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What a great time we had this weekend in our ART AND NOODLES class with  Diana Geisinger of Ankeny Iowa.  Diana is a former art teacher and McGown certified rug hooking teacher.  She led us thru a terrific weekend of hooking small projects from our noodle bags mixed with honest to goodness art lessons.  We learned about color and value.  We studied shading and design.  We sketched and drew like we knew what we were doing.  Amazingly, Diana made us all feel like real artists and everyone walked away with a lot of confidence in their newly found art skills.


Diana told us that as she finished a rug, she takes her cut leftovers and hooks a 9x13 mat that can be given as a gift or traded among friends.  She has one of the most creative minds and gave us at least a hundred different ideas for our mats.  We tried geometrics and animals and lettering and borders and the list goes on and on.


 Here are a couple of mats to show what our projects looked like.  I will post a few more later in the week.  The stones to the right were done by Kathleen Salak, the circles were done by Erin Schultz.


More later,

Janice



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I have never had a 'bucket list' and have never felt the need for one.  I have always felt that I have had all the life experiences needed by one person, and perhaps a few that I could have lived without.   All in all, my life has been full of wonderful people, interesting experiences and particularly fantastic animals.

Tonight, I added an experience that should have been on my 'bucket list'.    This is Timber, he is a 4 1/2 month old wolf hybrid.  From his DNA testing they believe he is 3/4 wolf.  Timber was given up at the Nebraska Humane Society by his owner.  Perhaps the raising and training of such a pup was going to be too much, who knows.  But at 8 weeks of age, Timber was taken on by the humane society staff to socialize.

Pictured with Timber, is Dawn Thrapp, an absolutely amazing woman who works for the Nebraska Humane Society here in Omaha.  Dawn is often assigned the most difficult, problem pooches.  Dawn believes in 'shaping', a dog training regime, that has no negative consequences.  The dog's behavior is shaped by a reward system, via treats and praise.  Behaviors are broken down into tiny increments.  Often the first step in training is to have the dog look at you.  His attention for even a second is rewarded with a word like 'nice' and a treat.  'Nice' or sometimes a click from a clicker, tells the dog, you have done the right thing, the treat reinforces that this is a good thing to do.  Everything is built on that reward and before you know it, you have a dog that is seeking your attention and approval and wonderful and amazing things can happen from that relationship between dog and trainer.

Most of you know about my Standard Poodle, Blue.  He is about 3 years old now and we have attended many training classes together.  Dawn taught me the benefit of shaping and I have used the technique to teach Blue hundreds of tricks, skills and behaviors.  I take class from Dawn when ever it is offered and
Blue and I have been attending a class taught by  Dawn at Companion Dog Club, here in Omaha.  We have also taken classes from her at Go Dogs, another great facility in Omaha.

Back to my undiscovered 'bucket list'.  Dawn had been telling us about a trainee that she has been working with.  She is fostering young Timber, preparing him for the opportunity to go to a wolf rescue.  They are searching for just the right spot for him.

Tonight Dawn brought Timber along to class, to give him a new experience and further his socialization.  She asked if we would like to meet Timber.  Of course, we all said YES.  Out came this beautiful young wolf, with the most haunting eyes you will ever see in a living thing.  He was very happy to see all the dogs, he is after all bred to thrive in a pack.  To people he was polite, but distant.

OK....here it comes.  I think that Dawn sensed that this was BIG for me and offered to let me touch him after class was over.  So here I am, almost 65 years old, and I just had one of the rarest, most moving experiences of my life.  I sat down on the floor and petted a WOLF!!!!!!!!

Timber, was every bit a gentleman and let me pet him and stroke his beautiful coat.  He let me touch his face and ears and indulged me with great patience.  I hope he finds a wonderful home where he can be in a pack, with people that understand that this animal must be handled with extra care and respect.

Thank you Dawn and Timber.  It is an experience I will never forget.

Til next time.....
Janice
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I got a new computer and everything is working much better for me in the techno world, so I am back to blogging.  I promise to be a better blogger in the future.   Pictured is a rug I just finished a few minutes ago.  You may have noticed this is not my normal 'style'.  Well, let me explain how this came about.  Diane Stoffel was here teaching a class a few weeks ago.  We had a terrific three days, class was over and Diane was ready to fly home to get ready for her next class.  But....Mother Nature intervened and Diane got snowed out of home.  Lucky ME, I got to spend 3 more days with Diane Stoffel, rug hooking, eating and watching Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries on Netflix.  Wonderful!  However, I finished my project from class and was pondering what to tackle next.  Any of you who know Diane, know that she gets up at 4:30 every morning, makes coffee and starts hooking.  When I got up a 7am and walked into the store, she said "I planned a rug for you.  It will be good for you to do this, the color plan is a split compliment, you will be mock shading the flowers and leaves.   Well.......OK, I know better than to argue with Diane Stoffel, but I HATE YELLOW, especially bright orangey yellow AND did she have to pick one of the biggest patterns in the store?   No matter, I dove in and really enjoyed hooking the beautiful daffodils.  This is a lovely pattern, from Kathy Morton at Oak Ridge Cottage Rugs.  Kathy's patterns are always beautifully drawn.  Diane suggested drawing puzzle pieces to make the background more fun to hook and I really enjoyed the lattice work.  I think it is very pretty and certainly a sign of spring.  I have yet to steam it, but had to take the photo and blog about it just to rib Diane a little.  She taught me a valuable lesson, never leave Diane alone in the store while I sleep.  She comes up with great ideas for lessons for me to learn.   Later this week, I will show you the rug I did in class.  It is close to my heart and one of my favorite rugs ever.  I think you will know why, when you see it.

Thanks for listening,
Janice

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What better way to spend a spring weekend than to have a FINISH YOUR PROJECTS weekend here at The Rug Hooking Store.  This weekend, April 21,22,23 bring any project you want to complete.  We will start at 9am  each  day and hook until 10pm on Fri and Sat and 4pm on Sunday.   You can come for the whole time, a day, an evening, an afternoon, just drop in and out as you can.  We will potluck lunches and order pizza or burgers out for dinner.  This will be a very laid back, easy going time.  If you need help with a rug, I am always available for problems or a color plan!  This weekend is FREE and all are welcome.

Gail from The Paisley Pansy in Lake City Iowa, will be here at 1pm on Saturday for anyone who has a framing project.  Gail, formerly of Leonardo's in Omaha, is the one who framed all my favorite rugs.  She and her sister, do a fabulous job and it always amazes me how reasonable the framing can be.  We have all noticed that framing sure beats binding a rug, especially if it is to be used as a wall hanging.  It really changes things from rug to ART!  Bring a project, print, needlework, anything you need framed at 1ish on Saturday.  Gail will bring lots of corners and help you pick the perfect combination,  and then take it with her to frame.  She will return our projects in about a month!

I am looking forward to seeing many of you this weekend.  Friends will be coming from all around, so if you have a few hours, or days, join us!  You will be amazed how much you can get done, without the phone or doorbell ringing, the laundry calling your name or the kids yelling "MOM".
See you soon,
Janice
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While looking thru some rug photos to find something fun to write about, I ran across this chalkware deer I did in the Pris Buttler class at last year's retreat.  I had finished my footstool design for this class and Pris said "Pick something else to do and we will color plan it."  I have always liked this pattern from Woolley Fox, it is an old Edythe O'Neill design.  I was thinking maybe some primitive browns and predictable colors when Pris said....let's do this up a little different.

So, she went to the lights on the shelf and picked four or five different pieces, a greenish grey, pinkish grey, brownish grey etc.  Those colors became the rug.  We went with a favorite red color of mine, called Buttermilk Paint Red for the background.  It made this simple, lovely rug that I can use at the holidays or any time of the year.

People sometimes ask me "Why should I take a class?  I already know how to rug hook."  Well....this is why.  A good teacher takes you out of your own box, often out of your comfort zone.  We can all color plan a rug with our favorite colors, but Pris helped me look beyond the direction I would normally have gone.  Teachers gently push and prod (sometimes not so gently, but that is OK too) to help us achieve our greatest levels of creativity.  And having a fabulous teacher standing over you for 3 days at a workshop is a great way to find your new confidence.

I am very proud of the top notch teachers I bring here to the store to teach workshops.  Pris Buttler comes twice a year, Diane Stoffel comes 3 times a year, Donna Hrkman comes every November.  Maggie Bonanomi is a regular for a 2 day rug hooking class and 1 day appliqué class every May.  Diana Geisinger teaches here regularly and will be back in June for a great 2 day class called "Art and Noodles".  Pat Shafer teaches a wonderful 'FACES' class in January.   And talk about being coerced....I teach a bang up HEIRLOOM RUG WORKSHOP.   You will be encouraged to make your own vintage look rug with the help of a book I wrote on the subject that offers 15 different techniques to use, to make your own family heirloom, a rug that looks a hundred years old upon completion.

You can visit my website at janicelee.biz, then go to the calendar page to see the dates that all these wonderful teachers will be here at the store.  Careful.....they might push you out of YOUR comfort zone!
Talk soon,
Janice
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Not to disrespect the daffodil, but now we are TALKING!  I finished this rug, THE MORNING DRIVE when Diane Stoffel was here teaching class a couple of weeks ago.  The photo on top shows my rug, the one below is the original picture, taken by Heather DePra, of my son Will and his dog Pard, moving cattle a few years ago.

You can see Pard pretty well in the rug, he is just to the right off the rider.  You have to look really close in the original photo, Pard is so deep in the grass he is barely visible.

I really should tell you Pardner's story, it is a good one for sure.  Pard is about 15 years old now, but he came into our lives when he was about a year old or younger.  One of Will's Dad's friends called one day and said someone had tied a young border collie to a tree in his yard, left a bag of dog food and had driven away.  This man had dogs, so the person abandoning the young dog must have figured a dog lover would take care of the poor castoff.  Will's Dad took the dog in and of course, the next thing we knew, Will had taken on "Pard" as he called him, as a project.  Pard lived with us for a few years until Will went off on his own and was never anything but the best dog.  He rode everywhere with Will in his truck, and worked his heart out helping Will with his cattle.  Will says the only thing you could fault Pard on was that he had a soft mouth and nature, and would not be as tough on the cattle as some of his counterparts would be.  He was after all a Border Collie, bred to work sheep, probably a little more gently than was required with cattle.

Last year Pard developed a tumor on his leg.  It grew fast and was huge.  I always explain it to be the size of a dead chicken, hanging down so far it almost touched the ground.  Will was trying to wait till the end of fly season to have it removed, cause Pard lives outside at the ranch and Will is gone so much he couldn't just put him in the house and just leave.  So......of course, I volunteered to take care of Pard after his surgery, keep him at my house and let him recover.   Since we know Pard is at least 15 we were a little concerned about how he would make it thru the surgery, but he bounced back like a young dog.  His crate is in the rug store, and he immediately made friends with all the ladies and Blue, the Poodle.  Biscuit, our old lab did not take to him right away, but they tolerate each other now.  After a few weeks of healing, it was probably time for Pard to go back to the ranch, but winter was coming on and he loved his crate in the store and following Carl around the barn here.  And I hated to think of him living the hard life again at his age, even tho the veterinarian here told me he was in incredible shape for an old dog, great heart, teeth, weight etc.  So much for poor Pard, that hard ranch life will keep him alive longer that us softies.

I do have to report that my son Will was wrong about Pard being the perfect dog.  A few months ago, I was racing out of the house and forgot to lock the door on his crate.  I came back 45 minutes later to find every trash can in the store and house dumped over and trash everywhere.  There was no question who the culprit was....Pard had taken the best trash back to his crate with him and was sitting there smiling at me when I returned.  When I mentioned this to Will he said, "Oh, yeah, he does like the trash."  That my friends, is an understatement.
Talk soon,....
Janice
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Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet?  Here is a suggestion for you!  My own Blue dog has been a busy guy.  He is the poster child for our fundraising campaign  "COATS FOR KIDS" which is raising money for coats and warm clothes  for the children of our area.

I wrote this children's book about Blue and all his activities.  As you may know, Blue is a store dog and a theatre dog and a therapy dog and a reading dog…..etc, etc.  I hired a wonderful artist, Jana Sesow of Lincoln to do the illustrations and they are beautiful.  Shown here, right, is a painting showing rug hooker Colleen Cochrane and Blue.  Blue likes to help the rug hookers in the store by hiding his ball in their baskets of wool. He then barks at them until they find it and throw it for him.  Big help, Blue!!!!!!

So this very pretty book with 10 illustrations, is for sale for $20, postage and shipping are included.  Help the children of our area get warm clothes for the winter and see more of Blue's adventures!  All you have to do is send me your address, I will send you the book and then you can send your check for $20.  Absolutely all proceeds go to our "COATS FOR KIDS CAMPAIGN".

Our rug hooking Christmas Party is Saturday Dec 12 from 10-5.  Join us for a fun day of rug hooking and friendship!
Merry Christmas
Janice
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 Our 2016 Rug Hooking RETREATS are done, and a wonderful time was had by all who attended.  Two weeks ago, we had Diane Stoffel and Pris Buttler here for class.  Diane's students made some beautiful rugs and in Pris' class we did these fabulous footstools.  The one on the left is Pris' footstool, the one on the right is my finished project.

Both Diane and Pris will be back next Oct 28,29,30 2016 and sign ups are in progress NOW.  Diane's class is open and Pris will offer an open class AND the footstool option again.

My little baby rug, shown on top, was completed in
Donna Hrkman's class last weekend.   The baby is my little darling Quinn, of course she is more beautiful in person, but my little rug shows her adorable  personality.  Donna specializes in portraits, both human and animal, and her students did some marvelous rugs.   Donna will back next Nov 11,12,13  along with Kathy Morton of Oak Ridge Cottage Rugs.  Kathy has a wonderful pattern  line and is a terrific colorist.  Sign up now to take class from Diane, Pris, Donna or Kathy.  I guarantee you will have a marvelous time!

I am already reminding people we will have our annual Christmas party (hooking and eating and hooking and eating)  on Saturday Dec 12 from 10-5.  Dec 5 will be first Saturday hooking, from 12-5.  Join us for some holiday fun!
Soon…..Janice
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 As promised, here are a couple of rugs from our Heirloom Rug Workshop.  Of course, they are only partially completed, but the ladies all got a lot done is only 3 days.

On top is Erin Schulz' tulip rug, a design from The Sampling.  Erin tore and cut strips and her rug looks marvelously old.

Jeanette O'Brien hooked this Maggie Bonanomi design.  She also tore and cut strips.  Her flowers and flags are terrific and the bronze urn may be my favorite part of all.

These experienced rug hookers really embraced
the idea of making rugs that look 100 years old, a task that is really harder than you may think!

I will show you their projects again when they are completed.

In the meantime, remember Donna Hrkman will be here November 13,14,15 for a retreat weekend.   Contact me if you are interested.  I have a few spots left with this fantastic teacher.  Hook a face or primitive rug, she can tackle it all.
Janice
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We just finished a terrific 3 days of rug hooking with a great group of ladies.  This was my Heirloom Rug Workshop and these brave souls came together to make their truly 'ugly bug rugs'.

We have all been hooking some really beautiful projects.  Detailed faces and landscapes, 3 cuts for detailed minutia  have become common place for this group of former 'primitive' rug hookers.

The point of this class is to hook like a prairie hooker.  I wrote a book outlining 15 different techniques you can use to make your rug look 100 years old.  This year we took it a step farther.
These ladies had all taken the class before, a time or two….or many times.  So this year I raised the bar.  Now they could't just make a lovely primitive rug, using their 15 techniques.  NO…..now they had to make it down right homely.  I told them to hook like their children's feet were cold.  Hook high, hook low, hook like you are 9 yrs old or 90 years old, just get it done.   Commit to a decision, don't pull it out.  That prairie hooker made mistakes, ran out of wool and didn't have time to fuss with every loop.  EMBRACE IMPERFECTION was our mantra.

Well guess what?  They are awesome.  The look old and homely and used.  Each of these fabulous rug hookers did the seemingly impossible and made a wonderfully ugly bug rug.

I will show some partially done projects in my next post, but had to include one more picture.  Blue gets to attend class too, although he slows down progress by insisting every hooker take a turn throwing his toy.  This was one of the best moments of the 3 day class.  Pat Shafer, who is a highly regarded rug hooker, Celebration finalist and teacher of a dynamo face class here in January and February, made a rug for her dog Tucker.  Now, it would not be out of line  for me to tell you that Pat is a beautiful rug hooker.  I mean….her rugs are BEAUTIFUL (and she is beautiful her own self).  This homely rug concept kind of makes her cringe.  She is a game gal, tho, and hooked a great whale rug in last year's class and really grew to like it.  This year she chose the Woolley Fox pattern RAGS and decided to hook it for a rug for her beloved Golden Retriever Tucker to sleep on.  It is a great rug, full of rusts and plums and it was a difficult challenge for Pat to make it homely.  But she kept on course and this rug has many of the elements we attempted to include in the rugs, with great textured wools, no shading, no details, just simple shapes.

At the end of the day, Pat threw her rug down and we all came round to admire it.  Pat said, "My only concern is that Tucker will not know it is for him, how will I convince him it is his to sleep on?'  With that, the big Poodlie Blue dog came and plopped down on the rug.  He snuggled, he curled up into as tiny a ball as his extra large self could accomplish.  He laid out flat, he arranged himself in every possible direction on this rug.  He knew he had an audience of course, we were all laughing at him, which just egged him on further.  It was as if her was going to show Pat that THIS was exactly how her dog was going to like this rug.  Thanks Blue and Pat and Tucker.  It was a great way to end the day.
Soon…
Janice
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