A New Art Form?

Recently I took a trip to New Mexico to take tapestry weaving lessons. I found this woman on the internet a few years ago and loved her work. So I decided that I would go to learn how to do tapestry weaving. She teaches one on one.

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Okay, I’m not going to lie about it. It was HARD!! This little sampler looks so simple, but on the diagonals, I had to have the teacher check me on EVERY line. I’m still thinking about whether or not I want to continue. On the same trip, my brother and sister-in-law came over from the Texas panhandle, and we had a few days of fun just exploring the town and visiting.

Today I just finished another rug “The Parable of the Lost Sheep.” I am enjoying doing these small rugs. I have four parables and about 10 of Jesus’ ministry. So far I’ve done three. There are a few things I want to fix on the rug (the hat on the shepherd’s head is too similar to the background color.) And of course it needs to be steamed and finished.

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I looked up Sycamore-Fig trees on the internet (that’s what they are called in the Bible) and found some interesting trees to put in my rug. Interestingly, the figs on these trees are golden and grow everywhere–right out of the trunks. But the golden color did not work because it was too similar to the background color, so I made them American purple figs 🙂

And I don’t think I showed this yet. I finished this small quilted embroidery. It was very fun to do. And time consuming.

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And one last thing. I entered three rugs into Quilting in the Garden, and I was very pleased with where my big PEACE rug was placed. My little Kantha quilt was in the front but the wind was whipping the quilts around so much I didn’t even try to get a picture of it.

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Something New

I spent a little time on Pinterest exploring Kantha Embroidery. I saw several things that were interesting. I saw some raw edge simple kantha embroidery that interested me. It looked like the strips had been torn. I didn’t want to do that, because when you tear cotton, it can get really distorted. Talking with my BF, she suggested cutting the strips and then washing them. So that’s what I did. I free-cut a lot of strips of mostly neutral fabrics. And then I put them in lingerie bags and washed them. I was surprised at how frayed they got even in the lingerie bags! Then I prepared a quilt sandwich with muslin on both sides and a cotton batting in the middle. I hand basted it, and then started. And here is the finished product. It was very fun to do.

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When I looked back on Pinterest, I noticed that something like this was called Japanese Boro quilting…

Here’s a close-up so you can see how I did it. On each piece, I quilted all the way through on each side so it would be quilted. On the stitching in between, I just went through the top and batting.

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Then I saw on Pinterest a very complex Kantha Embroidery. I kept that on my iPad for a long time. It was more complex than I really wanted to do, but it intrigued me. So finally I drew something and put that on cloth with the blue marker and started my own embroidery. I am enjoying working on this.

Here’s the blue drawing. As usual, I will add more as I go along:

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And here is what I’ve done so far:

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Close-up:

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Also, I finished that “Parable of the Seeds” rug. It is about 24″ X 26″. This is the fastest I’ve ever finished a rug. It was simple and very fun to work on.

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And here is a shot of my garden for those of you who don’t read my other blog:

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Its time to clean up the studio! And organize my rug wool. Its getting out of hand!

Its All About Rug Hooking

This time of year, everything switches from quilting to rug hooking. I love going to Cambria Pines Rug Camp! So I work hard to finish my current rug so I can enter it in the rug show. And then, of course, I have to draw my new pattern so I will be ready to work once I get there. My new rug is “the Parable of the Seeds” from the Bible. I had fun drawing it, and I looked up “Israeli birds” and found these brilliant green, black and white birds. I worked on all the different areas of the rug while at camp, and got this much accomplished.

IMG_E0144This is the first time I’ve come back from camp and worked so much on a rug. This is just a fun one to work on. For those small green leaves on the mustard seed flowers, I cut each one at a taper to get more of a leaf shape.

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Here are the rugs I shared in the rug show:

Jesus Feeding the 5000:

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And now, I’m afraid, its back to quilting. (haha, not that I mind it at all!) I will be teaching my Quilted Embroidery class at The Cotton Patch in Lafayette on Saturday, June 29. So its off to prepare kits and prep some new demo projects for that class today.

 

Where Have I Been, What Have I Been Doing?

The day after Christmas, I started working on the “cow rug” seriously. I worked almost every day on it for hours. I had started it the year before at my Anaheim rug retreat, and I wanted to try to finish it to bring back and show to everyone this year.

Somehow I developed a fear of hooking the cows. So periodically I would write the goal to finish one cow. Here I put the baby on the hill above the mama.

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I am very happy with these cows. I was actually able to make it clear that there was a baby and a mama stuck together.

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This cow was my hardest. It is a Scottish Highland cow, and they have very long hair. I finally hooked it with an angora sweater that I had felted and dyed, and brushed the angora after I finished hooking it. I need to re-work the face a little. (the hair hangs over her eyes.)

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Finally I was finished with the cows and the hills, and I needed a sky. So I googled sky images and used this one as inspiration. I was very happy when I gathered my wool fabrics and realized that I had plenty of wool in the right colors for the sky.

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And here is the finished rug. Of course, its not completely finished. It needs to be blocked and have some finished touches put on it. In case you don’t remember, I chose cows from all over the world. The hills are from a picture I took of our local hills. That mountain is supposed to be Mount Zion. And the redwood trees were something that Gene (hooking teacher) and I came up with as a frame. Of course, redwood trees don’t really grow in my foothills, but they make such a nice frame, and I always think the redwoods seem like a cathedral. I used hand spun yarn and wool for the redwood leaves.

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For my next project, I became enamored of these wonderful Egyptian tapestries. Here is their website.

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I decided to do a series of these in rug hooking, displaying the life of Christ. As you can see, my drawings are quite elementary. I add stuff as I go along. I added more people, more plants, and you can see that I changed the branches from straight lines to more curvy lines. These are going to be small rugs, about 24″ tall, and probably a bit more in width. I do like that the Egyptian tapestries display plants from that area of the world, which is different than I would draw if I was using my local plants! This rug is Jesus feeding the 5000 people. Of course, I am not going to hook 5000 people 🙂

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This is how much I accomplished in four days of rug hooking in Anaheim. Because these are smaller, and I want to get some details in, I am using #4 cuts, which are smaller than the #6 and #8 cuts that I usually use.

Christmas is a Time to Finish Things!

I notice I have this pattern at Christmas. I like to finish things. So far I have knit four scarves from my handspun yarn for gifts. Not just knit them, but I blocked them too! And then I decided I had delayed finishing this Christmas quilt for too long. so I just went out there and finished the quilting. I put a binding on it, and then it needed a lot of blocking because of the embroidery in the middle. I’m not 100% sure that I accomplished what I was trying to achieve with this quilt.

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If you remember, the embroidery was done with the Cottage Threads perle cotton from Australia.

Here are some close-ups:

The lettering:

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Embroidered motifs:

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I added a little embroidery to the trees and “rocks”:

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And, I finished my Kantha blanket! The running stitches are about 1/2 inch apart. I also put two lines of turquoise thread 1/4 inch apart about every six inches, just to add some interest. The rest of the quilt was stitched with some variegated silk thread that I bought at a weaver’s convention!

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Oh, and most importantly, at Christmas time I always feel pressured to try to finish my rug that I started this past February. I would like to share it FINISHED when I go to my rug hooking thing this February, but I’m afraid there is a lot that is still unfinished. I wrote “make a cow” for three or four weeks on my weekly to-do list. Somehow I get afraid of rug hooking when I don’t do it consistently. But finally, I DID make a cow :))

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I also hooked the entire hillside behind her. It took several mornings to finish that.

If I don’t write again before Christmas, I hope everyone has a very merry and blessed Christmas.

 

Sauder Rug Show Report

 

The rug show at Sauder Village was absolutely wonderful. There were between 300 and 800 rugs there! I’ve limited myself to just showing you a few of the highlights. Well, the highlights for me 🙂

I thought this was a wonderful piece of art. An original design by Donna Brunner from Alberta Canada. These are jack pines in her yard and she wanted to capture the sun setting behind them. She also did something unusual by stuffing the trunks and adding dimension to the piece. (Trapunto in quilting, but a lot harder in rug hooking!)

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This rug was right next to my rug. I loved all the details in it. Its done by Janice Ricker, and obviously, its her own family’s lobster company!

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This next exhibit was so fun. All the rugs were hooked by Nancy Stower and Anne Bond, and they are re-creations of original art by Vickie Sawyer.

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There was a special exhibit of braided rugs. I don’t ever plan to get into braided rugs (but you never know!) This very special exhibit of these pictorial braided rugs by a woman who did them in the 1930’s blew my mind. Just amazing artwork.

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Here’s a little article about the artist, Jessie C. Kinsley.

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And this exhibit! Brought tears to my eyes. I was able to listen to a lecture/slide show by the woman who started this cooperative. These Maya women are very poor, and in general, women are not encouraged to go to school or work. One of the stories told about a young woman whose husband made three or four dollars A DAY driving a taxi. After she learned to hook rugs, she was able to add on a little room to their house and purchase a fridge. They don’t use the traditional wool that most rug hookers use. They use t-shirts that they purchase from a thrift store! (The founder explained that places like Goodwill, after they can’t sell things in thrift stores here, and after they can’t sell them in their warehouses wholesale, they send the leftovers to impoverished countries. Isn’t it amazing that the women can still hook such vibrant rugs from the dregs of our society.)

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The story behind this rug was very touching. A young woman’s husband was diagnosed with liver cancer, with only 4-6 months to live. One day, about six weeks after the diagnosis, she was crying and said to her husband, “what am I going to do without you?” And he replied, “Don’t worry. I’ll always be with you. I’ll be on the bottom star of the Big Dipper.” The young woman was so worried that she would never remember that. And that night she dreamed of a rug. And that’s how this rug came to be!

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This tiger might have been my favorite rug in the show. It was done by Judy Carter, who has done other wonderful animal rugs. But I heard her explain that many people said they could never do what she did, because she used such small cuts (in rug hooking, small cuts are #3 and #4, which means they are 3/32″ and 4/32″.) So she did this whole rug in #8 cuts (which is 8/32″ or 1/4″ if you do the math.) The shading in it is just beautiful.

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If you are interested in learning more about rug hooking, you might purchase the magazine Rug Hooking, or buy the Celebrations book for this year Celebration of Hand Hooked Rugs 28 (I can’t find it on Amazon, it’ll probably be there in a few weeks.) Or you can go to YouTube and watch some of Gene Shepherd’s videos for free! 

Black and Batting

Black fabric and batting. These two things do not belong together. They shouldn’t even be in the same room! And I’m not even going to talk about black fabric and TWO PUGS  THAT NEVER STOP SHEDDING. Anyway, for some reason I seem drawn to black recently, and its been a trial. I do have a large stockpile of those sticky rollers to remove lint from black fabric, and I’ve gone through quite a few of them in the past month or so.

Anyway, here’s what I did with that “garage photo” that I liked so much.  (scroll down for the description of the garage photo) First of all, I realized after the fact that I liked mine upside down from what the original artist did. Second of all, I gathered a nice collection of neutral threads and I planned to embroider all the marks and scars on the original garage doors. I kept staring at the picture, and that did not sound very fun to me at all. So I drew a little sketch filling it up with circles, and that appealed to me (of course.) The colors of the cloth were so bright that the neutral threads looked great on them. It was hard for me to stick with the neutral threads through the whole thing. And I did try to explore as many ways of embroidering circles as I could think of. Here’s the end result.

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Then, I found this very sparkly gold fabric at Joann’s. I had seen it several times but passed it up because what was I going to do with it? Then, on my last visit, I thought, hey, what if I embroidered on it? So then I drew another sketch and made a grid. I put a few white squares in my sketch, but when I went looking for fabric, I found this bird print that I really like, so that’s what I included in the grid. I’m taking a trip soon, so this will be my travel project. I’m pretty excited about it.

Choosing the thread colors is the best part of any project:

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I am going to Ohio for Sauder Village Rug Week. My rug, “He Holds All Creation Together” was chosen to be one of the Celebration rugs. I have wanted to go to Sauder for several years, so this was as good an excuse as any to go. Maybe when I come back I’ll get back to my rug hooking projects!

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.

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 🙂