Sunday, July 20, 2014

Learning to Butt Braids with Kris McDermott

My rug hooking guild, the Peconic Ruggers, sponsored a class with rug hooker and braider Kris McDermott.  Kris, along with two of her friends, cowrote Combining Rug Hooking & Braiding: Basics, Borders, & Beyond.

She does amazing things with braids, and is an amazing teacher.  Her visual aids are great, she arrived completely prepared, and is as nice as she can be.  

Kris works with lots of interesting fibers, such as taffeta and banana silk.  Look at that sparkly stuff in the rug pictured above!  It's great to see someone venturing into new territory.

Kris had us bring two 6 inch hooked pieces to class, one round and one square with an unhooked circle in the center.  I hooked some paisley, of course, although I used a 4-cut, instead of my usual 8.  I love the way the circle looks, but  think there's too much going on in the square piece.  I'm going to quiet it down by replacing the three-color braid with a one-color braid so your eye has some place to rest.

These pieces were hooked with my sister Barb's hand dyed wool.  This combination is called Moroccan Mosaic.  (Contact her at if you are interested. Or

It was a fun way to spend two days -- both jam-packed with information -- our hands were never idle, which is just the way I like!  For more photos tootle on over to the Peconic Ruggers.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Renegade Rooster/Rest in Peace

Back in May, my sister Barb sleepily shuffled into the kitchen for a cup of coffee, grumbling about the rooster living in my yard.  "Rooster?" I said. "I don't have a rooster."  She answered, "There's a rooster in your yard and he's been crowing since 4:15."  Sure enough, there was a rooster running around the neighborhood.  Neighbors knocked on each other's doors, querying the exhausted occupants about the rooster on the loose.  Although a couple of people keep chickens for eggs, none acknowledged owning the renegade rooster.  

I caught sight of the rooster once in the yard behind ours.  I spied on him through a hole in the fence.  He was on the small side, mostly white with some speckles.  A search on the internet led me to believe he was a Delaware.  When I knocked on the fence he scampered quickly away.  I spent many pre-dawn hours listening to him crow, trying to figure out how to catch him and what I would do to him if I did.  Summer people from Manhattan stopped by to introduce themselves and ask what to do about the rooster who taken up permanent residence in their rented yard.  We suggested they go to Agway and ask some professionals.  They said, New Yorkers to the bone, "What's Agway?"  That made me laugh, even though I was completely sleep-deprived.

No progress was made -- the rooster continued to run around the neighborhood, crowing night and day.   I started going to bed earlier, and using those wakeful early morning hours to get chores done.  This went on for weeks, until one morning, when Pete and I were working in the front yard, and several neighbors migrated over to talk to us, the guy next door drove up in his convertible and declared the rooster dead and gone.  He had seen a pile of feathers by the side of the road and figured a raccoon got him.  While we do have some pretty large raccoons here and may have wanted a chicken dinner, I'm not putting it past the young Manhattanite in the summer rental.  At any rate, the rooster -- and the neighborhood -- now rest in peace.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Happy 4th of July . . . Just a Little Late

I'm a bit late with birthday wishes because we were too busy celebrating to even look at the computer.  We had a houseful for the weekend, with a big big cookout on Friday that was moved indoors, thanks to  Hurricane Arthur.  Saturday and Sunday were stellar days -- breezy blue skies and lots of sun.  We had a fabulous time -- lots of cooking and eating and swimming and clamming and fancy cocktails.  We loved having Clara home and our close friends here for the weekend.  Today is laundry day -- lots of sheets and beach towels to wash and dry.  In between I will sit and hook and take it easy. 

I hope everyone in the Maritimes are safe and dry today.  Looks like the hurricane caused a lot of power outages in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Here's a question for all you rug hookers who like to dye.  One of my readers is looking for a source for Majik Carpet Dyes.  She's tried Rittemere-Hurst and hasn't received a reply.  Does anyone in the United States sell Majik Carpet?  Shoot me an email at if you have a source.  Thanks.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Canada Day!

I love Canada.  Vancouver, Montreal, Halifax, and all the open spaces and cities I have yet to visit.  What rug hooker doesn't love Canada?  Rug hooking is practically a national sport there, particularly in the Maritimes. Some of my favorite customers live there.  I was lucky enough to spend a week at a rug hooking conference back in Nova Scotia in 2005.  Although based in Halifax, my sister Barb and I were able to visit Peggy's Cove, Lunenberg, and Mahone Bay.  It was a great week in a great province, and I'm thrilled to say that my husband and I are heading back there in August.  We are even renting a house owned by a rug hooker who runs a rug hooking shop in Toronto.  I am looking forward to a week rich in wool and creativity at Deanne Fitzpatrick's studio, Encompassing Designs, Cheticamp, the Rug Hooking Museum of North America, London-Wul Fibre Arts and any other rug studio I can find.  Of course, because I'll have my husband along, I'll also go biking and fishing and out to dinner, too.  I can't wait!

So to all my friends north of the border: Happy Canada Day!  I'll see you soon!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Margaret and Her Magic Tricks

Peconic Ruggers guild member Margaret Tripp-Zenk brought three newly finished rugs to our meeting last week.  Margaret is a remarkably fast rug maker -- faster than me, and I am pretty fast and do this for a living. And she has a full time job and kids in school and all that stuff.  I'm beginning to think she never sleeps . . .  or  maybe she has a magic wand, or a band of elves held captive in her closet.

Margaret is not only fast, she is also very creative, trying new stuff all the time.  Take the bird rug pictured above. (My apologies for the burry and bad photos.)  She dyed the background with pennies!  The wool has this great mottled green patina color that gives a lot of movement to her background.  She set a jar of pennies (older pennies that have a high copper content) and water outside and let them sit for awhile, then dyed the wool in the water.  Pretty neat idea, I think.  She also used the wool in the flowers of this little floral.

In the chicken rug above, Margaret mixed several red plaids together to create her border, which makes this rather simple rug sparkle (although you can't tell from the terrible photograph.) She is an inveterate thrift store shopper, finding all sorts of interesting wools to use in her rugs.  I imagine that's where she found all the plaids in her border.

Margaret really is fast --she will probably have six more rugs hooked by our next meeting, lol.  I'll take better photos next time . . .

I'm still dealing with a sick dog -- poor Cairo not only has pancreatitis, but he also has a collapsed trachea.  He was coughing endlessly, sounding like a goose with a cold.  It's awful.  The poor little guy was miserable.  He had a shot of steroids and is on antibiotics and prescription cough medicine.  That has helped, but he is just about through the medicine and I don't know what will happen when he's finished.  Sometimes the trachea will repair itself, but sometimes it doesn't.  At 12 and half years old, we are not sure surgery is the right course for Cairo.  It is a great weight on my shoulders right now.  We return to the vet yet again tomorrow and we'll take a new look at the situation.

Despite Cairo's health issues, I've been enjoying the week of wonderful summer weather.  I've been working a bit in the garden and getting some house projects finished.  I've been a little neglectful with blogging and answering emails, but I'm planning on being better.  Hope you are all enjoying summer.

Friday, June 20, 2014

What Happens When You Have Way Too Much Wool

In my effort to clean my studio. I piled one too many bolts of wool on top of my grid boxes and the whole middle portion came tumbling down.  That was two days ago.  I haven't made much progress since.  Today's the day I tackle it -- and the rest of the room, too.

Summer is really here.  We had several days of rain and really high humidity and heat.  Today is gorgeous.  Pete and I are going to transform our driveway and side walkway this weekend -- we hope.  July 4th is our deadline for several projects -- some of which are completed already.  Clara is coming home with her boyfriend and our friends from Amherst will be joining us, too.  We plan to spend the whole weekend swimming and clamming and fishing and eating, so Pete and I want to be ready to relax.

Barb and I had a less than stellar showing at the quilt show two weeks ago.  I think there were far fewer  attendees and they were mostly interested in Star Wars fabric and making quilts for their grandsons.  I did set up another rug hooking class at Farmhouse Quilts in Southold, though, which made the whole weekend worth it.  The class will be held on Saturday, August 9.  We'll be hooking a sunflower.  Contact Janet at 631-236-6030 if you are interested.  We're hoping to set up a regular schedule of rug hooking classes at Farmhouse.

I'm thinking we may take the first swim of the season today.  The bay is so inviting.  Perhaps that will be my reward for cleaning up the studio . . . . 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Little Lulu Left Home

I finally finished the Welsh Terrier pillow and mailed it off to New Mexico today.  It is not the same piece I posted last time.  I sent an-in process photo of the mat to the person who ordered it and she wanted me to make the dog's coat more brown than orange and more grizzled than black.  Rather than ripping out what looked to me like a perfectly good terrier, I opted to start over.  I think both are successful rugs, but I prefer the first one, with its sharper contrast, better.  I used artistic license to make my color choices.  The colors in the border are bold and the dog had to be able to stand up to them.  I explained to my customer that rug hooking is folk art, not photography, and certainly my rug designs are pretty simple.  Anyway, I hope she is pleased.  Just after I pulled the last loop on Lulu, someone emailed me and asked if I would hook a West Highland terrier . . .   I guess my business has gone to the dogs . . . .

I am getting ready to vend at the Eastern Long Island Quilt Guild Show this weekend.  If you are in the neighborhood, come join us.  There's a native plant sale going on at the same time, so you can kill two birds with one stone.  Here's the scoop:

“Around the World in 80 Quilts”

ELIQG 33rd Annual Peconic Quilt Show, June 7 & 8, 2014

Hours: Saturday, 9 AM – 5 PM & Sunday, 10 AM – 4 PM

Suffolk Community College, 121 Speonk-Riverhead Road, Riverhead, NY

Admission: $10, children under 12 free, 2 days $18