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!