Applying Crewel Embroidery over Hooking

To take some of the starkness away from all the stone work in the arch and flagstones, I decided to add some flowers on top of the finished hooking. As I mentioned in the last post, I had done this once before on an English Cottage tea cozy and really liked the effect (see previous post for photo). With that in mind, I purchased a large ball of variegated wool that moved through pink, to mauve to red purple, to blue….all colours already used in my piece. DSCN1866I rolled off the pink into several small balls of various shades of pink (this is what is left over now that I’m done), then using a blunt ended large needle, I made french knots on top of the hooking to create some window boxes of flowers. I started with a knot on the back, using 3 loops for the french knot, I made the french knots, then knotted the tail on the back  (just as you would in embroidery).  For the leaves, I used a 3 cut of green, hooked large loops amongst the flowers, then cut the loops …….DSCN1834 ………to create the leaves.DSCN1835I made sure the shank of each (french knot) flower was loose enough to let the knot sit comfortably on top of the hooking. By inserting the hook gently between the rows, it’s amazing how much you can add over the hooking.

I wanted a large vine to run up the wall of the arch on the right, but I felt I needed a pattern to follow so it would be balanced and look right……hmmmm…..what could I use? I glanced at the bureau and saw a roll of toilet paper left there after a “kitty mishap clean-up”.  That might work!

I rolled out the length, used a sharpie to gently sketch the vine, and then pinned it in place.DSCN1836

I think you can buy ‘tear away  stuff’ at the fabric store for this sort of purpose, but I’ll bet my solution was cheaper, and readily available.

Many, many years ago, my craft of choice was crewel work. Was there still some crewel wool amongst my stash of supplies? Yes indeed, and I was actually able to find it.DSCN1840I even had a variety of browns to choose from. Using a needle with not such a blunt end, I began making the vine using a chain stitch right over top of the pattern.DSCN1841….. as I progressed, I realized I didn’t have enough of the brown to do the whole vine, so I switched to a split stitch . (doesn’t use nearly as much wool). Actually I liked that stitch better, and wished I’d started with it, but decided not to try and rip out what I’d done. I was afraid that was a recipe for disaster.DSCN1846DSCN1843I think the flowers and leaves will hide the difference in the stitches. It was then a simple matter to rip away  the toilet paper, and use tweezers to take out the small pieces caught in the wool. (you can still see a few pieces near the top that I missed….they’re gone now).

The flowers were once again french knots, this time made with 4 or even sometimes 5 loops on the needle so they would be bigger. I let them  shade over from the pinks into the mauves. DSCN1850

I tried doing individual small prodded leaves, but they frayed trying to pull them through. I removed those and went back to the cut high loops. I found a piece of left over dip dyed wool in a yellow green.DSCN1854…..using a 4 cut I divided the strips in three for light medium and dark leaves, then after pulling them with high loops, I cut them on a sharp angle to make them a little more realistic.DSCN1862

I’ve some final touches to add…some extra brown on the stem to hide the chain stitch loops, and some earth at the base  and a bit wider stem there.DSCN1858

My favourite part is the three dimensional effect of the vine sitting on top of the wall.

So after more than a year  (working on and off) it is done. (I think).  I haven’t decided if I will add a vine on the balcony door…to add or not to add….that is the question! DSCN1865 2…..of course the finishing is next…(my least favourite part of any piece). I’m always mentally planning my next hooking adventure while I do that.

Thanks for stopping by.

Hooking a Dip Dyed Sky

Hooking the sky for the Virgins piece has been quite a learning experience with lots of little problems to solve to make it work.

DSCN1801First of all, the test pieces I dyed were of course WAY too narrow.  To figure out how wide the wool would need to be …..DSCN1805….I hooked a row from side to side at the widest point, pulled it out and measured it. The only Dorr natural wool I had on hand left was not quite wide enough  (78″ of wool needed to hook one row from side to side), but I decided I would be able to fill it in with left overs that would blend . (said with fingers crossed).

Luckily The centre line left from drawing the arch was still visible, so I darkened that  and was ready to start.  For the dip dye to work, the wool must be hooked in the order.

DSCN1816I marked the right side of the wool with a pin, and used tape to keep the strips in order. ….keeping the right side on the top (as opposed to the left).

DSCN1817I put tape on the right end of the strip before hooking it….DSCN1818

……then folded it to find the middle.DSCN1823…then hooked that middle loop on the centre line marking……hooked the right side over, then the left, leaving the extras hangingDSCN1806

Once I got up high enough to go all the way across, I could work back down, thus keeping the rows straight and aligned. (I hooked every other row of the backing).DSCN1811

My wool was longer the the actual sky, but I wanted the deepest top blue to be used, so I began hooking from the top down….DSCN1812…..and took a chunk out of the middle so that the blues blended where they met.DSCN1826I finished by hooking from the bottom up using the strips that were hanging.  There were lots of left overs to fill in the few spaces left over on the edges.DSCN1831

It’s not quite as pale as shown in this picture. I like the fact that it doesn’t compete with the brightness of the virgins’ clothing. Some fix ups to do (like changing the black outline of the brown building) and the final step is to add some greenery.

A number of years ago I hooked this tea cozy, and my plan is to use the same techniques to add some vines and flowers.dscf2386-scaled1000

They are applied over top of the hooking using both yarn and strips and embroidery techniques.  Should be fun!

Tomorrow is April 1st….but I think April Fool’s day came one day early. Look what I woke up to this morning!DSCN1833

No spring flowers yet in my yard!

Thanks for stopping by.

 

The Flag Stone Struggle

Oh my! Three months to the day since my last post, and those flagstones are finally nearing completion, and yes, they have been a struggle…..Both the hooking of them, and figuring out how to make them look flat. DSCN1791 2Many thanks to Jean for her help and to Marg for sharing her expertise after her own  “flagstone, cobblestone journey”  and sending photos of her wonderful end results. I am so fortunate to have such knowledgeable hooking friends.

I thought I would have finished by now, but I’ve found the constant turning of my hands is hard on my thumb joints. (I’ll be glad to get back to some straight line hooking and/or a larger cut.)  Just an aside…I’ve found that by moving to a larger shanked hook I can considerably reduce the stress on my thumb joint. DSCN1800

I’ve just got this last corner to finish now and then to add the final dark brown details in a two cut (seen on the left). This wee bit of dark accent is my favourite part and really helps to make the stones pop.

While giving my thumbs a rest, I experimented dyeing some wool for the sky. I used Pro Chem Sky Blue and Pro Chem Mahogany. (both are colours found in the flagstones)

DSCN1795The left piece is much too strong, the right, too weak, the middle has too much strong pink at the bottom.  I tried redyeing more blue on the top of the lightest piece, but it was still too insipid. DSCN1797 My present plan is to use the middle piece, but not the bottom couple of inches of the pink.DSCN1802

I can’t wait to try this out, but I’m forcing myself to wait until the flagstones are finished. I really need to clean away all those piles of pale wool cluttering up my hooking space. I am SUCH a messy hooker!

DSCN1801

My final plan is to add a few flowers and perhaps a flowering vine on the arch, inserting them on top of the hooking perhaps using a chain stitch and crewel wool. More experimenting to come in that area.

Thanks for stopping by to have a look after such a long absence.

Catching Up

It has been several months since I last posted, the longest gap in all the years I’ve been recording my hooking adventures here. With fall well under way and a skiff of snow on the ground this morning, it’s time for me to get rejuvenated and re-enthused about hooking.

While I did very little hooking in the past few months, I did complete my Prairie Sky, framed it, and gave it to my son and daughter-in-law when they visited at Thanksgiving.DSCN1618

Since they are in the process of relocating from the prairies to Ontario, it also seems an appropriate reminder of home.

I’ve  noticed several people on facebook asking recently about how to frame a piece of hooking and as you might expect there are quite a variety of methods. I’m certainly no expert, having only framed two of my pieces, but this is how I completed this piece. I seldom hook a border, so I wanted to set off the hooking  by using matting around the edges. (I decided to record it here so that I can remember what I did. )

  1. thoroughly steam and block  the piece so that it was an accurate rectangle
  2. purchased a frame that was larger than my hooked piece, and matting slightly bigger than the frame
  3. I had the matting cut to exactly fit the size of the hooking
  4. purchased foam board to back the hooking and cut it to fit the hooking
  5. stretched the hooking over the foam board by lacing with very strong ‘thread’ (I actually unravelled strands of  rug warp and used that)DSCN1614…here it is underway
  6. when finished I clipped the ends to about 3″ and glued them to adjacent strands making a neat back (which no one will ever see)
  7. I removed and discarded the glass from the frame, and popped the hooking through the matting.
  8. I used strong tape on the back to hold the hooking even against the matting, then added the cardboard filler and finished back of the frame.

I’m sure that’s neither the best nor most efficient way to do it, but it worked to my satisfaction.

Now it’s back to my unfinished ‘Virgins’.DSCN1652I am determined to compete the arch before going on to the village, and I’ve actually hooked quite a bit of the light left hand section in the past few days. I still have lots to go , as you can see, and I’m being very careful not to waste any wool, so that I will have enough. Much of it was left over from the background of my ‘stacked log cabin’ piece, and I’m even cutting down my left over #8 strips.DSCN1654DSCN1658….now I’m using #3, so while a bit fiddley….it works well.DSCN1659

…one strip ….DSCN1660….becomes 3 (or 2….depending)

I’ve also come to a decision about one of the dilemmas holding me back in this piece…..the sky! According to the parable , it must be either night, or at least evening. I’ve made the arch dark, and a night sky would not look good against that at all. (didn’t plan that ahead very well!) So…..my solution (at this point anyway) is to ditch the parable, and the lamps the ladies are holding, and leave myself the option of any sky colour I want. Now it’s just two medieval maidens! DSCN1653

I feel better already!

Now if I can just find that flesh coloured wool to complete the two hands…….

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Sky Style

I’ve finally finished the roadside and pavement of my Prairie Sky piece, (after making a number of colour changes and adjustments to the hooking style). I ended up using a variety of materials….3 different plaids, wool yarn and two different colours of sari silk. DSCN1569Now to turn my full attention to the sky.

I’d tried some areas and ripped most out. I needed to make a decision about how I was actually going to hook it as well , of course, as the colour choices.

My initial colour selection was this: blues I dug out of my stash.DSCN1533….but as I  experimented, I didn’t like the effect of the very dark blues at all. I needed more pale shades. DSCN1535I took this photo awhile ago and I’m not sure why there are only two pieces since I actually dyed four light shades these being the lightest and darkest.

I wanted the clouds to be highlighted, and so I’m using a variety of white wool yarns plus Dorr natural wool .DSCN1551My biggest dilemma was this…….would I hook the sky straight across (bottom right sky sample) or wavy and directional (cloud beginnings). I thought about this for a number of weeks while completing the bottom roadside section. The answer I came up with? Do both. I’ll make the clouds contour the actual shapes and the sky will be pretty well straight lines.  Every time I go through this sort of process, I think afterwards….that is so OBVIOUS! why did it take me so long to figure it out?  So I’m on my way…DSCN1567I knew I would need to dye more pale blue shades and yesterday was the day.

DSCN1563I now have  a wide variety of blue shades to use in finishing my sky.

Many thanks to Lucy Richard  of The Wooly Mason Jar. I recently watched her video about how to dye 1/2 yard of wool  using her amazing colour wheel system of dyeing. I’ve never tried her system,  but I picked up a number of hints from the video which were really helpful. …some hints about micro wave dyeing eg. timing and when she adds the mordent, and using Woolite as a rinse at the end.  Hookers are such a diverse community and we can learn so much from each other. Thanks for the tips Lucy.

Whew! the humidex is to be nearly 40 C today, so for me it’s a stay inside, stay cool, and hook day. Hope you have a good day too

Thanks for stopping by.

Unpacking

Nope…I’m not unpacking my suitcase, but my rug. While some people have to fill in spaces when they have finished their hooking….I sometimes have to reduce the wool I’ve used. My tendency is to hook  too closely together. I try to be mindful of this as I hook, but over the large expanse of my big rug, even after steaming there was fixing to do.dscn1064-1I remove the strip that is too close….dscn1065….carefully cut it down a bit, and rehook it in the same space. I did that in a number of spots and it worked well and the rug lay flat.

However….the combination of my tendency to pack, and the wide expanse of echo hooking meant that when laid out on the big table…..it was no longer squared at the corners, or totally straight along the edges. It would need further adjustment.dscn1073I took  out some sections, and shortened many rows at the border. I ended up cutting some new strips in a 6 cut rather than cut them down by hand. dscn1082Ray helped me by setting up guides….with nails and mason’s cord.dscn1083When I had it as straight as possible,  he nailed the edges in place to hold it even. It was a lot of work, but yippee! The edges were now straight.

I needed to set it once again, and rather than steam it on the top side, I covered it with wet towels and left it overnight. (I’ve no idea whether that is condoned or not)dscn1085This morning I removed the towels and it is now drying in place. I still haven’t decided if I will give it a light steam or not before I remove the nails holding it in place.

dscn1086

Next step will be to zigzag the edge and dye the yarn for whipping.

The Brier begins tomorrow, so I’d love to be able to watch those amazing Canadian men’s curling teams while I whip the edge of the rug….my idea of a great way to spend a week.

Thanks for stopping by.

Changing Gears

It had always been my intention to hook my 5′ x 7′ rug “Oil on Water” in two pieces, then join them as late as possible.

My reasons for this were:

1.  Backing available from my usual suppliers wasn’t wide enough to do it in one piece and to have a large single piece shipped from the States was way too expensive for my meagre purse.

2. The only large piece I had seen done before was done this way.

3. Doing most of the work on the two sections would be much easier to handle than manipulating such a large and heavy piece of hooking.

4. I’d never seen much information on hooking a large rug, and none on joining two pieces of backing so I went with what information I had.

Then two things happened that changed my plan of attack.

DSCN0747 (1).jpgI was hooking merrily along and had even finished the blue section farthest to the right when:

1. The pattern at the far right seemed out of kilter….the blue was too big, or too far over or…..something bothered me about it.

2. Gene Shepherd’s Internet Rug Camp had several posts about large rugs and joining them together if using two pieces of backing.

After looking at it for about a week, it hit me that the last blue section needed to come out. I wanted the eye  to be drawn around in a sweep from left over the top and down the right to the bottom centre. I then realized I could only do that if I did the bottom section first then joined the two in a visually interesting way.

SOOOOOO…..I needed to change gears and  join the two sections now. (I admit that having made that decision….I procrastinated several days since I would once again have to face my sewing machine)

Luckily I had plenty of markings on both pieces to match the two sections up exactly, so it was a relatively simple job  (once I got down to it and thanks to the new details on how to do it supplied by the IRC).DSCN0752I began with a widely spaced zigzag stitch just inside the joining and overlap lines of both pieces. Then did a quick pin-together to make sure they still matched. (when I drew the pattern initially, I had drawn lines every 10 ditches to make the matching easier)

DSCN0755Then I did a careful exact pinning together and  basted the two sections together both top and bottom.DSCN0767Just an aside here……and a heartfelt thank you. I received this leather finger shield as a gift not too long ago and it is the most wonderful thimble alternative I could imagine.DSCN0766If you are as useless with a thimble as I am it is a tool you’ll love to have available. If you ever see one buy it! (or have a friend like Isabelle). No sore fingers now for me! Thanks again Isabelle.DSCN0768

I was pleased with how the design matched.

It is already heavy so I will hook the join areas first and I immediately started with the outside edge to give it some stability. I must admit I was both surprised and pleased at how easy it was to hook through the overlap.DSCN0772 (1)I’ll cut the fringe off only as needed to keep it from ravelling.

Whew!   It’s all joined together, and today I’m hitting the dye pots once again. Lots more dark blue background needed, as well as some dark rhodamine red. Thankfully this is the coolest day we’ve had all month!

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

A HAPPY ENDING

My beloved standard schnauzer Baxter will be fifteen in the fall and he is beginning to show his age.

DSCF7637 (1)

His ability to hold on when he needs to “go” has diminished (much to his horror and shame), and occasionally I’ve discovered a puddle at the back door,or a damp spot where he has been laying. DSCF7414

This geometric rug lies on the floor at the foot of our bed and was long ago claimed by him  as his bed.

With these accidents occurring, I checked the condition of this rug and discovered that indeed it was in a bad way. It was either throw it out, or try and wash it thoroughly.

I’ve never washed one of my wool rugs before, but in this case there was nothing to lose. If I couldn’t get the doggie urine out it would be in the garbage.

I laid it in the bathtub and let it soak in cool water, swished it thoroughly and rinsed it out. I was appalled by the dirt and sand (and yellow water ) that came out. I did this several times, with the same result each time. I headed to the store looking for ‘Zero’….the soap I used to use for wool sweaters back in the olden days when twin sets were still popular, but it has obviously gone the way of the dodo bird. It’s replacement is ‘Woolite’ so home I went with a bottle and high hopes that it would work and the dyes wouldn’t run.

I think I soaked, washed and rinsed it with the soap about 5 times until there was no grit or discolouration coming from it, then did it once more for good measure. Much to my delight, the dye stayed intact.DSCN0671

I hung it up over the grating on the veranda and left it there for several days to dry and be in the fresh air. I am absolutely delighted with the results. It hasn’t looked this good since it was first hooked.DSCN0672

It certainly isn’t going back on the floor though. I have a very washable blanket now folded up at the foot of the bed and Baxter seems to think that is just fine to sleep on.

I’m not saying that every rug would do so well with this treatment, but it worked well in this case.

I’m so glad I gave it a try and didn’t throw it out.

Thanks 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.

 

Lessons Learned

A couple of posts ago I opened with this statement…..”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.”  WHAT WAS I THINKING!

Oh the unsuspected trials and tribulations ahead of me at that time…..but “Oil on Water” is now finally underway, and I can laugh about its rocky start.   For sure I have learned lots along the way. DSCN0399

It finally makes me happy.

So here’s my list of lessons learned (or maybe…mistakes made).

The first thing I learned is that when joining two pieces of backing with the cut edges on the sides, there is only one way to be sure that you have the exactly the same width (i.e. number of ditches) for both top and bottom……you have to count them.DSCN0362I marked them at every 10th ditch. (and had to take a break several times so I didn’t go blind) ….there were nearly 800 ditches across each side. …but it allowed me to continue the side edge lines knowing that they were even.No big deal for a small piece, but when your rug is five feet across….that’s a lot of ditches to count.  DSCN0366

Then I basted the two pieces together very carefully matching all my 10 ditch markers (I’ll eventually cut off the edges sticking up), set up the pattern and backing on the light table, turned on the lights….and discovered to my horror…….you can’t use a light table when the pattern is too dark or when it is blown up so large that the edges become blurry. It simply didn’t show through clearly enough to draw. At that point I walked away for a day or two (that was lesson two).

Back to the drawing board (literally). When I was ready to tackle it again, I drew a grid on one of my photocopies of the pattern…DSCN0369

…..dividing it in eighths up and down, and quarters side to side, then drew the same grid ratio on my backing.DSCN0370I made no attempt to draw the details of the whole pattern, but drew freehand the major points of the circles and ‘flames’, using the grid as a positional reference point.  ( and my friend Jean belatedly said….”I wondered why you didn’t do that in the first place”…I’m a slow learner Jean). That was lesson number three……ask your friend Jean ahead of time.

I thought I would use the photo as a guide, and simply fill in the details free form as I went. There are lots of hookers who do this so successfully, often not using a pattern  at all.

But guess what?  Not me. (lesson number four) I tried it (I didn’t take a photo since I hated it immediately), and I thought it was ugly. I didn’t like the colours, and I didn’t like the form, I had no idea where to go next….. Again I walked away for a couple of days and even entertained the thought that perhaps I couldn’t do this rug. I’m just not a ‘free form hooker’ but I guess I’m a stubborn hooker. I’ve known the joy of looking at something I’ve hooked and had my heart swell with pleasure, and I was determined to figure it out.

The first positive step was solved with the  dyeing (which was the subject of the last post). I would use 3 or 4 even shades of each colour. I could use the small dip dyes by cutting them in thirds, and further dyeing I would do with the lazy swatch method. DSCN0397

(I kept the dip dye pieces in order to make a smooth transition  using double sided tape on the ruler).

Now how was I going to hook it so that I was happy with the result. I felt it needed mostly directional hooking to achieve the movement of the oil and water, with smooth sweeping curves. I’m just not artistic enough to do that without a guide. Yesterday I came up with a solution that I think will work for me. Using a black coloured pencil, I sketched the outlines of just the grid square I was working on, making and drawing adjustments as necessary, and not making a heavy line until I was satisfied that it would work.

So here it is once again (I’m using an 8 cut)…..what I’ve done to date, and I’m finally happy with the result.

DSCN0399Just to put the size in perspective…..(and you’ll notice the shape  is representational not exact)DSCN0310….I have hooked the medium sized circle highest up on the left and there will be considerable background beyond this photo….

Now for a day of hooking and watching the finals of the “Scotties”. I hope for great curling and happy hooking.

Thanks for stopping by.