Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring Cleaning

Pete had to fly out to Phoenix for a funeral last weekend, so I took some time to get a little more organized.  I spent a lot of my time on the beach during our too brief vacation in February figuring out how to make our house, and particularly my studio,  more efficient.  I cleaned out the living room cupboards (we got rid of almost all our old records and video tapes) and rearranged the furniture as soon as we got back, but I put off tackling the studio until now. 

I have multiple projects going at any one time, and I am always losing things.  I tried using baskets -- I love handmade baskets and have quite a collection of them -- but they are all different sizes and shapes and I don't want to stick labels to them.  So I found these great plastic bins by Sterlite (I know -- plastic is bad and not biodegradable, but these will last me forever) that are not only the perfect size for a lot of my partially made projects, but are stackable!

I used my trusty Brother P-Touch ( a Christmas gift from Pete a few years ago) to make labels for each basket.  I have them stacked neatly on a table in my studio.  No more fishing through multiple unmarked baskets.  And I love that if I want to take something upstairs to work on in front of the television at night, I can just grab a basket and everything is right where it should be.

I also spent time organizing my worms -- all those leftover strips of wool fabric from previous rug projects.  I had set up this system using an old TV cart and some  bins a couple of years ago, but I have been lax in putting the leftovers away.  I had bags of them all over the place.  When I'm finished using the wool, the cart rolls right under my work table, out of sight.

  Cleaning up all the clutter made a big difference in my work space.  So now it is back to work!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Easter's On Its Way

My sister Barb has been at it again.  She's created a bunch of cute, colorful creatures to celebrate the season.  Visit her at thimblefolk to see more.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

New Season, New Rug

Paisley Sheep
While I have not -- obviously -- been writing, I have been working.  This rug, Paisley Sheep, has been in my brain for a couple of years.  It has changed some since the initial design -- I always thought it would have a black background -- but it is one of those rugs that hooked up quickly, because all the work was done in my head.  I love when that happens, and I LOVE this rug.

The sheep's coat is made from the Standing Wool Rug technique, another rag rug technique that I learned from Nola Heidbreder and her sister Linda Pietz years ago in a class called "Historic Rugs".  Lots of people incorporate this technique into their mats these days -- they are often called "quillies" after the Victorian paper craft of quilling.  I like to stick with the original name, but I don't stick with the original technique.  I like to shape my circles using a needle and thread, squeezing and manipulating them as I go, often using layers of different colored wool.  I love to do it, but it takes a lot of time, as every piece is hand sewn and then applied to the linen backing before I begin hooking.  I've used the same technique to add interesting edges to smaller mats as well.

The leaves and paisley shapes in the background are hooked with by sister Barb's hand-dyed wools -- the colors are Irish Moss, Watermelon, Citron, Vintage Teal, Mango, and Nova Lox.  You can find them in her etsy shop: thimblefolk.  The brown is my own hand-dye, Hedgehog Brown.  I decided, once I had the body of the sheep completed, that a black wool background would create too harsh a contrast.  The brown worked out just right.

The finished mat measures approximately 18 by 20 inches -- not too big.  The pattern will be available in my etsy shop shortly. Click here to get there: The Paisley Studio.

Happy Spring!  The warm weather can't be too far away.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

On the March

I'm so happy to see the back end of February. Even though there is still snow on the ground and the thermometer read 18 degrees when I woke this morning, the days are getting longer, the sun is growing stronger, and the birds are returning to Greenport. March means spring is drawing near!

A few weeks ago a large flock of robins (what were they doing here so early?) descended on our front porch, eating all the winterberries from the Christmas bouquet in my sap bucket.  I watched them for a while, flitting and flying against the monochromatic background of white snow and gray sky.  I thought about how their wings are sort of paisley-shaped and wouldn't it be fun to hook a whimsical bird with paisley designs all over it? I decided to design a new pattern called Birds and Branches. It's a fairly large mat, to fit the piece of linen left over after I draw a White Whale Tavern pattern.  (I am always trying to find a way to piece together my patterns so that I don't waste any costly linen.)  

I measured the piece of linen and did the arithmetic to have the pattern fall with a four inch border, but, of course, I measured wrong and the pattern is too big.  Arrgh.  Measure twice, cut once.  I'm now in the process of redrawing the pattern to fit the linen.

The bird pattern sparked another paisley-centric design, this time with a sheep instead of birds.  I have paisley on the brain, obviously.  I also have sheep and fiber festivals on the brain -- our show season will start in a month and a half with the 105th Connecticut Sheep and Wool Festival on April 26, 2014, followed by the Long Island Fleece and Fiber May 17 and 18, 2014.  I want to have lots of new stuff for our customers, so I'd better get down to business!