Sir John on the Go

I’m surprised at how much fun I’m having hooking with mainly #3 and #2 cuts. I’ve never before used a #2 and it’s been years since I’ve hooked anything entirely in a #3.

I started with the jacket, just hooking blobs as I saw them.DSCF6124

I’m using black, a grey tweed, and a grey cashmere. It’s amazing the colour variations you can see when you really, really look.

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…A case in point is the oval pin in his cravat. When I first looked, it seemed white, so I hooked it this way.  Then I realized it didn’t look right, so I looked VERY closely, and then rehooked it this way.

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Much better. Of course I have to jump all over the place (no patience), so I tried working on his face, beginning with his lips. (I normally start a face with the eyes, but decided not to this time).

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Sometimes when you hook what you see, it isn’t just right, so I adjusted the top lip.

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I gradually worked my way upward, and then tackled the right eye. This black and white version doesn’t allow me to follow any of the steps I have learned for hooking eyes, so it was truly trial and error.

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I probably should have gone right on to the eye on the left while I was on a roll, but I took a break and went instead to the cravat.  DSCF5978

As you can see, it has very prominent white ovals on a black background, and I searched and searched looking for a wool I though might give me that effect. Then I remembered a wonderful black and  white two coloured border Jean had hooked as the outline in her Holstein cow hot pad, and thought perhaps that might work.

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It gets rather messy on the back as you alternate a white then a black loop, and the ends need to stay at the back, but as this will always hang on a wall, it doesn’t really matter, and I got the effect I was after.

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I’m stalled at this point while I dye some more black wool . I’m going to overdye some dark plum cashmere with black and bottle green, and hopefully I’ll get to that later today.

In the meantime, I’ve been having fun using brightly coloured worms to hook the Klimt motif hot pads. Again, I’m jumping around from one to the other.

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This afternoon, I’m off to the opening of the International Women’s Day Art Show at the Orillia Museum of Art and History.  I’ll check on how Emma Sue is holding up under the scrutiny!

A New Dyeing Adventure

Yes, a new adventure, at least for me. Although I have been dyeing my own wool for several years now, I have never yet dyed yarn to whip a rug.  With the spotted/mottled background of the Twin Roses rug, I knew I’d never find yarn to go with it, and a solid colour I felt would distract from the mat.

So….I’m dyeing yarn for the first time. My first step was to watch Gene Shepherd’s video on the subject, and I picked up quite a few pointers which I’m sure will help in this process. The second was to consult with Ann Hallett, who also gave me help and suggestions for a successful result.  Then to buy the white wool yarn to be hooked. There is only one place in my town that carries an all wool yarn, and wouldn’t you know it, they had no white. A quick call to “The Purple Sock” a wonderful yarn shop in the village of Coldwater (about 15 miles from here) and I had found my wool.

The first tip I learned from Gene Shepherd, was to prepare the skein so that it will stay without becoming a bird’s nest in the dyeing process. (Tie it in at least 4 places.)

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…..just divide the skein in three, and loop a piece of yarn around each so it is secure, but can spread out.

Now a time out……and an aside….I got to this point in the process, had my camera at my side to record the dyeing, and guess what….I forgot to take any pictures at all…..never thought of it again until the wool was dyed and lying on a towel!!  I was so annoyed at myself.

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Here’s a quick recap of what I did (without visuals).

The dyeing itself was just the same as the spot dyeing of the background. Spread the skein in a flat pan of simmering water so that it is spread out as much as possible, DSCF5727

(spread out the wool to cover the bottom of the pan and as much as possible so the yarn is exposed to absorb the dye….in the pan….not on the table like this photo)

…..and spot with dye baths plus citric acid. (again I used turquoise, blue 440, lilac, and blue violet).

I wanted the same intensity as the background …so here’s how I figured out how much dye to use (another great tip from Gene Shepherd’s video).  1/4 yard wool is about 3 oz. 1 skein of yarn is about 4 oz. I had dyed 1/2 yard at a time, and used 1/128th tsp of each dye, so I figured I needed a little more than half the dye of the original background. I roughly measured 1/2 of 1/128th tsp of each colour, and ta dah….ended up with the same intensity.

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…some arm stretching help from DH and I’m ready to get on with the finishing.

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In the meantime, I had finished hooking the background, so here it is ready to steam and bind.

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Having forgotten to take photos of the dyeing process, I then went ahead and forgot to take my camera to a wonderful hook in I attended on Wednesday with the hookers in Gravenhurst. So I can’t show you all the rugs on display there, or the wonderful food and hospitality they showed the 13 of us who were there from Sunshine Rug Hooking group. ARGHHHHH!

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.

Tweaking Adele’s Face

My morning smile….my spell check doesn’t think ‘tweaking’  is a word! Not too many rughooking lexicographers about I guess!

My process for tweeking Adele’s face goes something like this….After I’m done hooking a portion or want a break…..I clamp the piece up in the room so I can easily see it while reading or watching TV. Then I periodically stare at it…what do I like…what disturbs me? …and if something disturbs me,,,why…and how can I change it?

Adele’s nose has gone through several adjustments in this process.

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First I changed the order of shading to have the highlight in the centre. The wool I thought would be the lightest…didn’t turn out that way. (still not too sure I have this right).

Then the flare of the left nostril was too small so I extended that a bit.

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Then the left side of the nose didn’t show up well enough against the face…so I outlined it with black embroidery floss.

 

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The left side of the nostril now seemed a little larger than the right side…..so I flared the right side out a bit more.

 

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Another area that concerned me was the jaw line. As I filled in the chin and cheek areas, it seemed too broad. I pulled out the outline row, and the shadow row, and moved each back one row, and I think the profile now more closely resembles the Glimt painting, I outlined the hair so that I would have a better perspective on how the head would look as a whole.

 

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I then decided that the black embroidery floss was too stark, and I didn’t like the line running all the way up to her eyebrow. I placed grey floss over top to see what it looked like….liked it….ripped out the black and redid it with the grey.

 

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original lips

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left side tweeked

The left side of the upper lip was too pointed, so I took out two loops at the top and reworked the skin area immediately around it

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All of this may sound like a lot of work….but actually. I just pull out a few loops  replacing what is necessary, and it only takes a couple of minutes. The time consuming part is the looking/analyzing time. This process happened step by step over several days as I worked on the rest of the face. The whole face pleases me much more now….and when all is said and done…..that’s all that really matters!

Country Cottage–finished hooking—now the yucky stuff!

Hooking’s done…that was really fun.

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I kept experimenting with various ways to do the flowers as I went along.  I used both strips and yarn for the flower stems, but eventually found one way that pleased me most. (the large shrubs I settled on a yarn chain stitch). For the flowers along the edge, I pulled up varying lengths of long loops, with a number 3 cut wool. Then, I began my french knot flowers by coming up inside the top of the loop, and going down outside, so the flower tied down the stem.  (hope that makes sense).

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Although I said in one blog, that the specialty yarns weren’t worth the effort, I found I missed the bit of sparkle that they added, so I did insert some on the back as well. The flowers under the window are a bit of ‘proddy style’ in miniature, I shaped a piece of wool to make it easier to pull through, pulled up both sides close together, then cut the petals into smaller strips.

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The only thing left to add is the door handle…I’m pondering several possibilities for it….not sure yet what I’ll settle on. I want it visible, but not really obvious. I have a lovely gold cord ….may be too strong…or maybe a brown yarn…may not show up….or maybe….

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I took the bull by the horns this morning, took the cover off my trusty little sewing machine, and did three rows of zig zag around the outside, about a quarter inch out from the hooking (actually just the width of the machine foot) I didn’t even run out of bobbin thread, so I happily closed it back up again quickly when I was done.

I’m finally mentally ready and excited to get back to my hall runner. (although I’ve promised myself I won’t start on it again until the finishing on the tea cozy is complete….out with my needle!)

Country Cottage progress

Well I’m almost finished the straight line hooking on the cottage.

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There have been a few bumps along the way….the major one being with the yellow wool I’m using for the stucco. It was in two pieces, which seemed to be identical. But when I had used up the first, and went on to the second piece…low and behold there is a very slight difference in the colour! You can see the difference in this picture….It’s on the back along the top. Actually the two yellows are not as different in real light, as they appear in the picture.  I’m hoping with lots of vegitation applied over the bottom section it won’t be noticeable.

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I’ve tried quite a variety of materials with the flowers. I used #3 cut for the stems of the centre and left vines, then tried crewel wool for the right hand shrub…..much easier to manage. I did the purple flowers using french knots, then added wool strips for the leaves. I used some feathery ribbon, and sprinkled in some specialty wools along the bottom, but the effect was lost, other than a bit of sparkle….not worth the effort.

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I think I will use more of the crewel wool on the back, as it is the easiest to use, and yet creates a nice effect.

Portrait Necklace and Cottage Windows

I just had to show you a gift I gave my sister for Christmas. I didn’t make it… it was made by Cheri Hempseed, a very talented hooker in our group. She usually makes them with three people, but since I only have 1 sister…she made this especially for me, with details such as hair colour and eye colour carefully correct. Isn’t it precious!

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I”m working away on the tea cozy, and  love the leaded glass windows in the cottage, but I was frustrated by the fact that the thread would not stay taut and sometimes separated. It is sewn through loops on the backside, and when I tried to pull it tighter, I only made it worse.

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I’m rather pleased with myself that I thought up a solution which seems to be working nicely. I took my bottle of ‘Tackie Glue’ , put a dab on my finger, and gently patted the strands of thread to glue them together and make them stiff. I like the windows much better now…..tackie glue is rather like the rug hooker’s duct tape!

Hooking a Chain Stitch Vine

I hooked the front steps of the cottage, again from the back side, using a hook-1 skip-3 pattern, but adjusting the repeats in each row to create a brick pattern. I used a brown plaid for this and quite like the cobbled effect.

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The flowers over the doorway were hooked in clusters of three, and the leaves left with long loops. I studied the pictures in the magazine carefully, because the instructions said simply …use a chain, or daisy stitch for the vines. They were obviously on top of the hooked wall, so I used a 3 cut, and got out my fine bent hook. I hooked into the spaces between the rows, pulled up a long loop, then pulled up the next loop up a few rows of hooking and looped it through the previous loop creating the chain. I had to leave it all quite loose, so that it didn’t pull down into the hooked wall, but sat nicely on top. The flowers on the vine are simply 1 loop of a 6 cut which I twisted by hand to go in the direction I wanted. The foliage is long loops of a 3 cut which I then snipped at an angle.

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Well I’ve satisfied my curiosity about some of the decorative flowers, so I’ll get back to hooking the stucco and beams for awhile.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. We really enjoyed having family here for the celebration, and of course I ate far too much…..but it was sooo yummy! The  house is quiet again today and we are enjoying the calm after all the activity. Time to put up my feet and hook!