Saturday, December 31, 2011

Rug of the Day (and a demo on steaming)-December 31st.

Here is a brand new rug that is hot off my rug hooking frame.  I finished it up last night and needed to give it a good steaming.  It is my adaptation/interpretation of an antique rug.  I tried to stay true to the original color plan.
The size is about 25 x 25.  I hooked this in all #9 cuts (my new favorite cut!!!)  Even though I don't crowd my loops and I do leave enough spacing in between rows, my edges always curl.

The center circle won't lay flat either; it's sticking up and it looks like a dome.
I never worry about this because I know I can steam it out easily with my Eurosteam Iron.  Maria Barton from Star Rug Company raved about this iron in one of her blog posts and I have gotten several e-mails inquiring about it, so I'd like to show you how it works!
First fill the iron with the recommended amount of water.  You get the funnel and pouring pitcher with the iron.  You never want to overfill because it will cause spitting.
Close the top cap of the iron tightly.  They actually give you a little red gizmo to do that.  Now you plug it in and turn it on.  Set it on the little gray rubber mat that is provided.  You're going to heat it up laying flat (you never rest the iron on its heel like a regular clothes iron).  Make sure it's on a safe surface because it will get hot (there is no temperature setting-you just turn it on).  I let it preheat for about 5 minutes or until the little orange light goes out.
While the iron is heating up, I prepare my pressing space.  I put a couple of old wool blankets down as a base and then place a towel on top of that.  I lay my rug out on top of all those layers, wrong side up.  Look at those edges!  They will not lay flat!
When the iron is ready, I hold it over my rug and press the small white button that's in the middle of the gray button.  This will give you a burst of steam:
Wow!  Look at that steam come out!
You can also turn the gray button to get continuous steam, but you will run out of steam faster that way.  I like to control the steam by using the white button.
I first tackle those pesky curled edges.  NOTICE I AM NOT USING A PRESS CLOTH NOR A DAMP CLOTH!  I press the iron right on the rug and hit the steam button.  You do not have to press hard and there won't be any press marks. 
I'm working around the rug to get it flat.  Once I get the edges down, I start working into the rest of the rug.
Here is a shot to show you the flattened edge (on the right) vs. the curled edge that hasn't been steamed yet (on the left).
Here is the back of the rug, completely steamed and flat.  This took me no more that 5 minutes at the most.  Seriously.
I flip the rug over and begin to steam the front.  It doesn't need as much work, but for this particular rug, I am concentrating on the circles since they tend to pop up.
The front is steamed and completely flat.  No more curled edges!  The front took me no more than about 3 minutes to complete. Seriously!
 I still have some steam left in the iron.  However, I turned it off and I am letting it cool completely before I empty out the excess water.  Remember, the steam works under pressure like a pressure cooker.  You want it to cool off first and release the pressure by pushing the button before you open it up to empty it.
Remember the center circle?  Now it's as flat as a pancake!  Yay!
I have the Eurosteam Iron in stock.  They cost $200.00 and shipping is extra.  I would have never thought that I would spend that much on an iron, but I have used mine often and I'm a believer.  No more press cloth and it cuts your steaming time in half!  I have also used it to steam my linen pants and tops.  You can actually steam them right on the hanger if you want!
Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Rug of the Day-December 30th

Today's Rug of the Day is Not Forgotten Flowers, adapted by Lori Brechlin folk art by Spruce Ridge Studios 
(c) 2006 ~ Today is such a dull and gray day....we need some flowers to brighten it up!
This sweet little rug is hooked by Pat Mensing and was on display at the Sauder Village rug exhibit in August 2011.  Pat took a one day class with me in June and we worked on her color plan.  This is just the nicest, softest floral!  So many things to love about this one...the striped pot, the proddy flower, the blue leaves, the nice soft neutral background.  The red tulip gives a nice pop to the whole thing!  

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Rug of the Day-December 29th

Today's Rug of the Day is American Sheep, a design adapted from Lori Brechlin folk art by Spruce Ridge Studios (c)2009
Jan Hammond hooked this rug in a workshop I taught for her group in 2010.  I think this is such a sweet design and Jan has done some fun things with her version.  She worked some quillie circles into her flower and in one of the flags.  There are also some tiny stars to be hooked in the sheep's blanket, so Jan dove into her sewing stash and found some delightful star buttons to use instead.  She also sewed them on some of the smaller flags.  Genius!  I would have hated to hook those itty bitty stars!  I think you'll agree that this is one happy sheep!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Rug of the Day-December 28th

Today's Rug of the Day is Majestic, adapted from the artwork of PJ Rankin-Hults by Spruce Ridge 
Studios (c) 2005
This rug was hooked by Gail Soltar and her teacher was Anita White.  I love the nice soft gray textures used in the bird with the accents of red.  This is all beautifully set off with a dark background.  Just a wonderful rug, so graceful and truly majestic!
A job well done, Gail!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Rug of the Day-December 27th

Today's rug is another fabulous one from Deb Nees.
Glad Tidings-Adapted from Lori Brechlin folk art by Spruce Ridge Studios (c)2008
Deb was a student of mine at the Rugs By The Sea rug camp in Cape May, NJ.  I love Cape May!  What a great rug camp and what a great town.  I have taught there for 2 years and each year has been unbelievably creative and wonderful.  I have the best students!

There are so many good things about Deb's rug.  I think the blue stars are wonderful and so is her Appaloosa horse.  She hooked Santa's beard with some Wensleydale lamb curls which turned out to be absolutely perfect.  If you click on the picture, check out the buttons, belt buckle, horn strap and jingle bell on Santa's hat.  Deb hooked them with some sparkly yarn she found at a local yarn shop in Cape May (there is also some that weaves its way throughout the wreath).  It had just enough burnished sparkle to make it noticeable but not overly obvious or gaudy.  This yarn sent us teachers (and students) into an anxious tizzy to try to find some for our own stash.  The yarn shop was wiped out of it immediately...I wonder what the shop owner thought when we swooped in!?!
Here's a closer look at Santa's beard:

Monday, December 26, 2011

Rug of the Day - December 26th

Wish Upon A Star - Adapted from PJ Rankin-Hults folk art by Spruce Ridge Studios (2005) and hooked by Kris Miller
This is the rug that hangs as a companion to Old Saint Nick on the wall above the sofa in my studio/family room.  I love this guy with his stocking knit cap and big basket full of stars.  To give the basket a woven look, I hooked a nubby textured wool vertically and the pattern in the wool did the work.  Just one of the many reasons why I love to hook with textures!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Rug of the Day-December 25th

Old Saint Nick- designed and hooked by 
Kris Miller (c) 2005
I love to hook Santa rugs!  Today's rug is another Santa; his beard hooked with roving from my friend's Lincoln sheep.  It has a hairy texture and also has a little glow to it.  I tried to make the background and border look like faded old ivory and gold colors from a vintage postcard.  This rug is hanging above the sofa in my studio/family room...along with another winter rug which I will show tomorrow.
Wishing you blessings of the Season!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Rug of the Day-December 24th

Holly & Ewe - designed and hooked by Kris Miller (c) 2011
Christmas Eve is Santa's night to bring all woolly creatures a treat or two.
All my "creatures" have been tucked in for the night and they are awaiting their apple treats tomorrow morning.
Merry CHRISTmas everyone!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Rug of the Day - December 23rd

I'm going to change things up today and show you a rug that is not my design nor one that I sell,  but it is too fabulous not to share!
This was hooked by Kathy Gish.  Her husband had taken a photograph in Nova Scotia and drew the image up on linen for Kathy to hook, and she wanted to give it to him as a gift.  She was a little worried about how to proceed so she signed up for a class with me so I could give her some pointers.  We also referred to Jane Halliwell Green's book., Pictorial Hooked Rugs.  The picture originally showed an empty boat but Kathy added George fishing.
I am so proud of what Kathy has done with this rug!  It is just fabulous and I know her husband really loves it too.
It was a little out of the box for both of us (me being a primitive teacher, Kathy being more of a primitive hooker) but it's proof that once you put your heart and soul into something, you can make it happen.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rug of the Day - December 22nd

Since today is the first day of winter, the Rug of the Day is Cocoa & Cookies.
Deborah Holden hooked this version.  She gave the snowman a chocolate chip cookie, steam coming out of the cocoa mug, and a little red bird perched on one of the trees.  There's no snow on the ground, which is just like here in Michigan...we probably will not have a white Christmas this year.
Yvonne Meriam hooked a night sky, and it looks like this snowman will have a white Christmas!  Maybe that's why this little guy is smiling!
Good job, ladies!  The great thing about the design of this rug is that you can leave it out all winter long and not just for the Christmas season.
This is my version of Cocoa & Cookies Alphabet Sampler.  I gave my snowman a red ware cup and plate.  I really enjoyed hooking the alphabet!  I mixed up the colors of the letters just a little bit to give it some variety.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rug of the Day-December 21st

Since I told you about Emma yesterday, I thought I'd continue that theme for another day.  Here is Have Ye Any Wool:
This rug is hooked by Deborah Feldman and was another project taught at my workshop in Mississippi in 2010.  Of course, everything about this rug is terrific but I love the way Deborah added the quillie circles to the O's in "wool."  A very nice touch.
Once again, Emma was the model for the sheep standing at the bottom.  I literally took a photo of Emma and traced around her body for the pattern.  The goat was just a little sketch I drew but when I hooked my own rug, it ended up reminding me of my goat Zack.  I don't know why, because Zack is a white goat and not orange, so maybe it was the expression I put on his face (ears?  horns?). Here is my original:
The wool roving that I used to hook the sheep came from my Finn sheep Mikko, who died a couple years ago so there are many reasons why this rug is near and dear to my heart.
Here is a picture of Zack:
The picture below is kind of funny...showing Zack half shorn.  It's amazing to get all that mohair off of him and see what's below!
Don't you wish you could shed 6 to 8 pounds so easily???

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rug of the Day-December 20th

Today's rug is Emma's Garden
This rug was hooked by Linda Brown.  Her proddy sunflowers are beautiful and her little lamb looks so happy.  Linda used to raise sheep herself.
Lanna Omlor hooked Emma's Garden and her grandkids just loved it!
Aren't these pictures adorable?
In case you don't know the story about how the rug Emma's Garden came to be: Emma is my Wensleydale sheep.  She has a very distinct personality and doesn't seem to be afraid of too many things.  Whenever a bird would land close by, her curiosity would get the best of her and she'd end up chasing it across her pen until the bird flew away. 
A couple of years ago, I was going to teach a techniques workshop in Mississippi and the idea for Emma's Garden was born.  It commemorates Emma's fascination with birds.
Here is my original version:
And here is the original Emma, hamming it up for the camera!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Rug of the Day-December 19th

Peace and Plenty is the rug of the day and it is hooked by Deb Nees who has been a student of mine at Rugs By The Sea, Cape May, NJ.  It is a Lori Brechlin design adapted by Spruce Ridge Studios.  This has always been one of my favorite designs.  When I draw up the pattern, my mind automatically starts color planning it with warm autumn colors of browns, soft golds,and muted reds.  Deb has done a beautiful job with this rug but I especially like how she treated the checkerboard squares at the bottom of the rug.  I had always pictured the squares hooked with two alternating colors but Deb has used multiple colors to make it look like a lovely soft quilt.   What a great idea.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Rug of the Day-December 18th

Today's rug is a little rug with extra delight!  This was sent to me (and hooked) by Dianne Tobias.  She is the co-author of Combining Rug Hooking & Braiding, along with Kris McDermet and Christine Manges.  This is really a must-have book for your reference library.  Besides stunning and inspirational pictures, there are detailed pictures of instruction.  I am so glad I purchased a copy.
The little owl pattern was designed by me and appeared in the September/October issue of Rug Hooking Magazine.  The article was about making spooky quillie eyes for your Halloween projects, but the pattern was included in the article for one's personal use. 
Dianne tells me that she is new to rug hooking and that the specific braid border she did around her little owl mat was developed after the book was in publication. 

Here is my original little owl mat:

Has anyone else hooked my little owl pattern? I would love to see what you have done! (If you didn't get your S/O issue of Rug Hooking Magazine or you don't like to draw your own patterns, you can always order it from me.)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Rug of the Day-December 17th

Today's rug of the day is a perfect one for this time of year.  This is Glad Tidings, a design adapted from Lori Brechlin Folk Art by Spruce Ridge Studios. I have two hooked samples to show you and they are both wonderful.  The rug above is hooked by Leanne Sitler.  So many things to love about this rug!  The purple Santa, the unusual and spectacular background, and the way the gold lettering glows.
Dawn Walczak hooked this Glad Tidings rug.  I love her use of sheep curls for Santa's beard and the embellishment of jingle bells (hat and wreath) and gold buttons on the jacket.  And take a close look at her letters and you'll see how the G and T are hooked in a beautiful red and green Christmas plaid that matches Santa's jacket.  What a wonderful way to tie everything together! 
Nice job, Dawn and Leanne!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Rug of the Day-December 16th

The rug of the day is hooked by Dorothy Delaune from Covington, LA.  She was in my Fancy Barn Symbol class at the ATHA biennial (Lancaster, PA) along with 19 other very delightful and enthusiastic gals.  We had a fun day of learning 8 or 9 different techniques and incorporating them all into this one little sweet mat.  Dorothy has done a wonderful job with her hooking.
I can't remember if I've posted my mat before so here is a picture of the original:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Alpaca Update-It's All About Food

The alpaca boys have been here for one month now.  It has been a giant learning curve for me but both beasts and owner are settling in nicely.  I have taken some time to observe their behavior and learn about what makes them tick.  Typical for any animal, it's all about food and they will do just about anything for a tasty bite.  The above picture is Willy waiting (impatiently) for his scoop of pellets/grain.
We have certainly struggled with thinking of names.  Finally, my husband said " I don't care what you name them!"  Ultimately, I have decided to stay close to what their original names were.  I have realized that Willy's name fits his personality perfectly.  He is more friendly, a little silly, and more verbal.  He makes the funniest little groans when he sees his food coming.  He is the one who spits more frequently too.  The spitting is always directed at Quinn and not me, but somehow I always get caught in the crossfire.  At first I was making sure that I always wore a hat when I was around him, but I soon realized that spitting can be a learned behavior and I can have a little control over it.  Now when he tilts his head upward and starts to whine, I put my hand up in front of his nose and say "NO!" and it actually stops him from unleashing his spit.
Quinn is more reserved, a little shyer, and harder to get close to.  He is also the alpha male, which is a little curious for me to understand since he is more reserved.  He does not like to be touched at all...unless food is involved!  So every morning while he is eating his pellets, I slowly stroke his back and talk to him.  If I touch his neck, he will back up and try to escape, so I am just working on petting his back.  I know I will win in the end...I have melted many an icy heart!
Willy has always allowed me to pet him while he was eating, however today we had a little break-through.  Before I ever brought a morsel of food into the barn this morning, Willie walked up to me and poked his nose close to mine.  He stared at me with his big dark eyes and let me stroke his neck.  Yay!  I think my patience is paying off!
I have decided to start "Rug of the Day" again and it will continue for the next 4 weeks or so.  I have received so many wonderful pictures from folks who have hooked some of my patterns and I'd like to share them with you.  Come back tomorrow and see what I have chosen.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

First Major Snowfall

Beautiful snow overnight...these pictures don't need any explanation.