Photo by Karen D. Miller

Inspiration Photo #3


What:   Dead perennial stalks and a bush in my backyard

Why did this catch my eye:   It has been so cold these days that I have been spending more and more time at home and trying to find inspiration in the everyday.  I loved the shadows that were cast on the snow by these plants that I otherwise don’t take much notice of.



I committed to posting 40 inspiration photos on the blog in 2014.  The purpose of this exercise is to get me out of my comfort-zone:  finding inspiration in my everyday surroundings.  This series will continue throughout the year.

A Confession


I ordered this book last week.

Because you see, I don’t know how to finish a rug.

Well, I know how to finish a rug.  But I don’t know how to “finish” a rug.

Many of my pieces have been framed.  And those that I haven’t framed I have simply sewn a backing onto.  My reason for this has always been two-fold:  to protect the back of the piece from snags etc.

And because….I leave my tails down.

I know.  Shocking.  I can hear the gasps from where I am sitting.

I know that it is not “cool” in the rug hooking world to leave your tails down.  Every book I have ever read in fact has emphasized that tails MUST be left up.  (Well, I do remember reading in one book that it didn’t really matter whether they are up or down.   I can’t for the life of me remember which book it was, but I do remember at the time thinking HA!  what I am doing is ok!).

I leave my tails down because that is what I have always done.   And, I do all of my pieces with yarn, not wool strips.   If you trim anything on the front of a piece done with yarn, it splays the yarn and it becomes very obvious that you have trimmed on the front.  So, I leave those tails safely and firmly on the back.

The downside to this?  I don’t have a pretty back to my pieces.  I don’t have those backs where you could turn it over and display the back instead of the front (though I have also never been tempted to hang a piece backwards so maybe it doesn’t matter so much?).

But on the “orange” piece that I am working on, I have decided that I don’t want to frame it for various reasons.  And I don’t want to put a fabric backing on it.  So, it is time to learn how to “finish” a rug.

The book looks fabulous!  It goes into so many finishing techniques.  I love that it has very detailed instructions and lots of photos.   Right now I am eyeing the crochet technique because, well, I like to crochet and I think it might look cool.  I may, of course, start with this technique and then change my mind.   What I do know is that I am about to enter that previously mysterious world known as “finishing”  (well, at least for this one piece.  Then I will likely promptly return to frames…)

I’ll keep you posted on how this goes…


Photo by Karen D. Miller











 The piece I am currently working on has had me using a lot of orange yarn.

Orange is not one of my usual go-to colours.

So it got me thinking about orange and where it may appear in my life.  For one whole day I took photos of things that I interact with regularly at this time in my life, that are orange.  Focusing on this one colour forced me to really pay attention to the colours that are around me in my daily routines.



Hand Hooked Rug by Karen D. Miller Photo by Karen D. Miller

Inspiration Photo #2



What:  A tree that I can see from my back window.  It was early evening, just before I made dinner.

Why did this catch my eye:  Obviously the pink sky was cool but really it was the negative space between all the branches that I found interesting.  As well, I thought that on the soft pink background the tree almost took on a feathery, fluffy look.



Hand Hooked Rug by Karen D. Miller

Ghost Trees at Pog Lake, Algonquin Park

It is finally finished!  I finished it just a few days ago so it literally has only been removed from the frame and ironed.  But I thought I would show it to you now as it may be a little while before it is framed.

Hand Hooked Rug by Karen D. Miller

This piece was inspired by our camping trip to Algonquin Park this past Fall.  On our first evening, after the kids were asleep in the tent, my husband and I sat out by the campfire.  The only light came from the fire and when I looked up at all the tall trees that surrounded our site it looked almost as if they were glowing.  I grabbed the camera, but of course it was too dark to take a good photo.  My husband shone the flashlight up into the trees and it accentuated the ghostly look even more and allowed me to take a photo to work from.

Hand Hooked Rug by Karen D. Miller

It is hard to see from the photo, but the trees are made entirely from different shades of sparkly silver yarns.  The big tree on the right is actually made from silver silk sari ribbon.   In person, the trees really shine and sparkle when they catch the light.  For finishing I’m envisioning a frame, but a subtle hidden frame like that of “Beyond Swallowtail” where it gives the piece support but isn’t really showcased- the frame is more on the sides of the piece.  Once it has been framed I’ll share another picture.

This piece measures 17″ wide x 32″ long.  It is the first of my new pieces that I am making for the exhibit in October so anyone coming to Niagara will be able to see it there!

On to the next project!!


Photo by Karen D. Miller

The TAFA Calendar!



My copy of the TAFA (The Textile and Fiber Art List)  arrived in the mail today.  It is even more beautiful than I had thought!  All of the artwork featured each month is stunning and made by TAFA members.

Here is a look at the back where you can see the layouts for each month:


And here is my month(November)!


I’m thrilled to be a part of this calendar!

You can order your copy through Zazzle.   You can use the code JANSPECIAL15 to get  15% off your calendar order, but hurry as the coupon expires tomorrow!


Back to Work

Well, the holidays are officially over.  Everyone is back to work and back to school.  I took last week off from blogging just to get back into the swing of the normal routine.  We had a great holiday season but I was also glad when the time came to pack up the Christmas stuff and embrace the New Year!

I think everyone got the gifts that they had been hoping to receive (I can’t wait to see the little guy use his new sleeping bag that Auntie gave him next time we camp!).  Santa must have known about my objective for 2014 to conquer a portrait piece as I found these in my stocking on Christmas morning:


I also picked this book up right before the holidays to help me with my sketchbooking objective:


I’m still thinking through how I’m going to integrate sketchbooks into my routine and will let you know when I figure it out (hopefully before the end of 2014- ha!).

I had hoped to have the “silver” piece finished by the end of the holidays and would have achieved that goal had I not encountered a little crisis.  I ran out of black background yarn and when I went to my local yarn store to get more I discovered they were sold out!   This past weekend I tracked some down at another store (their last two balls of it.  Don’t know why black Lett Lopi yarn is so popular in Ottawa these days!)  So I should have the whole piece finished in the next day or two.

It will be my first new piece for the exhibit in October.  Speaking of which, it is now advertised on the Niagara Pumphouse website (the venue for the show).  So exciting!  I’ve seen a few of the pieces that the other members in the group have been working on for the show and all I can say is it is going to be really, really good!!!!   I hope to have a poster made up for the show within the next couple of months so stay tuned for that.

So, I’m getting back into the swing of things which means more blog posts and more new things to share.  2014 is officially underway!


Photo by Karen D. Miller

Looking Ahead to 2014


Every year I do a blog post that outlines my specific goals for the New Year.

And then I don’t do more than half of them.

Not because I’m not motivated, or because I change my mind on what my goals are.  Instead, what I have learned in spades this past year is that opportunities taken tend to lead to more opportunities.  And so things that I think I will do at the beginning of a year, end up usurped by other (usually much better) things as the year progresses.

So this year, I’m not going to do a list of specific goals.  Instead, I’m going to have an over-arching theme for the year:   CREATIVITY.   I want everything that I do this year to feel creative and to push the boundaries of my creativity.  I want to avoid sameness, repetition and ruts at all cost.

With that in mind I have some loose, highly-attainable objectives (not goals) for 2014:

Post 40 inspiration photos on this blog over the span of the year.  These photos will not just be from trips.  I want to fall out of the pattern of only being inspired by the landscapes and objects that I see when I travel.  I want to push myself to see inspiration everywhere I look and think out of the box.

* Use a sketchbook on a regular basis.  I know.  This has been my goal before.  But this time I really, really want to stick with it as I think it will contribute hugely to my creativity.   I’m thinking about how I can keep myself accountable by sharing my sketchbooking on a semi-regular basis.  More on this to come.

* Hook a portrait rug.  Again, this has been on my list before.  I can guarantee that it will be of my kids and I can guarantee that it will happen in the latter-half of the year when my preparation for the October exhibit is over.  I’m pretty sure that this is really going to push me creatively and I’m feeling up for the challenge.

This is going to be a great year.  I have several shows that I am excited to announce soon.  And of course there will be all of the preparation for the October exhibit to detail here:  there are many more pieces to make, posters to create, details to iron-out.   I’m sure the year will also hold some curveballs as well as new opportunities that I hope to be ready and able to grab.  This past year was unique in that there were actually some opportunities that I had to pass up.  When you get busy, you can’t do it all.  I need to continue to focus on those opportunities that are a good fit for me and which best get me towards my goals.

I am so excited to start the ride that is 2014 and I’m thrilled that you are all along with me!