Hmmm, I appear to be working on a series of posts with titles named after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Yesterday was Grumpy, today Happy.
A good night's sleep makes all the difference (oh no--I can foretell a forthcoming post with the title "Sleepy"). That plus the fact that last year at this time I was still unpacking, and would feel terribly guilty if I tried to find the time to do anything creative when I felt I "should" be working on the house.
If I know anything about myself it's that a day or two without time to do handwork or drawing renders me hyper-cranky and anxious. I'm afraid I'm addicted. It doesn't matter if the result is only mediocre; it's the act of creating that releases stress and puts me nearly into a state of bliss every time.
Today I was able to do some rug punching (for a pillow not a rug) and at the same time practice singing. My singing was absolutely horrible, but who cares? The combination was my idea of heaven. Start of punched pillow is below.
Contrast this punched version with the identical but traditionally hooked pillow (see my post from December 27th) to see the difference between punching and hooking. Both of which sound either violent or sleazy, eh?
But they are the polar opposite. So soothing.
In less than a week, 2018 is done. I'm doing my annual review by re-reading my journal and reflecting. It's always a bittersweet process.
That's not all that's winding up. On the right is yarn I over-dyed yesterday, preparing for my next project. I just finished winding it into this yarn cake.
Here it was in the dyepot just before I nuked it for the final time. And yes, the lighting was different. The color in the photo above is truer. The original yarn, a worsted weight, was beige. When I saw this in the dyepot It looked so much like spaghetti I couldn't believe it.
Also winding up--and now actually finished--is this hooked pillow I put together yesterday. The pattern is from a vintage piece of pottery, and I'm thrilled with how it came out.
The yarn I dyed above is actually going to be used in a twin of this piece--I will punch hook the same pattern, to illustrate the difference between traditional hooking and punch hooking.
I finally finished my "Red & Black" rug today. This piece feels as though it's been underway for years.
It's not a big rug, either; it's probably about 2'x3' at most.
After I finished the binding and then the final steaming, I laid it down on my tile floor to dry and went into my journal to search for the starting date of this rug. I couldn't find it, but it has to be either 2016 or 2017, early in the year*.
So in actuality, I don't know how long it did take me. But certainly over a year. Things got incredibly complicated when I bought the house, packed up after 40 years in one place, moved, started unpacking, and broke my wrist.
There were a lot of lessons in this rug, and good memories too.
I thought when I designed it (yes, it's my design) that I could use up all of my red and black wool. Well, that didn't work out! The wool apparently multiplied itself secretly overnight and I am left with what looks like the same amount of red and black wool as I finish the rug as I had when I began. So one lesson is that wool you want to use up never fully goes away, while wool you are worried about not having enough of will ALWAYS run out in a crucial spot. Guaranteed.
I thought hooking in straight lines would be a cinch. Surprise! Not so easy for me. I learned I am not good at hooking in straight lines at all. But...I kept on truckin'.
I started it while living in one place, and finished it in another. I miss my Woolies so much...and at the same time am forging new friendships out here. I feel fortunate to be making some new friends. (But still wish my other peeps weren't so far away...)
I had to put it down and pick it up about a zillion times, with long delays in between due to packing, moving, unpacking, and my damaged wrist and hand. There was a major lesson in patience and persistence to get it done.
But I got it done. That's the biggest lesson.
"Nevertheless, she persisted."
*Addendum: Checking my photos of this rug, I see that I started it in January of 2016, so over two years from start to finish. Yikes. (I may have put it aside to complete at least one other rug in the meantime, however.)
A HAPPY SUMMER SOLSTICE TO ALL
(in the northern hemisphere)
This was my way of celebrating the Solstice and our gorgeous weather. I took ten skeins of fingering-weight yarn, each ten ounces, and dyed around the color wheel using the Wooly Mason Jar Dyeing Technique. Below they look even better, dried and rolled into yarn cakes.
This is the first time I've ever dyed the entire color wheel in one go.
I was trying for variegated yarn, which I prefer. I didn't succeed with the three primary colors (check out the evenly-dyed red, yellow and blue skeins at one o'clock, five o'clock, and nine o'clock), but I adjusted my method and am very happy with the variegation in the other nine skeins. I'll be using this technique to dye for my punch needle embroidery work, and also for future rug hooking.
Thank you Lucy Richards! (originator of this technique) Lucy should be canonized for answering all my dumb questions up to this point. Unfortunately I'll undoubtedly be sending more dumb questions her way in the future. But what fun, and I think I've finally gotten the hang of this. It can only build my confidence for future dyeing adventures.
If you read the previous post titled "A Good Yarn With a Sad Story," you'll know that a few days ago a friend and I took a very confused-looking cone of wool yarn from WEBS, carefully turned it into skeins, and made it glamorous.
Well, I went back to WEBS for more of the Sad Story yarn, because there was just one cone of fingering-weight yarn that I knew would be perfect for punch needle embroidery. And if you didn't already believe me about the sign on the shelf, here is a photo of it:
Unbelievably, the cone that I bought was in even sadder shape than the cone my friend had bought last week. Here is my cone on the shelf as I saw it:
It was this very yarn that I turned into the color wheel above.
I know it's much happier now. Me too.
The sound of colors is so definite that it would be hard to find anyone who would express bright yellow with base notes, or dark lake with the treble.
I don't yet have a new project to dye wool for, although I'll be starting one soon. But I do have a dear friend who was visiting and interested in learning to dye yarn, so I thought it would be a good time to try out Lucy Richard's Wooly Mason Jar Dye technique.
And it was--we had a lot of fun last Saturday, even though we went "off-road" and did our own thing rather than following Lucy's directions. Why? Because I'd had no time to read Lucy's instructions and so hadn't done any of the prep work. She has a very specific and relatively foolproof system that I'm interested in learning.
Although we didn't follow her method, we still got into the dyepot and had a lot of fun. Here are some photos from the day.
Oh, and where does the title of today's post come from? Read on; the story is after the photos. Pretty funny.
The Lucy Richard method involves making dye solutions in jars. One of the 3 "starter" primary colors is Warm Blue, and that's what you see here on the right. We didn't have time to mix up all the initial solutions for this very exact method, so we ad-libbed and tried our own thing, which you see in the pink jar.
THE STORY OF THIS YARN AND THE TITLE OF TODAY'S POST:
We had gone to WEBS on Friday. While there, my friend decided to pick up some white wool with which to practice dyeing. After walking around in the warehouse, she spotted a poor...unfortunate...very small cone of white wool yarn sitting all by its lonesome on a shelf with a few other assorted fibers. This cone of yarn was. very messy and disorganized, to say the least. The strands of yarn in the upper part seemed to be trying to jump off the top of the cone and run away.
It looked like a fiber in distress. The tag said 100% wool and the price was only $2.50.
Next we spotted a sign on the shelf that said (I'm not making this up):
"Good yarn with a sad story." ???!!
Well, what could we do? She HAD to buy it and take it home. So she did. We carefully took it off the cone and wound it into 3 skeins when we got home. There was only about 40 ounces total on the cone, but it was enough to play with in the dyepot.
And so, our "good yarn with a sad story" actually got to have a happy ending. It now looks far more glamorous, and my friend will incorporate it into one of her beautiful woven wall hangings.
A very happy ending indeed.
Oh, and did I mention that she is now addicted to dyeing yarn? Yup. She'll be fabulous at it.
When I went to my last local rug hooking meeting, I only expected to work on my rug and have fun.
I had NO IDEA what would be waiting for all of us who attended.
We were treated to an incredible show of rugs from Turkey, China, and Iran by one of the members, Elizabeth Vierling. Dr. Vierling is a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, but she is also a rug maker and clearly has a passion for textiles. I took a million photographs...unfortunately my memory of her very informative commentary on the origins and purposes of each piece is fading fast, but here are some of the photos. Enjoy!
I believe this first piece was from Turkey. It is very large and I think Elizabeth uses it as a rug in her home. It is embroidered, using a couching stitch I think (see detail in last photo). Probably circa mid 20th-century.
The color work is just sensational. After ogling the piece (above) for a good long while, we all decided we are not using enough orange in our own designs.
Apologies in advance to Elizabeth for how much I have already forgotten of what she said about each textile. Her commentary on where she located each one, where and how each was created, and what each may have been used for, was fascinating. But in the week since I saw these works, all of her commentary has started to slide right out of my head. Darn!
If memory serves me--which likely it doesn't--below are two clothing panels embroidered by the Miao people of China (one of China's long-suppressed minority groups, now finally beginning to emerge and be recognized for their rich history and cultural treasures).
And if that weren't enough, there was more, and more still...click on each thumbnail to progress through the items, or just hit "Play."
One of the most dramatic textiles was the one below. I loved these tiny aliens. The work is so beautiful, and the colors vibrant. Each thumbnail has a different view (or you can just hit "Play").
Elizabeth travels for academic conferences, and is occasionally able to extend the travel time in order to take in more of the culture of the countries she is in. This is why she has been able to explore and research textiles on some of her trips.
Aren't we fortunate--those of us who were there to see this show? With thanks to Elizabeth for letting me photograph and post the photos, for her lively talk and especially for lugging all the heavy, bulky textiles to the meeting. All of her hard work resulted in a fabulous experience for the rest of us.
I have indeed been absent from writing for a long while.
It's nothing bad, nor have I abandoned my blog. Instead, life has been overly-full with good things, including two major projects. I'll write about one of them today.
I just returned from a less-than-24 hour trip to Cornwall, VT, where I stayed overnight at the Oxford Rug Hooking School and completed the requirements to become a Certified Teacher Punch Needle Rug Hooking. (!! Hurrah !!)
And as if that weren't wonderful enough, just look at the weather and views I had while I was there (even though I hardly had time to be outside).
There was earthy eye candy everywhere.
Here are some samples, a photo journey for your enjoyment:
Amy Oxford's school is a bit of heaven on earth, one of my favorite places to go and well worth the four-hour drive for me. (Although TWO four-hour drives in 24 hours just about did me in.)
And then there is Amy herself, one of the kindest and most generous people I know. A fabulous artist, teacher and businesswoman. And there is also Heidi the dye wizard, working her magic on both creative and administrative aspects of the school--and just as nice. (Heidi also can repair absolutely anything.)
It is sheer pleasure to be in residence there.
I am ready to collapse for the evening and try to take in the fact that I'm now certified...a fact which just makes me think, "But I have so much more to learn!"
My one regret is that I couldn't stay longer. Anyone who has been to the school and is reading this will know exactly what I mean.
As for the other project I'm involved in: that one is bigger, longer-term, and more disruptive, and may prevent me from writing much for a while.
It's all good. But it's also all-consuming.
To quote the old Beatles' move, Help: "I can say no more."
I have been busy today, despite excessive heat and humidity. Although it hardly seems possible that I actually needed to dye more gold yarn for my current rug (after all the excess I had at the finish of the last one), I did.
But dyeing during the heat of August is not my idea of fun. So what to do?
I woke at 5 a.m. and it was only 70 degrees outside, so I zipped into the kitchen and dyed four skeins before the heat could build. Hopefully this will be enough to finish the rug. After hanging the skeins to dry, I spent a few hours punching also and am coming close to finishing everything but the borders. on the rug Well, perhaps that's pushing it just a little bit...but I'm definitely making good progress and I think the above statement will be true after one more day of work.
Once I wound the yarn, I amused myself by making a yarn-cake mandala on my iPhone. Love these fun iPhone apps...
It's too early to show my rug design, but a took a photo of a small part of the rug and ran it through another iPhone app to make a spiral.
Wow, these apps are powerful...I love this and only wish my rug could look like this! Quite amazing. (Indeed, my rug looks nothing like this at all.)
And a happy Fourth of July to all in the USA. I am lazing about and having a quiet one; I'm also tidying up some of the many tasks on my to-do list. Everyone has left town. It's extremely quiet, and one telltale sign that it's a holiday weekend is the lack of traffic and a plethora of parking spots everywhere.
One of the tidying-up things was that I ran out of background yarn for an 8" sampler I was making (on the left above). So close...and yet so far. So, I dyed up a skein of yarn to match yesterday morning, and this morning I finished the punching:
I've gotten two other big tasks off my to-do list today, and made a good start on a third. This is one reason I love long lazy holiday weekends. Although I define them as "lazy" because I don't go out and do events, I usually get a tremendous amount done at home with minimum effort. I don't feel that I've been pushing at all, and yet I've accomplished a lot.
Long live holiday weekends. Especially summer holiday weekends when the weather is just perfect.
"Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability."
This is the last installment in the series on my experience at the week-long certification workshop at the Oxford Rug Hooking School in Cornwall Vermont last week.
I'll start with some pictures again--these are from Chris H, with his permission. They are photos he took on a brief walk he took up the dirt road just to the side of Amy's property. (I did not take a walk all week--unusual--and I lived to regret it, but that's another story. Note to self: Always take at least one walk a day...)
It really was that beautiful there, and it was that way all week. Sunny, warm but not too hot, low humidity, Kind of staggeringly beautiful.
Amy is a genius as an instructor. She had the entire week so well-planned...we introduced ourselves, talked about what makes a good instructor, and set goals. And then we set about meeting our goals for the week. Amy modeled the type of teacher we all hope to be. She was completely organized, but not rigid. She was great at time management, without making us feel we were on a "regimen." She told us what we'd be learning for each day--and then we actually learned it. And she had great handouts, clear and useful. The kind of handouts we can use with our own students.
At one point, the wonderful Diane Burgess came in for an entire morning to teach traditional rug hooking to those of us who had never tried our hands at that. Diane specializes in teaching traditional hooking to newbies.
Amy even managed to squeeze in a thorough lesson on photographing rugs, something I think we all needed to learn. (She's not mad here--the sun was so extraordinarily bright that she is squinting)
Every day she gave us tip after tip, provided lots of time to punch and to teach, taught new techniques, and then ended with a hilarious graduation ceremony. I managed to photograph most of us at graduation, but unfortunately couldn't photograph myself and because Kathleen came right after me, I couldn't get her photo either.
Here are the graduation pictures. Note the kazoo in Amy's mouth as we go through the process!
Since we didn't have caps and gowns, we pitched balls of novelty yarn in the air to finalize the celebration. And speaking of yarns:
Chris dyed up these colors before coming to the workshop and they caused a sensation. I think all of us used some of his yarns in our work last week, and I also think all of us took home one of the colors. Here are the colors he gifted us with.
I got to go home with the blue one, and just today used more of it to finish one of my homework assignments. Chris raises sheep at his home, and spins; he also has the fleece commercially spun into rug yarn, but the hand-dyed yarns he dyed that are pictured above were, I think, from KnitPicks; they weren't from his own sheep. Thanks, Chris, for letting us all take one of these home.
After graduation Amy gave us each a tiny charm, as well as our diplomas. I loved the charm and am already using it on my keychain.
When I left on Saturday, I left with inspiration, with a good-sized manual for techniques, with the work I'd completed during the week, with plenty of resources, with plenty of homework ahead of me to complete the certification, and with the confidence that I could continue to improve and to pass on this technique as needed.
I forgot to mention that part of the homework is to complete a rug of our own design within the next four months. We had all sketched out our designs in advance, and one of my very favorite parts of the workshop was when we shared them with each other. I think we were all stunned by the level of creativity shown. I was impressed and inspired by what I saw and can't wait to see the completed rugs.
Because we had worked so hard, had bonded, and had so much fun, we were all pretty emotional as we were leaving. I saw tears (and had a few myself) and although we were all eager to get home after such a long time away, there was substantial foot-dragging as we said goodbye.
My thanks to Amy, our incredible teacher, and to the school manager (and dyer extraordinaire) Heidi, who kept everything organized and running smoothly while we were there.
Final thoughts on all the inspirational, dear, creative people I met last week:
"When I find myself fading, I close my eyes and realize my friends are my energy." (Anonymous)
Thanks to all of you for making this such a wonderful experience.
Last Friday I traveled up to Vermont with my studio-buddy, K, for a workshop on dyeing rug yarn. This was a long-scheduled trip. We headed off to our beloved Oxford Rug Hooking School and spent a weekend dyeing with Heidi Whipple, Manager and Master Dyer of the School, and one other student, the funny and wonderful Julie.
Friday night we simply settled in. I took a long walk in the fields behind the school, listening to the Redwing Blackbirds and Canada Geese in the high wind and slanting light of early evening. I felt so grateful to be able to be in such a gorgeous place. When you stay at the school, they think of everything and take great care of you.
Saturday we began our work. Here's a small portion of the dyeing room:
We spent all day Saturday on three techniques. The big challenge for me was the 8 value dyeing. Although I doubt I will use this much, or need it (but ya never know, eh?), I still wanted to learn it. Here were my results:
I admit to being chuffed. But it was a LOT of work. Very glad I know I can do this, "just in case."
And here is part of the method of creating what you see above. Double, double, toil and trouble...
Heidi and I both decided to try a recipe that appeared to be full of typos. Even though we had doubts, we thought we would try it "as written"; it involved applying the same color in the same amount three times. This doesn't sound like it would produce anything other than one color, right? That's gotta be an error.
See the little slideshow below for results.
Safe to say we weren't expecting that.
Sunday we went to work early and continued through lunch. We could have continued all day but with a 4+ hour drive home facing us, and all we had already learned, we were out of brain cells.
Results from the weekend:
Left-to-right: 1) The experiment with the odd recipe that turned out surprisingly well. 2) A "flat color" experiment in which I tried to achieve a mid-range value of a particular shade, and succeeded. It turned out the exact shade...to my surprise. 3 & 4) Two recipes using slightly different amounts of the same colors. Love both these results. 5) Underneath the four skeins is an antique punch needle from Denmark.
These goodies and the 8 skeins of green are what I brought home.
I am so grateful to Heidi for her teaching. And we were lucky that on Saturday Amy O stopped by briefly, along with Miss Lily, her long-haired dachshund. Any time I get to spend with Amy is always a gift.
After a very, very, VERY long ride home, I'm taking today to regroup. I can't say enough about what a magical place Amy and Heidi have created. It gives new meaning to the word "haven." If I lived any closer, I would probably be trying to move in.
Gratitude is my operative word as I think back on the weekend.
Woke up early today and by 9.30 a.m. had dyed one final skein of the background and was on my way to the studio. I'm now about 3" x 36" away from finishing. However, I may not get to work on the last bit for another week or two. I have other commitments (all of them wonderful) that will take up my time until then.
Not only am I blessed with many friends, but all my friends are gifted in some way.
And certainly they are gifts to me.
Today we had another small meeting of the Wooly Bullies (my rug hooking group) at K's house. We had several members who couldn't come and they were much missed, but we had a great time as usual. Here are the pictures to prove it.
This is Cynthia's current rug-in-progress. The last time I saw this rug was about 5-7 years ago; Cynthia thinks she began it about 15 years ago and then put it aside to work on her very large Kokopelli Rug, which is now finished. I highlighted that rug in my last blog post on the Bullies. Because she had put it away to work on Kokopelli, Cynthia hadn't seen this floral rug herself for a few years--now she has fallen in love with it again and is thrilled to be so close to finishing. She did all the dyeing for this rug. The background is a wonderful onion skin dye. (This made me want to delve back into onion skin dyeing myself--I so love her background)
In the "How-adorable-is-this?" category, the winner today was Maria's small bunny-board, above. This is probably less than 12" long from head to toe.
I mean, seriously, people--doesn't this have "THINK SPRING!" written all over it? Here is the back of the piece, in case you have never seen a rug-on-a-board before (really, a "ruglet-on-a-board").
Cheryl just completed binding her Parrot Tulip chairpad, another Pearl McGown design. She was working on this in February when we last met, and you can see the progress she has made since then. I love these colors!
Kathleen is nearly finished with the interior of her fabulous fish rug, titled "The Last Cod." You can see the small unhooked area at the very top. She will then have to decide what to do for a border and was taking suggestions today. (The Wooly Bullies are never bashful about giving suggestions!) This is an amazing rug, very large and complex. And a sobering theme. Designed by Kathleen, with most of the wool hand-dyed by her--a few pieces were dyed by Michele Micarelli as well. I have watermarked this picture because it's Kathleen's original work, all of it, and I don't want to take any chances (she has given me permission to post it).
And last but by no means least, Maria was working on finishing the background for her stunning apple tree rug. Whose pattern is this, I wonder? Another McGown? Someone else?
I am working on my red & black scrappy rug and did not take a photo of it. But you can see it here in recent previous blog posts, as well as the punched rug I am working on (see a photo of that in progress in yesterday's post).
Kathleen made a delicious soup, Cheryl brought cupcakes, and I brought two types of cheese (one was a really unusual honey-lavender goat cheese) and crackers from the local gourmet cheese place, so we certainly didn't starve as we worked.
We worried about, and missed, members who couldn't come today and hope all is well. I spent quite some time just listening quietly and thinking about how fond I am of all the women in this group, and how lucky I am to have you in my life. You each inspire me in different ways.
As the saying goes, "Good friends are like stars; you don't always see them, but you know they are there."
Thank you for being there. All of you.
In all the time I've been making rugs and using gripper frames, I don't think I've ever done what I did today. I was moving the punch-hooked rug on the large frame and for the first time ever I cut both hands and bled all over the rug. As I said, jeez!
Fortunately, it only showed on the border, which will be entirely cut away as I begin binding.
Best of all, I have no pictures of this event, You won't be seeing it.
Despite that, I did accomplish one thing I've been meaning to do for a very long time:
...I created a Rube Goldberg solution to the problem of having to sit down the entire time while I work on the rug. [There really was a real Rube.] How's that (above) for making Rube proud of me?
Before I tucked it up, it looked like this...which gives you an idea of the size of this rug (some of the rug is hanging down in back of the frame and can't be seen):
I used these clamps from the Wool & Dye Works in Florence MA to neaten it all up:
By the time I left, it looked like this:
Yes, much neater. And since the frame is sitting on top of two plastic boxes, it's the perfect height for standing while punching. I can also easily lift it off the boxes and make it the perfect height for sitting and punching. My intention is to alternate sitting and standing, about a half an hour each, every time I work on the rug. Last week I sat down and punched for about 5 hours straight, and when I finally got up to go home I realized that was a very bad idea. Waaaaaay too much sitting.
I am pleased with this solution; I tried it out today and enjoyed myself.
And here is my new dye cabinet. It was cheap cheap cheap (and looks it, I know) and hardly elegant ($30 at Michael's with a coupon) but it rolls and it will do the trick. Plus the gaudy colored plastic drawers mean I can sort the dyes by color, making them easier to locate quickly. You can see the sorted jars sitting just inside.
When I was unable to go to the studio over the weekend, I made a bunch of additional Knitted Knockers. I love knitting for that cause. The picture below shows them un-stuffed. To see what they actually look like when ready to be used by mastectomy survivors, see my last post on this topic.
After sending off my last batch of Knitted Knockers, I got a postcard with a thank-you message.
Such a wonderful organization.
I only wish they hadn't bought into the entire "pink ribbon" thing, but unfortunately, most of the public doesn't know the disturbing history of the pink ribbon--not to mention the insult to Charlotte Haley and her inspiring, original project.
In case I didn't make it clear above, my hands are fine--no lingering injuries from those powerful gripper strips (or at least only minor ones that will have healed by tomorrow). A good reminder to be more careful when punching near the border of the rug.
Last week I worked on the red and black scrappy rug, which I am traditionally hooking with wool strips.
This week it's back to the punched rug for a bit, using yarn that I dyed by hand.
Back and forth. Get stuck on one, work on the other. Get tired of that one, work on the first again.
I was stuck on this Moon Runner rug, gave it about ten days off, and now, after much pulling-out and re-punching, here it is today:
I'm very much in experimental mode here. I ripped out all three clouds and re-punched them yesterday and today...I know that before I make any decisions about whether this is working or not, I need to fill in a lot more. Right underneath this is another moon, and another small cloud--I will see how it looks after I get those two motifs punched, along with much more background.
By the time I get all that done (and that won't even be half the rug!) I think I'll be able to tell what's working and what isn't. That's the working theory, anyway!
Trial and error...trial and error...
Finally getting this rug very much underway. Still figuring things out. The best part is that the yarn I dyed yesterday finally matches the color I was going for. I'm not sure it will continue to look like this, but here is the beginning.
Between doing the blogging here on the Tarot Rugs, which took nearly two months, and then doing a huge amount of yarn dyeing for this rug, I've had to set aside all drawing and tangling. I can't wait to get back to having a pencil in my hand.
This was the sum of this weekend's efforts. Not bad!
...or so I thought until I got to the studio today. Every single color matched EXCEPT the light yellow, which was the one that worried me, and the one I need the most!
Which one is the light yellow, you ask? Yes, that is exactly the problem. I was worried that the light yellow came out too much like medium yellow. It did.
Back into the dyepots.
At least I have my original skein at home with me now, to compare to my next attempt. I made a serious mistake by not bringing the original home with me. Funny how all the others matched their original skeins like little clones, but not the yellow.
File this one under "partial yarn dyeing mistakes."
Ahhhhhhhhhhhh...I love it when I discover something scientific that justifies one of my so-called bad habits, and this video is less than 2 minutes long:
AND ABOUT THOSE KNITTED KNOCKERS:
Ok, so here is what I have been doing in the off-moments when I haven't been dyeing yarn for my new rug: making Knitted Knockers.
Yes, they are what they sound like and look like. They are ingenious prostheses for mastectomy patients to wear instead of the (usually) nasty implants or other heavy, unwieldy prostheses. You can find out all about them on this amazing website.
You see here a pair I have nicknamed the Blue Boobies...isn't there a bird called the Blue-Footed Boobie? Well anyway, I couldn't resist doing a pair in blue.
I was really moved by this project, and--given the trauma a good friend of mine is going through this very week--really wanted to be a part of it. So I am knitting knockers and I hope someone finds them useful.
Now that I've got the hang of it, they are easy to make and require no thought. But the first one! Oy vey. Let's just say I haven't worked with double-pointed needles in years (I prefer Magic Loop for socks) and it took me more than a dozen tries to get the first one going. But that was it--once I got that one started, the rest have been a snap. I just love this project.
I'm snowed in here so haven't been able to get to the studio to work on my rug, but I've been continuing the yarn-dyeing orgy and should have more skeins to show very shortly. I may--just may--have finished dyeing all the yarn for the rug. Just about 50 pounds of yarn. Phew. And each 4 oz skein has been dyed individually, by hand.
Outside, all day today:
Inside, all day today:
Results of all this messiness:
As Heidi Whipple (the dyeing teacher who taught me this method) says:
"Each skein is its own dye lot."
So true! I look forward to seeing if these will match what I need. Sure hope so. I want to move forward on my rug and I can't if I didn't match these well enough. It's nail-biting time!
Update the following day: YES!!! They match. Very excited.
I was recently away for seven days on another lovely, extraordinary silent meditation retreat at IMS in Barre. When I returned, I still had four posts to write in order to finish chronicling the Tarot Rug Project. Finally I got that done--it felt so good to complete. Since then, I've needed to catch my breath and catch up with the rest of my life.
This week I finally got back to the studio, and began to sort out how I'm going to handle this gigantic (for me it's gigantic, 3' x 6') Moon Runner, also known as the Moon and Clouds rug. I dyed all the background (and blogged about it here and here, as well as in a few other posts). Got all that done back in November, but I hadn't tried out the test colors I dyed for the moon or clouds. So in the last three days, I've done some experimenting. Here was my first try at a cloud:
I kind of liked it, but wasn't convinced. What was it missing?...it seemed too dull to me. But I beavered on, and today I tackled one of the moons:
...and finally got most--not all--of it done:
...and now, yes, the cloud is definitely too dull. But I think I'm loving the moon! And the cloud is very fixable; it just needs more yellow.
Am not certain how the moon will look against the background, but there is only one way to find out. More work on this tomorrow. I am getting WAY excited about this rug.
This is the twenty-fourth post in a series on the Tarot Rug Project (also known as "Exploring the Tarot: 23 Artists Hook the Major Arcana"). To view other rugs in the series, go HERE (that post will be kept up to date as new photos are published and the show travels).
THE WORLD: Here is the "classic" Rider-Waite-Smith image:
"We are part of this universe; we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts, is that the universe is in us."
Neil deGrasse Tyson
"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe."
"To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders."
This is the last of the Major Arcana, and I am the artist who created the interpretation of the card in the following rug. (This isn't the last rug, though--we still have one more rug to go!)
Are you thinking I went off-road with this interpretation? You'd be absolutely right; I did. There is nothing left from the original card in this design.
Or is there?
In fact, if you look closely, you will see that every single Major Arcana card is represented on this rug, in the form of the Tiny Tarot, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc., of Stamford CT (USA). I'd like to thank them for allowing me to use their copyrighted images directly on my rug and also for allowing me to copy their Universal Waite Tarot for use in this blog throughout my posts on the tarot project.
If you are having trouble seeing what I mean, here's a closer look:
This rug is--if I'm right--the only punched rug in the entire project. There are a few traditionally hooked loops in there, but 98% of the rug was punched with yarn and an Oxford punch needle.
(Thank you, Amy Oxford and Heidi Whipple of The Oxford Rug Hooking School)
What's the design about? It's a diagram of The Universe (another name for The World card) called the Qabala. [There are various spellings of that word: "Kabbalah" and others, but I'm going with the Q-one.]
Below is the story of this rug, and I'm sticking to it...it begins with my love for the tarot and ends with my love for both tarot and rug hooking:
I began working with the tarot in the 1970s, using it not for fortune-telling but rather as a reflection of the psyche, and I have been learning from its wisdom ever since. Because The World is usually regarded as the final card in the Major Arcana, I wanted to create an image for this rug that would integrate all of the rugs that preceded it—thereby tying the exhibit together.
The Tree of Life (also called the Qabala) portrayed on this rug is an esoteric diagram of The World—not just this world, but all the visible and invisible worlds in existence. The esoteric Qabala/Tree of Life is a many-layered framework and has, since the 19th century, been associated with tarot. The twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana have been matched to the twenty-two paths between the spheres on the Tree. In the rug, I have placed the cards on the Tree in their commonly accepted positions, as a way of summarizing and integrating the Arcana for this exhibit.
I hand-dyed all of the blue background yarns for the rug, and used bits and pieces of other leftover hand-dyed yarns to duplicate the traditional colors of the spheres on the Tree. As I mentioned above, I used an Oxford Company punch needle for the punching process. A few loops on the rug were also pulled using the traditional rug hooking method.
In a post I wrote last year--before I was given permission to publicly speak about this project (it was still in the hush-hush phase), I described the fun I had at Amy's school in a class with Heidi, learning to dye the variegated background for the rug. You can read that post here (it is cryptic because it was pre-publicity for the project, but you'll get the idea).
Here are two of the stops I made along the way to creating the rug. In the first, you can see my initial drawing of the outline on monk's cloth (I ended up re-doing the font on the title at the bottom), and then on the right you can see the color-planning in progress.
One of the many reasons I love making textile art is that the process is so often entirely meditative. Forming loop after loop is rhythmic and calming—a type of moving meditation. I have had a committed meditation practice for many years and appreciate this opportunity to maintain a mindful state while creating art.
WHAT DOES THE CARD MEAN?
This card shows the World Dancer, inside a double circle of protection--the four animals at the outside edges represent the 4 archangels, the 4 elements, and all the other symbology of "four-ness." We have seen these four in another card--card ten, the Wheel of Fortune. Just outside of the Dancer is a green, vital, bursting-with-life wreath, a type of ouroboros, with its red sash in the form of an infinity symbol. She holds two wands, and her legs are in similar position to the Hanged Man, but she is facing up, as he was facing down. The position of her legs also suggests that she is dancing.
This is the Fool, come full circle. S/he has completed the journey, and it has been very successful. It's time to stop and dance--to pause awhile and look back, as she seems to be doing, to assess where you have been. Only then can you assess where you are going next, as the journey never ends. Synthesis a good keyword for this card. Another message of this card might be that you have all the resources you need to move forward; just open your eyes to the many options that surround you.
When you get this card:
As with each of the other cards, if you choose The World card in response to a topic you are pondering, it will have many meanings that all share a similar theme. Ask yourself the following questions if you get this card. One of them will apply to your topic—a little message from your subconscious to your conscious self.
Only one more rug is left in our tarot rug project series, the rug that is the design for the back of the deck we have created together. That's coming up in the next post.
Curious about the rest of the rugs in the exhibit? You can see all the posts by clicking on the link at the very top of this post. There is a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section here (NOTE: scroll down to the bottom of that post to get to the FAQ).
Thanks for reading. Your comments are always welcome.
[NOTE: If you are looking for a certain topic--like the Tarot Rug Project--look over at the right-hand column, scroll down to "Categories," and click on the category you want to read.]
I'm still at it. Still dyeing background for the next rug. I'm using several values (and hues, actually) of dark purple, and here I am finishing one batch. This is actually the lightest purple I'll be using as background. A closer look is below:
I really have to be ready to do this--meaning, up for it. Here's a shot of the kitchen, the counter in between the stove & the sink with the dyeing process underway (my only area for food prep, so you can understand why it's completely covered up). The dyes are in their beakers, but I haven't added water yet:
Oh, for a dedicated dye kitchen. As you see, this creates an unbelievable mess. But the results are worth it.
I lived with this mess yesterday and today. In total I was able to get thirteen skeins dyed, completing two of the five dye-lots I need for the background. I am feeling accomplished and highly virtuous.
And if that wasn't enough, here's a shot of a guy who passed me on the street yesterday as I as out for a walk. Bear in mind that it's December 12th in the northeastern US, in a city where last year we had over 10 feet of snow. This guy was appropriately dressed for the weather yesterday. Very strange days indeed.
Rug pictures will resume next week. Meanwhile, here are answers to a few more questions I've received about the show, plus a few other things more along the lines of what I usually post. TO SEE ALL POSTS ON THE TAROT RUGS SO FAR, CLICK HERE.
[The focus on the Tarot Rug Project will only last until I've shown the rugs, and then I'll go back to my usual topics.]
WHO TOOK THE PHOTOGRAPHS FOR THE TAROT RUG PROJECT?
They are pretty special, and so well done. Anne-Marie Littenberg, who is also a textile artist and author (of several books) is the photographer for all the rugs. In this short Burlington Free Press article, she talks a little about how rug hooking brought her into photography. We are lucky to have her skills in taking these photos.
She teaches rug hooking and her approach to the art is entirely original. If you ever have a chance to go and see her rugs, do it!
TAROT HISTORY IN THREE SENTENCES: (Needless to say, this is hardly complete)
Contrary to the rumors about Egyptian or Gypsy origins, we can find no credible evidence that tarot decks existed before the early 15th century. In fact, the earliest known tarot, the Visconti-Sforza deck, was created in Italy around 1450 and its purpose was not to tell fortunes but to enable its owners to play tarocco, a card game still played in Europe today. It was only in the 18th-19th centuries, when the images had become more elaborate, that it began to be used by mystics for divination.
(At some point I will post a list of books on tarot history for those who are interested.)
WHY WAS THE RIDER-WAITE-SMITH DECK THE BASIS FOR THIS PROJECT?
The Rider-Waite deck (aka the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, recognizing Pamela Coleman Smith’s major contribution as the artist behind the images) was published in 1910 and has remained in print ever since. There were other earlier decks in print, such as the Marseilles deck, but we don’t have room to go into them here.
Most people who have seen tarot decks have seen the RWS (Rider-Waite-Smith) or one of its many available derivatives, called "RWS Clones." Because it is so common and so popular, Loretta and Michele decided to ask the tarot rug artists to work with the symbolism from this deck when designing their rugs. We all had plenty of leeway and were allowed to go “off-road” with our designs as needed, but the deck we all originally referenced was the RWS.
Rather than using original RWS cards here, I’m using the Universal Waite deck, which is nearly an exact copy except that the colors of the RWS have been redone in colored pencil by artist Mary Hanson Roberts. US Games Systems holds the copyright to the Universal Waite and has kindly granted permission for me to use this deck for this purpose.
WHY THE ODD NUMBER OF RUGS IN THIS EXHIBIT? (23)
A traditional tarot deck has 78 cards. Clearly, waiting for 78 rugs to be created was not feasible (not to mention the shipping costs involved). A tarot deck is divided into 22 “Major Arcana,” 56 “Minor Arcana,” including the Court Cards. You are welcome to click on those links for further information if you wish.
Michele and Loretta decided to ask the artists to hook only the 22 Major Arcana, and one artist was invited to hook a rug as a single design for the back of the entire deck, resulting in a total of 23 rugs.
I'VE NEVER HEARD OF RIDER, WAITE, OR SMITH--WHO ARE THOSE GUYS ANYWAY?
Rider was the publishing company. Arthur Edward Waite was a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a late 19th century magical group, as was Pamela Coleman Smith, the artist contracted to do the artwork. The links I've provided will give you a brief introduction to each.
Waite and Smith based part of the deck on the Sola Busca Tarot from Northern Italy (1491), the first fully illustrated deck currently known.
The Rider-Waite-Smith deck has been in print continuously since it was published in 1910, and is the deck most people have seen, whether they know anything about tarot or not.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT:
I spent the day today dyeing more yarn for the background of my next rug. I'm exhausted but I have seven more skeins done and it's going very well. In between all the blogging and yarn dyeing I've done over the last couple of days I squeezed in a tangle or two:
Time to clean up the yarn dyeing mess so that I can have dinner. It's been a long productive day...
Sweat is the cologne of accomplishment. (Heywood Broun)
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.
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:
My next Beginning Zentangle® class is not yet scheduled--stay tuned.
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