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.

DSCN0310

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.

 

 

 

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”.

DSCF7673

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.