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.

 

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Creating the Background

While having coffee with a friend recently, for some reason we got chatting about thinking processes. She mentioned that she is a logical thinker, going from step to step to come to a final conclusion….and how it was sometimes difficult for her to remember that that is not how everyone thinks….aha! and that would be ME! As I think and plan, my mind goes off in a multitude of directions with a wide variety of possibilities, which I then must sort through for pros and cons to come to a “best” solution. It has taken me a long time to realize that My way is OK too…it’s not disorganized….it’s multi organized. Being as well, a visual learner, I often need to “see” the results before making a final decision. DSCN1182….and so it is with the background of Floating Blocks. This is my stack of “married” light neutrals. ….and the first few areas hooked in….DSCN1272After several tries, I decided that I liked the lighter colours ,with just the odd darker piece, using fairly short strips and changing colours frequently.

With that decision, filling in the interior spaces was uneventful, easy hooking.DSCN1282Next decision…..hooking all around the edges….If I kept using the lightest colours only, I knew I wouldn’t have enough wool. I needed to make use of the darker wool as well. It still needed to “go with” the interior spaces. I decided to have some rows of darker wool around the outside and then blend it lighter as it neared the interior. DSCN1278I liked that effect, and dug through the strips each time to find just the right colour….. making progress quite slow. Since I was blending the tones, it finally dawned on me to sort the strips into dark, medium, and light to make it much quicker to find just the right strip each time. DSCN1275…..ah….so much easier and quicker now.DSCN1280I can see my way to the end now…all the way around, with enough wool, and an edge colour which  grounds the rug as well as one which I can more easily replicate with yarn for whipping the outside.

I eventually get there, but my path is definitely neither straight nor step by step.  I’m happy with my way. Mind you that still leaves me wishing my junk drawer was more like Sandi’s….totally organized with everything in its place. …but there’s no hope of that happening any time soon!

Thanks for stopping by.

 

R.U.G. May 2017 Part Two

As mentioned, Marylou spoke to the group in the morning. ……..about the rug hooking museum of course, but also about a wonderful rug now owned by our hosts….The Simcoe County Museum. About 20 years ago, the members of the Huronia Branch jointly hooked a rug to donate to the museum where they meet each month. This amazing rug is about 7′ or 8′ x about 15′ (it’s massive). It had been displayed at the time , but then was taken down and carefully stored away. Being of Canadian content, Marylou thought it would be nice to have it on display during Canada’s 150th birthday. The museum agreed to once again hang it, and it was given pride of place in the large meeting room for everyone at R.U.G. to enjoy.

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The design is by Thor Hansen,  who was a Canadian designer and craft promoter   of Danish descent.   An interesting interview about him and his work can be viewed here:

Designer Thor Hansen – Huronia Museum Show

…just an aside…the Huronia Museum that houses much of his work  is in Midland about 20 miles from the Simcoe County Museum where we meet.

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The style is “post modern”  and depicts Canada Geese flying over a stylized sea . The Huronia group used a quilt frame to hook it, and it was rolled appropriately as it progressed. Marylou recalled that various members would work on it at meetings and said it was truly a joint effort. DSCN1200….Here Marylou and Fiona are trying to get out of the way so I can get a good shot of it…

Another aside…..a very much smaller version of this design appears in Celebration XXIV hooked by OHCG member Tatiana Knodel.

The afternoon was devoted to a talk about hooking Paisley designs . Suzanne Hill presented the history of paisley and related how the Grey Highlander group explored this wonderful and well loved design.

She presented a quilt top made of countless paisley fabrics which perfectly demonstrated many typical colour combinations.

These were some of my favourites.

Being a pattern designer herself, Suzanne created a number of paisley patterns for the group to try….the variation in colour palettes gives each a distinct feeling. Each of these has a black or grey background, but an entirely different feeling according to the colours chosen. She named this pattern ‘Polka Dot Paisley’.DSCN1256DSCN1242DSCN1257DSCN1231

The same dramatic differences in effect caused by colour are seen in this pattern called ‘Crazy For Paisley’.DSCN1239DSCN1233DSCN1234DSCN1255DSCN1244DSCN1252DSCN1241DSCN1236For those wanting to hook something smaller, or to make some hot pads….she created several ‘Little Paisley’ patterns.  Note the variety….. some are made into pillows, some needle punched or hooked with yarn, and some with beautiful crocheted edges.DSCN1258DSCN1250DSCN1247DSCN1251DSCN1259DSCN1246DSCN1253There were also two examples of paisley patterns by Martina Lesar.DSCN1237This one done in yarn,….and this one…DSCN1245…surrounded by colourful shapes.

The whole presentation was delightful and informative. I heard countless comments afterwards about how much it was enjoyed. Many thanks to Suzanne Hill for her designs, inspiration and explanations.

All in all it was a day full of great rugs, good shopping, delicious food, and friendly people.

If you missed it, it will all happen again in October.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

Floating Blocks Progress

DSCN1132 2Isn’t “Hit and Miss” a misnomer ? I don’t know of anyone who actually hooked one by blindly sticking their hand in the bag, grabbing a strip and hooking whatever colour came out. However this rug IS being entirely hooked with leftover small bits and pieces so I think it qualifies as “Hit and Miss” and I’m having lots of fun with the creation of each block.DSCN1129I began by hooking all the large squares in the foreground in reds and yellows. …decided that the additional colours would be blue, blue/green and yellow/green and  was amazed that I was able to come up with a good sized bag of leftovers of each!

I decided on the placement of the colours as I went along….trying to make sure they were evenly distributed and balanced throughout.DSCN1133As you can see…I made some changes as I went along….and even in this photo…I need to change one of the B-G’s (blue/greens) on the left since I realize that I do not have  a blue along the outside left edge.

A note for newbies who may be viewing this….Hookers work from foreground to background….(as opposed to painters who can layer on top) and this rug makes it really apparent why.  As I work down layer by layer, it is easy to keep the squares even and straight but it would be impossible the other way. By mistake the other evening, I started hooking one square that had an edge overlapping it. Being too lazy to rip it out and start a different one, I had to leave a bit extra on each strip at that edge so I could finish it properly after the top square is hooked, which will be fiddly and time consuming. (You can see the tag ends on the red block in the middle below.)DSCN1131So this is my progress to date.

In preparation for hooking the background, I’ve gathered up all my bits and pieces of light neutrals (beiges, sands and greys) . I’m still trying to decide if I will hook them as is, or marry the colours in a large stew pot so they are closer in colour. At the moment I’m leaning to the latter.

If I didn’t live in a household with two cats and a dog, I’d think seriously of creams for the background since I love the vibrant colours against the white backing. Too many mucky paws in my house for that to work though.

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.

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.

Progress Report

Just a quick progress update before I potentially lose power. The weather report is for about five hours of freezing rain this afternoon on top of the snow which fell overnight. UGH!!

So here is “Oil on Water” over the past week.DSCN0425The flash rather bleached it out in this photo. (I never notice these things at the time).DSCN0426I was pleased with the first ‘flame’ motif….DSCN0427….but it’s pretty ‘glaring’ as I add the second larger one….DSCN0432The dark background is doing its work in toning it down and absorbing some of that colour.

Right now I’m pondering a number of colour choices. I plan to remove the blue/purple dump dye wool in the middle of the blue in the middle, and I’m considering a number of options. I’m also thinking that I will change the slightly lighter blue upward sweeps on the left. I thought they would be much more prominent and I think that side needs more interest than they will provide.

The whole thing is like a voyage of discovery, and it’s a lot of fun to watch what emerges from my hook.

Now to hunker down and wait until the freezing rain storm passes.   SPRING….where are you????

Progress

Since I’m an avid curling fan and this past week was the Brier Tournament (Canadian Men’s Championship), I spent lots of time hooking and cheering the past few days. All my cheering didn’t help my team win, but at least ‘Oil on Water’ is now underway.

Here’s a record of my progress.DSCN0402DSCN0403DSCN0404DSCN0405DSCN0409DSCN0420DSCN0424What I’ve hooked so far  is about 38″  wide.

There are several spots I’m not pleased with, but for the most part I’m leaving them for now until I get further along. I’m drawing in the design as I go using a black coloured pencil with the grid as reference.

I have a basketful of wool dyed, primarily using pro chem colours: rhodamine red, raspberry, cantaloupe, brilliant blue , and navy (with small additions of some other dyes) over Dorr natural, oatmeal, and a wide variety of textures.DSCN0415All the lighter blues 2nd from the right, I plan to overdye  with navy so that they more closely resemble the very darks at the end. I really like that deep blue as the background and I will need an endless supply. I haven’t dyed a large amount of any of the other colours yet as I’m still experimenting with what I like. I just realized that this photo distorts the cantaloupe colour. It is more ‘peachy’ in real life.

I’m enjoying the process of creating this hooking….a new way for me to work…..I choose a small area, decide on the shapes and colours, draw it with my trusty black pencil  (my new most important tool), and then hook the details and fill in the background.

Oh…and I almost forgot…I learned something new last week (at least new to me). When overdying previously dyed wool, presoak it in cold rather than hot water. Thanks Gene Shepherd for that tip.

Now off to start the gigantic job of grooming my winter-shaggy standard schnauzer.

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.

 

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.