De”fence”-ing

DSCN0270My first project for the new year is to complete Grumpy Owl. Long ago, (several months at least) I stopped hooking the head feathers when I realized that the shading was dark to light on the left, and the opposite way on the right. While I debated how to deal with that, I finished other areas. Now I could no longer put it off.

DSCN0281My solution? Let them meet in the middle, with light wool on both sides of the merging feathers. (the jury is still out on this solution).

That leaves only the bottom section to hook.

DSCF7631Just a reminder….the original is a dot work drawing done by my talented son Mathieu and therefore doesn’t have the detail of a hooked piece. I thought it was a fence, and had tried out a version using the same technique as I had done on the side of my barn. BUT….when last home, Mathieu told me that he hadn’t intended it to be a fence at all….hmmmmm…..what to do? When in doubt….wait and ponder.

Well with everything else hooked, the waiting time was over, and decision time was upon me. I ripped out the old ‘fence’ and spot dyed a variety of fabrics with some different greys and a sand (I think it was khaki drab….but my recipe book is on a different floor, so I’m guessing)

DSCN0275I switched to an #8 cut and started hooking a rocky perch  for Grumpy.DSCN0277

The rock fissures and the details around the talons are the tricky part, and I’ll digress for a bit as I record how I kept the vertical aspect, while filling in around them.

If you have a  cutter with an adjustable guide, like the Frazer 500….DSCN0291….or one of the Beehive, Townsend, or  Ault type….DSCN0292…..you will probably have experienced cutting your wool when the guide is not set exactly correctly, and ended up with that first strip the wrong size…..DSCN0294In this case the first strip was wider than an 8. Rather than adjust the wool guide, I left it, and those wider strips are just perfect for filling in  the slightly larger spaces.

Of course there were spots that needed smaller sizes, and I am not averse to cutting a section or the end of a strip to make it fit smoothly.DSCN0302

….(Do you know how hard it is to hold the scissors, hold the camera, and also take the photo? ….this took several tries….and finally balanced the scissor handles with my knee.)

DSCN0307Here you can see how (upper right of the ‘rock’) the extra wide piece fits nicely between the black, and a smaller strip will fit neatly into the small space just to its  left. It’s slow going, but for me the result is worth it. The talons are unimpeded, and the rock face is going in the right direction.DSCN0274

Winter is fully upon us here in central Ontario, with a nasty icy day forecast. I’m staying home to snuggle up, watch the curling, and hook. I hope you have a nice day too.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Background Creative Process

As with all my hooking, creating the background for Grumpy Owl is an ongoing process. After failing miserably with my first attempt (the blues), My inspiration came from this misty moon photo.3684907-moon-over-the-sea-moon

I took a yard of Dorr natural, and ripped it into 1/8th yard pieces. I began by dyeing each one with 1/128th tsp golden pear. One piece I left that way for the surface of the moon. The others I spot overdyed with a variety of colours, singly and combined……pink sand, cantaloupe, mouse grey, clay, and charcoal (1/128th tsp) (pro chem colours).

This is what I ended up with….DSCF7656….these 6, plus two others with double the golden pear background (which I didn’t like)DSCF7659The moon is now underway.

DSCF7657…and I like the general background effect.DSCF7660I added some smudgy wisps of clouds in front of the moon……..and darker colours toward the bottom. To make the edges of the moon a little brighter, I edged it with one row of #3 cut Dorr natural.DSCF7666I felt I didn’t have enough contrast, or deep enough colours for the bottom, so I overdyed these two pieces with pink sand and mouse grey.DSCF7670…the jury is still out on the bottom part.

I discovered that while this piece was too bright and had too much contrast….DSCF7671

if I flipped it over and used the other side…..DSCF7672….it was muted and created lovely highlights.

I still felt that the moon didn’t “pop” quite as much as I’d like, so last night, I removed the outline strip, and the 3 cut highlight, and added a wider outline in Dorr natural.DSCF7675

I don’t particularly like it close up, but, but from a bit of a distance, it gives the moon some backlight “glow”.

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It has been a while since I’ve done this large a background in a 4 cut…..I think somebody keeps enlarging the spaces!

I’m looking forward to the Quilt, Rug and Craft Fair at the Simcoe County Museum which runs from Sept 18 to 20. Drop by if you can. It is always a feast for the eyes, with many disciplines of fibre arts on display and for sale.

I’ll be sure to take my camera.

Thanks for stopping by.

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.

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.

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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.

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….and aren’t those lace cuffs exquisite?

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

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

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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.

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

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….and here is the man himself

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….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

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

 

 

Starting and Finishing

Anyone who reads my ramblings here, knows that finishing is not my favourite part of rug hooking. As a matter of fact, most of my sewing and whipping is done when I have a deadline to meet. That’s the case now, once again. The Sunshine Rug Hookers are providing the program at R.U.G. at the beginning of May, so I need to have my zentangle, and Hilda’s English Sunset all done.

I procrastinated about sewing the zigzag edges on them for several weeks……why? Because my bobbin was empty, and I would have to rewind it before I could begin. Now if that isn’t the stupidest reason in the world! (but indeed I have had some bad experiences with my badly wound bobbins in the past)  ……however it’s amazing how simple it is when you follow the instructions.  When I finally got down to it, I kept thinking…..this isn’t a problem….what was the big deal?

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I’ve left 3 inches around my little seascape, since I’d like to frame it. I haven’t yet figured out how I’ll do that, so first I’ll finish the zentangle sampler.

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Now this is straight forward finishing. I want to whip it in black yarn with a back tape on the back. I went to get my materials and found that I don’t have enough black wool and my  bent yarn needle has disappeared from the planet. Sooo. yesterday I went to our local yarn/craft shop, and guess what….they are out of black 100% wool. With bated breath I traveled to Michael’s and luckily, they had what I needed. After purchasing a new needle, I remembered, that the old one is in the half completed edge of my Lunenburg landscape! (Serves me right for not having finished it long ago) . So I’m in business and I’m determined to get it underway today.

Of course while finishing is what I HAVE to do, my next project is what is really on my mind. My Grumpy Owl has been getting lots of thought, with ideas pondered and rejected over and over…..wide cut or fine cut?     realism…..or drawing style?   colourful or……monochromatic?

The first decision made was drawing style over realism, and to that end I began outlining with a #3cut in black.

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His shape and expression are sooo endearing, but don’t lend themselves to a realistic interpretation.

I’m leaning toward monochromatic….but using multiple textures and shades. To that end, I gathered up a few different wools….light plaids, a check, light grey, and oatmeal. and overdyed them with Pro Chem clay, mouse grey, and light charcoal.

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….just a bit to see if I liked it….Next step will be to create a much lighter version of this over some natural, then try both out to see if I like the effect. (I’m almost slapping my own hands to make myself whip instead of dye wool this evening)

This afternoon I’ll be taking advantage of this glorious spring weather to enjoy the sunshine while I help Ray clean up the winter debris in the garden. I have a great desire to plant some Morning Glories this year. I remember the ones in my grandmother’s garden, and I’d love to have some of my own. The older I get the more nostalgic I become.

 

Transferring my Grumpy Owl Pattern

In the past, I’ve used quite a variety of methods to transfer a pattern onto my backing but this time I am using a “makeshift” light table. Ray acquired a large sheet of plexiglass which is destined to become a proper light table, but in the mean time it will work when propped up on chair backs with a goose neck lamp underneath.  DSCF7174

…and instead of being the job of many hours, it is completed in mere minutes.DSCF7185I absolutely love it…..BUT……..having drawn it….I now want to hook it in a style more faithful to Mathieu’s “dot work” original. I just can’t see cluttering it with a variety of zentangle patterns….so….

Back to the drawing board. I must have a zentangle example hooked for R.U.G. in May. I found a great site called Linda’s Zentangle Patterns and started sketching ideas.DSCF7187

The three patterns to the right are ‘knightbridge’ , ‘drape’, and at the top (my favourite) ‘coral seed’. The two on the left are my own.  I then decided that I would make it to fit the top of an antique washstand that sits in my front hall. That measures 14″ x 30″ …so I reduced that size in half twice, and sketched a plan.DSCF7188

I added another pattern, aptly called ‘triangles’, then I redrew it to the right size, and set up the light table once again.DSCF7193

I made some changes as I went along, but here is the pattern drawn on the backing (with some changes to come still)DSCF7191

Since it will be in the hall, I plan on using the same colours as my hall rugs (here’s an old ‘in progress’ photo showing most of the colours)DSCF2422

I’ve got some dyeing to do in my immediate future. I don’t think I have any of that wool left.

In the meantime, I’ve been working away on the white background of my bunny piece.DSCF7186

He’s nearly finished. I can’t wait to get these new projects under way. Why is it that starting something new is always more fun than finishing something off?

Thanks for stopping by.

I’ve Done It Again

I While I admire  the primitive hooking of others, it seems I am not capable of doing it myself.  I realized this when I was hooking the Magdelena Briner inspired ‘dog memory rugs’ for my sons.DSCF5290

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 I seem compelled to add more detail than is required for the primitive style, and my work ends up only “primitive-ish”  ….but somehow I forgot. I blithely started hooking away on the rabbit challenge rug, once again intending it to be primitive, and once again missing the mark . DSCF7146

When I got to this point, I stopped. I liked it less and less as I went along, and finally realized if I left it the way it was, I’d never even finish it. It wasn’t primitive, the lettering wasn’t going to show up against the bunny, and he looked as if he had a serious fur disease and a bad case of hypertension with bulging eyes that threatened to pop out of his head.

Some serious ripping out followed., and a different coloured bunny emerged.DSCF7162

I didn’t have enough browns to do his whole body, so I dressed him up with a jacket.

I learn something new with every piece I hook, and this jacket was my “aha” moment. Here’s the sequence of events.  I was searching for wool that would go with the spot dye I was using for the eggs. I settled on yellow, but the only colour I had enough of was a solidly dyed piece of very bright vibrant yellow. It was too “in your face” and wouldn’t work, so I grabbed all the bits and pieces of paler yellows as well and just started mixing them all together. Much to my surprise, from a distance it looks like a more subdued yellow with a variety of highlights….(note to self….remember this for future reference).

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It’s certainly not my favourite piece, but fun to hook and a relaxing break before I tackle the zentangle Grumpy Owl, which I anticipate will be a major undertaking.  The figure itself is 25″ tall but I haven’t yet decided on the outside measurements. I’ve been tracing over the outline to make it easier to see when I set it up on the light table. I can’t wait to get started on it.DSCF7172

A very happy New Year to all my internet friends. You enrich my life on a daily basis.  I wish you health and contentment in 2015 and a productive year of hooking what you love.

Thanks for stopping by.