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!

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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.

Hooking a Pathway

With the background village completed, (well I’ll likely still make some adjustments), I turned my attention to the ground and how I would hook it. My first thought was that I wanted it to be round stones to offset all the squares and rectangles of the archway. On the other hand if it was all circles, I’d have a lot of ‘grout’ or ‘cement’ filler to deal with. So I settled on ’round-ish’ . Rather than cobblestones, I think it is more flag ‘stone-ish’ . I took a soft pencil and sketched it in , soon deciding that it would be even less round than this. I’d “wing it” as I went along.DSCN1714Next decision was what colour? I had dyed some gold/grey for the arch and subsequently discarded it, and considered perhaps using that…..DSCN1716….and just as quickly threw out that idea…..far too strong.  I wanted something  light and with some interest, but not attracting attention away from the women or the arch.  Hmmmm….that’s exactly what I had wanted for the buildings….and….I had lots of very pale tints left over….DSCN1696DSCN1706

That’s what I’d try.  Now what would I use for the grout.  I suddenly remembered the wool I had dyed to whip my Grumpy Owl.DSCN0438Yarn would be much easier to handle than tiny strips ….and I had some left over.DSCN1730To my delight, I soon realized that it was 2 ply and for the small further away sections, it could be easily separated to make the grout line even tinier.DSCN1728DSCN1724…and for the nearer stones, I’d use the 2 strands for a bit more depth.DSCN1723

Finishing this should keep me occupied in my spare time over the holidays.

Wishing everyone a blessed Christmas, filled with peace, joy, and beautiful memories.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

The Third Building.. My Modus Operandi

My modus operandi is definitely….”if at first you don’t succeed….try, try again”.  And boy was it being used when I hooked the third building. Now that it’s finished, I can see that I had several concerns to deal with simultaneously, but I actually only dealt with them one at a time. When one was fixed it was still wrong because of the second problem…..etc. etc.

1.) The door on the top section didn’t make sense, so it came out.DSCN1697

2.) I initially hooked the building with shades of the very light mahogany (pink as it turned out)DSCN1700….I didn’t like the pink effect at all and the perspective was all wrong, I did like the touches of  light purple, so I searched my stash for some light mauve. DSCN1708I quickly realized that didn’t have enough light shades, so off to the dye pots and I dyed some very light violet and ‘cushing’ purple.

DSCN1706

3.) I finally liked the colours, but the shading was wrong for the building to appear with the right angles.  DSCN1703

4.)  The face of the bottom section needed to be darker and some shading at the top right to have part of the wall recede. Top left and bottom sections are one face, so they need to be more the same shadesDSCN1714

Finally the building looked right to me….needed some final touches…

DSCN1721

I made countless other tiny adjustments as I went along  but right or wrong…I’m finally satisfied with it now.

Next step ….the cobble stones…or flag stones…not sure yet what they will be. No doubt I’ll need several tries to be satisfied with them too.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Hooking the Buildings

After completing the arch, I was so happy to move on to the buildings visible in the background. Some time ago, inspired by a post by Gene Shepherd on dyeing very pale tints, I dyed a few small pieces of wool in very pale colours and thought these would provide interest for the buildings, but not compete with the women. Before starting I dyed quite a few more, and had these to choose from.DSCN1696

I dyed these in the microwave, since it is so much easier when you are dyeing small pieces. To set the dye, they can then all be simmered together in clear water and vinegar. I started with 1/256th tsp. of dye in 1cbw (cup of boiling water) then often only added a few tbsp. of the solution to the dye bath. (or you could use the wet toothpick method) I made at least two values of each colour, and also included a strip of undyed natural Dorr for edge highlights. (top left) Dyes used  were, clay, mouse grey, golden pear, mahogany, and violet, plus a couple of unknown left overs that I found in my stash.DSCN1683I wanted the roof of this building to appear to be of tile, and mused about the best way to create that impression. I considered using a light plaid and selectively using the strips, I considered separating rows with a tiny (#2) row of black, and finally decided to simply try this light mottled grey, hooking it in straight lines matching each loop carefully all the way down. Ta dah…the simplest solution worked. (love it when that happens)DSCN1686I chose brown and yellow tones for the next building, with a bit of mottled taupe wool for the door and beams. DSCN1690One row of natural helps to highlight the corner of the building. I’m using quite a bit of antigodlin hooking for this ‘stucco’ and I find it harder on my hands. So….a day of no hooking yesterday and the sore finger feels much better. My plan is to use the mahogany tones for the third building (they turned out peachy pink) . I’m not sure how I’ll like that, but I’ll see what happens.

We had our first major snowstorm of the season last night so it’s a good day to stay in, curl up and hook. ….supervised of course by these two.DSCN1680

Thanks for stopping by

 

Hands On

Well now I know why I didn’t hook the remaining three hands when I hooked the rest of the maidens nearly a year ago.  They were tricky! …It took me several attempts, a couple of methods and lots of pulling out and trying something different.DSCN1662

Most, if not all of the black outlining will come out eventually, but at the moment it helps keep the shape and makes it easier for me to see the outline.DSCN1671 2

(…sorry…that photo wasn’t fuzzy in the media library.) They are hooked with a #2 cut and finding a black that was thin enough but woven tightly enough to cut that thin, took me several tries. (Shirley, a piece of your black suit worked really well) The hands themselves are Dorr wool which I dyed myself, and it cuts into a #2 strip well, but a lot of wool is just too loosely woven to cut into such a tiny strip (2/32 ” wide)DSCN1672DSCN1669

They look pretty awful up close like that, but from a distance, not so bad. I’m sure there will still be tweaking to do, but I’ll wait until the background is in.DSCN1665

Back to finishing the arch now, and trying to find the  wool I used for the plants so I can add more greenery.

It’s late fall here in central Ontario, lots of leaves still on the tress, but we’ve had several skiffs of snow with more expected this weekend.  The steely grey November skies are often overhead already  so it’s nice to snuggle up with my hooking while watching curling, or baseball, or hockey, or  basketball …(lots of sports to choose from at the moment, and a great time to be a Raptors or Leafs fan).

….back to my curling game and hooking frame….

Thanks for stopping by.

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.

 

Learning as I Go

When I began The Virgins, my excitement and interest was in hooking the figures themselves. I gave very little thought to the background, with only a  variety of hazy ideas as possibilities. DSCN1466

Of course I ended up settling on having the women stand in an arch (see previous posts for details of the decision) and true to my nature, forged blissfully ahead, trusting I could eventually figure out how to do it.

I am very much a visual learner, so there is a lot of trial and error in my hooking. Creating the arch and wall has really been a prime example of that. My last post dealt with figuring out the colours and style of hooking for it and last week I was pulled up short when I realized I had completely overlooked the need for an inside corner where the arch meets the wall. DSCN1498

This meant searching out and looking at the perspective and the angles required for an inside corner,. This was  followed by some loop removal and redrawing of stones. DSCN1507Oops…that corner needs to extend further….DSCN1508

…better, but still not right. That shadow needs to follow the curve of the arch right down. I just realized now as I was writing this and looking at the photo…..that I may have to redo all the stones above the arch as well so that the whole thing doesn’t fall on their heads! (I’m learning some facts about masonry as I go!) Then I’ll have to reverse the whole thing for the other side.

….and I thought doing the figures would be the hard part!

Thanks for stopping by.

PS…after conferring with my resident building expert…I learned that the arch is safe. It gets its strength from the pressure of the walls pressing in from the sides. Whew!…no crushed virgins!

Building That Wall

It seems Trump isn’t the only one having trouble building a wall. Figuring out how I wanted to hook the walls and arch in my ‘Two Virgins’ piece stopped my progress for a few weeks.

From past experience, I know that I have to see something before I’m sure it works for me. My minds eye certainly isn’t always reliable. This time it took several tries to capture the effect I wanted, and I had to accept several compromises  along the way.DSCN1469…two cuts and styles tried here and an attempt to catch the corner highlight……nope!DSCN1473….a 6 cut and straight lines…..nope!  ….but I liked the effect of the cornerDSCN1496 2….a 6 cut, straight lines and a much lighter wool (thinking of marble at this point)….then tried the arch in a 3 cut and a variety of mixed , darker colours.

At this point, I shared my dilemma with my friend Jean who liked  the arch  best…(as did I)  so on to further experiment with wall options….now using a 3 cut and antigodlin hooking.DSCN1498.Hummmm I like the left, the right is too light.

whew!

…so all the attempts came out and I’m finally on my way with the wall and arch.DSCN1503It’s a large area, and a small cut, so I think I’m set with enough hooking to keep myself busy while watching the olympics next month.

I sometimes get frustrated and think ‘will I ever  come up with the effect I want’, but its so exciting when I finally can look at my work and say “Yes! That’s what I was after.”

The compromises I mentioned…..1.) now a lighter sky colour to figure out

2.) lots more work using a 3cut rather than a 6 and antigodlin hooking rather than straight lines.

…….both incidental since I’m pleased with the effect.

If at first you don’t succeed…..

Thanks for stopping by