The Final Colour decision

I mentioned in an earlier blog, that there was one motif that I was stymied on as to colour choice. It doesn’t really resemble any of the other motifs closely, and I couldn’t decide what colours from my palette would be best.

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I left it, started working from the other end, and now it is surrounded, and the choice needs to be made. (I’ve left bits and pieces of the vine and leaves to do as a break from the black background) I decided to  have a look at some options.

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Light blue and pale yellow is not a combination I’ve used, but it is too washed out. and right next to a large blue/wine ‘flower’.

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A gold/yellow treatment is too close to the gold motif above it.

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Using just the maroon, seems too dull and drab.

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I think I will go with the bright red/paprika spot combination. It has become the primary colour focus of the rug (at least to my eyes) and I think it is balanced with the other red ‘flowers’ in the rug. (colour focus seems to be a personal thing….while the red is what dominates for me…someone else thought it was the acid green, and another first noticed the deep blues….hummmm interesting!)

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Whew….it’s done. Hopefully that was the right choice.

Problems in the Dye Kitchen

Every project has its challenges, and of course, my hall rugs are no exception. I ‘ve kept a record of each dye recipe I used with a swatch beside it, so it could be easily reproduced as needed. A year ago last spring, (April 2009) when I started the ‘door’ rug, I dyed each colour several times  with no problems.  I set the rug aside during that summer, resumed hooking in the fall, and finished the ‘door’ rug last winter. I began the runner almost immediately, again dyed wool successfully then once more set it aside for the summer months. When I took it up again this past fall, I found I needed to dye additional wool, and much to my dismay, found I could not reproduce some of the colours accurately.

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The two main problem areas were, a gold/brown spot dye, in which the brown became reddish, and a deep vibrant blue, which lost most of its vibrancy.(the blues are both darker than they appear in the photo) I tried everything I could think of to correct the problem…scrubbed and scrubbed the pots to remove any possible residue, changed pots, double…triple, checked that I was measuring accurately…all to no avail.

I discussed my dilemma with several people, and finally talked with Jean Chabot (a wonderful hooker, teacher, friend). She recalled having had this problem at one time and determined that it was from changes in the water. We get our water from Lake Couchiching ( it was once pristine and delicious to drink) and now various amounts of chemicals are added depending on the conditions. Sometimes I can smell the chlorine when I turn on the tap. Most of my dyeing had been done in the spring and early summer, when fewer chemicals would be needed, rather than in the late summer and fall, when the water would be at its warmest.

Now I knew what  was likely the problem, but had no way to fix it short of waiting for spring to dye the wool I needed. I’m sure a skilled dyer could make the necessary changes in the formulae to recreate the originals, but I am pretty much a ‘hit and miss’ dyer with little patience, who has more fun than skill when dyeing. Adaptability needs to be the watchword of the hooker, so I forged ahead. I salvaged every scrap of the brown highlights, but was ultimately forced to use some of the reddish ones, mixing them back and forth. For the blue, I decided (with Jean’s advice in mind) to do the entire last two motifs, with the duller blue, hoping they were far enough apart that it wasn’t noticeable.

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You can see the differences when the rug is folded so that the motifs are together, but fortunately the runner is long and narrow so they are quite a distance apart when it is stretched out. Rather than being a fault, I like to think it gives it character!

I’ve thought about how I could keep this problem from happening again and I think maybe if I were to fill my pots at the same time I put my wool to soak, and let it too sit overnight (letting the chlorine evaporate) I might get a more  consistent dye result. ….might be worth a try.

Back to the Monster!

I think someone has been feeding my hall runner while I’ve been busy with other, smaller hooking projects. I’m sure it has grown several feet!! It seems enormous!

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I decided to resume by doing some background. I don’t want to be left with tons of it  at the end. I am very fond of dark backgrounds, especially black, but it’s not my favourite hooking…I can’t always see it well, and find it is often not as even as I would like. I’m doing two rows around the perimeter to start so that it is completely outlined. (still not quite all the way around)

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I originally started the hooking at one end, and was working my way down, but I ran into a stumbling block just past the centre, about the colours to choose for these two areas. After consulting with several people it was decided that the best thing to do was start at the other end, work my way back to the centre, then make the choice, when the surroundings were hooked. Decision time is looming!

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It’s been several months since I’ve worked on it, that I wasn’t sure just what was left of each colour, and what I might need to dye more of. Here’s the colour palette….looks like I may only have to dye more black.

While I’m working on this rug..I’m already mulling over what I’ll do next…I can’t get Patsy Becker’s ‘tumbling cats’ pattern out of my head, or perhaps a landscape of our home, or a carpet bag, or a small piece for the washstand in the hall, or all of the above???

Yahoo…finished the finishing!!!

I think writing this blog is good motivation for me…at least…it has spurred me on to do all the finishing on  my tea cozy. …and you know..I actually enjoyed doing it!

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The steaming was a bit tricky, because I didn’t want to flatten any of the applied flowers, but the hooking really needed it . With all the extra wool pulled up through it, it was no longer entirely flat. I steamed the flat parts regularly, and for the rest, I held my iron slightly above the work and used my steam button, then used my fingers to fluff up anything that looked a little droopy (a proper steamer would have come in really handy…sigh!)

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After it was dry, I started by  cutting off the excess linen close to the zigzag stitching then stitched the sides and roof. Using very strong thread, I began at the bottom edges and secured the thread. Then worked my way up, keeping the cross beams aligned. Working on the good side, I took a small stitch on one side right at the base of the loop, then a small stitch on the other side , gradually moving up a bit. After several stitches, I pulled it tight, and a neat invisible seam was formed. (honestly….it is neater than it looks in the picture since it’s bunched up trying to lie flat)

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I used Gene Shepherd’s whipping technique to finish the bottom. This is the first time I’ve used it with white tape. It was much easier to see than when I used black tape,  and easier to make the back stitches even. ( could also be that I’m just getting better with practise) The trick to this is to work with the tape facing you so you can bring the needle up in exactly the same place each time. (that’s the theory…I’ve never managed to do it even CLOSE to every time )

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Well now that it’s finished, I realize I don’t have a teapot anywhere near big enough for it….it’s huge! One of the women at Sunshine rughookers said she made one a long time ago…hers was huge too, so she weighted the bottom and turned it into a doorstop. Ummmm….There are some bricks in the yard…but I’ll never find them under all this snow!

Country Cottage–finished hooking—now the yucky stuff!

Hooking’s done…that was really fun.

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I kept experimenting with various ways to do the flowers as I went along.  I used both strips and yarn for the flower stems, but eventually found one way that pleased me most. (the large shrubs I settled on a yarn chain stitch). For the flowers along the edge, I pulled up varying lengths of long loops, with a number 3 cut wool. Then, I began my french knot flowers by coming up inside the top of the loop, and going down outside, so the flower tied down the stem.  (hope that makes sense).

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Although I said in one blog, that the specialty yarns weren’t worth the effort, I found I missed the bit of sparkle that they added, so I did insert some on the back as well. The flowers under the window are a bit of ‘proddy style’ in miniature, I shaped a piece of wool to make it easier to pull through, pulled up both sides close together, then cut the petals into smaller strips.

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The only thing left to add is the door handle…I’m pondering several possibilities for it….not sure yet what I’ll settle on. I want it visible, but not really obvious. I have a lovely gold cord ….may be too strong…or maybe a brown yarn…may not show up….or maybe….

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I took the bull by the horns this morning, took the cover off my trusty little sewing machine, and did three rows of zig zag around the outside, about a quarter inch out from the hooking (actually just the width of the machine foot) I didn’t even run out of bobbin thread, so I happily closed it back up again quickly when I was done.

I’m finally mentally ready and excited to get back to my hall runner. (although I’ve promised myself I won’t start on it again until the finishing on the tea cozy is complete….out with my needle!)

My Very Special Quilt

Anyone who has read my ramblings on this blog, will know my sister plays a very significant role in my life. She is not a rug hooker, but a skilled craftsperson in many areas, especially knitting and quilting. Everyone in the family treasures the quilting she has given us on various occasions. You may have noticed in the first picture of the previous blog, what appears to be photographs on the bed beside my pile of wool. They are actually a part of a very special quilt.

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This quilt was made and given to me by my sister, as a gift for my birthday a few years ago.  (I won’t say which one).

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She used 12 pictures from my childhood, including a baby picture of me, our whole family, to various events such as Christmas, visits with Grandma, etc.

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The last photo is of my sister and I at the park in winter. (I’m the baby of the family) Originally I thought to hang the quilt as a wall hanging, but she insisted it should be used as a regular bed covering, so it has had a place of honour there ever since. I feel lucky to have such a wonderful family record, and such a wonderful sister. Happy Birthday Audrey!!!

Transitional Dyeing

I love the effects possible with transitional wool…wool which has a variety of colours blending together, and I’ve been itching to add to my sadly depleted stash of this beautifaul and useful wool.

I started by again watching Gene Shepherd’s video on the subject to refresh my memory, then went ahead and did it using what materials etc. I had at hand. One of the best things about this method…is… it’s quick and easy, since it doesn’t require either dye, or presoaked wool.

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I gathered up a variety of pieces, both light and dark.( Akuma my seal point supervised). Gene uses only previously dyed wool, and I didn’t. I would prefer to, but my stash isn’t big enough. As a result, a few pieces would neither bleed, nor accept colour, and that is the result I must just accept (and try to remember not to use that wool next time) .

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The dry wool is layered in the pan, covering about half of each piece with the next one…..about 4 layers deep

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Gene then mixes synthrapol???  (which I don’t have) in cold water…so I used a few drops of dish detergent, covered the wool with this (just barely) and brought it to a boil for about 10 minutes. (covered with tin foil….no beautiful covered stainless pans in my dye kitchen….well actually no dye kitchen either)

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After the wool had accepted the dye to my satisfaction, I poured in vinegar and cold water (Gene uses citric acid crystals) then it is simmered a further 15 minutes, then rinsed in cold water.

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I got some very interesting colours. Some pieces are ‘accepters’ of dye, some are ‘donators’ and a few just went along for the bath. The bottom picture shows an original piece on the left, with 3 dyed pieces to the right.

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This is what it all looks like, now that it is dry. Yummy!

Country Cottage progress

Well I’m almost finished the straight line hooking on the cottage.

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There have been a few bumps along the way….the major one being with the yellow wool I’m using for the stucco. It was in two pieces, which seemed to be identical. But when I had used up the first, and went on to the second piece…low and behold there is a very slight difference in the colour! You can see the difference in this picture….It’s on the back along the top. Actually the two yellows are not as different in real light, as they appear in the picture.  I’m hoping with lots of vegitation applied over the bottom section it won’t be noticeable.

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I’ve tried quite a variety of materials with the flowers. I used #3 cut for the stems of the centre and left vines, then tried crewel wool for the right hand shrub…..much easier to manage. I did the purple flowers using french knots, then added wool strips for the leaves. I used some feathery ribbon, and sprinkled in some specialty wools along the bottom, but the effect was lost, other than a bit of sparkle….not worth the effort.

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I think I will use more of the crewel wool on the back, as it is the easiest to use, and yet creates a nice effect.

Stained Glass

It’s pretty bad when I have so many unfinished pieces (unbound, not partially hooked) that I miss one entirely in my chronicle of rug hooking! …and it’s one I really like!

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These morning glories were one of the first pieces I hooked when I began hooking with June Baker. She knew Sheila Klugescheid and we decided one Saturday to drive over to her studio. It was in the middle of winter, and I remember we drove through a nasty snowstorm on the way, and struggled through snow to our knees getting to the door. (nothing daunts those of us who live in the central Ontario snow belt)

It was my first visit to a studio, and I couldn’t leave without purchasing a new pattern. I loved the morning glory pattern, but had no clue how to do stained glass hooking. Shiela gave me an instant tutorial, helped me choose the wool, and I came home excited to get started. I bought two-sided tape, and used a file folder to keep the strips in order. It is hooked with #3 and #4.  I recall that I was working very hard not to pack my loops while I was hooking this piece. (I still have to remind myself about that!)

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I always thought I would like to frame it with a silver edged frame…but as you can see that has never happened! (I wonder if there’s anything else lurking at the back of that drawer???)

My Wool Storage History

When I first started hooking, I had one small bag of precut strips…all for the one piece I was working on. Wow have things changed!….and  while recording my personal hooking history, I realize….I’ve gone through a whole series of storage solutions in the process.

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When I began hooking a second time, I got my Bliss, so I cut my own strips and was working mostly with 6 or 8-colour swatches. I kept these organized by using baggies. I labeled each one with numbers 0 to 5 or 7 , then stapled them all together with the colour name on bag #0.

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By the time I started hooking my third time, I needed further organization for my growing accumulation of  wool, so I went to the dollar store. I bought small plastic containers for the various colours of swatches and larger covered containers for the various larger pieces of wool. I stored these on a shelf, and it was beginning to look as if I was a real hooker (in miniature!)

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Eventually these were overflowing and I had piles of wool on shelves, and falling on the floor. I was no longer often using small colour swatches, and was dyeing my own wool in larger pieces. Last year, while at a workshop at Linda Wilson’s, I was impressed, when someone needed a particular colour, Linda pulled out a large tub with that colour in it, and was able to rummage through to easily find what she wanted. I had seen other similar systems, but I couldn’t afford a dozen or more expensive covered tubs. Again I went to my trusty Dollar Store (who were now offering items for $2 as well) I found just what I needed….good sized open tubs with cut out handles. I bought about a dozen, cleared out a whole shelving unit in a storage area, and now I can (usually) find what I’m after. (the picture just shows 2 of my 5 shelves)

While in the middle of a project, I create quite a mess where I’m hooking, all sorts of wool pieces here and there. When finished, I find I love the re-storing process, going through all my tubs, folding and sorting the wool…..forget the hooking….I think I’m addicted to the wool and the colours!!!