Back Up and Retool

I haven’t pulled a loop in over two weeks, and that doesn’t happen very often. Here’s the first reason….DSCF7639Ray and I accompanied Baxter on a lovely camping trip. Great swimming, walking , relaxing and many wonderful  memories from past years when we had family camping get togethers in this provincial park with up to 30 relatives, huge pot luck dinners, and hilarious yearly scavenger hunts. I remember my niece saying at the time “I wish I could make time stand still”. ….but of course time doesn’t stand still….so Ray and I made new memories this time on our own as we celebrated our wedding anniversary with a very special dinner at the delightful Globe Hotel, a nearby restaurant at a 200 year old Inn  in the tiny village of Rosemont. Oh the food was soooooo delicious!

OK…that’s my first excuse for not hooking lately. The second is this….DSCF7635After dyeing all the wool for the background, I was excited to hook a bit to see the effect, and it didn’t take long to realize that while the wool is beautiful, it is too striking to use as the background. It immediately draws the eye away from poor Grumpy. Not what I want at all.

So now that I’m back home from camping, have had a long talk about this problem with my friend Jean, and looked at lots of inspiration images from google, my current plan is to insert a moon and misty dawn sky that will enhance but not overpower the grey owl.

I found this “royalty free” image , which really caught my eye, and is the essence of what I’d like to achieve in the background.3684907-moon-over-the-sea-moon

At this point, I think I’ll use my trusty “pear yellow” as the base colour with something greyish brown (like clay) for darker sections, and something a bit “peachy” to add a bit of dawn blush. …. (I’m only looking at the top half) . That’s the present plan, and subject to change when I start trying things out.

Stay tuned for further developments. The dye pots are going to get some exercise.

Birds of a Feather…

Oh my….I realized a few days ago that I have some tweaking to do on Grumpy Owl. The tips of the feathers on the left are too dark, and the transition from light to dark on the right is too abrupt.DSCF7621I added a bit more shading to the transition from light cheek feathers to the dark head ones.

Before……DSCF7619….after….DSCF7624….a very subtle difference, but I feel batter about it. On the other side I changed the dark tips for a lighter tone, but then discovered a larger problem.

DSCF7622….for some reason, I began shading each feather dark to light (left to right) then realized after a full evening’s work, that the shading was backwards. It needs to be light to dark…like the other side of his head.DSCF7625So while I was waiting for the gumption to take out my mistake, I decided to dye some wool for the background. DSCF7626I love the colours, but I won’t know how they’ll work until I try them out. The photo shows them brighter then they really are, but you get the idea.

Still not inspired to redo the feathers, last night I began work on the fence. My idea is to have it a weathered grey (but a different grey than the bird) . I began outlining with a dark plaid. (Just an aside here….and reminder to myself …..when I cut the plaid with a #3, it was a bit “hairy” or “ravelly”, so I gave it a quick hand wash with soap and warm water and then dried it in the dryer. It fluffed it up just enough to make it much nicer to hook with)

DSCF7630Then I gathered up some possible colours for the fence.

The lightest is for the spaces between the boards. The main grey is wool left over from my barn project.DSCF7634I’m trying the fencing in an 8 cut , but I’m not sure yet if I like that. DSCF7631….or the colour. I’ll let it settle in my mind for a bit before I make a final decision.

I just bet I’ll start on the background colours next. I have absolutely no patience waiting to try something I’m excited about hooking. Fortunately with this medium that’s not a problem.

Finally I want to share the wonders and frustrations of technology that I’ve experienced today. For some reason, my computer would not upload my photos from my camera, and after trying everything I could think of, I finally messaged my son Mathieu in Calgary for help. He made several suggestions and finally wrote “try rebooting”. Voila! It worked. …but then he mentioned that he was not in fact at home, but rather eating breakfast at a restaurant with friends in Victoria British Columbia. ….my own personal technician who offers advice while eating bacon and eggs thousands of miles away…..

Thanks for stopping by.

Background Considerations

While surviving our latest heatwave, I’ve been hooking away on Grumpy Owl’s feathers.

DSCF7609 (1)I’m pleased with the start I’ve made on his head , and I hope I can maintain the effect as I move to the left and the feathers become lighter.

DSCF7610It’s time to begin seriously thinking of how I’m going to do the background. Regular readers  here will know that this is seldom a straight forward decision for me…..so I need to get it underway long before the actual hooking begins.  I know many teachers stress choosing the background before hooking even begins, but my brain doesn’t work that way. My vision of the piece evolves with its creation.

Originally I had intended to stay true to the drawing, and have a neutral, sepia background.DSCF7615 (1)…..but I feel that it washes out poor Grumpy rather than enhancing him!

OK colour it is.DSCF7614 (1)….but certainly not this one……

how about purple blues?DSCF7613….better but too dull…DSCF7611….how about turquoise blues with a dip dye out to the edges? I like that but not the even control of the dip dye. I think my imagination wants something a little wilder…..maybe….DSCF7617…use both purple and turquoise blues….with an aura of the lightest blue.

Yes that idea definitely has possibilities. But no final decision as yet. I keep think he may be Grumpy because dawn is approaching and he’s tired…..so do I need some sunrise colours? ….or it’s dusk, and he’s just waking up? This is the fun part. I love digging through my stash looking for inspiration.

Happy hooking everyone. Thanks for stopping by.

Family Hooking

One of the great joys of growing older is spending time with grandchildren. It is especially treasured by me since all my grandchildren live a great distance away, and seldom have a chance to visit.  On my granddaughter’s last visit, she tried  hooking for the first time. To her surprise she found she had the patience for it, and was looking forward to starting her second venture on this visit. She decided she wanted to hook an elephant pillow for her girlfriend. She wanted something “cute” and quickly found just the image she liked.

After a trip to Staples to have it enlarged, she transferred the pattern to the backing.DSCF7600DSCF7601Isn’t he cute. I had lots of antique black in my stash, so she began with the outlining.DSCF7602Olivia is left handed, and has a very unique pencil grip. Although at first I encouraged her to  palm the hook, what was comfortable for her was the same unusual way she holds a pencil….with the hook protruding and controlled between her third and fourth fingers. It works just fine for her.

She decided on a whimsical purple elephant, and chose a lovely colour from “Jewel Tones”. I gave guidance from the kitchen table, and on her own, she dyed this lovely mottled wool, using my tried and true method of !/2 of the dye bath in the pot before adding the wool, and the other later spotted over the top.DSCF7605

We both thought it was beautiful.DSCF7606

I showed her how to do a squiggle fill….and before I knew it…..DSCF7607

….this delightful fellow emerged. She also dyed the background colour. I forgot to take a photo of that wool, but you can see just one row on the left edge. She chose my favourite “mellow yellow”….golden pear….and she used the same method to dye it as the purple. She’s off now to visit other grandparents, where her grandfather is introducing her to wood carving. She’s having an artistic vacation!

In the meantime, I’ve been pottering away with my grumpy owl, trying to do a bit each day while I watch the Tour de France. DSCF7608

I like how he looks, but I’ll be glad to hook once again with some colour when he’s done. I know I haven’t posted much this summer…but there’s not much excitement in seeing a few more inches of “owl feathers” every few days.

Thanks for stopping by.

Inspiration

While I’ve been waiting for the “hooking bug” to attack me again, I’ve been enjoying the work of others even more than usual.  What a treat when I received an email from my friend Jean who has just returned from attending the Green Mountain School at Montpelier Vermont. (That excursion is on my bucket list.)

I admire many people in the Rug Hooking community, but two of my absolute favourites were teaching this year at Green Mountain. …..Donna Hrkman and Jon Ciemiewitz.

I have never seen a rug hooked by Donna Hrkman that didn’t take my breath away.

IMG_3793

Her attention to detail and colour is wonderful, and  her subject matter is always arresting. What memories are being recalled as this veteran clutches the flag?IMG_3789

Donna’s two steam punk pieces both have the same general topic with very different outcomes and emphases. The neutral colour palette of the lower one highlights the mechanical aspects, while the vibrant colours of the other, make it almost a game to search for them within the work.

IMG_3790

….and aren’t those lace cuffs exquisite?

GetAttachment

This is not one of her works that I have seen before, and for some reason, I can’t make it larger.

IMG_3791 (1)

This powerful portrait should inspire me in my own neutral palette.

IMG_3792 (1)

This Aldzheimer’s piece has a profound effect on me every time I see it. Having watched the suffering of both my mother and mother-in-law due to this awful condition, I tear up every time I see it. The touching and sensitive way she has depicted the various cognitive abilities leaving the mind is simply genius….leaving the soul noble.

I couldn’t believe it when Jean told me Jon Ciemiewitz was also teaching at Green Mountain…..how lucky could she be! I have always heard such wonderful reports of him as a teacher, and who could not fall in love with his work.

IMG_3797 (2)

His use of light in that  rhino piece makes it almost photographic.

IMG_3798

….and here is the man himself

IMG_3796 (1)

….and here is lucky Jean with him.

Jean also included photos of some  beautiful antique  rugs which are on display at a gallery in Shelburne Vermont..IMG_3998

….can’t you just imagine the hooker mixing those two browns because there wasn’t enough of either one.IMG_3996IMG_4002IMG_4001IMG_3999

IMG_4008IMG_4006

I am amazed at how the reds have remained so vivid in this rug.IMG_4010

….such Christmas joy and chaos.

Thanks Jean for the pictures and the inspiration they have given me. After they arrived, I went and dyed a batch of wool, and I think I’m ready to get back to work in earnest.

…And thanks too to all who stop by and read my musings.

Hooking Funk

I’ve been in a bit of a hooking “funk” lately. ….and that’s unusual for me. I just haven’t really felt like hooking most evenings, and as a result I’ve made very little progress on my “Grumpy Owl”.

DSCF7588

I’ve done another layer or so of feathers on the left and I’ve completed both talons. I love the way he looks, so that isn’t why I don’t particularly feel like hooking.

DSCF7587

I used  #2 and #3 cuts for the feet. The #2 cut is tricky to hook with, but very effective in spots that need a fine line.  Many wools won’t hold together with such a narrow strip, but I’m using a cashmere which is very dense and works quite well. I’m pulling the loops quite high so that they will not be lost when surrounded by a wider cut.

As I putter along with the body, I’m debating how to hook the background. Originally I was going to do it in a “sepia” sort of colour, remaining true to the original  neutral picture drawn by  Mathieu. Now I’m debating about using colour….perhaps creating a gentle sunrise….indicating he’s not so much grumpy as tired and ready for a day’s sleep. Or another thought is a pastel colour arching out deeper as it moves away from his body to create a bit of aura. ….still debating with myself….

But back to my funk……maybe I need a shot of colour motivation ….while I like the neutrals, I think perhaps I’m momentarily colour deprived.  I decided to think about a possible “next project” and went looking for inspiration. I soon realized that everything that attracted me had a strong and vibrant colour palette.The wools I’m using now are drab and ugly as they sit in a heap around me, so maybe I’ll have to make piles of gorgeous crimson, teal gold etc. to surround me as I finish hooking my owl, or maybe I’ll give in and introduce colour to the background….ummmmm….decisions, decisions.

Sunshine Progress

The Sunshine Rug Hookers meet each Tuesday morning from September until the end of June, so we are wrapping up another successful year, with only two more weeks to hook and visit together until our summer break.

We meet at Rotary Place, our local community centre, in a spacious meeting room with windows on each side overlooking two ice rinks.

DSCF7558

DSCF7557

This week I finally remembered to take my camera (with fresh batteries) to catch up on what people were currently working on.

Several members had taken a “shading” course earlier in the year with our talented Linda Wilson and were working on projects started with her.

DSCF7560 (1)

DSCF7561

DSCF7562

Gail brought in a unique project to show us. Earlier in the spring, we had all been rather taken aback to watch her hooking a totally plan black textured piece in even rows. This from someone who is wildly creative and loves vibrant strong colours. I know my reaction was…”Gail….what on earth are you hooking!!!!”

Here’s the story……She has a lovely collection of pins and broaches, and decided that rather than have them sitting in a drawer, they should be displayed and enjoyed in her home. Soooooo….here’s what she made. DSCF7568

A wonderful wall hanging to be enjoyed and have the selection readily at hand for wearing.

I took a peek at the back to see how she had managed to create a firm piece that would hold the weight of the pins and secure them without sagging….DSCF7567

….she mounted the hooking on (I can’t think of the proper name) that firm board that is used for mounting photos, then stretched  the hooking using strong fibre (I think she used the linen backing fibres).  Her sister Cheri has advised her to add two more rows of the corked edging around the outside to create a larger border, so that is in progress and you can see the loop of it at the top. Didn’t I say she is creative?

Two of our Sunshine Hookers are kept busy producing items that are constantly in demand. Ann Hallett regularly has large orders for her stars, and so she can frequently be seen surrounded by her lovely celestial creations.DSCF7585

DSCF7586

Cheri Hempseed on the other hand is known far and wide for her delightful portrait necklaces, which promptly sell out whenever she puts them up for sale.

DSCF7575

I admire them so much, particularly the patience and detail needed to create these small beauties (they are about 2″ x 3″).DSCF7493Her’s a photo of Linda Wilson wearing hers.

The rest of us were working on a wide variety of projects. Here’s a peek….DSCF7579

Brenda is starting a Deanne Fitzpatrick pattern I’ve not seen before.

DSCF7576Lynda is working on her delightful chipmunk, begun at a workshop with Wendie Scott Davis.

DSCF7580

Margaret is making maple leaf coasters, which may end up on a sales table if her husband doesn’t see them first.

DSCF7582Helen purchased this ball of wool from “Wool Gathering” at RUG, and is enjoying the patterns it is creating in this 12″  square pad.

DSCF7583

Jeanne is hooking a log cabin piece, and wishing she had chosen to do it in a 3 or 4 cut simply because then her choice of worms would be endless.

DSCF7570

Edie is thinking of fall already…

DSCF7572

Marion is doing crewel work for a change of pace.

DSCF7569 (1)

…and on a sadder note, Jean is completing Barbara Wilson’s unfinished hooking. Barbara died recently , and we will miss her a great deal. We celebrate with her family, her long and wonderful life filled with the joy of a loving family and extensive world travels.

DSCF7584

…and finally here’s Gail’s rendition of Sheila Klugesheid’s pattern.  I had such a hard time getting her to hold it low enough so we could see her smiling face.

Our final get together this year will be at Couchiching Beach Park, for a pot luck lunch and a day of hooking. I’ll be sure to take my camera that day to record the fun.

Thanks for stopping by.

Winging It

I can’t believe that it is 18 days since I last posted. I have been trying to help with yard work and gardening, leaving me too tired to hook many evenings so frankly, I’ve not made a lot of progress on my Grumpy Owl.

I have been doing a lot of pondering and thinking though, mostly about how to accomplish the shadowed parts. Once again here’s Mathieu’s original drawing.DSCF7142

….and here’s what I’ve been doing to hook his body…..edging with the light colours…DSCF7540

….and using a mixture  of these dark wools.DSCF7479DSCF7544

DSCF7545 (1)

To create even more depth on the right (shadowed side) I overdyed the pendleton plaid I used for the eyes with a stronger spot dye.

DSCF7554Here is the progress as I worked my way across the body. The beautiful depth and contrast of the body colour and doesn’t show up very well in the photos, DSCF7548DSCF7551DSCF7555DSCF7556

 

Now it’s back to the dye pots to create a wee bit darker colour for the wings on the right side, and then I can’t wait to try filling in the head feathers. At the moment I’m debating whether to use a #3 or#4 cut, and whether to use directional or  antigodlin (random) hooking for them. (the wings are directional, the body random).

It’s all a wonderful and creative adventure. The fact that it is all neutrals, is quite a learning experience, allowing me to concentrate on fine details that I probably wouldn’t dwell on if vibrant colours were involved.

My but I enjoy being a hooker!

Thanks for stopping by.

I’M SO GRUMPY

Well, I’m personally not grumpy, (at least I don’t think so), but I’ve been busy trying to create grumpiness for my next project. I’ve talked about the pattern in earlier posts, but it’s been quite awhile, so I’ll start once again from the beginning.

My youngest son Mathieu (artist, motion designer) drew this picture and titled it “Grumpy Owl”.DSCF7142

I fell in love with it, and asked him if I could hook it. He sent me a photo of it by email . I had it enlarged, DSCF7143then I transferred it to my backing.DSCF7185

The pattern is now 28″ x 32″ .

Then I stared at it for a couple of months (while finishing other projects) trying to decide how to translate Mathieu’s “dot work” drawing into hooking.DSCF7478While still having no idea how I’d proceed, I began outlining in black. I didn’t want it to be a realistic owl, but rather faithful to Mathieu’s drawing.

I experimented with interior colours by over dyeing various wool with three colours….clay, mouse gray, and charcoal.DSCF7479

Then used a much weaker dye bath over natural Dorr to create a mottled off white, and also a  slightly darker version. (they’re not nearly this dark in reality)DSCF7540

The outlining is a #3 cut, and the rest I’m using #4. It just seemed an appropriate cut to fill the small spaces effectively, and create the shading. (although I seldom hook with such a small cut).DSCF7531

Of course, before long I decided I had to try the eyes. I found this grey/blue Pendleton plaid……DSCF7542

….and used a #2 cutDSCF7536

….then hooked his bill. Now he has more character.

I’m really having a lot of fun with this as he comes to life.DSCF7538The black outlining is rather mindless, so that’s what I do when I’m hooking with others (mustn’t interfere with chatting you know)…..and the body I work on when I’m alone and can concentrate. To my mind that’s one of the big advantages to rug hooking….being able to jump around.DSCF7541

He looks a little sinister at the moment, but that will change I’m sure when I get colour in his head feathers.

My summer hooking lies ahead in having this fellow come to life.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Maud Lewis

Mary Lou had a great Maud Lewis surprise to show us at R.U.G. on Saturday.

But I’m jumping the gun a bit. First for some background. For those not familiar with the name Maud Lewis….she might be described as the Grandma Moses of the Maritimes, undoubtedly Canada’s most famous folk artist. …and patterns of her paintings are very popular with rug hookers.

imgres

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia has this information about her life….
“Early Years
Maud Lewis (1903-1970) was born to John and Agnes Dowley in South Ohio, Nova Scotia. As a child, Maud spent most of her time alone, mostly because she felt uncomfortable about her differences around the other children. She had been born with almost no chin and was always much smaller than everyone else. However, Maud seemed to be a happy child who enjoyed the time she spent with her parents and brother. Maud’s mother started her painting Christmas cards to sell and thus her career as an artist began.

Her life and only experience of the world extended to an area between her birthplace in Yarmouth County and her married home in Marshalltown, Digby County. In 1935 Maud’s father died and in 1937, her mother followed. As was typical at the time, her brother inherited the family home. After living with her brother for a short while she moved to Digby to live with her aunt. There she met Everett Lewis, an itinerant fish peddler, and married him shortly after in 1938.

Life in the House
Maud spent the rest of her life living with Everett in their house in
Marshalltown. The two had what has been perceived as a formidable companionship, despite any character flaws neighbors found in Everett. Because of Maud’s worsening rheumatoid arthritis, she was unable to do housework. Everett took care of the house, and Maud brought in money through her paintings. The two were a pair that Maud was proud to be a part of.

The home they lived in was tiny in stature but large in character. Despite the lack of modern amenities like indoor plumbing and electricity, the house shows that Maud’s life in Marshalltown was full of enjoyment through her art. Those who stopped after seeing her roadside sign, “Paintings for sale”, found a quiet woman with a delightful smile. Her pleasure didn’t come from the pride of having done a painting, but the creative act itself and the enjoyment others seemed to get from her work.

Through newspaper and magazine articles, as well as television documentaries, Maud became well known and a reputation grew that’s still growing today.

The House
After the death of Maud Lewis in 1970, and subsequently of her husband, Everett Lewis, in 1979, the lovingly painted home began to deteriorate. In reaction, a group of concerned citizens from the Digby area started the Maud Lewis Painted House Society; their only goal was to save this valued landmark.

After a number of years of fundraising, the society realized that the project was going to take more resources than they could gather. In 1984, the house was sold to the Province of Nova Scotia and turned over to the care of Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

In 1996, with funds from the federal Department of Canadian Heritage and from private individuals, the processes of conservation and restoration began. The final, fully restored house is on permanent display in Halifax at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.”maudlewishouse

Her house was only 10′ x 12′

search

Well….Mary Lou Justason is the tireless director at large for RHMNA (Rug Hooking Museum of North America) , and as it turns out has been able to acquire five Maud Lewis paintings for the museum. Here is her story…..

“Last fall I talked by phone to Anne Phillips McCreary Juhasz, an elderly cousin of my husband, at her home in Chicago. She is a retired professor of education at Loyola University having started her teaching career in a one room schoolhouse in Ontario.
We spoke of her getting her affairs in order. After all, she is 93.
Among her treasures were five Maud Lewis paintings which she had purchased, while on vacation, in the late 40’s and directly from Maud Lewis, a little gnome of a lady, at her wee tiny house near Digby, Nova Scotia. When I told her about the Hooked Rug Museum of North America and suggested repatriating the paintings to them in Nova Scotia, she was interested.
Incidentally, she paid 25 cents for each painting.  They were chosen from a great stack of paintings accessed up a rickety ladder into a loft. Anne needed a flashlight to see what was up there. She got them framed simply but without glass and for a long time they were in her storage unit in her condo buildings
Over the winter and with many phone calls and letters bck and forth, we sorted out the details of getting them to me in Florida so I could transport them back to Canada.
Finally, with an early deadline, she or a trusted friend got them shipped to us in Florida and we brought them home to Honey Harbour.
They had a brief visit to RUG (Ruggers United Gathering) at the Simcoe County Museum, just outside Barrie, ON on Saturday where they were much appreciated.
They now have arrived in Nova Scotia and are with Suzanne Conrod.
They will be displayed there along with a donor plaque acknowledging Anne’s gift. They have had quite a journey and if they could talk, the tale would be much more interesting than I could ever spin, but I am happy they are back in Nova Scotia.”
….didn’t I say Mary Lou was a tireless ambassador for RHMNA…..
Well of course I was at R.U.G. and got to see them in person….and want to share them with you.
GetAttachment-2GetAttachment-3GetAttachment-4GetAttachment-1GetAttachment
( thanks to Marg Arland for sharing her photos)
It was such a treat to get to see them in person.
As I said…they are very popular subjects for hooking  and are sold by many vendors, particularly in the Maritimes.  (Please note that all works by Maud Lewis are copyright and the authority to license others to reproduce them rests solely with the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.)   As it happens, Jean is working on a Maud Lewis piece right now….DSCF7528
The yoked oxen were a favourite subject and appear in many paintings…..Jean’s work is a spring time version. Maud Lewis’s wonderful clear colours and simple happy style make her work immediately recognizable and beloved…..as well as readily adapted to being hooked.
Thanks for stopping by.