Thursday, June 30, 2011

from 'funk' to funky....

Things have been a little quiet around here lately. Sorry about that. This is one of those times of the year when things are crazy busy at work, I end up staying a little later than usual, and arrive home feeling (more than) a little fried. So there has been a lot of laying about reading, playing Catan on my iPad, watching movies, napping (!), and not much of anything else.

I was reflecting on my sorry state the other day, and realized that I was in a funk, to be sure....and then I got to wondering whether my recent lack of hooking might be to blame. Just because I couldn't hook didn't have to mean that I couldn't do anything else in the creating I resumed knitting on Juliet. Knitting is is definitely a slow practice for me, and one that usually conflicts with my need for some instant gratification and real creativity (unless I'm mixing lots of different yarns together -- and I'm not on Juliet) it helped a little bit, but not enough. Enter: the sewing project.

We bought some new furniture for the family Campsite this year....including two new glass topped tables for dining, game playing, etc. While more durable (and way prettier!) than the plastic ones we had before, we've come to realize that the glass is not always the most practical. The idea of making some extra-large, table-sized placemats was born, and I volunteered to make them. I started sifting through my fabric stash and found my pile of Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably prints -- a little on the bright side for inside my place, but very pretty and perfect for the summertime.

The stack was washed, some charcoal/black denim was purchased, and I started cutting and sewing and pressing. My initial plan was to keep things simple and just have varying widths of strips, laid in stripes along the tops (which will each be 40" by 70")......

But then last night, after struggling with figuring out how I was going to measure and cut my too-big top to be a perfect fit for the table top, I decided to cut up each one into more strips and then sew them back together. I like it much better (you can see a sneak peek up top) ....but at the same time I am realizing that it's a whole lot of work for what started out as a quick and simple project. I could almost combine the two mats and make a quilt top.....but then I would have to go and buy something else to make the table mats, and what would I do with the quilt? Hmmm.......

I am resuming work on it when I get home tonight, so I still have a bit of time to decide :-D

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Week 25: 48.1 square feet

If you observant, you will see that progress on my Jumbo rug has stalled. I've been having some problems with my shoulder...and I've been forcing myself to take a break. So instead, I've been spending all of my spare time (and more!) reading A Song of Ice and Fire series of books. These books are the basis for the HBO series A Game of Thrones....and Wendie inspired me to start reading (even lent me the first book!) when I complained about how confused I was watching the show (there are a lot of Characters....and even in the book, I found the first 50-60 pages hard work).

Perseverance has paid off, though, and I just started the 3rd book last night. With storylines and characters carried over from one book to the next, it's like a never-ending book (which I just LOVE!) There are currently 4 books, and the 5th is coming out next month. These are long, big being able to read the 2nd and 3rd ones on my iPad has been great (and added no additional strain to the sore shoulder....LOL!)

This is the harsh reality of working on a big rug --> whether you're working on it or not, it's in your way, and in your face.....and haunting you when you take a break. Not only is it huge, I'm almost afraid to put it all away because I know I will be less inclined to haul it all out again. So I've been avoiding my living room for the last while, cosying up in my bed with my book each evening instead.

Sometimes you don't realize how much you need to take a break until you're almost forced to do it. The past few months have been sooooo busy, that this rest may be just what is required. Hopefully I will be back at the frame again real soon.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

lucky find

A year an a half ago, I bought a clear plastic tumbler at Starbuck's with a lid and reusable straw (on clearance)....and it quickly became my favourite glass to use when hooking. Why? The lid helps stop lint and snippets from going in my drink. It's a simple thing, but if you've ever had to strain wooly bits from your drink, you will know how convenient the lid can be.....

Over the course of the last year and a half, my tumbler has had it's share of tumbles, and now the seal between the two layers (it's double-walled) is broken. Actually it's been broken for some time, but I've just been taking extra care when washing and making sure I don't immerse it water. I keep hoping to find another one on sale, but stubbornly refuse to pay full price ;-)

Needless to say, I was super-thrilled to discover a knock-off at my local grocery store (in the Loblaw's chain) last week....for the low price of 2 for $5 (I think my first one was about $5, on this is a steal). I'm now the proud owner of a couple of colourful replacements.....and they've already been put to good use this weekend, while I've been hooking. Thanks Mr. President!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Week 24: 48.1 square feet

Yes, it was a slow going at the frame this week. From Monday to Friday I hooked a mere 9 square inches.....and so almost all of this week's progress was hooked last night and today. Oh well, a little is better than none!

My sister was complaining last week that it's hard to imagine how it will look when finished, so I spent a few minutes (14, to be exact) playing around in Photoshop and produced this sketch....

A few people commented on my off-hand remark last week about adding an outer border. What I'm thinking right now involves a narrow "black" and "white" design which would be 2-3 times as wide as the checkerboard, but in a different pattern - maybe something that relates more with the design in the centre field? There is lots (lots!) of time to decide that....right now I need to focus on squares. Six. Hundred. And. Twenty. Squares. Left. Yowza.


Hooked by Barb Brunette

Yesterday I spent a lovely day up in Powassan (about an hour north), at a hook-in. After a crazy busy and draining week (with a mere 9" square hooked from Monday to Friday), it was great to be a participant for the day and only have to pack a lunch before leaving home. The whole day was very relaxing and filled with all of the usual chatter, treats, and sharing of ideas, in a room with lots of people that I already knew.

I never tire of seeing these 'scrappy' mats. This one was hooked by Kathryn Kirton.

After the normal show and share in the morning with lots of beautiful work shown, the afternoon program was great, too. Many people had been to the recent OHCG Annual in London, and so they went through each of the classes, one at a time, and participants shared their projects and what they had learned in the class.

By far, the best tip of the whole day came from someone in Heather Ritchie's class: if you wool is shredding, cut it on the diagonal (and it will be more stable). I will definitely be giving this a try...

I was most interested (and inspired) in seeing Sue's standing wool rugs. Last Fall, mum and I spent the afternoon chatting with Rose Ann Hunter at Stowe, and hearing all about her work and seeing her samples. And needless to say, I left feeling very inspired and with great intentions of making my own.

Life intervened and now I am again feeling energized to get creating. Here are the pieces Sue Finnis produced in Theresa English's class...

I LOVE this one! It's such a great idea....I might need to imitate it.... :-D

And, of course, no rug hooking gathering would be complete without a little stash enhancement.....

My Jumbo rug is starting to tax my wool supply a little bit, so I feel justified in making a few from any guilt.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

fast finishing

••PLEASE NOTE•• I have since revised and updated my finishing technique.....and you can read all about it HERE.

The longer I hook rugs, the more I loathe the act of whipping the edge.

I dabbled with putting on tape last year....and a couple of weeks ago, I did a little more experimentation and I think that maybe, just maybe, I’ve settled on a method that I will be using for a while. I definitely don’t want to sacrifice any functionality, but I guess the proof will be in the pudding. I won’t really know until some undefined time in the future how it will wear....but for now I'm really loving the reduced time spent post-hooking.

So here is what I did....

After pressing my rug, I count 12 threads out from the last row of hooking and pull the 13th thread from the backing. I use the stretch zigzag stitch (marked with a dotted line) and sew (on the hooking side) of the pulled thread), going all of the way around the rug twice. At the corners, I do lots of reinforcing, as shown, so that when I later cut away some of the excess, it's very stable and secure.

Why do I use the stretch zigzag for any sewing I do, regardless of the backing? Because it’s made up of 3 little stitches in each direction instead of just one, and all of these stitches work to hold the backing together much better than a regular zig-zag or straight stitch.

I trim away the excess rug warp (cutting along the line created by the pulled thread), fold over the edge, and baste it in place. For this step, I like to use upholstery thread and a leather/glovers needle, and find that I need to make a conscious effort to just fold back the rug warp, and not to pull it back. If you pull it back, the edge will actually start to roll under and your outer loops will splay....and you don't want that!

As I sew, I make sure that I am catching more than just the backs of my loops in my stitches, and I also catch a generous amount of the seam allowance, as you can see in the following picture....

I wait until I am ready to sew each corner before I trim away the excess rug warp, one corner at a time.

I sew down one side first, then sew the adjoining side on top, sewing a little bit of a whip stitch along the outside edge. I don't want the corners to shift at all while the rug is in use, since I consider this cutting weakens the backing....and this extra reinforcement helps to stabilize things, while also allowing me to reduce some of the bulk that would otherwise result.

Once all of the rug warp seam allowance is secure, it's time to start sewing on the rug tape. For starters, I don’t cut the rug tape from the roll until it’s mostly sewn into place. This way I don’t waste any unnecessarily, nor do I accidentally cut it too short and have to add in a piece.

Again, I like to use the upholstery thread and a leather/glovers needle, and usually by this time, I've resorted to using a thimble or band-aid to help protect my finger....

I begin by attaching the tape right next to the hooking, on the top side of the rug, so that there is no visible backing between the tape and the last row of hooking. I catch a small amount of tape (directly across from where my thread came out on my previous stitch), and bring up my needle in between my loops of hooking (sewing on an angle). I've found that if I hold the tape where I want it to end up -- before I pull the thread tight -- then it usually stays there.

I pin the tape in place as I work, using just 1-2 pins and moving them over as I come upon each one. I pull the tape fairly tightly, and pin every 3-4". At the corners, I simply wrap the tape around -- nothing fancy.

Once it's attached on the front side, I fold the tape over and sew it down on the back of the rug, mitering the corners as I come upon them (and stitching them down to close up the fold).

Where the cut edges meet, I fold the cut edge underneath the top piece and over lap both pieces by about 1/2" or so. Again, I stitch this edge down, all along the fold.

Finito bambito! .....and in a fraction of the time it takes me to whip -- believe it or not!

••PLEASE NOTE•• I have since revised and updated my finishing technique.....and you can read all about it HERE.