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.

Finishing Grumpy

The hooking of Grumpy has been done for a few weeks now, and I spent a while deciding on how I would finish him. DSCN0443For rugs intended to hang on the wall, I often just turn the edges under . I like the ‘tapestry’ effect it creates. However, sometimes that doesn’t work and Grumpy is a case in point. The bottom of Grumpy is hooked vertically, while the upper background is hooked horizontally. I don’t think the blank edges would look good because of that. I don’t want a border, or a prominent whipped edge, so I’m doing a very small whipped edge with no binding tape on the back.

The first step was to dye yarn to go with the two different colours. Jean (who has much more experience in dyeing yarn than I) told me to allow 1 foot per inch then add some. (I would have just divided the skein in two and dyed it all (and wasted a lot of yarn in the process).  Not wanting to run short I added four extra yards  to each hank……

DSCN0428….secured it loosely so it wouldn’t turn into a rat’s nest in the pan….and spot dyed it with the same colours as the top and a second skein with  the greys for the bottom.

Into the electric frying pan it went….DSCN0430….and now it blends nicely with the background sky.DSCN0431I measured and drew a line 1.5″ from the edges of the hooking, and zigzagged around the rug just inside the line.DSCN0435I cut off the excess right along my pencil line……DSCN0437 (1)and clipped  the edge back(using my faithful red quilting clips….so much batter than pins) gently leaving just enough backing showing that it wouldn’t pull the end loops over. (this is what will determine how wide the whipping will be and I want mine as small as possible).

I whip from the front, but make sure that each stitch goes into the same line on the backing so that I have a nice straight edge on the back.DSCN0442It is hardly visible from the top….DSCN0448….but makes a nicely finished view on the side.DSCN0449When finished I will turn under the raw edge , steam it, and slip stitch it in place.  As you can imagine, this is a slow process, so I alternate between whipping and working on ‘Oil on Water’.

Here’s how it’s coming along.DSCN0446 (1)The hooking now covers about 42″ x  32″. It’s getting harder already for me to hang it up with clamps for viewing.

My ulterior motive in writing a blog this morning is to distract me from thinking about my schnauzer Baxter, who is undergoing surgery. Nothing serious, but three different procedures . He’s fourteen years old and a very special member of our family. Hopefully I’ll hear from the vet before long that it is over and all went well.

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.

 

 

 

De”fence”-ing

DSCN0270My first project for the new year is to complete Grumpy Owl. Long ago, (several months at least) I stopped hooking the head feathers when I realized that the shading was dark to light on the left, and the opposite way on the right. While I debated how to deal with that, I finished other areas. Now I could no longer put it off.

DSCN0281My solution? Let them meet in the middle, with light wool on both sides of the merging feathers. (the jury is still out on this solution).

That leaves only the bottom section to hook.

DSCF7631Just a reminder….the original is a dot work drawing done by my talented son Mathieu and therefore doesn’t have the detail of a hooked piece. I thought it was a fence, and had tried out a version using the same technique as I had done on the side of my barn. BUT….when last home, Mathieu told me that he hadn’t intended it to be a fence at all….hmmmmm…..what to do? When in doubt….wait and ponder.

Well with everything else hooked, the waiting time was over, and decision time was upon me. I ripped out the old ‘fence’ and spot dyed a variety of fabrics with some different greys and a sand (I think it was khaki drab….but my recipe book is on a different floor, so I’m guessing)

DSCN0275I switched to an #8 cut and started hooking a rocky perch  for Grumpy.DSCN0277

The rock fissures and the details around the talons are the tricky part, and I’ll digress for a bit as I record how I kept the vertical aspect, while filling in around them.

If you have a  cutter with an adjustable guide, like the Frazer 500….DSCN0291….or one of the Beehive, Townsend, or  Ault type….DSCN0292…..you will probably have experienced cutting your wool when the guide is not set exactly correctly, and ended up with that first strip the wrong size…..DSCN0294In this case the first strip was wider than an 8. Rather than adjust the wool guide, I left it, and those wider strips are just perfect for filling in  the slightly larger spaces.

Of course there were spots that needed smaller sizes, and I am not averse to cutting a section or the end of a strip to make it fit smoothly.DSCN0302

….(Do you know how hard it is to hold the scissors, hold the camera, and also take the photo? ….this took several tries….and finally balanced the scissor handles with my knee.)

DSCN0307Here you can see how (upper right of the ‘rock’) the extra wide piece fits nicely between the black, and a smaller strip will fit neatly into the small space just to its  left. It’s slow going, but for me the result is worth it. The talons are unimpeded, and the rock face is going in the right direction.DSCN0274

Winter is fully upon us here in central Ontario, with a nasty icy day forecast. I’m staying home to snuggle up, watch the curling, and hook. I hope you have a nice day too.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Winging It

I can’t believe that it is 18 days since I last posted. I have been trying to help with yard work and gardening, leaving me too tired to hook many evenings so frankly, I’ve not made a lot of progress on my Grumpy Owl.

I have been doing a lot of pondering and thinking though, mostly about how to accomplish the shadowed parts. Once again here’s Mathieu’s original drawing.DSCF7142

….and here’s what I’ve been doing to hook his body…..edging with the light colours…DSCF7540

….and using a mixture  of these dark wools.DSCF7479DSCF7544

DSCF7545 (1)

To create even more depth on the right (shadowed side) I overdyed the pendleton plaid I used for the eyes with a stronger spot dye.

DSCF7554Here is the progress as I worked my way across the body. The beautiful depth and contrast of the body colour and doesn’t show up very well in the photos, DSCF7548DSCF7551DSCF7555DSCF7556

 

Now it’s back to the dye pots to create a wee bit darker colour for the wings on the right side, and then I can’t wait to try filling in the head feathers. At the moment I’m debating whether to use a #3 or#4 cut, and whether to use directional or  antigodlin (random) hooking for them. (the wings are directional, the body random).

It’s all a wonderful and creative adventure. The fact that it is all neutrals, is quite a learning experience, allowing me to concentrate on fine details that I probably wouldn’t dwell on if vibrant colours were involved.

My but I enjoy being a hooker!

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.

 

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.

Golden Pear

I’ve been gradually augmenting my supply of Pro Chem dyes, and I try to pick up a few more each time I’m at an event .DSCF6667 Golden Pear was one of my purchases at this year’s annual, and I’m oh so glad it was. It’s a rather dull greeny-yellow….certainly not something that would catch your eye, but it has turned out to be just the colour I visualized for the background of Signa Meus Vita.DSCF6673

Well that’s not exactly true.  What I thought would work was a pale yellow. I wasn’t sure how pale or how yellow, so I tried bits and pieces I had on hand, and held up swatches from Jewel Tones against the hooked parts. It soon became apparent that any kind of bright pale yellow wasn’t the look I was after, and I settled on a dull one….then thought it reminded me of “golden pear” and sure enough when I checked my “pro Chem ” swatch sheet, it was just right. Choosing a single colour over a recipe of several dyes is just a lot easier for me, as I add and spot dye in various amounts in the pot. Also while at the annual, I picked up an $8 grab bag of wool that turned out to be mostly pieces of various shades of off white or beige. I spot dyed these and about 1/2 yd of Dorr natural with a weak solution of golden pear ….about 1/8th tsp for the whole batch of (I’m guessing) about 1 1/2 yds ….. with 1/2 of the solution in the bath, and 1/2 spotted over the top later.

After trying several methods, I settled on using the palest to outline the symbols, and filled with  random darker pieces.DSCF6658

The pictures aren’t true to the colours, but hopefully give the idea of the effect.DSCF6659DSCF6664

DSCF6663

I’m having fun with it while I watch the Tour de France each day.  I still haven’t decided how I will do the outer parts of the background. ….always something to ponder.

Thanks for stopping by.

Olympian Lunenburg

Yes, I’ve been spending a lot of time in front of the TV this week watching the Olympics, and most of the time I have been hooking at the same time.  As a result, the Lunenburg piece is really coming along.

DSCF6035

I was able to find wool in my stash for everything, until I came to the sky. That I would have to dye. I used a mixture of various blues, and added the pieces at 30 second intervals to get a variety of shades.DSCF6036

I thought the end result looked quite lovely….

DSCF6046

….until I started hooking them. WOW! What was I thinking? They were all WAY too deep. My excuse is that I had been working with such saturated colours, that they seemed quite light as I was dyeing them.

I am running out of Dorr natural, but had a small piece left , so I dyed that using 1/128th tsp instead of 1/8th. I also found a piece of just barely blue wool.

Try #2….

DSCF6051

I decided I needed some pure white for clouds, and used a lovely white I have that has a slightly fuzzy surface even though it’s wool.

Try #3….DSCF6057

…as I go up higher, I’m gradually adding little bits of the very lightest blue of the first batch. Hopefully the darker colours will be OK for the water.

In the meantime, I’m having fun hooking the border. I chose a variety of wool …all dark values, and I’m hooking it in hit and miss.

DSCF6056DSCF6053

 

…it gives the border a lot of life, and to me, it looks a bit like old wood.  Lots of fun and easy for when the concentration must be totally directed to the TV screen.

I’m so proud of all the Canadian athletes at the Olympics, but I’m not sure if my heart can take much more snowboard cross!

GO CANADA GO