Monday, March 28, 2011

The People Behind the Bee

I finished a corner on my Bucky Bee rug, which was pretty exciting.  I decided that while I'm probably not able to spell out the "Bee Line - Townsend" in our logo, I'm brave enough to try to hook the letters BLT, so I drew those on my linen last night.  We'll see if I come back on here in exasperation next week.

Bucky Bee is a registered trademark, so I put the little R in the circle underneath him, but on the rug it just looks like Bucky threw up.  I can see the R on the back, but on the front?  Not so much.  I've been using a #7 cut, but I'm going to take the loops out of the R and go back with a #3 or #4 cut and see if that works a little better.

As Bucky progresses, I want to show you some of the people who put their hooks into him.  When Bee Line acquired Townsend Industries' fabric cutting equipment, we were all so pleased with what a great fit it is.  Townsend was a small, family-owned company in Altoona, Iowa.  Bee Line is a small, family-owned company in Bettendorf, Iowa.  Townsend had another line of products in their printing equipment, while Bee Line has another line of products in our trucking alignment equipment.  Out of our 50 or so employees, a number of them have a hand in getting the Bee Line Townsend products made and out the door to rug hookers from coast to coast.

Here they are - meet the Bee Line Townsend team!
Our own Shari, my Beehive cohort.

Travis, the king of buffing cassettes and running the big equipment.

Stephanie, who talks to all the blades while making them.

Rhonda, taking a break from cutter bodies
she's building for the Cream City Hook-In.

Steve, our VP of Operations and Head Beekeeper.

Rick, our Plant Manager who keeps the Beehive buzzing.
(He's a little competitive with his loops.)

Kerry, our Controller, who is another busy Beekeeper.

These are just some of the people who have had a hand in the making of Bucky.  More photos in the next couple of weeks of our other fledgling hookers and binders!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Back to Bucky Bee

Hello all!

I've joined the group "Ten-Minute Rug Hookers" on Rug Hooking Daily.  The concept is that you can accomplish a lot on your project if you commit to working 10 minutes a day.  I embrace the concept - it's the practice that's confounding me.  Every time I sit down to do 10 minutes, it somehow turns into 60 or more.  I guess I know to stop when my shoulder and neck start to hurt.  I am going to try to adhere to the 10-minute schedule most days, and then have a longer session a few times a week.  We need to start making Traveler Frames again, so I can take it with me on the go when I'm driving my kids all over the place!

Back to my newbie-ness...

Here is Bucky in his mid-stage:

And here is Bucky getting more of a background behind him:

I keep hooking, and then showing my work to people, and here is what I've learned about myself...

I'm a Packer.

That's right.  I'm a bona fide packer.  I keep thinking I don't want those loops too far apart from each other, and what I end up doing is making those loops invade each other's personal space.  Bucky is starting to go slightly convex, and I know that means I've been packing.  Since I'm new at this, and ultimately a little bit lazy, I'm not taking anything out.  Instead, I've been hooking looser as the background spreads out in the hopes that it will somehow make up for my packiness, but I guess I know how that will probably turn out.

This week I'm having other people at Bee Line Townsend hook on Bucky, and then everyone will have a hand in the finished product, which I plan on taking to shows.  I'm thinking the finished Bucky will debut at The Cream City Hook-In next month.

Do you have any advice for would-be packers?  If I'm using a #7 cut on my wool, how far apart should the loops be to avoid packing?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Rock Creek Hook-In in Lenexa, Kansas

It's been over a week since I had the good fortune to attend Marilyn Schmidt's Rock Creek Hook In in Lenexa, Kansas, and I'm still processing all I learned there!

First, I was extremely lucky to attend the show with none other than the fabulous Katie Lane from Townsend.  We had a nice drive there together, and made our first stop at Black Sheep Wool in Liberty, MO.  If you haven't had a chance to visit Rhonda Manley's shop and you are able, stop reading now and head over!

Marty and Rhonda Manley of Black Sheep Wool, and me. 
No one told Marty to wear his purple shirt that day.

I wish I would've taken more pictures of the studio - the front room has a gorgeous huge window, with patterns hanging all over the place.  The back room has The Great Wall of Wool, in every color you can imagine, and it's warm and homey.  Here is a picture of Sherri Barnhill cutting wool for her project - on a Bee Line Townsend cutter, of course!

Look at all of that wool!

I didn't get many pictures of the inside,
but I did manage to get a picture of the Black Sheep Wool cat,
 who seemed a little miffed at having to be outside.

Sherri's GORGEOUS rug at Black Sheep Wool.

Rhonda Manley's lovely wool flower pins, ready to go to the Hook In.
I am now the lucky owner of one of these!  Yay me!

Our stop at Black Sheep Wool was short, but the Manley's were busy finishing up a workshop in the studio with a group of fun attendees, and trying to get their things ready for the Hook-In the next day, so Katie and I got back in my van and headed out for dinner and the hotel.  We spent the next few hours working on our projects in the room, which was terrific because Katie gave me some great tips.

I hadn't pulled out my unfelted wool yet on Bucky Bee, and Katie took a look at my work so far.  She pointed out that my loops were too short, and they were too tightly packed, so I was glad she saw the project before I pulled it all out.  I started over on Bucky Bee, and it went much smoother from that point on.  I couldn't believe two hours went by and I hardly noticed! 

The next morning, we were up at 6 a.m. it was off to the Lenexa Community Center!  Black Sheep Wool, as one of our distributors, was the official sales location for Bee Line Townsend, but we brought inventory to hand out as Rhonda and Marty sold it.  Here is my brave minivan, midway through the unpacking:
Boxes of cutters and cassettes ready for hooking!

We had a very busy day, Katie catching up with everyone she hadn't seen in a year, and me meeting everyone I've talked with on the phone at Bee Line Townsend.  Here is a recap of the day:

Julie posing at the BLT booth.

Katie showing off the new cutters.

Rhonda and Marty, working their magic at the Black Sheep Wool booth.

Martha Reeder, another one of our distributors, busy in the Going Gray booth.

Me and Patty from Saltbox Primitive Woolens, also a distributor.

Lots of hooking going on!
What did I learn that day?  Among many other things,
It was loads of fun, thanks to Marilyn Schmidt for organizing a great event, and it was fun meeting so many of our customers!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

First Things First, My First Lesson with Lori Rokusek

So much to report from the Rookie Hooker front, but first things first - I've had my first two hooking lesssons!  Yippee!

The fantabulous Lori Rokusek, who hails from Dubuque and is working toward her McGown certification, came to the Beeline Townsend shop and gave us all an education.  She was terrific.  For the first hour or so that she was here, nearly half of our entire company (which would be roughly 20ish people) sat in while Lori went over a brief history of rug hooking, showed us different backing materials and wools, and shared many of her finished projects with us.  Then, she showed us different hooks and had people step up and learn how to hook.  Of course, the men in the building turned it into a bit of a competition, as in who had the best technique, whose loops were most even, whose line was the straightest, etc.  I even caught some of them by my desk after the lesson hooking in secret when they thought no one was around.  Way to go Lori!

I really want my first project to be a rendition of our company logo, Bucky Bee:
I talked to Lori about how to get Bucky patterned out.  She gave me some Scottish Linen, and some tips on how to best represent Bucky.  Here is what I ended up with:

I'm just going to say it:  I'm kind of proud of my Bucky Bee.

However, dear sweet Lori had to break the news to red wool had to come out because it wasn't felted.  DRAT!  It was for the best, of course - the wool I used is from a large chain fabric shop, and while it is 100% wool, I can tell the quality is not nearly as good as the other wools I am using.  My cream colored wool is from Dorr Fabrics, and it is fantastic, hardly shreds at all, and the blue dyed wool by Ginny Glover or Stillwater, MN I'm using for the backing is from Cabin Fever, which is beautiful and holds up great.  The red, however, shreds quite a bit, even felted.  I did the red and the black in a #6 cut, and I did the cream and the blue in a #7 cut.  I'll post more about that next time, with an updated picture of my nearly finished Bucky Bee.

Lori came back the following week and had a second session with just me and Shari, the BLT department, and Rhonda and Stephanie, the BLT production crew responsible for making all of our equipment.  Here are some photos from the last day Lori was in:

Lori and one of her fantastic works of art.

Lori and Rhonda talking turkey.

Shari working on the back end of a sheep. 
Someone has to take the less glorious job.

Stephanie takes the front end of the sheep.

That's me, Julie, fruitlessly hooking unfelted wool on my bee.

My new hooking mentor, Lori.  She rocks.

This is Bill, Lori's husband - the chauffuer,
unsung hero, and handsome pack mule.

It was really exciting to finally start actually hooking something.  And now, you all know the end of the story....I'm hooked.  I hooked in the hotel room in Lenexa, Kansas with Katie Lane from Townsend, and I hooked during the entire Oscars, and if I have 10 minutes before I need to leave to pick up my kids from somewhere, I'll think, "Oh, I can just do a couple of worms quick...."  I'm finding out that the more I learn about this great art, the more I need to learn, but it's fun and it's fascinating. 

I'll file a report on the Rock Creek Hook In with Marilyn Schmidt in Lenexa, Kansas in the next few days.

Julie, the Rookie Hooker