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.

 

 

 

Transferring my Grumpy Owl Pattern

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for stopping by.

A Tribute to Edie Crockford

Sunshine Rug Hooking meetings have been very busy this fall, but with the Quilt and Rug Fair, and RUG, now over…today we were able to have our first ‘tribute’ of the season. These monthly events were begun so that the newer hookers in our group would have the opportunity to see the work, and hear about the lives and background of the more experienced hookers……but everyone looks forward to seeing all the beautiful work. This has become one of my favourite events.

Edie Crockford was Tuesday’s featured hooker. She said she thought she had begun hooking in 1976…but discovered that her first rug was dated 1974. She has lived her whole life in Barrie , and is a member of both the Huronia group in Barrie, and the Sunshine Rug Group in Orillia. She works with #3 and #4 cuts, and is a master of fine shading.

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This is a heritage pattern.

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This is my favourite….amazing detail…I can almost feel the wind.

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The bell pull was Edie’s first hooked piece. The arched stain glass piece was framed with actual stained glass. That smile is always in evidence!

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Looking at the sheep out the window..

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This is the colourful piece she is currently working on.

She also did some wonderful cross stitch.

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Edie is such a talented hooker and a wonderful woman. She travelled to Trent with me last spring and her cheery disposition and infectious giggle lifted every day. Thanks to Jean Chabot….who anticipated that I would forget my camera…brought hers,….and took the pictures for me.

Thanks too to Cynthia Young, who sent me these pictures of my rugs being presented at RUG.

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Adele

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Hygieia

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My hall rug

I still have the “show and tell rugs” to show from RUG. I was going to include them in this post…but I realize now there are far too many…and they deserve a post of their own.

Taking a break

I actually didn’t hook at all yesterday! I was so intensely involved with Adele, I feel I’ve come up for a bit of air!  ….(and I got up at 4am and watched the royal wedding)

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I now have 9 of my projected 12 brooches made. I went back to the originals and added a bit of glitz to them so they now have a bit of sparkle.

Next weekend I’m off to the Matrix workshop with Jennifer Manuell, so my main chore this week is to do three more brooches, and sort wool in preparation for that. …we’re to take as many colours in each colour family as possible. (my stash is still relatively small)

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my purple bin

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my blue bin

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my green bin

I store my wool in basic colour families, but it is mostly just dropped in the appropriate bin.

And….I want to pull some loops on my hall runner background. I promised myself I would work on it 10 minutes a day while I was working on Adele….but I didn’t!

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It’s getting so heavy that just rolling it out and back up again is a chore….so it has been rolled up and idle for a couple of months….

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this larger section still to be done

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and this smaller one

…..so near to completion!…and yet so far!

The Origin of my Hall Rugs

Several people have asked me if I designed the pattern for my hall rugs, or if it was a commercial one I bought. I always reply, saying it is  adapted from a design by Pearl McGown called Queen Mary (actually I may have said Queen Anne….but I see now it is Queen Mary…I plead old age for such errors).  However, when I was putting my pattern together I was completely in the dark as to its origins. I had borrowed a book from the Sunshine Hookers library, which had a section with patterns for use in the back. These were un-named, and crudely drawn outlines on  graph paper.  I enlarged two of them, cut them up, and re-arranged them (using parts, discarding some) to create the two related patterns of the right sizes for my rugs. (below is a picture of the patterns I ended up with- these were then transferred to the backing – I discussed the details of that  process in the very first blog -scroll down, choose #5 and scroll down to the end if you are interested)

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Some time later, when the rugs were actually underway, I was leafing through an old copy of RHM (June/July/August 2003) and to my great surprise…there was the original rug.

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It had received second place in the “Commercial designs or adaptations” category of Celebration XII. It was done in a 4 cut, by Cheryl Meese of Duluth Minnesota, with terrific detail  and shading. I was really excited to see the ‘original design’. I must admit I then referred to this picture a number of times to determine  details that were missing on my sketchy outline, but many of my motifs bear little resemblance to Pearl McGown’s.

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The McGown pattern is perfectly symmetrical, while mine does not repeat in the centre section.  The central looping vines however are unmistakable.

The Final Colour decision

I mentioned in an earlier blog, that there was one motif that I was stymied on as to colour choice. It doesn’t really resemble any of the other motifs closely, and I couldn’t decide what colours from my palette would be best.

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I left it, started working from the other end, and now it is surrounded, and the choice needs to be made. (I’ve left bits and pieces of the vine and leaves to do as a break from the black background) I decided to  have a look at some options.

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Light blue and pale yellow is not a combination I’ve used, but it is too washed out. and right next to a large blue/wine ‘flower’.

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A gold/yellow treatment is too close to the gold motif above it.

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Using just the maroon, seems too dull and drab.

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I think I will go with the bright red/paprika spot combination. It has become the primary colour focus of the rug (at least to my eyes) and I think it is balanced with the other red ‘flowers’ in the rug. (colour focus seems to be a personal thing….while the red is what dominates for me…someone else thought it was the acid green, and another first noticed the deep blues….hummmm interesting!)

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Whew….it’s done. Hopefully that was the right choice.