Directional Hooking and Eye Surgery

As I’ve worked on Hijab, I’ve become aware of just how important  directional hooking is when trying to capture the draping of fabric. The hooded section over her head needed care, but when I got to the shoulder, I had to stop and really study the photo to figure out how I could create a realistic effect.  The direction of the hooking had to be combined with the direction of the shading …..which slanted a different way. I took photos of the process so I would have  it for future reference.DSCF6996

The arch needed to gradually flatten out to a straight line at the bottom, while at the same time the dull section on the right needed to be “arrow shaped” DSCF6997

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With the hijab itself completed, I could no longer put off making decisions about the face. After lots of thought, I went back to the first face I ever did…Emma Sue. She was hooked at a wonderful workshop I attended given by Anne Boissonoit several years ago. Emma Sue would be my directional guide.DSCF2137

I printed out a copy of her to have in front of me while I hooked, then forged ahead.

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It soon became apparent however that I had a major problem!!! (I had noticed it before…but ignored it)….The left eye was too far over to the left…..there was too much space between her eyes.DSCF7003

There was nothing for it….the eye had to come out.DSCF7004

I  carefully laid the removed wool out in the order of the eye, and re-drew it (with a red marker) slightly to the right. Then hooked a new eye (adding more black to the top lid and cutting down the iris).

It’s not a huge change, but to me, it makes all the difference. Now to finish the face while I contemplate how to create that wonderful background.DSCF7008

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Winter has arrived in central Ontario. It has been snowing all day today, and is to continue most of the week. The snow boots are out, the snowblower is working, the trees are etched with white, and I’m settling in to enjoy my winter wonderland.

Thanks for stopping by.

R.U.G. October 2014 and Finishing Signa Meus Vita

Normally I come home from R.U.G. with tons of photos and lots to tell, but this time I’ve failed misreably! I was only there for about an hour, and nearly all the “show and tell” rugs had been removed. Just these two beautiful roosters remained!

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(whoops….just now noticed the painted toes!)

It was a perfect time  for shopping however with a number of great vendors there.

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I had worked diligently on Friday to have Signa Meus Vita completed to show, but alas, it wasn’t to be….so I’ll “show and tell” the completion story here!

Anyone who follows this blog on a regular basis knows that I have a “love/ hate ” relationship with my sewing machine. I had decided I wanted a padded show binding for the Signa piece, which meant sewing a perfect seam along the edge of my hooking to attach the slub silk to the edge. Knowing that this task, if not impossible for me, would at least risk another case of heart failure, I turned to my friend Jeanne, (a master hand quilter and expert with all things having to do with sewing), and begged her to sew the seam for me .

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Here she is wearing one of her quilted creations at the ploughing match.

To my surprise and delight, when she returned it, she had completed the entire show binding!!! To say I was thrilled was an understatement….sewn, padded and hand sewn underneath.DSCF6870

She didn’t sew down the mitres at the corners, leaving it for me to decide if I’d rather leave them open. All that remained was for me to sew and attach the tabs for hanging and steam or press the binding (which I haven’t done yet)

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Don’t you love it when a vision in your mind comes into reality? Especially when you are helped out by one of the generous and skilled members of your “hooking family”. Thanks so much Jeanne.

Borrowing an Idea

Signa Meus Vita is now steamed and lies flat and ready for the next step……the finishing.  (the variations in the background are not nearly as extreme as the photo makes them seem.)DSCF6775

The steaming itself presented a bit of a problem because of the “silk tears”. I didn’t want them to be squashed down , so I very carefully worked around them with the iron. However there were spots where they were too close together for me to steam the hooking and avoid them.  Luckily I found that if I quickly flipped the piece over and puffed the silk up with my fingernail, no harm was done.DSCF6778

They still stood nicely above the hooking.

The decision needed now was how to finish the edges. I knew i didn’t want a border, a whipped edge, or a frame. I want it to be a “hanging” as in “tapestry” style, as opposed to a framed “picture”. …..so on Tuesday at our first fall meeting of Sunshine Rug Hookers, I sat down with Cynthia (one of the most creative people I know), to ask her advice on how she had finished a rug I had seen and admired.

This picture of it doesn’t do it justice, but you can see the effect of the beautiful slub silk border, which has been lightly padded.

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….so with her information in mind I headed off to Fabricland, and found this beautiful slubbed silk which perfectly recreates the picture I had in my mind

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….once again the colours aren’t true….they go together very well in reality.

….as I said to Cynthia, I’m nervous to start the edging procedure, so I’m procrastinating by writing a blog about it instead. The plan is to create a type of “show binding” by cutting  bias strips of the silk which will be lightly padded with a small strip of quilt batting . ….just have to get up the nerve to start..

I’ve been hooking a bit more on “Dream Big” …less than two weeks now to the Ploughing match, so I should have some left to hook while demonstarting.DSCF6788Thanks for stopping by.

 

Don’t Do As I Do

Yes. My ugly habit of “packing” has reared its ugly head once again. It looks so beautiful while stretched tightly on the frame, but take it off and hang it up and it has buckles and bows in it that weren’t meant to go on shoes! For anyone who wonders what “packing” is…it’s pulling either the loops or the rows too closely together so that the hooking doesn’t lie flat when it is off the stretched frame. This can usually be corrected with a good steaming, but I want to fix most of it by re-hooking the problem areas.

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So after slapping myself on the wrists since I should know better, I’ve been fixing it as I continue to hook the background. In this photo I’ve already adjusted the scroll of the cancer sign, but there is still buckling in other areas, as you can see.

When I hooked this section of the background and hung it up, I wasn’t pleased with the outcome (quite apart from the packing). Let me back up and explain. I’m very much a visual learner. (which surprised me when I discovered it, because I have spent the majority of my life as a singer and vocal teacher.)….but I am not an auditory learner, I learn primarily by seeing. That’s why, many of my hooking decisions are made after I hang my piece and look at it for a period of time. I had been merrily hooking away on an echo background, letting the echos merge where they would….but in  this part, the background was all wrong…..whereas this part….DSCF6707

….the background was right. As I looked at it I realized that what I liked was the rippling out effect from the main body of symbols….It seemed to add life and vitality to what symbolically  was me. Now my hooking of the background is no longer without specific direction, and I will redo large parts to enhance that ripple effect.

These two supervise my every move and were obviously disgusted with my packed hooking…..Hopefully they’ll approve of the finished version a little more.

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Thanks for stopping by.

A Palette but no Plan

 

There was a fatal flaw in my colour choices for my Signa Meus Vita piece. I hadn’t thought about the fact that it is made up of a small number of large elements, and that didn’t leave options for enough repetition. My poor brain has been spinning this past week on how to place them.

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At this point I was blissfully unaware of the problem.

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I liked the bottom part, but the big blob of raspberry didn’t fit…..and all together it made me cringe….DSCF6613

….so it has been a great learning experience. While I loved this…DSCF6605

…….my piece with it’s large elements just didn’t translate to create anything like this . So back to the drawing board.

I reduced the colours in the palette…..removed the peach and the raspberry altogether, which allowed for more  repetition of the five colours I had left. I took the blue and dyed it very dark and used that for the central spider element…..something to anchor everything else.

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I went around in circles for days trying to come up with the best way to locate the colours, and finally just added a strip to each element in a possible colour to give me some idea of the outcome.  I make up my mind, then I think of something that I feel would look better, so I change my mind…..then the process repeats!!!!!  Yikes.

…..in the meantime….I thought the tears might look effective with something sparkly. I have a great gold ropey thread that would work well if I could find it in silver. Of course my local fabric store didn’t have that, but I found a fine sequin rope that I thought might be very effective. Well I was wrong again!DSCF6609

…after tugging the sequins through the backing, they wouldn’t all lay face up, so the effect was lost. (as well as the shape).

…attempt #2 at the tears…I was able to acquire part of a beautiful silk shirt that had been from Hilda Hayes’ stash. (I loved that I would have a symbol of that dear lady in my “symbolic” piece.)

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The photo doesn’t show it but the silk has a lovely shine.

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….so here it stands to date. I want to redo the green twist on the right….I don’t like the way I’ve manipulated the shading, and it’s too fat…..and I’m debating the possibility of replacing all the lilac with peach, since it also seems very subdued….who knows how it will end up!

Tweaking and Making Cake

I’ve heard many people say that hooking hands is difficult. Now I agree. My first effort sure didn’t please me, so I resorted to my usual route when I’m not happy with my work….I hang it up and look at it for a few days. DSCF6257 The easy part is figuring out what’s wrong….the hard part is figuring out how to fix it! The choppy angles looked silly. My first inclination was to take out parts of the hand to smooth it out, but eventually, instead, I added more black.( I wanted to keep the hand knobby and chubby overall) DSCF6265 I’m still not completely happy with it, but I’ve moved on for now. Somehow when I transferred the writing from the cake to the top, the” ? “at the end became an” ! ” I didn’t even notice it at first, and when I eventually did, my first reaction was  just to leave it. DSCF6217 But it really does change the impact. Canadians are well known (and made fun of) for their  frequent use of “eh ?” at the end of a phrase, and the “interrogative uplift of the voice” is very distinctive. I tried to fix it by just removing the top part of the “!” and inserting a hook, but eventually took it all out and replaced it.

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I made two adjustments to my pattern by shortening his right thumb, and bending the tines of the fork over to make it more realistic…..then I started on the cake itself. (not sure what kind this is) DSCF6266 …and the candle. DSCF6267 Hooking with a #2 cut has its own challenges. First, many wools don’t have a tight enough weave to hold together when cut this small, (so my choices are limited), and the loops are so narrow that they “flop” somewhat and must be snuggled up closely to another row of hooking. There are fixes to come with the candle flame. My dilemma?…my black cashmere is by far the best to hook with in a #2 cut, but it is too strong for many places……decisions, decisions…..

I’m waiting for my order of Dorr natural to arrive….I’m going to try mixing the natural and the white in the background and see how it looks.  DSCF6271

A lazy Sunday afternoon stretches ahead. It’s cloudy and raining, so I plan to hook and watch the Blue Jay Game, then Ray and I are going out for dinner. Spring has finally arrived (well our version of it)….the snow is melting (and the basement has water in it of course)…. there are actually some Snow Bells sticking up their heads, and the garden centres are opening and have boxed pansies already available. We’ll be sure to have one last “kick at the cat” snowfall….  but I’ve actually been out twice without my snow boots on. Yeah!!!!

Hairy Chores

I spent the weekend with one “hairy” chore and expect to spend the week ahead with another one.

Hooking Sir John’s untidy mop was both fun and a challenge. I used the original cartoon as a general guide, then went my own way. The challenge was to get the movement, and yet not have it look stripy. to have some “clumps” but have them still look like hair.

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I put very little detail into the pattern of the hair  when I drew it….just a general outline as a guide, and I began blindly by hooking a few black lines.

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….then adding a variety of greys. I found that even a #2 cut black was very strong, so on the left side I changed the black out for a dark grey

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Before starting the right side, I drew in some extra detail , then started with the black lines, and filled in the rest.

I used quite a variety of greys to get the effect of the hair.

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Along with a bit of white, these are the wools I used. ( note…the wool 2nd and 4th from the left is all one piece, and I didn’t use the section that has a greenish cast.  Another chore was to select greys of the same tone)

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Done….with the exception of changing the black at the bottom of the left side. It sticks out, so I’ll redo those lines in a finer cut of dark grey. (I think they must be #3 not #2).

Now my subject for the second hairy chore won’t likely be quite so cooperative!

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Under all this mess is a standard schnauzer. Poor Baxter. I haven’t groomed him all winter. He’s 12 years old now and beginning to feel the cold, so I decided to let his coat get long. I strip his coat by hand, so we have many hours ahead on the grooming table. Not terrific  fun for either of us, but I’m sure there is a handsome dog somewhere under all that hair, and I’m determined to find him!

Sir John on the Go

I’m surprised at how much fun I’m having hooking with mainly #3 and #2 cuts. I’ve never before used a #2 and it’s been years since I’ve hooked anything entirely in a #3.

I started with the jacket, just hooking blobs as I saw them.DSCF6124

I’m using black, a grey tweed, and a grey cashmere. It’s amazing the colour variations you can see when you really, really look.

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…A case in point is the oval pin in his cravat. When I first looked, it seemed white, so I hooked it this way.  Then I realized it didn’t look right, so I looked VERY closely, and then rehooked it this way.

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Much better. Of course I have to jump all over the place (no patience), so I tried working on his face, beginning with his lips. (I normally start a face with the eyes, but decided not to this time).

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Sometimes when you hook what you see, it isn’t just right, so I adjusted the top lip.

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I gradually worked my way upward, and then tackled the right eye. This black and white version doesn’t allow me to follow any of the steps I have learned for hooking eyes, so it was truly trial and error.

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I probably should have gone right on to the eye on the left while I was on a roll, but I took a break and went instead to the cravat.  DSCF5978

As you can see, it has very prominent white ovals on a black background, and I searched and searched looking for a wool I though might give me that effect. Then I remembered a wonderful black and  white two coloured border Jean had hooked as the outline in her Holstein cow hot pad, and thought perhaps that might work.

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It gets rather messy on the back as you alternate a white then a black loop, and the ends need to stay at the back, but as this will always hang on a wall, it doesn’t really matter, and I got the effect I was after.

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I’m stalled at this point while I dye some more black wool . I’m going to overdye some dark plum cashmere with black and bottle green, and hopefully I’ll get to that later today.

In the meantime, I’ve been having fun using brightly coloured worms to hook the Klimt motif hot pads. Again, I’m jumping around from one to the other.

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This afternoon, I’m off to the opening of the International Women’s Day Art Show at the Orillia Museum of Art and History.  I’ll check on how Emma Sue is holding up under the scrutiny!

A New Dyeing Adventure

Yes, a new adventure, at least for me. Although I have been dyeing my own wool for several years now, I have never yet dyed yarn to whip a rug.  With the spotted/mottled background of the Twin Roses rug, I knew I’d never find yarn to go with it, and a solid colour I felt would distract from the mat.

So….I’m dyeing yarn for the first time. My first step was to watch Gene Shepherd’s video on the subject, and I picked up quite a few pointers which I’m sure will help in this process. The second was to consult with Ann Hallett, who also gave me help and suggestions for a successful result.  Then to buy the white wool yarn to be hooked. There is only one place in my town that carries an all wool yarn, and wouldn’t you know it, they had no white. A quick call to “The Purple Sock” a wonderful yarn shop in the village of Coldwater (about 15 miles from here) and I had found my wool.

The first tip I learned from Gene Shepherd, was to prepare the skein so that it will stay without becoming a bird’s nest in the dyeing process. (Tie it in at least 4 places.)

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…..just divide the skein in three, and loop a piece of yarn around each so it is secure, but can spread out.

Now a time out……and an aside….I got to this point in the process, had my camera at my side to record the dyeing, and guess what….I forgot to take any pictures at all…..never thought of it again until the wool was dyed and lying on a towel!!  I was so annoyed at myself.

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Here’s a quick recap of what I did (without visuals).

The dyeing itself was just the same as the spot dyeing of the background. Spread the skein in a flat pan of simmering water so that it is spread out as much as possible, DSCF5727

(spread out the wool to cover the bottom of the pan and as much as possible so the yarn is exposed to absorb the dye….in the pan….not on the table like this photo)

…..and spot with dye baths plus citric acid. (again I used turquoise, blue 440, lilac, and blue violet).

I wanted the same intensity as the background …so here’s how I figured out how much dye to use (another great tip from Gene Shepherd’s video).  1/4 yard wool is about 3 oz. 1 skein of yarn is about 4 oz. I had dyed 1/2 yard at a time, and used 1/128th tsp of each dye, so I figured I needed a little more than half the dye of the original background. I roughly measured 1/2 of 1/128th tsp of each colour, and ta dah….ended up with the same intensity.

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…some arm stretching help from DH and I’m ready to get on with the finishing.

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In the meantime, I had finished hooking the background, so here it is ready to steam and bind.

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Having forgotten to take photos of the dyeing process, I then went ahead and forgot to take my camera to a wonderful hook in I attended on Wednesday with the hookers in Gravenhurst. So I can’t show you all the rugs on display there, or the wonderful food and hospitality they showed the 13 of us who were there from Sunshine Rug Hooking group. ARGHHHHH!

Mission Accomplished

I’m feeling a little smug. At about noon yesterday, I completed the hooking on the barn rug and it has gone from something I actively disliked to something that really pleases me. I can’t thank Wendie Scott Davis enough for her suggestions and encouragement. She had originally introduced me the the Be Funky site (during her workshop “From Photo to Mat as Easy as That”), which let me see the photo with a whole new realm of possibilities, then she offered concrete suggestions about what to keep, and what to change.

Here’s a reminder of what it looked like before I started the redo. (the last few posts have detailed its transformation to this last final step)

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The last area for tweaking was the central light coloured sapling. Here’s the be funky image, and you can see that it is much lighter than the other trees.

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This is the pre-tweaked version…everything OK but the lack of highlights on that tree.

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I’d added highlights in the upper sections, but Wendie felt (and I agreed) that highlighting the bottom as well would really “spark” it up.

Now you’d think that was a simple redo…but boy did I struggle. First was the choice of wool. I tried a pale silver grey, and the lightest mauve grey from the wooden section, and decided on the mauve grey since it “popped’ more. Then where in the tree to put the lighter part…I tried the centre, and it looked silly. I finally settled on the left side, but then it didn’t show up against the light wall colour. Then I tried changing the wall colour to a mossy green in the small section between the window and the tree. That didn’t work either, so I took that all out, put back the beige, and used the dark tree colour to outline the left side of the tree. I thought I was done.

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….except…..the light section kept grabbing my eye. It was too prominent, and too stripy. By the next morning I was mentally comparing it to the stripe down a skunks back, and I knew I had to change it.

SOooo I analyzed what it was I didn’t like….the colour of the stripe, the depth of the outlining, the fact that the light wall colour next to the window was exactly the same width as the highlight stripe……and I set out once again to change it. I changed the mauve grey to the silver grey, just in the part below the wooden section. I changed the outline from the dark grey to the medium grey, and cut a narrower strip so that it wouldn’t be so prominent. I increased the light wall colour to fill in sections so that it wasn’t just one long piece all the same size. Once I made up my mind, this part went really quickly, and here’s the finished product:

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It’s done, and I’m satisfied with it. Thrilled in fact that I was able to turn a piece that I actively disliked into one I’m happy to own.