Back from Cambria, and What Did I Do?

I had a wonderful time at Cambria Pines Rug Camp. I did bring my blank linen canvas for the rug. Its only a 24″ square rug. I try to vary my large rugs with smaller rugs. I kept looking at my inspiration photos, and decided that I did want the large circle in my rug, so I started with that. And then I added some of my own motifs from a few sketches that I had done. I’m very happy with what I was able to accomplish in four days.

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When I came home, I had so many other things to take care of, there was very little time to get into the studio. But I was looking at a blog, and I saw this picture.

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I didn’t even know what it was, but I just had the urge to recreate it. So I printed out a copy of the picture and then went through my hand dyed stash to pick out similar colors. For a week I just spent time cutting out rectangles during any little bits of time I had available. And then I finally started assembling them on my design wall. While I was doing this, I kept wondering what this was actually a picture of. So I went back to the blog where I’d found it, and believe it or not, these are garage doors in Lithuania!

At first I couldn’t figure it out. But I went to the photographer’s site, and I think these garage doors are pieced together in a photo. Any which way, I was fascinated by it. I thought about putting in the black and white bits between the doors, but decided against it. I am thinking about embroidering in all the wear lines. And here is what I came up with.

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Okay, so I didn’t realize until I was putting this blog post together that I had turned the photograph upside down when I started assembling it. Of course, I can turn it so the blue is on the top, but I kind of like it this way.

I had leftover rectangles, so I decided to try to make a composition myself. I found that my natural inclination is to put pieces on a diagonal. So I kept playing with it and eliminating most of the diagonals. But in the leftovers, there weren’t as many colors, so I’m not sure its worthy. Just leaving it on the design wall for now.

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Barb asked an interesting question on my other blog:

Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in hobbies and projects. I’m making quilts, crocheting a scrap- using throw, embroidering, mini weaving, knitting socks, making fabric jewelry, etc etc etc….Do you ever want to throw up your hands or just sit and stare at the piles of projects?

I do have a lot of projects going at one time. But I like that. Before I had carpal tunnel surgery, I knew it was really important to use my hands in different ways, and not just keep repeating the same movements. So that’s how I justified having so many different types of projects going. And sometimes I do get overwhelmed with the projects, so that’s when I very neatly put a project into a project box and put it back into the closet. This week, Barb, when I had so many other things to do, there were a few evenings when I did just sit and stare at my projects. But for the most part, I enjoy knitting or hand stitching in the evenings. If I can’t get into the studio in the morning, most days I’m not going to get much done out there. So I really try to plan my day that way. But last week and this week I have an unusual number of appointments and obligations, so I have resigned myself to not getting much done. Working on that small colorful project that I was basically copying was just right.

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Final Finishes!

Here are some final finishes on some projects that have been around for quite a while.

A number of years ago I went back to Vermont for a workshop with Judy Dales. Her work is so beautiful. I learned her techniques and made this little piece. And then I lost it for many years. I found it again recently and decided I needed to make it into a quilt sandwich and finish it completely. Not how I originally planned, but I think it looks better on the diagonal.

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I made these next four little trees about three years ago on a vacation in Sisters. I saw a tree pattern somewhere, and decided I could do that myself. I made one tree for each season. All done using my no-fusible zig zag technique. I liked these little trees and they were hanging in my dining room for quite a while. But they weren’t really quilted enough, and I kept thinking that I wanted to add the words from Psalm 1 onto them. so I added a little embroidery, added some fall leaves, and embroidered the words on. Then I added the straight line quilting to the background of each one. And I even put a sleeve on each of them! Now they are REALLY finished!

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Rug camp is coming up. That means I really had to finish a rug! Here is the owl rug, all blocked and with a whipped edge on it.

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I’m looking forward to rug camp. I’ll be back with a report of what I’ve done at camp. I am going with a blank canvas and planning to draw an Aboriginal style piece as I go along.

Equipment and Distraction

One thing most crafters have in common is a love of new equipment. Especially if it is equipment that can make life easier for you. I enjoy turning a skein of yarn into a nice ball of yarn. But holding it over my knees is not that fun. My rug hooking friend told me about this table top swift that he found on eBay. So of course I had to check it out. The only swifts I had ever seen were ones that clamp onto something, which is sometimes not so convenient. I love this table top swift. It holds the yarn nicely, and when you are done, it folds up and doesn’t take up much room.

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And then… And then I decided to bring my spinning wheel back into the house… Oh my. There’s the Distraction. Spinning your own yarn is so fun, and so pleasurable. After I brought it in, nothing but spinning got done for almost two weeks.

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I found some variegated green roving that would work well for the redwood trees on my current rug, and I spun that up. To make a balanced yarn, you usually spin up two bobbins of thread and then ply them together, and voila!

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You have a beautiful skein of yarn.

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Here’s how I’m incorporating it into the rug. I like the way it looks.

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And then… then I found about 8 ounces of a fiber blend I made long ago. I used to make fiber blends and sell them at spinning and weaving events. I called this one Apple Blossoms. It is 40% angora (rabbit,) 30% silk, and 30% merino wool. Its oh so soft, and it brings back such good memories for me.

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So now I’ve got the spinning bug out of me for a wee bit, and I am back to working on my rug. There’s only a few weeks before Cambria Pines Rug Camp, and I want to get more of it done before I go. Because at rug camp I will be starting an entirely new rug!

In the next two weeks, I am hoping to get back in the studio to do a bit of quilting and piecing, and also, I want to dye some wool and silk before I leave for camp. After camp I have big plans to make a fiber blend and get to spinning that. I’m sure you’ll hear more about that in the next few months 🙂

Instagram!

Hi all. I am trying out Instagram. I thought it might be fun to add a picture of what I work on each day. So far I have shared these two pictures.

My big PEACE quilt:

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And my “cow rug.” I’m very excited about the changes I’ve made on this rug. I added large lettering, eliminated the field (there will be hills in the background behind the lettering.) I plan to add more cows and also need to add in the greenery to the redwood tree borders.

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My instagram label is debbyschnabel.

Finishing Stuff

Doesn’t it feel great to finish a project? Especially a project that you have neglected, and in fact despaired of actually finishing? That was the owl rug. I started it as a challenge to myself to work with a limited color palette. But I got very tired of that limited color palette. And then my knee surgery and more interesting and colorful quilt projects got in the way. And the poor owl languished for many many months.

Then it was time for the Anaheim rug retreat. So just to make sure I still remembered how to hook, I got out the owl. And I worked on it for a few days before Anaheim. When I got home, I thought, maybe I’ll finish that owl before I start in on my cows again. And what do you know? I enjoyed working on it and finished it in just a few days of consistent rug hooking!

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The beak was a huge problem for me. The way I had hooked it reminded me of a snowman’s carrot nose. So I kept looking at owl pictures. And realized that the beak was simply too long. I used a method Gene had shown me, and hand cut a piece of wool from fairly wide to narrow (basically an elongated triangle.) I am very happy with how it turned out. And I also made the decision to use just a bit of color for the beak. I used the leftovers from the hand cut beak to make his two claws that were showing.

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Anyway, it just made me feel great to finish that (I still have to do the actual steaming and finishing but that is just grunt work.) To celebrate, I took the next day off and did some fun stuff, like working in the garden and experimenting with a new finishing technique for small quilts.

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!