Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Right about now....

I'm second guessing my decision to vacuum this morning--instead of
choosing and cutting wool--before I left on my road trip. If I keep
hooking at this pace, I will be needing it long before I get home
again....

(but I have no regrets about ripping out the magenta-pinky-
reds.....the darker purples, maybe, but not the bright ones!)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

too much of a rainbow

I remember many years ago, during a hooking week at AJ & UBs, Dorinda was working away on a room-sized rug. She couldn't figure out why she wasn't loving the way it was coming together - she liked all of her colours. At one point I threw in my 2 cents and said that I thought the problem was that it "was too much of a rainbow"....and that she just had way too many colours and values trying to come together in her rug.

While I was hooking on my runner tonight, I finally accepted that what causes me the most jarring is the red/purple sections....and their contribution to the rainbow effect. It's aggravated by the intensity of some of the wools. While I was hooking tonight (and admittedly avoiding adding any more), I started to consider removing it.

As I'm not one to rip out any loops easily....I decided to play around on the computer for five minutes first. Using a fairly inexpensive software called Photoshop Elements and the same picture from the previous post, I selected all of the red/purple parts. How? I tried using the Magic Wand Tool, but there was not enough value/hue change between some of the sections (it was overlapping into other colours/sections), so instead I held down the shift button and used the Rectangular Marquee Tool to pick up all of the affected sections. Then I adjusted the hue (Enhance>Adjust Colour>Adjust Hue/Saturation....and then slide the toggles until you like what you see).

Here are a couple of mock-ups, showing a couple of subtle variations....



What a difference a hue makes! ....I've got a feeling I'm going to be popping quite a few loops and the "rainbow" will quickly disappear. But first I need to assemble the replacement wools, and I'm afraid that will have to wait until I get back home again early next week. Yes, I'm heading out again tomorrow for another interview blitz - back home on Monday - so once again, things are going to be a little quiet around here....back soon!

Monday, February 22, 2010

quick progress report


Despite the disappointment in the hockey results - and the frequent looking up to see what was happening - I did manage to get a reasonable amount of hooking done. I haven't decided if I prefer the more crisp colour changes (right) or the more gentle, fading ones (left). I'm leaning a little to the more obvious, crisper ones for now. I will have to do a few more before I go back and modify some of the previous ones.

What you see in the picture represents half of the runner....so if I can manage another couple of evenings of solid hooking, I might just end up with an Olympic mat after all. ;-)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

still not sure.....

I had another look at my runner when I got home last night. I still wasn't sure what to think.....so I started reading my book, instead. I read, and read, and read, and now the book is done (it's not coming out here until the summer, but my sister picked up two copies in Amsterdam last weekend, just so that we wouldn't have to wait too long for our turns. It's the third and final book in a great series if you like mystery/suspense/conspiracy/intrigue). After a busy time away - and with today being my only day off this week, it was great to have a real day off....laying about and reading.

But now that the book is done, and I've almost cleared out all of my e-mails that accumulated when I was gone.....I can't really procrastinate too much longer. I did a couple of mock-ups to show what the change in the orientation will do to my runner. Of course there is repetition of exact colours that won't happen with the hooked version....but it does give me a better idea. Here are the two possibilities....



The top one is the version I'd begun to wish I had started instead. The bottom one is what will happen if I continue working on my existing runner. I was surprised to discover that I like the second one (the actual).....which is great, since I've already done 30% of the work! I am going to continue plucking away on this one, but like many other hookers, I've already begun planning my next one in my head. I can't wait to get started on it -- but first I have to finish this one!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

newest geo


When all of the dyeing and cutting and e-mailing was done....I finally had some time to start hooking on Monday evening. And struggling. And unhooking. And re-hooking. This nonsense (?) of working with lights and darks in the same piece is such a challenge for me....hopefully it's true that "that which does not kill you, makes you stronger." I persevered and last night hooked back over all of the holey spots and managed to get some more done, too.

This will eventually be a table runner - 13" by 42"....and what you see in the above photo is about 12" by 13". The colours in the photo are a little off, from the flash...

I'm not really sure how it's going to work out in the end...but seeing the above photo is making me think about changing the orientation and rotating it 90┬║. That would mean I'd have to start over again....so it's a good thing I'll have a few days to think about it and I can see it with new eyes on the weekend -- I'm on the road again now until Saturday night. Back soon....and have a great few days.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Olympic proportions

I just love watching the Olympics and of course this time around it's extra special because Canada is playing host. I'm not sure about you, but I find so many of the stories very emotional and as I ride the rollercoaster of highs and lows, I'm not ashamed to admit that I've gone through more than a few Kleenexes.

From the minute I cracked open my special bottle of Coke Zero (saved from the Torch Relay in December) in honour of the amazing Opening Ceremonies on Friday night....until now, I have been busy - and not just curled up on the couch, either. While watching many of our athletes compete in their sports, I've been partaking in my own version of the Olympics -- the rug hooker's version.

So far this weekend I've cut the equivalent of 26 yards of wool (for some new kits I've been working on) and I've also marbleized over 45 yards of wool. Both were marathon events.

I've been wanting to do a big marbleizing session for several months now, using a stockpiled bunch of off-the-bolt wool that AJ gave me. The main reason from procrastinating was the sheer volume of wool that was waiting to be marbleized -- so many batches = a lot of time. I'd been thinking of ways that I could speed things up for myself...and came up with a new twist on the method that worked well for me.


Using 1/4 yard pieces of wool, I layered 5 on top of one another (instead of the more usual 3), then rolled up along the short edge (to produce rolls about 18" wide). I didn't pay too much attention to having the rolls all be perfect....then I took pieces of string and yarn and wrapped up the rolls, pulling tight whenever I crisscrossed. Three of these logs fit perfectly into my stainless steel insert - and I was able to dye almost 4 yards of wool at a time, using just one pan.





Some of the pieces are just beautiful - almost too pretty to consider ripping and cutting. Some of them are a little subdued in comparison, with less variation. All of the pieces are much better than their former, boring, selves. Marbleizing is always fun because the outcome is so unpredictable. It's kinda like the Olympics. [ Go Canada go! ;-) ]

Friday, February 12, 2010

flashback Friday


For almost as long as I can remember - or at least as far back as high school - I have been making many of my Christmas gifts. In 2003 I decided to hook a couple of little pictorials for two of my aunts. I had never hooked such a piece before....and quickly discovered that the first piece used up more than the time I had allowed for both pieces, so I simplified things a little more in the second one to get it done in time.


I can remember running leftover # 8 strips through the cutter to make them into two #4s. I just used whatever wool I could find (obviously not a very wide selection or range of values)...and I struggled to make both buildings resemble their real counterparts (AJ&UB's bunkie and AB&UR's soon-to-be sold family home). It was a real challenge....and I must say that I like them both a little better now that there is some time and distance between us.


I finished the pieces by stretching them over canvas stretcher bars (8" by 10"), trimming off the excess backing, and then attaching some slivers of cherry (harvested on my parent's property). Since the pieces were quite small, this worked rather well...and after 6 years of hanging, there is very little sag (but still there is some). If I were to mount small pieces again, I think that I would use a piece of plywood with a layer of quilt batting sandwiched between the hooking and the wood (to help absorb any stretching, sagging or seasonal changes in the wood from humidity).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mama's got a brand new bag....

I'm home again - for a full week - and so anxious for the Olympics to get started this weekend. I've been toying with the idea of hooking a special Olympic mat (similar to the Knitting Olympics - save its a rug that would be drawn, hooked and whipped during the 2 week event)...but I've finally come to the conclusion that it might be biting off a little more than I can chew at the moment. 'Caus even though I'm planning to be parked in front of the TV watching many of the events, I'll also be on the road for work (and really busy) for at least 8 of those days and nights.


So instead, I've decided that I'm going to do a little dyeing this weekend - and see if I can put a dint in this big bag of Citric Acid I picked up on the weekend from RHF. Running out of something you consider to be an essential is never fun, so I'm hoping this 5 lb bag will help me avoid facing another shortage for some time. There's a whole lot of dyeing potential in this bag. I've got a whack of wool waiting to be marbleized, along with many skeins of slub and a tonne of silk.....so I'll be able to flit from one thing to another without any chance of boredom.

Then I'll hopefully be able to start on my next rug (I'm hoping to finish the hooking on this one tonight, and think whipping will be a great travel project for next week). I've already got my idea, it's just a simple (?) matter of converting it to canvas. I still plan on hooking during the Olympics - I've only removed the pressure of finishing it before the flame is extinguished.

Monday, February 08, 2010

one week later


I hope it's true and a picture is worth a thousand words, because it's all I've got time for.....
In spite of a busy week, with four different beds, I did manage to get quite a bit of hooking done. I'm leaving again this morning - and I still have to pack! Back soon...

P.S. 'Cause I know someone will be wondering, it's about 20 by 30"

Friday, February 05, 2010

flashback Friday

In April 2002, I had planned to attend two back-to-back classes with AJ at Hooked in the Mountains.....but a month before, AJ had a heart attack and was unable to go.

I worked on this rug in Diane Phillips Women with Attitude class...and everyone who knows AJ will agree that she's got some! ;-) It was the second rug I started that week and I finished hooking it shortly after my return home. I presented to AJ for her 75th birthday that summer (with instructions for it to be returned to me, when she no longer needs it).


The rug celebrates My Rug Hooking Mentor, complete with silver necklaces, painted toenails, Birkenstocks, and a wok full of dyed wool. There are stars for encouragement, a lightbulb for ideas, shelves full of fabric and books which she generously shared, an owl for the Owl's Nest, her puffy cat....and many other symbols hooked and hidden in the background.


What became of the rug I started in my first class? Well it consumed a lot of energy and momentum in those first three days, but as much as I loved it and tried to get back into the spirit of the rug, I was never able to recapture the energy. I tried working on it many times over the years, until I felt so smothered and bogged down by it that I finally aborted it. Yes, after almost 8 years of struggle....last Fall I hauled it down to the curb and set it out with the trash. I haven't regret it since.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

tangy


Being on the road for the last few days encouraged me to pick up an abandoned knitting project...and although progress was slow (and frequently interrupted, for long periods of time), I did get a couple of inches added. Fine yarn + small needles + slow knitter = very slow progress.

There are all kinds of free knitting patterns to be found on Knitty, including this one. Since I have a whack of leftover bits and bigger balls of Noro sock yarn, I've been mixing and matching while I go. I waffle between loving it and hating it....but I just keep telling myself that if I still don't like it when it's finished (if it's too loud), then I can always over-dye it just a little to tone it all down.


The gauge with the Noro is a little off, but I'm just going to add a couple of sections to the pattern to make it a little bigger. At this rate, the little shawl should be ready in time for the summer....

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

snow clean


I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I really needed to clean a few of my rugs....and finally got around to doing it on the weekend - thanks to Judith's reminder.

The conditions were perfect - it was very cold, dry, and there was lots of fine, freshly fallen snow. The only problem was that I don't own a broom. Luckily my Swiffer seemed to do the trick -- and it was really great for grinding the snow into the trouble spots. Plus, I lay the mats on top of a big snowbank right outside my door (of clean shovelled snow - no salt or sand.....I live in the country), so I didn't have to bend over quite so far....and there was a nice firm base underneath.

I was amazed at the difference it made -- it really does work. The rugs appear brighter and cleaner.....and it was so easy that I can't believe it's taken me 10 years to given it a try. I will definitely be doing this again and again.

Monday, February 01, 2010

productive procrastination


Sometimes I just don't feel like doing what I want to do....or what I think I should be doing. Such was the case with my newest clutch - I just wasn't feeling it on the weekend. Rather than continuing to progress at a snail's pace or just wallow on the couch watching a movie, I decided to start a new project yesterday afternoon.

I love these simple geometrics with their rows of straight hooking that let me get lost in the colours and the pulling up of loops. Progress is swift, and I want to just keep hooking to see what each new wave of colour contributes. It's always changing....and it's so much fun. Plus, it's the perfect project to pick up whenever I'm home, without requiring too much thinking or over-analysing. I think it's the perfect prescription for my February blues.

Seeing how much I was able to accomplish in just one afternoon and evening made me wish I'd started hooking it on Saturday!

P.S. Yes, the pattern will be available....and I will also have a limited number of kits featuring the same wools I've used (I selected about 100 pieces of wool from my shelves - I'm not working from my leftover bins for this one!)