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!

 

Quilting, Piecing, Embroidery, and Rug Hooking

I mentioned to a friend recently that I had been quilting, piecing, embroidering, and rug hooking, and loving all of it. I kept thinking about this, and I realized that part of the reason was because I had “stations” set up for each activity, so that it was very easy to go from one activity to another. I never understood before why people felt the need to keep more than one sewing machine set up, but now I do. I am much more likely to work on a quilt when the machine is all set up and ready to go. (And I do know that having a big new “toy” is a good motivator.) When I started working on that big rug in January, I rearranged my living room so that I could keep the rug frame up all the time. If the rug frame is not up, rug hooking just doesn’t get done–sometimes for months. And of course, my Janome sewing machine is always up, and I am more likely to go and sew together a few pieces when I don’t have to move a big quilt out of the way. My “embroidery station” is the same as always–my big comfy chair where I sit every evening with a dog on my lap, watching TV shows on my computer, and working on whatever embroidery project is at hand.

It has been so fun to look through my UFO’s and find quilt tops I had completely forgotten about, and others that were within a few stitches of being completed!

I really like this quilt. I was influenced by a little postcard of a magnificent Japanese quilt. Mine is not magnificent, but it was very fun to piece, and I enjoyed practicing “straight enough” line quilting on the new machine.

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This was part of a series of quilts I did for a “Pay it Forward” challenge SIX YEARS ago! I had so much fun making those little quilts for three of my good blog friends. This fourth one was for me, but I used a beautiful upholstery weight fabric on the back, and it was not fun to hand quilt through, so 7/8th’s of the way through, I just stopped. Except for the border it was almost completely quilted. I decided to try hand quilting again. Took two stitches (literally) and knew I wouldn’t finish. So to the machine it went. I am as pleased as can be with the result. I’m thinking about keeping it, just because so many good memories are attached to that challenge project.

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This quilt was completely finished except for the central chicken block. I got a little obsessed about that, even wrote a blog about changing it out, and then it got put away and forgotten about. I finished quilting around the motifs in the central block, and it was finished. Several of these quilts have had enough backing fabric that I was able to do the binding by just bringing the backing around to the front. VERY convenient!

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Piecing. I think I showed you this one  before. I just about used all of the strips in that box, and so it is done. Since the strips were cut with a ruler, I’m not sure why it has ended up a bit wonky, except that I didn’t use my 1/4″ foot all the time. Anyway, I think I will put a wide border around it to finish it off and to square it up a bit.

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These stars are mostly my project for Sewing Day with my ladies. So fun to do, but a bit time consuming. All done with 2″ cut squares from my box of little two inch squares.

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I had the idea to make these simple blocks to offset the star blocks, which are so busy, but I didn’t like the way that looked. So they might become their own little project…

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Rug hooking! I LOVE love love working on this rug. There is even more of it done now, but this is the most recent picture. Like I said, I have a place all set up in the living room, so it is very easy to just sit and do a little bit of hooking, if that’s all I have time for.

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Close-up:

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And embroidery. I have almost finished the embroidered words on all 17 of the quilts in the “what they said” series. I loved working on these, and trying to convey the thoughts and feelings behind the words through the way I embroidered the words. Now to quilt and finish them. I will show them all to you at one time, as that is the way I think they will have the most impact. Here is the one I chose to use as the “header.” Just the straight line kantha stitching over the whole piece.

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And that is how life is going in the studio right now. I wake up every morning excited about what I am going to work on that day.

In The Studio

Usually I only show you pictures of the studio after I’ve cleaned it up a bit. Right now I’m in the middle of SO. MUCH. FUN. and creativity, I don’t want to stop to clean. In between the rug hooking frenzy, I’ve allowed myself to play with a box of leftover pre-cut fabric strips.

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I’m enjoying this project quite a bit. Its tempting to add more fabrics in, but I’m making myself stick with the strips that are already cut in that box. The only fabric I added is that blue and green print. I think it adds a lot of focus to the piece.

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And, at the other end of the room–rug hooking central! Oh, and you can see in this picture that I got a large cutting mat that I cut to fit the entire desk top! Super good purchase–got it at Joann’s with a 60% off coupon! Before now, I’ve only worked with a 15X20 cutting mat!

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I am so enjoying working on this big rug. Its hard to stop!

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Close-ups. I added white “coral” on one side, and coral colored coral on the other side.

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I took a break from quilting to concentrate on the rug hooking, but of course, I never completely stop stitching! These are two “travel projects. I started this one when I went to PIQF last October. Just an excuse for obsessive stitching. And as you can see, its not finished yet. I’m trying to think of some creative way to finish off all those bendy borders.

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Close-ups: I had a little french knot obsession going on!

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And of course, had to add a few words:

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This next was my travel project for the recent rug hooking trip to Anaheim. I hook all day at these retreats, and I like to have a project to hand stitch on in the evening in my hotel room. I saw something that made me think of making circles that weren’t circles, and that appealed to me. I didn’t have anything  in mind except adding one big off-center circle. Then I took some of the leftover pieces and added them on to one side. And then I thought, well, it would be more balanced if there was a third element added. By then I realized that it was starting to look like tide pools.

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I stitched obsessively on the motifs. But before I was very far, I knew I wanted to experiment with adding a second layer of stitching to indicate water ripples.

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And then I thought about adding “barnacles” using yo yos. Now it has a dimensional element, so I am feeling like I need to add another dimensional element. NOT an octopus 🙂 Maybe a starfish. And a lot of beading. But before I can do any beading, I will have to clean my studio. So for now, it will stay on the design wall awaiting inspiration.

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Rug Hooking at the California Getaway!

Last week I headed to Southern California with my rug hooking buddy, Mary Lynn. This is our second year to attend this getaway at Gene Shepherd’s studio, and it is just a delightful experience all around. I wrote a little more about it on my other blog. Mary Lynn and I go a day ahead of time to go to Crystal Cove and visit the tide pools (and eat beignets by the shore 🙂 )

This year, I wanted to take a break from the intensive detailed work on the rug I’d been working on. I had the idea to do an “improv” rug–not drawing a design ahead of time, but having a rough idea of what I wanted to do. I simply wanted to use the “dull” primitive wool that I had been collecting as the background, and add splashes and lines of the bright colors that I like so much. I had knitted a couple of scrap rugs like this, and I liked the way they looked.

I had the idea to make a larger rug than I had ever worked on, so I laid the linen backing out on the living room floor. I decided to try to make it 4’X6′.

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When we got to Gene’s studio, the first item was to get a brief consult on this rug. I needed a color for the background below the elephants (that bird won’t be there,) and it had to contrast well enough with the lion, the cross, and the green leaves. Right away, Gene came up with the idea of purple. Perfect! I have some dull gray-purples that will work well.

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As I started work on my “improv rug,” Gene mentioned that my ring and my bracelet were great design sources. Hmmm. I liked that idea. Already I was growing a little bored with the wonderful straight line hooking that I had envisioned. I had also had an idea the night before of adding a big spiral to the rug.

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So that night I went back to the hotel and added some circle patches and three big spirals to my sketch (that previously had only had blotches and lines to indicate the colors I would add.)

The next day, someone came up with the idea of adding “seaweed” and I added the triangles, because I like triangles, and also because one of my favorite shells is triangle-shaped. So I added these to the sketch.

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Then it was time to put pen to rug, and I drew in all these motifs. I really like it. Its funny, because before I left, I spent a lot of time drawing a “tide pool” design. Mary Lynn really wanted me to hook the tide pools, but I did not want to hook something that “complex.” So this has turned out to be an improv, stylized tide pool rug. I am very happy with it, and have had a lot of fun hooking it so far.

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