Birds of a Feather…

Oh my….I realized a few days ago that I have some tweaking to do on Grumpy Owl. The tips of the feathers on the left are too dark, and the transition from light to dark on the right is too abrupt.DSCF7621I added a bit more shading to the transition from light cheek feathers to the dark head ones.

Before……DSCF7619….after….DSCF7624….a very subtle difference, but I feel batter about it. On the other side I changed the dark tips for a lighter tone, but then discovered a larger problem.

DSCF7622….for some reason, I began shading each feather dark to light (left to right) then realized after a full evening’s work, that the shading was backwards. It needs to be light to dark…like the other side of his head.DSCF7625So while I was waiting for the gumption to take out my mistake, I decided to dye some wool for the background. DSCF7626I love the colours, but I won’t know how they’ll work until I try them out. The photo shows them brighter then they really are, but you get the idea.

Still not inspired to redo the feathers, last night I began work on the fence. My idea is to have it a weathered grey (but a different grey than the bird) . I began outlining with a dark plaid. (Just an aside here….and reminder to myself …..when I cut the plaid with a #3, it was a bit “hairy” or “ravelly”, so I gave it a quick hand wash with soap and warm water and then dried it in the dryer. It fluffed it up just enough to make it much nicer to hook with)

DSCF7630Then I gathered up some possible colours for the fence.

The lightest is for the spaces between the boards. The main grey is wool left over from my barn project.DSCF7634I’m trying the fencing in an 8 cut , but I’m not sure yet if I like that. DSCF7631….or the colour. I’ll let it settle in my mind for a bit before I make a final decision.

I just bet I’ll start on the background colours next. I have absolutely no patience waiting to try something I’m excited about hooking. Fortunately with this medium that’s not a problem.

Finally I want to share the wonders and frustrations of technology that I’ve experienced today. For some reason, my computer would not upload my photos from my camera, and after trying everything I could think of, I finally messaged my son Mathieu in Calgary for help. He made several suggestions and finally wrote “try rebooting”. Voila! It worked. …but then he mentioned that he was not in fact at home, but rather eating breakfast at a restaurant with friends in Victoria British Columbia. ….my own personal technician who offers advice while eating bacon and eggs thousands of miles away…..

Thanks for stopping by.

Good News and Bad News

I have good news and bad news. The good news is that my son Mark gave me a wonderful new Imac computer (I have three wonderful sons who all spoil me). What a fantastic surprise, as my old Mac Mini was limping along on its last legs. The bad news is that although my old photo library is on the new computer, I haven’t yet figured out how to get it from documents to iphoto and can only access the photos by thumbing through them 1 by 1 (and there are 10,000 of them). The post I had planned to do required photos from the library…soooooo…while I sort that out, I’ve been finishing up my zentangle piece and I’ll share that.

The padula flowers were toned down by adding colours from the swirly section on the other side.DSCF7341

DSCF7346….and then I brightened the swirls a bit by adding more of the light tan.

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I know many teachers say to start in the middle and work out, but in this case, the middle was the very last thing I did. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to hook it.

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I settled on two shades of each of the main colours, and I really like the effect. I made two mistakes in hooking it though….can you see them? I’ve decided to leave them both there. (what group is it that always put an error in their work since God is the only one able to create perfection?)DSCF7362

So just a few rows of black around the edges to go, then steaming and whipping.

Mentally I’ve moved on to the next wee project. “An English Sunset for Hilda”

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….and I’ll tell you all about it next time.

Thanks for your interest in my hooking adventures.

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.

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….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.

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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.

 

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.

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.

Hooking in the Heat

I’m sure most people think of hooking as a cool or cold weather activity, but I get a lot of hooking done in the summer….that’s because I don’t function well in hot humid weather, and I shut myself away in my hooking area with the air conditioner on full blast. That’s what has happened for the last few days.

I’ve been filling and tweaking. I drew the pattern freehand on an 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper, then had it blown up, and some of the discrepancies are magnified in the large version. The pattern itself is not symmetrical but I want it to be at least balanced. I thought the two  Maouri friendship twists were at a different angle to the sides and contemplated major adjustments to correct them….but when I checked…..

DSCF6631DSCF6633….they are both at exactly the same angle….I’ll just have to extend the border on the right about 6 ditches further over.

The peace sign did however need some adjustment both in the oval outside, and the inside parts.DSCF6585…since it was partially hooked when I did this, it required lots of rehooking both of the peace sign, and the elements it was touching.

DSCF6635 I’m much happier with it now. In this photo you can see how dark the maouri twist is at the top…(unlike the one on the other side) so I reworked that as well to get some light green in the top section.

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I completed my “three sons” at the top….

DSCF6640….so the last big “fill” is the swan.

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….and finishing the tears…..doing more tweaking…….and deciding on both a colour and hooking style for the background…..lots to keep me busy while it’s too hot to do much else.

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Happy Canada day to all fellow Canadians. I had tears in my eyes this morning as I watched the boys’ choir from BC sing O Canada on the steps of Parliament Hill. So moving.

 

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!

Re-Icing the Cake and Dyeing Off White

YIKES! When a few Sunshine Hookers didn’t recognize  that what I had hooked was a piece of cake…it was time to do some fixing up!

OK, I’ll back up some. Here is the cake before I did the icing.

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Instead of the text I drew a maple leaf.

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…and hooked it…DSCF6275

I thought it looked a bit like two eyes and a mouth, and when neither Gail or Cynthia at first even recognized it as a piece of cake, I knew change was really needed.

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So here’s my new and (hopefully) improved birthday cake and candle.

Aha! only the background to do now….but alas, my natural white wool has not arrived. I intend to mix both white and natural in the background for a bit of variety.

Then it hit me…..you’ve got lots of white….just dye some with a mild tint and carry on! (Sometimes I’m a little slow with the obvious!).

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Just this much maple sugar dye on a tooth pick.

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Add some vinegar….the wool (1/16th yard)….pop in the microwave until it clears (I did 2.22), and……DSCF6287

I have some off white wool to mix in my background. (it will be a little lighter when dried).

Now to decide the style of hooking I’ll use there. I’ve been paying attention to the backgrounds of rugs for ideas and examples of what I might like.

Since my last post, we’ve actually had two  snow storms, but hopefully that’s it! I’m ready for spring.

 

 

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.

DSCF6269 Now it is truly a Canadian phrase.

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!!!!

This and That

First I’ll finish up showing the items being worked on at our day long hook in last week.

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Gail is making good progress with her railway rug ( the story of this rug is in the post entitled “The Spring That Isn’t”)

Here are some more pieces being hooked for the ploughing match.

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Ann has completed her pig. I love the border. Those look like maple leaves in the corners

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This is going to be a mobile, with the hearts glued back to back. What a super idea. Can’t wait to see it finished.

I have finished my six trivets, which were inspired by motifs found in various Klimt paintings.

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I didn’t like the 6th pattern I drew, so I did another version of the turquoise and red one, this time in yellows and black.

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There were other personal rugs in progress.

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Marion is hooking a copy of a stained glass she has in her home. (I think it will be a pillow, but I’m not positive.

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I love the dress in this Deanne Fitzpatrick pattern which is underway. There are the distinctive dots around the edge (a unique DF trick).

I love the story behind this piece which Charlene has under way.  Her friend was an accomplished artist, but was severely injured in an accident and can no longer paint.

Here is a picture of one of her paintings.DSCF6254

(please excuse the poor quality photo) The socks represent various members of her family.

Charlene is hooking a copy of this painting as a gift for her friend.

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Now for an update on my Sir John cartoon.

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Originally I had the text on the cake (as it was in the original cartoon), but I soon realized two things. 1)……there was an awful lot of background dead space. and 2)….even using a #2 cut doing script that small would be REALLY difficult. So I decided to move the text off the cake and into the background, where it could be considerable larger.

It took several tries to decide on  a cut and style that I liked.

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Using a #2 cut with a #2 cut outline wouldn’t lie straight…it needed the #3 cut as the inside colourDSCF6210DSCF6211

I liked the black lettering, until I put the white around it, and then it was too puny.DSCF6217I finally settled on a #3 cut white inside, outlined with a #2 cut black.DSCF6218I think I’ll just put a maple leaf on the cake.