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.

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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.

 

 

 

Background Creative Process

As with all my hooking, creating the background for Grumpy Owl is an ongoing process. After failing miserably with my first attempt (the blues), My inspiration came from this misty moon photo.3684907-moon-over-the-sea-moon

I took a yard of Dorr natural, and ripped it into 1/8th yard pieces. I began by dyeing each one with 1/128th tsp golden pear. One piece I left that way for the surface of the moon. The others I spot overdyed with a variety of colours, singly and combined……pink sand, cantaloupe, mouse grey, clay, and charcoal (1/128th tsp) (pro chem colours).

This is what I ended up with….DSCF7656….these 6, plus two others with double the golden pear background (which I didn’t like)DSCF7659The moon is now underway.

DSCF7657…and I like the general background effect.DSCF7660I added some smudgy wisps of clouds in front of the moon……..and darker colours toward the bottom. To make the edges of the moon a little brighter, I edged it with one row of #3 cut Dorr natural.DSCF7666I felt I didn’t have enough contrast, or deep enough colours for the bottom, so I overdyed these two pieces with pink sand and mouse grey.DSCF7670…the jury is still out on the bottom part.

I discovered that while this piece was too bright and had too much contrast….DSCF7671

if I flipped it over and used the other side…..DSCF7672….it was muted and created lovely highlights.

I still felt that the moon didn’t “pop” quite as much as I’d like, so last night, I removed the outline strip, and the 3 cut highlight, and added a wider outline in Dorr natural.DSCF7675

I don’t particularly like it close up, but, but from a bit of a distance, it gives the moon some backlight “glow”.

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It has been a while since I’ve done this large a background in a 4 cut…..I think somebody keeps enlarging the spaces!

I’m looking forward to the Quilt, Rug and Craft Fair at the Simcoe County Museum which runs from Sept 18 to 20. Drop by if you can. It is always a feast for the eyes, with many disciplines of fibre arts on display and for sale.

I’ll be sure to take my camera.

Thanks for stopping by.

Back Up and Retool

I haven’t pulled a loop in over two weeks, and that doesn’t happen very often. Here’s the first reason….DSCF7639Ray and I accompanied Baxter on a lovely camping trip. Great swimming, walking , relaxing and many wonderful  memories from past years when we had family camping get togethers in this provincial park with up to 30 relatives, huge pot luck dinners, and hilarious yearly scavenger hunts. I remember my niece saying at the time “I wish I could make time stand still”. ….but of course time doesn’t stand still….so Ray and I made new memories this time on our own as we celebrated our wedding anniversary with a very special dinner at the delightful Globe Hotel, a nearby restaurant at a 200 year old Inn  in the tiny village of Rosemont. Oh the food was soooooo delicious!

OK…that’s my first excuse for not hooking lately. The second is this….DSCF7635After dyeing all the wool for the background, I was excited to hook a bit to see the effect, and it didn’t take long to realize that while the wool is beautiful, it is too striking to use as the background. It immediately draws the eye away from poor Grumpy. Not what I want at all.

So now that I’m back home from camping, have had a long talk about this problem with my friend Jean, and looked at lots of inspiration images from google, my current plan is to insert a moon and misty dawn sky that will enhance but not overpower the grey owl.

I found this “royalty free” image , which really caught my eye, and is the essence of what I’d like to achieve in the background.3684907-moon-over-the-sea-moon

At this point, I think I’ll use my trusty “pear yellow” as the base colour with something greyish brown (like clay) for darker sections, and something a bit “peachy” to add a bit of dawn blush. …. (I’m only looking at the top half) . That’s the present plan, and subject to change when I start trying things out.

Stay tuned for further developments. The dye pots are going to get some exercise.

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.

Background Considerations

While surviving our latest heatwave, I’ve been hooking away on Grumpy Owl’s feathers.

DSCF7609 (1)I’m pleased with the start I’ve made on his head , and I hope I can maintain the effect as I move to the left and the feathers become lighter.

DSCF7610It’s time to begin seriously thinking of how I’m going to do the background. Regular readers  here will know that this is seldom a straight forward decision for me…..so I need to get it underway long before the actual hooking begins.  I know many teachers stress choosing the background before hooking even begins, but my brain doesn’t work that way. My vision of the piece evolves with its creation.

Originally I had intended to stay true to the drawing, and have a neutral, sepia background.DSCF7615 (1)…..but I feel that it washes out poor Grumpy rather than enhancing him!

OK colour it is.DSCF7614 (1)….but certainly not this one……

how about purple blues?DSCF7613….better but too dull…DSCF7611….how about turquoise blues with a dip dye out to the edges? I like that but not the even control of the dip dye. I think my imagination wants something a little wilder…..maybe….DSCF7617…use both purple and turquoise blues….with an aura of the lightest blue.

Yes that idea definitely has possibilities. But no final decision as yet. I keep think he may be Grumpy because dawn is approaching and he’s tired…..so do I need some sunrise colours? ….or it’s dusk, and he’s just waking up? This is the fun part. I love digging through my stash looking for inspiration.

Happy hooking everyone. Thanks for stopping by.

Hooking Funk

I’ve been in a bit of a hooking “funk” lately. ….and that’s unusual for me. I just haven’t really felt like hooking most evenings, and as a result I’ve made very little progress on my “Grumpy Owl”.

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I’ve done another layer or so of feathers on the left and I’ve completed both talons. I love the way he looks, so that isn’t why I don’t particularly feel like hooking.

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I used  #2 and #3 cuts for the feet. The #2 cut is tricky to hook with, but very effective in spots that need a fine line.  Many wools won’t hold together with such a narrow strip, but I’m using a cashmere which is very dense and works quite well. I’m pulling the loops quite high so that they will not be lost when surrounded by a wider cut.

As I putter along with the body, I’m debating how to hook the background. Originally I was going to do it in a “sepia” sort of colour, remaining true to the original  neutral picture drawn by  Mathieu. Now I’m debating about using colour….perhaps creating a gentle sunrise….indicating he’s not so much grumpy as tired and ready for a day’s sleep. Or another thought is a pastel colour arching out deeper as it moves away from his body to create a bit of aura. ….still debating with myself….

But back to my funk……maybe I need a shot of colour motivation ….while I like the neutrals, I think perhaps I’m momentarily colour deprived.  I decided to think about a possible “next project” and went looking for inspiration. I soon realized that everything that attracted me had a strong and vibrant colour palette.The wools I’m using now are drab and ugly as they sit in a heap around me, so maybe I’ll have to make piles of gorgeous crimson, teal gold etc. to surround me as I finish hooking my owl, or maybe I’ll give in and introduce colour to the background….ummmmm….decisions, decisions.

Tangling with Zentangle

Usually when I start hooking a piece, I have a general vision in my mind of what I want the finished product to look like. But not this time! Nope….I have no clue. So I’m “hooking in the dark” so to speak, trying stuff out, and discarding a great deal of it until I come up with something that pleases my eye.

I started out using a 6 cut, but quickly abandoned that for a #4. I couldn’t get the detail I needed with the #6.DSCF7230I hope the lime green will stand out better when more is added. As it stands…I’m not impressed.

I think this is the third set of colours I’ve tried in the “drape” design, and I plan to dye a lighter version of the green to add some variety. It certainly doesn’t set my heart afire with this combination.DSCF7229The ribbon loops please me so far, but I have no idea yet what style or colour of background to use in this section.DSCF7228I dyed 6 different colours of the yellow, planning to have the rings of this flower section get darker as it went out. I found it needed the blue for contrast, and now I’m debating how to proceed..DSCF7226The variegated blue is hooked with an overdyed plaid which I used in the hall rugs and really like. However, there is very little of it left, so I must use it wiselyDSCF7227

So far so good with the triangles. I like the blues. ….background black???? or the ribbon taupe???? ummmm…don’t know yet. DSCF7225

It’s quite a mishmash of unconnected elements at the moment, but hopefully I can eventually tie it all together to create a unified zentangle sampler.

A cold day to start off February, and a good one to stay inside and hook while I enjoy the Canadian Junior Curling Championships on TV.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

Hooking With Friends

I can’t think of a better way to spend a winter’s day in January than curled up in a cozy chair by a fireplace, surrounded by friends, and hooking, visiting and eating home made soup for lunch. That’s just what I did yesterday at Helen’s . We were surrounded by inspiring hooked pieces on her walls.DSCF7201

….this hooked by Deanne FitzpatrickDSCF7202…and this wonderful tryptic also by her…DSCF7203….these finer hooked pictures…..

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and delightful small pieces scattered about the room.

Ann was working on her famous stars…DSCF7214

DSCF7199….which sell faster than she can make them.

Cynthia is creating a piece inspired by the work of contemporary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama and her illustrations of Alice in Wonderland.

http://www.brainpickings.org/2012/04/18/yayoi-kusama-alice-in-wonderland/

Cynthia’s creativity, use of varied materials, and free form hooking, have me holding my breath to watch this unfold.DSCF7210

The beautiful fuchsia is a sari silk and fairly glows in real life.DSCF7211

You can see the wide variety of colours in the “white” background already.

Jeanne was sporting the necklace she made at Jennifer Mauuel’s workshop.DSCF7196 DSCF7197

….while she has nearly completed the background of her  “Four Seasons “.DSCF7195

Helen is hooking a piece inspired by by a “Happy Winter Solstice” card produced by the Syracuse Cultural Workers.DSCF7209

….it  depicts night and day above and below the moon.

I was working on my Zentangle sampler.DSCF7217

….while Mary was corking ….DSCF7198

….with some beautiful coloursDSCF7207

and Kathy was knitting a shawlDSCF7194…..while wearing a poncho she made…DSCF7216

….decorated with a beautiful hand made broach…DSCF7215

…and Wendy popped in later with her knittingDSCF7212

….what  talented friends I have……….what an enjoyable day.

 

 

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.

 

My Path of Creativity

My creative process is like a path leading to……I don’t know where.  It generally starts with a vague recollection of something I have seen and admired and wished I had hooked. This time it was a head shot of an exotic person…I remember a few that have taken my breath away, and I wanted to try something similar. My search for inspiration began.

Who could be more inspiring than Malala Yousafzai.

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I loved the colour of the sari, and those eyes are so arresting.  With Ray’s help, I “gridded” the picture so that I could draw it 3 times larger for hooking 20″ x 28″.

But then for some reason, the idea of mystery and perhaps feminine subjucation became important, so I searched further, and came up with this .

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What a wonderful background as well. Once again Ray drew a grid for me so that I could draw it to the size 18″ x 24″

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I put the photo in “Be Funky” editing program and using the ‘underpainting’ option, and now have this photo to use as a reference as I hook.

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I can’t wait to get started….lots of dyeing in my immediate future….that rich vibrant red…..how to achieve that striking aura, and the delicious background.

Then the idea of a series ” women from around the world” came to me when I stumbled on this photo and immediately fell in love with it. A totally different style and idea, but it really speaks to me as well, and I plan to hook it in some adapted form.

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I’ve been browsing photos of Chinese wedding headdresses and the costumes of women in Brittany….the options are endless.    Now if I could just hook 24 hours a day….I’d be set!

The reality is that I still haven’t quite finished the background of the grafitti.

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….and although I’ve steamed the padded binding of Signa Meus Vita, I still have to sew on the tabs (they are just pinned on in the photo.

DSCF6937…..and oh my!!! if you could see my work area! A major tidy and organization of all the wool scattered about is an absolute necessity before I start anything!

As the cold weather arrives, I always experience a “nesting” instinct, where I love the cosy refuge of home. The trees have passed their prime (although there’s still lots of colour to be seen) and we have had frost (although not yet a killing frost) so I am preparing to “snuggle in” and enjoy the delights of the upcoming winter.