A Change is as Good as a Rest

I’ve been working on The Virgins for quite some time, and suddenly got sick of hooking that wall. In fact   I found I didn’t  like any of it anymore. Time for a break.DSCN1524Fortunately just about this time, my daughter-in-law took a photo of the Saskatchewan prairie sky .IMG_1928

As an Ontario girl, I’m always so impressed with that amazing expanse of prairie land and sky. I immediately wanted to hook it. A perfect foil to the intricate detail of The Virgins.

With Heather’s blessing  and permission to use her photo, I packed up all the accoutrements of The Virgins piece and set about on a new venture. I rummaged through my stash, and came up with this as a starter…some rug warp, some wool, some yarn, some sari silk.DSCN1533…and set to work on the stubble field…DSCN1534 2DSCN1536

I realized the blues I have on hand will have to be supplmented, and set about dyeing some lighter shades.

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Still not sure about this…so while watching the Women’s World’s curling on the weekend…I switched to the ‘weed verge’ closer to the road.DSCN1539I’m really enjoying hooking this…just the change of pace I needed.

I’ll be back to The Virgins….later…when I love them once again.

In the meantime..

Thanks for stopping by.

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Revisions and Background decisions

Have you ever noticed something in your work that you didn’t like, and suddenly that’s all that you can see? Well that’s what happened to me with my wise virgin. I noticed that her breasts were decidedly lopsided. DSCN1422The poor girl needed radical surgery, and for my peace of mind, she needed it at once.DSCN1423

Lots of fiddling about  was needed. It’s surprising how much is involved to move that small section down a bit,  but finally she looks much better.

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The other area of struggle has been the centre of the left side of her skirt (my left).  She’s holding it back, but it just looks like a mish mash. I reduced the light section to see if that helped….DSCN1435….and it does, especially when viewed from a distance, but I’m still not satisfied with it. It will get makeover later when I have a better idea of what I want to do with it.

I love the wild head of hair on this lady , and wanted to do it justice. My first choice of colours was too drab and bah, …..DSCN1442 2so I dug in my bits and pieces for something to give it more pizazz., and I came up with thisDSCN1443

I like how just the hints of orange and pink bring her hair to life…DSCN1440DSCN1439 In the meantime, the background  has been on my mind. I had several ideas, including being on a path with a misty background, a medieval castle in the background, doing a total disconnect with an abstract background of some sort…or?…. Then for some reason, I thought of having them stand in an arch, and immediately went in search of ideas for an “arch to suit”.  These three caught my eye…..DSCN1445DSCN1444DSCN1446

To find out how it might look, I cut out pictures of two left over virgins (not the ones I chose to use) ….DSCN1447….then posed them in front of the arches…..Arch number two I eliminated right away. Down to this one….DSCN1419…..or this one….DSCN1420……and the winner is this last one.  I like the stone blocks, and the greenery hanging down.

I have no intention of doing anything more than use the basic ideas and shapes, (I think the car would really spoil the effect don’t you?)    The potential sky colour is another problem  to solve  in the future, but I am having so much fun with this. Gee I love rug hooking!

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Compromise

In my last post, I was all set to forge ahead with the second virgin’s dress using turquoise and cantaloupe. I wasn’t sure if it would work….DSCN1391 I hooked just a small amount and wasn’t happy with it. I felt that it not only had no connection with the rest of the piece, but it was too bright and dominated far too much.

On the other hand….if I continued, it would be surrounded by lots of turquoise, which might well tone it down . DSCN1387I thought about another option….If I used a pink, it would tie the two costumes together and make the whole thing more harmonious.DSCN1386

I considered these two options for several days. The first was more disconnected than I wanted, the second more harmonious than I wanted.

Eventually I came up with a compromise. I overdyed the pinks with prochem raspberry, which kept the “pink idea” but changed the colour and shade from the one used in the first dress.DSCN1399

Still lots of dyeing to do and the dress details need to be refined, but I think I’m pleased with this compromise colour solution.

Now if I could just take a photo that was in focus,…. (I never seem to notice until it’s up on the computer and too late to get another shot).

Thanks for stopping by and looking at my “fuzzy” hooking.

 

 

Starting the Virgins

This has not been a good summer for us, and as a result I haven’t posted in some time. As things take a turn for the better, I have recently started hooking again, and have made a start on the “foolish Virgin”  (see the last post for  details on my subject choice). I’m using  #2 and #3 cuts with lots of shading and fiddly work…a refreshing change of pace for me after the #8 cuts for both the large abstract and the geometrical Floating Blocks.

While considering a colour palette for the dressses , I looked up images for women’s clothing in the 15th century and having found every colour imaginable on display, I  decided to just use colours that pleased me., whether they were authentic or not.DSCN1366

The two palettes I settled on were:

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and:

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(with no promises to stick to either one)

I soon realized I needed wider variation in both colour and texture for the shadows etc. to be effective, and in fact completely redid the bottom of the green skirt with more contrast, definition and variation before ending up with this version…. sorry…no photo of the mucky one).

With that in mind, I have lots of options available for the fuschia overskirt:DSCN1364

….although I likely won’t use them all. (they’re all more intense than the photo shows)

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I expect I’ll remove some of the dark outlining in the scarf, but leaving it for now.

While working on this part, I’ve been considering questions and options for the background….running the gamut of a cobbled roadway at dusk, pondering how to show the illumination of the wise virgin’s lamp, thoughts of a misty medieval background, or perhaps none of the above and using a purely abstract background of various night colours which deepen as they move outwards…..no decisions on this as yet.

It is so nice to be hooking again and enjoying the act of creating something that pleases my eye.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Finishing Floating Blocks….on to the next…

Hooking done…..steaming done……now for the last step. Since this rug is intended for the floor, I want it to have a sturdy edge that will stand up over time….so I use both binding tape and whipping.

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I spot dyed my yarn with a little deeper version of the dyes I used for the background. It looks one colour here, but in fact it has a variegation of dark grey, lighter grey and taupe. My binding tape was cut and ready to go.DSCN1319

I cut away the excess backing 16 ditches from the edge of the hooking (1 inch), and press it back, cover it with the tape and whip with a double strand of wool . (making sure it lies flat as I go along)DSCN1321

I whip into the backing and the binding in one step, making sure I have an even line on the back to keep it looking neat. (that part gets easier with each rug I bind).DSCN1320

On the front the whipping goes right in next to the hooking so there is no gap.  (I whip from the front to the back)DSCN1322 Here it is partially whipped. The red clips make it so much easier than having to use pins.

One last steaming on completion….and …..DSCN1325

It’s done!

Of course, as usual, as I was nearing completion of this rug, my mind was already on what project I wanted to do next. The last two rugs I hooked, were both large and hooked in an 8 cut. I wanted something completely different. Somewhere I saw a rug of a rhinoceros, adapted from a 15th century etching. That tweaked my interest and I went in search of what 15th century artists might have done that would be of interest to me. I wanted to hook a person, and do it in a fine cut with lots of detail.

After lots of fun searching and finding amazing etchings by various 15th century artists, I settled on two by the German artist Martin Schoengaur. They are two of a set of 10 individual etchings of virgins….5 wise virgins, and 5 foolish virgins, based on a parable found in Saint Matthew.

DSCN1328The wise virgin on the left remembered to bring lots of oil for her lamp. The foolish virgin on the right forgot the oil, and wants the wise virgin to share with her. These are separate etchings, but I’ve put together, and had them blown up to 22″ high.DSCN1327Ray set up my light table, and I traced the broad outlines.DSCN1332

Now I’ve been exploring  women’s clothing of the 15th century so I can come up with a colour palette . There’s lots of dyeing in my immediate future. I think I’ve found the colours I want and I’ll write about my typically convoluted route to that decision next time. I’m so excited to get going on this new venture.

Thanks for stopping by.

After the Break….

I can’t believe that it’s been more than a month since my last post! Well actually that’s not true. I can believe it, but I haven’t been totally inactive, just not doing much hooking.

Once I joined the two sections of the rug together, it suddenly became very heavy and hard to manage. I rely heavily on having my work hung when I’m not actually hooking, and spending long periods of looking at it to determine what I like and what needs to be changed and eventually HOW I will change it or move forward. Now it requires a chair and climbing up holding the rug to clip it in place for viewing. As a result I was folding it and leaving it hanging over my frame for a time and I soon realized that I had no idea how I would move forward…..so it sat for several weeks.

In the meantime, Ray and I went off for a camping holiday once again. I’ve been told that what we do is not ‘camping ‘at all, but ‘glam-ping’, and I guess that’s true….given that here is the site of our version of  rustic ‘cooking over the fire’…..DSCN0785.jpgMany thanks again to my son Scott and his wife, for the use of their 5th wheel, bringing it to the site, and setting it up etc. etc. etc.

We love this location….dscn0781….enjoy the surrounding area….dscn0812….the neighbours…..two retired clydesdales….rscn0843…..and celebrated Ray’s birthday with Baxter on the patio of a restaurant in Fenelon Falls (they even made sure Baxter had his own bowl of water).dscn0829I came home rested and renewed and ready to get back to hooking (and blogging) when my computer crashed and had to go away for a new hard drive.

Now the computer is back….the weather is cool (I love fall) …I’ve figured out a way to hang my rug more easily….and I’m back in hooking mode.dscn0779The bottom right ‘flame’ bothered me and it took awhile to figure out why….it was paler than the others since I had only used one row of the darkest pink,it was  a bit too small…and it lacked the pizazz I wanted…..a simple fix once I figured it out. (I’ve just started adding to it here)dscn0851I’m heading off now to finish that section….dscn0778 I manage the large rug by draping it over the bed…..keeps it off the floor, and it’s easy to manage. The prerequisite hooking mess is conveniently kept on my bedside table.

Here’s the progress to date,

dscn0849…..and a glimpse of the finished Grumpy Owl….now hanging proudly in the hall.DSCN0848.jpg

The colours are once again quite distorted  (it’s pink and grey not orange and brown) . One day  after I figure out this hooking thing….I’ll learn how to be a better photographer.

Thanks for stopping by.

The Case of the Travelling Suit (and Oily Matters)

The internet is a wonderful tool! I, like many…have lots of “internet” friends….people whom I have never met in person, but because of common interests , frequently converse and share ideas via social media. Shirley is the ultimate example of an internet friend.

She was the public school friend of my nephews and nieces and we became internet friends when she became interested in my rug hooking (having seen it on my niece’s internet page.) We chatted a few times on messenger and then a few months ago she told me she had a suit she wanted to send me to recycle in my rug hooking. I really appreciated the offer, but since we lived several thousand miles apart, I explained that the cost of sending it would be prohibitive. Not to be thwarted, she sent it from Victoria BC to Ontario with her brother who had come to visit. He then drove it to Newmarket where he gave it to another niece , who in turn gave it to a second niece who happens to frequently work at a vet’s clinic in my town, where I drove to pick it up. DSCN0723And what a suit it is…..DSCN0726….absolutely gorgeous pure virgin Irish wool. I spent one evening with my trusty seam ripper and carefully took it apart, washed and dried it to ‘full’ the wool, and I have now the most beautiful stack of soft black wool you could imagine. DSCN0729 (1)I haven’t yet taken the jacket apart, that will be more complicated and time consuming, but I am truly grateful to Shirley for her efforts in getting this beautiful gift to me.

In the meantime I have been making some progress on “Oil on Water”.DSCN0713I had stalled for awhile, debating about how I would hook the large blue sections which swept off to the right of the centre part. I finally just grabbed a pen, drew some lines and started hooking. Since I am such a visual learner, that immediately showed me what I liked and what needed to be changed. For instance, I disliked these two “banana” shaped blobs, and altered them to this….DSCN0716I had to pause and dye more of this vivid blue….It is just Pro Chem 990 (brilliant blue) ….DSCN0720…..for 1 yd natural….1/4 tsp in 1CBW in the dye bath then spotted after 20 minutes and adding the vinegar with a further 1/8th tsp in 1CBW. (my sealpoint Akuma appears to approve). I like the highlights this provides.

Then….since I love to jump around when hooking….I realized I needed to centre the prominent ‘blob’ which is near the bottom of the top section of the rug. While freewheeling with various elements, it was now seriously off centre.DSCN0731DSCN0732I played with a variety of colour choices….DSCN0733…and at first I thought I liked this but something just wasn’t right for me..DSCN0736.Then I changed the muted raspberry for the rhodamine red, and immediately liked it  much more.DSCN0738DSCN0739That pops!

At the moment, I am thinking a great deal about the significance of directional hooking. My first idea was to echo hook the blue from the top down, but I soon discovered that the valleys quickly became rounded and the sharp movement was lost.(I had already adjusted the points in this photo). I’ve changed the pure echo into  creating leaf like shapes which preserve the outward movement of the oil as it moves away from the centre of the piece. ….a small detail….but for me it is the accumulation of small details which please me in the overall effect.DSCN0744….and that is the essence of the joy of rug hooking for me….to create something which excites and pleases me. I hope your hooking gives you the same satisfaction.

Thanks again to Shirley…..now to tackle the jacket…

….and thank YOU for stopping by.

‘Oil on Water ‘ Progress Report

The title of this post should really read “Oil on Water – Little Progress”. It seems I spend much more time  debating how I will hook areas, than actually doing it.DSCN0605.jpgOne concern that needed lots of contemplation were the little rivulets of a slightly lighter colour of blue  on the left side.DSCN0607 There will be many more of these, so I had to come up with a way to keep them subtle, but visible. They show up readily when viewed up close, but tend to disappear at a distance. I decided to try an outline just on one side. The outline colours are actually the main cantaloupe and raspberry colours dyed over an ‘oatmeal ‘ wool. I particularly like the ‘oatmeal cantaloupe ‘ wool for the small connecting details. It blends but doesn’t dominate. (I used this a lot when hooking Hygieia…creating a bright and dull version of the same red by using the same dye formula over both Dorr natural and Dorr oatmeal)DSCN0610

I’m still debating how I will tackle the large area of bright blue which extends out to the right of the ” flames” . Since I couldn’t decide how to go forward with that, I moved to the lower right of this upper section of the rug, and encountered another problem to solve. Since the grid isn’t proportionate to the picture, I have to alter sizes and shapes and as I get closer to the area where the two halves will be joined, it becomes more important that details are in the same relative spot.DSCN0608There has been a lot of drawing and redrawing on the backing to position elements so they will match when I join the sections.DSCN0606So this is what it looks like to date. Lots of fun involved in the process and the decision making. This is a new way for me to tackle a rug (drawing the pattern freehand as I go along) and as usual I’m learning a lot from my trials and errors.

Thanks for stopping by.

Finishing Grumpy

The hooking of Grumpy has been done for a few weeks now, and I spent a while deciding on how I would finish him. DSCN0443For rugs intended to hang on the wall, I often just turn the edges under . I like the ‘tapestry’ effect it creates. However, sometimes that doesn’t work and Grumpy is a case in point. The bottom of Grumpy is hooked vertically, while the upper background is hooked horizontally. I don’t think the blank edges would look good because of that. I don’t want a border, or a prominent whipped edge, so I’m doing a very small whipped edge with no binding tape on the back.

The first step was to dye yarn to go with the two different colours. Jean (who has much more experience in dyeing yarn than I) told me to allow 1 foot per inch then add some. (I would have just divided the skein in two and dyed it all (and wasted a lot of yarn in the process).  Not wanting to run short I added four extra yards  to each hank……

DSCN0428….secured it loosely so it wouldn’t turn into a rat’s nest in the pan….and spot dyed it with the same colours as the top and a second skein with  the greys for the bottom.

Into the electric frying pan it went….DSCN0430….and now it blends nicely with the background sky.DSCN0431I measured and drew a line 1.5″ from the edges of the hooking, and zigzagged around the rug just inside the line.DSCN0435I cut off the excess right along my pencil line……DSCN0437 (1)and clipped  the edge back(using my faithful red quilting clips….so much batter than pins) gently leaving just enough backing showing that it wouldn’t pull the end loops over. (this is what will determine how wide the whipping will be and I want mine as small as possible).

I whip from the front, but make sure that each stitch goes into the same line on the backing so that I have a nice straight edge on the back.DSCN0442It is hardly visible from the top….DSCN0448….but makes a nicely finished view on the side.DSCN0449When finished I will turn under the raw edge , steam it, and slip stitch it in place.  As you can imagine, this is a slow process, so I alternate between whipping and working on ‘Oil on Water’.

Here’s how it’s coming along.DSCN0446 (1)The hooking now covers about 42″ x  32″. It’s getting harder already for me to hang it up with clamps for viewing.

My ulterior motive in writing a blog this morning is to distract me from thinking about my schnauzer Baxter, who is undergoing surgery. Nothing serious, but three different procedures . He’s fourteen years old and a very special member of our family. Hopefully I’ll hear from the vet before long that it is over and all went well.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Lessons Learned

A couple of posts ago I opened with this statement…..”I love this part of the rug hooking process…the getting it all ready part. The pattern is decided upon and now the fun begins.”  WHAT WAS I THINKING!

Oh the unsuspected trials and tribulations ahead of me at that time…..but “Oil on Water” is now finally underway, and I can laugh about its rocky start.   For sure I have learned lots along the way. DSCN0399

It finally makes me happy.

So here’s my list of lessons learned (or maybe…mistakes made).

The first thing I learned is that when joining two pieces of backing with the cut edges on the sides, there is only one way to be sure that you have the exactly the same width (i.e. number of ditches) for both top and bottom……you have to count them.DSCN0362I marked them at every 10th ditch. (and had to take a break several times so I didn’t go blind) ….there were nearly 800 ditches across each side. …but it allowed me to continue the side edge lines knowing that they were even.No big deal for a small piece, but when your rug is five feet across….that’s a lot of ditches to count.  DSCN0366

Then I basted the two pieces together very carefully matching all my 10 ditch markers (I’ll eventually cut off the edges sticking up), set up the pattern and backing on the light table, turned on the lights….and discovered to my horror…….you can’t use a light table when the pattern is too dark or when it is blown up so large that the edges become blurry. It simply didn’t show through clearly enough to draw. At that point I walked away for a day or two (that was lesson two).

Back to the drawing board (literally). When I was ready to tackle it again, I drew a grid on one of my photocopies of the pattern…DSCN0369

…..dividing it in eighths up and down, and quarters side to side, then drew the same grid ratio on my backing.DSCN0370I made no attempt to draw the details of the whole pattern, but drew freehand the major points of the circles and ‘flames’, using the grid as a positional reference point.  ( and my friend Jean belatedly said….”I wondered why you didn’t do that in the first place”…I’m a slow learner Jean). That was lesson number three……ask your friend Jean ahead of time.

I thought I would use the photo as a guide, and simply fill in the details free form as I went. There are lots of hookers who do this so successfully, often not using a pattern  at all.

But guess what?  Not me. (lesson number four) I tried it (I didn’t take a photo since I hated it immediately), and I thought it was ugly. I didn’t like the colours, and I didn’t like the form, I had no idea where to go next….. Again I walked away for a couple of days and even entertained the thought that perhaps I couldn’t do this rug. I’m just not a ‘free form hooker’ but I guess I’m a stubborn hooker. I’ve known the joy of looking at something I’ve hooked and had my heart swell with pleasure, and I was determined to figure it out.

The first positive step was solved with the  dyeing (which was the subject of the last post). I would use 3 or 4 even shades of each colour. I could use the small dip dyes by cutting them in thirds, and further dyeing I would do with the lazy swatch method. DSCN0397

(I kept the dip dye pieces in order to make a smooth transition  using double sided tape on the ruler).

Now how was I going to hook it so that I was happy with the result. I felt it needed mostly directional hooking to achieve the movement of the oil and water, with smooth sweeping curves. I’m just not artistic enough to do that without a guide. Yesterday I came up with a solution that I think will work for me. Using a black coloured pencil, I sketched the outlines of just the grid square I was working on, making and drawing adjustments as necessary, and not making a heavy line until I was satisfied that it would work.

So here it is once again (I’m using an 8 cut)…..what I’ve done to date, and I’m finally happy with the result.

DSCN0399Just to put the size in perspective…..(and you’ll notice the shape  is representational not exact)DSCN0310….I have hooked the medium sized circle highest up on the left and there will be considerable background beyond this photo….

Now for a day of hooking and watching the finals of the “Scotties”. I hope for great curling and happy hooking.

Thanks for stopping by.