Hand Hooked Rug by Karen D. Miller

Postcards from Newfoundland: St. Paul’s

Hand Hooked Rug by Karen D. Miller

This is the fourth and final piece in the “Postcards from Newfoundland” series- for now anyway.  I will more than likely revisit this series when I need to resupply my sister with pieces to take out to Corner Brook to sell.   But for now I am going to put aside the series and return to the larger pieces that I need to complete for next year’s exhibit.

This piece is based on a photo that my sister took in St. Paul’s, Newfoundland.  St.Paul’s is a small community of about 300 or so people and it is located within Gros Morne National Park which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  I don’t usually use photos that I haven’t taken myself as I find I need to have experienced the location to be able to create a good piece.  But in this case I really liked her photo and I’m pretty sure that I saw St. Paul’s on at least one of my many expeditions into Gros Morne so it felt legit.

At first I considered doing a Corner Brook scene since my audience will be those living and visiting Corner Brook.  And at times working on this piece I wished I had gone that way.  What I discovered doing this piece is that this small size is the absolute minimum size that I think I personally can successfully work with.  I had so much frustration trying to capture these houses in about ten loops of yarn each.  At the end I looked at it and was disappointed with the lack of detail.  But then I reminded myself that it isn’t possible to capture extensive detail at this size.  I remembered that the entire Impressionistic art movement is premised on just this kind of thing- a dab of paint here and there to give the impression of a building.  And that is essentially what I have done here, but with yarn.

I think my next round of four pieces in this series, whenever that may be, will focus on some Corner Brook related scenes.  I have a few ideas to work with!

So, time to stick some of my labels on the backs of these four and wrap them up and get them ready to head out East.  Meanwhile I’m heading back to my big frame to return to the silver project.

The holidays are approaching and this is such a busy time of year.  I’ve already had to break out my 2014 calendar as the playdates, Birthday parties, dinners with friends etc. etc. are already filling up weekends right through to the New Year.   But the exhibit is always in the back of my mind, as well as a few other things I have up my sleeve for early next year, so I will continue to work hard and hopefully have more to show you soon!

Have a great weekend!


Hand Hooked Rug by Karen D. Miller

Postcards from Newfoundland: Fogo Sunset

Hand Hooked Rug by Karen D. Miller

I am really, really pleased with how this piece turned out.  What I am learning by doing this series is that it is possible to capture quite a bit of detail in a small size.  And, they are really fun to do.  There is a good deal of instant gratification with being able to complete a piece in a few days.  You certainly don’t get that with a bigger piece.

This one was inspired by our trip to Fogo Island this past summer.  The house we rented was right on the water and every night there was a glorious sunset.  Our house had this giant picture window-  the entire length of the back of the house.  My husband, my sister and I would sit in the living room in the evening once the kids were in bed and have a tremendous view of Brimstone Head, the water and the sunset.   I took many pictures of this quintessential little storage shed on its stage, but by far my favourite was of it in the sunset.

This was one of the original photos that I based the piece on.  I loved how the colour of the sky was reflected in the water.  But I remembered it being even more vibrant than in the photo.  So I punched up the colour and it is now exactly how I remember.  It captures the beauty and awe that I felt on Fogo Island.

Like the others, this piece measures 5″ x 7″ (8″ x 10″ framed).

Ok, one more piece to go and then I am going to return to my bigger pieces!


Hand Hooked Rug by Karen D. Miller

Postcards from Newfoundland: King’s Point

Hand Hooked Rug by Karen D. Miller

King’s Point, Newfoundland is a small little town about 10 km’s off of the Trans-Canada Highway near Springdale.  We spent a day there this past summer.  It was raining off and on and the sky was very grey and cloudy.  But even with the poor weather it was very scenic with lots of little huts and fishing boats dotted around.  I remember being struck with the little orange buoys out in the water that looked almost like they were glowing in all of their grey surroundings.

We browsed the pottery store (my sister is kind of addicted to pottery so we always stop at every store we see) and had lunch at a little café by the waterfront.

This piece measures 5″ x 7″ (8″ x 10″ framed) and is the second in this series of small Newfoundland inspired pieces.


Hand Hooked Rug by Karen D. Miller

Postcards from Newfoundland

Hand Hooked Rug by Karen D. Miller

I recently found myself on the horns of a dilemma.  I need to be focusing on producing a number of large pieces for the exhibit next year.  But at the same time, my sister only has a few more of my pieces out in Newfoundland to rotate through the Harbour Grounds coffee shop.  The question became whether I should continue to produce pieces for her to take out there to sell or not.  The answer was fairly obvious:  this year marked my highest sales in Newfoundland to date and I have an album full of “inspiration photos” that I have taken on my now four trips to the island.  But what to do about the fact that my time is extremely stretched right now?

The solution was to select from my photos those scenes that I really wanted to do but that I wasn’t sure would work on a larger scale.  These scenes will become the basis for a series of pieces that are 5″ x 7″ (8″ x 10″ when framed).  They will still be scenes that I love but will be less time-consuming for me.  And, frankly, trying to capture detailed scenes on a smaller scale has been on my to-do list for awhile now.  I’ve seen this done to great effect in the art quilt and needle embroidery world and wanted to try my hand at it!

So, on that basis the series “Postcards from Newfoundland” was born.  The first piece depicts a scene from the town of Tilting on Fogo Island.  We drove to this town while staying in Fogo this past summer.  Tilting is a National Historic Site and it is no wonder.  It is perfectly idyllic and full of historical buildings.  It is quintessential Newfoundland that I have yet to see in any other part of the province.

Being on a smaller scale meant I also got to play around with some great materials that I only have small quantities of and playing around with some of my favourite techniques.  I repeated my technique of sewing on the silk sari ribbon for the water.  The grass is some great yarn that I picked up this summer.  It is spun with a string of beads which adds a cool sparkle.  This was a bit difficult to work with as it was hard to pull up the beads with the hook.  So I ended up using my proddy tool to make the hole in the rug warp a little bigger and then poked the bead through.  Almost all of the beads hung too loosely and so at the end I went over them all with a needle and thread to tighten them and make them secure.

I have no idea how many pieces will be in this series.  I am starting with three or four that my sister can take back with her next time she is here.  My ideas and inspiration for this series are limitless.  I can totally see myself turning my mind to making some of these when I need a break from a larger piece.


A Little Challenge for Myself….

Evenings around here are interesting.   There is a lot of chaos as I try to get things organized and get dinner on the go.  There is a lot of noise as my daughter tells me all about her day at school and my son squeals with delight that she is home.  There is inevitably a lot of conflict when my son touches something that my daughter doesn’t want touched and she protests and he cries….well, you get the picture.  Some days it drives me crazy but to be honest, I actually kind of like the chaos as it is a daily reminder that I am surrounded by those that I love.

The chaos winds down when my son goes to bed.  He tires out early- usually between 6:00 and 6:30 pm.  I mean he is done.  Full out eye rubbing and whining.  We’ve tried keeping him up later and it just doesn’t work.  Not only does he become miserable, but he still wakes up at the same time in the morning as he would have had we put him to bed when he wanted to.   It makes absolutely no difference.

So there is a nice portion of the evening that is left for my daughter and I before she has to go to bed.  Last night I asked her if she would help me to measure out some 5″ x 7″ pieces for a series that I want to start.  Armed with our sharpies and rulers we sat and chatted and measured and traced.   I love these moments.

In the end I looked at what we had traced and realized just how small 5″ x 7″ is.  Sure I have done some pieces in the past that size (the Bird Series for instance) but in this series I want to try doing some scenes with a fair bit of detailing in them.  I think that capturing what I want to capture in such a small space is going to be even more challenging than doing a big piece!!

I’ve given myself the rest of the weekend to work on the silver project and then I’m going to turn my mind to doing up a couple of these little ones.   I have a feeling I’ll be doing a lot of hooking and re-hooking…..

Have a great weekend!


P.S.  A few administrative things.  If you follow me on Facebook you will have noticed that I created an Event for next year’s exhibit.  I am starting to advertise it in a number of locations so hopefully we will get a lot of interest building up to the show!

I also noticed that if you left a comment on my blog there was no way for you to know if I (or anyone else) responded to it or not.  I have added a checkbox to the comment form that you can tick off if you would like to receive an email when someone responds to your comment.  Hopefully that will be helpful!

My Obsession with Silk Sari Ribbon

I obsess over really like silk sari ribbon.  It is just so amazingly versatile and so unbelievably pretty.  I love that it has so many shades of colour within one piece of ribbon.  I love that it is all crinkly when you pull it out straight.  I love working with it.

Truth be told, sometimes I like bringing it out just to look at it.

I love sewing it on to pieces like I did in “Beyond Swallowtail”  (and this technique will show up in a few more of my pieces too!).  And I love hooking with it like I am currently doing in the silver project that I showed you the other day.

It comes in such an array of amazing colours and I often have to stop myself from buying it in colours that I think are pretty but that I have no idea what I would make with it!

And to top it all off there is an ethical component to using silk sari ribbon.  More on this later.

I figure I can’t be the only one out there who is obsessed with silk sari ribbon, and for those who haven’t tried it maybe this will motivate you to give it a try.  Here are my favourite suppliers (there are many, many more out there but these are just the ones that I have found and tried).

The first silk sari ribbon that I ever tried came from Frabjous Fibers.  I love their selection of rich colours and that it comes in flat colours, metallic colours and watercolours.  It is hard to find though so usually when I come across some I snap it up.  I have not yet found it in a store but find it from time to time at a vendor’s booth at a rug show or fibre show.  I used their blue for the water in “Beyond Swallowtail” and am using some of their metallic silver in my current piece.  The greens shown above are waiting for inspiration to strike!


The second piece that I am currently working on needed some brown silk sari ribbon.  I was having a hard time finding just the right shade until I searched Etsy and found this from Lashell at Designtalentedone.  This is a gorgeous, gorgeous mix of rich brown tones and there is even a little splash of purple in there.  I’ve used a bunch of this and can’t wait to use more in a future project.  Not looking for brown?  She has a huge selection of fabulous colours to choose from.  The added bonus?  Lashell is a fellow TAFA (The Textile and Fibre List) member!


I can’t possibly talk about silk sari ribbon without talking about Darn good yarn.  This is a great store with a great mission.  All of their silk sari ribbon is made from recycled silk saris in India and Nepal which keeps tons and tons of this stuff out of the landfills.  This company also employs local women to turn the saris into ribbon so you can feel good that you are helping the local economy and changing lives when you buy.  They have a huge selection of silk sari ribbon (some of which I have used in a project that I will reveal soon) and silk chiffon ribbon yarn like that shown above.  I have an idea for that yellow mix one.  It is so frothy and sheer!


Just last week I came across this final source.  I was looking for some more silver for a different project from my current one, and came across Linda’s store at Silk Divine on Etsy.  An added bonus is that she is located in Montreal so shipping is super fast and more inexpensive than when it has to come from the US.  This ribbon isn’t made from recycled silk saris but rather from remnants of the silk sari industry. She has so, so many colours available.  I’m sure it is a store that I will be revisiting  (and I just noticed that she currently has a Sale on!).

So, these are my go-to sources.  I’m sure there are lots of others- if there is a different one that you use I would love to hear about it!




And so it’s November….

Last week I had a lot of fun getting my two little trick-or-treaters out the door.  It wasn’t the greatest of weather (it was pouring rain and even with umbrellas we got soaked) but it was still a good time!

The weather is definitely turning cooler- it is a constant reminder that soon I will be pulling my boy around in his little wooden sled (that used to be mine when I was little!) instead of the stroller.  The leaves have just about all fallen off the trees and the mornings are frosty.   I have always had a soft spot for November (possibly because it is my Birthday month) and this year is no different.

On the work front it is all about preparing for the group exhibit next October in Niagara-on-the-Lake.  I don’t think I mentioned the title of our exhibit in my last post.  It is “Colours Caught in Fibre:  Rug-Hooking Made Modern.”  Still so excited about it and I’ve posted the details on my ‘Events’ page.  Closer to the time we will have a poster made that will look a little nicer than just the plain listing!


I know for sure that “Beyond Swallowtail” will be in this exhibit and available for purchase.  The rest (with the possible exception of one other of my pre-existing pieces) will be all new works.  So I need to get very busy over the next year!!

I am currently working on two pieces.  I don’t usually work on simultaneous pieces.  This just sort of happened when I ran out of something I needed on the first and so moved to the second in the meantime.  After doing quite a bit of work on number two for the past couple of weeks I have now returned to the first which is the piece where I am using a lot of silver yarn.

I am using A LOT of silver in this.

Not just to accent the piece.

No, this piece will be predominantly silver- using all sorts of shades and materials.  I really hope that it has the effect in the end that I am hoping for.

And of course,  I know that when I finally get it all finished, piece number two will still be there waiting for me.