kitty companiona

kitty companiona

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Another Day, Another Greenhouse...

Several people have asked for the broccoli salad recipe that I frequently bring to hook-ins. I finally made some today and took a picture. This recipe comes from Kami's family in Bedford County.

Broccoli Salad

1 head of broccoli
1 head of cauliflower
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup cubed cheese: mozzarella, mild white cheddar, Monteray Jack, etc.
Any of the following: crumbled bacon, raisins, dried cranberries
sunflower seeds, pecans, etc.

Dressing: 1/2 cup mayo or Miracle Whip
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons white vinegar
I like more dressing on my salad so usually make a double batch.

Break broccoli and cauliflower florets into bite sized pieces. Add onion, cheese and other add-ins. Pour dressing over the veggies and mix well.

In this version I used dried cranberries and chopped pecans with American cheese.
The little bobbin lace doily is a find from yesterday's trip to the fabric sale.

I didn't go to Grant Street for the hook-in today because I was SUPPOSED to stay at home and work. After all, I was out running around yesterday. But the weather is supposed to get progressively warmer over the next few days. We need to go to the greenhouse and get plants!

This is the herb area. I got cilantro, basil, rosemary, sage and two types of parsley.
The green hanging things are upside-down tomato planters.

This is the fern jungle.

Part of the water garden display.

The orchid and African violet room. I love the orchids!!!

The Lurgan Greenhouse is owned and operated by Amish. Today they had their baked goods stand set up. I had never seen these before and just had to try them. They are mini chocolate covered chocolate whoopie pies! Talk about gilding the lily!!!
Scrumptious!!! We also came home with a gigantic apple dumpling to share.

This afternoon I worked on a new design for my tags to put on rugs. I've done this many times in the past and didn't like the results of any of them. I think this one is a keeper.
The border is machine embriodered. I just wrote in the documentation with a permanent pen.

As soon as I get it sewn in, the Moon and Stars Watermelon rug is officially done!
I joined another challenge on Rug Hooking Daily. This one is 'forest secrets'. I have a design started on paper, but of course I can't show it! Waaaaah!!!
Tomorrow Brad will be giving history talks to school kids at the Military Heritage Center in Carlisle. Kami and I are going to the PA Fabric Outlet for their 50% off sale.
Then on Saturday, Zip and I are going to York for the cat show. Maybe we'll come home with a new baby!
Happy Hooking!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fabric Frenzy!

I had all intention of standing in the chilly dawn with the hoard of quietly crazy people outside the doors of the Salvation Army Annual Fabric Sale at the Norland Shopping Center in Chambersburg, PA.  Only those dedicated to Fabric Frenzy do this, you know!

My friend Willa was supposed to be there with me.  Unfortunately on Tues. evening she wasn't answering her phone so I left a message.  Early Wed. morning I received an email from her saying that she had been up till 3 a.m. and couldn't be ANYWHERE at 9 a.m.!  What about 10?  When I called her at 9:30 to see if she was out of bed, she remembered a previous commitment and begged out.  Maybe she knows something I don't....

Off I went on my own, knowing that all the good bargains were probably already gone!!!  One look at the totally full parking lot almost made me turn around and go home.

Some people are already leaving with their loot.

I was able to get a fairly close parking spot because some nice person was just pulling out near the front of the building.  Then when I got inside, this was the scene!  Wall to wall people!!!!  There really are loads of tables with fabric on them, you just can't see them for the crowd.

The wool table had about five small pieces of questionable fiber content left on it.  Only one hour after opening and many of the tables were almost bare!  It looked like wolves had descended on the feast!  The checkout lines were backed up past halfway through the building.  People had shopping carts filled to the brim with every sort of fabric, needlework supplies, and books.  It is just unbelievable!!!  I think every year more and more people come to this.

I was able to find a few small items: some yarn for Kami, a few old wooden clothes hangers, some bobbins for my sewing machine and two straw doll hats.  No fabric.  I was hoping to find a nice old sewing machine in good shape.  I keep hoping that a Necchi Supernova from the 60's will show up.

As I was in line to check out, I saw Kathy (Rugs of Time) and Joanne (Snippets and Scraps of My Mind) heading for the door.  I was going to run up and say "Hi!" but by the time I secured my spot in line, they were halfway down the parking lot.  Hope you guys found some great bargains!!!

The fabric sale is open for three more days.  There may still be bargains left!

Since I was out on my own, I dawdled back home through the countryside, enjoying the lovely sunny day.  These beasts were out enjoying the wind in their fur!

Yes, they are buffalo!  These people started out with three and now several years later, there are seven.  When the young ones are born, they are so cute.  None so far this year, though.

I am almost done binding my watermelon rug.  Only about twelve more inches to go!  I ran out of the dyed yarn for whipping so had to dye a few more yards.  Isn't that just the luck!!!?

Back to the finishing!  Then on to the next project....
Happy Hooking!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Trip to East Berlin

On Friday Zip and I drove to East Berlin, PA for the day. 

On the way we had lunch at Pomona's in Biglerville.  This is a delightful little trendy restaurant that is part of the Gettysburg Baking Company.  They specialize in crusty artisan breads and pizza baked in their brick wood-fired oven.  But there is so much more than pizza!  I've never had their evening entrees, but they sound wonderful. 

Zip had a spinach omlette and I had a red onion and pistachio pizza.  Both were yummy!

One of the reasons we drove to East Berlin was to find the gravesites of two of my great-great grand parents on my father's side of the family.  I had recently received a picture of their marriage cirtificate and information on where they were buried.

I can't read the date on the document because my scan was taken from a photograph.  I don't know who in the family has the original.  I am just very glad to have this much information.

These two people both died young in their early 30's, of what I do not know.  They are buried in a small graveyard at the Mummert Meetinghouse between East Berlin and Abbotstown.

The thing I find really freaky about my great-great grandfather is that he died on Feb. 26th which is the day I was born (52 years later).  I have heard of many other people having things like that happen in families.  Is it a coincedence or is it some kind of karma???  Anyhow, it's interesting to think about.

My other reason for the trip was to take some pictures at Woolgatherings to put on my website.  Carol has been a weaver, knitter and rughooker for years.  I first met her when she worked at The Mannings.  Her father and one of my uncles were brothers.  More family ties!

I wanted to include her shop on my fun-places-to-visit-in-the-area pages of my website.
This is a pile of her finished pieces, with baskets full of patterns and kits underneath the bench.

A view of the wool selection.

We enjoyed a nice chat, and then headed home.

I haven't been to any hook-ins lately.  I have been diligently working at home to finish my watermelon rug.  And here it is!!!

Now I have a load of edge finishing to do!  I've already started on this rug but still have my little star and chicken mats to do.  Lots of good easy stuff to work on at hook-ins.

Tomorrow is the meeting of the Cumberland Valley Hookers at the Fallins Spring Church.  Hope to see some of you there!

Happy Hooking!!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Thursday at the Woolworks

We are having the return of winter here in south central PA!  Yuck!!!  It's cool, windy and cloudy.  I didn't want to get out that heavier coat again!  Good day to stay inside by the woodstove and do some hooking.

The hookin at Grant Street Woolworks was a good time as usual.  Even though the weather was very nice, lots of people opted to be inside working on their rugs.  Joanne made the long trip from eastern PA to be with us.  She brought many small mats to finish the edges on.  Here are just a few.

Aren't the redware eggs nice?

Linda started by working on her magnolia pillow top.  The shading was getting frustrating because you have to use so many short pieces to get it right. 

She then switched to her new rug.  This one is huge!  It's a lovely Jacobean pattern of flowers and birds.

Look at the beautiful muted colors she is planning to use!

Linda has also finished hooking her quilt block runner.  All done but the whipping and ...The Label!!!

Jill is working on the beautiful bright rug she started last week in the Norma Batastini class.

This is Patty's chicken rug.  Love the colors in her rooster!

Tanya is almost finished with her lovely rug.  The colors are so rich and warm!!!  Nice job, Tanya!

Kathy is working on her house rug, which looks much nicer in person.  It came out kind of dark on camera.  She has been working so hard assisting others that we have to tell her to take a deep breath- sit down, relax and just hook!

 Nancy has started on the Liberty rug.  She is a very neat and precise hooker.  Her work is perfection!

And I saved this huge beauty for last!  This is Joan's latest rug.  Isn't it lovely???
Horay, Joan!  You did an amazing job!

Other friends were arriving as I was leaving, but I'm sure someone else will have pictures from later in the evening.  We seem to have the daytime group and the night people!  LOL!!!

More happy news!
Linda just received a new shipment of the latest Rebecca Erb wools.  They are very nice!!!  All washed and ready to hook!  You have to see and feel them to get the full effect!  She will be cutting them into quarters in the next few days.  Stop by to get the best selection.

 Don't forget that in June, Doris Aymar is going to be teaching a class on the sculpting technique for rughookers.  This adds a lovely three dimensional effect to your rugs.  Her class will include the materials to do a beautiful sculpted strawberry piece.  The berries and leaves look like velvet!  Don't miss this opportunity to learn from an expert!!!  Call Linda at Grant Street Woolworks for the exact date and to reserve your space in this class.  717 860-4628

Hope to see you there, if not before.
Happy Hooking!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rug Progress

Yesterday was a dreary rainy day.  Zip is suffering from allergies.  The cats are spending their time sleeping.  I washed a few dishes in the morning.

Then spent the rest of the day rughooking!

I just could not wait to see how the maroon border was going to look.  There was a book on CD, a cup of coffee, and some chocolate.  What more does a hooker need??? 

I did take a short break to make Zip some dinner, but the rest of the day I worked on the rug.

In my last post the picture didn't come out very true to color.  I thought it was because I took it late in the evening in the kitchen where the lighting is best but still not great.  So today it's brighter outside.  I took the rug to the front porch and tried again.  The greens still seem washed out and dull.

Then, duuuuhhhh!!!!  I remembered that I have Color Settings on my camera! 
I changed to the 'foliage' setting which intensifies the green.

Look at the difference!!!

It even improved the reds!

So check that little book that comes with your camera.  I know, they get stored away somewhere and are never seen again!  Sometimes these little setting changes can really bring out the best in your pictures.

All the color decisions for the rug are now made.  Nothing left but the hookin'!
Hope to see many of you at Grant Street Woolworks tomorrow!

Monday, April 12, 2010


We made the trip back to Hanover to collect my abandoned handbag today.  My camera and I are back together at last!  We enjoyed an afternoon of conversation with my Aunt Kathleen whom I hadn't seen in many years.  This dear lady is 91!  She is on the go constantly, visiting friends and family.  Her positive attitude and sense of humor just amaze me.  I wish I had gotten together with her sooner!

She's my father's sister and looks very much like he did.  She gave me an envelope of pictures of my ancestors that I will be copying and adding to my collection.  I may show them in a future post.  I am hoping to make regular visits now that we have been reunited.

Last weekend I finished hooking my little chicken mat.  It's not an exciting project, but it filled the empty space before the Norma Batastini class this past week.  I plan to bind it (and the two star mats) with dark brown yarn.

I was saving my Moon and Stars Watermelon rug for the class.  I had color planning ideas, but thought some expert advice would be helpful since there's a lot of red and green there.  I don't want it to look like Christmas!!!  I wanted the background to be brown like the watermelon was on the ground from which it grew.

I finished the melon in the three day class, using four shades of green and two of red.  On the way home from the class I asked Zip to stop at Lowes so I could get paint samples so I could start planning the background.  I wanted a dark background, but did not rule out a lighter one if it looked better.

After trying quite a few ideas that didn't really work well:  sage, too much green--- gold, looked good but been there and done that several times!--- antique black, not bad but only as a last resort--- navy, dramatic but too contemporary--- cool browns, too drab.  I finally decided that warm browns would be good, but that an outline of navy would give it that extra spark.

Early Sunday morning I got out the dyepot.  I have been hooking for so long that my stash now contains lots of smaller pieces of every color under the sun.  There are no significantly large pieces that can be used for background.  I now collect my small pieces in the same color families and overdye them.  Since I wanted a warm brown, I started out with warm light colored pieces.

Here's my color reference card.

I'm trying to be more scientific in my dyeing.  And keeping records and samples in case I run out and need more.

Here's how the browns look in the rug.  I'm really liking the effect.

The border is going to be maroon I'm thinking.  It's all dyed and ready to go, but I can still change my mind if necessary.

I had several people in class ask me why there are stars on the watermelon.  In the garden seed catalogs there really is a watermelon called 'moon and stars'  It is a large dark green melon with a few large yellow spots on it and lots of little yellow speckles, like a sky with a yellow moon and a sprinkling of stars.  I just made the idea a little corny.

I'm hooking it in a #7 cut with details in a 5. 

Hope all of you are enjoying the wonderful Spring weather.  Nothing better than hooking out on the porch in the fresh air!
Happy Hooking!!!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Rug Camp

The Worst Time to be Without a Camera!!!

But are we ever having fun!  Three days of nothing but thinking about hooking our rugs!
Is Heaven going to be like this???  I sure hope so!

Nothing but wool, wool, wool, in every color under the sun.  Norma Batastini has helped us color plan our designs, and is continuing to give individual advice.  She has given talks on gruaduate dying, backgrounds, antique rugs in her collection and much more.

The interaction with other hookers is totally inspiring!

And dear little Jill is documenting this event and posting it daily to her blog 'Jill's Life in Stitches' even though she has a family to take care of  (and way too much energy!!!).
So please visit her blog which is listed over there on the right side of the page and check out all the fun.

Also a BIG THANK YOU!!! to Linda and Kathy who have gone out of their way to make this event a success.
Linda, of course is the owner of Grant Street Woolworks and the hostess of the event.  Besides doing all the planning and organizing of the class, she also has many of the hookers from afar staying at her home.  Kathy (Rugs of Time) has been working night and day as Linda's assistant.
You two ladies have done an amazing job!

I better get ready for the Final Day!
Tired, but loving every minute of this!!!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


We don't do a lot of planting flowers.  Too much garden, fruit tree and lawn care already.  But we do have flowers that come up each year on their own.  Clumps of daffodills, bluebells, and violets both white and blue.

I love violets!  They remind me of my childhood in Hanover, PA.  We lived in a duplex on York Street.  Next door there was a vacant lawn and then an old gray two storey house, unpainted and grown up with bushes around it.  Two very old (to me as a child) men lived there.  My Mother thought the place was deplorable, an eyesore.  I loved it!  It was old and mysterious and no one ever got inside.  (I bet they had lots of interesting antiques!!!)

Anyhow, each spring, in the high grass and shade the most beautiful long stemmed violets came popping up.  I always had to sneak over, and hope the old men didn,t catch me and pick a nice bouquet.

Today Zip wanted to get some new nusic books for his quitar playing.  They have a large music store in Hanover.  He did;n't know I had an extra stop I wanted to make.  After purchasing his books, I asked him if we could ride past my old home and take a picture.  They have tarted the place up from a modest brick home with white trim to a place with fake stone and modern railings.  And the old gray house has been done in siding.  There are no longer any bushes and violets.  Things sure change in 40 years.

But my aunt (my father's sister) still lives across the street even after all this time.  And she happened to be home.  She didn't recognize me at first- it's been 20 years!  She was so happy that we stopped to visit! 

She had plans for the evening, so we didn't get to stay and talk as long as we both would have liked.  We hugged goodbye and I promised to come back soon and she said she'd get out pictures and family history information.  I had to cry a little bit as we drove off.

We were on the Lincoln Highway coming back toward home when I discovered I had left my purse there.  With the emotional excitement, I had forgotten it!  No driver's license, no credit or debit cards, NO CAMERA!!!  And a three-day class starting tomorrow!

I guess I'll be making a return visit sooner than expected!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Quiet Weekend

Zip and I had a quiet relaxing weekend.  No visitors, no visits with anyone.  We just stayed home and enjoyed the nice spring weather and worked on our own interests.  He played the guitar and worked in the garden.  I hooked and cooked.

The hooking is done on my two star mats.  They are about 10 inches in diameter.  As you can see I've been using up leftovers- same colors in several mats.  I've always thought of myself as a primitive hooker, so am surprised at the *narrowness* of some of these strips from the past.

This one with the green background is not this light and bright off camera.

And I started this chicken mat, which has caused me a lot of reverse hooking trying to get the colors to work with a limited pallette.  I tried several different wing colors.  Then got stuck with what to do about the background because the eggs are light and the chicken is dark!  Waaaaah!!!  What does it matter on something so small and foolish???

So I end up cutting more strips, when I'm trying to get rid of extras.  The green background I planned didn't work at all!

I guess I can live with the gold.  Need to change the beak so it shows up better.
Those are my hooking efforts of the weekend.

We had an early morning thunder storm.  The first of the season. 
The sun is now shining.  Everything looks so green and fresh.

Over the weekend Zip put compost and leaves on the garden and rototilled it under.  The plot in the foreground is our garden for this year.  The other bare area beyond was the one we used last year.  When it's a wet year, the lower ground doesn't dry out fast enough to work in the spring, so we decided to move up the hill for better drainage.

Don't our pear trees look lovely in blossom?

This is going to be a busy week with the workshop at Grant Street Woolworks on Thurs., Fri., and Sat.
I am soooo looking forward to it!!!

Happy Hooking!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

Hope all of you are having a beautiful sunny Easter Sunday!
May you share your day with the people you love.
Peace be with You!

The delightful Easter decorations are a gift from my dear friend Joanne.
Thank You, Joanne!

Thank you to all the wonderful people who stop by and read my blog. 
I truly appreciate your kindness and support!
And please, keep leaving comments.
I love to hear from each and every one of you!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Thoughts and Theories...

At this time all my larger projects are completed.  And not wanting to start anything major before the Norma Batastini class next week, I've been working on what I call 'piddly stuff'.

I drew up a few small mats that are big enough to use as hot pads under a casserole dish, etc.

These are great for using up leftover worms (those strips we cut for hooking) and small pieces of wool from the stash.

I'm writing this in hopes that those of you just starting out in rughooking may learn from some of my mistakes.  I know many people don't care if they use 100% wool.  I do.  For the sake of my cutter.

While digging through my stash, I'm finding wools that I bought in the past that weren't very good choices.  When we start collecting, especially from thrift stores, we tend to grab anything that is labelled 100% wool.  Not always the best wool, but it's WOOL!  Well, maybe....

That cute little label that looks like a skein of wool and says 100% is not always accurate!  One day in at Grant Street Woolworks, Linda and I went through some of the fabrics she had bought that were labelled 100% and you would not believe how many did not pass the burn test.  What is the 'burn test' you may ask???  When you burn a piece of natural fiber- wool, cotton, or linen- you get an ashy residue.

When you burn a synthetic, you get hard little balls of plastic!

This was yarn I recently bought to make a sweater.  It is 80% acrylic and 20% wool.  When I burned the ends of the yarn, they got hard like the plastic ends on shoelaces.

Now I am not advocating getting our your matches and setting fire to the clothing you find in the thrift store!  LOL!!!  But if you can discretely pull a thread from the edge of a seam or hem and take it outside...  NO!  I didn't say that!

Once we have established that we have WOOL, there is the consideration of 'is it good wool for rughooking'.  Twills are weave structures that should be carefully considered before purchasing.  A loosely woven wool twill can cause tearing out of your hair!!!

Check the edge of my star mat.  I am using leftover worms from past projects.  See how the dark brown and the golden brown loops look like loops are supposed to, standing all lined up straight like little soldiers.  Then check the outermost two rows where the loops look like little messy lumps.  The little mussy lumps happen because I am using a loosely woven twill.

This is what a loose twill fabric looks like.  See the subtle diagonal weave in the fabric. This is created by threads going over two and under two, making a nice drapable fabric for clothing.

A better choice for hooking is a plain weave fabric.  This piece of linen backing is a plain weave.  You can see how the threads go over and under each other to make a firmly woven, stable fabric.

This is a plain weave wool.

What happens when you cut your strips and try to pull them through your backing?  Why do I hear hookers say, 'this stuff is awful to work with!  It keeps raveling!!!'.

Because when you pull on a strip cut from certain twills, the strip stretches (because of the diagonal BIAS weave structure) and your strip ravels and falls apart.  In the next two pictures I cut #5 strips.  The dark brown is the plain weave strip.  I pulled with the same pressure on all of them.  This is what happened.

I am not saying ALL twills are bad!  Just be aware of what you are buying!

The next pictures will show two twills that I bought.  One is a perfectly wonderful wool for hooking.  The other will cause you grief.  The difference is in the size of the threads used to weave the fabric and the washing and fulling that makes it tight and firm.  Can you see the difference in the coarseness of the fabric in the brown sample.  That's the unsatisfactory one!!!

Look what happens when I try to pull threads from the edge of the fabric!

I could easily pull threads from the brown fabric.  I couldn't pull any threads from the edge of the gray plaid, which hooked up very nicely.

That's the Those are SOME of my theories about choosing wool for hooking.  Yeah, I got more!!!  LOL!  Maybe another time.  I can only preach for so long before I run out of blabb!

Happy Hooking!