my favorite rugs from this year's Ohio Rug Camp. I loved them all for different reasons. Some for the colors. Some for the subject. Some because I know the hookers who made them and saw the work behind them.
But this rug I love because I know I would never have the patience or talent to hook it.
Look at the details, dimension and percpective in this rug. Objects at the bottom are bigger and smaller at the top. Teeny tiny cows and sheep are at the top. Do you know how hard it is to hook teeny tiny animals and still make them look like animals! I'm amazed.
Check out how life-like this tree is. This is truely painting with wool. And the folds on the flag at the bottom of the picture. It really takes an artists eye to see the folds, let alone hook them.
The flowers behind the fence. The beard on the guy in front of the fence. The more I looked at this rug, the more in awe I became.
But when I noticed that the boy and the dog had shadows, it was over for me.
I sincerely doubt that I would have the patience or eye to hook a rug like this. I think I'd better stick to primitives -- no shading, no shadows, no details. But those pine trees keep calling me. I may have to head to the dark side and learn how to do this.
Here are the details on the rug, which was hooked by Cindi Gay.
Cindi is an Ohio gal. And Pemberville isn't too farm from me. I feel a class in my future!
I played hooky from the farm today. It was rug show day at the near-by Ohio Rug Camp and I felt it was my duty to attend. Last year, I was lucky enough to be a student at the camp, but it was not to be this year. I consoled myself by shopping and buying wool for a new rug. I feel much better now.
The rug show was fabulous. This rug was hooked by Barbara Lindh in the same class I was in last year. Why I remember it when it was just an infant rug, in the color-planning stage. It grew up just fine. The pattern is Hearts Abound by Bob Lindh for House of Price.
This rug was hooked by Liz King of Wigglebottom Farmouse. She, too, was in the same class as I was last year so I've known this rug since it was a baby. It's wonderful to see it all grown up.
This might be my favorite rug of the whole show. I can't tell you why -- it just speaks to me.
It is called Hidden in the Ivy and was designed by Primitive Grace, hooked by Patti Tubbs.
Two people hooked Canadian artist Deanne Fitzpatrick's patterns. This one is Maritime Love, hooked by Judi Sadler.
And this one is Peaked Roofs and Poppies, hooked by Jill Welsh.
I've never hooked a Deanne Fitzpatrick pattern, but I'm anxious to try. She uses bright colors and hooks in a more random way -- this is going to be a stretch for me!
I love the pumpkins in this rug. They are short and squat, which is just perfect for a pumpkin. Not so good for humans, but it works for gourds.
Here's the whole rug, which is called Tom Turkey, designed by Bev Conway and hooked by Cheryl Peterson.
This fun rug was designed and hooked by Kris Miller of Spruce Ridge Studios. Kris was my teacher at last year's camp and she is excellent. If you ever have a chance to take one of her classes, do it. You won't regret it.
Check out how she used quilling to make the eyes on this owl, and also how she needled felted his nose. Never in a million years would I have thought of that . . . and that's why Kris is good! She does think of these things.
The expression on the cat's face is priceless. She used beading to make his teeth and needle felted his whiskers. The outline around him certainly gives him that electric shock look.
I have more pictures to show you tomorrow, including a rug that I find incredible. But now, I'm off to cut my new wool purchases and start hooking another rug. As long as I'm playing hookey, I'm going to play all day.
It's a really busy time at the farm. March has arrived and it has put me in a panic.
Spring is only 18 days away. How the heck did that happen??
We're up to our eyeballs in planting schedules, seed orders and assorted other things.
But there is always time to play with PhotoShop.
I thought you'd like to see a picture of our sheep as they would have appeared during the depression.
Don't they look stoic and tough. Hardscrapple.
But wait, add the color back in and they just look like sheep. Curious. And a little timid.
Do you think the people in all those pictures from the 1930s and 1940s really weren't as hard and tough-as-nails as they appeared? Who knows how we would have thought of those by-gone years if we had the wonders of PhotoShop.
I didn't have the heart to "depression-ize" Joey and the goats.
They are just too full of life and goat antics. Raphael finds it necessary to stand on his stump each and every time I get the camera out. He's such a ham.
And finally, I know I told you I'd show you no rug before its time, but I lied. A touch of insomnia found me up way too early so I thought I'd work on the Sheep in Sunflowers rug.
One sheep - done. Five sunflowers - done. Assorted leaves and stems -- done and done. All that is left to do is hook the background.
I figure one or two more nights of not sleeping and I will have a completed rug.
Stop the presses. Pour yourself a glass of champagne. Pour ME a glass of champagne.
Today is a wonderful day. Yes, the sun is shining. Yes its fairly warm for late February. And yes, Spring is only 21 days away.
But that's not enough for press stopage and champagne pouring. The real news of the day is that I have finished my chicken rug!
The chicken rug that I started at the Ohio Rug Camp, way back in April of 2011.
Now "finished" is a relative term when applied to hooking rugs. I have finished hooking my rug, but I haven't trimmed the edges and put on the binding tape yet. Then I would be FINISHED, finished. But as far as I'm concerned, I'm finished!
This is a Joanne Gerwig design, from Woodcrest Rug Designs. I'm also hooking her Sheep in Sunflowers rug, but its not anywhere near as completed as this one and I have vowed to show no pictures of it until its done. It's a game I'm playing with myself. I think the no-picture thing will really show me -- and force me to work on it more. We'll soon see if I've fooled myself with that ploy.
Today's rare February sunshine is certainly putting me in the mood for Spring's arrival. I was working at the drum carder, looking out a sun-filled window, and dreaming of planting and working the soil.
It must have inspired me to card spring colors because everything I worked on today was bright, bright, bright!
I'm usually a fan of autumn colors but no sir, not today. Today was a grab you by the throat and shout to the world that Spring is coming kind of day. Just look at the bright, bright orange. Mixed with yellow and purple. What has come over me! Never in my right, autumn-toned mind would I mix yellow, purple and orange. And yet it works. It works quite well.
And then purple. Mixed with red, hot pink and Sparkles. Oh yeah, this is definitely a Spring Fever day. I don't think it has ever before occured to me before to put red, purple and hot pink together. Not to mention sparkles. But I like it. It's a happy art batt.
And so is this coral and sea foam green. I'm telling you, Spring is messing with me big time. I have never uttered the words sea foam green in my entire life and yet, there it is. Pretty as a picture.
I'm telling you, I really am an earth tone kinda gal. And yet, even when I tried to make an earth tone-ish kind of art batt, look at what happened:
Vibrant, shiny golds, corals, oranges, greens and browns. It looks like a fiber sherbet party.
And I love it. I want to pull the spinning wheel out right now and spin a skein full of sherbet.
But I think I'm going to take myself outside and drink in a great big dose of sunshine.
It's not everyday I finish a rug . . . or card sherbet art batts.
The last Thursday evening of every month, the farm is overrun with hookers.
Now don't go getting your knickers in a knot, these are nice, respectable hookers. Hookers that will discuss wool for hours on end. Hookers that know the difference between a 6 and an 8 cut, and have strong opinions on which is best.
Hookers that make beautiful rugs.
This is Lauren's rug. It is absolutely gorgeous. Lauren is a fast hooker (don't say that in the wrong company). I think she's only been working on this rug for a month or two and all she has left to do is bind it off.
She also brought another finished rugs for show and tell.
This little dog speaks to me. He has sass and tons of personality. This rug may have to go on my bucket list of rugs to make. Let's see . . . if I start it now, I think it could be done by June . . . of 2014!
Lauren is currently working on this beauty:
Don't worry, next month I will show it to you completed, I'm sure!
Heidi, who likes really vibrant colors, is working on this rug, which she designed herself.
It is named after her mother-in-law and has so many elements in it that remind Heidi of her.
I like the fact that rugs can tell a story. That they can remind the hooker of people and places important to them. That is the connection so many people enjoy about handcrafts. Yes, you can go to the store and buy a hooked rug, or a knit sweater, but that connection is missing. It's the stories behind the pieces that really interest me.
Melissa finished her rug last night, too.
This is a fun rug full of textures amd movement. It's going to look wonderful in her wool room.
I am making progress on both my chicken and sheep rugs. I have resolved to post no more pictures of them until they are done.
Don't hold your breath. This could take awhile!
There is finally a completed hooked rug hanging at my house.
It is completed because I didn't hook it. My friend Laruen did. Lauren has a tendency to finish her projects. Mine are in the limbo stage of almost done, but not quite.
It is the perfect colors for my kitchen.
I hope it will soon be joined by my nearly done Chicken Rug, but I'm not making any promises here. However, the Chicken Rug has jumped ahead of the Sheep Rug in the queue, but it is still behind the two year large sweater project. With any luck, the large sweater will be finished today!
But, if you're a fan of completed rug projects. jump on over to Lauren's blog. She is having a heart rug giveawy.
Every Thursday, I get to knit with a talented group of knitters. That is to say, THEY knit every Thursday. I get there when I can.
These ladies knit the big cheeses of the knitting world -- complicated sweaters, intricate shawls, and socks two at a time. It seems like they have a new project every week.
I plug along with my scarves and cowls, pumping one out every year or so. Am I intimidated by their skills? You better belive I am, but they are so much fun I throw caution to the wind and knit along side them, spending more time laughing than knitting.
At our Christmas party meeting last week, I didn't knit at all, but worked on my rug hooking instead.
The good news is that I really made some progress on my Sheep in Sunflowers rug.
The bad news is I didn't work at all on my chicken rug.
I forgot it at home. However somebody I know found it and thought it would be an ideal resting spot.
This little dog has an entire house in which to find a comfortable spot to sit and yet she picks the unfinished wool rug. I can't decide if she's smart or just really, really annoying.
Also at the Christmas party, I discovered the identity of my Secret Santa. I have to say, I had the best Secret Santa in the history of Secret Santas.
In addition to a case of Pepsi (I hear angels singing at the mere mention of the brand), my SS gave me this book:
Knit Local, Celebrating America's Homegrown Yarns has everything I love in a knitting book.
Beautiful pictures and a subject matter near and dear to my heart.
The book details small, local yarn producers across the country. Of course, I like the Midwest selection of yarns the best.
But Green Mountain Spinnery in Vermont isn't far behind.
Just look at these yarns! USA-grown fiber. Milled in this country. Dyed by local artisans.
There are not many opportunities to buy a 100% American-made and grown product these days, so if you get the chance to do so, I highly recommend it! These fiber farmers and mill owners are keeping jobs in your neighborhood, in your community.
Plus, they are putting out a great, unique product.
If you're a knitter, get your hooves on a copy of this book and knit up a project or two from its pages. Stop by a local fiber farm to pick out a yarn to match the patterns.
I've certainly done my part to support small, local fiber farms! So please, go out there and buy that local yarn. If not, then I will feel the need to do it and at the rate I knit, I will soon be suffocating in beautiful yarn.
I guess it's not a bad way to go.
I'm a member of the Western Reserve Rughookers, a great guild with really talented rug hookers.
We meet once a month to talk rugs and learn "rug-y" stuff. Today was our annual Christmas meeting, which involves rugs and food. That is a perfectly lovely combination, if you ask me.
There were lots of pretty, completed Christmas and Winter themed rugs to see,
including rugs that weren't rugs at all, but rugs masquerading as Christmas stockings.
And there was lots of food.
And even more food, this time in the chocolate family.
I love the chocolate family. They are one of my all-time favorite families.
There were also rugs in various stages of completion.
Some were holiday rugs, but others were not.
As for me and my chicken rug, well let's just say we're getting a little closer to completion, with the emphasis on the word little.
It's awfully darn hard to hook a lot when members of your favorite family are present.
There are those that hook rugs in the blink of an eye. They can produce a rug a month. Imagine that. A rug a month.
I, personally, am on the one rug every two years plan. Quick, I ain't.
I started this chicken rug at rug camp back in April.
Those rug-a-month hookers would scoff at my progress. But I have to tell you, this might be one of the quickest rugs I've ever hooked.
Now there are some issues.
The corner "flowers' were all hooked in red, but they didn't stand out enough. So out they came and this deep gold went in in their place. I like it much better and it gives the corners a bit of a "pop."
However, this gold line was too bright, so it, too, has to come out. Too bright. Too dark. I am a bit color challenged.
I used the same deep gold for the line as for the corner flowers. A much better choice. Too bad I had to hook it to see it!
But for now, it's time for more dark green border hooking.
My goal is to have this on my floor, finished, by Christmas. Yes, Christmas of this year.
Do not put any money on me.
See the dazed look and messed up cranial area of this scarecrow -- this is exactly how I looked and felt after an afternoon trip to the Wool Studio in West Reading, Pa.!
The Wool Studio was very near the ATHA Rug Hooking Biennial I attended this past week.
If you are at all addicted to wool, please, I beg you, do not go near West Reading, Pa.! You will be faced with this:
Beautiful plaids all rolled up and ready to go home with you. And look, they even put all the matching colors together. It was like the Garanimals of wool. No color thinking necessary, which can be a real plus!
Rebecca had other vendors at her studio for the week and they all did the roll 'em up and bundle 'em together thing. The hardest part of starting a new rug is color planning and this certainly takes the anxiety out of that.
I was excited to meet Joanne Gerwig from Woodcrest Rug Designs at the Wool Studio.
JoAnne is the designer of the Sheep in Sunflowers rug I have been working on for about seven hundred years.
Any self-respecting rug hooker would be embarassed about the length of time it is taking her to finish this rug, which is going on two years now. It's a great pattern and looks really nice done.
I'll get there, just give me another year or two and I'll get there alright.
JoAnne is also the designer of another rug I'm working on -- the Rooster and Hens rug.
This one, I'm a little closer to completing. I predict I will be done with it by the end of the year. But I'm not putting any money on that bet!
Other rugs designed and hooked by JoAnne included this animal parade beauty.
And this crow with pumpkins piece.
I refrained from purchasing this pattern. I think with two uncompleted rugs and four million knitting projects on the needles, one should really show some restraint.
So I held out. At least until the knitting store.
Yesterday was class day for me at the rug hooking convention in Lancaster. My brain hurts from over learning!
I took a dyeing class from a wonderful teacher, Nancy Zeppelin Parcels.
I will now think of her as the diva of dyeing.
Our first project was "marrying" wool.
We took pieces of unrelated wool -- colors you would not naturally put together and lets face facts, colors that had no business being together. Ugly colors.
We threw them all in a pot, tossed in some onion skins and covered it all with water.
After "cooking" it for an hour on top of the stove, the colors bled out from the individual pieces and adhered to the other pieces, thus "marrying" them together.
Who knew you could get such nice colors just from other pieces of wool, and the results were so much prettier than the plain, boring colors with which we started.
Much richer colors. These are colors I can use!
Then we moved on to spot dyeing natural color wool.
We used brown, green and yellow.
And then mashed it all together. Literally. We used a potato masher.
Then we cooked this for about an hour or so in the oven. And look at the beautiful results!
This would be great used as leaves or trees. All I need now is a new pattern to hook . . . this little "hobby" of mine can be addicting!
And last, but most certainly not least, we jelly rolled some bright colored wool together, twisted it and then tied it up and cooked it all together.
The results were fabulous.
I am oh so addicted to dyeing. The way the colors combine, the new colors created -- the possibilities are endless. Why oh why oh why oh, did I ever leave Ohio. I really didn't need a new fiber love in my life!
Hookers are a social bunch. We like to get together, learn new things and buy things for our "hobby". (I'm talking about rug hookers here, what were YOU thinking??)
Every other year, ATHA (the Association of Traditional Hooking Artists) sponsors a huge conference, complete with great workshops and lots of vendors. This year's conference is in Lancaster, Pennsylvania -- which is a hop, skip and a jump from the farm. O.K., it's a 6-and-a-half-hour hop, skip and jump, but no plane rides were involved so I consider it close.
The rug show opened today and I was drawn to all the rugs depicting animals -- and mostly farm animals at that.
Love this sheep. The wool on his head and above his neck is done by the proddy technique, giving him a shaggy look. Thought I could stick this rug in my bag, but I guess theft is frowned upon. But he would be perfect for the farm. I guess I'd better get busy hooking!
This rug could live in the barn, home of Dewey the Wonderdog.
The talented artist who hooked it sure captured the personality of a Great Pyrenees. Happy, gently, loving, yet very protective of "their" animals.
We don't raise turkeys on the farm, but Thanksgiving is right around the corner and this festive rug would look great as a runner on the dessert table. Let's see, so far I have to hook a sheep rug, a dog rug and a turkey rug . . . all by Thanksgiving. I'd better get busy!
These two rugs are variations of each other and both will be auctioned off tomorrow night at the banquet.
I love them both and I'm sure they will fetch quite a bit of money for ATHA. They are true works of art.
Tomorrow, I'm taking a class called "Dyed and Gone to Heaven." My goal is going to be to keep most of the dye on the wool and off of me!
Saturday was a perfect day. I was lucky enough to combine two of my favorite things: Gardening and Rug Hooking. How often can you say that!
I arrived, and instantly there was a dilemma.
Plant sale or rug show. Plant sale or rug show.
Which way do I go? It was a toss up, but I opted for rug show.
This was one of my favorites.
And I'm a sucker for anything with a sheep.
Or a bee.
Looks like I wasn't the only one who couldn't make up her mind on what to do first.
This group of my hooking buds chose the breakfast pastry and coffee option as their first activity of the day. Not a bad choice if you ask me!
After viewing the show, it was time to get down to the serious business of touring the estate.
Charming little house. Perhaps a bit cramped, but I could make due for the sake of the gardens.
I was greated by this young man.
We don't have any of these creatures at the farm, that's for sure.
That is one fancy bird.
The size of the herbs and vegetables amazed me. Check out this Loveage. It is huge!
I can't show my Loveage this picture. It would be green with envy.
I loved the herbal tea garden.
And the stone bench surrounded by fragrant, blooming lavender. I could sit here for hours.
And then, when I got tired of that, I could saunter over to the hosta garden and sit here.
If all that sitting didn't wear me out too much, I could continue strolling the gardens, looking at the beautiful, blooming flowers.
And the wonderful water features.
But all good garden loitering must end at some point. After all, there was shopping to accomplish. I thought long and hard about this pattern from Crows on the Ledge.
But I held out. I'm trying to find a bee skep pattern, and with all the will power I could muster, I decided not to purchase any other patterns I like until I find the perfect bee skep.
It was a wonderful day at Kingwood. I can't say I got much hooking done, but I sure enjoyed the show, the gardens and the people.
Hey, guess what? It's raining again. Isn't that nice.
Can't work in the garden. Can't mow the pastures. Can't plant a darn thing.
So what can you do on a farm on a rainy day?
You can skirt fleeces.
What the heck is skirting a fleece? It has nothing to do with hoarding, even though my back porch looks an awful lot like that terrible tv show "Hoarders". I can't sit though a whole episode of that show. It makes me want to get up and clean something. Anything! And yet, the house looks strangely enough like it is in need of a tv-style intervention.
No, skirting a fleece means cleaning debris out of the shorn alpaca and goat fleeces, getting them ready to be washed and then carded into roving and yarn. Farmer Gal and I were about halfway done with the farm's fleeces when this beautiful picture was taken.
Soon, most of this fiber will be sent to the mill to make wonderful, fabulous yarn. The rest will be processed here for handspun yarn.
I've also been working on my Sheep in Sunflowers rug. I vaguely remember what real sunflowers look like. Lets hope we see some this summer!
I'm frequently asked how I got started rug hooking. I blame this rug, which proudly hangs above my fireplace at home.
This rug was hooked in one of the eastern provinces of Canada in the 1940s or 50s. It hung at a family cottage in Brighton, Ontario forever. When the cottage was sold, the rug got to come home with me and has been hanging above my fireplace ever since and inspiring me to learn rug hooking.
I want to live in this scene. In this pretty pretend village. I bet it never rains for months on end in this ideal village. I bet today, in this pretend village, it is sunny and 70 degrees and they are planting tomatoes and basil and drinking ice cold lemonade. I bet all their fleeces are skirted and off at the mill. I bet these villagers don't look like they belong on a reality tv show.
But there is hope. The sun is attempting to fight its way through the clouds. I will remember this spring when the dry days of summer arrive. And I will kick myself for ever complaining about the rain.
Yesterday was a bittersweet day. It was the end of rug camp. All of us little campers had to pack our bags and head home, making plans to meet up again next year.
But it was still a day to hook. And hook we did.
I continued to work on my chicken rug.
My table mates worked on their rugs, too.
This little goat in Pam's Goat Hill rug is just jumping for joy. I love him.
And look at the beautiful colors in this rug. Awful darn purty.
The bad thing about rug camp is that you see all the rugs you want to hook next. For example, do I make this:
Or do I hook this:
Or how about this:
This is also a leading candidate for next rug:
Too many choices. I think the answer is to just attend more rug camps. That way I can work on many, many rugs.
Nobody has told my wallet this little bit of information yet. It best to keep that info a secret until the last minute.
Wednesday was show day at rug camp. Campers could bring in a previously completed rug and put it on display in the show -- and what a show it was.
The animal/outdoorsy/farm-themed rugs always seem to be my favorite. Can't imagine why. I loved this buffalo rug and could easily picture it in a log cabin -- a log cabin I would love to own but for now only dream about.
Same goes for this fox rug.
This wondeful little sheep rug could have come home with me right then and there and gone in the farmhouse. I think it would have been perfectly at home there.
I'm pretty sure I could find a home for this beautiful floral rug as well.
And this one too. Totally different style. Totally welcome to come home with me.
I'd take this one too, just so it didn't feel lonely. Generous of me, don't ya think?
But I don't want to leave you with the impression that all rugs are meant to put on the floor or hung on the wall. No, some rugs should hang out with you at all times. Some rugs are actually tote bags.
I would feel very stylish sashaying around town with this purse.
Maybe next year. But for this year, on my final day of camp today, I shall strive to finish another chicken in my chicken rug. Tomorrow I go back to my regular life and leave camp behind. I can tell you I miss camp already! Hurry up 2012's camp. Hurry up!
Today is day three of rug camp and I must say I am one happy camper.
I learned so much yesterday. One technique in particular, quilling, I've been dying to add to a rug but had no idea how to go about it.
Kris Miller showed us how to roll up roll strips and attach them to the rug.
These quilled pieces ended up as the buttons on a bunny rabbit.
Love, love, LOVE them! I can't wait to add them to a rug.
Then we learned how to proddy. (Kind of sounds like a dance step. But I assure you, my carcass was not dancing, just hooking!)
Proddy adds some dimension to a rug that will be hang on a wall. In this example, it is adding leaves to a coneflower.
In addition to learning new things and hooking our little hearts out, there was also wool. Wool to the right of me. Wool to the left of me. Everywhere I looked there was beautiful, wonderful wool waiting to be cut into strips and put into a rug.
I was overcome with wool fever.
And, of course, there were rugs everywhere as well. My tablemate hooked this rug last year. There seems to be a farm animal theme among us hookers, that's for sure!
I'd love to make this rug.
It screams of springtime and warm weather. I wasn't the only one who heard it call. Anndee from New Jersey must like spring, too, because she's hooking away at it.
I'm off to camp now to see what new adventures today will bring!
I'm at camp this week, just like a good little girl scout. (So far, this camp doesn't have s'mores, but it also doesn't have bugs, so I think we come out even.)
I'm at the Ohio Rug Camp for rug hookers. It's held at the beautiful Punderson State Park Lodge, about an hour from my home. I'll be commuting back and forth so I don't know if that makes me an official "camper," but I'm calling myself one. Reminds me of my youth.
I'm taking a class from Kris Miller of Spruce Ridge Studios. She hooks wonderful, primitive rugs and she's a goat person . Any angora goat lover is a good person in my book!
I'm working on a chicken rug from Woodcrest Rug Designs.
Kris showed us a great technique for hooking chicken or bird eyes that I'm anxious to try again today. (If you're not a rug hooker, the previous sentence makes no sense at all. If you are a hooker, you know just how difficult it is to hook a realistic eye. It's a darn right challenge and something I was thrilled to learn. Yes, it's the little things in life that make me happy and a perfect chicken eye is one of them!)
My fellow campers were hard at work on their own rugs.
Each with their own set of challenges. How do you get a perfect point on a heart? How do you get goat horns to look just right? How do you make bird eggs look realistic?
Oh you non-hookers may scoff at us, but these are very serious questions in my little world and I wanted to know the answer to each and every one of them.
I'm a very happy camper to be able to go back to camp today and practice what I learned yesterday. It's a yucky, rainy, windy day and I couldn't accomplish anything in the garden today, so my day at camp will be guilt-free.
Who knows where my adventures will take me today. Perhaps I'll gain insider knowledge on how to hook this cat's face "just so," giving him that look of surpise and curiosity.
Let the learning begin!
There are two things that I know for sure: the last Thursday of every month we have rug hooking at the farm and if it's Winter in Ohio, it will snow. Sure enough, both were true yesterday.
Normally, we have a nice, small group for Thursday night rug hooking. Yesterday, it was smaller than usual. O.K., only one person came -- Lauren from Rugs and Pugs. Lauren is like our postal service: Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays this hooker from the swift completion of her appointed rug.
The threat, reported repeatedly by our local weatherpeople, of a huge storm may have kept other hookers away, but not Lauren. She was on a mission. She had a rug to complete.
And not just any rug. This is the rug that has been a thorn in her side for a long time -- like over a year. But she finally finished hooking it last night. I think that's worth coming out for no matter what the weather.
It must have been the night for finishing things because, believe it or not, I, too, finished a rug last night -- my log cabin and sheep rug.
It's been "done" for awhile, but I wasn't happy with a few things. I had to re-sheep the sheep, adding more roving and cria tips to create their white, fluffy coats. I'm still not sure about the sheep on the far right. I think his head looks a bit Mickey Mouse-ish and may need a tweak or two. But I'm calling it done.
My New Year's Resolution was to finish one project each month. In January, I finished a knit cowl and for February I have finished two things -- a baby blanket and now this rug.
Who knows where this may lead. This is what greeted me when I woke up this morning.
The storm they predicted actually arrived. I think I can get a jump start on finishing a project for March because it doesn't look like I'm going anywhere.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have us a winner!
Congratulations to Julie from Newfoundland, Canada. You are the proud owner of two skeins of Green Mountain Spinnery Mohair/Fine Wool yarn.
I've been to many parts of Canada, but I have never been to Newfoundland.
I'm dying to go. After all, they are famous for dogs that look like this. Who wouldn't want to visit a part of the world that gave us Newfoundlands. (I once watched these dogs put on a search and rescue exercise. They were amazing and they hold a place in my heart purdy-darn near the Border Collie.)
I doubt that Julie owns a Newfie, but we won't hold that against her. She is a rug hooker and will use the yarn for hooking in the Newfoundland style, which is hooking with yarn and not wool strips.
So congrats again to Julie. We all look forward to seeing what this yarn becomes.
As I have already freely admitted, I have a fiber problem. I think I've also mentioned that I am not alone in this addiction. There are many, many others out there that share my same obsession.
Sometimes they are fellow knitters. Sometimes they are fellow spinners. And sometimes they are fellow rug hookers.
The other night, I was hanging out with the rug hookers.
They were working on Santa rugs.
And snowman rugs.
And Father Christmas pillows.
But then they got a little confused.
Hookers turned into counted cross stitchers.
And cabled throw makers.
And even thrumed mitted makers.
You see, hookers are a fickle lot.
They are not loyal to one fiber. You show a hooker a beautiful yarn or a new needlework chart and they are off and running.
This group is leading me down a bad path. I was perfectly normal until I started hangin' with the hookers. Really.
I may have mentioned a time or two that I am a slower-than-molasses-in-January rug hooker.
I love to hook, but I don't have all that much sit down time. Needless to say, my production suffers. I am the one hooking the same rug for years and years, not months. More like the tortoise than the hare.
My current rug work-in-progress is a sheep in sunflowers.
Right now, I'm working on the sheep itself, trying to get the wool strips swirly enough to look like real, on-the-sheep wool. Ironic, isn't it, that it's hard to make wool look like wool.
Next, I'll move on to the sunflowers. There is a fabulous rug hooking teacher/wool dyer locally named Barb Miller. She dyed the wool for me and I am in really deep like/lust/love with it.
Stunning colors for flowers. And these colors have poetic, lyrical names: Evergreen Bough, Rubbed Sage, Mustard, Mud Pie and Spicy Mustard. I mean, who couldn't hook a pretty rug with names like these!
Today's goal: finish the sheep's body. Mud Pie and Rubbed Sage are calling!
Today is the day. Today is the day I start my new rug.
Have I finished my log cabin rug with the pretty sheep grazing in the pasture?
Why no, the binding still needs to be done and the sheep needled felted in. But that is not stopping me from starting a new one. Starting is always so much more fun than finishing.
Finishing involves sewing binding to the edges and I hate to sew anything. I hate sewing more than I hate peanut butter, and that is quite a lot.
But starting; that's easy. You just set up your frame, lay out the pattern, cut the wool and you're off. No involving sharp needles or yucky old thread when you start.
I saw this rug when we went to the rug hooking show at Sauder Village last month.
It called me. That's right, it yelled my name smack dab in the middle of the show. Loudly and insistently. I'll just say it: this rug was down right pushy. I didn't want to be rude, so I quietly answered its call by purchasing the pattern and stuffing it in my bag so others couldn't hear it. You know, just to keep it quiet and all. I thought it was the polite thing to do.
Well, I guess once a rude rug, always a rude rug because today it called me again. What's a gal to do? I set up the pattern on the frame,
and started cutting a variety of white wool strips for the sheep's body.
And slowly, the hooking begins.
The rug and I have had a chat. I've told it that since it was so loud and demanding before I purchased it, I expect the same kind of noise from it now that it's on the frame. I NEED it to tell me to come hook each and every day.
We'll see how well it listens.