With a bit more time now, I'm back into mindful drawing techniques. This is based on one of Sadelle Wiltshire's classes. More of this to come. Very easy, very mindful. And very small, hence the title of today's post.
My latest completed rug. This is one of only 4 rugs I've ever put up on a wall. For a closer look, see the October 1st post. Just to the left of it is the wonderful handmade mirror a dear friend created and gave me--I blogged about that on October 5. And on the side of the stairs you can just see my "Hooker" sign. Got that a few years ago and love seeing it every day.
I don't normally enjoy putting rugs on the wall--I prefer to walk on them. But the colors in this one are so subtle I finally decided the wall would be safer. It's all scrap wool that I had lying around.
I've also run out of room for rugs at the moment and may have to put a few more of my patiently-waiting rolled-up rugs on walls around the house.
Less than 3 minutes was all it took to hang this, once I had some assistance. A very small amount of time (title of today's post), and something I've wanted to do for weeks.
Today I made it (with mask on my face of course) to a new shop called Swanson's Fabrics in Western Massachusetts. I'd heard about it but hadn't gone until today. It was large enough to feel safe inside. Part of the time it was just me and the owner, and there were never more than 2-3 others at any one time, all distanced.
But oh, the treasures! Kathryn Swanson, the owner, has more than fabrics; she also has yarns, threads, sewing notions, and braiding equipment.
NOTE: All her fabrics are $4/yard. No matter what they are made of. Seriously! Cottons, upholstery and lots of other fabrics, and even wool yardage (the wools go out the door nearly as soon as they arrive--I grabbed 1.5 yards of the light colored wool you see above on the right, for $6 total).
And I'm pretty certain she mail-orders, so feel free to contact her and ask.
All of her fabrics, yarns, and notions are rescued from people's basements or from fabric stores or yarn stores that have gone out of business. You could go one day and find nothing, and go back the next day and find tons of wonderful new rescued goods.
When you click the link to her website above, be sure to go to her "About" tab and read her mission statement. I'm in awe.
I also got seventeen 100-gram skeins of off-white, 100% wool yarns, very high quality if a bit grubby from being stored for quite a while. I'm pretty sure they were originally from Sweden. Some are worsted weight and some are DK. I can overdye them all. Very exciting. I cleared her out of these, however, so you'll have to find your own treasures some other day.
This was a Big Find, and therefore doesn't fit the title of today's post. But I didn't think any of you would mind...
The start of any creative project requires something called Beginner's Mind, or Don't-Know Mind, which is also an ideal state for meditation. Since every meditation is different, using Don't-Know Mind is the best way to approach each one.
Just as with wool work, holding expectations at bay until I find out how things actually look and what actually comes up in this moment always works best for me. I learn this lesson repeatedly. Next time you see rug photos, the work will look different. Next time I meditate will be different as well.
Below is a new frame I was lucky enough to have delivered today. It turns so easily. As I said, I have two rugs underway right now. The one above is traditionally hooked and the one below is punch hooked.
Frame is available from Notforgotten Farm.
Yup, I'm starting another rug. This (below) is the first throw-down of possible colors. Who knows how many will be used? The design is a "challenge" my local rug hooking group is taking on--we are all hooking one particular pattern in our own way. Some members are already done; I haven't even begun mine yet but hope to get it underway tomorrow or later this week. I'm getting excited.
I actually introduced the pattern to the group in February and everyone wanted to try it.
The entire phase of beginning a rug reminds me of meditation practice. Every single time one sits to meditate, it's a form of starting over. You never know what will happen. It may not be fun every single time, but it is always interesting.
It's the same with hooking rugs. I always have a hazy mental picture of what I'll be producing, but the final result may or may not agree. Getting to the finish line can be a series of daily, or even moment-to-moment, changes.
My next unpredictable rug adventure is officially underway.
Just finished binding this rug (triple binding technique), a "pandemic rug" I designed and hooked in a 8-cut. All scrap wool; no bought wool. What fun. Every loop pulled was enjoyable. I'm delighted with how it came out. However, the subtle colors just don't show in a photograph. But that's ok--I know what it looks like. I smile whenever I see it.
It may look done, but it's far from done. Just like this year. Just like this never-ending plague. After the hooking is completed, there is a LOT of cleanup--searching the back for large unhooked spots to fill in, trimming stray ends, then steaming it to lie flat and to "relax" it (a newly hooked rug is often stiff before being steamed), and then binding it. I have only a small strip 1"x2" to hook.
You can see I've hooked in "2020" around the corner (lower left and middle right). What a year. And not quite halfway over yet, with some of the highest suspense still to come.
I needed to dye some yarn to bind a rug that I'm nearly finished with, so I did a test skein and was pleased. Just ten grams. I liked both the color and the value.
But then I needed to dye a 4 oz (about 113g) skein to match the test skein. I'm sure I'll need a lot more yarn than that for the binding, but the big question was, could I match that tiny test skein with a regular size. Results below!
In each of the two photos above, the same tiny test skein is on the right. In the first photo on the left, you can see that the 4 oz skein came out too light. Pretty but not quite a match. I had actually already overdyed that 4 oz skein because my first try was SO light that the mismatch was even more obvious. So what you are seeing on the left was an overdye with additional dye solution.
On the right is the finished product. That was the 2nd overdye using even more dye solution. Voila, perfection! I wanted some slight variation and I got it, but I also matched the color of the small test skein. Now that I know how much dye solution to use, I should have no trouble dyeing more yarn to match as I start binding the rug.
We're still in the middle of a pandemic and we're back in the center of facing racism and injustice in America for the first time in a long time. It's been a very hard few months for this country and the rest of the world.
But, today is sunny. It's lovely out. The color I got was perfect. It all feels great, despite all our current issues, just in this moment. A lovely respite.
"Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine." --Anthony J. D'Angelo
My closest friend, to whom I gave this rug that I hooked years ago (2013), just sent me a photograph of the rug and the sculpture above it in her home. I love her arrangement. After I gave her the rug she gave me the carved horse figure above it, which she had found in the Southwest. Eventually I realized the carving needed to be with the rug. They are a perfect match.
I dyed the teal and red wools in the rug; the light color is actually an as-is, off-the-bolt yellow wool plaid. I loved this pattern from Underhill Farms (no longer in business) but by the time I finished the hooking I was so thoroughly sick of looking at it that I gave it to my much-loved friend who had been drooling over it right from the start. I'm delighted she still feels that way and it has a place of honor in her house.
Here is a better photograph of the actual rug.
Slowly but surely it's coming along, and is it ever fun to do. I am totally into this rug in a way I haven't felt about hooking in years. Fun, fun, fun.
It's all about the color, and all about using up scraps that I've had for years. No new fabric, just things I've stashed away and couldn't get to before I moved to this larger space.
In such a challenging time, when we are all in "lockdown" over this pandemic, it's lovely to work in my studio, playing with color and listening to music or simply enjoying the silence.
But I'm aware of how many people are struggling--hungry, incredibly sick, risking infection by being a front-line provider, dealing with the loss of a loved one, or going bankrupt from losing a job and/or losing a business. The fear, the anxiety, the terror. So far my health is all right and I don't know anyone with the virus; I have a home and my finances are stable. I have food, friends, love. I meditate. In short, I am unbelievably privileged; and I am very aware of it. I'm also aware that my circumstances could change on a dime, any day.
May we all be safe and protected. May we all be loved; may we find peace each day, no matter what happens. And may we look after each other with compassion and kindness.
Just some of the words I'm thinking and also hearing from others as the pandemic ramps up in the USA and other countries. There's the cascade of cancellations, the hoarding of odd things (toilet paper, really?) leading to empty shelves in stores. I could, but won't, go on.
With all the cancellations I've been able to focus a bit more on art. I just finished this small piece that's part of a group challenge. Meaning, a number of us are doing the same-sized piece with the same word on it, but other than that, we are each deciding on our own colors and border patterns used. It was fun to do this, and I'm doing a second one as a punch-hooked piece. I hooked this one in traditional fashion.
I didn't plan this and just made-it-up-as-I-went. And it probably looks that way! I like it though.
Today I took an online class with Joanna Quincy (a CZT from the UK) on the tangle Mooka, which I've used for years and love. But I know I can always learn tips and tricks and get better at anything, so I signed up. We did lots of fun practice and all did a similar tile. As you know if you read this blog, tangling is like handwriting and looks wildly different from person to person--part of its charm, fascination, and fun. Here is mine:
And here is the mosaic of the entire class' tiles:
Both rug hooking and tangling are incredibly relaxing, a much-needed, outrageously helpful characteristic right now. All forms of art practice can help us get through this. Read this fascinating article on the topic.
And finally, a quote from the late John Lennon which captures it all:
Nobody told me there'd be days like these;
Nobody told me there'd be days like these;
Nobody told me there'd be days like these;
Strange days indeed -- strange days indeed.
Finally finished yesterday, steamed one last time this morning, and hung on my kitchen wall this afternoon. For such a small rug (I think the length is about 26"), it took me way too long to get it done. But there's quite a story behind it, and while this rug is silly and funny, it means a lot to me.
Here's the story:
The original version of this pattern, which I have greatly modified, was designed by George Kahnle and hooked by his husband, Dick LaBarge. I believe it was titled, "Americus Tunafishus" and Dick dyed the wool and hooked it in red, white, and blue as a patriotic rug. I first saw the finished piece in Vermont at a rug show, and took note of it as I am a tuna fan. Note: It even says, "Loves tuna fish" under my photo in my old high school yearbook. And one of my memories of my dad is that he ate a tuna sandwich for lunch every day of his life--apparently my fondness for tuna is genetic. (I do know about the mercury danger and the over-fishing, and am pretty careful about where I get my tuna)
The original pattern is still available from Betsy Reed of Heavens to Betsy; she bought Dick & George's pattern stock from their former business, Hooked On the Creek. After I heard that Dick had died in 2018, I'm sure I bought the pattern from her late that year. It isn't shown on her website but if you ask, I believe she can bring it up. As I said, the original pattern doesn't resemble my rug much. I changed the wording and I completely redrew the fish.
Dick and George were just two of the nicest, most talented, and funniest guys I've ever met and I adored them both. I never got to visit them in Victory Mills, NY, where they lived, worked, and taught rug hooking for decades. They also had a fabulous antique store. But I was fortunate to take some classes with them in Vermont and count them as friends.
They were devoted to each other and were life partners long before it was safe to declare their relationship. I believe they were finally able to marry in 2012, just two years before George died, aged 82. Dick died in 2018 and he was 85. I swear I miss them both to this day. When I heard Dick was gone, I sat down and cried; but then I began to smile as I remembered how funny he and George were, and all the good times we had in their classes.
I knew I wanted to hook a rug in their honor, and this is it.
I just took a look at both their obituaries and true to form, it's Dick's memorial write-up that says it all. George's is short and contains few details, but you can get a flavor of both of them from reading Dick's.
Dear friends, I am thinking of both of you today with much gratitude for your fine teaching and the hilarity and kindness you offered those of us who knew you.
I miss you.
On the left: This was a pillow top that I traditionally hooked with wool strips last year. The pattern was developed from a design on an old piece of pottery by Ruby Hill Fiber Arts in Nevada. I found it on Etsy and really enjoyed hooking it.
On the right: I wanted to punch hook the same pattern, using my own hand-dyed yarn rather than hooking it with wool strips. So late last year I tried to buy it again on Etsy. But after a prolonged and extensive search there and on Google, I could no longer find the company anywhere online. It was as if it had never existed. Finally I re-drew the pattern and changed it up a bit, and then punched it. I just completed the finishing this evening.
This developed from my interest in showing the difference between traditional hooking with wool strips, and punch hooking with yarn. They are both very similar and very different. I only wish I could have found the designer again and bought the pattern a second time, and would be happy to pay her if I can ever locate her. I really enjoyed both projects. But not the finishing. I'm fine finishing a rug, but anything involving sewing is not fun for me and finishing pillows, of course, falls into that latter category. Glad these are done!
Two years ago I started hearing about this show, which is only run every other year.
Because I was sick, I missed the 2017 show and was determined to get to this one. I made it to Vermont today and am glad I did. This show is held at the Pompanoosuc Mills home base in Vermont, a gigantic workshop building where their signature furniture is made and the location of their flagship showroom.
Why a rug & fiber show there? Because Ed O'Keeffe, the Showroom and Web Manager, is also a rug hooking artist. Ed teamed up with Jennifer Davey, another rug hooking artist and a past president of the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild (GMRHG), to mount this show on an "off-year" from the big show that is put on biannually by GMRHG. Because the Pompy showroom is simply immense, there is a lot of wall space. It's the perfect place to hang rugs! And hang they did--check out these wonderful pieces below. Note that I did not get pictures of all the rugs, only about half of the ones on display.
I should add here that all these rugs came from the talented members of the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild. I'm thinking that Jennifer and Ed selected them from the Guild's bi-annual show and curated them for this display.
Another of Dana's astounding rugs, Red Riding Hood, was also on display here, but I have already dedicated an entire previous blog post to Dana. Her Red Riding Hood rug is so spectacular that an Australian rug maker did a blog post on it that's in-depth and quite good. Don't miss it! You can find it HERE. And to see more of Dana's work, check my previous post about her HERE.
Despite these many photos, there were at least as many, if not more, rugs and wall hangings on display (and of course, the beautiful furniture everywhere as well). If you are in the area, this show is well worth a visit.
Details on how to get there and the duration of the show are on the postcard at the top of this post. Enjoy!
Today we had late-afternoon sun after nearly a week of heavy clouds and some rain. Amazing the difference sun can make. I've been patiently waiting. Our autumn foliage is beginning to glow and when sun shines through the leaves it is just exquisite. I feel totally lucky to live amidst all this.
Trees are truly extraordinary creatures. May we never lose them.
And here below is what may be my oldest hooked piece. I am guessing I hooked this in the late 80s or early 90s. It's disintegrating now--the foundation is disappearing and unfortunately it won't be worth saving. Although I actually began hooking a rug in 1969 or 1970, I was unable to finish that first piece. It was a round rug I was hooking with wool roving as opposed to wool strips. Unfortunately, I lost it in the chaos of moving repeatedly from place to place during that time. I didn't try again for about 20 years. I began again in the late 80s and think that may be when I made the piece below. I hooked it in a 3-cut, my least-favorite style. It's a wonder I kept hooking at all after that.
What's barely visible in this small photo is the disintegration in the lower left and right corners. I'm wondering if it's moth damage (unlikely) or if the original pattern was on burlap (more likely). Burlap was commonly used back in those days but now has been abandoned by most hookers; it's inexpensive and easy to hook through, but it was actually made to rot. Think of the burlap that's routinely wrapped around the roots of young trees waiting to be planted--the intention is that when the tree goes into the ground, the burlap will disintegrate. It's the same when it's used for a rug foundation. Bad idea.
It was nice to see this piece after all this time--I gave it to a friend and she brought it over this week to see if I could repair it. I can't, but it was good to get a photo and take a walk down memory lane.
My form of church, that is.
I left very early today to meet a friend and fellow textile artist on a rural road 45 minutes from my home. Each with rugs in tow. Our goal was to drape the rugs we brought over the stone wall that looks over a meadow and then down, down, down into a huge reservoir (part of which is just barely visible over the tops of the trees and under the surrounding hills) and get a decent photo. I ran the resulting picture thru an iPhone app and got this. I'm pleased. It's a mix of a few of my rugs and a few of her rugs.
This picture describes my spiritual life--the natural world plus a meditative form of craft such as traditional rug hooking.
The light, the earth, the stones, the colors, the sun, the clouds, the wind, the water, the trees, the hills.
I can't think of a better place to be on a Sunday morning in the autumn.
“The sun shines not on us but in us.”
― John Muir
No drawing happening because I've been doing this.
Yep, back to traditional rug hooking. There is a lot more to this story, but I'll share that another time. I'm really enjoying the process, as always. I even have a space in my house reserved for this rug, assuming I like the way it turns out.
Ferocious thunder & heavy rain today while I was working on this. Anything that clears out humidity is fine with me. I'm concerned about those in the path of the Dorian hurricane however, and horrified about the Bahamas. How will the Bahamas recover?
(I am not in Dorian's path)
An "embedded letters" tile for Project Pack 06. The "No Mistakes" pack.
Meanwhile, I think/hope my creativity is beginning to come back. Finally some textile work, the start of a new rug.
A lovely calming meeting today with rug hooking friends Diana, Lynda, and Judy.
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.
Here's another short post on OTHER PEOPLE'S WORK (not mine). My buddy Cheryl is a Rug Rescuer--she takes partially completed traditionally hooked rugs from people who cannot complete them (usually due to age, illness, or unknown reasons) and finds a way to finish them. She's a genius at it!
Here are a couple of her rescued rugs, then a 3rd rug that she hooked NOT as a rescue but just for fun for a grandchild. And finally, a rug in progress from another wonderful rug artist, Cynthia (not a rescue--her own design).
I believe this pattern is an old McGown or Moshimer pattern called "Frost Oriental," (after Edward Frost, an itinerant peddlar in the 1800s who figured out a way to transfer rug designs to burlap). Cheryl rescued this rug and finished it--I've long loved this pattern and have often thought of hooking it, but haven't gotten around to it yet. Love what she and the original artist did with this!
Also by Cheryl the Rescuer. Although I can't remember if she rescued this rug and finished it, or if she decided to hook it all herself and then ran out of wool part of the way through and had to scramble to finish. Either way, I love this rug. Both the pattern and the wonderful difference in values, giving it an antique look.
And last but not least, a rug by Cynthia (another traditional rug hooking artist in our group) of her own design. This isn't the first time I've featured one of Cynthia's rugs--she does all her own designs and dyes or recycles the wool she uses. The added bicyclist (lower right without any wool around it yet) and the boat (lower left center) both have special meaning for her family. She does wonderful work.
I got to see these lovely rugs, and others, at our meeting last Friday. It was hard to tell which was more fun--the rug hooking, the conversations, or the fabulous groan-inducing foods. We met at Cheryl's amazing and stunningly decorated old Victorian house.
"When life gives you hands, use 'em to make stuff."
The beginning today: I began designing another large rug. It's too early by far to show anything, but I am pleased with the start.
The ending today: After endless rain and then multiple overly-early snowstorms, we finally got all the leaves cleaned up. It took all day. Since I'm focusing on gratitude this month, I want to say how relieved I am that I no longer have to do this myself. Because I live in a condo, someone else does it for me, and of course they have all the right tools & equipment, saving my old bones the effort. Thank you, thank you.
Two small tangled pieces today...
Above is a black Zentangle® 3-Z tile with White Gellyroll pen and White General's Charcoal. The tangle is called XLnt and it's by CZT Jody Genovese (you can find it on tanglepatterns.com). This is my first try at it, and wowza, it was not easy for me to figure out. I like it very much though and think I'll be using it a lot. This was done for the "It's a String Thing #271" Challenge on Adele Bruno's website.
And this one is done on a tiny Bijou tile (2"x2") using Gold Gellyroll pen and A bit of White Gellyroll, with colors by General's Chalk pencils. The tangle in the center is Zenith, and that was our assignment for the Gratitangles Project, day 25. I mixed in a Footlites tangle on either side (same project, day 14). Zenith is a tangle I always mean to use, and rarely do.
While working on these tiles I could not help thinking of things I am grateful for today: For example, safe housing, with great caretakers who moved those leaves efficiently and who also take care of the snow and ice. I'm grateful for the snow tires I had put on my car yesterday. I am grateful that I even HAVE a car and the money for snow tires.
“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.”
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.)
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), long-time meditator, meditation teacher 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