spring changes


HAPPY APRIL 1st! Here in Ontario we have sun and double digit temperatures, finally. The sap in the maple trees is pouring and it’s time to get out the bikes. HURRAH!

We made a spring change on the blog too. We  put a new button on the right side of the page under Navigation: Rug Hooking Gallery. A selection of my rugs was on the blog at some point, but in one of the updates that page was replaced and somehow the gap slipped by. So I have reposted some of them on this special page accessed from the sidebar button. Check them out when you have a minute. I haven’t been working on my latest rug, How We Spend out Days, for some time but I will get back at that this summer.

brown toteI’m also back in the studio and inspired–finally! I decided to ‘test drive’ one of my totes, a good thing to do for quality control, to see what it is like to live with and use a design. So I packed up this one and took it to Seattle as a carry-on. I’ve been using it every day since. It’s made from deep brown upholstery remnants and it is both roomy and tough. I can stuff it with all my sketching gear, gym shoes, macbook and other paraphernalia and it handles it well.

studio2So…I had some equally good black upholstery remnants and upcycled men’s leather jacket pieces, not enough for a tote, but enough for a shoulder bag. You can see the start  here on the cutting table. I’m considering adding a flash of red to this one, maybe under a pocket flap, or inside the strap tabs.

And to finish off with some colour. This pile of cashmere was on the table–glorious colours. I bought them at a thrift store sale deep in the winter and there they were, through the freezer and washing stages and ready to inspire. cashmere


puget sound 2

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These are some of Donna Hrkman’s fabulous rugs. Of course nothing beats seeing them in person–and these photos were not taken under the best conditions.  But their power and intensity (and her talent) are still so evident. There was lots of learning in the four days and there were many wonderful hooked faces, both human and animal, well on their way by the end of the class. Donna teaches regularly and I would highly recommend a class with her.

There were three classes at the school (Nola Heidbreder and Liz Alpert Fay also) and each night the students from one of the classes talked about rugs they had brought to share. This was a great feature of the school not only because we could see great rugs, but it is such fun to hear the stories behind the pieces. Below are just a few: Sunny Runnells’ Emily Carr, Sarah Judith’s mountain scene and Tanya Graham’s forest.




In addition the school offered optional art classes given by Mary Watson. Mary teaches children and took us back to our 9 year old selves, a great freeing approach. This was my first time ever with pastels and I loved it. Below is le vrai Matisse, my table-mate Carol’s version and then my demure version.

A great school: wonderful people in a perfect place. Thank you Sarah and Michele.


c mat

x mat



puget sound 1

I am home from a week on the west coast. The four days at Puget Sound rug school were outstanding–people, rugs, venue, learning. I highly recommend it! Tomorrow I will post some of the amazing pieces of rug hooking which were there. But for today some views of the location. I had planned to hook some words as I explained in a previous post, but the wonderfully healing landscape drew me away from all thought. So instead of words, I hooked and sketched rough thumbnails of the view out the window. PSphoto1


PShooking 1




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tulips mar 5 2014

It seems to be taking me a long time to return after my stay in Kenya. My friend and fellow traveller, Ruth, tells me that it takes one day for every hour you lose on the flights. Even counting the 8 hours from Kenya, and I did have a four day stay in Amsterdam where I should have made up two of those hours, I should be back in good order. But this time it is a slow return as I process all I saw and learned.

I haven’t been anywhere near the studio, so the shop is not open yet. I feel far away from making things. Instead, I’ve been doing things like cleaning cupboards (!), sending bags of extraneous things to the Salvation Army and sketching. Sketching every day, everywhere. I got a new small metal palette in Amsterdam at Van Beek’s (more on that in another post) and I tote it everywhere. And…I have been sketching these tulips every day. And drawing my way out of the molasses.

And yes, I am taking off again next week for a four day rug hooking course in Puget Sound with Donna Hrkman and a couple of extra days in Seattle.  I have been wondering what to hook in the class because I can’t take my normal equipment or supplies on the plane. And then this week I discovered Sandra Brownlee who has just been awarded a Governor General’s award in visual arts. She is a weaver, but uses stitching in much the same way as I use sketching–to work towards understanding what it is she is thinking. Her tactile notebooks are an inspiration.

Sandra Brownlee010So for next week’s class, I’ve decided to pack a big bag of woollen strips, all colours and widths and textures, and a piece of linen and to hook whatever words come to me. I’ve always found hooking to be meditative, that wonderful repeated action of pulling the wool and making the loops, and I’m hoping for four days of slow time to reconnect with the narrative.

Below is a link to a wonderful video where Sandra talks about her process.

So Donna Hrkman, Sandra Brownlee–I am in good company for a return. Stay tuned.


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Kenya report 2014 #4: the sale and after

hooking sale

Our first community rug hooking sale was a success. The picture above was taken on the day of the sale. Visitors came from the community, the school and the local clinic. Everyone was impressed with the work and twelve pieces sold. I think the work is remarkable considering that these rug hookers were new to the craft and produced this quality of work after just three weeks.  What I think is most notable about their hooking is the background of the rugs–the design and the use of colour and value. It is what makes these pieces stand out. And as we neared the end of our time, the supplies became leaner and some of the later pieces combined t-shirt and nylon strips to good effect.

We hooked every afternoon for three hours but some of the women were truly bitten by the rug hooking bug and continued to hook at home–by kerosene lamp! The following two pieces were produced that way. I love how Francesca created a frame of branches in the piece below and how Catherine, in the final piece, used a variety of texture and colour to create a vibrant background.



And here we are at our celebration party.

hooking grp



Kenya report 2014 #3: rug hooking update

imageTwelve women have been coming to the Community Centre to hook mats. All but three of these women are new to the craft, but in three short weeks they have moved to drawing their own designs. We are having an open house on Tuesday to show the community what we have accomplished. Here are some photos of the women hard at work and also a preview of the hooking. Five of the pieces are already sold!


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I am a retired educator and recovered administrator. I have always been interested in fibre, first as a weaver, now as a rug hooker and screen printer. Over the last few years I have become passionate about giving a new life to cast-off wool and leather. This is my journal where I muse about my creative life.

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