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.

Redistributing Dye

“Redistributing dye” is just a fancy way of saying “fixing” a dyeing mistake, and that’s what I’ve been doing today. The mistake part is not the fact that it turned out wrong, but rather that I dyed my wool the wrong way, and now I’m hoping to fix it.

I often dye my wool to be intentionally ‘blotchy’ which gives me movement, and highlights in my hooking. I do that by adding 1/2 of the dye solution to the dye bath, and then after the wool has taken a lot of that up, I spot the rest of the dye over the top , mixing minimally. This particular wool turned out to have very strong ‘splotches’ because without thinking of the result, I added the vinegar to the dyes in the mixing cups, so it was taken up very quickly without dispersing very far.DSCN0390

I dyed several pieces for my ‘oil on water’ with this method, BUT discovered when I started hooking, that I needed a smooth even colour to create the right effect.   So now I am hoping to remedy that mistake to make my 1/2 yard of wool usable.

The first step is to try and remove some of the dye. To do that I simmered my wool in a dish soap solution (or whatever you use to open the wool prior to dyeing).DSCN0391It took about an hour before the water was significantly coloured with the released dye.

Then I removed the wool, added a glug of vinegar to the water(or citric acid if you prefer), then reintroduced the wool and stirred it to make sure the dye was evenly taken up…..the result is not perfectly even, but much better.

The second fat quarter I did the same way, but since I wanted it darker than the first, I added 1/32 tsp of dye in 1 CBW to the dye bath along with the vinegar before I put the wool back in the pot. (they are both deeper and evener than this photo shows)DSCN0396

My initial foray into dyeing for this rug was a little more successful (but not much). It was intended as a ‘test run’ of colours. I prepared 1/8th yard strips of natural and oatmeal and dip dyed them using the microwave method.DSCN0380This involves adding boiling water to a microwave safe bowl (designated for dyeing only) , adding the dye bath with vinegar added as well, and dipping the wool immediately in the very hot water. When satisfied with the intensity, finish with 5 minutes in the microwave. I find this is an easy way to dye small amounts of wool quickly. To set the wool, simmer on the stove in clear water for 1 hour. DSCN0385

While I can use all of this wool, I now realize that Gene Shepherd’s ‘lazy swatch’ method will give me the best wool colours for this rug. This involves adding pieces of the wool to the dye pot at about 30 second intervals to create, light, medium and dark versions of the same colour.

Don’t you love that vibrant pink in the centre? It’s Pro Chem Rhodamine red, a new dye (for me) that  just arrived in the mail. I’m not sure yet how much (if any) I’ll dare to use, but I sure like looking at it.

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.

 

 

 

Dyeing The Colour Wheel

Early in November I’m attending a workshop and I’m to bring 1/16th yard of each of the colours in the colour wheel. So Friday I got out the dye equipment and got to work.DSCN0065To begin with….. Although I dye my own wool and do my own colour planning, I am by no means knowledgable when it comes to colour theory. In spite of trying, my eyes glaze over when someone starts discussing  split complementary harmony or analogous or tetrardic harmony………I rely heavily on the fact that I am a visual learner, and end up making my decisions based on what looks right to me. (and very often rehook what I’ve done because it DOESN’T look right to me). I’d probably save myself a lot of time and effort if I just followed the rules….but what’s the fun in that? So I even had to hunt for a colour wheel to refresh  my mind on the colours I needed to dye. Perhaps I’ll finally remember what they are and their order having done this exercise.DSCN0066

I began by going through all my dyes to come up with as many single dyes as I could that might give me one of the colours I needed. I don’t have  colour swatches to refer so this was the simplest method for me. Starting at the top and going clockwise, I chose Pro Chem Sun Yellow, (I thought plain yellow was too ‘lemony’) The pen indicates yellow orange (don’t have a dye that colour) Cushing Orange, Pro Chem Poppy Red for orange red, Majic Carpet Red, and under it Pro Chem Magenta (ended up using magenta), Majic Carpet Red Violet, Cushing Purple, Majic Carpet Blue Violet, both Cushing and Majic Carpet Blue (ended up using Majic carpet) , for blue green I thought (whatever that cushing dye is or Pro Chem Mallard Green …..neither of which worked) I thought bottle green would be a true green (wrong), and the last pen  in the place for yellow green .DSCN0068

Next I checked my stash to see what colours I might already have…..I found yellow green…..orange……yellow……and yellow orange.DSCN0069That left me with 8 colours to dye.

Most were straight forward. In checking “bottle green” I found it was distinctly blue green…..so I used it for that. The mallard Green was actually the closest to a forest green, but still a bit blueish, so I added a wet toothpick of  yellow to the dye bath. (I drop a bit of the dye bath on a paper towel to check colours before dyeing).

DSCN0072Here are my 8 colours on the line .DSCN0071

You can’t see the colours very well in this shot, but I like the look of them against the trees.

DSCN0077

Here’s my colour wheel  ready for the workshop. (although I may dye a different orange….the one from my stash is pretty dark)

I dyed each piece in the microwave….so much faster when dyeing small pieces. I used 1/16th tsp of dye to  1 CBW (cup of boiling water) for the dye bath and added vinegar to each dye bath itself. (probably could have used less in many cases…as sometimes not all the dye was taken up when the wool was at a satisfactory colour) The dye bath is added to boiling water in a microwave safe bowl (I have some designated plastic bowls for microwave dyeing) and set to cook for about 5 minutes . (longer as needed)

…..not scientific, not perfect, but fun and quick. (the whole dye session took me about an hour) and I love the results.

 

Now to see how they are used at the workshop.

Happy Halloween everyone. 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.

And Now the Background….

The face is completed, and I’ve done a bit more tweaking of the left eye. (increasing the black in the corner )

DSCF7020Time to get the dye pots out again for the background. I spent some time looking very carefully at the photo to decide what colours I could see and decide how best to dye them. I settled on using four dyes: golden pear, clay, pink sand, and chocolate brown. I worked with 1/8th yard pieces once again, and used 8 different versions…some with all the colours, some without either the brown, or the pink sand, and varying amounts to create effects/  I used just 1/16th yard to try the green colour of the aura using just golden pear and a weeny bit of clay to dull it down. The other 1/16th yard I dyed with just 1/256th tsp golden pear for the light part around her head.

DSCF7031

….it is mostly rather ugly wool in the piece, but I’m learning that it doesn’t have to be beautiful in the piece to create something beautiful when hooked. I want the background to compliment the hijab and draw the eye toward the centre and the eyes of the girl. DSCF7039

 

It’s underway….I’m not certain if the aura will stay or not.

I mentioned in an earlier post about the usefulness of the darker edges of each piece. They are certainly my most prized strips as I work on the background.  By hooking with the dark edges together, I can create a subtle darker line, much finer than the actual #6 strips I’m using.

DSCF7041

I think these add texture and interest ….can you see the 8 spots I’ve used this little technique in this corner? .

DSCF7043This is my progress to date.

If you live or visit in the Orillia area, OMAH (the Orillia Museum of Art and History) has just opened it’s Sir John A. MacDonald exhibit to celebrate his 200th birthday. It features many  hooked pieces in a celebration of our founding father’s life and times. Hopefully I’ll get some photos of it to share here.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Why I Mottle

Recently on Lucy Richard’s wonderful site on facebook”The Wooly Mason Jar Rughooking”, the question was asked, do you use mottled or evenly dyed wool in your projects?  My response was that I used mottled the vast majority of the time. There are very valid reasons to use either one or the other, depending on the project and the desired effects, as well as just plain personal preference….Here is why I love using mottled wool in my projects.

This is the sequence of my hooking in the last week.

DSCF6986

I tweaked the point of the hijab at the centre of her forehead, by changing to a light strip that had more of the mustard colour showingDSCF6987 DSCF6989 DSCF6990 DSCF6993

This is the wool I used…. just four mottled colours which provide me with lots of options…

DSCF6994

Dyeing mottled wool works for me.  Here’s my general method: instead of adding all of the dye solution to the dye bath, just add 1/2 of the dye solution. Add the wool, then wait a bit, then pour the remaining dye solution over the top of the wool. poke the wool down to make sure it is all covered, but don’t stir (the more you stir, the less it will mottle).

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Playing With Colour

The two things that inspired me to hook “Hijab” were the lady’s eyes, and the vibrant colour of the hijab itself.

BeFunky_Underpainting_242.jpg

Dyeing the wool to get the deep vibrancy, and shadows has been  learning experience. I was looking for the essence and effect rather than an exact duplication of colours. I began with Jewel Tones colour # 73, and reduced the amounts for the 1/8th yard pieces I was using. (1/8th yd so that I didn’t waste too much wool if the colours were totally wrong.) My basic formula was: (pro chem dyes):   1/8 tsp red,    1/16 tsp bright red     1/128 tsp evergreen    1/64th tsp brown

Here are the first 3 …from the right 1) original formula 2) mustard added to 1/2 of formula 3) reds reversedDSCF6949

Number 3  was still not as vibrant as I wanted, so I added an extra bit of bright red, and eliminated the brown altogether.

DSCF6969Now I had my bright colour. For the duller shadowed red I used the original formula and stirred it a bit to make it smoother. (woops I don’t have a photo of that)

 

The very dark (looks black but it isn’t) was a piece I found in my stash which was primarily died with mahogany.DSCF6980

 My flash distorts the colours so much that this probably doesn’t make sense, but at least it will serve as a record for me of what I have done.

One of my favourite little tricks is using the dark edge of piece of wool to help delineate a change of colours.DSCF6967

You can see it clearly here.

Here is the progression so far.DSCF6958DSCF6965DSCF6979

I’m at the stage now where all I can see are things I don’t like, but I know I go through this with everything I hook. It is truly a process, albeit one I love.

Thanks for stopping by.

Facing It

I’ve just begun “Hijab”.  I began by experimenting with those beautiful reds for the scarf itself. I used one eighth yard pieces and the microwave method to see what I could come up with. I began with the Jewel Tone formula #72, ( which uses prochem red, bright red, forest green and brown) then reversed the amounts of red and bright red to create a brighter version….then added some mustard to the third version  to get some yellow highlights.  (I always have to remind myself to record the variations as I go along so that I can reproduce the colours if necessary…I tend to just enjoy the process of experimenting )

DSCF6949

 

I put 1/2 of the solution in the hot water, and pour the other half over the top with minimal stirring. I added the mustard by itself in a separate step.  (These three were each done separately) Then pop it into the microwave for about 5 minutes (checking half way through).  If I choose to do larger pieces, I’lI do them on top of the stove and simmer for an hour, but for experimenting with small pieces, the microwave method is fast and easy.

I always start faces with the eyes, and it always surprises me how they come to life so quickly.

DSCF6951

My first attempt at the nose line gave her a “hooked, witchy look”. DSCF6952

So that’s been straightened and now I’m playing with various colours to create the highlights and shadowed areas of her face.

DSCF6956

I still haven’t decided if I’ll dye wool to do this and have it closely related, or use leftovers and have a wider variation in the colours.

DSCF6953

In the meantime, I already feel as if she’s watching me.

I still haven’t finished the hooking on the background of the Graffitti, but I’ve convinced myself that I need to save that for hooking on Tuesdays with the Sunshine hookers. Hijab requires concentration and wouldn’t go well with conversation and visiting. (Aren’t I clever to have such a good reason not to hook the boring stuff and hook the fun stuff instead?)

Thanks for stopping by.

Re-Icing the Cake and Dyeing Off White

YIKES! When a few Sunshine Hookers didn’t recognize  that what I had hooked was a piece of cake…it was time to do some fixing up!

OK, I’ll back up some. Here is the cake before I did the icing.

DSCF6268

Instead of the text I drew a maple leaf.

DSCF6272

…and hooked it…DSCF6275

I thought it looked a bit like two eyes and a mouth, and when neither Gail or Cynthia at first even recognized it as a piece of cake, I knew change was really needed.

DSCF6280

So here’s my new and (hopefully) improved birthday cake and candle.

Aha! only the background to do now….but alas, my natural white wool has not arrived. I intend to mix both white and natural in the background for a bit of variety.

Then it hit me…..you’ve got lots of white….just dye some with a mild tint and carry on! (Sometimes I’m a little slow with the obvious!).

DSCF6284

Just this much maple sugar dye on a tooth pick.

DSCF6285

Add some vinegar….the wool (1/16th yard)….pop in the microwave until it clears (I did 2.22), and……DSCF6287

I have some off white wool to mix in my background. (it will be a little lighter when dried).

Now to decide the style of hooking I’ll use there. I’ve been paying attention to the backgrounds of rugs for ideas and examples of what I might like.

Since my last post, we’ve actually had two  snow storms, but hopefully that’s it! I’m ready for spring.