From Inspiration to Pattern

My large abstract rug is finished and now residing in its new home.I'm home_edited-1

In preparation for its arrival, the purchaser had her furniture reupholstered and found paintings for her walls which echoed the colours and mood of the rug. I am so gratified by how much she likes it and the lovely home it now has.

After a few days with no hooking during which time my hooking area (i.e. our bedroom) received a thorough spring cleaning, I was once again anticipating my next project. I must admit I’d been thinking about it for some time.

Although I had at times said my next project would be tiny….I lied!

It is planned to be 40″ x 60″. Much smaller than the abstract, but I plan to put it in the upstairs hall where I had originally intended to put the large rug. This mat however will be entirely different. (and have lots more floor showing around it)

I’ve long been fascinated by quilt patterns and log cabin patterns  and decided I wanted to do something ‘hit and miss’ using some of the leftovers in my stash. I went hunting. Bea Brock’s  book on making ‘Scrappy Rugs’ was a great resource and inspiration . (thanks Jean for lending me your copy ) I was drawn to her pattern ‘Wonky Diamonds’ until I discovered that a friend had just started to hook it. Back to the drawing board.

Some time ago, I saw this traditional quilt pattern and loved the idea of the layering of the ‘squares’. DSCN1088

As I thought about my new project, I went back and found the picture and decided that this idea was just what I wanted. This time I  plan to  take Hygeia into consideration. She hangs in the stair well overlooking the landing so the dominant colours will be reds and yellows with a neutral background.DSCN0610

I started sketching ideas….DSCN1089

I’m hoping that the neutral background will make the blocks look as if they are floating.

Last night I got a little more serious. I got out graph paper and drew a scale model of the mat….each square on the paper equals 2″  for my 40′ x 60′ rug. This would let me decide on the best size for the blocks.DSCN1090

After trying various sizes, I’ve settled on both squares and rectangles, sized 6″ x8″,  6″x6″,  6″x4″ and 4″x4″.  This is by no means a set pattern as I’ll determine placement and numbers as I go along.

This morning, Ray made patterns for me using some left over matting board.DSCN1091This will make it much easier to draw the overlapping blocks on the backing without having to worry about measuring.

So now the fun begins. and I plan to start the actual drawing of the pattern today.

I hope you have fun creating your rug patterns too.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Unpacking

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

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

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

dscn1086

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

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

Thanks for stopping by.

Fixing Time

I was looking at the rug hanging up a few days ago and it struck me how long and skinny it appeared.  With an intended size of 5′ x 7′ it just didn’t look right. I got out my measuring tape and carefully measured the width….58″  Yikes! 2 ” too narrow.

dscn1035…so I set about to fix it right away. Fortunately there was plenty of backing to extend the rug on either or both sides. I chose the right side since the bright blue was really closer to the edge there than I had wanted. This would fix two problems at once….better balance and proper proportion.  I added two new rows for the wider edge line.dscn1046

then I removed the original two rows of edging….dscn1050….and suddenly realized that this would not be quite as simple a fix as I first thought.  The echo background swirls and undulates as it follows the shape of the pattern outward. I would have to extend this movement two inches more so that it was a seamless transition. Not a simple job.dscn1047It requires matching both the wool and the direction a further 2 inches.dscn1054It is slow, tedious work, but I feel well worth the effort.

dscn1053I’m about half way down after working on the fill for two days.

Thank goodness I’ve had the Australian Open Tennis to watch while I’ve been hooking this tricky 7′ x 2″ long section. Now that Nadal has defeated Roanic I’ll shift my allegiance to Federer and cheer him lustily while I finish fixing this area.

Thanks for stopping by and may your rugs always turn out to be the size you intended.

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.

Going Backward to Go Forward

I use a lot of ‘gut instinct’ when I’m hooking. When something doesn’t ‘feel’ right….I spend time trying to figure out what’s wrong, and how best to fix it.

Sometimes it’s more than a one step process. I knew the direction and size of the flame motives at the bottom were wrong, so I took them out. After several days of pondering, I redrew one of them….DSCN0933.jpg….again I wasn’t pleased and decided to just use half of it.  Then I was faced with how to hook the base of the flame motive and have it work with what was already there.dscn0933….finally….this afternoon it came to me!!!

The problem is that I was hooking  from the middle out….and I should be working (or at least thinking) from the outside in. dscn0935This section is in the way and it’s pushing the flames out of alignment.  I need to hook all the ‘flames’ and then fit other details in later.

Immediately my ‘gut feeling’ told me AHA…that’s right. So although I’m about to take out a full day’s work, I’m really happy to have solved yet another little glitch in the creative process.dscn0934I now have a clear way forward for the bottom section….finally.

dscn0937Now that I’ve figured it out, it seems so obvious. What took me so long?

I ‘ve finally hooked two border rows around the outside. It’s nice to finally see the perimeter.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Progress with Oil on Water

I’ll get to Oil on Water shortly….but first, my little project using batik. After an exciting (to me) start….I became discouraged with it and set it aside for a time. But needing something to hook on at Sunshine meetings (I can hardly carry Oil on Water to my frame, let alone haul it across the parking lot and up the elevator to where we meet), I brought the batik along and set to work. With some wise advice from Jean on how to correct the nose, I’ve been enjoying this experience with a new fibre (for me). DSCN0911.jpgWhile Jennifer Manuel ….of Fisheye Sisters (who sells the batik strips) uses the strips as is, I have found them too wide, so I’ve been cutting each one in half, and I find that much more manageable.

Another exciting event happened recently when I received a huge box of wool and various other goodies in an “ugly wool swap”. Just in case you may not know what that is….a box is started out full of one person’s “ugly wool” and is sent in turn to each participant. As it arrives, you take anything that appeals to you and replace it with a like amount of your own “ugly wool”. My goodness, it was like Christmas. I particularly had my eye out for wool which I could overdye for the background of Oil On Water.

dscn0879This huge piece of wool seemed perfect.dscn0883I soaked it (this is just half of the piece which was nearly 2 yards)dscn0887…….used  three pro chem blues…navy, brilliant blue, and national blue. 1/2 of the navy went in the dye bath, the wool was added, then the rest spotted over the top.dscn0922One piece I stirred to create a more consistent colour, the other I left purposely blotchy. (the wool is actually quite a bit darker than it appears in the photo)

Here’s my pile of “soon to be background wool” still awaiting the dye pots.dscn0930Most of it is other wool from the swap box, and the solid blue and green are from the wool Mary Lou Justason was selling from her stash at R..U.G. to raise money for the Hooked Rug Museum of North America.

As for the progress on “Oil On Water”….I’ve spent a lot of time working with the design trying to leave  it asymmetrical  but still making sure it is balanced.dscn0896On the right…I want the “flame” motif to swing down and around in a more or less continuous sweep….so I drew this….dscn0902-1…..but I’m thinking the turn from sideways to vertical is too abrupt….on the other hand I think I can tie them together with a swirling  shape much like the one on the top. The jury is still out on that decision…..so I’ve moved on to the left side for the moment.dscn0913The left top has long sweeping “stripes in a bit lighter blue than the background.

The bottom looked like this…(sorry for the huge long photo….I couldn’t get it to crop in half)dscn0894-1….so I decided to extend the little “nubbies” and create stripes similar to the top.dscn0903

My first attempt was wobbly at the top, and too fat…..so I re-drew the sweep smoothly to balance with the top.dscn0912-2….and used a lighter blue once again to create the subtle stripe….dscn0916-1…. (which shows up dark here).

If I can’t make up my mind about the bottom flames I’ll hook plain background for a few days while I ponder a decision.

As you can imagine….this piece has become progressively heavier and heavier. Since my creative juices demand that I have the whole piece available to look at, and clamping it to the top of the closet had become a two man job while I stand teetering on a chair…..Ray has made me a hoist!

He used a piece of 1″ x 4″, put a hook at the top of the closet on the wall , and a cleat further down the wall at the side  to secure it….DSCN0900.jpg

….so that I can attach it with clips at waist level then pull it up…dscn0901…I must admit it makes getting to the clothes in the closet a bit of a nuisance…..but it is oh so much easier to hang and I can dream away about how to progress while looking at the entire rug.DSCN0919.jpgNow off to hook some more background.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

.

 

 

After the Break….

I can’t believe that it’s been more than a month since my last post! Well actually that’s not true. I can believe it, but I haven’t been totally inactive, just not doing much hooking.

Once I joined the two sections of the rug together, it suddenly became very heavy and hard to manage. I rely heavily on having my work hung when I’m not actually hooking, and spending long periods of looking at it to determine what I like and what needs to be changed and eventually HOW I will change it or move forward. Now it requires a chair and climbing up holding the rug to clip it in place for viewing. As a result I was folding it and leaving it hanging over my frame for a time and I soon realized that I had no idea how I would move forward…..so it sat for several weeks.

In the meantime, Ray and I went off for a camping holiday once again. I’ve been told that what we do is not ‘camping ‘at all, but ‘glam-ping’, and I guess that’s true….given that here is the site of our version of  rustic ‘cooking over the fire’…..DSCN0785.jpgMany thanks again to my son Scott and his wife, for the use of their 5th wheel, bringing it to the site, and setting it up etc. etc. etc.

We love this location….dscn0781….enjoy the surrounding area….dscn0812….the neighbours…..two retired clydesdales….rscn0843…..and celebrated Ray’s birthday with Baxter on the patio of a restaurant in Fenelon Falls (they even made sure Baxter had his own bowl of water).dscn0829I came home rested and renewed and ready to get back to hooking (and blogging) when my computer crashed and had to go away for a new hard drive.

Now the computer is back….the weather is cool (I love fall) …I’ve figured out a way to hang my rug more easily….and I’m back in hooking mode.dscn0779The bottom right ‘flame’ bothered me and it took awhile to figure out why….it was paler than the others since I had only used one row of the darkest pink,it was  a bit too small…and it lacked the pizazz I wanted…..a simple fix once I figured it out. (I’ve just started adding to it here)dscn0851I’m heading off now to finish that section….dscn0778 I manage the large rug by draping it over the bed…..keeps it off the floor, and it’s easy to manage. The prerequisite hooking mess is conveniently kept on my bedside table.

Here’s the progress to date,

dscn0849…..and a glimpse of the finished Grumpy Owl….now hanging proudly in the hall.DSCN0848.jpg

The colours are once again quite distorted  (it’s pink and grey not orange and brown) . One day  after I figure out this hooking thing….I’ll learn how to be a better photographer.

Thanks for stopping by.

Changing Gears

It had always been my intention to hook my 5′ x 7′ rug “Oil on Water” in two pieces, then join them as late as possible.

My reasons for this were:

1.  Backing available from my usual suppliers wasn’t wide enough to do it in one piece and to have a large single piece shipped from the States was way too expensive for my meagre purse.

2. The only large piece I had seen done before was done this way.

3. Doing most of the work on the two sections would be much easier to handle than manipulating such a large and heavy piece of hooking.

4. I’d never seen much information on hooking a large rug, and none on joining two pieces of backing so I went with what information I had.

Then two things happened that changed my plan of attack.

DSCN0747 (1).jpgI was hooking merrily along and had even finished the blue section farthest to the right when:

1. The pattern at the far right seemed out of kilter….the blue was too big, or too far over or…..something bothered me about it.

2. Gene Shepherd’s Internet Rug Camp had several posts about large rugs and joining them together if using two pieces of backing.

After looking at it for about a week, it hit me that the last blue section needed to come out. I wanted the eye  to be drawn around in a sweep from left over the top and down the right to the bottom centre. I then realized I could only do that if I did the bottom section first then joined the two in a visually interesting way.

SOOOOOO…..I needed to change gears and  join the two sections now. (I admit that having made that decision….I procrastinated several days since I would once again have to face my sewing machine)

Luckily I had plenty of markings on both pieces to match the two sections up exactly, so it was a relatively simple job  (once I got down to it and thanks to the new details on how to do it supplied by the IRC).DSCN0752I began with a widely spaced zigzag stitch just inside the joining and overlap lines of both pieces. Then did a quick pin-together to make sure they still matched. (when I drew the pattern initially, I had drawn lines every 10 ditches to make the matching easier)

DSCN0755Then I did a careful exact pinning together and  basted the two sections together both top and bottom.DSCN0767Just an aside here……and a heartfelt thank you. I received this leather finger shield as a gift not too long ago and it is the most wonderful thimble alternative I could imagine.DSCN0766If you are as useless with a thimble as I am it is a tool you’ll love to have available. If you ever see one buy it! (or have a friend like Isabelle). No sore fingers now for me! Thanks again Isabelle.DSCN0768

I was pleased with how the design matched.

It is already heavy so I will hook the join areas first and I immediately started with the outside edge to give it some stability. I must admit I was both surprised and pleased at how easy it was to hook through the overlap.DSCN0772 (1)I’ll cut the fringe off only as needed to keep it from ravelling.

Whew!   It’s all joined together, and today I’m hitting the dye pots once again. Lots more dark blue background needed, as well as some dark rhodamine red. Thankfully this is the coolest day we’ve had all month!

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.

‘Oil on Water ‘ Progress Report

The title of this post should really read “Oil on Water – Little Progress”. It seems I spend much more time  debating how I will hook areas, than actually doing it.DSCN0605.jpgOne concern that needed lots of contemplation were the little rivulets of a slightly lighter colour of blue  on the left side.DSCN0607 There will be many more of these, so I had to come up with a way to keep them subtle, but visible. They show up readily when viewed up close, but tend to disappear at a distance. I decided to try an outline just on one side. The outline colours are actually the main cantaloupe and raspberry colours dyed over an ‘oatmeal ‘ wool. I particularly like the ‘oatmeal cantaloupe ‘ wool for the small connecting details. It blends but doesn’t dominate. (I used this a lot when hooking Hygieia…creating a bright and dull version of the same red by using the same dye formula over both Dorr natural and Dorr oatmeal)DSCN0610

I’m still debating how I will tackle the large area of bright blue which extends out to the right of the ” flames” . Since I couldn’t decide how to go forward with that, I moved to the lower right of this upper section of the rug, and encountered another problem to solve. Since the grid isn’t proportionate to the picture, I have to alter sizes and shapes and as I get closer to the area where the two halves will be joined, it becomes more important that details are in the same relative spot.DSCN0608There has been a lot of drawing and redrawing on the backing to position elements so they will match when I join the sections.DSCN0606So this is what it looks like to date. Lots of fun involved in the process and the decision making. This is a new way for me to tackle a rug (drawing the pattern freehand as I go along) and as usual I’m learning a lot from my trials and errors.

Thanks for stopping by.