some of the winners from the Ontario Rug Hooking Craft Guild Annual Conference

mary anne keast pictorial

I am just home from the annual meeting of the Ontario rug hooking guild held in Oshawa this weekend and I wanted to share some of the winners of the rug display. There were so many wonderful rugs but, as always, it was hard to do justice to them in photographs. Here are some I managed to take. Our local rug hooking group was very proud that Mary Anne Keast’s wonderful piece was the winner in the pictorial category. Some of the other winners are pictured below: Barbara Lucas in the Mad About Texture theme category, Pat Lawson in the wide-cut category, Susan Clarke’s carpet bag in the original category and Jocelyn Gordon’s Animal Puzzle won the Craft Ontario Affiliate Award.barbara lucas

Pat Lawson George Lake Narrows

carpet bag

animal puzzle jocelyn gordon


rug hooking annual, why I love CBC and more

I am leaving this afternoon for our annual Ontario rug hooking conference in Oshawa. I have not been hooking very much this year, so I have only two small submissions, each self-portraits of a kind, and you can see them below. But first I want to share a link from the CBC. I was driving yesterday and I heard this on Michael Enright’s Rewind. The program focuses on a wonderful interview Peter Gzowski did with Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin. But what stopped me in my tracks and what I want to share with you is the very beginning of the program where Justine, a 26 year old medical student, writes a letter to CBC. This small segment captures the magic of the CBC and its importance to all of us. I encourage you to listen.

A second link is to an interview with Kaffe Fasset. He takes us through his sketchbooks and his wonderful fabrics. It’s under four minutes–give it a go!

And speaking of a life with colour, here’s what I found yesterday at my favourite second hand shop: a wonderful cotton scarf and a polka-dot cotton top. Perfect.cr

red shoes 1

selfie 1


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

donna 1


donna 3

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




1 comment


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.


1 comment

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.

Available in Store

Follow birdbrain via email