Little women, in stitches

My current work schedule leaves me only a few precious hours for personal pursuits, especially the large projects like my weaving or fine needlepoint. I miss the feeling of satisfaction that comes from making a big idea into a big finished work. So in the evenings after work I am focusing on smaller projects to give myself the boost that only comes from seeing a finished project. I’ve been doing some quick embroidery sketches.

Just as in my family painting series (four of which are languishing neglected on my easel), I like to try to give my images in fibre bold lines or exaggerated traits. I’ve started a series of women quickly sketched in black lace-weight thread. Then with each woman I target one thing about her to highlight.

Women are defined narrowly in popular culture. By our beauty, our hair, our lips, our eyes , or our clothes. I decided to run with that and define each of the sketches by one of those things.

The series is below. I’m enjoying not only the more immediate sense of accomplishment that come with the speed of the work, but also the textures I can create. Whereas in painting I can add only line and colour, in fibre I’ve begun working on textures like hair in addition to colour and line. It’s pretty to test stitches and thread weights.

I’ll be working on this series for a while yet because it makes me happy, and because it’s helping me improve my embroidery skills. I consider this training up to tackle some really big ideas kicking around my head.





Family portrait gallery – an amateur wall of family portraits


My home is my castle. And you know what castles have? Family portraits. Walls full of portraits.

I think my family is no less portrait worthy. And I love to play around with paints.

I am not an artist. I am at best a hobby painter.


I am working on a family portrait project.

The finished paintings will hang on the long wall at the top of the basement stairs.

It’s almost the only wall in the house that will accommodate them, and it’s on display enough that they won’t be a waste of time gathering dust but not so on display that I’ll have to answer questions about them.


The catalyst for this particular project was a cute little picture I painted of my dog last year.

That picture of her now hangs at the top spot in the family portrait arrangement. She earned top spot. In dog years she was the senior family member. Plus since she passed away in February it puts her closer to heaven.


I’ve got a bunch done and hung in the stairway . Some of the pictures are better than others. One or two really capture their subjects well.

I accidentally set something on one of them when it was laying on my desk and punctured the canvas so I will have to try it again.


When I complete the set I may go back and attempt a couple others to see if I can make them better.

I am also still working on them. On my easel right now I have my last nefew and a picture of my siblings and I as kids.



Practice makes perfect, so maybe this will help me develop some style and some skill.

Mostly though, it’s just something else for me to dabble in. Another hobby for me.

Gavin and 3 siblings – in progress

I have many hobbies; so many hobbies in fact that I may begin telling people I am a professional hobbiest.

What do you think? Should I get business cards? Darcy L Hoover, Certified Professional Hobbiest.



The habits and hobbies I keep – stitching memories

tessa-inspirationIn March of 2005 I spotted a skinny, mangy, lonely puppy in the corner of a kennel. She was there in Petcetera with a dog rescue group. The group was trying to find homes for four rescue pups. In the other corner a crowd watched three furry, beautiful white husky pups tumble in play.

Tessa Beloved family member 2005 - 2017
Beloved family member
2005 – 2017

I was drawn to the sad eyes in the corner. I could read her mind. She knew she was not what the crowd wanted. I’ve never been one for crowds.

I took her home that day, and I helped her recover from the mange and fed until she was healthy girl. Over the last 12 years she has been my shadow. Under foot. In the doorway. Waiting at the door.

On February 11, 2017 my beloved dog Tessa took her last breath. I woke up at 7 a.m. and looked over at her bed. She was motionless.

Dogs don’t live forever. Nothing does. I know that. But habits die hard. Going downstairs in the morning and not letting her out the door to pee. Going
out to shovel the walk and calling her to join me. Going to bed at night and calling her upstairsfamily-fence for bedtime. Going out to buy groceries and not saying “Bye bye Tessa, be a good girl” as I close the door. Coming in the door and not exclaiming “Hello Tessa!” Laughing as she tries to sit pretty until I take off my shoes while she waits for her hugs. Frying bacon and turning to watch the dog come around the corner.

Habits die hard because they bring us happiness. So do memories. To that end…

I carved her into the family fence in the garden a couple years ago. I painted her portrait last year. We had the vet make us a paw imprint that I will place beneath her likeness in the garden. This morning I added her to my 365 day embroidery challenge. I’m planning in my head how I can sculpt her likeness.

So while I know there is no way that her absence won’t change the way I go through my day, I can insert her into all the other things I do so that she will always be a part of the habits and the hobbies I keep.

img_20170214_105929 img_20170214_110947 img_20170214_115103 img_20170214_125743 img_20170214_141120 img_20170214_170419


Dream weaver – my new rigid heddle loom

I had a rather unpleasant junior high school sewing instructor and because of that I img_20160626_224632resented sewing, yet was obviously drawn to it.

I made doll clothes and little pillows from collected scraps of fabric and yarn.

I was and still am fascinated by colour and texture.

I even collected art books about the textile arts.

My final year high school art project was to choose an image and depict it in four different media. I created my image in pastels, watercolours, as an etching, and I cut shapes in coloured denim and stitched them together to make a geometric representation of my image. I got an A+ and a special img_20161231_143219compliment on the innovative use of fabric in fine art.

For some reason even with that success, I dropped my pursuit of textile crafts. Until now, that is. Now, approaching 50 I have shaken off that bitter home economics experience and am diving headlong into my love of fabrics.

I’ve written about my cross stitching, embroidery and sewing. This blog is about learning to weave.

For Christmas my doting husband bought me a 24″ rigid heddle loom. To help me get going I ordered an img_20170117_151945instructional video from

I started weaving with some spare yarn I had left from a costume I made for my son a few years ago. Once I got the feel for the loom and managed to get my edges pretty straight I decided I would make placemats for my
dining room table.

img_20170118_144459I was going to do simple stripes, but one yarn lead to another and I ended up creating a plaid. The test mat turned out really nice. I love the way the colours work and they look great in my dining room – which has a paprika red feature wall behind the fireplace.

I plan to spend the next month or two slowly working on 12 place mats. I say over two months because I will be weaving in between cross stitching the table runner, my 365 day embroidery project, some paintings of my family, painting my upstairs hallway, painting the downstairs bathroom and some small sewing projects I have on the go.

Hopefully I get it done before early spring when I’ll want to move outside to work on some garden decoration projects. I’m pretty sure I’ll die with 20 unfinished craft projects. What a wonderful way to go.


Another day, another stitch – 365 days of embroidery

Ashleigh's first day.
Ashleigh’s first day.

I have been cross stitching for years, but I have never sat down and really mastered the related art of embroidery. So when I came across a blog recently about a person who had stitched every day for 365 days I decided this would be just the project for me.

I shared my crafty plans on Facebook and a young woman who is friends with my son said she’s like to stitch along with me.

I have everything we need. I have two unused embroidery hoops. I have a large scrap of cloth that would work well for embroidering on. I have plenty of colourful bits and bobs of

Darcy's first day.
Darcy’s first day.

embroidery yarn from past projects. And best of all, I have an accomplice.

I’ve looked up the various stitches. I cut the fabric to fit the two hoops. Beyond that I have no plan. The plan is not to plan, just to do. Chaos lives in poorly thought out plans, but creativity lives in well thought out spontaneity, right?

Here we go, Jan 1, 2017. Day number one of 365.



See below for some stitching guidance if you want to try this yourself.…/library-embroidery-stitches/…/2014/…/hand-embroidery-stitches/

Folk art – Folk festival

I think it was 1986 when I first went to the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. I went with my high school sweetheart, Danny. The festival was young, and so were we.

After that it was over a decade until I went again. Not because I didn’t love the festival and the music, but because it took years until I found my way back to the kind of people who shared my love of this music.

up the hill

I first went back with a woman I met while working for the Alberta Media Production Industries Association. I joined her for a few years but didn’t set down my own roots –

I blocked out the plan on the tarp.
I blocked out the plan on the tarp.

folk festers call this tarp squatting because the hill is lined with tarps

East is a cyclops all-seeing sun.
East is a cyclops all-seeing sun.

that people put down to reserve their seating in front of the main stage.

A few years later it was one of my most cherished friends from yet another workplace that I tagged along with. Not only did Lisa give me a seat on a tarp – and this is important because the tarp is the folk fest family home and the whole reason I am writing this blog – but her friends embraced me.

West is reaching tree branches.
West is reaching tree branches.

I don’t ‘tarp-squat’ anymore. I feel like a fully fledged member of a folk fest family.

South is Alberta fields of wheat.
South is Alberta fields of wheat.

Three years ago I decided I needed to find a way to make how I feel about this festival and these people into a piece of folk art. I knew it had to involve a tarp.

I finished the project last fall, and two days ago my husband sprayed it with waterproofing to make it weather resistant. It was a labour of love from start to finish.

NORTH old man winter sketch.
NORTH old man winter sketch.

I began by sewing the tarp to the official festival tarp specifications, and only then laid out the positive and negative space.

Next I sketched some ideas on paper. I then transferred the ideas onto the tarp in pencil, and inked over the outlines. Getting the lines dark enough took three coats. Then I inked in the colours on each of the images, finishing with the background.

In each corner is one of the Four Strong
– significant because this is the song everyone on the hill sings  in unison, candles in hand, on the last night of the festival.

Below is the finished product hanging the beautiful Edmonton sunshine between two spruce trees in my yard.

blowing in the wind

On the last two days of Folk Fest this tarp will be our home base. If it holds up well, and the whole folk fest family likes it, I’ll bring it back next year.