Okay, so you've probably concluded I'm on the anal side of the fence. I think that's were the grass is a bit greener and taller, I stand behind my convictions even if deluded. It's not a bad place to be if you have the time to play that game. Quality is high on my list of priorities and I'll bet when you receive your patterns in the mail you appreciate the anal retentiveness of it. How people can draw directly on their backings is to be admired but I'd be doing it with butt clenched, shaking hands, horror filled eyes and a large side order of cussing. My chickens need to look like barn yard fowl, not some misshaped, anyone's guess, unidentifiable critter.
When Susan Leslie was alive we discussed this ability to draw directly on a backing at great lengths. She was also quite particular about being neat with her designs but we both thought a little loosening up wouldn't hurt, after all that stick can be painful when you sit. So we came up with this brainstorm in hopes to lighten us up a bit and we always planned to work it into a fun evening with friends, after all there's nothing like witnesses, I mean supportive friends to help cheer you on!.
I came up with the name "In the bag and out of the box", a fitting description to the lengths I would have to go to let my hair down and draw directly on the backing. Yup, I'd have to be tipsy to appreciate the free flowing ability to create a design on the fly, throw away the red dot and put the lines down, make corrections so that the backing would be less then perfect or hen scratch!!! I cringe just thinking about it in my anal, precise little world. Of course this would be fine for personal use but to sell patterns in the shop drawn with an unsteady hand and corrections, that wouldn't fly.
I think this is a throw back from the days when I drew people and animal portraits. Trying to reach the highest degree of realism is work. For patterns I can be less concerned with detail but I don't have the skill set to be loosey goosey. My patterns have lots of details, that's my style and the way I roll. I won't be changing any time soon. It's working so don't fix what ain't broke.
So wine will be involved and bags of random wool, or maybe bags of wine? None of this tedious, long winded colour planning, fussing over placements and contrast. Nope, just free flowing and spontaneous creativity with a slurring hand.
Of course there is potential for cheating. To nip advanced preparation in the bud, there will be ideas put in a hat by each participant and drawn out randomly. No one will be allowed their own submission. Then a time limit on the actual drawing and right on the backing with a marker, a permanent drawing device that will show your warts. Next all the wool will be chucked on the table and we will have to work within those parameters and make your project come to life with the limitations of working on the fly and limitations. I would really like to try something a little different, get the T Shirt but I will most assuredly go back to wearing my regular clothes, they fit well and I'm comfortable in them.
I've watched friends draw directly on the backing and little inconsistencies became part of the primitive charm. I marveled at the easy flow of the marker, and wondered if they were of this world. Surely aliens were controlling the strings as we humans are uptight and have been trained to follow the road in search of perfection, a destination point that has never been found. Most free flowing artistic thoughts have been long since ripped from our brains, some say as early as 13, replaced with worries of fitting in or avoiding failure and criticism.
My drawings have to be perfect because those who come after me have to be able to make replacement red dots to transfer them to the backings. I might not always be around or maybe employees take over that task so I can move on to designing 24/7. When I'm satisfied with the design it is ready, whiteout and all to transfer to the backing.
Below are some pen and ink drawings I did in the early 90's and an oil painting after a brief flirtation with oils.
Carole Shaddock, of Bedford Dartmouth Heritage hookers was the first one to show me this fun hooked rug called "Sock It To Ya!" I couldn't be more pleased! The background wool is like a sock in itself with a beige/grey herringbone, red stripe and black border. A clever backdrop!
Carole added a personal touch by hooking the Montreal Canadiens logo on the red sock. Someone obviously likes hockey...could it be sport happy hubby? The Sock monkey is smiling, very comfortable to be hanging out with all his cousins.
I designed this rug because I'm very familiar with socks on the floor. I never learned to pick up after myself so it sort of fits my theory that I was supposed to be born rich complete with a personal picker upper following me around.
Most kids rooms have socks everywhere so why not hook a rug the fits the chaos instead of fighting it? I call this art imitating life. The missing sock mates met with a tragic dryer incident.
Great job Carole!
Sock It To Ya! can be viewed on my New Designs page: http://www.encompassingdesigns.com/new-designs.html
I don’t know if I should kick my butt or slap myself on the back. I only get two days off a month and completely wasted Sunday on my backside. All I did was sleep. Now I may have needed it, but that’s a day I’ll never get back! Surely I could have salvaged a bit of the day for something productive! I couldn’t seem to get out of my own way and drifted in and out of consciousness, only rousing for bathroom breaks and food for me and the pups. I felt so weary I just let it overtake me and I warmed the couch like a large lump of mashed potatoes.
Of course my laziness came with a price. At some point my glasses fell off and one of the pups, probably Henri, saw them as a chew toy and now one ear piece is short and stubby, just enough of a stump to lay on my ear. The plastic was pretty ragged so I had to file down the chew marks to be able to wear them without injury. Luckily he didn’t touch the lenses and no one would even know if I didn’t blab it all over here.
I’ve had eye glasses fatalities before, when my body crushed a pair or two in the middle of a nap, usually within the first week of purchasing them. Someone should make rubber frames that collapse and mold to your head as you thrash around in your sleep. Of course taking them off works but Sunday I was pretty dopey and the TV was on so as I drifted in and out, I watched whatever was on before fading to black again. It's very interesting that I struggle with sleep in bed, waiting, always waiting, but on the sofa it's as if the upholstery is soaked in anesthetic....absorbing into my pores, knocking me out as if I'm in the ring with Ali leaving no chance or time to think about removing my specs. Maybe I should move the sofa upstairs.....and the bed down in front of the TV!
I meant to go to work on Sunday to clean up my office so I could start Monday fresh and organized. The new classroom is all ready to roll but all the stuff I cleared from there is now piled in my office with a goat path to my computer. There's at least three hours of hard labour in there, shifting and filing and doing a final purge of all the stuff I've been hanging on too because of delayed decisions....I've got to learn to deal with things in the here and now, not put it aside for another time. Once the chaos in the office is under control the upstairs will be just as I always envisioned it. I'll have seating for 20 people in a brightly lit room, perfectly conducive to hook-ins and workshops. Plus the new pattern room downstairs has a table with seating for up to six or more, and two upholstered chairs for any overflow.
I want to start a hook-in during the day, which day of the week is still undecided, although I am leaning towards Wednesday. We hook the 1st and 3rd Wednesday evening of every month so why not declare hump day all about hooking. I hope it will slowly build so rug hookers feel comfortable and treat my studio as a home away from home, a place to chat, meet old friends, make new acquaintances and of course hook with abandon. It will be a free venue with coffee and tea and maybe a treat. I might even have a door prize now and then to make it interesting. I’m actually looking forward to sitting and doing a bit of hooking myself…ownership should have its perks right? I don’t get to play much so stealing an hour or two can’t hurt and maybe I'll finish up a few of the projects I have on the go.
I had the best compliment the week before last. A customer told me that the gals in their Halifax group were discussing my shop and they all described it was “lively”. They said things are always changing and new items are always out. They say the shop is very colourful and inviting. I also play great music and although I know it may not please everyone it certainly pleases some because I hear the odd comment of how great my selections are. I love music to work by, it pumps me up and pushes me forward. Without music I’d fall into a funk and drag my feet and derrière around the shop like a zombie. I lot of people who come by are my age so the oldies but goodies put a bit of pep in their step and I sometimes hear them singing along or bobbing ever so slightly. I love classic rock and pop, the upbeat stuff that acts like sugar in the veins without the health risk. I had Shane make a 'My Favourites' list and any song that ever moved me is on it. Great beats and soothing melodies, blasts from my past, monumental songs for the events in my life.
So I was beaming from ear to ear at the appreciation of my "lively" shop! I work hard at mixing things up and displaying our wares with a bit of finesse and I appreciate that it's noticed. The comment made my week!
So I started cleaning up the office tonight, finding places to put things and a few pictures I hadn't seen for awhile resurfaced. This delightful photo below was sent to me to show what the customer did with two of my patterns, one with cats and the other with dogs. They're bell pulls, long slender pieces perfect for that little nook or corner. The cats are funky as cats can be and the dogs were more realistic but hooking them in the same bright colours is far more exciting. Then they merged the two with their own design of fish. How bloody clever and great carpentry! Wish I’d thought of that! Click the link to view the patterns on my site and scroll down: http://www.encompassingdesigns.com/signature-designs.html
A couple of years back Jerald Furgurson of Washington sent this picture to show me what my bell pulls looked like in a clever privacy screen. The dog and cat designs are mine and he came up with the fish to pull the two together.
You might not remember me but I was in your shop the fall before last and bought two of your designs, Say Cheese Bell Pull and How Much Is That Doggie....Bell Pull. I added another panel of my own design, the fish, and made them into a folding room screen. Everyone loves your dogs and cats!
I mentioned a few blogs back about being
called out to my son’s apartment for a potential fire.
Shane and his girlfriend had been out walking the dog and returned to find their apartment hazy with smoke and smelling of burned wire.
Being both his mom and his landlord I was called immediately and we did all the normal checklist things. Felt the walls and ceiling for heat, sniffed to locate a point of ignition. Nothing panned out. The smell continued to thicken the air and we needed answers to sleep peacefully, so we called the fire department. They arrived with lights flashing and sirens blaring at 11:30 pm so the neighbourhood probably wasn't impressed but most assuredly curious.
Shane and his girlfriend mentioned hearing a periodic buzzing sound in the one wall so they concentrated their investigation in that area. The fire department have this thermal heat reading thingy to detect hot spots between the studs. They found nothing but the smell persisted. They left after an hour of searching every square inch of that area and the electrical panel that resides on that particular wall, telling us to phone if the smell worsens or new signs of smoke.
After they left I started thinking that maybe we should test all the plugs so Shane got out the blow dryer and tried it in all the bedroom outlets. Everything seemed to work fine until we got to the lamp by the bed. He tried the switch and the light didn’t come on and when he lifted the lamp I could see the compact fluorescent bulb looked burned at the base. Culprit found! Sure enough it stunk to high heaven but because it was under a stained glass shade it pooled there and leaked the odor out through the shade vent holes slowly. We never even thought to look at bulbs, just concentrated our search in the wall with the panel that was close to the door. After the initial blast of smoke from the bulb giving up the ghost, everything in the room had been permeated with the stench so it seemed to come from everywhere and fooled us.
So we carefully disposed of the bulb and cleaned up the area. That made for an easier sleep, so much better than thinking there was a wire shorting in the wall.
So today, Shane said the buzzing sound occurred again last night and was even louder so I called an electrician to check it out. They couldn't find anything and of course the sound didn’t happen while they were there....like a ping in the engine that vanishes when the car reaches the garage. So the only recourse was to take a gyprock saw to the walls, open them up and have a good look inside. Well. There’s a gash about five feet long and a foot and a half high traveling across the wall. Every plug and switch was checked and the panel was closely examined. Nothing seemed to be out of place short of a hive of bees in the wall. They did notice one circuit was overloaded and they added a few new breakers to distribute the load evenly...since then no buzzing has been heard. Fingers crossed!
Thank goodness both Shane and I are skilled in the gyprock department. I’m a mudder from way back. Hubby and I have renovated two houses so I’m no stranger to spackle. I claim to have several inches of mud dust in my lungs, probably why I weigh so much! I can do a seam smoother than a baby’s bottom. That reminds me of a story of renovating and painting the dining room at our first house and the disaster of breaking the wedding gift my mother bought me. I should have packed it away but she had died a few months before and it was a comfort to have around. Big mistake and a story for another time.
So what we’ve learned is that the compact fluorescent bulbs end their lives in a bit of a meltdown. I looked it up and they are designed to go out with a burn and a bad smell. Of all the CFB’s in my house I’ve never known this to happen. They last a long time so I guess they’re all still in their prime. In the future if I smell something burning and detect an acrid smoky stench I’ll check the lamps and open the windows immediately. The smell of burning plastic gave me a headache and my glands were puffed for days from the toxins. I’m sharing this story in case you don’t know this. If you smell smoke or something burning, check your bulbs before calling in the fire brigade.
There are two blogs today so scroll down after this one!
Here is the latest in the "Women of Abundance" designs by Sue Cunningham. This cutey is called "Anchors Aweigh!" To see the details click on the link to Sue's webpage: http://www.encompassingdesigns.com/sue-cunningham.html
My friend Nancy's soon to be married daughter with her Celtic Knot wedding rug. The wedding is next weekend in New Orleans and the bride and groom will be standing on this rug! Thanks for drawing that pattern up while we were shopping in Mahone Bay that day!! A wonderful keepsake for the kids! This was Nancy's very first hooked rug. Imagine!
Thank-you Catherine for sending this picture! I remember you both!
Two gals sauntered in to check out the shop. Nancy spied the large Celtic rug lying on the table and said she would love to hook something like this for her daughter, and soon to be Celtic heritage husband. She'd never hooked before but the design inspired her enough to start. She only needed two of the knots and I said I could adapt the pattern and make it smaller, but large enough for two people to stand on; just give me about 25 minutes I said!
I'm a sucker for a romantic story and was excited to help Nancy contribute the wow factor of this wonderful, thoughtful gift. I whipped it up on the fly and then helped colour plan the rug. Coincidentally I had a large plaid skirt in my private stash that was the soon to be son-in-law's family tartan...sorry I can't remember the name but it had lots of blue, green and red with a bit of gold.
The focal point, the knot, was done in a three value Heart Red. The edges of the knot were first outlined in the darkest value, the red herringbone, and then filled in with the second value of the medium red solid. The inner part of the knot was also outlined and then filled in with the lighter of the three value red solid, making the contrast such that the knot just pops. The background of each knot was done in a deep royal blue as well as a border around the outer gold line. You can never go wrong with primary colours. Then the rest was done in the plaid.
I can just visualize the young couple standing on this rug declaring their love and making a lifetime commitment to each other. They will be figuratively tying the knot while literally standing on them. How poetic.
These Celtic designs are an extension of the original Celtic Snowflake chair pad. As you can see from the there examples it is beautiful in any colour palette. These patterns can viewed on the site by clicking the link on my Signature Designs and scrolling down to the Celtic section:
This note just came in from Nancy, mother of the bride!
Dear Christine: I see my dear friend Catherine, beat me to the punch. The wedding was in New Orleans (Jackson Square) And as you can see I did finish the mat for my daughter and her Husband to stand on. I gave it to them at a shower which was held the week before. They were so delighted.!! I can’t thank you enough for taking the vision I had in my head, and putting it on the canvas. The wedding was such a BLAST. We had a reception when we got home, and the kids chose to display the mat under the guest book. They say there is no way it is going on the floor, (with there 3 dogs) So I guess it will be a wall hanging. They are now Jessica & Alex MacKenzie. I think I might have the hooking bug, So I’m sure I will be making another trip to Mahone Bay . THANKS AGAIN Nancy Weir
Grin N' Bear It sent in by Janet Delo of Halifax
Pattern is 15" x 35"
Mini Sultanana hooked by Rhoda MacDonald of Ontario
Pattern is 32" x 25"
Poppy Floral hooked by Lorrie Smith
Pattern 32" dia.
By Guest Blogger Carol Allen
I took rug hooking lessons in Halifax and discovered Christine and Encompassing Designs two years ago. With her many designs it was so easy to get ‘hooked on hooking’.....Christine is always available for questions and hints.....I have done two Christmas socks for my grand-kids, a flower piece for my friend and chose this fish design for my own dining room table...I love the ocean and all that it offers so this pattern was a great choice. I sit and watch TV, avoid snacking and two weeks later its done...already plans for another before I walk out her door......Carol
Sorry, the pictures came in so small that they're blurry when enlarged. But the overall appeal shines through and the colour choices are very fluid. The pattern certainly makes for a lovely table runner with the repeat pattern showing well from either side. This design is actually a Tessellation which means a repeat motif and we are holding a workshop on this on November 2nd. Click on the Workshops link on the website for details.
I'm adding a couple of versions of the pattern below to show more detail. This is a Susan Leslie design and can be viewed by clicking the link and I am making it the new pattern of the week:
Every now and then when I'm digging around in the closet I rediscover this piece of handiwork and wonder all over again whose hands did the work. Was it my grandmother, great grandmother or another member from the family tree on my father's side? It's one of those mysteries that will never be solved as all parties are now gone, only this fine piece of handiwork exists to prove that someone, once alive, touched it and worked the stitches with loving hands.
I found this 17" x 17" square in the home where my grandmother grew up. I will assume it was to make up a 16" x 16" pillow when finished. Someone selected black velvet for the background and the needle point and sculpting is done in a very fine yarn. As you can see from the back photo some of the strips have been pulled out but when viewing it from the top side you would never know. I'm not much for this kind of craft so I will never sew a backing on to complete the pillow but I can't bring myself to throw it out. I've offered it to several people but it wasn't their cup of tea either so it remains folded in the closet as a reminder that I've followed in someone's creative footsteps.
The pattern was a purchased piece from a company called H.S. Milliken and was stamped pattern #51. I did a bit of searching on the internet and only found another similar pattern being sold on Etsy. The colour plan was stamped on the back so I assume it was a kit. Maybe I should adapt the pattern into a rug hooking pillow and do it up in my medium. The pillow can serve as a means to keep me grounded, after all, we are all just small fish taking a turn in the big pond of life. Someday I'll be a faded memory but maybe some of my handiwork will survive....a box will be discovered in an attic, opened, and a great grandchild will find one of my rugs, maybe unfinished and they will wonder who might have worked on it......what the story is......
I seem to attract odd stories. Maybe the universe delivers these anecdotes to aid my blogging. I don’t know if it’s a curse or a courtesy, but it certainly makes life interesting.
Last week, a woman dropped by the shop when I was away for an appointment. Shane said he felt a strange vibe immediately so he kept an eye peeled as she combed the shop.
At one point, she asked if he was the owner and he said his mother was. So she walked around a bit more and then asked “Is there any wool in the shop?” and Shane said, “Lots of it.” The woman immediately replied that she was allergic to wool and had better leave immediately and headed for the door.
On the way out, she became sidetracked by the Keurig machine and scurried behind my cashier desk, asking for a cup of coffee. I guess the allergy took a back seat to coffee addiction. Shane told her to help herself but kept an eye on her. She starts hitting buttons like she's playing the slots and continues to ask questions.
“I guess if your mother owns the store, then you don’t earn very much?" She waited for him to reply and when nothing came she rearranged the question.
"So maybe she pays you well?” She looks at him waiting for a reply which of course she doesn't receive. The only question more personal would be his underwear size, but she's obviously only interested in his bank account. Now the weird turns to weary and Shane just wants her to leave. He told me later that she had very disturbing eyes, bulging as if they'd popped from their sockets, like Wile Coyote after the stick of dynamite goes off. He figured she was either on something or was well versed in taking trips without leaving the house.....there was a lot of sniffing as well, not a good sign.
She asked what his name was and he said Shane, but she obviously wanted first and last and asked for the latter which he told her. Why he gave up his real name I don’t know, I might have been inclined to make something up. I guess Momma is going to have to have a little chat about her boy talking to strangers.......
She couldn’t work the Keurig and by now had pushed so many buttons that she wrecked the programming so Shane had to assist her with the coffee. Seeing how congenial he was, she starts talking about a ring that she would like to sell. Apparently she needed money to pay a hefty lawyer's bill. She asked if he would be interested in buying his wife a nice diamond and ruby ring. Shane tells her he isn't married and the relationship he's in now isn't at that dip in the road. She leaves the store. He tells me all about her when I arrive and we figure she was trying to peddle stolen merchandise. Story over or so we thought.
So the next day the door opens and I see a woman standing there, she looks at me and then the customers and closes the door. I knew immediately it was the strange woman because of her Marty Feldman eyes. I assumed she didn’t want to come in with people there and I was right. She must have been hovering around outside because after the customers left she came in.
There was a lot of small chatter at first, pretending to be interested in my shop, telling me how lovely it was, saying she knew people in Hubbards who would love my store and she would tell them about me. I was clearly the toast and she was the butter, slathering it on thick to woo me. I was thinking she was about as smooth as Ex-lax and as transparent as glass but I was curious to see what her game was so I kept my head down drawing a pattern and let the story evolve at her own pace.
She picked up a braided piece of roving and said how pretty it was and I couldn't help saying, "I thought you were allergic to wool", to which she replied, "I’m not allergic to wool, why would you think that?" I commented that she’d told my son the day before that she was. Without skipping too many beats, she said that she was allergic, but only to the smell. Well, being in a rug hooking shop, with the hum of wool wafting through the air like a heady perfume, you’d think she’d be in anaphylactic shock, but I said nothing.
So she changed the subject by asking to buy a coffee, digging in her purse to find money to pay for it. I told her it was no charge and made her one, intrigued by this small, buggy eyed woman who obviously told lies and was clearly up to something. I was mildly amused, after all, who doesn't like a mystery and maybe a small part of me wanted to see the piece of jewelery she was trying to flog.
She chatted a bit and then brought up the ring as if it was a casual afterthought. I gave her no indication I was interested but she fished it out of her purse and opened the box and waved it in under my nose in several sweeping motions. Told me it came from Birks many years ago when she was flying high and spending a lot of money on jewelery. I took note that the box was not from Birks, something you would surely keep. On display was a ruby and diamond ring which she said was called Stairway to Heaven as the rubies were on one level and the diamonds were a step up, six of each, pronged set in rows of three. She said she paid $6000.00 for it. I could tell immediately it was not a high end ring and told her I thought she was ripped off. She no more paid six grand than I am the Queen of England.
The ring was stamped Birks inside and was 14 karat gold, but it was not an expensive ring. Twenty or so years ago someone probably paid a few hundred for it but that was it or I’ll eat my shirt. She told me she would take $1500.00 for it and I thought to myself, I’ll bet you would. I told her if she has any hopes to sell the ring she could have at least cleaned it up a bit. There was no luster or sparkle to the engraved gold design and the diamonds were clearly caked with soap and grime. She said the thought hadn't occurred to her.
She kept singing praises of the ring even after I told her I wasn’t interested. I told her I don’t buy jewelry from people off the street or without certificates to prove their authenticity. She put the ring on her finger to show me how lovely it looked on her hand and I had to laugh as I watched her struggle to get it over her knuckle. She was clearly not now, and had never been a size 6 1/2". Her finger may not have turned blue, but I’ll bet she needed soap or grease to remove it.
I told her repeatedly I would not be buying the ring, that the design didn’t even appeal to me but as far as she was concerned I was a bird in the hand and she wasn't about to let me go. She asked me to make her an offer. I told her I wasn't interested at any price.
I told her point blank that the ring could be stolen for all I knew and that I didn’t know her from a hole in the ground. So she tried to connect with me by saying she lives in the condos at the top of Mahone Bay hill and to my knowledge there are no condos located there, just slummy apartments. She kept pushing so now I'm beginning to get annoyed. The fun was over, and I had work to do. I just wanted her to leave like a bad smell. She kept pitching the ring, told me she didn’t want to take it to a pawn shop but needed the money for her lawyer. She wanted the ring to have a good home. I told her to list it on Kijiji but she said she didn’t want to do that as crazy people might reply. Really? Crazy people? I told her I had to get to work and she finally went out the door, with the parting words that she would let me think about it, an indication she might be back.
I asked the other shop owners to the left and right of me and she hadn't targeted them. So why me, two days in a row? Maybe she looked in the window and the store looked nice so she figured the owner must have a few sheckles? I could play conspiracy theorist and come up with a few fun scenarios, but they would lack about as much luster as the ring did.
Rubies are pretty but they hold little desire for me. They lack glitter and shine. I like sparkling bling, like diamonds! I also like to know what I’m buying, Canadian diamonds, not blood diamonds or stolen merchandise. She told me to look at the ring with a loop, but where was I supposed to pull that from and I wouldn't have clue what I was looking at anyway. I'm not jeweler, show me a piece of wool and I'll grade the quality, but diamonds?
So I hope she doesn’t come back. And to end this tale with a bit of funny about the so called wool allergy, her parting words were, I kid you not....“Do you know anyone who could do some mending on three wool coats I have?” Not a very sophisticated liar….to be successful you have to keep track of the falsehoods that spill from the lips......
So, being a curious mind I let my inner Sherlock check out Kijiji and behold I found the ring with the below write-up posted on September 30th so I guess she wasn't too worried about crazy people replying to the ad. Another big ole lie. Some pretty poor writing, not at all inspiring much confidence in the quality of the ring.
(Womens ruby and diamond ring 18 kt gold bought at $5000 selling for $2000 firm I only placed to ad for the owner calls to the owner only call 902 277 0787)
I was floored last week. My design, "Wish Upon A Star" has been around for a few years and although I've sold several patterns, I've never seen it hooked. So one day last week I opened my email to find a fabulous picture sent to me by Sheila Swett. You can almost feel the crisp, cold winter's night as the snowmen wish upon the falling star.
And then Shane brought in the mail and I opened a card to find the photo of the very same design, plus a picture of Welcome Deer, from Cathy Hallett! Wow....how cool is that? What are the chances of this happening? Stuff like this boggles my mind! So...because they both came to me in one day, and because I can't decide which one I like best, I'll give a gift certificate to both of these gals for being the first to present me with a finished picture. Thanks so much for sharing and making my day ladies!
I thought you might like to see your Wish Upon A Star finished. The nice thing about this design is the fact it is not just a Christmas scene but a winter one. This is hooked with a #5 cut new wool on linen. Thanks for a great pattern!
During this past winter, I ordered several patterns from your shop. Enclosed are pictures of two of the mats. I have completed these as gifts for my daughter and daughter-in-law for Christmas. I hope they like them as much as I enjoyed hooking them. I am particularly pleased with the snowmen. I still have one of the big lady patterns to do and look forward to doing that over the winter.
I hooked these mats in #5 using mostly new material. I found the mats very well drawn. I also have your dyeing recipe books and loved every colour I've tried. I have the latest one on my Christmas list, so I have my fingers crossed!
I enjoy your blog. I hope to someday travel east and be able to visit your shop. Thank-you for producing such high quality, Canadian products. I look forward to purchasing more of your designs after I work my way through my current projects!
Both of these designs are my patterns under Seasonal Designs: Click the link to view.
Following the grape theme, Susan Leslie purchased this pattern called "Caswell Fruit" from my shop in 2002 and did a fantastic job hooking it. There are two version of this design. This is the smaller of the two and then there is one with a floral motif on either side. Sorry the photo is so dark and of course the rug is long sold so I can't take a better one. A woman bought it for over her bed. What a fabulous way to wake up and start the day, drinking in a rich saturation of nature's bounty! This is one of my favourite Susan hooked pieces. Sure, you can call me bias, but her colour sense and hooking was tops!
I've been thinking a lot about Susan lately. It's the time of year when she passed away. Her absence is still felt after all these years. One can only imagine how many masterpieces she would have created if she had been able to carry on. Rug hooking has certainly been cheated...... It's true, the good ones die young.....guess I'll be around for awhile.....
Every year I make grape jelly, and every year I am amazed at how messy the process is. But, like having a baby, the pain of labour seems to evaporate within minutes of seeing your newborn and well, I won't say making jam rivals childbirth in the pain department but it was equally messy.
The crushing of the grapes took a a little over an hour. About 40 quarts or so was a lot of squeezing. A potato masher might have helped but I'd given that to Shane for his potatoes a while back so it was hands or feet and I didn't think people would be that interested in sampling my wares if they knew I'd been dancing on the grapes. That's a whole other kind of jam.....
I'm not a messy kind of person, but I'll bet the farm that Ivana Trump couldn't make jelly without creating disaster in the kitchen. I think the process helped me to gain insight to how a killer might feel, a conscientious one that cleans up after himself to hide the evidence. He accidentally or purposely bludgeons someone with a blunt object and then looks around at the spray on the walls and thinks oh shit. Imagine their angst having to clean it up, the frustration of it all. Yup, good fodder for my novel...there's always a silver lining! My kitchen sink and stove area looked like a CSI crime scene complete with various splatters, drips and fine mist but luckily I didn't need bleach to clean up the mess. It was everywhere, little splatters found their way around nooks and crannies. Down over the cupboard fronts, all over the floor and a few on the ceiling. Of course they stained the white paint so I had to get serious and apply a bit of abrasive cleaner to rub it out. Luckily most of the spilled juice responded well to hot soapy water as the sticky goo came off readily. My thoughts as I dragged by tired body up the stairs? Being a purist sucks....I felt my ancestors pain as I flopped into bed with my clothes on.
It was over everywhere, including me. Pouring the now cooked grapes with the lumpy skins acted like a bottle of spilled milk. I looked around and sighed more than once and maybe there was a four letter word or two but I knew I had to stay up until I was finished as I didn't want to have to clean up and start this again the next day. I was angry with myself though. I started too late at night and once I realized it was more than a chore to squeeze the juice from the cooked mash the hands on the clock were pointing to ridiculous hours. Someone needs to invent a gadget to extract the juice easily, a press or something, preferably electric and quick. I couldn't face the same mess in the morning so I soldiered on finally going against the instructions and squeezed the gauze balloons to speed the extraction along. I was even using my flour sifter as it worked fairly well but it sure made a mess, dipping it into the pot and turning the crank. The liquid was hot so my hands took a beating. And the stains! My god, it's been five days now, so that's five showers, several dips in the dishpan, and all the various hand washing one does in a day and they still look like crap. Staining around the fingernails is the worst, but my hands have an overall greyish appearance, like a cadaver after a few days in the sun.
So by the time I cleaned up and got to bed it was 3:30. I was exhausted and was asleep before my head hit the pillow....I think I found a cure for insomnia...make jam! I got up the next morning knowing that step two, the cooking of the juice with pectin and sugar and bottling was ahead of me and it was met with a groan. I had a bit over 10 quarts of liquid which meant somewhere over 40, 250 ml bottles, which in the end worked into 52. I stocked up on pectin, 8 packages and bought 5 bags of sugar. I now know that one bag of sugar yields about nine cups. The recipe called for 5 cups of juice to 7 cups of sugar. I would have dearly loved to decrease the sweetness but then the jelly won't set, the pectin and sugar act together as unit, too little sugar and you pour the jelly on the toast.
I needed recruits, I couldn't face the daunting chore alone. After working all day, I was so exhausted my legs felt like rubber with shoots of pain riding up and down the back of my knees and it was imperative to be in bed at a decent hour so I would be functional the next day. So when Charlene came into the shop to drop off some of the floor frames her hubby makes, I begged, I mean asked if she was busy that evening and she said she'd come over after dinner. I called Mary and she was free and she dropped by with a few neat gadgets, a magnet to retrieve the metal caps from the boiling water. In previous years, I remember scalding a few fingers so that puppy is a must have. She also had this lovely little enameled cup that sits in the mouth of the jar when you pour in the hot jelly, another necessary piece of equipment instead of the plastic funnel I've used in the past that took up too much space in the jars so you had to top them up after removing it. It's true, many hands make light work!
In three and a half hours we had 52 jars of the best darn grape jelly ever made! The flavour is incredible! It isn't just perfect for toast, you can use this jelly with crackers and cheeses for an hors d'œuvre. The colour is extreme, so rich and dark. I wish you could scratch and sniff to smell the aroma of this fragrant juice.
I was tired and was on my way up to bed when my son called that there was smoke in his apartment and the smell of something burning. Now wide awake and deeply worried, there would be no sleep for me as I sped down the road to check out the problem. The fire department was called but this is a blog for another day!
A choice of four designs for pattern of the week!
Susan Leslie hooked my design, "Pearly, Heading For The Gates", which is the current pattern of the week. She hooked it in 2006, the year before she passed away and I was always supposed to design "Red Rover, Come Over" to cover both angel kitties and pups of the heavenly persuasion. The two patterns were supposed to be a matched set and I regret not getting around to designing it. After she passed I put the idea on the back burner as it was too painful to think about. She had saved some of the same wools so the two pieces could be hung together to compliment one another and I kicked my butt a few times that I didn't make more of an effort to draw the pattern when she asked for it. I was probably busy at work and always figured there would be time but life doesn't always follow an assumed plan.
We all have pets; furry kids that touch our hearts and help to make our lives whole. Unfortunately they don't live long enough or maybe we live too long.......such a painful imbalance for both parties. I can't imagine life without my babies and as I write this all four are snuggled around my feet, curled up and sleeping, perfectly happy just to be close to me. I've never been able to get the man in my life to do that......just sayin how special dogs can be......
So this week I put up Pearly for the pattern of the week and was reminded that I should have a dog angel. Cats generally look similar so my pattern can be adapted to look like your precious kitty with different fur colours and a bit of simple tweaking. Dogs on the other hand are very different kettle of fish with so many breeds to acknowledge. I suppose Rover could be altered to fit a few but this guy definitely doesn't resemble a poodle or a schnauzer. If anyone would like a specific breed I might be able to accommodate a "ruff" sketch in place of Rover so you can have a forever reminder of man's best friend, immortalized in wool by your own loving hand. The wide border allows space if you would like to add your pet's name.
Susan used a sparkling wool to outline the kitty so she seems to glow which certainly fits the subject matter. I love how she hooked the sky with various swirls to inject movement on the journey upward. The stars were not exclusively golden and the light mauves and purple mottles add a bit of whimsey. This mat is in the shop and gets a lot of attention. Every one that sees it relays a story of loss and sadness over the passing of a family pet, what better way to commemorate their memory than with a hand hooked rug.
By Guest Blogger Gretchen Bolar
I started hooking January 2013. This rug was indeed the largest I have tackled. I had made 4 rugs prior to this one. I started this at the Cambria Pines Rug Retreat in June 2013….while suffering a huge case of jet lag as I had arrived back from Bali the same day I went to Cambria.
My teacher was Eric Sandberg. He and I had great color debates.....in the end I think I won….which I understand is quite a feat with Eric. Being from California I like lots of color. I am a student of Gene Shepherd in Anaheim, CA who also likes a lot of color. I used wool (dyed and from the bolt) as well as wool and silk ribbon. I had great fun making it…..but it was probably a bit large for a beginner. I will be attending Cambria Pines Rug Retreat again this year to study with Michele Micarelli.
I am saving the Morris patterns I have from you until I am a better hooker. I have completed ten rugs so far….working hard to become a better hooker. Would love to come to visit you sometime as I love your designs.
Great job Gretchen! Bold and beautiful! A fun Jacobean design of large proportions for wide cut splashes of bright colour. I asked Gretchen for the story behind the upper right hand corner being a different colour plan than the rest of the border, and this was her response.
"Real story is I did not want to dye more of the purple…..but no one who knows me thought that…they just thought it was my strange touch…which I am becoming famous for. Gene wanted me to put more aqua on the other side for balance….but I guess I did not mind if it did not balance."
This pattern can be viewed on my site: http://www.encompassingdesigns.com/signature-designs.html
I’m a bit behind in my blogs. This happened the first Wednesday of the month at our hook-in.
It was extra special this week with Charlene turning 39! Gee, I think she was 39 last year too…. Sorry about the photo Charlene, the camera caught you in a dreamy pose....the heat from all those candles maybe? Anyway there was cake and cupcakes to celebrate with candles and singing. We surprised her for sure!
Sue brought the cupcakes and there was teasing as to whether she made them or not, and we'll have to take her word for it that she did. Sue's a hooker not a cooker. She hit the jackpot with a guy that likes hanging out in the kitchen, he’s what one would refer to as a dream man!
Anyway, it was a fun time for all, except for me as I was pretty ill that evening. I had that pesky poop thing and actually stayed home from work the next day. I tried to smile and involve myself in the conversations but the look of my face must have given me away as the hookers all cleared out uncustomarily early. Sorry guys! Guess I put a damper on the party with my long face! Sorry Charlene! Even though I wasn’t in the best of health, I just didn’t have the heart to cancel now that we only meet twice a month. We all enjoy getting together and look forward to the first and third Wednesday for some female bonding.
We also had a visitor and now that I waited so long to write this email I have to stretch my memory to pull out her name….Cheryl I believe but don’t quote me on that. She is from the states and her hubby is here working on contract at the local plastics plant so she decided to come up for a visit. I think she enjoyed herself by the looks of all the smiles. She fit right in for sure. She didn’t have her hooking here but I said just come and chat, eat cake and be merry.
As soon as I designed this stocking I knew I would hook it and what colours to use. Such whimsy is inspiring, allowing for a livelier colour palette. This tree reminds me of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas and screams for brighter colours, taking me out of my head for the usual "make it look antique" choice.
I used our three value Lime for the tree, outlining it with the darkest herringbone and alternating the levels of the branches in the medium and light solids. I chose Flamboyant, a delicious new orangey/coral based red for the funky base and Turquoise over herringbone for the background.
At first I drew swirls in the background and planned to tie them in with the colourful ornaments but then I thought maybe it would look too busy and distract from the main focus of the stocking…the fabulous tree. Instead, I’m toying with sewing on some beads to look like twinkling stars in a night sky, a bit of bling to jazz it with another dimension.
Now the pressure will be on to sew it into a stocking. I'll dye more of the turquoise herringbone for a backing. Guess we'll see if it gets sewn in 2013 as needle work is not my forte. I’m a hooker not a sewer and needles reward me with too much blood for my clumsiness. My fingers turn to thumbs with that kind of delicate work, like a bull in a china shop I'm a disaster. If only I had a PA to follow me around, pick up after me and finish my projects. I’m not rich enough, famous enough or good looking enough to have people falling at my feet to offer their help.
So now the dilemma is which stocking to hook next. I thought I might do up a couple to have pictures on the patterns. They only take a couple of evenings and I have a mantel in the new room that is a perfect place to hang and display them. I'm torn between four and can't decide. And I am also toying with a Celtic Christmas Tree stocking that I need to draw out. Maybe I'll have to choose the next stocking with Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Toe....
If you celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday I hope you enjoyed your meal. I suppose the two choices are turkey or ham. When entertaining at my house, I usually opt for the latter. Turkey is a once a year deal for me and saved for the Christmas menu and is actually more of a memory to revisit than a meal. The smell of turkey cooking reminds me of childhood Christmases and my mother's wonderful cooking. Personally, I could probably live without turkey. I find the meat dry so I usually only eat the neck and part of a thigh. Cold sandwiches are okay if you add mayo and cranberry sauce for moisture but as far my getting excited over turkey, not so much.
And of course hot sandwiches are a tradition, meat and bread smothered in gravy, but they have to consist of dark meat sliced thin and has to be heated in the gravy not cold and layered on the bread with hot gravy poured over it. Gravy cools quickly enough and the cold meat only speeds up the process, plus I find it dryer that way. Being infused with the hot gravy adds a bit of softness to the meat.
I had a delightful invite to my son's apartment for dinner this evening. His girlfriend Ashley is a very good cook! Her dressing was very tasty, the turkey was actually very tender and moist and her gravy was well worth a second helping. Homemade apple pie and ice cream for dessert ended the meal deliciously. I felt pampered and spoiled, a good thing! Can't wait to be the perfect mother-in-law!
I'm opening the shop this afternoon by appointment for a couple of visitors coming this way and then I'll be making grape jelly out of the 40 quarts of fruit that I harvested from a vine along side of our house. The blue globes are bulging with flavoured sweetness, so full and round, an explosion of heaven in your mouth. This year the vines dripped with clusters, a banner crop, probably a reward from all the rain we had. I've never seen this much fruit. Usually I collect one container but this year we have three. The grapes, deep purple and bursting with flavour makes for fabulous jelly to spread on toast.
By Guest Blogger Sue Cunningham
I loved the idea of placing the village around the compass rose. And the shape was different from any of the rugs I'd hooked in the past. It is also my favourite of Susan Leslie's designs.
I used 5 cut for the compass point outlines, 7 cut for the dark teal segments surrounding the buildings & a 6 cut for everything else. All the wool I used was new off-the-bolt.
Excluding the cream center, I limited my wool choices to 5 colours. I didn't want the buildings to compete with the compass. And I was concerned that if I didn't limit the number of colours, it would become too 'busy'. As a general rule I try to limit my rug colour schemes to no more than 6 choices because I find simple is better in most cases. If too many are used sometimes it's hard to appreciate the design. I call this 'too much noise'.
And to tie it all together, as with most of my rugs, I used most of the colours in the border. This way, everything is nicely tied together
The great appeal of this rug is that it's filled with texture. Plaids are key to breathing life into a piece and manipulating them with both horizontal and vertical lines, added even more interest to the overall design. Sue's balanced colour plan ensures that no particular item steals the show.
Starting with the center compass lightness and gradually darkening to the outer background certainly pleases the eye and the one row of each colour in the outer border, wraps the design with the ultimate frame.
The darker plaid used for the building background and center of the compass feels like dark water or a night sky, pushing the colours out so the rug pops even though the tones are more subdued than vibrant. Susan Leslie designed and hooked the original version and generally I like the artist's vision, but for this piece, I have to say that Sue has created maximum personality with her colour selections and positioning, and I predict that it will rejuvenate interest in the pattern. A great job!!!
Pattern can be viewed by clicking the link and scrolling down: http://www.encompassingdesigns.com/susan-leslie.html
By Guest Blogger Francine Birket
I made this for my very generous sister-in-law who loves French country. She has beautiful porcelain roosters from France and complimentary fabrics. It was such a joy to work on such a cheerful and beautiful print. thank you Christine.
I finished the rug, What a joy to work on it. Your design and our colour choices were really liked by other hookers.
When Francine first contacted me to make a kit of this pattern I thought, oh my! So much colour and no picture for her to follow. Up to this point I hadn't seen it hooked and any kit I make has to have a picture to follow and I had no time to hook it myself. The photo is always a guide to where each colour goes so you don't get confused and put wool in a place it wasn't meant to be and then fall short on that colour when you hook its right position.
So Francine told me the basic palette she wanted to work with, no blue, just rich country golds, reds and greens. So I got in the dye pot, labeled the wools, made a colour chart and sent the kit off. I'm having a senior moment, I think I cut the wool because I usually insist on it, but if my life depended on it I wouldn't wager. Francine is obviously a very intuitive hooker and had no trouble following the instructions as she aced the colour placements.
The sunflowers and leaves were tightly gathered and she was able to make them stand out from one another beautifully. I send a full range of colours to choose from so each flower would stand individually and although I did fall short on one tone of the gold she emailed and I rectified that asap so she could keep working at a steady pace.
Francine hooked the background in a very distinct pattern of wavy vertical lines, using the abrashed Ecru over natural. A very interesting technique that adds to the overall appeal for sure. The background was the only choice I struggled with. I had several light plaids that looked okay but they just weren't the wow factor and competed with the focal points of the rug. I then tried an abrashed light green that worked really well pulling out the leaf colour but it touched the rooster and gold flowers so it wasn't a good flow. Then I tried the Ecru and knew immediately it was the one. The dominant hue to this rug is gold so the background married it perfectly.
The outside borders show very dark in the photo she provided, but in life it is a medium to dark red plaid outlined with a grid of Antique Red. This finished piece is definitely ready to fit into a French Country kitchen. What eye candy for the season.
By Guest Blogger Heather Gordon
Although the word sounds complicated, the basic principle of tessellations is simple. Some experts describe tessellations as geometric patterns created by repeated shapes or patterns that completely cover the surface without gaps or overlapping motifs. Think of a basic quilt block or a simple geometric hooking pattern. If you replaced all of the plain background areas with a second design motif that interlocked with the first, you would have a tessellation.
If you want to see tessellations at their finest, check out the works of M. C. Escher. His advanced tessellation prints will blow your mind. If you want to try your hand at tessellations without going crazy, try a beginner workshop. Since I am always looking for new techniques and projects where I can experiment with colour and designs, I took the easy way out and signed up for summer rug camp with the Rug Hooking Guild of Newfoundland and Labrador. One of my friends and teaching colleagues was giving the workshop, so a group of us decided to torment her and attend en masse. We had a wonderful time and she was still smiling at the end of the third day so we didn’t do any permanent damage.
After I returned to Nova Scotia, I did some internet research. It’s a good thing I went in ignorant because advanced tessellations have a rather complicated mathematical basis and math is definitely not my strong suit. There is a lot of truth in the saying that ignorance is bliss. However, it is possible to play with tessellations and complete a simple pattern in a week or two. As proof, refer to the picture of the Rainbow Village.
The Rainbow Village is not what I had planned. Having an abundance of brown tweeds, plaids, checks and solids in my stash, I envisaged a warm, antique-looking log cabin design. It didn’t take long to figure out that the workshop house design didn’t look remotely like a log cabin. What to do? Since I still felt that the house was the best beginner motif for me, the only viable option was to change the colour. Then I spotted a piece of Ombre wool – off the bolt, no dyeing necessary. It had most of the colours of the rainbow. If I couldn’t go with the antique look, might as well go to the other end of the spectrum.
I finished the piece in a couple of weeks and enjoyed every minute. What could be easier than 8 cut and straight line hooking? Everyone loves it so we have planned an introduction to Tessellations in a 1 day workshop at Encompassing Designs. Christine is stocking up on various colour combinations of the Ombre wool. I’ll show you how to cut it to achieve the rainbow effect. Of course, you can use your own colours if you wish. We will also cover how to modify the templates and motifs to create the project size and shape of your choice. You can make a table runner, chair pad, pillow or floor mat – whatever your heart desires.
Join us on Saturday, November 2 for a fun day in Mahone Bay.
- Certified teacher with the Rug Hooking Guild of Newfoundland and Labrador - RHGNL
- Director, South Shore Region of the Rug Hooking Guild of Nova Scotia - RHGNS
*A portion of the proceeds will go to the RHGNL
Click here for details of the workshop http://www.encompassingdesigns.com/workshops.html
I'll bet you looked at the cartoon and you're laughing, thinking I'm going to slam men for leaving the seat up or peeing all over it. Well, you're wrong. I have no beef with men, well, at least not with my guy. He's tidy in the bathroom and I've never sat in anything wet or splashed into the bowl because the seat was left up.
So men are safe....it's women I'm going to bitch about. I have a real pet peeve when it comes to female public washrooms, and although it isn't public, the bathroom at the shop.
I'll put on the big girl panties and clean up after my son and myself, but I'm going to have draw the line on cleaning a stranger's dribble or God forbid, worse.
I have a question for women. I've wondered about this for years. Why in heck, don't you sit to do a number one? Why do you hang your butt over the seat like a hover craft and how come you assume the stream is hitting the water? Don't you ever look behind to see if you've hit the mark? If there are yellow droplets on the seat? Would it take too much time to look down and wipe off your body fluids before leaving the stall? That way, what the next person doesn't see won't hurt them, keeping our heads in the sand as to what may have occurred before us. If you're worried about catching something, cover the seat in toilet paper, and then flush it with everything else.
Think for a second what it's like for an unobservant, unsuspecting person to be the next in line and sit on cold wetness, then have to deal with the realization of what that wetness is. Sickening eh? Denial sets in and you pray it's water drops from someone shaking their hands at the sink, but a quick calculation rules that out, too great a distance from point A to point P...... No, there is no hope of it being something innocuous. It's something unimaginable, a horror that can wake you screaming in the middle of the night.
I pride myself as being someone who learns from experiences but I've been duped a handful of times before I learned to closely inspect the condition of a toilet in a public washroom. The dim lighting can sometimes fool you. I think they install dusk like fixtures for that reason, to disguise what might be lurking about. And if it's yellow, let it mellow only applies to water shortages and low wells in the privacy of your own home, not in a public washroom! If it's brown, flush it down, one of the most basic of life's skills and be thankful we have the technology to dispose of our waste, we could be living with a pile of it outhouse style in the backyard.
Airports seem to be the worst. Pee offenders flock there, no one gives a crap about a public washroom, they sometimes don't even bother to flush after a #2! The most basic of tasks, taught to us as small children. No excuse at all for walking out before flushing. If you don't want to touch the handle, use your foot for goodness sake. I suppose that's why large establishments have automatic flushers, to make sure the job is complete! There is no scenario where I want to see another person's body fluids. Sometimes in that long row of stalls there isn't one toilet ready for a squat so you have to get soapy paper towel, find the least offensive and take on the chore of washing the seat before sitting. I can only imagine what a CSI blue light would highlight in those small confined spaces........
So I am asking, pleading really, if you must hover, look back and see what you've done. Just in case you really didn't know, I'm telling you now, if you don't sit you spray! If we continue to live in a world that is afraid to catch something then please take responsibility, check behind you and clean up after yourself. So that is why I don't offer my shop washroom to the public. I'm tired of cleaning up after people who just don't care. And don't get me started about the floating feminine hygiene products....
This past weekend, a mother and small child were in the shop and the 2-3 year old kid was in obvious distress, squeezing her legs together and whining, throwing herself on the floor for being tortured with yet another shop. My initial thought was how could a mother be dragging her baby around when she's clearly about to burst at the seams, but that's a rant for another day. I was asked if I had a washroom and I said no, then felt badly. It was too late for her to go to the public washrooms down the street or the Irving, so I allowed them in but asked that they please clean the seat, if needed. She promised to leave the porcelain pony as it was found and later thanked me on her way out the door. In the meantime, several people in the shop witness them going in and then leaving the bathroom and then all their bladders went into spasms. Personally, I would address the urgency before entering a store but then I tend to take charge of these things. I don't like to walk around uncomfortable, when nature calls I pick up the phone!
So now I am being asked from all directions for a bathroom. So I said no, and then the pleading began. At this point I couldn't deny the rooms' existence, it was seen when the door opened and the toilet flushed. So now in a difficult place, and against my better judgement, I allowed the room to be used. I warned that I didn't want pee on the seat and didn't feel badly saying it because I don't earn enough to clean up the bladder and bowel functions of strangers and I was feeling taken advantage of. They weren't even rug hooking customers, just people off the street. I also stock product in the bathroom, have shelves filled with wool. The bathroom is there for our convenience and students when I teach, not a public free for all. There is a restaurant in town that doesn't even let people in their washrooms, and they get away with it because their tables are outside.....why do I have to pick up the slack?
Some customers overheard the conversation and commented that they find female public washrooms filthy, we all laughed, but it isn't funny, there is no punch line when you sit on someone else's urine or have to look at what they left in the bowl. And sure enough, one older woman went in and didn't come out for a very long time. Her friend pounded on the door to make sure she was okay. After about fifteen minutes she emerged and suggested maybe I run the fan for awhile before entering the room and I thought great.....I won't go into details but the plunger was involved.
I'm not mean, I'm just a retailer selling wool, why should a toilet come in to play and I have no time or desire to be cleaning up after irresponsible people that have no shame. Golly, I just love cleaning toilets, said no person ever!!!!!!!!
Wow, what a weekend. I’ve never seen that many people in Mahone Bay! People coming from all over Nova Scotia and neighbouring provinces to see our scarecrow display, antiques and planned festivities.
It was like an invasion, busloads of people being trucked into our little town. The air was filled with chatter and laughter. People walking by my open door with excited kids who stopped to pose for pictures with my sheep photo board. All day long I heard "Baaa Baaa" and "Is it Bow Peep mom?" as they stared up at my red headed witch.
If I had a dollar for everyone that took pictures of the trio of sheep on the lawn and stuck their head through the photo board, well I’d be retiring a bit earlier than planned.
Once again the festival snuck up on me so I didn't get the hooker scarecrow built as I'd planned, but I put the hooked head of past festival displays in the top hole of the photo board and stuck on a witches hat and from the squeals and giggles it generated, I think I did my part to keep the crowds entertained.
Every time I looked out of the front window the cars were moving at a snail’s pace or were completely stopped. A traffic jam in Mahone Bay! It’s almost a joke! And I wondered, where did all those cars park? Someone said they were backed up all the way to Keddy’s landing and down past the fiberglass plant and every side street from here to the back of town.
The shop was swarmed with visitors. At times I couldn’t see more than a few feet ahead of me. I am on the less noticed side of the monument so we usually only get a small percentage of people. But this weekend the sidewalks were filled on every part of main street, crammed like sardines in a can. There was standing room only in the shop, people politely passing shoulder to shoulder, sometimes in the numbers of twenty-five to thirty all at once. They came in waves, like summer breezes, sweeping through my door and walked the length of the shop, oohing and awing at the rugs and the wool. I had to smile when one woman asked if I had a thing for sheep. I only have a about a hundred figurines and stuffed sheep toys and sheep related items about the shop….like baaa….do ya think? She asked why I was so preoccupied with sheep and I explained the craft literally existed on the backs of the four legged animals. Without wool, we’d be nothing! It’s shear luck we have them! She smiled.
I so hope all the shops and restaurants did well. We're a tourist town so there is nothing better than seeing people milling about. The buzz in the air was palpable, everyone was in a super mood, out for a day of fun. The normally five minute ride to work lasted almost twenty minutes, weaving in and out of poorly parked cars and people risking a bit of jay walking. The already narrow streets were bottle necked but the drivers were polite, taking turns and waving each other on, stopping to let people in and out of side streets. It was an impressive display of how generous people can be when surged with a festive mood.
I was really happy for our little town, to see it so alive. It didn’t matter about traffic jams and obstacle courses. Once the numbers are in I’m sure this festival will have had unprecedented attendance. The skies smiled down on us with bright, sunny days and crisp, clear evenings. If someone had written a script for this weekend, it would have been a flawless performance with numerous encores.
The first timers to the shop told me their inaugural visit to the town was impressive. They appreciated our quality wares and pleasing shops. The said they would be back, with their friends in tow.
A family came in with two delightful daughters. I believe one was six and I showed her how to hook and she successfully pulled a few loops. Lovely children, sweet and curious. The dad eyed my Swimming with the fishes rug and bought it for their home. I was so happy to see it go to such a lovely family. I’m like a dog breeder, I need to know my babies are going to a good home.
Driving into work this morning I realized I had a smile on my face. I do love my little town.....it's hard to believe the contrast from the weekend and now. It's so quiet, quaint and laid back once again. Now that the leaves are turning it's a Currier & Ives painting. We residents are very lucky to call this little patch of the earth our home.
Patches, the above hooked rug, is always a perfect window display for the Scarecrow Festival. Susan Leslie hooked this piece for me and it's one I'll never part with. I bring him out at this time of year to take center stage in the shop. Susan hooked a real personality for this guy with his pumpkin grinner smile and parsnip nose. We crossed over seasons and gave him a snowman carrot nose, but because of the pumpkin colours it was decided to be a parsnip. He's a dapper dude in a herringbone jacket and purple plaid shirt, and teal pants. Only the patches hint of his poorly, recycled appearance, after all scarecrows never wear tuxedos, do they. Susan certainly knew how to hook a fine looking pumpkin! I love this piece!
To view the design click the link: http://www.encompassingdesigns.com/whats-newblog.html
Encompassing Designs will be open Sunday 12:00 - 5:00
Mahone Bay has a festival happening this weekend! The weather is perfect, the scarecrows are plentiful and the halls are filled with antiques!
Sorry about no blog yesterday. I was home sick with a bug. Back to work today and feeling 100%. Looking forward to a fun filled Scarecrow Festival Weekend...ya!
When we renovated 498 Main Street to accommodate the shop, I was thrilled about everything except the lighting. When selling items for their colour they need to be seen in a proper light, a simulated daylight to be exact, for matching to paint chips or specific references. Fluorescent fixtures were the only way to go with a full spectrum light tubes. Not very attractive but highly functional.
My decorator eye was appalled at row on row of tubular bulbs lining the ceiling, clashing with all the antiques, Chinese lattice, antique newel post and railing, hardwood floors and authentic hall runner from Turkey. Everything from eye level down is tasteful and pleasing, and then a glance upward you'd think you were in some futuristic, space action flick. Boring, white metal and glass, so utilitarian and modern looking, a far cry from all the traditional ambiance staged for the shop!
The electrician tried to soften my scowl by suggesting plastic covers but I explained that I 'm allergic to plastic, and although it was meant for a joke, plastic and I did part ways years ago during my bout of Environmental sickness when man made products did me in. Besides, a tacky plastic cover would have cut down on the light being cast and also be a haven for dead houseflies, a sight every store owner wants on display. To practical me, that just meant constant maintenance on a ladder to scoop out the carcasses and no thank you to that. So I opted for the bulbs to show in all their blaring, ugly splendour.
I spent a lot of time looking up at the ceiling the first couple of weeks after the installation and sighing. I hold a grudge and will never totally be over the fact that I have to share my space with them, but I no longer stress over it, and it hardly seems worth the angst now. (I'm anal about certain things) Thankfully, there’s enough pretty stuff in the shop to keep anyone from looking up. And happily, no one asks if they can take a piece of wool outside to see its true colour, a testimony for the lighting's efficiency. Inanimate objects don't have feelings but every now and then one of them will find a voice and hum, maybe a protest of neglect and unappreciation, but I reach for the broom and give it a light tap so it's continues to be unseen and not heard.
At home lighting was selected for the mood they offered. Lamps and the occasional ceiling fixture were all about a warm glow cast over the nest. Mood lighting is pretty of course, but not conducive to working on crafts or reading. For that I purchased an antique style Ottlite back in the day when I sold them in my shop. It was an expensive floor lamp, very close to $400 although I only paid the wholesale price, ownership should have its perks right? The bulb is extremely long life, I’ve had it for about 12 years and not changed it once, but now that I mentioned it.....
Because of the plastic allergy, I bought a lamp with an antique feel, made of brushed metal with a marbleized glass shade. It’s nice and blends with our decor so I don’t have to hide it out of sight when not in use. You can come over to my house and search long and hard and you won't find a plastic mug or plate or a craft of any kind. Even my leftover containers are glass although some have plastic tops but that doesn't touch my food....you can't avoid it totally, and of course, there's my toothbrush, an unavoidable plastic item! I won't go into the angst I've had over the ugliness of a fridge or the TV....!
I do have a couple of portable Ottlite fixtures at the house. One is a banker's lamp style all metal with a glass shade but then there are three of the, hide when not in use, plastic ones that I bring out when friends come over for a evening of hooking although I can’t remember the last time that happened so I guess it’s been too long. I think I should arrange something.....
So if you struggle at home with incandescent lamps that cast a yellow glow over your work, look into buying an Ottlite. The bulbs allow for true colours to shine, show clear details and reduce glare and eyestrain, all with a low heat, energy efficient bulb. Back when I started the business the lights were expensive but now Walmart and Costco bring them to you for less than $30.00 so you can have the full spectrum lighting, specially engineered with a precise balance of contrast and brightness. It’s like natural daylight indoors. And an added thought, you don't have to illuminate the back of your head, so a floor fixture isn't necessary. One that sits on a side table that just shines on your hooking frame is all that is necessary. It is so important to have proper lighting while reading, hooking or doing any craft, making life more comfortable and less stressful on the eyes.
Gift Certificates are available for that special rug hooker in your life! Any denomination, no expiry date!