Monday, January 21, 2008

1st mare monday

As promised, here's the current status of my carousel horse, as of this morning....

The plan is to post a picture every Monday until I'm done - and I'm keeping my fingers crossed there will be noticeable progress each and every week!

I knew that this project was going to be a challenge for me from the get-go....but I had no idea just how challenging it would be. Let's just say that I have definitely mastered the art of ripping out...

It's just been in the last few days that I've managed to choose the right wool, in the right cut, in the right place -- and on my first try. At least some of the time.

I will try to post more in the coming days about the nature of the project - there's a lot more to it than just my horse.

Friday, January 18, 2008

how many Bell technicians does it take to hook up highspeed?

I don't know. I wish I knew, because that might mean that highspeed was (finally!) working at my place - but it's not! After about a dozen phone calls and countless hours of being on hold, talking to people, installing filters, trying this and trying that, waiting for a new modem to arrive, making appointments and waiting for a technician to show up...we were told that we are out of the service range. It's been over 3 weeks since we were first told a technician would come if we didn't have service in the next 72 hours. Still no technician has ever come to check out the problem in person. I just don't understand how they could have sent a modem in the first place if highspeed was not available to us. I don't know why it took a dozen phone calls to Bell to find this out - does that mean that only 1 person in 12 has a clue? Or does it mean that single person was wrong? Either way, on Monday we will have had a modem for a whole month - and not even a flicker of service during this whole time. How annoying!

In other news, I have been working on my horse again - and I even have some parts that I've only hooked once! I promise pictures for "Mare Monday" Have a great weekend everyone!

Friday, January 11, 2008

good gloves

I don't know about you....but it seems like every time I dye wool, the skin around the cuticle part of my nails seems to shred. I've self-diagnosed it to be a reaction to the powder used in the disposable gloves (there is little difference whether I use latex or vinyl)...and I had accepted it as a necessary evil of dyeing. Not any more.

I was down to my last pair of gloves and when I was last at Costco, I discovered these ones...

$9.79 per box, a pretty blue colour, no powder and no raw or irritated fingers. Who could ask for anything more? (okay, so the fit is a little loose, but totally tolerable). Happy dyeing!

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Years and years ago, back when I had my first bolt of wool, I dyed big swatches of all of the dye colours I had at the time. I think I used about 1/12 of a yard of each with 1/8 tsp of dye (if I had my swatches with me, I could check - since I typed that on the labels).

It was one of the best uses of my dyeing time ever. I refer to these swatches over and over again, and I don't think there have been very many dye days when they weren't referenced.

I made up sets for myself, AJ and Shellie and this used up about 1/3 of each of the pieces. I had always planned to make up the rest into swatches, but you know how things get shoved in a box, forgotten about, periodically raided, and left to collect dust?! There was no longer a complete set and I didn't realistically think that there would ever be another complete set (especially since I now have about twice as many dyes - and if any get done, it will be the newer acquisitions).

As you can imagine, some of these pure dye colours are quite bright - and not quite my style. I didn't want to spend a whole lot of time or effort in fixing them up, so I just divided them up into three piles of complements (reds with greens, blues with oranges, yellows with purples).

Each pile went into a pot with some laundry soap (more environmentally friendly Method, not Tide). There was some bleeding...but not enough in the purple/gold pot, so I added some actual Tide. I set the colours with citric acid.

The nature of the colours was preserved (except for the oranges...which went quite brown)...but the feeling that you need to put on a pair of sunglasses, before you can ever look at the wool, is gone. Here are the results (and yes, the pictures don't adequately describe either the before or the after)....

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

new year, new order

Once I brought all of my wool home with me, I was at a loss for where to put it all. The only way it was going to fit on my shelves was with considerable reorganization. I also wanted to make sure that I would have enough room to add more wool and that I would be able to easily see what I had on hand.

Gone are all of the books and clutter…and all that remains is most of the wool. Glorious wool.

I think the only way this will work is if I make a concerted effort to keep the shelves orderly. This includes putting everything away – in its proper place – once a project is completed. Not just shoving the whole pile on one shelf… Sorting. Every. Piece. Of. Wool.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Dye Day

I love dyeing wool. Sometimes I think that I enjoy it more than the actual hooking. There is such freedom in dyeing wool….and so much mystery at the same time. I never seem to know just exactly what I’ll be pulling out of the dryer. Oh, I have a pretty good idea, but there are always a few surprises to keep things interesting...

Dyeing wool is much like cooking food. There are many different methods and unlimited recipes. Some folks follow the recipe very carefully each and every time they create a dish, some people recreate recipes from memory, and other people pick and choose their own ingredients to create a unique version every time.
I’m definitely a pick and choose dyer. Early on in my rug hooking, I discovered that I have difficultly in choosing colours I could not see with my eyes. I tried to imagine which colours would look best together…choose some swatches I liked…and set about creating those colours. No match. The results were hideous…and I just had to dye more wool.

Now, I prefer to choose the wool for my projects off of the shelf….and I often change my mind a few times before I’m finished. I like to use lots of shades and colours in each piece of hooking, so I don’t really need big pieces of any one wool. To prepare for my big dyeing day, I rip up the wool first. In total, I riped up just over 15 yards of various wool into 1/8 yard pieces….so about 120 or so pieces of wool.

Since I only have a single sink in the kitchen, I fill a big shopping bin about ½ full with warm water and a big squirt of Jet Dry (did you know you can buy a supersize 946mL bottle at Costco for less than $10?), pick out a bunch of pieces of dry wool I want to dye first and set them to soak. While they are soaking, I set up the rest of my dye equipment: an electric wok (half full with hot water and a dash of citric acid); a deep electric frying pan (also half full with hot water and a dash of citric acid); pots for setting the colour; measuring cups; spoons; crates of dry dye….all of the usual stuff, plus a set of swatches of the basic dye colours.

Once I decide on the basic idea of the colour(s) I want to dye, I select some dry dyes and mix up some of each (the amount of dye used really depends on how much wool I plan to dye in this family). I often just take hot water out of the wok (if it’s close to boiling)….otherwise I will boil the kettle.

Depending on how concentrated I’m making the solution, the amount of water varies – usually it’s about half of a cup. I pour some of the dye into the water (some of each or just one colour), stir it around a bit and add a piece of wool to start. At any time I can pull the piece of wool out of the water – if I like it just like it is and don’t want it to change or if I hate where it’s going, I yank it out. Some of the excess water is squeezed out and I put the dyed wool into a shallow pan. Another piece of wool gets added to the wok…and maybe a bit more dye. I stir intermittently and when I like what I see, I yank the wool out. I work in both the wok and the frying pan at the same time…sometimes with a couple of pieces of wool in each one.

When things start slowing down, I add a shot of citric acid to the water. The bundles of wool in the shallow pan grows and I can see right away if they are working together or not. If some pieces need a little tweaking, I might add a mild solution of a complement. Once the shallow pan is full, the contents get put in a big pot with hot water and citric acid to “cook”.

I try to keep similar colours and values in the same pot – otherwise a rude surprise can occur (sometimes it’s a pleasant surprise…but not always ☺ )

The focus of my dye day was light and medium light values. There is definitely a shortage of such things around my place – and I’m trying to make friends with the “light side”. I also needed to dye some wool for my carousel horse (more on that very soon). Since I don’t have a washer and dryer at home….I headed out to the Laundromat with 2 bins full of sopping wet wool.

While heading out the door, I was happy to notice that my latest issue of Rug Hooking Magazine had arrived and I brought it with me to read. The wool tossed and tumbled...

...while I read. What a surprise to read Wanda Kerr’s article about values – I’d been thinking about that a lot lately (and it was my motivation for all of this dyeing!

You definitely get a few funny looks at the Laundromat when you wash your “fabric scraps”...but the results are well worth it! ;-)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

happy new year!

...and best wishes for a really great 2008 ;-)

I'm looking forward to a year of new projects and lots of great posts. After all of the celebrations wound down (and I recovered from a brief encounter with the flu), I started on my de-junking and reorganizing project. I've been at it for 4 days now, and just took 2 big bags to the Sally Ann, 2 to the dumpster at work, and there are 4 big bags of recycling waiting for Tuesday to arrive. While far from finished, I think that I will try to wrap things up tonight and get back to some fun again.

I'm off to the city tomorrow for a two-day jaunt and home again in time for a dye day on Saturday. I've already got a big pile of wool waiting to be ripped and torn....along with some very scary pieces I found hiding in a corner of the closet this morning, that need to be reincarnated. Lots of pictures will follow, don't worry...

Other good news is that I should soon have highspeed at home. It was supposed to be up and running two weeks ago (around the same time I last went online - hence the lack of posts or e-mails)....but things are never simple. The most recent word is that the linemen will be resolving the problem in 72 hours (up tomorrow night). So please keep your fingers crossed.