Saturday, May 2, 2020

Maryland Sheep and Wool Virtual Festival is here!

The Maryland Sheep & Wool Virtual Festival starts today at 8:30 am (EDT).
Here is the link to access the Festival vendors:

There are many vendors offering specials.  Spruce Ridge Studios is offering free US shipping, using the code mdsw2020.  This code is only good until Sunday night and you must enter it in the coupon code box on the order form on our website.

The sweet little sheep in the above picture has a funny Festival story.  The very first year I went to vend at the Festival, I saw her in the sheep barn and was told she was for sale.  We had no room in our van or trailer to take her home but it just so happened that there was a man from our area who was showing sheep and he agreed to trailer her back to Michigan with his other animals.  I often joke that most people buy a souvenir t-shirt when they go, but I had to bring home an actual sheep!    This is Sukka, she is a black sheep with little white "socks" on her legs, so her name means "sock" in Finnish (she is a Finn sheep!).  We still have her here on our farm and she is the most lovable girl ever!  During this pandemic, she has come to me for hugs and scratches every day.  Sort of an emotional support sheep, wouldn't you say...she's trying to tell me everything is going to be alright! 

Happy shopping and I wish you fabulous purchases!

Friday, May 1, 2020

Maryland Sheep & Wool Virtual Festival

My beloved sheep Emma and her mom

Dear blog friends ~  
have you heard?

The Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival is having a virtual marketplace all week-end long!
The marketplace will open at 8:30 am tomorrow morning and run the whole week-end.  Some of the vendors will be having special offers, and Spruce Ridge Studios will participating with a special too.  I will post the link for the vendors/marketplace early tomorrow morning and you can shop until you drop!

I am so excited for this week-end's shopping since we cannot attend the festival in person.  I will be able to shop (instead of manning my booth all day) and people from all areas of the country will be able to attend too.  It's all the buzz on Facebook!
So join me tomorrow and support all your fiber friends and neighbors!

My granddaughter, Emma, meets the sheep!  They love animal crackers and Emma loves the sheep!

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Studio Construction

My poor little studio has undergone many changes over the years.  I started out in a corner of our walk-out basement with just a few shelves of wool and a couple of baskets of patterns. As the years went on, we expanded that space so it was larger and walled off from the rest of the family room space and then finally, rug hooking took over most of it.  I've had classes and open houses and allowed shoppers to come shop by appointment.  But as I accumulated more and more merchandise and traveled to teach at workshops and camps, my studio truly turned into more of a work/storage space and less of a "shopping" space. 
Right now I can't even bring myself to post a picture of my studio because it has been overtaken with bolts of wool, rolls of foundation cloth, shelves and drawers of patterns, and merchandise stacked up to be packed for the next show.  I have longed for a place that can be my "store," so people can come and shop and put their hands on all this wonderful wool that I have to offer.  A place that I can keep merchandise displayed and it won't get moved or packed up because it is "pattern drawing day."

But good news is coming!  Ken and I have been dreaming of turning our little three-season room (breezeway) into a little rug hooking shop and now it will become a reality!

 So much was needed to be done!  New windows, new flooring, new electrical, adding insulation and siding and heating vents.  Raising the ceiling and painting.  Ken has decided to tackle most of it himself.  You probably know how much we travel so it has taken a while....but we think it should be operational this summer.  Fingers crossed!
I've taken some pictures of the progress so here they are:
 Just about a year ago, Ken started to remove the drop ceiling.  He also started replacing the windows.

Drop ceiling removed and new studs put in.  New electrical wiring, new insulation, and dry wall going up.

New dry wall was installed and the original knotty pine paneling was put back up.

Insulation and dry wall goes on the raised ceiling space.  The old siding on our house was kind of cool but not in good condition to leave it exposed.

Ceiling is drywalled and new lighting is functional.

New pine paneling is going up over the old siding.  Ken experimented with covering the brick but it didn't work out to his satisfaction so now our plan is to mortar wash the brick to make it looked old and reclaimed.
Ken did a little Christmas decorating in his construction zone...haha!

 We were inspired by a friend's wood paneled ceiling so Ken has installed shiplap on the ceiling.

Progress is made...he had to cut around all the ceiling beams and lights!

 He's almost finished!  You can see he uses a scaffold to reach the high spots...and you can see all our junky treasures piled up during the construction. Some of that stuff has got to go!
We will white-wash the pine paneling to give it a light, airy look.

So, you see, slowly but surely Ken is getting things done.  There is still painting to be done but we have to wait for the heat to be installed....coming in 2 weeks!  And then perhaps the flooring is next.  Whew!

Friday, February 7, 2020

Ghost Genie

Last October, I hosted and also taught a class at the Historic Franklin Rug Hooking Retreat in Franklin, Tennessee. My students were really quite wonderful....and very understanding, since I was splitting some of my time with the administrative end of running a rug camp.  My husband and my sister took a lot of the burden off of me, however, and I am forever grateful for that!
One of my students wanted to hook Ghost Genie, which is a design that is adapted by the whimsical folk art of Johanna Parker.  Johanna was born on Halloween and I have to say that she is the "Queen" of Halloween, too!  Her original design uses the traditional Halloween colors of orange and black.

But my student requested no orange in her color planning.  
"What could I do?" I thought to myself. 
Not even an orange pumpkin?
So I thought "Aha! Purple!"

I dyed up some textured woolens in several different values of purple.  I also had an as-is texture that was lighter purple so I thought that it would work for the background.  I couldn't think of anything else but a green pumpkin and I especially love those dusky bluish-green pumpkins like the picture below.  Apparently this one is called a Jarrahdale pumpkin, an heirloom variety from New Zealand.

Lucky for me, Marion loved my color suggestions and she was off to the races!  She hooked A LOT during our rug camp and had an impressive amount hooked by the time we did the "throw-down" on the last day of camp.

It was turning out just the way I had envisioned it but honestly, Marion's lovely hooking style made this rug shine and it was one of the favorites at the rug camp.

Just recently, Marion emailed me a picture of her finished rug.  
The green pumpkin is superb and I love how she used the same green for the dots in the scrolls.  It marches the color around the rug and adds that special spark to make it interesting.
"I absolutely love it" she wrote.  
Wow, I love it too!!!

Just a P.S. about the ice storm I mentioned in my last post....we never got the tons of ice like the weatherman predicted but we did get TONS of rain.  We thought it had affected the pump on our well but upon inspection from the well company, we had a leak or break in the main pipe supply to our house.  The pipe was cemented into our foundation and the water was leaking somewhere in the cement.  Ugh.  So we had to have a major re-route of the pipe line which involved drilling into the foundation and floor.  I did not start my Give Ye Thanks rug after all but it is still waiting for me.  I have a different rug on my frame in the meantime...but that is a story for another post.
Have a great week-end!

Friday, January 10, 2020

Getting Ready For The Ice Storm

We don't get a lot of ice storms in our neck of the woods so when the weatherman says it's going to be a bad one tomorrow, I sit up and take notice.  Of course they make it sound like it's going to come down in Biblical proportions and sometimes they are wrong.  But I'm going to be prepared anyway, just in case they are right.
I'm going to fill water buckets and charge batteries and get out candles.  I bought a rechargeable light for my frame last year so that's getting charged too.  If the lights go out, I'm bundling up and rug hooking!
I have had Notforgotten Farm's Give Ye Thanks pattern on my bucket list for several years so now is the time to hook it!  I can't tell you how excited I am to finally start color planning it for ME!  The linen is stretched over my light table and my sharpies are ready to draw out all the lovely details.  I couldn't help but pull a few textures that were calling to me.

The top four woolens are for the cabin...just dreaming here...a red striped roof, the cabin of rustic brown plaid (sorry-not for sale. This is all I have!) with light taupe chinking.  I have color planned Give Ye Thanks many times and it is really essential that the cabin chinking remains much lighter than the "logs."
Isn't the bottom dotted plaid fabulous???  It might be used for either part of the hills or the oak leaves in the trees.  When I first laid eyes on this texture, I immediately thought it would look good in Give Ye Thanks so I can't wait to figure out where it should go.

I know I'll have a light/taupe background but I haven't planned much more than that.  Once I get the cabin started, I think my brain will be flooded with ideas.

One of the reasons I think this pattern is so great is because I have seen it hooked in many variations and color plans and they all look wonderful.  I know I have shared some of these images before here on my blog but it's fun and inspiring to look at them again.

 Kathy Simmons
 Lori Rippey
 Sue Clark
Kathy Keithley
 Cora Maldonado
Picture taken at the Cream City Hook-in.  Maker unknown.

There is another fabulous version with a barn that just warms my heart but I can't find it in the mess of pictures on my computer.

Stay warm and safe, my friends, and hook something you love!

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Welcome 2020!

Hello dear blog friends!  

I have to admit that 2019 wasn't my favorite year and I was happy to see it end.  There wasn't anything catastrophic but lots of little sadnesses and disappointments and just plain bad juju that kept turning up in my life.  People that I thought I had trusted let me down, people I had thought were friends turned out to be less than that.  Social Media was not a kind place, in my opinion.  I sort of pulled back from there to save my sanity.  I admire all the people and businesses who make it work for them....because sometimes it just fueled my sadness and I felt better when I was away from there. 
I lost 3 of my beloved goats this year.  It brings tears to my eyes just to type this.  They were all around 13 years old and lived a happy and pampered life here.  It seems strange to go out to the goat pen and not have them there, looking for treats or asking for a head scratch.  
I had to say goodbye to my beloved dog, Jack.  He was the love of my life too.  We rescued him when he was 6 years old and we ended up getting 9 more years of dog love, much more than I had ever anticipated.  As he got sicker and and more debilitated, I prayed that he would just die in his sleep.  But it seemed that he was hanging on with no joy left and I had to make the decision to send him over the rainbow bridge.  I know I did the right thing but it tore me up.

So, you see, the year was difficult for me.  If I have not answered a message, an email, a phone call, I hope you understand.  There were a lot of thank-you notes and Christmas cards that never got written but it doesn't mean I didn't appreciate you or I wasn't thinking about you or I wasn't thankful for your kindness.  

  I traveled a lot in 2019.   It was not ALL such a bad thing!  I met some really wonderful new friends, reconnected with old ones.  I got to see parts of the USA that I had never seen before, ate some really great regional dishes, shared stories with other rug hookers.  I am truly blessed...but being away for so long can make you long for your bed and normal routine at home. I hardly had time to hook. Sometimes I only had time to swap out a pair of jeans or socks in my suitcase and then throw the suitcase back in my car again.  Which DOES makes me laugh because on my drive to Cape May, I realized that I did not remember to replace the underwear that was taken out of my suitcase and I had to stop at Costco to buy some more. 

On December 31st, I was ruminating about all these sad things and I had gotten myself worked into a funk.  Then I got an unexpected phone call from a friend.  She was bubbly and happy and full of cheer.  I finally had to admit to her that I was feeling a little blue.  After talking to her for 1/2 hour, my whole attitude had changed.  She made me remember the good things that had happened in 2019...but she was even more optimistic about 2020.  It's a nice round number, she said.  I couldn't agree with her more.  

Thanks to my happy friend, I'm going to celebrate the good things in 2019 because that wonderful goodness is being carried over to 2020:  
  • I added a new Finn ewe to my flock.  She has a sweet disposition and a personality bigger than the sky.  We named her Kulta, which means "darling" in Finnish.  There is no better name for her!

  • I hosted my first ever rug camp, Historic Franklin Rug Hooking Retreat, in Franklin, Tennessee and everybody had fun and went home happy!

  • And the best news of all is that I became a first-time grandma to a beautiful and sweet little girl!  So many people told me that there is nothing better than being a grandma but I don't think I could fully understand it until I became one.  Quite unexpected but I think the best surprises come in small packages!

I am already happier in 2020.  I have decided that reevaluation is always necessary.  Many people choose a key word for the New Year instead of resolutions so I am going to try that.  I always resolve to walk more and I'm still going to work on that in 2020.  But my word for my journey into the New Year is 
I am going to BALANCE my days and weeks so I make more personal time for myself (something that was lacking in 2019).  More time for my granddaughter.  More time for living in the moment and enjoying what is around me.  The birds singing.  The sheep baaing.  The color of snow.  The smell of my barn.  The feel of the sun on my face. BALANCE.  So I have more time to write and spend less time lurking on Social Media.  BALANCE.  To make me a happier person in 2020.
My friend was so right.  2020 is a beautifully round number.   
And it is balanced.