Friday, August 10, 2018

Halloween Is Calling


Here is a rug that I recently finished hooking.  It's adapted from a design by Johanna Parker.  I have recently added Johanna as an artist to the Spruce Ridge Studios roster of designers.  She is known for her whimsical Holiday designs but she drew up some perky florals for me too.
I started this at the end of April when I was traveling.  I had 3 nights in a hotel room all to myself.  It felt like I was on a rug hooking vacation!  Just me, my cutter, hook, and frame...I spent my time hooking away to my heart's content.  The nice thing about this pattern is that you only need 4 colors so I concentrated mostly on the direction I was hooking to give shape to the objects.  I saved the lettering for last.  I don't know why because usually I tackle the harder things first but I am quite happy with the way they came out.  I love the vintage  poster feeling of this design.
I have had many people ask me what cut I used and I have to say, I always use a variety of cuts in my rugs.  I just use whatever I think fits a motif the best.....so the "Halloween" word at the top was hooked in a #9 cut, "is" is hooked in a #6 cut and "calling" is hooked in #8.  The little swirls were #6, or maybe a #5.  Sometimes I don't want to get up from my chair so I'll just hand-cut a little strip from those fuzzy-ended pieces you get when you tear the wool and cut it. 
This rug still needs have the edges bound so for now, it is just pinned.  One of my friends once told me that I was a professional pinner!  Ha, ha!  I say, whatever works at the time, go for it!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Beginner kits

The calendar tells me it's just 8 short days before we will be setting up our booth at the Michigan Fiber Festival in Allegan, Michigan.  I enjoy vending at fiber festivals because I get to meet all kinds of people who are new to rug hooking....I feel like I'm spreading the joy!  Our booth in Allegan is big enough that I can sit and hook, which usually creates a lot of interest!  But before we arrive at a show, I often ask myself what is it that beginners are looking for, as far as kits are concerned.  What type of design?  What colors?  How much will they spend?  In the past, I have tried to provide low-cost kits that are attractive but I think I need to change it up a bit from year to year.
I have to admit, I am not an avid kit maker.  It's messy to cut up all that wool...especially when you are assembling 10 or 12 of them at a time.  And yet, I know it's essential to provide a simple pattern, cut strips, and a beginner hook. I want everyone to love rug hooking just like I do!
I got a wild hare the other day.  Sometimes ideas pop in my head and just beg to come out.  I felt like time was getting away from me but I pushed the pedal to the metal.  I hooked up two new little samples for beginner kits and they will make their debut at Fiber Festival next week-end.  

Garden Daisy

Black-eyed Susan

They are both 8" square, easy to hook...and just darn cute! What more could a beginner ask for?  I'll be posting them to my website once I'm back from Allegan.  

I've been hooking up a storm lately (and rewatching Downton Abbey), so I'll show you some of what's been on my frame in my next post.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Dog Days of Summer

We are certainly feeling the Dog Days of Summer here in Michigan.  While I mostly like to talk about rug hooking and my fiber animals here on my blog, I thought that today I would tell you about something that has been our town's claim to fame for nearly 70 years.
Howell Melons
A Howell melon is a hybrid of a cantaloupe but honestly, there is no comparison, as I prefer the taste of a Howell melon.  They are sweet, very juicy and melt in your mouth.  For some reason, they are only grown around our region.  There were only 3 big farms who grew them when I moved here in 1989. We have a Melon Festival, a Melon Queen, a Melon Parade, and yes, even Melon ice cream.   This all takes place in mid-August, when the melons ripen.

We tried growing Howell melons back in the 90's.  The key word is "try."  LOL.  We did everything we were told to do:  build a mound to plant the seeds and make sure it faced the south.  We nurtured those poor little seedlings but in the end, we only got about 4 melons and 3 of them rotted on the vine.  The fourth one never grew very big and it was pretty sad to look at.  What happened?  Well, melons like warm humid nights and hot summer days.  It turns out that the year we tried to grow them was the coldest and worse summer on record for growing Howell melons.  The farmers had a loss too.  They brought in melons from Indiana so our Melon Festival won't be a failure and hoped for a better growing season the next year.

Happy Summer! 


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sheep Talk


Knitting Sheep/Design by PJ Rankin-Hults and hooked by Kris Miller

I recently finished hooking my Knitting Sheep! 

When we first enlarged Pam's drawing, it came out to a whopping 30" x 43.5" size!  "Yikes!" I said, "that's a bit too big!"  So we tried it again with a 22" x 30.25" size and this proved to be much better.  However, I decided I was going to hook the larger size anyway.  I did hand-torn strips in a 1/2" size for the sheep, the background, and the floor.  Some of the outlining was done in a #8 cut.  The bench and slippers are a combo of #8, #8.5, and #9 cuts and I used a wool with a slightly fuzzy nap for the slippers. (get it?  fuzzy slippers!)  The "yarn" is hooked roving from my animals, a combination of mohair and wool.  
Both sizes are available for sale on my website.  Look under the PJ Rankin-Hults tab.

And more sheep news!  Last Friday, we traveled to the west side of Michigan to pick out a new Finn lamb.  My intention was just to get a ewe but when we got there, we had a cuteness overload.  Little lambs were running all over the barn, hopping and skipping about.  One little ram lamb kept coming up to us for scratches on the neck and pats on the head.  How could we pass him up? It seemed he was begging to come home with me!  So the next thing you know, I'm paying for a ewe AND a ram lamb!

 Sister and Brother

Ram lamb

He has such a sweet face!

Little ewe lamb

The ewe will be named Suvi, which is Finnish for "summer".   We are still trying to think of a Finnish name for the ram lamb and we are narrowing it down to just a few choices.  The lambs will come home later in May so we still have time!

I am so joyful...the promise of Spring!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

All The Trimmings Show This Saturday!



Just a little reminder that the All The Trimmings show is this Saturday. I love this cozy little gift show and so will you!  Ken and I always buy our fresh holiday greens here.  We do a little Christmas shopping too!  To thank you for "shopping small" with us, we are offering $5.00 off your purchase of $25.00 or more. This special discount is only good on December 2nd at the All The Trimmings Show in Chelsea, MI. Please print out this post or show it to us on your cell phone and you will receive your discount. Happy Holidays from Spruce Ridge Studios! ⛄⛄🎄🎄
(we usually mail out discount postcards but we could not do that this year, 
so we are offering this post instead)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Spruce Ridge Studios Tent Sale and Open House 2017


Hello blog friends! 

(Willie is waiting to see you)

I thought I'd pop in to tell you that the Spruce Ridge Studios 2017 Tent Sale and Open House is this Saturday, September 30th from 10 am to 2 pm.  The sale starts at 10 am sharp ~ no early sales please, because we are always scurrying around until the very last minute, trying to get all the goodies out on the tables! 

All the sale items will be outside under the tents/canopies in our back yard.
There will be lots of clearance priced wool and rug hooking patterns (some are marked down as much as 50% and if you like to hook on monks cloth, you will have a large selection to choose from!)  There are also craft related products at reduced prices.  Look for our vintage, one of a kind, and antique treasures.  We will feature a "free box" this year...anything in the box is yours for the taking!

Enjoy complimentary cider and donuts while you visit.

My studio will also be open for regular shopping.  Due to a hectic travel schedule, I am not usually available to open my home to shoppers ... so this is a rare opportunity to come and shop my regular stock of wool and patterns! (We are working on a dedicated shopping area for next year - hopefully - keeping my fingers crossed!)

We accept all major credit cards for your purchases.

I look forward to seeing you this Saturday.  The weather will be much cooler and the weatherman is predicting a pleasant day!
PS:  Look under the "schedule" tab above for my address...just scroll down until you see the info for the SRS tent sale.




Saturday, June 10, 2017

Rug Hooking Etiquette-What exactly is it that you do?

I am in my final preparations for rug hooking camp next week.  Do you know what a rug hooking teacher does to get ready?  Every teacher has their own way of preparing for their students. I'm going to give you a peek behind the scenes and I'll tell you what I do!

(my fabulous class in Santa Fe!)

When I get my list of students from the camp director, I will send out a welcome letter and a student questionnaire.  It may take me a week or two to get this out but I always do it.  If you haven't heard from your teacher and it is getting close to rug camp, let the camp director know.  Sometimes e-mails don't get delivered or get dumped into your spam file.  The teacher won't know this unless she is contacted.

My student letter briefly explains a little bit about my teaching method and how I conduct my class.  The student questionnaire is important to me.  Please fill it out and send it back!  It gives me information about what pattern you are hooking, what colors you like, and a little info about your rug hooking style. I usually follow up a couple weeks before camp if I don't hear from you.
When I get your questionnaire, I read it over carefully and then I look on line to see what the pattern looks like (if I'm not familiar with it).  I will often print out a color picture to attach to your questionnaire.  This is just a reference for me, it helps me in my planning.
If  you have any questions, please contact me.  Give me time to answer...I may be traveling and can't get back to you right away.  If you sent me your questionnaire and you don't have any questions, we are good to go.  You won't hear from me until we see each other at camp.

I begin washing/dyeing wool and drawing up student patterns if necessary.  It can take me several weeks to do all the washing and dyeing and drawing!  Don't hesitate to bring wool from your own stash.  Often times, a student will have a wonderful texture that is perfect for their rug!

Oh yes, textures.  I love textures.  Plaids, stripes, herringbones, windowpanes.  Don't ask me to do shading.  Don't ask me to do dip dyes, spot dyes, graduated swatches!  There are other teachers who teach that.  I do not.  And that's what I love about rug hooking....there is something for everyone, and a teacher for everyone.  Just as I have stated in one of my other Etiquette posts, please research a teacher and stick to her style. Please do not ask her to teach outside of her specialty.

Behind the scenes, I make lists!  Lists for what to bring to camp.  Stapler, pens, notebook, etc.  Wool, patterns, possible alternative materials, special request patterns. I try not to forget a thing! If I am flying to teach at a rug camp, it limits what I can bring.  I ship most of my wool (more on this later) but I won't ship my rugs.  So I am limited to a few rugs in my suitcase.  Likewise with bringing books or extra patterns.  BUT if I am driving, it is a whole different story.  I can fill up my van with all kinds of wonderful things!  Have you seen Big Mama?  Well, here she is and she can carry a lot!

Teachers make the big bucks, right?  
Um, no.  Usually a rug camp will pay the teacher a set amount for the whole week or however long the camp lasts.  At most camps, we get a lump sum, regardless of how many students are in a class.  This covers a typical day of teaching and sometimes a walk-through in the evening. It doesn't cover any time before or after class officially starts and ends, or spending hours in the evening in the class room.    Now please, don't get me wrong....I love, love, love to teach (really! it's not always about the money!) but after a good 6 to 8 hours in the classroom, my brain needs a reboot.  My color choices are not always good when I am tired.   Remember to let your teacher wind down and rest!  Tomorrow is another day!
Teachers usually get a stipend for travel.  Sometimes we get reimbursed for the actual travel cost but most of the time it's a flat amount to travel.  This has to cover my gas and meals on the road, plus possibly a hotel bill along the way.  Or it has to cover a plane ticket and baggage fees (if I am not traveling on Southwest).  If I go over the stipend amount, it is on my dime.  Same with shipping wool.  It is always on my dime.  And I usually ship 6 or 7 really LARGE boxes of wool.  I want to make sure I've brought a nice variety of textures.  In my case, I ship via UPS and to ship those 6 boxes costs me about $200.00 one way.  Yes, that's right.  I have to sell $200 worth of wool to break even for shipping one way.  Hey, I'm not complaining!  I just don't think it is something rug hookers think about.  Please consider buying wool from your teacher.....it is really and truly the way we can make a living.  And just know we are not making the "big bucks."

To tip or not to tip, that is the question....
This has been a burning question on some rug hooking discussions/forums, do you tip your teacher?  First off, let me tell you that I never expect a tip.  It is always a very, very lovely surprise when I get a card and a monetary tip but I do not expect it.  Sometimes I get a card signed by all my students.  One class purchased a massage for me while I was at camp.  Sometimes I get little gifts that are handmade.  They are all very lovely thoughts and very much appreciated. I know rug camp can be an expensive proposition with your hotel bill, camp tuition, pattern and wool purchases, and food bill.  Do what your heart tells you to do.  
What do teachers do before camp?  Correspondence and research, washing and dyeing wool, designing and drawing patterns, packing up everything, traveling by plane or by car.  Many, many hours go into your workshop before you ever get there!  So now you know!