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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Happy Hookers

Those of us who remember 1975, however vaguely, are familiar with the book and movie title "The Happy Hooker."  That's how my mother-in-law, Barb Woolman, jokingly refers to her Thursday afternoon rug-hooking group.  This is a picture of the happiest hooker I know with her granddaughter.

Today is May 27th and our family usually finds a happy way to celebrate my son's birthday.  Ben is no longer planet-side to be able to celebrate with us -- but we celebrate his birth anyway.  This year, because of job changes and just life in general, the day was almost left to a Hallmark greeting card version of "Yay, you were born." 

The message light on my phone was beeping yesterday and it was Barb inviting us to go with her to North Bay on Sunday to go to the OHCG (Ontario Hooking Craft Guild) 46th Annual Conference at Nippissing University.  I have the great fortune of having a mother-in-law who is also my friend.  I didn't say a word about how relieved I was not to be alone with the Hallmark greeting card version of this day.

The first scene we were greeted by was a four-panel mural of what life is like in Northern Ontario. 

The story I heard was that a community of hookers got together and asked everyone to contribute something to the panel about the seasons of what it is like in our part of the world.  One little girl reminded them that the scenes were missing a vital part -- and the mermaid was added to the second panel per her request.  To understand how much detail and work was done to create the mural, below is Carol showing us how to hook.

There are several supplies needed in order to create this kind of art.  Although I was assured that anyone can do it, I felt like Alice in Wonderland waiting for the next clue.  Even the handles of the hooks were unique.

These are palm hooks and Carol is holding a pencil hook.  I tried the palm hooks (left-handed) but it looks like I'm a pencil-pusher in the hooking world, too.  Maybe.

The colors... oh! the colors... wool seems to be the fabric of choice because it dyes well and in so many different shades.

This woman explained to us that the wool here is not tie-dyed, but it is put into a pot to boil on the stove with one dye and then other colors are ladled with a spoon onto the same cloth.  One of these strips cost $4.00 and it was also explained that part of the expense of the material is the effort it takes to get the colors. 

Our model, Sarah is showing the other kind of fabric that is dunked three and four times into dye so that the color bleeds down from one shade to another.

There are other kinds of fabrics used to hook.  These are skeins of saris. 

I found the brightest color of purple I've seen yet today...and the happiness I felt when I picked it up was palpably purple.  I promise you when the budget constraints ease up, I'm going to find that material again and use it.

I'm going to end this blog with a series of pictures of May 27th, 2012.  The words to describe what I found today were on a person's description of why they hook.  "How do you live a creative life?  Release the child within and lose the fear of being wrong."

Happy Birthday, Ben.  We love you.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Jackson Pollock Cake

What happens when two people -- who really love one another, try again?  Well, first, the dye works SO much better, brighter.

"Mom, how about we put in 7 more drops of blue?" 

"How about 14, Sarah..."


"Mom, I really want the purple more purple-red than purple-blue."

"Yeah... we can do that."

"Hey, instead of doing the whole concentric circles thing... how about we drizzle?"

"There's a painter... he painted like this, with splatters.  Hey, that's it!"
"Mom - this is a lot better than last time."

"Yes, honey, it is... "

"His name was Jackson Pollock, ya know...  I never really understood his paintings, but I kind of do, now.  What message can we find in the mess?"

"We do good work together, especially the second time around."

So, okay...the third time we make this cake, we're going to figure out the icing.

Sarah -- I think we made something together that we can be proud of.  For me, it was peace about a chapter in my life, a long time ago.  For you?  What was it for you?

"That everybody makes mistakes and nothing's perfect... but it is delicious."

Yes my dear young woman, it is.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I Love You More Than Cake

Pinterest users frequently post recipes that look seemingly easy on Google images and blogs -- and the Tye Dye Cake recipe looked like a challenge.  Sarah and I were up for that challenge.  Our thanks to Bird on a Cake for this idea! 

Our first lesson was in using food color for the 60's theme.  Most tye dyes are bright and ours ended up... well pedestrian pastel.  When in doubt, double the color.

Also, we used two 8-inch circular pans and it looked so very simple to do "concentric circles" of the colored batter.  Well, yeah... first you figure out that if you use your spoon to spread the circles, it's called double-dipping in a whole new way.  Sarah figured out that if you tap the pan in one direction or another, the batter evens out in the pan.  That worked!

Still, we had a good time because I love my daughter and she loves me.  We were giggling and knew our creation was going to look like a spirograph gone bad.  We were arguing over who got the last of the purple and which color should come next.  Mysteriously cake batter ended up on my shirt and on my chin...have no idea how that happened.

The cakes came out of the oven 30 minutes later, cooled a bit and then I began to ice them.  Icing always makes me nervous because I'm always afraid I won't get it all even.  I'm pleased to report that I did a great job and got a picture of at least the inside.  The cake is perfect for 3 or 4 people because it's on the small-ish side. 

I finished the outside and, of course, slathered icing all over the plate.  I called Sarah to help me "clean up" the icing so it would be picture worthy.  We were conspirators in a hygeninically questionable cover up.  That is...

....until the cake....

...ended up on the floor.

Sarah looked at me.  I looked at Sarah.  The room was silent.  Later she would recount this moment as the buffalo and the bunny.  I think I've finally managed to grow up as a parent.  I admitted I was angry but I kept saying the same thing... "Sarah, I love you more than cake."  After the mess was cleaned up and the beagle barfed tye dye... my daughter gave me my Mother's Day presents early. 

She ran into our office and came out with a card that said:

If I could give you diamonds
For each tear you've cried;
If I could give you sapphires for each truth
You've helped me to see; If I could give you rubies
For the heartache that you've known,
If I could give you pearls for the wisdom
That you've shown.

Then you'd have a treasure;
Mother, that would mount up to the skies;
That would almost match the sparkle
In your kind and loving eyes.
But I have no pearls or diamonds,
As I'm sure you're well aware,
So I'll give you gifts more precious,
My devotion, love and care.


God bless you, SarahAnn Land... I love you more than cake, honey.