Sunday, November 30, 2008

Recycling and Tests for Real Wool

Every once in a while wool comes my way without me seeking it. In other words I'm not buying it from my "dealer"
This unknown "wool" sometimes needs to be tested before I try it out. Pictured below are some NOT WOOL samples and one with partial wool, the tiny pieces on top are the bleach tested remains.

Many of you like to go good wool hunting and I hope these tips will help.

Reasons for recycled wool:
beautiful tweeds and textures

Reasons against recycled wool:
dry cleaning fluids
not much “life” left in the wool

Rip Test- there will be a soft tearing if wool is 100% or close.The addition of synthetics creates a harsh ripping noise.

Burn Test- fabric with a high wool content will become soft ash and be difficult to ignite when held to a match. It will smell like burnt hair.
Fabric of a more synthetic base will ignite immediately burn quickly and dangerously ( do this over a sink). It will make a hard plastic ridge where burnt and stink like burning plastic.

Bleach Test- place a sample of questionable fabric in a container with pure bleach. Leave overnight. If it disappears completely it was 100% wool. If there are remains in the container they are the synthetic component.

When you are searching out wool to recycle at thrift stores or from family and friends there are four things to look for:

Weight of the wool- thick or thin ?
Width it will cut-weave loose or tight ?
Wool Content- look for label
Waste- how much wool will you end up with?

The bigger stash of wool you have the greater variety and creativity you bring to your rug and its design.
Tabby weave is best. It looks like this:

Less than 80% wool will not dye completely and is damaging to cutter wheels. Though it can be terrific in our work if it is glorious to look at.

Ugly colours are good, you can dye them.

Shiny wool is never good!

Thin wool can be thickened by agitation and soap in the washer.

Avoid Superwash or Teflon coated wool.

Coats can be cut on a narrow cutting head if they are thick.

Blankets if thin enough and cut wide make good hooking wool.

Thick blankets and coats may be used for binding and penny rugs but do not make good prodding.

You can hook open weave wool cut wide #6 or #8 easily with the proper tools and backing.

New , natural coloured wool woven just for hooking if purchased in 5 yd. lots is approx.$25 a yd. Keep this in mind when searching for new wool in fabric stores.

100% wool is usually very soft to the touch.

Worsted wool will unravel at cut edges while being hooked.

Wash all garments immediately or freeze or store outside of your home because of moths.

Place mothball odoured or musty smelling wool outside in the sun to remove odours.

The Siren Song

It is calling me and I hope not to the rocks.... I've been looking at a lot of knitting sites this morning but I want to console you with the fact that all activities on the side involve WOOL .... I've many mistresses to serve but they all live in the same house working for the same madam.... EWE. Now that is punny.
As you can see I'm not the only one here who loves wool !!!

As I sat surfing, church members parked their cars and went to the pews.( 3 churches right on my block) What in the world are they doing sitting inside on a day like this ? It is sunny for the first time in 3 weeks. It took me a moment to realize I was inside as well ....... worshipping the wool !

They say a big storm is coming on and I couldn't be more cozy with all my "STUFF". All that potential just waiting to be realized. Yes, so great to think about piles for maybe projects but yet here I sit on the computer. I console myself because blogging feels as creative and productive as anything other thing I do.

Next Sunday I'm starting a year of monthly Sunday classes. In these classes you may learn what you wish. I'm looking forward to seeing who will show up. Every class becomes it's own happening and it's a pleasure to see what interactions play out among the participants.

I'm not sure I told you about the middle of the night transformer failure and resultant excitement in my neighborhood a few weeks ago but yes it was a bit of a trial. It's taken a week or two just to get my sense of ALARM to calm from waking up in the middle of the night to cats hitting the deck and light bulbs popping and acrid smells in the total dark.

Many things got "deaded" by the surge in my house but I faired better than many others. Two things in my studio got toasted, the TV and computer.

I was surprised as I could be by the number of times I went to use the computer on hooking day and IT WASN'T THERE. I had no idea I used it so much.
The good news is a new TV that will let me link up to my LAP TOP .... here come the BIG slideshows in class.
AND my replacement computer will help me easily create podcasts. This is something I've been wanting to do and you will see them soon on this blog or on my website. We aren't sure where we want to post them yet. There are ALWAYS good things coming, no matter what it looks like or feels like at the time.

It seems many of you have taken this holiday opportunity to hook... BRAVO !
I wish I was following in your good path.
I'm still stuck in the reading mode.

I do hereby vow and declare most avidly that I will make something each day during the month of Dec. to be posted here.
Hold my feet to the fire my friends.

Try setting a goal yourself, it helps.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Hook-in update ( partial ) and scrappy orientals

Yesterday was hook-in and though snowing ( as it has every day for two weeks) many came out. I wasn't able to take photos of every one's projects due to a camera battery crash.

Nevertheless here are some of the wonderful projects being worked on. Sandy, who was making a little lamb on a hill side, Lorraine, who is working on her exquisite house portrait, and Erin who is recreating a photo she took of a wonderful close up of a tree are missing. I hope to post these projects next week. These artists are a wonderful inspiration.

Judy's Scrappy Oriental

Shirley's Scrappy

Barb's Robins in a birdbath called Girl Tawk

Jane's Love Poster ( made entirely of nylons with linen backing due to wool allergy)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Good sayings

I asked students to post secrets on the wall during our dyeing class in Burlington.
Not too many did it !
But one great lady , Gerry, did so almost every day.
She has been in my class before and some of the things she wrote were things I've said previously.
I had completely forgotten I'd even said them and enjoyed them as FRESH.

Creativity is anything you want.

To take off and fly you have to have resistance.

The road to success is always under construction.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What I made today

I met a person who accidently felted her favorite sweater.
She was sad, I told her I would make some thing nice out of it for her. Last winter.
This is the first day I've had I could do it.
I really enjoyed making this.
I hope she finds it useful, it is lined and has an inside pocket.
It is remarkably sturdy.
And very retro, Donna , do you hate this one ?
We have a history of bags....

A Picture is worth a thousand words

Before Heart Knowledge and ACTION ( versus head ) of use of Values
Dearly Beloved

Dearly Beloved Black and White

AFTER Knowledge in Value use kicked in
Town Hooker

Town Hooker in Black and white looses none of it's impact in depth or clarity !

How to read your colour value comfort zone

Every one who uses colour belongs to a certain group.
The Sisters of the Light

The Ladies of Dawn and Dusk aka The Fence Sitters

The Daughters of Darkness

Use a digital camera set to take photos in black and white.
Take photos of your rugs in black and white.
Look at the values that show up.

Use this scale to judge where your rugs sit.

If your rugs are mostly on the top range of the scale you are a Sister of the Light.
If you are mostly using middle range values you are a Dusk and Dawn - Fence sitter.
If you have mostly the lower end of the scale you are a Daughter of Darkness.

Now take another careful look at your black and white rug.
Can you see all your motifs ?
I bet the answer is no. It's that way with most of us.
Because of our friendly, comfortable and supportive value group we don't use the full range of values. This means mean very dark and very light ( used in comparison) in the same rug.
This creates a rug of low contrast, poor definition and low interest for the viewer.
You will notice my demarcations on the diagram only run the range of about 5 values. THIS IS NOT ENOUGH.

Learn who you are, fight your inclinations, make rugs of distinction.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Look - how rich is this ?

Take a good look at this painting.
I want you to look for repeated shapes. One shapes plays an important role here, which is it ? Which is the secondary one?
Look for a repeated colour, orange.
Look everywhere, look carefully.
Look how cleverly orange's counterpoint is used.
What about dark darks ?
How about the light ?

Is that a mirror or a window..... does it matter ?

Look at the lines..... how are they framing ? How are they informing us where to look?

If we were to recreate this would our rug hooking lessons tell us this would be too "busy" to hook ?
Let us make space ( depth ) in our rugs with the skillful tools used here.
Let's not be too hasty to edit and more invested in blending an array of principles and elements of design to create what ever we want, depth , light, interest , emotion, mystery

Why we need dark, really dark

A week or so ago I posted an impromptu project of a copper hydrangea head.
So this wouldn't end up in the pile of great undones I worked here and there on finishing it.
I added two leaves and planned to use a dark background.

The leaves were hooked deliberately flat, meaning I only used one colour of wool for each leaf.
They did not look good.
They sat there sad and plain and almost ugly.
They also didn't do a thing for the florets.

But I hung in there, didn't rip them out.
I added my very dark background the other night.

Suddenly my flower bits looked hideous too.
Did I rip them out ?
OH NO my friend I stopped and looked and thought, this project is not sticking to it's theme of having a dark ground.
Wouldn't that dark be peeking through the little parts of the flower head ?
I hadn't made the dark bits around the petals dark enough.
I replaced some here and there and wow , what a difference it made to the piece.
It magically worked !

Without ripping out more than 10 strips.
It's the dark my friends.... or it might be the light or more importantly it is the careful noticing of colour impact on the whole idea.
You can't play enough with colour.

Here is what it looked like before

And after

Don't worry about that strange dark piece right in the middle of a violet flower, it is a bit of wool on the rug , not in it.

I think I could add a few more dark spots over in the corner.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Whole Idea

I am in the tail end of 24 hours spent completely alone except for my siamese girls and some serious snowfall.
Very nice.
Brain is connecting one thought to the next to another and yet another. This is something I like.

One thing that has been coming to mind when I have these quiet minutes is the concept of the whole idea.
Last night I noticed how a great many TV shows are showing us this trick.

You might find my taste in Tv a little suspect or downright strange but I love watching American Chopper, LA or Miami Ink, Project Runway. What might those three have in common ?

Well the obvious is they are all making something.
The more subtle and important thing is they are working to a theme.

They have a focus and when decisions need made they go back to the theme.
Project Runway is a bit of a special case, it can be a Whole Idea - how not to do it - example. I can't tell you the number of times contestants completely ignore the weekly directives given by the hosts and then are surprised when they fail !

On the other shows their livelihood depends on their ability to listen to and deliver what the customers wants.
What they accomplish when working to their whole idea is wonderful.

All three shows are creating in areas where you 'd think everything that could be done has been.
Yet the creative talents still bring home the fresh bacon.

Tips hookers can use from TV

Have a theme , let everything in a hooked piece support that theme.
Things go wrong, so what, let it be a catalyst for learning, growth and ultimately CONFIDENCE.
MAKE A PLAN, you don't see Kat VonD just inking up somebody without researching, drawing and giving herself an outline to go by.
Have a goal/ vision for what you are creating and remember that when you choose your fabric and cut.
Adlib within your plan- don't get fixed
If you have a block revert back to what you wanted your creation to be, it will get you back on track
Add your own twist to old methods.
Reorganize your resources, are you sure you are seeing fully what your wool can become ?
Get help- outsource when you need it.
Have a supportive environment
Don't take things personally- that's straight from American chopper - Paul the Elder is NOT good at stress management and the whole shop would be snivelling in the bathroom all day if they paid serious attention to him
Don't get into a bitch fight with your rug , straight from Project Runway
Look at things a new way, straight from LA Ink

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dip Dyeing - How to

Dip Dyeing
Ingrid Heronimus first demonstrated dip dyeing to me in a class with the Owen Sound Hooking Honey's in 1998.

Dip dyeing allows us to hook continually without changing colours to produce smooth gradations of colour. I will be demonstrating how to do this with uglies and light coloured textures/plaids but any natural,light or medium coloured wool works well.
Read all the instructions before proceeding.

Equipment needed
deep pan at least 5 inches (old deep fryers work very well.)
wire hanger
safety pins
soaked wool - multiply the length of the area to be hooked by 5, if your leaf is 6 inches long your piece of wool needs to be 30" long
3 dye solutions (works with one or two as well)

lots of vinegar or a bit of citric acid
time to complete this task without interruption
rubber gloves..... your choice

After you have prepared your dye solutions heat the pan of water up. Meanwhile use your safety pins to attach your wool to your hanger. Do not place more than two strips on the same set of pins. Have a safety pin at each corner of your wool. You may separate your pins with clothes pins to keep them from sliding over and bunching up your wool resulting in uneven dyeing.

When using three formulas to dip dye I use a light, medium and dark dye.
Pour your light dye solution into the pan. Take hold of your hanger and dip your wool into the water. Immerse the wool slowly while swishing it around. After 3 or 4 minutes add your vinegar or citric acid crystals and lay the wool right into the bath and keep movement going until the dye bath is exhausted( cleared).
Remove wool. Add your medium colour into the dye bath, Immerse wool slowly to the 2/3 point. KEEP DIPPING UP AND DOWN . This will keep you from having a definite line on your wool. Add more vinegar if necessary. If more blending of colours is desirable wait until dye bath is almost exhausted and lay your wool in the bath all the way.
Remove your wool again. Add your darkest colour , this time just dip in the bottom 1/3 of your wool . Keep dipping all the time, as the dye bath exhausts dip more of the wool in the water.
Take a good look at your wool, are you sure the bottom is dark enough ? Usually people don’t make it dark enough to be effective so use a bit of black , navy or purple to darken it up.

If you are using one colour of dye pour all the dye into the dye bath, add in the bottom third..... swish around and dipping past the third mark from time to time, for a few minutes, then add in the next third. Dipping and swishing the two thirds of wool into the pan, slowly begin to add in the last third.
You can throw the whole piece of wool in now. Stir around until all the dye is gone.

Good dip dye has no sharp lines.
It takes time to perfect this.
Don't answer the door or phone. Keep your wool moving!

Rinse well and hang to dry. If you are using thin wool you can place it in the dryer to make it denser.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Getting Down to Business

Looking for patterns is one of the things I do. In rugs, in stones, in behaviour, in life .
As observant as I can be with others I some how fail to see what I'm doing very clearly.

I have noticed:
I hook eyes or symbolic eyes in everything I do.
I like my coloured things to be in spectrum order.

I read a lot of fiction when I'm worn out. Then I read non- fiction then I set to work on making projects.
Looking at my list of books just read I think I'm about to embark on the non-fiction part of this late Fall journey.

I feel the making coming on, I think if I lay my head on the rails I can hear the tracks singing.
Just must remember to left up my head.

What patterns can you notice in your work or life?

Write them in !

Here is a little rug I just hooked using my swatches in two articles : Swatch Switch in RHM , just have to hook the leaves.
It is full of eye shapes aka hydrangeas.

Tickling My Fancy

Just lately I noticed a trend in advertising of all these wonderful expressive scrolls and vines growing out of products in advertising. I love them ! So organic and wonderful and faintly Grimmish.
To see an example

This was clip art and I am acting like a complete pirate because I cannot find the reference for it in my notes. I don't know who did it and cannot give them credit, I'm ashamed to say, but I wanted you to see it so I'll being going to cyber hell any day now.

I posted it here in all respect not for use by hookers but to educate us to see what can be done with the skilful use of value and saturation in a piece of work.

If anyone objects to the posting of this picture please let me know.

We are frequently worried about making things too busy.
You can clearly see here busy is balanced by open free non specific space ( no colour, no action).
Look at the depth reached by applying underlying motifs but in duller colours that are also lighter: a weaker version so to speak.
What tickles your fancy these days ?

Confessions of a Hooking Teacher

It is a fine line we tread. On the one hand I want to make a living.
On the other I truly love what I do and want to share the wonder of the hooking experience.
Can both exist ?

I heard today farm workers just won the right to collective bargaining .... that was a surprise to hear such a thing needs legislated in this day and age.
There was a debate how paying more money to the workers would bankrupt the farm owners and no one would pay the price for food if the workers were paid properly. A caller stated , if food prices are cheap, someone is paying somewhere along the line.
I guess it is the farm workers in this case. The farm workers also stated in no way were they after mom and pop family operations but more interested in commercial type farms.

Most of us hooking suppliers and teachers are mom and pop operations.
Mostly just mom.
We moms have a long history of doing for others and not thinking about the value of the rich services we provide.

Imagine the farms with no one to harvest.
Imagine our tables.

Imagine the rugs I could be making if I wasn't teaching.
LOL --- what I really mean is:
Imagine proper pay for solid skills, richly and freely given.
Imagine what we could learn.

Just a note: teen age babysitters make per hour than the average hooking teacher.

Rug Hooking teacher hard at work

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Creation and Expansion Part 2

How is your visual journal going ?
Did you explore the idea of space? What did it mean to you, did this expand as you worked on your page ? That was a little punny, sorry.

The next idea we will look at is comfort.

Work your magic my friends.

Baby Mary cadges some comfort from the dollar bin

Monday, November 3, 2008

More Rugs and Impression in Wood Vendors

A beautiful rug by Barbara Kerr ( no relation)

More Woolgathering fun

Tried to get "front" shots but did not succeed too well.

Here is Elaine Chalmers from The Cozy Nook

Woolgatherers Rugs In Progress and Finished

This picture shows more beginning projects.

Woolgathering Pictures

The first rugs of Woolgatherers

The Woolgathering

It is a true saying that a girl can't do anything well unless she has help.
This especially pertains to me and Woolgathering. I thank every one again for all the help they offer, and of course it is always the same set of wonderful people. Maybe they know I'm in charge of who goes to hooker heaven.

We had a wonderful turnout and so much fun seeing everyone's first rugs. Some took that literally and brought the first rug and some brought smaller pieces typically made when we start. It was also fun to hear who are the "typhoid Marys". Though not too glamorous a designation they really do spread the word of hooking around where ever they go. There were several mentions of the same people, Elaine Allerton, Freda MacDonnell. And then of course the family ties, rug hooking really spreads laterally and vertically through family trees.
One thing we did note is the FADE factor. Several rugs were down to the lightest of pastels. On the flip side they were still vibrant and beautiful.
The sun is not our friend.
Though some dyes are more prone to quick fading, all fabric no matter the dyes will eventually fade.
This is why it is good to use stronger colour than you might want, it is also good to dye over already dyed wool especially when dyeing BLUE.

One thing I like best about Woolgathering is the wealth of diverse projects. Rarely do you see two people working on the same or a similar project.
I took some very bad pictures, on days like that I should be cloned. But I will send them out soon bad or not.

Our next program is more of a contest, Who has the most unfinished rugs ?
There is a prize.... if you think you're a contender head our way April 4.

Measuring wool

I recently had a terrific question, how do I measure wool for dyeing? I have to say accurate measures of wool result in successful dyeing sessions especially if you use formula books.
For the most part teachers and wool sellers use the same methods of measuring and cutting

I noticed this is a hard concept to grasp sometimes in dyeing classes and if I'm teaching my intense 1 day class I have all the wool prepared because this can take an hour to get down pat. When I first started selling wool I kept samples of 1 yd, 1/2yd, 1/4 yd, 1/8th yd and 1/16th yd and 1/32 yd with labels on them so I could refer to them when I needed to be sure.
Now it is old hat.

Measurements of 36" along the selvedge edge then clipped and ripped gets you a yard of wool.

Measuring 18" inches along the selvedge edge is 1/2 yd

Fold the 1/2 yd, matching the selvedges together, clip at the fold and rip gives you two 1/4 yds.

Folding the 1/4 yd in half so it is still 18" long, clipping at the fold gives you two 1/8th yds.

Fold 1/8th in half so and clipping at the the fold gives you two 1/16 yd.

If you fold the 1/16th in half so it is still 18" long , clip and rip you get two 1/32 yd

Here is a diagram to reiterate if you are a more visual person.