Last week (on the left) and today, seven days later (on the right):
Hmmm, have I mentioned that this is a large rug? [Only about 30 times already...]
Meanwhile, two of my favorite folks joined K and I at the studio on this rainy-windy-gloomy day, and we had a great time discussing how we would run the world, telling funny stories, and having the usual excellent discussion on rug hooking.
I continue to feel blessed by friends--each one generous, smart, and hilarious.
"Each friend represents a world in us. A world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born." --Anais Nin
(If you have crazy friends, you have everything.)
I cranked up the Motown today while alternately standing and sitting to punch the rug, and was it ever fun! (If the above video doesn't play when you click on it, just click on the "view on YouTube button and another window will open and play it. You can listen and read at the same time.)
Martha Reeves (and the Vendellas) was one of my idols back in the day. Then there were all the other great songs...
"Dancing in the Streets," "Rescue Me," "I Heard It On the Grapvine," "R-e-s-p-e-c-t," "Up on the Roof..."
OMG, dance, dance, dance. Even when sitting down. How I miss Motown.
Thus, there will be an odd mix of Motown, assorted dharma talks, meditations, and the very long and wonderful George Eliot book Middlemarch (which I finished listening to a couple of weeks ago) woven into the fibers of this rug.
(Good mojo, I'm thinking.)
Tomorrow is likely to be very rainy and it might feel good to stay home and play with color. I may stay home to dye more yarn. Below are two views of the rug progress, plus a new tangle that I threw in at the very end.
A quick look at the back side of the rug, close up.
And here is the front. I spent 5 hours at the studio today and got a chunk more done. I am slowly moving toward being halfway finished with this very large rug (but am not there yet, not by any means). It's beginning to be hard to move it on the frame.
An experiment with some tangles. I had fun with this last night.
It's spring, right? Time to fall in love?
So, ok...I'm in love. I don't know if what I'm in love with is the rug itself, or just the process of working on it. I kind of suspect it's the latter. The rug will certainly get quite a few tweaks before it's done. I am really enjoying the work.
Sometimes it's hard to sleep at night, I'm having so much fun.
"Be the weirdo who dares to enjoy."
"In times of joy, all of us wished we possessed a tail we could wag."
(W. H. Auden)
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.
It was one of those days. Without going into boring detail, I'll just say I made one of those mindless mistakes while punching today and punched an entire section wrong.
Oh, to be truly mindful! Apparently I wasn't.
So after realizing my error--and playing with the concept that occasionally, mistakes turn out better than the original idea--I knew that I really didn't like it and didn't want to leave it as it was. This particular mistake just didn't work out well.
So...out it all came. Punch needle hooking is very easy to un-do. But then I had to re-do. It all worked out, but for the hours I put in today, I didn't get very far. Here's the way the rug looked as I was leaving. This is the overall view (you can see I'm not even halfway done yet, not even close to halfway!):
In the left bottom corner of the photo you can just see the rest of the foundation that is hanging off the table. The rug is about 40"x72".
Really all I got done today was the second moon. There are four moons altogether. Here is a closeup:
I went looking for a quote with which to console myself.
"Patience and tenacity are worth more than twice their weight of cleverness."
(T. H. Huxley)
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...
I SHOULD be doing my taxes.
I AM doing some tangling, which I have sorely missed...
I enjoyed doing this, although perhaps didn't do such a great job on shading. And that's just fine, since it's been so long since I've done any tangling at all I'm happy with whatever I produce at this point. Gotta start somewhere. Oh my gawd does it feel good to be drawing, again. So meditative.
What can't be grasped in this photo is the actual size of what I've done. This small-looking section is nearly the size of a regular hooked rug already.
(Most hooked rugs are about 2' x 3')
Before I realized this, I was beginning to flag, thinking that I hadn't accomplished much. But then when I spread out the rug today, I remembered what a huge piece this is going to be, and ended up being quite impressed by how much I've gotten done. If I were making a regular sized rug, I would nearly be finished. I am guessing I am only about 1/5th done, if that.
I've been listing to dharma talks and meditations as I punch. While I cannot do the meditations in classic fashion while I work on the rug, listening to them emphasizes the meditative nature of rug hooking/rug punching. The rhythmic nature of this art lends itself perfectly to tranquility and mindfulness.
How lucky am I, to be able to spend my time this way?
"...illumines this world like the moon freed from a cloud...'
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.
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.
I'm taking a break for several days from the tarot rug project (only five rugs left to show!) and getting back to other things that I have put on hold. Things will likely be quiet here for awhile, and then I'll get back and finish the tarot rug posts.
I mentioned I had accidentally started a new punch-hooked rug, "Moon and Clouds," a couple of weeks ago (I just couldn't resist a few "experiments" with punching, and it turned into an actual start). But realistically, I've had to set it aside while I find time to finish color planning it. Once I complete that, I will need to dye the rest of the yarn. Until that's done, it needs to wait. I'm feeling impatient! Sigh.
The Moon and Clouds rug has lots of curvy motifs.
I notice that curves and spirals are taking up room in my brain right now, as you can see in my latest design:
This is one corner of the design for my next traditionally hooked rug. Spirals. Curves & spirals...or in this case, it will likely be straight lines and spirals. I'm using an 8-cut on linen, and my plan is to buy no new wool for this rug at all. I should have enough already on hand to make it from the leftovers of previous rugs. The plan is to make a "scrappy rug" using only my red and black scraps, but who knows how it will evolve.
So I have 2 rugs underway at this moment. Alas, one of them is temporarily on "pause"; it'll be 2-3 weeks before I can get back to the dyepots, so Moon and Clouds will be waiting quite a while.
In the meantime I am also trying to get back to my tangling. The other day I posted the tangle on the left below, but that same night I produced the one on the right, a variation. I like that one too, and I like them together.
More curves and spirals there. After all...
"When life gives you curves, flaunt them."
I'm needing to take a break from the tarot rug posts for just a bit! Back to those shortly.
I'm missing Zentangle®, drawing, and my other usual activities. So tonight I indulged myself with a new tangle, Mollygon.
That's my first-ever attempt above.
Below are some variations created with an iPhone app.
I was also busy in the studio in the last 2 days, working on the finishing for my nearly-done rug. The finishing process, which is tedious (I still enjoy it), seems to take forever but I'm almost there. I may get it all done tomorrow. A photo of that is coming once it's completely done.
I created the label for it this evening:
That will get sewn onto the back of the finished rug once I've completed all the other finishing.
I whipped out my sewing machine yesterday--I haven't touched it in years--and spent quite a while hemming the edges of the Moon & Clouds rug which I will be punching. Since I don't own a serger, I zig-zagged around the outer edge 3x. And did the same with the inner edge where I'll be trimming it once I'm done. That is one BIG rug.
Today I drew out a new design for a second, new, traditionally hooked rug. Below you can see the background wool I'm thinking of using at the bottom of the photo, plus just a little bit of the backing where I've begun drawing the pattern. There will be more to the pattern, but I'll have to wait until I can get back to the studio in the morning to finish drawing.
Lastly, I am tossing in a picture of this cute felted pouch I've had for years and rediscovered recently. I wish I could remember who made it and where I got it. I think it's so well done, and it's also useful for carrying supplies.
Back to my experience with the sewing machine for a minute: It's been at least 3-4 years since I've used it. I remember that the last time I used it I had a bit of trouble threading the needle, even with my reading glasses.
Yesterday? I couldn't even SEE the needle, let alone the hole. With my (now even stronger) reading glasses.
It took me 25 minutes--no joke--to get it threaded. I'd still be there, trying and failing, if I hadn't managed to scrounge up a needle threader after getting completely desperate, and even with the threader it took me another ten minutes to get the job done.
After I left yesterday I went straight to the sewing store and bought every variety of needle threader they have. I don't want to go through that again. Sad, sad, sad. As Joni Mitchell would say, "You don't know what you've got 'till it's gone."
Well, it's definitely gone! Boo hoo hoo.
[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.
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."
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!
Beginning in December, an exhibition of art rugs will be opening in Shelburne, Vermont (USA). The exhibit's title is: "23 Artists Hook the Major Arcana." The theme was conceived by two inspired rug artists, Michele Micarelli and Loretta Scena. I hope you click on their links and look at their previous work. (These ain't your grandma's hooked rugs, that's for sure.)
The exhibit combines two of my favorite things: rug hooking and the tarot. I have a rug in the show; it's likely going to be the plainest rug there, because it's the last rug (the last tarot card) in the Major Arcana, The World, and I wanted my design to integrate and summarize the rest of the exhibit. Alas, I do not have a picture of my rug yet. When I do, I'll happily post it, but I did put up a few "sneak preview" partial photos here and here, before I was able to talk about the show (when it was still hush-hush).
The show is opening at this gallery. After it finishes its run, it will travel to other locations and venues for as long as there is interest. (if you are reading this before it opens December 4, 2015 or after it closes January 22, 2016, you will have to SCROLL DOWN to see the information about the show and the photograph of one of the extraordinary rugs.)
And they will be extraordinary. I have seen two of them (one is on the gallery site) and am already drooling with anticipation until I can see the rest of them.
AND NOW, ON A TOTALLY DIFFERENT TOPIC:
Here's a quick picture relating to what I hope to be doing tomorrow.
Yup, more yarn soaking...with luck, more dyeing will happen in the morning. More test colors for the Moon & Clouds rug.
I want to create a lighter version of two of the colors I produced last week, and experiment with new colors.
It's true that I dyed all the background for my tarot rug as recently as last autumn (see the links above for photos of that), but that was the first dyeing I'd had a chance to do for decades. Now that I'm back in the dyepots, the bug has really struck and I can't wait to play with color again. I'm hoping to create a veritable explosion of color as I move forward.
"Purplish brown? Let's agree it
is a color so bad we all flee it
it has no good use
so let's name it Puce
from the sound we make when we see it."
A quote about Georgia O'Keeffe's work:
"...The last mad throb of red just as it turns green; the ultimate shriek of orange calling all the blues of heaven for relief and support... each color almost regains the fun it must have felt within itself on forming the first rainbow."
Let me begin by saying, I do not have a kitchen that's well set up for dyeing yarn or wool.
(Anyone who knows me can also confirm that I do not have a kitchen well set up for cooking, either. But since I do not know how to cook, that's not a problem. I can go for years without touching a stove.)
It's tricky to do dyeing here (Ya think? Look at the mess above). I have a lot of dyeing to do for the Moon and Clouds rug I'll be starting soon. I've been thinking about this rug for a while. Moon and Clouds is a runner-type rug, a McAdoo rug pattern that I haven't yet seen anyone else make. It's one of the only remaining patterns I have--after I finish it, I'll be working with my own rug designs from here on out.
[I will make one exception for the final pattern I own, a fabulous one called "Russian Oriental"; it's gorgeous and intimidating, but I am slowly inching towards being ready to hook it. Maybe I'll get that done in the next couple of years.]
Moon & Clouds is 3 feet by 6 feet and will use about 14 pounds of yarn. I have nowhere in my house to put this rug. Several people have suggested I will need to buy a house in order to use the rug. Hmmmm.
On Friday I started testing background colors; I have an mental image of what I want for the background but am still playing with what I'll use for the motifs. I decided to try a purple recipe I learned from Heidi Whipple of the Oxford Rug School. I wasn't sure I could replicate her color, but look at this for a result! Not bad! The yarn I am trying to match can be seen in the two strands that are laid across the skeins. And next to that photo is the same yarn made into "yarn cakes" after it was completely dry.
Yes, those are the same skeins in each picture, just differently wound, and the photos were taken in different lights. But both photos are of the same yarn. Wish I were a better photographer and knew how to eliminate the lighting differences.
Encouraged by all that, I went to town on Saturday and produced the test skeins on the right (the "yarn cakes" in the photos are the same yarn cakes that you see above). What a day. I spent five hours dyeing, with a couple of breaks, and by the end was really happy with my results. I'm still not entirely certain if I will end up using any of these colors--or some combination of all of the dark purples as the background color of the rug--but I am so happy to be playing with color and dyes after all this time.
If you want to see a closer view of some of the colors and brief captions for each, click any of the photos below.
It has been years since I tried to do any serious dyeing of wool or yarn. When I was working full-time it was impossible. Perhaps if I'd had the room for a permanent dye kitchen (or a differently configured regular kitchen) I would have made the time, but since any type of serious dyeing requires completely deconstructing and protecting a small space normally used for preparing food, that wasn't realistic. Now that I have more time, I can afford to do all the set-up and take-down that dyeing requires in the space that I have.
I have more color test skeins to make, and then once I've decided on the colors I will have a lot more dyeing to do. 14 lbs of 4 oz. skeins = 56 skeins to dye for this rug. Plus a few extras to be safe.
I will be busy.
Hello, all...we are the fourteen year old Wooly Bullies. Yes, the WOOLY Bullies...do not trust any of us around your 100% wool jackets, skirts, coats, or blankets. If, that is, you even own 100% wool anything anymore. But I'll get to that later.
Today we met at Elizabeth's lovely, gracious, and comfortable home--her own hand-hooked rugs all over the house, all of them unique and beautiful--and we celebrated the start of our 14th year together as a creative and supportive group.
Actually, the topic of our anniversary never came up today! Instead, we spent the time talking about everything else: our summer journeys, our relationships, meditation and Buddhism, technology, what to do if a bat gets in your house, health (all good for once!), and other general updates since most of us haven't seen each other since our last meeting in May or June.
[We take summers off because seriously, would you want to work on a hooked rug if it meant having wool next to your skin in 90 degree humid weather?]
Some glimpses of today's projects are below. They all have captions--to see the captions, just hover over a photo with your mouse. You should also be able to biggify a photo by double-clicking it to see it better.
Kathleen, I realized when putting up the photos that I did not see you hooking anything! I know you had to leave early so maybe you just came for our fabulous company?
SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 UNTIL NOW...
Elizabeth, myself, Cynthia, Cheryl, Kathleen and Maria all made it today.
Of today's attendees, Elizabeth, myself, and Maria were at the original meeting of our group at my house on September 20, 2001. Lenore was also there at the start. Nine days after the tragedy, we were all still dazed and shocked. I remember thinking that hooking together that evening, telling our creative, art-related histories to each other, and sharing our work, was such a comfort and temporary rest from the news coverage in which we had all been immersed non-stop. We acknowledged the attack and the horror, but we then made an effort to create a little space for respite and for beauty for the next two hours, and we all went home feeling a tiny bit better that night.
In the years that followed, we outgrew my house pretty quickly and have met in a variety of venues--from community rooms in a now-defunct organic market, to the Somerville Arts at the Armory space, to each others' larger homes--we always meet in each others' homes now. The conversation continues to be a comfort to me, and more than that, we share a group that gets our creative juices flowing.
I love it when one of us throws a partially-completed rug down on the floor for advice and each woman there just lets her true opinions fly: "Too dark, not enough contrast..." or, "I want to learn how you dyed that orange," or, "Take out the front part of that and re-do it--it's standing out too much," or whatever else we think. The recipient of the advice never has to take any of it, but we all know each other well enough to say exactly what we think, and no one takes offense. It's great. I've been helped numerous times by these critiques.
I've also noticed the continuing decline in the availability of 100% wool, which started farther back than fourteen years ago, but I wonder how many of us would have begun hooking now, if wool had been as hard to get back then as it is to find now. It has gone from a frugal and affordable art to a fairly expensive art. Sad.
But remember, everyone: There is always ANN'S ATTIC! Since we are The Wooly Bullies, we can go down to CT and bully our way into that attic whenever we need a huge stash of wool. Having seen it, we all know Ann could supply all of us for our next 6 lifetimes. To Ann: Be afraid, be very afraid.
Discussions today: oh my! Maria went to Tehran (yes, Iran) in August. What a tale! She had to wear a hijab while out of doors there. She was in Iran for two weeks and glad to come home, although she clearly had a fascinating time. She went to visit her daughter-in-law's family and really enjoyed them. A genuine travel adventure. Wow.
Cynthia was gone ten weeks, to a large number of countries & cities--Turkey for quite a while, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Paris, London, Budapest and I think a couple of others. Wow again...
Some of the rest of us went to Maine, the Cape, or to a silent retreat in central Massachusetts (that last would be me).
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO MY WONDERFUL RUG HOOKING FRIENDS. I am honored to have been working with you for the last 14 years. How does it feel to be 14 years old again?
Will be at Cheryl's in October; she'll email us with dates & info.
Elizabeth, thank you for hosting and thank you for that fabulous fabulous soup. I know I wanted to lick my bowl, but managed to restrain myself. Barely.
Finished: the interior of the rug!
I'm pretty chuffed...I began working on this somewhere around March 20th, so it took just a little over 3 months to get this part done, working on it an average of about 4 hours a day, usually 4-5 days a week. Doing the math: 3 months = about 12 weeks. Twelve 5-day weeks = approximately 60 days, 4 hours a day = 240 hours plus a bit more.
There are still two borders to complete; one of them has been started as you see above, and the other is very small. I'm not at all certain I will use that smaller border.
And people wonder why hand-hooked rugs cost what they do...add in the cost of the wool and the planning--you couldn't charge what it's worth to make this.
But that's really beside the point, as my motivation is the sheer enjoyment of the process. The lovely repetitive meditative motion that frees the mind. The tactile sense of it. The colors passing through my fingers. The visual effect as areas slowly begin to fill in. And I'm always surprised by the outcome.
In many ways, rug hooking is a lot like the Zentangle® process: With Zentangle, the emphasis is on each individual line, not on the outcome. And thus, the outcome is always a surprise, a very pleasant one. In rug hooking, it's common to have a lot of planning go into the rug, and a particular outcome is planned for. A pattern of some kind, whether original or someone else's, is used, and colors are usually carefully plotted in advance.
Zentangle uses patterns. But classic "tangling" is done in black and white, and the emphasis is never on the outcome, but rather "in-the-moment" with the focus on the line your hand is drawing right NOW.
Yet they have similar effects. Both are absorbing and relaxing. And at least for me, even rug hooking, while much more planned, always has a surprising outcome. Sure, it does look like the design I created or selected, but the interaction of the colors of the wool is always a revelation, and the way the loops lie on the backing create an overall effect I can never fully predict.
And with Zentangle, I never plan, I focus on one line at a time, and I am often amazed at the way things turn out.
For me, it is the same with meditation. I sit down to follow the breath (or some other object of attention) and find the process of wandering off, coming back to the breath, wandering off, coming back to the breath, wandering off, coming back to the breath is very surprising no matter how much time I spend on it.
The word I selected for 2015 was "Practice." I keep coming back to it. Everything improves with practice. In the case of rug hooking, even the largest rugs get finished with enough practice. As the I Ching reminds us, "Perseverance furthers."
I plan to be as mindful as possible with every loop that I pull between now and when I finish this rug. When I finished the interior motifs and background yesterday, and stood back and looked at it, I was surprised at how quickly it has come together. I look forward to working on the outer borders, and I'm beginning to percolate about how I am going to approach the next rug.
Here is the design for that one:
And here is a shot of it with a bag of as-yet-undyed yarn that I will be dyeing and using in this rug. It will be my largest rug yet. I am leaving it on the studio floor for a few days to allow my subconscious to take it in and begin working with the image.
Every day I go to the studio, I am grateful for the freedom to do this work.
Want to see the full flowering of perseverance? Check out this woman's work (you don't need English translation to appreciate this).
FIRST THE SELF-CONGRATULATIONS:
Done! I am freaking done with these hellish socks! I am thrilled beyond belief. I have blogged about them before; at that point, I thought I had been working on them for about a year. Which is ridiculously long...so as you can guess, I was mostly NOT working on them at all. But I pulled them out a while back, dug in my heels (appropriate for working on socks), started in again, stuck it out, and now I am done...congratulations to me! Normally, if I'm working slowly and taking breaks on a pair of socks, they might take me about 6 weeks. But not these.
NOW THE GLUTTON FOR PUNISHMENT BIT:
As it turns out, I was wrong about having worked on them for a year. I went back and thought more carefully about when I would have begun...and reached the conclusion that it has been closer to 3 YEARS. Seriously! I have never, ever spent that amount of time on any project, and this is a testament to how much I hated working with this yarn.
Please understand that I have made dozens of socks with no problem at all. But for some reason, the yarn for this pair made the work very tricky and was big-time drudgery all the way. I cannot count the number of times I ripped out several inches and re-knit them. Many people told me to just throw them out, but dammit, I am stubborn and very persistent and was determined not to let the yarn get the best of me. And so they are done. Done!!!!!
I only wish I knew what the yarn was, so that I could avoid ever buying it again. It looks like regular sock yarn, but isn't. Long ago I made a pair of red socks that had yarn that acted the same way; I also slogged my way through those and it took at least 3 times as long as it should have.
I am done with nasty weird sock yarn. The next time I run across yarn that acts this way, I will indeed throw it out, having proved I could complete 2 projects with it. Nasty stuff.
NOW THE PART ABOUT OBSESSIONS:
And speaking of yarn, how does this look? Everything you see here is yarn. Yarn in a bag. Yarn in the boxes.
My studio-mate K and I did a major yarn buy at an unheard-of cheap price for over 100 pounds of highest-quality rug yarn. I do not imagine I will ever have to buy rug yarn again. I do imagine I will spend quite a bit of time dyeing my share of this yarn. Good thing K just got back from her 4-day dye workshop (see the previous post). Cannot wait to begin playing with color and then punch-hooking my next rug.
Feel free to skip the whining prose below and scroll down to the pictures! Fair warning...
It's official; I've now been sick since March 31st. "Well isn't that special," as the old character on Saturday Night Live used to say. I did have ten wonderful, short, health-filled days in late April in between illnesses. During that time I managed to make it to New York City for Readers Studio 2015, the fabulous multi-day annual tarot conference. I was home for a day or so, then off to upstate New York for a few days to visit a good friend. It was when I was on the way home from her house that the damn head cold boomeranged back on me and I've been completely out of it ever since.
Today, for the first time, I can feel it just starting to fade. I cannot wait to be healthy again.
Spring has been coming on with a vengeance, largely unseen by me as I haven't had the energy to go out. It is truly glorious out there. When I am recovered enough to get around again, I hope to hoof it down to the Greenway and see this fabulous new art installation from Janet Echelman (with thanks to Tom for sending me this photo, which he took last night):
Oh my gosh, isn't that beautiful? And during the day, from what I hear, just as beautiful but very different.
I gotta go!
Speaking of "Gotta Go," I may have been too sick for any real work for weeks, but I managed to get in a few tangles. One of them has that for a name (believe it or not, I think its creator says she discovered this one while looking at the floor in a ladies' room she was visiting). This was my first try at it:
You can see an extra line I started to put in there, since I'm a newbie at it. Love this tangle. Decided to try it again with a variation:
And speaking of floors, when I got to the tarot conference and saw the Marriott Hotel Lobby floor, I had to laugh as it's a direct link to the tangle "Florz." I have seen a zillion floors with this design and bet you have also.
Here are a few other experiments with Zentangle® I've done while being so sick. There are a pitiful few of them, as most days I didn't have the energy.
All of them are my first attempts. I can only get better!
This also arrived from Amy Oxford's Oxford Rug School:
What the heck is that, you ask? Maybe this will make it more clear:
Half my order of natural-colored rug yarn, waiting for me to dye it for my next rug. Once the weather gets hot...as it was today...I won't be doing any dyeing until things cool down. But that's ok, as I have another rug on the frame now and it will take a while, and in the meantime I can get busy with color planning so I'll know what colors to dye.
For someone who has been so unable to work for a while, I can sense a burst of artistic energy coming on, once I'm recovered! (Whine, whine)
"The very fact that you are a complainer shows that you deserve your lot." (James Allen)
"You can overcome anything if you don't bellyache." (Bernard Baruch)
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