Friday, August 31, 2012


Day 1 on "Inspiration - Where does it come from and what is it?"

Before we get started discussing techniques to unlock your "inspiration" and eventually your creativity let’s talk about “what is inspiration.”  If you do a search on the Net you will see that it can be many things depending on your ideology, philosophy or religious beliefs.  But for discussion sake, let’s just keep it simple and say it is something that comes from some outside source that inspires you to act.

I contend that "inspiration" is an outside source yes, but with the most important inside source and component being your mind.  The mind is an extraordinary thing capable of many millions of calculations per minutes per day but one of its greatest features is the ability it gives us to think!  “I think, therefore I am.”  (Wonder who said that?  It was Rene Descartes, a 17 Century French philosopher, mathematician and writer.  He believed that humans were superior because we above all species on the planet were “self aware” and that we could “think and reason.”   Wish to know more about Descartes, you can search Google for lots of info.) 

Each day we get “inspiration” from someplace to decide what to cook for dinner, how to decorate our homes, landscape our yards, which fabrics, yarns, wools and computers to buy (okay, maybe not computers – we shop them usually based on need, performance and value $$$) but our brains compute daily how we go about our lives and how we live them.  There is no difference when it comes to the "inspiration" required to create a painting, write a book, make a garment, design a home or write a piece of music.     

The answer to the question  “where does inspiration come from” is actually quite simple.  You laugh, I know, but stay with me.  Inspiration is like the air we breathe and is around us night and day!  Now that might sound too simple for you to be true but actually it really is!  All of us have ideas running through our heads daily that could be called “inspiration” and lead to a creative idea and ultimately a new rug design, painting, new widget or even a book.  The challenge is learning when to recognize the thunderbolt (inspiration) that is zipping through your brain, slow it down and take a hard look at it.

Here  are few pointers to start with and I will post more thoughts on this subject every few days but this will get your juices flowing for now.

     This one is easy and will facilitate all the other suggestions to come.  Keep notebooks,  sketchpads and/or paper all over your house with a pencil or pen available.  Make sure you put one at your kitchen table, next to your bed, in your car, where you paint, hook, sew, weave, patio, garden room, basement, garage.  I know, a lot of note books or sketch pads.  How about a couple pieces of paper from your printer placed in those areas with a good pen and/or pencil then you won’t have to go out and buy 10 sketch pads.  Be prepared when "inspiration" hits!

Okay, I was only going to do one of these suggestions per posting but since the act of putting a note book around is a pretty simple one, I’ll cheat and give you two tips today.


Every time an idea, image, melody or thought pops into your head follow the rule – stop, look and listen!  First you have to stop what you are doing and pay attention.  Second, you have to look at what has caught your attention.  Third, listen to what that image sounds, looks like or what it means to you and if it has meaning and purpose for you.  Many brilliant composers hear music around them all the time I've been told – they just know how to listen to it.  The sound of a door bell, the hammering of the carpenter outside fixing up your house, the roar of the tractor or lawn mower, the singing of the birds, cars honking, traffic you are stuck in, the cadence of human voices - there are sounds everywhere but most of us tune them out because they are a distraction most of the time. 

If you are a writer and can’t come up with a story, STOP, LOOK & LISTEN.  There are story ideas everywhere you turn – TV, movies, radio, other writer’s books, Internet, dreams, family, friends, job, children, family pets, your home – EVERY WHERE!  Every thing you brush up against during the day and even at night when you are sleeping are potential ideas to write, paint, hook a rug or explore.

If you are an artist (rug hookers too) and need a new idea, theme or subject to paint - STOP, LOOK AND LISTEN! 

Ideas for paintings and rugs are endless.  Themes or categories of art are somewhat fixed, i.e., still life, landscapes, figurative, abstract, fantasy, sci-fi, western and so on, but who knows you might develop a new category from your "inspiration."  Only recently I ran across a hooked rug that was done in the same theme as an artist that I became familiar with three decades ago.  The artist was Bev Doolittle and you can find her paintings if you Google her.  Up until the time she created her mystery paintings with objects within objects or subjects within subjects,  I can't remember seeing this type of art - probably someone out there has done something like it but also slightly different.  I had a college art professor decades ago who believed that "everything has been done and now it's up to you to figure out how to do it differently!"  

 I really don't know if  anyone, in the past, has done anything quite like this technique but it certainly was unusual and made her a celebrity of the art world for years.  She had an  inspiration” and ran with it.   You never know where an idea will come from if you FOCUS!  Ah, I almost gave away the next installment of my thoughts on Inspiration. 

That’s all for today so check back in a few days and I will expand on my ideas of “where does inspiration come from” and we’ll explore “how to recognize it and what do you do with inspiration when it hits you?”  Just be prepared with those pieces of paper and pen!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Inspiration - Where Does It Come From You Ask?"

Coming Soon!

I have been thinking about "inspiration" lately.  You might ask, “Where does inspiration really come from?”  Does it seem like you can’t think of anything to hook, paint, write or don't have any new design ideas?  Want to expand your design skills but just don't know where to start?

Well, here are some simple but effective tips for you to try that I’ve used for years.  Do they work for everyone, maybe not, but they work for me and I suspect they will work for you also.

Come follow along with me while I talk about my thoughts on inspiration, creativity and suggestions for exercises to access your own "inspiration" and tap into your special creative person!

Monday, August 27, 2012

"Midnight in Maine" Purse Finished!

I'm rather pleased how this simple bag finished up looking.  

Back of bag - button to hold the beads on yarn to flip to the front for a bag closure

Lining - excuse the camera handle
(Oh, than one and only removal bag strap, LOL)
Tabs for the rings sewed to the inside 

I sewed all of this bag on the sewing machine except for the lining which I attached by hand.  I have a Viking sewing machine that has a left-right-center choice to place the needle so I just put the pressor  foot up on the hooking, needle to the right side and gave it a go.  I figured if it didn't work well then I could just rip it out and assemble by hand.

Here is the finished edge when the bag was turned right-side out.  Not too bad with just a minor catching of the loops near the center of the photo and certainly to the average eye no one is going to get picky about this one or notice!   My Grandmother (bless her heart for putting up with me) always used to say when she was sewing clothes for me when I was a child, I had to do a fitting and squirmed (I guess)  constantly I guess to get back outside to play "Oh well, no one will ever notice mistakes on a galloping horse anyway!"  I am a perfectionist when it really counts but the rest of the time I figure my Grandmother's motto probably is true.  It's amazing how I remember this saying since my Grandmother said this to me more than 60 years ago - boy how time flies and it always amazes me what I still remember as I get older!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

"iPad Garden" Carry Bag Assembled!

Bag is finished (almost)!  You know the old adage "plan ahead?"  Well, I should have thought about one small thing before assembly.  I found these nice antiqued brass clips in my sewing machine drawers and thought - "ah ha, these will work just fine."  Well, not so fine, since the one and only removal leather strap I seem to own has polished brass on it!  Okay, now I either rip back the lining, remove these antique brass hooks, make a new tab and insert a polished brass ring OR I must seek out some antique rings and make a strap.....hmmm, what should I do?   In the meantime, while I think about this problem I've posted pictures of some of the details of the bag.  

I found many yards of this nice satin fabric in my stash and since I have a red leather cover for my iPad I figured this worked just fine and very easy to sew on.  I did add one pocket but couldn't imagine why I would ever need more storage areas so I stopped at one.

I took three strips of #8 cuts of wool and braided them together to make a loop - nice and cute I thought.  Sewed the ends, trimmed and then sewed on the flap side of the front and tacked the lining fabric over it.  I also liked the look of the lining peaking up above the back outside material edge so I stitched it by hand that way.

So the small loop hooks nicely to the backside over this wooden toggle.  Problem of how to close the bag solved.  

The bag came out nice I think, iPad fits perfectly inside and except for the minor strap problem to solve yet, which will probably require a trip to JoAnn's Fabric, it's all finished (ah, almost)!  

Friday, August 24, 2012

Tip of the Day - Create Extensions

If any of you are like me, then you hate all that extra linen or rug warp you have to waste on all the sides of the hooking project just to make sure it will fit on the hooking frame, just to see it cut off and be wasted later!

Just figure out how many inches you need for your rug/mat project then just add whatever amount you think you will need to either whip or turn to the back the edges.  Add another inch or so and sew on your extensions.  If you think you might add more hooking to the outside edges when you are close to being finished then add those inches also.  Find some of that less-than-desirable wool in your stash and cut some nice wide strips of say 6-10" and sew to the outside edges all the way around.  This might not be the prettiest while you are hooking but trust me you can move to the outside edges easily and save a whole lot of warp in the process!

I just might add several extra rows on the outside edges before this rug is finished - why not, I have the room to make changes since I did leave myself room to do just that with this project - you decide what works for you.  When I'm ready to finish the rug these extensions zip right off with a razor blade.  I roll them up and keep for the next project.  These plaid extensions have been on every rug I've made posted on my site.  Okay Hookers, that's my "Tip of the Day."

Monday, August 20, 2012

"Lollipop Dreams" UPDATE + My Rug Hooking Space

I've come a fair piece since I last posted an update.  Almost finished with the background and then on to the side panels.  This has been so much fun to hook except for the background, ugh.  The wool in the background is a twill - always be leery of those twills.  This fabric wants to pull apart when you pull through the cotton rug warp.  The fabric wound up much thicker than I had expected after it was fulled and dried.  Even though this was a bargain basement find at $5/yard and I couldn't resist but it's a pain in the wrist to work with and I doubt I will use it again in large quantities - some dabs here and there will be best but maybe not the bargain I was hoping for.

 Close up of sunflower on the left

 Sunflower on the right side

Blue bird watching over all her funky friends below.

Thought everyone would like to see where I do my rug hooking.  I'm always intrigued to see other hooker's spaces.  This is my space in one corner or side of our family room - you can imagine I do a lot of vacuuming and you would be right.  Baskets of wool strips and even a heap over the arm of my chair with a towel to protect the fabric of the chair from any dyes staining my chair.  My husband watches TV and I hook or sometimes knit in the evenings.  This is where it all takes place!!  The big cabinet was built by my husband along with the fancy book shelf on top to house all of my little black books of interchangeable knitting needles and reference books.  My larger knitting and rug hooking books are stashed in our library and my studio - pictures for another day.  Cabinet below is stuffed with knitting paraphernalia - aren't crafts fun?  We can stuff our goodies into so many closets, shoe boxes, cabinets and window seats.  Where do you stuff and store your goodies? 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Socks, Socks & More Socks

Okay, I promise no more socks for a while after this posting but I just couldn't resist this one and I also had a quandary on my hands.  Short story, I started a pair of socks a few months ago and knit one of them with an entirely different pattern that I made up which had big ribs running vertically down the sock.  I also put a wedge down the back of the calf for a different design feature.  Design feature, yuck, I hated the sock when finished, even how it looked on the leg - ugh!  Now, do I knit another sock just like it so I had a pair or do I rip it out and use the yarn for some other design?  Rip out, won the day and this is the results.  Now all I have to do is knit the second one......oeh!  Anyway, this is a Barbara Walker graph and I added the bobbles in the first two rows, knitting from the top,  didn't like them, so I omitted for the rest of the sock.  Interesting design but a bit slow to knit because some parts of it you can zip right along because the stitch numbers are easy to remember then there are those rows that take full concentration and then WHAM - rip out time!!