Only Four to Go

I can’t believe how quickly this rug has progressed. For the most part I only hook in the evenings for an hour or two, but the hooking on this has been easy and enjoyable. DSCN1192….and as the title says…I only have four more blocks to hook.

I was surprised at how well my age-old “doodling self-rules” worked when planning the colours. For years, when I talked on the phone I would doodle with coloured pencils (mostly looping scrolls) and would always try to use the fewest colours possible with no colours touching themselves.

For the Floating Blocks, I wanted red and yellow to be dominant (and most frequent) with the three other colours complimentary and evenly distributed. That was very easy to start, but required adjustment as one section began to border on another and the colour options diminished.

I made one final little change yesterday. When spread on the floor, I noticed that there was one background section that was significantly larger than the others. It was so easy to just draw in one additional square in that space to make it more the size of the rest. This is a perfect pattern for when you want easy hooking and designing!DSCN1193I added the 4″x 4″ in this space. All 5 colours are already encircling the area, but I chose Y-G (yellow green) . Although not ideal, it is not touching itself and there will be background separating the two green blocks. I will also try to use different greens to give it a new look, for example, I’ll definitely avoid using that very acid yellow green used in the right hand square.

As with most things I do, coming up with the background wool has also been a process. The only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted it neutral and light.  I had some ‘oatmeal’ from Dorr, but it seemed dull when I held it up to the hooking. I had a small piece of slightly darker textured wool that I liked, but not nearly enough . For a time, I thought I would go shopping for something that I thought was perfect, and went browsing through various online shops to see what might be available. What bothered me about this, was that the goal when I began this rug, was to use up my wool scraps, not ‘dyeing’ or ‘buying’ to make it.

With that in mind, went through my stash, pulling out all the light… greys, tans, browns, off whites I could find. I was surprised at how much wool I ended up with. I decided that I would ‘marry’ them all and come up with a light neutral background. (….that’s not really dyeing I told myself…)

There was way too much for even my largest pan, so I ripped each piece in two so that I could do two batches and the end colour would be pretty much the same. Now I have to admit (confess) , after seeing one half finished, I decided there might not be enough wool, sooo…

I added 1/4th yard of Dorr natural to the second batch. There was little enough colour available to be re-distributed, so after removing the wool from the soapy water stage, (here’s the confession…I broke my own rules) I added 1/128th tsp of both ‘clay’ and ‘mouse grey’ to the pan before adding the vinegar and putting the wool back.(both colours I knew I had used in dyeing the original colours). DSCN1188The colour changes weren’t dramatic, but were subtle and will hopefully work.DSCN1189 2I can imagine them making an unobtrusive background to the vivid blocks. (hope I’m right).

There’s really just one big decision left to be made. How will I hook the background…..following the contour of each space? straight across? mix the colours throughout? make each space mostly one colour?

I’ve decided to try a few ways and see which one I like best. Stay tuned to see what happens.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Unpacking

Nope…I’m not unpacking my suitcase, but my rug. While some people have to fill in spaces when they have finished their hooking….I sometimes have to reduce the wool I’ve used. My tendency is to hook  too closely together. I try to be mindful of this as I hook, but over the large expanse of my big rug, even after steaming there was fixing to do.dscn1064-1I remove the strip that is too close….dscn1065….carefully cut it down a bit, and rehook it in the same space. I did that in a number of spots and it worked well and the rug lay flat.

However….the combination of my tendency to pack, and the wide expanse of echo hooking meant that when laid out on the big table…..it was no longer squared at the corners, or totally straight along the edges. It would need further adjustment.dscn1073I took  out some sections, and shortened many rows at the border. I ended up cutting some new strips in a 6 cut rather than cut them down by hand. dscn1082Ray helped me by setting up guides….with nails and mason’s cord.dscn1083When I had it as straight as possible,  he nailed the edges in place to hold it even. It was a lot of work, but yippee! The edges were now straight.

I needed to set it once again, and rather than steam it on the top side, I covered it with wet towels and left it overnight. (I’ve no idea whether that is condoned or not)dscn1085This morning I removed the towels and it is now drying in place. I still haven’t decided if I will give it a light steam or not before I remove the nails holding it in place.

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Next step will be to zigzag the edge and dye the yarn for whipping.

The Brier begins tomorrow, so I’d love to be able to watch those amazing Canadian men’s curling teams while I whip the edge of the rug….my idea of a great way to spend a week.

Thanks for stopping by.

Abstract Progress

With lots of curling on TV these days, I’ve been snuggled up hooking on my big rug and cheering for my favourite teams. dscn1036At last I’ve come up with motives that I like for the bottom left hand side of my rug and I’m finally pleased with the overall look of the pattern…..not repeating, not symmetrical, but balanced and satisfactory to my eyes.dscn1039I like that the bottom flame motif now sweeps upward and blends toward the upper section.dscn1040….and the brilliant blue in this section has some interest and motion. Whew!! I’m satisfied at last. Now just a few more details to add and then the background to complete. I’ll need to have one more large dyeing session to get enough deep blue to finish it.dscn1035It’s difficult to get a decent photo of the whole rug, but here is at least an idea of what the whole thing looks like. What a learning experience this has been.

Some notes to myself for possible future reference:

1.) Rhodamine Red (pro chem) is both nasty and tricky to dye with. To get the deep colour took three attempts, and I still had to rinse forever to finally get the water to run clear. HOWEVER the end result is stunning if you want an VERY vibrant pink that will pop out. (the photos don’t do it justice)

2. The use of a vibrant and a dull in juxtaposition (rhodamine red and strawberry in this case) is restful to my eyes.

3.) Using an echo background  augments the eye movement created by the pattern.

4.) Never again hook a large rug by joining two pieces of backing…the money saved is not worth the difficulties it creates. (always fighting with the fraying of the overlap showing through)

The finishing will be a new adventure as well. Ray has built a new work table for me so that I can spread it out flat and secure it in order to steam it accurately to size. I don’t have a proper steamer, so my trusty iron will get an extensive workout. Then dyeing the wool to whip the edge will be the last step.

I think my next project will measure about 10″ x 12″.

Thanks for stopping by.

GET READY, GET SET….

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.

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The first step was to enlarge my photo. My original is 3″ x 5″ and it will be the basis for my 5′ x 7′ rug.  There are a number of ways to achieve this and I chose the very easiest. I took my little picture to a copy shop and had it enlarged to 48″ x 80″  .  That’s not the size of the rug, but the background can then easily be extended to the required  60″ x 84″ with 6″ extra background on each side, and 2″ extra at top and bottom.

DSCN0324Here was the first glimpse I had of it  down on the living room floor.  (you can see how tiny the original was)

It quickly became apparent that my arthritic knees wouldn’t let me work on it there, so, Ray came to the rescue once again. He  quickly created a 5′ x 8′ table top for me to work on, and donated his workroom for the process . That made it much easier to do the required measuring and drawing for the edges. Well as you can see he has momentarily taken it over, but he has promised to remove the carpentry tools as soon as I need it again.DSCN0331

Preparing the backing was a bit complicated. I had ordered three yards of rug warp a couple of months ago, with this project as a vague possibility in my mind. When I made the decision to go ahead with it, I discovered that the hall rug was larger than I’d thought, and the rug warp was narrower than I remembered. . Three yards wasn’t enough! After a day spent making diagrams and looking at options which wouldn’t require importing extra wide rug warp from the states, I figured out a way forward.  My friend JoAnne Harris from “Wool Gathering” quickly came to my rescue with a swap of my three yards for the required four yards. The very next day she personally delivered it to my door no less . (unheard of personal service since we live 100 km. apart) A thousand thank you’s to her!!

I had determined that by splitting the 4 yards of backing into two 2 yard pieces, and putting them side by side, It would work perfectly. I would however have to hook the two sections together. I saw Cheri Hempseed do this with a large rug a few years ago, and a quick call to her confirmed how she had done it.

Leave about a two inch overlap and simply hook through the two pieces of backing for that section. DSCN0332`To make sure that I could hook through two pieces of rug warp at once, I did a little test strip, and it worked just fine. I think using a hook with a wide shank (I use a 6mm hook when working with an 8 cut)  easily opens the holes wide enough to lift the wool strip through. I will baste the two pieces together when the time comes. For the initial hooking stages, it will be much easier to handle in two sections

In the meantime…..I started thinking about the wool I’d need….lots of wool!  With 5 times the coverage, I’ll need about 19.5 square yards of wool in total.  (my little note book is full of diagrams and mathematical calculations already for this rug) and I’ll need at least 10 yards of background.DSCN0326

So while I’ve been gradually working on preparing the pattern itself, I’ve been gathering a  variety of plaids and textures from my stash to use for the background. I started my dyeing with the blues. I chose three colours of blue dye….brilliant blue, national blue and navy, (all Pro Chem) I used 1/8th tsp of each in 1 CBW, and added vinegar to each cup. I put 1/2 of the navy in the pan of simmering water, added the wool and gradually spotted everything else over the top. That batch is lighter than I want for most of it, so the next time I used 1/4 tsp of each colour . Since most of it is recycled wool, many of  the pieces are irregular shaped but  I guess each batch was about 1 yard.DSCN0330

So here I am with blue tinged finger nails, and hands tender from scrubbing off the dye stains, but I’ve got a small stack of beautiful blues . It’s a start, but I can’t wait to try other colours as well. (I see some mahogany in my immediate future).

I’ll get to actually drawing the pattern on the backing soon. I’ve still got some details to sort out , mostly concerning the overlap section.

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.

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.

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.

Tangling with Zentangle

Usually when I start hooking a piece, I have a general vision in my mind of what I want the finished product to look like. But not this time! Nope….I have no clue. So I’m “hooking in the dark” so to speak, trying stuff out, and discarding a great deal of it until I come up with something that pleases my eye.

I started out using a 6 cut, but quickly abandoned that for a #4. I couldn’t get the detail I needed with the #6.DSCF7230I hope the lime green will stand out better when more is added. As it stands…I’m not impressed.

I think this is the third set of colours I’ve tried in the “drape” design, and I plan to dye a lighter version of the green to add some variety. It certainly doesn’t set my heart afire with this combination.DSCF7229The ribbon loops please me so far, but I have no idea yet what style or colour of background to use in this section.DSCF7228I dyed 6 different colours of the yellow, planning to have the rings of this flower section get darker as it went out. I found it needed the blue for contrast, and now I’m debating how to proceed..DSCF7226The variegated blue is hooked with an overdyed plaid which I used in the hall rugs and really like. However, there is very little of it left, so I must use it wiselyDSCF7227

So far so good with the triangles. I like the blues. ….background black???? or the ribbon taupe???? ummmm…don’t know yet. DSCF7225

It’s quite a mishmash of unconnected elements at the moment, but hopefully I can eventually tie it all together to create a unified zentangle sampler.

A cold day to start off February, and a good one to stay inside and hook while I enjoy the Canadian Junior Curling Championships on TV.

Thanks for stopping by.