Thursday, November 16, 2017

Visit to Salem

Just got back from a quick trip to Salem, MA. Because Halloween is over and the streets less busy, we ventured downtown to visit the Witches Memorial Wall and the adjoining cemetery. It was the perfect day to visit a cemetery -- cold and dreary.

Quite moving to view the memorial wall with the names of those hung during that awful year of 1692. I didn't know too much about the witch trials and was surprised to see that several men were hung also. One poor soul was pressed to death.

As we ventured into the cemetery, I knew that the stones would reveal lots of young people's death and many children. I also expected to see lots of interesting gravestone art. However, I was surprised to see so many stones with depictions of skulls. Here are some photos of the type of art I am referencing.

This was a particularly sad stone. A piece is missing to the left, but the two hearts that are visible depict the deaths of two 16-month olds who died four years apart. How sad.

Kind of a depressing post, but history isn't always pleasant.

Hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving.

Be a blessing to somebody.
                       -- Maya Angelou

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Catch Up

As usual, it's been awhile. It is not for lack of topics to talk about; more about the time to post and take pictures.

Since I last posted, I've been to Salem, MA twice visiting the ocean and birding. A lovely spot in the world. Halloween is in full swing in the downtown area, but we are in a quiet part of town, and just get to relax when visiting.

The beach on the Nahant causeway. Paradise.

Some of the things I've been up to:

Alcohol Ink Dyeing
Our rug hooking group that meets once a week at a local Senior Center often branches out into other areas. One week we explored the use of alcohol inks. What fun! A member of the group had a friend who was well-versed in the use of these dyes, and she brought supplies and know-how for a four-hour workshop. We worked on ceramic tiles, glass vases and bulbs, metal sheets, and even a clam shell.

The first two photos show finished pieces by the teacher whose name, sadly, I cannot remember.

The following photo shows a group photo of the student pieces.

I have two pieces going right now. I am working on a "Big, Bold, and Beautiful" project for my class with Julie Smith. I chose to do a large variegated mushroom based on a photo I found on Pinterest. I love the results, and the best part is using up lots of worms!! I will show a photo of the rug in a later post.

I am also working on a large Polly Minnick pattern of a whale. Although the whale is coming out well, my choice for the sky may prove to be a challenge. I'm trying hard to pull it off.

My fall beginner rug hooking class is in full swing. I have five wonderful students who are very enthusiastic about hooking and open to learning to use just about any fiber. Here are some of the rugs they are working on.

This rug was hooked by Tracey Allen. She has mainly just the binding to finish up. For a first rug, I think it is fantastic!

Sue Vial hooked these two rugs. I love that she hooked her whale in red, and the shorebird is something I would proudly display in my own home.

Embroidery with Sue Spargo
My block of the month club project with Sue Spargo continues on. I am still plugging away on my March block, but I made a lot of progress this week and hope to finish it in the next two weeks. Fingers crossed!

I am trying to get lots of reading accomplished. As I've said, I love to read, and I'm trying to tuck in time here and there to read. Currently, our book club is reading News of the World. I finished it up over the weekend and just loved it. Captain Jefferson Kidd travels the remote Texas towns in the 1870s reading from current newspapers to the citizens of these small towns who don't have access to a lot of recent news. During his travels, he takes on the responsibility of a returning a child captured by the Kiowa Indians to her family. A fascinating look at the life of a captive child and the reintroduction of that child in to American society.

Please be sure to check out my
Ebay and Etsy listings for new wool.
My Ebay listings are fixed price, so there is no need to bid.
Links are on the right side of my blog.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

3-D Rug Hooked House

Today, I finished my 3-D hooked house! I am so happy with how it came out.

This project was started over the winter in a class I take with Julie Smith. Because of the birth of my grandson in March, I was unable to work on it until the spring. The house measures 11.5" x 4" x 6". It was hooked mostly with a four-cut, but there are also some 5- and 6-cuts. A few bits of yarn here and there also. The cat in the upstairs window was glued on. I used a sock weight wool yarn to sew it together.

Here are the completed pieces before construction began.

I started by sewing the side panels to each side. It proved to be fairly easy. Here is the first side panel sewn to the main house.

Once the house was sewn together, I whipped yarn around the bottom of the whole house to finish.

Here are the three other sides:

To photograph the standing house, I placed it over the light I use to hook by.

Great project. I would certainly try more 3-D patterns.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A garden and a book...

Here's my little slice of heaven:

One of many bookshelves scattered throughout the house. (The hooked rug on the floor was part of a Gene Shepard blog challenge several years ago.)

And outside, we enjoy the garden and pool for a few short summer months.

Hope your summer is going well. I see some hints of color on the maple trees. You know what that means!!

Shameless plug!
Check out my Etsy and Ebay wool items. Links to the left.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Book Recommendation

Here is a quick post to recommend a collection of short stories that I just finished. The Last Animalby Abby Geni is a fabulous collection of stories centered around nature and how people cope with everyday life by interacting with the natural world around us. (Click on the title if you are interested in finding out more about it on amazon.)

There was not a bad story in the lot. Each one kept me wanting more, and as I finished a story, I was wondering how could the next story be any better.

Check out this cover. It's amazing!

Saturday, July 29, 2017


Summer is slipping past quicker than I hoped. I've spent some time in Salem, MA at a home we own there. Had the pleasure of watching the fireworks off Nahant Island on the fourth of July, spent some time on the beach, and had a great time birding on the North Shore.

There are some great wildlife refuges and sanctuaries in Massachusetts. I am a regular visitor to the Parker River Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island near Newburyport and found another great spot in Ipswich (the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary) on my last trip. That sanctuary is part of Massachusetts Audubon whose mission is "To protect the nature of Massachusetts for people and for wildlife."

Snowy egret (photo taken in Parker River Wildlife Sanctuary)

I've been so busy traveling lately that I've just recently gotten back to my hooking, embroidery, and other projects. I finished a heart pillow that was part of a project in one of Julie's Smith's classes (shown in a previous post), and am working on a second project from another of her classes. That project, when complete, will be a 3-D hooked house. Here is a photo of the front of the house and the roof.

I'm also working on a Sue Spargo block of the month embroidery project. Each month a lovely kit arrives with thread, material, and instructions. Okay, this is July. I'm just finishing up February! I really don't mind being behind, because I'm learning so many wonderful embroidery stitches and learning new ways to incorporate them into other embroidered items I am working on. Very enjoyable.

I finished up a table runner that I've had on my loom for quite a while. Came out great. As part of the weaving process, I worked up a small sampler of the pattern before beginning the actual runner. I wasn't sure what to do with it, but decided to embroider some flowers/plants into the rectangular shapes that were crying out for some kind of stitching! I'm eventually going to turn this into a pillow of some kind.

So, I feel like I'm back in the groove of crafting. It feels so great to be back! What are you working on?

New color wool available on Ebay called Mulberry. A bit lighter than photos show, it is a nice prim color. You may purchase directly from me for $10.00 per 1/4 yard plus $3.00 s/h. Let me know if you are interested. 4 sets available. Nice prim color!

Remember, always make time for yourself!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Just finished ...

I just finished the book Kitchens of the Great Northwest by J. Ryan Stradal. I wanted to love this book, but it was not to be.

I put a lot of emphasis on whether I like the characters or not, and I think someone should be likable. This book didn't have any characters that I became invested in. The story is told in a series of vignettes, and as the years pass, you come to know a variety of people whose connection comes to center around the main character, Eva Thorvald. I think if I had gotten to know the characters a little better, I may have enjoyed the book more. A few recipes are scattered throughout this book, but that didn't much help it either.

So, if you plan on reading this novel, get it out of the library.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Great Fabric Link

Check out this wonderful link about rare fabrics and textiles in a shop in Vermont. Wish I knew it was there when I was last in Brattleboro.

Delectable Mountain Cloth

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Update from Woolly Mammoth Woolens

WOW! It's been a while! I've been so busy these past few months. Here's an update on what I've been up to.

New Grandson!
Most of the last few months have been spent enjoying and getting to know my new little grandson, Thomas. Born late in March, he lives a fair distance from us, so I've made quite a few trips to visit. In fact, during our last trip over, we bought a vacation home to be nearer to him and watch him grow up!

Rug Hooking
I haven't done a lot of hooking lately, but I did manage to finish a small project I started in February. This heart pillow was hooked entirely of yarn and used a cording to separate the sections and bind the edge. I attached a wool backing to it, stuffed it and voila. The fun part was needle felting the top motif which give the whole piece a regal feeling.

Haven't gotten a whole lot of wool dyed, but did manage to dye nine yards recently. Here is that pile of wool – a nice variety of lights and darks. Most of this wool has been listed on Ebay. Either check out my listings there (link on right side) or contact me directly if you see a color you like.

Did get a lot of reading done. Here's some of the highlights:

All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. A great book -- depressing and hopeful at the same time. A novel of World War II. Told from the perspectives of a blind French girl who becomes involved with the resistance in France and a German soldier who doesn't really believe in Garmany's cause. Well-developed characters who you really care about. Even the more minor characters are interesting and play such an important role in the story. The lightness of youth and the darkness of the time are incredibly contrasted in this story.

The Reading Promise
Alice Ozma
A delightful book about a single father and his daughter whose love of reading turns into an over 3000-day challenge to read aloud each day. Loved this!

Tenth of December
George Saunders
A collection of short stories. Although I didn't get the gist of all of these stories and almost gave up on the book, I did enjoy some of them. It was very readable, and perhaps I need to read more short story collections to learn to appreciate this type of book. In particular, I enjoyed the first and last story the most.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Betty Smith
Quietly fabulous! The simple lives of the characters in this novel made this story a monumental read. The poor and quiet lives of the people in this novel have a lot to teach us.
"From that time on, the world was hers for the reading. She would never be
lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends. Books became her friends
and there was one for every mood."

Wild America
Roger Tory Peterson and Jame Fischer
Written in 1953, this book is a tour through the United States by leading bird experts with the intent of seeing as many species of birds as possible. A glimpse into life in 1953 with no digital camera or phones. Easy reading. Interesting to see how life has changed in sixty-plus years.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


Sitting here at my desk, watching the snow fall. Luckily, I'm surrounded by fun projects. I am finishing up the border on my Seaside Village Rug (designed by Karla Gerard). I love the way this rug turned out. It's funny that you sometimes plan for a rug to look a certain way, and it winds up taking on a life of its own.

Here's a photo:

You can see several techniques used in this rug: quillies, a roof with a solid fabric (the olive green house) that has been sewn on and stuffed, French knots in the purple flowers, a roof woven with yarn (the rust-colored house), and an attempt at Waldeboro hooking near the bottom of the rug. I think using different hooking techniques is what made this rug so fun!

What are you hooking?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

FEBRUARY favorites

Here's a new post I've been wanting to try: favorite things of the month!

Favorite Movie: Hands-down my favorite movie this month was Lion. Starring Nicole Kidman, Dev Patel and Sunny Pawar as the young Saroo. This was an amazing story of survival. I wondered as I watched this how the little boy manages to stay alive in a 1980s big city in India. It was both heartbreaking and heart-warming. I loved the little boy who played Saroo, and Dev Patel's performance should have won him an Academy Award. Be prepared to shed a few tears.

Favorite Book: The best book I read in the month of February was The Keeper of Lost Causes: The First Department Q Novel (Department Q Series Book 1) by Jussi Adler-Olsen. A story set in Copenhagen and the first in the Department Q mysteries. I loved the characters and immediately ordered the 2nd book in this series after finishing this book. You will love the Head of Department Q, and his quirky assistant who set out to solve long-unsolved crimes. This was a real page-turner.

Favorite TV Show: Without a doubt, "Victoria" was my February fave. Airing on PBS, this period piece tells the story of the ascension of Victoria to the English Throne and her subsequent marriage to Prince Albert. Loved the history, which I didn't know enough about. Enjoying the learning aspect of this as well as the storytelling.

Favorite Song: The opening music to Victoria is my favorite this month. Available on iTunes, the music was composed by Martin Phipps and Ruth Barrett. Hauntingly beautiful and mournful at the same time.

Favorite Outing: Spent three days in Newburyport, MA this month with side trips to Gloucester and Rockport, and Woodman's Restaurant in Ipswich, MA. Parker Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island is a birder's paradise. Even with the still chilly temperatures, we saw a number of birds. Stood within 10 feet of a Barred Owl and got some wonderful pictures.

Favorite Bird: My favorite new bird this month has to be the Red-breasted Merganser Duck. I saw this duck in Gloucester along with other many other birds. The thrill of adding a new bird to my life list never gets old.

Favorite New Hooking Idea: My favorite new technique this month has to be creating quillies and caterpillars to add to a hooked piece. I love the depth of dimension this adds to the hooked piece and and brings the art of hooking to the level of fiber art.

What are your favorite things from February???

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Books, Books and More Books

Here is part of my latest book haul. I buy way too many books, but I just love to read. I also love watching booktube, a part of YouTube where people discuss the books they read, buy, love and hate. Lots of great discussion and easy to listen to while rug hooking.

So, my latest acquisitions:

This bunch was mostly recommended by booktubers, although East of Eden was on my radar for a long time. I have read that, but the others pictured above are still waiting.

Had to have Baking with Mary Berry I'm a big fan of the "Great British Baking Show," and I also watch the American version. Who doesn't need another baking book?!?!?

The Natural World was a Christmas gift from my daughter. She selected it from my Amazon wish list. An absolutely beautiful book with amazing illustrations. My grandson loves this one and is trying to get me to give him the dust jacket as the inside of it is a full length poster. So far, I've kept it! The other book, the classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a book I got my grandson for Christmas. We are reading it together. It's been many years since I read this book, and I am enjoying it as much as he is.

These are the first two illustrated versions of the Harry Potter series. I do have the hardcovers, but these were too special not to have. I want to reread all seven books, and hope to do so using the illustrated copies.

I have purchased other books in the last month. Will try to mention those in a future post. I also purchased another new rug hooking book, which I plan on doing a separate review of.

Please check out booktube! It's wonderful. If you need recommendations of some good channels, feel free to ask.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Quillies in my rug!

I'm nearly finished with my latest rug, Seaside Village by Karla Gerard. I was inspired by Gail DuFresne's book to add some quillies. Here's a photo.

You can see in the upper left hand corner a spot where another quillie will go. I do love the effect. The possibilities are endless!!

Also, lots of new wool in my Etsy shop:

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Hooking on Wire Mesh

In a recent class at Julie Smith's, Julie talked about her experience taking a class with Molly Cosgrove who is well-known for hooking on wire mesh. I've tried to find photos of her work, but didn't have much luck. Julie showed us the project she started and challenged us to try our hand at hooking on wire.

Here is a sample of the wire:

We started with a rectangular-shaped piece of mesh, and with a few cuts, shaped it into a box. Once that was done, we took crimpers and folded the ragged and sharp edges over to make the top edges of the box smoother. Next, using a tapestry needle, we wove in the top edging of the box about a 1/2 inch down the sides. 

Once the top edging was complete, you commenced hooking in the thick yarn chosen for the project. Here was where I had a problem. I had my good hook with me, and after pulling a few loops did not like that my hook was catching on the wire and not easily pulling the yarn through the mesh.

Now for the dilemma: I was supposed to be "hooking" this piece. Eventually, I found that using a tapestry needle and weaving loops in and out of the mesh proved to much easier. So, this basket/box was not really hooked!

Anyway, I did enjoy the process and would like to try using the mesh to sculpt a shape. Here are some photos of the finished box. The flowers are pieces of sari silk.