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)


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.

BeFunky_barn project

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


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.


….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:


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.


Wow, I wish I  was better at envisioning the end results of my hooking. A lot of the time I have to actually see something hooked to know if it works or not…..and even then it often takes awhile for me decide if I like it or not….which means….lots of redoing.

The barn makeover is coming along, but I keep changing my mind and redoing sections, which may end up getting redone even again….

So I thought I’d share this process (well a bit of it at least…..the times I thought to take a photo). There is still lots to do, and sections I’m not happy with….but here’s the journey  to date….


This is the stack of wool I’ve been using for the non-mossy parts of the wall….some transitional, some not.


After lots of reverse hooking (I actually dislike that term….what’s wrong with old fashioned ripping out?) , I’ve finished the mossy section of the wall. I took out a lot of the darkest green, and used a softer dark green, with yellow green and light apple green highlights.


One last look at the old cement wall before I removed it all and started to redo it  in the vertical stye with the highlights that are so visible in the be funky photo.


I think I like the mauve to pink/beige at the far end of the wall , and the highlights around the tree. After I took this picture, I changed the part on either side of the second window on the left.


I’m not at all sure  I’m happy with this yet …..I keep changing parts of it, and I see several areas I still want to change. ( like the beige cross line that is too prominent). I don’t have any transitional wool the right colours for this and the abrupt colour changes are bothering me, so tomorrow I hope to soften the edges.


I added more colour under the largest window, but I’m not sure I like it either (I think it looks better from a distance than close up like this).


So this is where I am at the moment. Still very much a “work in progress”, but lots of fun to see what I can make of it.

Doing the Redo

I LOVE hooking with transitional wool!


I’m quite pleased with my batch of subtle transitions, and the new effect of the barn wall. I’m hooking it vertically, and I like the splotches of colour. Much more effective and like a painting, than the two colour squiggly effect of the first version,

I’ve also redone the right side of the window in different, and lighter colours…the left is still to be altered.

It’s been fun to see the effect of adding just a bit of some bright colours like the peach bits in the light wall, the pale blue in the window sash, and some bright apple green in the mossy wall.


Now the mossy wall…..that’s another story…I’m using the “befunky” version as a general guide, but with alterations when I don’t like the results. One section that’s coming out is the very dark green next to the tree….yuck to that part. The green is too deep and doesn’t blend with the other greens. I do like the bits of yellow green added for highlights, (thanks to JoAnne’s ugly wool swap).

You should see my hooking area! I’m knee deep in small pieces of wool! Always hunting for just that right tone.


The good news is that after a few weeks of the hooking blahs, I’m once again enthused and excited to see what I can accomplish with a hook and a strip of wool.

Revisiting an Unfinished Friend

When I’m working on a rug, the mess of wool around me can get pretty large, so I seldom work on more than one rug at a time, and I try to finish the hooking on each one before I move on. But of course there are exceptions.

Over a year ago, I had worked away happily on my barn rug until it was nearly finished. I left it hanging where I saw it all the time, and the longer I looked at it, the less I liked it. It eventually came to a point where I actively disliked it, and ended by rolling it up, packing the wool up, and putting it away altogether. Now it’s time to deal with it.

When the barn  project was first announced, Ray and I spent a Sunday afternoon driving around the countryside just north of town taking pictures of derelict barns, and I finally decided on hooking this photo.


I don’t hook in the room where my computer is, and I don’t have a laptop, so I printed off a copy of the picture just on 8.5 x 11″ paper, and that was my reference for hooking. I realize now that that was a  mistake because the printed version I was working from  lacked  highs and lows and definition particularly in the wall under the wood.  DSCF5364

There is only a bit of hooking left, and then I had intended to add some grass etc.  with yarn or embroidery along the barn wall, and add a bit of colour on the ground and trees. But the fact remains…I’m just not happy with it. It is SO boring!

On impulse, I put the original photo into “Be Funky” (as taught by Wendie Scott Davis at our spring workshop), and suddenly I loved the picture, and thought….if only….and …how could I???

BeFunky_barn project

I wasn’t sure what to do…..the project must be handed in in October, so a decision needed to be made. Would I ……finish it as I had originally planned……make some alterations to create a more painterly, colourful version like that in the be funky version……rip out the whole thing and start again…..or scrap the whole idea of the barn project altogether.

When in doubt, ask an expert….so I emailed Wendie (including the pictures) and explained my dilemma. What a lady! Within a few hours, I had a reply with both positives and negatives of my work, and lots of ideas of how to create more the “be funky” version without having to start all over.  (It’s not what you know….it’s who you know).


I started by completing the wooden section, and adding some stronger greens to the mossy parts.

On looking at it from a distance however, the darker part above the window looked more like a tree branch than mossy wood, so I reworked that part.


I took out the green section of the lower wall, and will rehook that with stronger greens covering the whole section.


I debated about the best wool to hook the rest of the lower section so that the values and different colours in it would be effective.

I gathered up a variety of wools in the colours I saw, but I would like them to blend into one another.


so….I’ve decided to try transitional dyeing with this lot. (again)  With my past mistakes fresh in my mind……I’m anxious to see if this will work…..stay tuned for the results.


I love dyeing wool, and the other day, I just felt like getting out the pots and doing a batch of “something”. I’d been looking at some of Gene Shepherd’s subtle colour changes on one of his posts, and thought, “I haven’t really got any transitional pieces in my stash. I’m going to do some transitional dyeing.” It’s easy…..no soaking….no dye required.


I gathered up some odds and ends of darks and lights.


….ripped them into suitable sized pieces, and arranged it all in my pan in several layers.


I mixed some dish detergent in hot tap water(I have no synthrapol) , and pored it over the dry wool.

DSCF5345….turned on the stove……


….and soon knew I was in trouble!!  Yikes….too much water….too much red……dark purple not bleeding at all…


….oh well….it was a nice day for drying wool outdoors, and my red stash now has extra variety.

Note to self: less water….and that beautiful purple plaid is no good in a pan of transitional wool.

Prodding Little

While I wait for the inspiration muse to find me once again, I’m making another special request for my son Mathieu. …small boutonieres  to fit on the lapel of a new jacket. The trick being that the lapels are very narrow….only 2″. …and the request is for black with a white centre, and white with a black centre.

(I’ll begin by saying I’m going to detail this process so I have a record should I be asked to make more weenie ones)

My first task was to decide how small a circle I would use. I grew up with imperial measurement, and now live in a metric world, so I couldn’t find an “inches” ruler…..my conversion skills are limited, but I do know that 10cm is 4 inches, so 2 inches must be 5 cm, so I was set! Being very scientific…I used a lid from my nail polish remover to draw the circles….it was 2.5 cm in diameter, leaving space for the outside petals to spill over.



Wow, the circles looked really small. I would have to adjust the strip sizes.




…my first three efforts. The top white one uses #8 strips. the other two were ripped. I formed the inside white row on the left by knotting an end, then pulling up the other end and knotting it, then clipping the ends.


The centre black section of this one was made by prodding square end strips, then clipping them into a fringe.

I couldn’t stick to just black and white when I came upon this red wool. It looked exactly the colour of a new pair of slacks Mathieu had just purchased (although my colour memory is pretty bad). I used the red and oatmeal for this little flower.



The picture don’t show how small these are.

The next step is to spread glue all around the base. Normally I secure the petals with an elastic so they don’t get glue on them, but this proved impossible because they were so small and the elastic just slipped off.



I solved this little problem by wrapping card stock pieces around each one, then adding the elastic to hold it .DSCF5326

Then I applied and spread the glue using another piece of cardstock. (I still got lots on my fingers)  Looks like sushi!

The next step was to apply leaves. I went through my green scraps, and found that the black needed a really strong acid green to show it off. I cut little half leaves….3 for each flower.



…after this I reshaped the bottoms to make them shorter, and to fit around the bottom of the flower, then glued them to the back of the appropriate petals with the bottom snuggly against the backing.



When thoroughly dry I started the finishing.



….ready for the final step. I purchased broach pins at Michael’s, and used the 1″ size. I like the ones that have a stick-on back. I cut felt pieces and used my tiny punch to make a hole for the pin to come through.



Then I spread glue on the back of the proddy, positioned and pressed the pin and felt into place and let it dry overnight.



Today, all that was left, was to carefully cut around the original circle. I find it best to do this from the flower side, not the back side, avoiding cutting in too close.



Tah dah!   Mathieu’s little boutonieres