Rug Report

I had a wonderful week in Anaheim, doing all things rug hooking! The very first day I got a good start and was off and hooking. Because I had questions. I didn’t know how to differentiate one hill from another, and I wasn’t sure whether to hook the cow or the hill first. Well, Gene (the teacher) suggested I go through my stack of wool, and designate certain colors for certain hills. Yes! That was what I needed to do. My hills will go from dark in the back to light in the front (which is the opposite of what Gene usually suggests, but is what my picture looked like to me.) I also had to make sure that there was enough contrast between the hill color and the cow that was on that hill. I am working that out as I go. I borrowed 10 plastic bags from Gene, and put each hill’s color in one bag with a number on it. You can see here that I numbered each hill.

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And then it was time to work on the cows. That takes me a LOT longer than working on the hills. A lot of anxiety and uncertainty. And then I just do it! And if it doesn’t look right, I re-do it. The animals are small, and the wool is relatively large, so you have to do things just so to get enough details that the animals are identifiable. Here is a closer picture of what I accomplished by the end of the week:

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During the week, I thought about my design a lot. I decided to eliminate the wolf and the mice, and make it just about God and the cows (“He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.”) And when I told Gene that, there was a lot of discussion about wording and borders. And I like the idea we came up with–the wording will be included in the design, and I might use redwood trees to make the border. I drew a sketch this morning, and I liked it.

On the last morning before class, I checked my email. And I got a most exciting letter–my rug, “He Holds All Creation Together” was chosen to be included in the Celebrations of Hand Hooked Rugs. There is only one big rug hooking contest in this country, so it is an honor to be included. I worked hard on that rug, and I do love it. Its so exciting that it will be included in the Celebrations book, and will also be displayed at Sauder Village in August, at a big rug hooking gathering.

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A Busy Fun January

I’ve just been doing a variety of fun projects this month. Finishing some very old projects and playing with some new ones. This is a quilt top I finished a LONG time ago. Its so pretty, and I finally made a sandwich and got it quilted and bound. I don’t think you can see, but the squares are put on there raw edge, so there is a bit of raggedness to it, which I think adds to the charm. I know I did this from a pattern, so that’s how I know it was a long time ago.

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You all know about my box of 2″ squares, right? Well one day in church I doodled this. It seemed like it might be a fun way to use up some of those squares. But then I realized it might be a bit harder to piece than I imagined. One night I dreamed about it all night (that’s what it seemed like) but by the morning I knew how it needed to be made. So I tried it out. This is about a 16 inch block. I’m thinking about making either 5 or 9 of them to make a big 9 patch throw.

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Then I had made all these “sparkly” blocks a long time ago with a lot of hand dyed fabrics and some other commercial fabrics. I had them all put away neatly in a project box. But the thrill was gone. I didn’t really want to make a lot more of these blocks. So I came up with the idea of setting them into a blackish background. Luckily for me, Joann’s had just the right black sparkly fabric.

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Its always a bit of a puzzle to piece these things together. It took a couple of days, but finally it was done. I had enough of the sparkly fabrics left in the project box to piece a background together.

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My friend who has been working on this home for women recovering from drug addiction (remember I donated a couple of quilts for this) had an open house Saturday. It was fun to see my quilts in the setting.

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I finally got out my owl rug hooking and started working on that this week, just to make sure I still knew how to hook loops. I do.

Hard

Does everybody know that January is rug hooking month for me? I go to Anaheim for a rug hooking retreat at the end of the month. For a long time I just didn’t know what I was going to work on. Then the phrase “He owns the cattle on a thousand hills” popped into my mind. I know the phrase from an old Sunday School song. Anyway, I consulted my brother, who knew the whole song, and then pointed out to me that it was in the Bible, and I knew I wanted to hook this. I had the fun idea of looking up cattle from all over the world, and hooking one large cow on each hill (obviously it would not be to scale.) I googled cattle, and found eight different cows I wanted to include in the rug.

Here’s the inspiration for it:

The Lord, the Mighty One, is God,
    and he has spoken;
he has summoned all humanity
    from where the sun rises to where it sets.
From Mount Zion, the perfection of beauty,
    God shines in glorious radiance.
For all the animals of the forest are mine,
    and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.
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I know every bird on the mountains,
    and all the animals of the field are mine.
(The Message— the scampering field mice are my friends.)
Then one day I was driving down the road and I saw a scene I see so many times, and thought, wouldn’t it be great to use the hills right around where I live for the scenery? So one day I stopped on the side of the road, hiked up to the top of the hill, and took this picture. I swear it looks prettier from my car, but this would work.
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I had taken another picture of the hills that included a field in the foreground, so I spliced that into the hill picture. I am going to add a small forest to the side of the field, and a lone wolf will represent “the animals of the forest.” Three mice will be “the animals of the field.” But I can draw those in later. I will have plenty to work on for this retreat.
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I googled Mount Zion, and this was the first image that came up. I don’t even know if its the real Mt. Zion, I just liked it. It was just like I imagined it in my mind.
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 Then it was time to draw the pattern and get it enlarged so I could put it on my linen backing. That’s when it got HARD. In the middle of trying to figure out how to get the basic line drawing of the hills onto a piece of paper I almost gave up. I thought, I’m just going to buy a pattern and do that. This is just too hard to figure out. But that’s when I remember that sometimes I just have to sit and think. And then I remembered my clear plastic! And I already had some in my closet. Easy peasy! I fooled around a bit to make the drawing square. Then I was off to the copy place to have it enlarged 300%. That makes it super easy to trace onto the linen.
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I know. this looks so simple. How could I have almost given up?
I got ambitious and figured out how to re-size the cattle on my copier, and drew them on the plastic, and then placed them just so on the linen (that already had the hills drawn on it–that’s why there are hill lines through some of the cattle.) I’m so happy to have this much done!
And here’s my pattern, all drawn and ready for my retreat! This is going to be fun!
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Noah!

The Noah! rug is finished! If you knew Noah, you would know why there has to be an exclamation point after his name in the title of the rug. He is quite the dog. One of the most frustrating and most loved dogs I have ever owned. And I’ve owned a lot of dogs. If you’re interested, you can read more about him over on my other blog. Just check out the topic of Noah.

And here’s a link to my thought process when I started this rug. And a link to the start of it, with some help from my teacher at rug camp.

And here is the completed rug. Its not perfect, but its the first portrait I have ever done, and I am so pleased with how its turned out, especially his eyes. Who would have thought you could capture such expressive eyes with 1/4 inch strips of wool pushed through a linen backing?

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A Banner Day!

Sunday while sitting in church I started to panic that I might not finish Hallelujah! before Christmas. I sketched a bit to make sure I had a complete plan to finish all the quilting, and so Monday bright and early I was in the studio ready to start quilting. Tuesday I did the same, and Wednesday it looked like I might be able to finish. Each day I put the quilt back up on the design wall to see if I wanted to add more feathers or crosshatch, and finally to mark each area that still needed to be quilted.

I had bought two spools of Mettler silk-finish thread for this quilt, and here is what was left when I put the last stitch into place:

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Here is what the studio looked like on Wednesday, the day I finished the quilting. I have already cleaned up some of this. And I am aware. None of this mess has anything to do with quilting an all white quilt.

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On the same day, I could hardly believe it, I re-worked that pink area of Noah’s face, and went on to finish ALL of him, leaving only the hardwood floor left to hook to finish this rug.

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Here is a bit of Hallelujah! I am still doing some hand quilting on the circles, just to tack them more securely in place. Then to bind it, wash it, put a sleeve on, and I will really be done with it.

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I am almost sad to be done with both of these projects, but I am also happy and excited that I will now have time to move on to new exciting projects that I have been thinking about for a while!

A Quilting Diversion

What could distract me from quilting? Well that would be rug hooking! Noah! has languished on the frame for months. What happens, and I’m sure you can all relate, is that the longer you leave a project, the more you become certain that you don’t know what you’re doing. You don’t know what comes next. And in the deep stages, you are sure that you never enjoyed rug hooking and are pretty sure you might never get back to it.

But my annual California Getaway (in Anaheim) is coming up in January. It would be nice to be able to share Noah!, and also, I need to figure out what I am going to work on at this rug hooking retreat.

Here is Noah! where I left off some long time ago.

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I found this picture of an owl on a mixed media artist’s blog. I found her blog through my Australian blogger friend! Ya gotta love blogging!

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I was quite intrigued with this picture, and thought it might make an interesting rug. I wrote to Elizabeth and asked if she would mind if I used her picture to make a rug, and she kindly gave permission. I did the online thing and had an 8X10 enlargement made at the local Walgreen’s.

I was in Walmart one day, and thought I would get some tracing paper to start working on this pattern. And then I spied that wonderful clear plastic sheeting that they sell in their fabric department. That would be even better. Because this was a complex pattern, and I would be able to see very clearly which branch and which vine were going which way.

This worked so perfectly. It will be my go-to for rug patterns from now on. I wasn’t sure that the Sharpie pen would work on the plastic, but it did. Here is the start. I taped the photo to the plastic, and then just started copying.

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Here is the pattern, taped to white paper so the Sharpie lines will be clearly visible for copying. The squiggly lines are where I mistakenly drew in the edge of the photograph before I discovered that the photo enlargement had eliminated the trunk on the side  of the original picture. I just looked at the online picture and drew that in by hand. You can see that I didn’t copy every single line and motif. That might make the pattern too confusing, and it will be easier to add in those details later as I hook. Now I will take it to the copy store and have it enlarged to about a 20 inch square. And then it will be ready to transfer to the rug hooking linen. And I will be ready for my trip to Anaheim!

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And finally, all this rug hooking activity and discussion (I talk to my rug hooking friend Mary Lynn about all this) got me in the mood to give Noah a try again. And what do you know? I rediscovered the joy of pulling loops of wool through the linen backing! Through our discussions, I realized that I needed to add a bit more intensive color to the colored side of Noah, and so there was a bit of unhooking involved. I thought I should add more color to his face, and so I re-worked the lime green and magenta pink areas. The lime green I like, but I don’t like what the magenta has done to the shape of his face, and so I will have to re-do that area. But I am so enthused about almost having all of Noah completed, and I have my collection of brown wools all ready to go for the hardwood floor. The end is in sight!

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Rug Camp!

Cambria Pines Rug Camp is just a wonderful experience, all the way around. Its also fun to go to the same place for a period of time (I think I’ve gone six out of the last 7 years.) You get to know people a little  bit, and look forward to seeing them every year.

My teacher this year was Donna Hrkman. She is a wonderful artist who has chosen rug hooking as the medium to express her work. She specializes in portraits, so I was always a little too intimidated to take her as a teacher. I didn’t want to do portraits, but I admired her work a great deal.

This is one of her most well-known pieces “Steam Punk Reverie.”

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Look at the detail in this portrait of an Indian boy. To do this monochromatic rug, she dyed nine shades of the same color.

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This is her newest rug, a portrait of her son. I LOVE the way she superimposed him on top of a scene of the downtown area where he works and plays and lives.

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Okay. So it was finally time to start my portrait of Noah. Donna spent individual time with each student to get them started. I had to start on the eyes, which I was dreading. But with a little encouragement from Donna (and also, she drew in the highlights in his eyes,) I got started. I was really so very happy with how they came out.

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The next day, I filled in with more colors, trying to choose the right shade for each area.

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The NEXT day, I wanted to start working on the “natural” side of him. I had a lot of natural wools with me. I chose eleven of them, and then pre-cut strips so I would have a palette to work from. This is the same thing I do when I am starting an improv quilt. If I just keep the large pieces of fabric in front of me, I have a hard time starting. But if I cut strips of the fabric in the sizes I think I might use, it is a lot easier to make the next step.

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And here is what four days of concentrated rug hooking looks like. I was so pleased with what I was able to accomplish. I still think his face looks too fat. In looking at the earlier photos, I think I can see the problem. There will be some unhooking soon, I think.

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On Wednesday, we have a rug show. Everyone brings their rugs, and they clear out the dining hall and put up a wonderful display. I was pleased to see my big rug displayed with this nice group of rugs.

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And thus ends Cambria Pines Rug Camp for another year. I have so many quilting ideas that have been percolating and have been put on the back burner for a while. I am excited to get started on some of those projects. But I will set Noah up at my rug hooking station, and will continue to work on him.

Its All About the Rugs

As the first week in June approaches, life progressively becomes more about rugs and rug hooking and rug hooking wool, and rug hooking patterns…well, you get the picture. I really love going to Cambria Pines Lodge for rug hooking camp!

I finally really finished the rug. I finished the border with not a scrap to spare. I had to un-hook one row from the top to finish one side! And then I found a nice green wool at the little local yarn shop, and finished whipping the edge with one yard of that yarn to spare! I am so glad I put the border on the rug. It is a very busy rug, and the border kind of contains it, and calms it down a bit, I think.

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Here are the other two rugs I recently finished and will be able to share at the rug show. I’m pretty excited to have three rugs to share this year. Of course, they were not all started this year, but they were finished this year 🙂

In case any of you are close by, a rug show is held on Wednesday afternoon, June 8, at the Cambria Pines Lodge, and is open and free to the public. There are always some wonderful rugs shown–it would be worth the trip if you are interested in rug hooking.

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Then, I had to move on to my next project. The teacher I chose, Donna Hrkman, specializes in portraits, both human and animal. I never thought I wanted to do a portrait, but I admire this teacher’s work a lot. Then I remembered I had seen a quilt I really liked in Houston, and I thought I would really like to try to do a portrait of Noah, the BIG WHITE DOG, using the color like this artist did on this polar bear quilt.

"Now You See Him" by Cat Larrea

“Now You See Him” by Cat Larrea

But this was my favorite picture of Noah.

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There wasn’t quite enough there to add the color/shading. So I found another picture that included his ear and his ruff.

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And then I gave myself a good talking-to, and drew an amalgamation of the two. I started with a printed copy of the first photo, and then added to it.

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I had to go to Staples twice to get them to blow it up to the right size, but finally got that done. It will be 21″X23″. THEN, I had to draw it on the linen backing for the rug. I got that done, and had a bit of linen left, and decided to make a fun improv project to work on in my spare time. The strips that rug hookers cut are called “worms,” and usually there are a LOT of worms leftover at the end of a project or two. I have an idea that newer hookers have more leftover worms than experienced hookers. Anyway, I have a LOT of worms. I sorted them into four piles: light, medium, dark, and extra dark.

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And now I can make an improv project based loosely on quilt blocks just using the four shades. Very fun. I make myself NOT look when I pick the next worm out of the bag. That way there is more spontaneity to the finished project.

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I’ll leave you with a shot of my quilt hanging in the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. It was very fun to see my quilt hanging with all the other beautiful entries in the Northern California SAQA Inspirations II exhibit. The exhibit of Kaffe Fassett quilts alongside antique quilts was also wonderful. They included some of Kaffe’s knitting, which I thoroughly enjoyed seeing, since I knew about him from my knitting days.

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Oh, and one last tidbit. I have been trying to take a class with Gwen Marston for the past year, but her classes are always filled, or they are too far away for me to attend. Last night I remembered that she had a class or two offered on iQuilt. I checked to see if I had a coupon in my email, and then signed up–$16.00 for two solid hours of classic Gwen Marston! I thoroughly recommend this class.

One Stitch at a Time

One stitch at a time–that’s all I seem capable of these days. But when you think about it, that’s all any of us are capable of, right? Whether by machine and very fast, or by hand and very slow, we have to take one stitch at a time. And isn’t that exactly what we love about our work with textiles, whatever they may be. The very fact that we can take one stitch at a time, and eventually end up with a masterpiece, if we will just continue on, is a miracle!

Lately, I’ve been taking one stitch at a time on my rug. I made a macaw in flight!

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I made an owl.

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I put him in front of a moon.

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And then one day, the rug was finished. (In case you’re interested, I am still going to “tweak” that sunset section behind the elephants.)

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Only, two friends (and myself) agreed that the rug needed a border. I found these wools, dyed a deep green/brown with a hint of burgundy, and they seem like they will work well. One thing about a border, I can work faster in a straight line! I will add the words “He holds all creation together” at the top, and the scripture reference “Colossians 1:15-20 at the bottom. The lettering will be done in that golden/apricot color that is the same color as the cross in the background.

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In the evenings, I’ve been obsessively stitching away on this little piece. It became my travel project for the time I spent teaching in San Luis Obispo. I mentioned to one of the workshop attendees that I didn’t know what I was going to do with it. And she picked out a piece of fabric from my stash and mentioned using it as a background/frame. And now I know what I will do with it.

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Oh, teaching–I thoroughly enjoyed my time teaching in SLO. The women in the workshop were delightful, and they seemed to enjoy learning and working on the projects that I taught. Is more teaching in my future? We will see, we will see 🙂

Close-ups:

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Next

Lots of stuff happening in the studio and on my lap (handwork.) I made a sandwich of this large quilt, and got to quilting it. It was so cumbersome, so I decided to try to be a little bit organized. Folding all the edges up neatly like this really made quilting it a lot easier.

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All finished! This one is slated to be donated to the scholarship fund auction at Cambria Pines Rug Camp this year. BTW, if any of you are rug hookers, I can’t recommend this experience highly enough. I really love going. Its in a gorgeous location, with great food served three times a day, and wonderful teachers. All for a very reasonable price.

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I didn’t have enough of the “inn signs” so I sub’d a big bird print, and some paper pieced blocks. Makes it more interesting. It was hard to get a good picture of it–its not quite as wonky as it looks 🙂 Close-ups:

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I finished the big rug! Now to block and bind it.

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Close-ups:

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This little piece (that I started a year ago, was all finished, hand quilted, and just needed to be bound. It looked a little boring, so I added some perle cotton stitching, echoing the colors in the blocks.

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Close-up:

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There’s more handwork going on. I’ll save that for next week’s report! Have a fun, stitch-filled weekend!