Trial and Error

I couldn’t wait any longer!  Last night I gathered my blacks and greys and plunged into the hooking of Sir John.

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This whole thing will be trial and error, with only my eyes to determine what works. I’ve never tried to hook in black and white before, never tried to hook a cartoon before, in fact, I’ve never seen a hooked black and white cartoon at all. I’ve studied some monochromatic neutral pieces, but when striving for the look of a black and white photo, the colours used and styles of hooking are quite different than what I’m attempting.

My first job was to set up my bliss cutter with a #3 cutter head (I don’t have that size for my Beeline cutter (:  .) , and to my surprise I could cut neither a 3 cut or a 4 cut using the black wool I bought for this piece. After lots of wiggling and adjusting I finally got it to cut on the #4, but realized in the process that it is way too heavy. (feels almost like blanket weight wool,) so at the moment I’m working with bits of the lighter weight black I have, and trying to decide if I will over dye some dark wool I already have., or buy some more black making sure I ask for a regular weight, but a tight enough weave that even cutting a #2 is possible.

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I had no idea where to start, but just plunged in doing some outlining with a #4 in the heavy black.  (that will all be coming out) ….it’s way too heavy and predominate.

Then I moved to the jacket. and made my first discovery (learning curve?) of the project. It works best to work in sections using a small part of the original cartoon and just hooking the blobs/shapes that I see, and ignoring the overall piece. (that little tidbit of wisdom from Wendie Scott Davis and the workshop I took with her….thanks Wendie) I can actually see the creases of the arm of the jacket making sense now.

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If you can believe it, I’ve actually hand cut some #4 strips in half to try some finer outlining later today, but I think I’ll be changing out my #4 cutter head for a #2 in short order . I’ll wait until Ray can help me though as I can’t manage changing the Frazer 500 head on my own (I’m mechanically challenged).

I’m saving my plowing match hot pads for hooking away from home, as they require little concentration so they don’t impede the all important conversations of a group of hookers.

This one is finished:

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…and this one is stalled…sigh…

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…and there are 4 others not yet begun. (I took all the design elements from Klimt paintings )   The colours are dependent on the availability of worms and scraps.

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Oh yes….and my Historic Lunenburg is finished (hooking that is). I’m finally happy with the sky (after several attempts). Ah! wish I was back there.  Such a beautiful spot.

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.

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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….

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….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….

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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.

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…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

Is that Yellow?

The saying is…a change is as good as a rest…and unexpectedly, I am really enjoying the change to hooking with small cuts for my Lunenburg landscape.

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Working on large pieces with wide cuts has meant many dyeing sessions to get the colours. It has also resulted in bins and bins of the bits left over from these projects.  Now I’m really enjoying digging through the bins to find a small piece just the right colour for “whatever’.  I did dye wool for the brightest red buildings  (poppy red), but other than that I’ve been able to find everything I’ve needed so far.

I’m not sure if it’s the light, or my eyes, but last night, I almost took out all the hooking of the yellow boat. In the artificial light at night, the yellow looked really pale, almost lemonish, and I hated it. I even went so far as to dig through my colours once again looking for something with more orange. Fortunately I decided to leave it until morning because now in the daylight, the colour is deep and exactly what I want. Obviously light can make a significant difference in how colour is perceived. ( and I’ve already had cataract surgery in both eyes, so that’s not the problem)

Just a quickie post this morning, as I’m off to shop, then to a retirement party for one of my teacher friends this afternoon.  When I return to my hooking this evening, I’ll remember not to judge the colours in the lamplight.

It’s a Woman’s Prerogative…..

Yup…..I’ve changed my mind. Well….in a way. I think I’m addicted to hooking, and while I wait for the arrival of the black and white wool for the Sir John cartoon, I have nothing to hook . Then AHA! How could I have forgotten my Lunenburg landscape. I bought this pattern in Mahone Bay Nova Scotia at Encompassing Designs last September. It is on burlap, (which I don’t like) but I immediately loved the pattern and it made such a wonderful memento of our trip and our week long stay in Lunenburg, where this view delighted my eyes countless times.  Then I got home and packed it away….got busy with other projects and literally forgot about it. It makes perfect sense to hook it now for these reasons:

1) I need practise hooking in small cuts again before I start the cartoon

2) I want something rather mindless to hook on while I watch the Olympics (the cartoon will require concentration)

3) I have a year to finish the cartoon so there’s no rush

4)I haven’t anything else to hook

5) I want to

6) I’m an expert at rationalizing reasons to do what I want

So here it is just underway.

DSCF5989Where possible I’m using a 6 cut , but all the outlining and details are a 4 or a 3. One interesting note….

DSCF5993I find I’m not using my small bent Moshimer hook at all. Even for the 3 cuts, I find I have far more control with my much larger bent Irish hook. It’s not as large as my 6mm hook and I bought it to use on 6 cuts, but I love it now for the fine cuts too.

DSCF5992I’ve just finished dyeing 1/8 yard of poppy red to have a few even brighter  buildings and since it is once again snowing and the temperature is -18 C ( that’s 0 F) I think I’ll stay put and do some hooking today.

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Background Dilemma

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Sunshine Rug Hookers, we had an interesting discussion. Margaret is hooking this rug for her son and daughter-in-law. She is ready to begin the background.

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So last Saturday, she and Mary Anne had a wonderful day’s outing to Martina Lasar’s lovely log cabin shop in Caledon, where she purchased this wool for the background.

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Problem solved you might say…..but Margaret’s dilemma was how to hook the background to best set off the whole piece. She decided to elicit ideas from the many talented hookers in the group, and to that end, she made a rough sketch of the piece, and asked people to draw in their idea of how best to hook the background.

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There were almost as many ideas as there were hookers. Some of the suggestions were….echoing the wheel movement of the border…..straight line hooking as a foil for the circular aspects of the bike and the border……..squiggles to provide a mottled background which wouldn’t compete with the foreground…….choosing a wide variety of cuts to give a diversity to the background….a background of small circles to subtly reinforce the “wheel” aspect………. all terrific options…..which just reminds us that the background, although not what immediately grabs the eye (hopefully) is an important feature in creating the overall effect.

I’ll let you know what she decides to go with.

Our group is preparing to help celebrate Sir John A. MacDonald’s birthday (I think 200th?) in February 2015. (for my American readers…Sir John A. MacDonald was the first Prime minister of Canada, and “revered”  as  the Father of Confederation…..somewhat as the Canadian version of George Washington…although the country was negotiated into existence….not fought for).

To that end we are looking at hooking some “old style” rugs, and Margaret found these patterns which were probably purchased by her grandmother.

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What could be more Canadian than this old  Bluenose pattern of beaver……or this pictorial depicting the making of maple sugar….

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….in fact….Margaret hooked this rug years ago (she said it was actually just her second piece).

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I love love love it. I could look at all the colours used in the snow  for ages. It’s not only an example of an early rug pattern, but a depiction of a typical Canadian farm activity and how sugaring was done in the “good old days”.

Both of these patterns are now available from Rags to Rugs in Pictou Nova Scotia.  Check them out (and many other Bluenose patterns) at  http://www.ragstorugs.com

I’ll have to get my thinking cap on about what I can hook to contribute  to the celebration show.

The Barn Project Unveiled

Saturday was once again the meeting of R.U.G. and the day when the rugs entered in “the barn project” were handed in, and shown to all those present……just to fill in the background for those of you who are new to my blog….R.U.G. stands for “ruggers united gathering”, and is held twice a year at the Simcoe County Museum near Barrie Ontario Canada. It is an open gathering attended by rug hooking guilds and individuals from a large area of central Ontario. Different guilds and groups are hosts for the meetings which involve show and tell, vendors, a program, and over the years it has evolved into a large and active gathering.

Two years ago the Huronia Branch of OHCG (Ontario Hooking Craft Guild) in cooperation with the Simcoe County Museum, announced an exhibition of rug hooking celebrating the barns of rural Canada, a fast disappearing feature of our landscape. By the May R.U.G. 2014  gathering, these rugs will be on display at the museum, then will go on a tour of other museums for a couple of years. At Saturday’s R.U.G., they were handed in, and shown for the first time to everyone there. There were 58 rugs entered from all over Canada. There wasn’t room for them to be displayed in any way yet, so the pictures I took were just of them being “walked” around.  Unfortunately some are missing. In spite of help from Wendy Bowes in taking the photos while I was busy, my batteries faded and finally died altogether. Jean Chabot came to the rescue with an extra set of batteries, but in the process, I missed some of the rugs, and the pictures taken of a few while the batteries were on their “last legs” are far  from good, but I’ll include some of them anyway, just so you can see the wide range of barns and styles in this upcoming show.

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While I remember comments about some of the barns, I’ll post them largely without comment as there are so many. This is the first half, the second  half I’ll show in the next blog post.DSCF5633

Many of the pieces were story rugs full of personal significance.DSCF5634

A few dealt with architechtural aspects and their inspiration.DSCF5635

This was the only 3-D entry…mounted round silos.DSCF5406

The picture of my barn didn’t turn out, but I’ve included a (before binding) photo of it in the slot where I presented it.DSCF5636DSCF5637DSCF5639DSCF5640DSCF5645DSCF5646DSCF5647DSCF5650

This is a terrible photo, but I’ve included it because my favourite part is the ladies in the bottom..DSCF5649

This is the top half of the same barn.DSCF5652DSCF5653DSCF5654DSCF5655DSCF5656

On Saturday, each hooker told a bit about their rug, and for the show itself, there will be a printed synopsis with each rug. My apologies to the people whose rugs I missed.

Stay tuned for the rest of the barns in the next post.

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)

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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.

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

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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.

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….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:

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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.

A Day at R.U.G. Part 2

For me, one of the best things about rug hooking is the wide range of cuts, styles, and materials used by hookers.

DSCF5045Wow…look at the detail in this fine cut landscape. This is another example of a partially finished rug acquired by a hooker who finished it. Hooking in a 3 cut is not what I usually do now…but I certainly admire the fine work done by others.

DSCF5042This colourful leaf mat is a first rug. What a fine beginning! Since taking the photo, I’ve noticed lots of interesting detail that I missed when it was shown. ….all the little bugs throughout…especially the hot pink one in the upper left corner.

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I showed Gayle’s rug while it was still underway, and here it is finished. Gayle was recently on a safari in South Africa, and this rug evokes the colours and shapes she saw there.DSCF5048

….another rug hooked by Gayle. This time a geometric scrappy.

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This lovely small landscape hooked by Lorna is another example resulting from Wendie Scott Davis’s workshop (not the recent one I attended).

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I love the braided edge on this mat…oh so wish I had the patience and skill to do that! I’m also extremely partial to anything to do with lambs….(Lamb was my maiden name).

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I must have been distracted when these two handsome rugs were presented, because I can’t recall any details about them.

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I also showed Karen’s spectacular zebras in an earlier post, but she has since had it framed…boy does that ever put the finishing touch on it. The frame has all the colours of the background. Great choice Karen!

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I love how the edging line in this floral creates a border while not changing the background colour.

Deanne Fitzpatrick is a very popular designer in this area, whether or not the hooker hooks    in her free form style or not.

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Whether its houses…..DSCF5056

….or hockey…her patterns are always so distinctive.

At last year’s annual, famed cartoonist Karen Johnston provided an inch worm (I admit I thought it was a caterpillar) as the “hand out” pattern for all attendees (How appropriate since the theme was “All About Bugs”) You may remember my version….Charlie…who made a repeat visit on the blog post…”Oh So Blue” not long ago.

The ladies from North Bay brought along their completed versions, and had a unique method  of presenting them which I though was so cute.

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There were so many I couldn’t fit them all into one photo.

…and I saved the best for last…DSC03727

R.U.G. is a wonderful place or old friends to get together. Dorothy Braithwaite and Hilda Hayes were delighted to reminisce about past good times and high jinks they shared while attending Trent Rug Hooking School.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wendie workshop Part 2

On the second day of the workshop, Wendie showed us how to use our computers to create a colour palette for any photo we wanted to hook.  I think this will be a VERY useful tool for me, and I’m looking forward using it.

Then we spent the rest of the day working on our mats.DSCF5015In the last post I showed this pattern before Wendy (with a Y) started hooking….it was mostly squiggles….I love how the moose and foliage is beginning to emerge.DSCF5013Linda chose a picture of their hotel in Cuba. She chose to hook shiny nylons to give life to the flowers in the garden. I wish the picture showed how effective this was.DSCF5016

We were encouraged not to hook figures, but shapes in each colour, and be patient until it all came together. Helen is doing just that.DSCF5014

I’m looking forward to seeing this as it progresses.DSCF5021Moose are popular wildlife to hook in our area. Looks like this one was on the move.DSCF5023

Karen has her giraffe underway.DSCF5022

People chose all sizes of wildlife…..From the very large…to the very small….Lynda is hooking a chipmunk.DSCF5024

Cecelia chose a photo of her son’s two golden retrievers.DSCF5025…….and Diane is hooking a picture of her grandson on a rocking horse.DSCF5019

Jan is starting a still life incorporating a coffee mug.

DSCF5018Marion has started a portrait of her house.DSCF5020There is such a touching story to go with this photo…I hope Pat won’t mind that I share it . She sold her cottage and was moving to town. This was taken on the last day she had possession, shortly before they left. Her grand daughter and her friend were sitting on the end of the dock saying….goodbye lake….goodbye dock…..goodbye trees. DSCF5017Kathy’s photo also has a special story. These are her parents sitting in the garden. Her father used to hand feed the chickadees, so she has added them (one in his hand, and one on his head) as a special memento of her dad. (you can just see the outlines for the birds).  She was able to alter the picture to remove a third person sitting on the bench, and add the birds to make it a true memory mat.DSCF5032I have to confess, I didn’t take a picture of my portrait of my sister and I as it existed on the second day. This was taken the next day when I had made significant alterations. Although it is mainly a 6 cut, I used smaller cuts for the eyes and some other details. I reverse hooked the teeth (hooked from the back side), which worked really well….letting them sink behind the lips.DSCF5033At this point, I’ve started my own head…but it still need major changes…to the eyes, mouth, and chin. I have to say I REFUSE to hook in my double chin….I’m claiming artistic license!

I took a break from the portrait on Sunday, and made some changes to my Wanda landscape.

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When I looked at it for a time…I decided I wasn’t satisfied with the haze around the moon, so I googled pictures of moonlight on water, and realized that the moon was only hazy if there were clouds in the sky….Duh…..DSCF5031

So I did lots of taking out, and reworked portions of the sky.

Ta dah….it’s done.

Thanks for stopping by.

A Question of Value

At some point in almost every rug I hook, the problem of values too closely associated and side by side rears its troublesome head.  That’s happened again this week, so I’ve done a lot of thinking about how I’ve dealt with it in the past.

Sometimes it’s possible to change one colour enough that the shapes become clear.dscf4013-jpeg-scaled1000 In this little spring swap mat, I changed the mother bird’s breast to a darker tone so that the baby bird showed up against her.

DSCF4843Sometimes outlining will solve the problem, or even etching an edge with something very fine like embroidery cotton can also work.dscf4834-jpeg-scaled1000 Sometimes I have even decided that clarity isn’t a priority, and I’ve decided to leave it alone

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In this section of the background of Althea, I purposely let this dip dyed lotus flower meld into the background.

So  (I said to myself)….which one would work for this week’s value problem……  the far lower right branches of the pine tree against the sky in my Wanda landscape. DSCF4982

The value of the sky and the tree branches are too close.

In reality, the branches wouldn’t necessarily all stand out against the night sky, so perhaps I’ll just ignore it. On the other hand, I’ve considered taking the very dark sky all the way down to the horizon line on that side, but I wonder if that will make the sky look unconnected. Would it make any sense to use some very light spots so the branches will show up against the sky (as I did on the far trees)?  As usual, I decided to leave it alone while I ponder these possibilities, and worked in another area. ,,,,(maybe that’s my new slogan….when in doubt….hook somewhere else)

My intention is to eventually re-name this piece “Severn in the Moonlight “. The Severn River shoreline is certainly not grassy, so Initially I made suggestions of rocks with some vegetation in a few places. DSCF4977So much brown seemed unbalanced and unrealistic, so I added more vegetation, and even some lighter greens in a few places where the moonlight might catch it. (Here it is partially changed)DSCF4978 Now I think I’m happy with the near shore.

Next Thursday and Friday I’ll be attending a workshop with Wendie Scott Davis, so I’m excited at the prospect of learning something new. I’ve chosen my photo, and I think I’ll dye some wool this week for that venture.Screen shot 2013-04-11 at 11.53.59 AM I

I’m going to attempt to re-create this picture of my sister and I, but I haven’t yet decided on hooking a  realistic or an impressionistic version.

On Tuesday, The Sunshine Rug Hookers are having a mini workshop on making  Trillium brooches, so I’m looking forward to that as well. DSCF4947For those of you in other areas than mine…the trillium is the provincial flower of Ontario. It blooms in the spring and soon the forest floors will be carpeted in  white  all over the countryside. It is said that if picked, they will not bloom again for 7 years, so picking them is strongly discouraged (if not illegal).

So I’ve got a wonderful, busy hooking week ahead. I’ll take my camera along so I can share these events with you too.

In the meantime…..I’ll continue debating….dark all the way down????? edging???? ignoring?????

UUmmmm…..decisions decisions.

Thanks for stopping by.