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.

 

Port Severn Hook In

Anyone living in central Ontario knows that we have been having extreme weather for the past few days…..  high heat, high humidity, lots of rain and terrible flooding in Toronto. As a result the turn out for our get together was small, but our immediate area has escaped the bad rains, and the day was sunny at Port Severn.

Michelle and her family have come from DC for the second year in a row to vacation in our area (they know a great place when they find it!)….and we met up with her and had a lovely day of hooking visiting, and eating.

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Here is Michelle with her hooking.

We soon moved to the gazebo at the park…where there was shelter if it rained, and a picnic table where Michelle could sit…..I remembered to bring her a lunch…but forgot to bring her a lawn chair (I plead old age).

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Mary Lou brought us copies of the beautiful “magazine?” put out by the museum, and told Michelle all about the opening. (she also brought me maps and info to help when we go there in September).

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I think there was more visiting than hooking, although we did get some work done.

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Michelle worked on her Heron, which she started in a workshop a while ago. I just love what she’s done so far. Those leaves are so vibrant……

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..and just look at the water and the reflection of the bird. The water was dyed by her teacher in one very long strip, then cut and hooked in order.

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Jeanne is hooking this stained glass piece from the picture she found. Edie was hooking as well, but for some reason I have no photo. I wasn’t hooking…

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….I was whipping my memory rug…..and that’s the topic for the second part of this post…

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….when I prepared to steam it I found to my disgust that I had “packed” several areas…

Packing means hooking the rows of loops too close together so that the work doesn’t lie flat…but bubbles up. You can see the bulge I’m pinching in this photo. When the work is under tension in the frame, it often looks like the spaces between the rows may show, but when the work relaxes there is no space. This happened in several spots where I was hooking animals and filling in small spots with an 8 cut. Best case scenario…the steaming will flatten it out….if not, minor tweaking and removal of some loops may be necessary. Worst case would be needing to rehook the section with more space between the rows.

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Fortunately, mine was fine once it was steamed….but I’ve made a note to myself to be more generous with the spaces.

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For this rug I’m whipping the edge and using binding tape and the method I learned from Gene Shepherd. I like it because it doesn’t use a cord, whips through the binding tape, and requires only sewing by hand around it once to tack down the binding tape to finish.

It’s very neat on the front, but I’m not always satisfied with the back. The trick is to have the whipping come through the tape in a straight line….and that an be tricky. Sometimes I manage pretty well…

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(sorry for the poor quality photo…but you can see the stitches into the back of the tape). ….but sometimes…

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….it gets uneven. I’m getting better at it, and I’m considering perhaps using a pencil line on the tape next time to help guide the needle tip. It’s on the back of the rug, and won’t be seen, but I still want that straight line!

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I think these two must know they are a part of the rug….they certainly seem to like it.

….and I just have to show off my birthday present….well the fancy case at least…

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….my Beehive Townsend cutter…from hubby and my sons. How lucky can a hooker get!

Stained Glass

It’s pretty bad when I have so many unfinished pieces (unbound, not partially hooked) that I miss one entirely in my chronicle of rug hooking! …and it’s one I really like!

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These morning glories were one of the first pieces I hooked when I began hooking with June Baker. She knew Sheila Klugescheid and we decided one Saturday to drive over to her studio. It was in the middle of winter, and I remember we drove through a nasty snowstorm on the way, and struggled through snow to our knees getting to the door. (nothing daunts those of us who live in the central Ontario snow belt)

It was my first visit to a studio, and I couldn’t leave without purchasing a new pattern. I loved the morning glory pattern, but had no clue how to do stained glass hooking. Shiela gave me an instant tutorial, helped me choose the wool, and I came home excited to get started. I bought two-sided tape, and used a file folder to keep the strips in order. It is hooked with #3 and #4.  I recall that I was working very hard not to pack my loops while I was hooking this piece. (I still have to remind myself about that!)

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I always thought I would like to frame it with a silver edged frame…but as you can see that has never happened! (I wonder if there’s anything else lurking at the back of that drawer???)