Panel #1 of 6

I used to do all of my Blog posts while my little guy napped.

And then my little guy stopped napping.

So I always feel like I’m doing a bit of catch-up in the Blog department.   My evenings are when I work on new pieces and I don’t always get a chance to write something up.  If time passes, it isn’t that I have forgotten you all, I just haven’t had a moment to sit down at the computer and write!  🙂

I mentioned awhile back that I was embarking on a fun-just-for-me-to-make-me-happy project comprised of six panels of pictures of my kids.   I recently finished panel number one and am really thrilled with how it turned out.

I took this photo of my daughter in Summer 2014 on our vacation in Iles-de-la-Madeleine.  We had gone to one of our favourite beaches to walk around in the sea caves that are accessible when the tide is out.  As soon as we pulled into the parking lot it started to dump rain.  So the four of us broke out our lunch and ate in the car waiting for the weather to clear.

In not too long the rain stopped- the sun didn’t come out but the rain at least stopped. So we piled out of the car and went down to the beach.  Because there are all of these incredible sea caves, there are of course all these great, big sandstone rocks to clamber around on.  My daughter climbed up onto one of these huge ones and walked down to the tip of it and just stood there looking out at the ocean.  I was torn between my natural mother reaction to yell up at her “Be careful” and my equally strong reaction to just stand and watch her and marvel at her.  I went with the latter.

Watching her so high up and pensive I was immediately struck by how grown up she had become.  Gone was the little toddler of what feels like not so long ago.  In her place is this strong, confident little girl.  Seeing her looking out at the world like that I made the realization that without question, she will some day and in her own way change this world.   She will do great things.  And she will continue to be a great person.  I’m so proud of who she is and who she is becoming.

K1

 

So naturally this photo had to be a part of this project.  I had a lot of fun doing it.   My first go round with the coat and the pants did not go well.  I tend to one of those people who can’t move on to the next part if I’m not happy with something so I knew I had to redo those parts.  Luckily my second attempt went much better so I didn’t have to rip it out again.

K3

This is the finished piece.  Not the best photo and I haven’t gotten around to taking a better one. I will when all the panels are done and it is in the frame.  It measures 10″ x 13″ and was hooked entirely with yarn.  When I look at it I immediately see my girl- it is her posture and her form exactly.  And it reminds me of that moment on the beach.

On to panel #2…..

Karen

Hand Hooked Fibre Art by Karen D. Miller

Moon Rise

moon

My original plan was to show this piece in stages as I worked on it.  But in the end I didn’t take any ongoing photos because I was struggling so much with it and I really felt, until the end, that I could at any time decide just to give up and rip it all out.

What I have learned now is that even if I feel that way I should still take photos as I go because you just never know how it will end up.

This piece was a challenge for me.  I’m not exactly sure why.  On the face of it it seems fairly simplistic.  But it was actually quite difficult.  Partly because it is a small piece measuring just 8 x 10.  That didn’t give me much room for details so I had to use small touches to capture the scene.  My first challenge was the clouds in the sky- how to capture the colours and the clouds without a lot of elaboration.

My second major challenge was the moon itself.  I tried a bunch of different colours and rejected them all for being too dark or too light.  I had to try and balance the moon itself with the aura around it.  The colours I settled on had to have been about my tenth attempted combination. Then I felt that the aura around it made the moon look “squarish”.  It bothered me all the way until the end.  The last thing I did was play around with the blue to make the aura and the moon more circular.

Surprisingly I only changed the reflection on the water once.  The first time I did it the orangey hues on either side of the main reflection looked too structured.  So I ripped them out and tried to integrate it better with the purply water.

Definitely one of those pieces that you have to finish to be happy with.  Each part needs the full context of the rest to make sense.  Until the water was done, the orangey stripes in the sky looked bizarre to me.  Now it all makes sense.

Oh- I should mention that the piece was inspired by a moon rise that we saw while camping with friends a few years back in Waupoos, Ontario.  A few of us stood out on the dock just gazing at the beauty of it while I, of course, ran to get my camera.

This piece will eventually be framed and is the last piece that I am making for our show in Niagara-on-the-Lake.  My break from big pieces is now over and I have already sketched out my next big piece which will be for another show later this year.  I think of it as a companion piece to my “Ghost Trees” piece so it will be another challenge for me but I am excited to get going on it!

Onward and upward!

Karen

Hand Hooked Fibre Art by Karen D. Miller

Postcards from Newfoundland- Northern Peninsula

northern

This piece was inspired by the Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula.  The farther up the peninsula you drive the more sparse and barren it becomes.  A hint, perhaps, at what lies even further ahead in Labrador. Like the others this piece measures 5″ x 7″.

peninsula

I’m taking another breather from making these pieces and am going to return to some of my other projects.  I will return to the series later in the year as my supply out east diminishes.  🙂   I have been thinking they would be a good thing to take to work on during travel as they are pretty compact.  I have the next few ideas all lined up:  a couple of Corner Brook scenes and the Tablelands in Gros Morne amongst others.  I really enjoy making these pieces and I think they look really nice once framed!

 

Karen

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!

Karen

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.

Karen

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.

Karen

Hand Hooked Rug by Karen D. Miller

“Beyond Swallowtail”

Hand Hooked Rug by Karen D. Miller

So here finally is a look at the big piece that I have been working on for so long!   It measures about 39″L x 25″W and was hooked on rug warp.   I’m thrilled with how it turned out.  There is a lot going on in the piece.  The grass has some of my “signature” fluffy yarn in it.  If you look closely I played a lot with colour – there is a lot of purple and yellow in the tree and of course also red in the rock that you don’t usually find in nature.  But my absolute favourite part is the water- it isn’t hooked but instead I sewed on strips of silk sari yarn which gives it that great variation in colour and rippled effect.

The inspiration for this piece came from a tree that we saw just past the Swallowtail lighthouse on Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick.  We were there on holiday a few years back and I snapped a picture knowing that I wanted to do something with it one day.  That lone tree with deadened wind swept branches was the perfect punctuation to that sparse landscape.

My husband then worked his magic and made an “invisible frame” that wouldn’t take away from the piece itself.  Instead I think the darkness of the wood adds to the piece.

So pleased with the finished product!!

Karen

Hand Hooked Rug by Karen D. Miller

New Piece: Lake Louise, Alberta

Hand Hooked Rug by Karen D. Miller

Introducing my newest piece- Lake Louise, Alberta!  This piece measures 13.5″ x 14″ and was hand-hooked on burlap.  I used a variety of different yarns in this piece.  A lot of 100% wool and some wool blends as well as some acrylics.  The water was done with a yarn hand-dyed in Vermont that I picked up there a few years ago when we were in Burlington.  The dark tree line is a mix of yarn and novelty yarn that gives it a bit of a “fluffy” texture.

 

This piece was a bit of a departure for me in that I have not actually been to Lake Louise nor to the Rockies.  So, in order to try to capture how I think it would feel to be there I drew a lot on my experiences in Iceland.  On that basis I knew that I was trying to capture that feeling of remoteness, the chill in the air and the rugged beauty of the scene.

 

This is also the first piece that I have signed with my initials.  Not sure why I haven’t been doing that all along but it is something I am going to do from this point on and this is the first.

 

Having a terrific day- lots of things that I will be sharing with you all in the coming days!  Until then, enjoy the rest of your weekend!

 

Karen

 

Hand Hooked Rug by Karen D. Miller

New Piece: “Drying Cod”

Hand Hooked Rug by Karen D. Miller

 

I’ve finished my new piece!  It is a scene of cod drying in Lobster Head Cove, Newfoundland.  This piece measures 12.5″ x 15″ and is hand-hooked on burlap.  I used some specialty yarn to get the fluffy grass in the foreground.  The rest uses a variety of different yarns from acrylic to Icelandic wool yarn.  As I mentioned before, the plan for this piece is to send it out to my sister in Newfoundland so she can follow up on a few leads that I got while I was out there.  I really like the colours in this piece and how they all work together!

 

Karen

Hand Hooked Rug by Karen D. Miller

A Little Piece of Canadiana

Hand Hooked Rug by Karen D. Miller

What’s more Canadian than trees, water and a canoe??

My newest piece “Exploring the Lake” is inspired by a canoe ride my husband, daughter and myself took last summer on Norway Lake in Calabogie, Ontario.  But really it is a scene that is similar to so many places- the theme is universally Canadian.  This piece measures 17″ x  19.5″  and was designed and hand-hooked by me on burlap.  I used a variety of different yarns in this piece:  from Icelandic wool yarn (a staple in all my rugs), acrylic yarns, specialty yarns, merino blends and alpaca.  There is even an old green knit scarf that I unravelled and used for the trees on the left!

Karen