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).
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I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), a long-time meditator, a certified meditation teacher and coach, and focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society