Well. It's almost done. The hooking is done. Next comes:
And you wonder why hand-hooked rugs are so expensive. Every time you buy a cheapo hooked rug from China (and they are out there, plenty of them), you are disempowering an American or Canadian artist. But it's not my intention to get on THAT soapbox today.
And now...the rewards:
So after all this hooking (not to mention the Big Yarn Dyeing Project over the last six days), I decided to self-indulge with some rewards. My new freaky shoes (see the post from two days ago), one of which is visible in the rug photo above, were the start of an orgy of self-indulgence.
Just today my new dye spoons arrived from Gene Shepherd's online store. These arrived with lightning speed. I think I may even have ordered them on Thanksgiving, just last Thursday, and it's only Monday. I love them. They have so many advantages in this form, and I love that the measures go from 1/128th to 1 full teaspoon.
They were expensive, as all good dye spoons are, but I know the value of top-of-the-line tools, and these are definitely in that category.
There's more though.
Here are Carrie Paris's beautiful new Relative Tarot Cards, which you can find more about here. I can't wait to begin using these. (They are sold out temporarily but she'll be reprinting soon.)
While I am taking a short break from dyeing massive quantities of yarn for my new Moon & Clouds rug, I'll really enjoy working with Carrie's cards. And of course, I will be working with tarot at the opening of the tarot rug show on Friday.
Well, after scaring the pants off of readers with yesterday's post on my new shoes, I thought I'd post something more subdued today.
I really needed those silly shoes yesterday as I was in a dark mood all day. Really not sure why, and that is very unusual for me. Part of it may have been weather-related as it was dark, gloomy, and rainy out, but normally that's not an issue. Who knows! The shoes cheered me up, and doing that tile cheered me up just before I went to bed.
BYDP (Big Yarn Dyeing Project) DAY 6:
After getting nothing done yesterday except cleaning the house, I was back in the dyepots today. Three more skeins are just about ready to come out of the oven, and with them, I will have officially finished 1/4 of the dyeing for the background for this large rug.
The background will be 4 colors of dark purple, and today's haul completes one of the four. I need at least 8 skeins of each. I have 6 more dyed of color #2 already, and 2 skeins of color #3, so I am nearly halfway there.
Doing a small batch and then cleaning up today was easier than just leaving my kitchen set up for dyeing for several days in a row. That was incredibly disruptive.
I will be busy for part of this week at the upcoming opening of the tarot rug show in Vermont (see my earlier posts for details on that); this means I needed to "park" the Big Yarn Dyeing Project today. It will be several days before I can resume.
Needing new walking shoes that were not clogs, I realized I didn't want to buy something boring. I wanted to break out of my usual conservative wear.
I met that goal, with this new pair.
Of course, the result may terrify you. It did me. At first.
Then I decided to get over the terror and wear them, and now I quite like them.
Not to mention how much they distract everyone I meet.
Just to be sure you realize the full effect, here is a larger photo of just one of the pair. By showing only one shoe, I hope to avoid inducing a seizure in any viewer who may be extra sensitive to something so strobe-alicious. You may want to wear sunglasses for this larger view. NOTE: I am not responsible for any side effects you may incur by looking at this photo.
Finally, on a somewhat calmer note...
There is a "gem craze" going on in the Zentangle® community at the moment. Since I've been focused elsewhere (mainly on dyeing yarn for my upcoming rug), I've been ignoring it but today I completely hit a wall and could not tolerate dyeing even one more skein of yarn. I just had to clean up the incredible mess and disorganization in my kitchen.
So I did.
And then I sat down and tried drawing gems.
After which I had a little iPhone fun with that same photo.
Above is a mandala of some of the yarn I have dyed so far (original photo altered by the Waterlogue app on my iPhone). I had to leave out 4 skeins to get the rest in the photo! Below is the actual photo of the dyed yarn without retouching.
I wound the skeins into yarn cakes ready to be used in punching the rug, and they remind me of little colored moons or mandalas. Since it's been a particularly gorgeous full moon this week, I thought a "mandala of yarn-moon cakes" would be appropriate.
I wasn't able to do any dyeing today--just too tired. Ran minor errands, took a long nap, read a trash novel, and couldn't wake up enough to gather all of the yarns in one place until just before sunset. That turned out to be good light for photographing such different values.
It's beginning to dawn on me that I won't be able to decide on the colors of the inner motifs in the rug until I am actually hooking it. I am going to have to trust in trial and error. If that is true, then I need to focus only on dyeing background (the various dark purples), since that is the part I'm certain about, and then begin hooking.
Accident is design / And design is accident / In a cloud of unknowing.
Half of art is accident, but there is no accident without free experiment.
I just counted, and in the last 3 weeks I have dyed 32 separate skeins of variegated-color yarn, and of those, at least 26 either will be used in the rug or are under strong consideration.
Below you can see a partially-colored prototype of the design. The background will definitely be variegated dark purples.
Only the colors for the motifs remain to be chosen. In this photo, which was the second mock-up that I attempted, I gave up trying on colors for the motifs, since they are NOTHING like the colors of the yarn I've produced. I may have to try watercolor to get tints like the yarns I have. This picture tells me little except what the background might look like. Ignore the very light colors around the edge and in the top motifs--they aren't right.
I am exhausted and need to take a break from all this yarn dyeing. I may even need to start punching a bit of the rug in order to try out some of the lighter colors against the background. I've made a good start on dyeing the background, producing six more skeins today. I am taking at least one day off and plan to loll about as much as possible and indulge myself.
As Katharine Hepburn said, "Life is hard. After all, it kills you."
I am in yarn dyeing heaven. Or hell. Depending how I look at it. Am not making my daily goal, and my house truly looks like a tornado has struck full-force. But more about that later. This is quick post just to record what I did for the Joey Challenge this week, the monotangle Yuma.
I have spirals on the brain this week, so wanted to use a spiral string. It's debatable whether I did a true form of Yuma here, but what the hey. Here's a mirrored version, using the iPhone app:
Back to the yarn dyeing saga: I only managed to get 3 skeins done again today. And I won't really be able to see them until daylight tomorrow. Next step: stop until I've spent a couple of hours coloring sketches, and make a semi-final decision about which lighter colors to use. Then, calculate how many of each color I will need, creating a map that will govern the rest of the process. I think I've done enough testing. Time to get down to business.
The Diva Challenge #245 this week is on Hollibaugh. Oh, how I love this tangle. I know there will be some fabulous renditions of it, so please click on that link and treat yourself to what others have done. Here is my quick version (on the left), very different from what I usually do.
And to round off the Hollibaugh celebration, here is the same tangle done by several first-time students, below. I had only 7 minutes to teach this tangle in a meditation class (all the students were training to be meditation teachers):
You can see the meditation chimes on the left. I do love Hollibaugh. Not bad for seven minutes of coaching. We were focused on the meditative aspect of the tangle.
And now on to the
BIG YARN DYEING PROJECT, Day 2.
Life is full of surprises and today is no exception. I will only get 3 skeins done today. My goal is six, but...not gonna happen. Much busyness with other people. And my car is in the shop. (Praying to the god of cars that it is an inexpensive fix) Plus, I have an afternoon commitment. I will end up dyeing yarn tonight, just to produce the third skein. As I write this in the early afternoon, I've just taken two out of the oven. So here are some photos of the process:
...and some of the results:
And of course, no dyeing process would be complete without what's in this last photo below. At least--that's true for me. I am apparently a dyeing slob. I get dye all over my hands, despite wearing good rubber gloves. It's a mystery how I do this; other people come out with pristine hands, but mine are always gross at the end. (No, the gloves do not leak. It's definitely something I am doing...but what?) Without this stuff, I wouldn't be able to go out in public for days afterwards.
Legend has it that Pearl McGown, the diva and doyenne of rug hooking in the 1950s, used to dye wool while dressed in an evening gown to demonstrate that it could be done without being messy. (NOTE: She is an entire story to herself--she singlehandedly kept rug hooking going in the U.S., but she was quite the dictator.)
Hey, if I owned an evening gown, I too could dye wool while wearing it without getting spots on it. I never get dye on my clothes either.
But I note that the legend of Pearl Dyeing in Her Evening Gown says nothing about her HANDS. Perhaps they were blue up to the elbows when she finished. Mine are all colors when I am done.
Long live ReDuRan. (No, I don't get a commission.)
What a day. Dyeing, dyeing, and more dyeing. And in between the dye sessions, dealing with life's other surprises. I did get six skeins done--six different colors--but can't show them until they are dry, probably by tomorrow.
Here's about all I can show now. It's one of the greens which had just come out of the oven and was momentarily too hot to handle. You can see the soapy rinse that I'd prepared just above it.
Sopping wet, this doesn't look like much. But I think it's the exact color I wanted and can't wait to see what shade it is when it's completely dry (wet wool is darker than dry wool).
Tomorrow I think I'll be experimenting less and working more on dyeing the background for the rug, though a lot depends on what I decide about colors I got today.
The Big Yarn Dyeing Project starts tomorrow. I have about 15 pounds of yarn to dye for the next rug, in 4 oz skeins. Each skein must be dyed individually. I can dye about 6 skeins a day. If I am able to produce that amount most days this week, I will still be only halfway toward the total. But that's ok. It's exhausting but fun.
I began prepping today. First, a couple of hours with my color plan and my previously-dyed yarns, to determine which "test colors" I need to dye tomorrow. I'm pretty settled on the colors for the background, but the lighter colors for the motifs are waiting for me to test them and choose which ones work.
After a lot of thought, I emerged with a list of what to dye tomorrow--testing several new colors to see if they will look good with my background.
Next came prepping the yarn. I'll be using up all of the old Paternayan rug yarn I bought years ago. Wish this were still available, but as far as I know, nobody makes or carries it anymore. That's ok though; I was able to buy some wonderful new yarn over the summer that will be as good. Here's the yarn on my floor after I added some ties to keep the skeins from tangling:
And here it is again below, all tucked in for the night (soaking overnight in Synthrapol to prep the fibers for dyeing tomorrow). Should be a very messy but satisfying day. I'm curious to see what comes out of the color testing.
Once I select the final colors, then I can settle in to produce multiple skeins of each color, and actually begin punching the rug. Oh boy oh boy!
More experiments with black gesso. But today, I put it on black tiles rather than a white one as I did yesterday. I am really enjoying experimenting with this.
Am also enjoying good company and the pleasure of spending time with dear friends. You know who you are!
That's what I'm thankful for this week.
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), long-time meditator and coach, focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
NEXT INTRO TO ZENTANGLE CLASS:
No immediate group classes scheduled (I'm always open to hearing about a good venue in Western Massachusetts. I am always happy to teach 1-1 and/or in a small group in your home.
Come and amaze yourself!
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society
Skillful Meditation Project