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.
This is my first attempt at the tangle Khala, by Anica Kabrovec, CZT. It's gorgeous and what's known as a "high focus tangle." I have a long way to go to learn this one!
However, I've not been able to tangle in weeks. It's been totally crazy here and that will undoubtedly continue for a while. All good, just overscheduled. At times like this, it's all I can do to squeeze in any time for drawing and I truly did not want to take on anything challenging; so I treated myself to one of The Tangled Yogi's instructional videos and picked this one.
Sometimes the best way to practice is simply to copy. Even when you copy, you still end up with your own version. Thanks to the Tangled Yogi for her very accessible videos, which enabled me to do SOMETHING, even if it's not my own thing.
Hot off the punchneedle--this is a small piece (5"x15") I just finished last night and steamed this morning. It's ready for hemming. Every bit of the punching was enjoyable. The pattern is called Cupboard Flowers from The Old Tattered Flag, and I punched it in Valdani cotton thread, doubled, using an UltraPunch medium needle on a #2 setting.
Julie Thomas is such a good designer, and I deeply appreciate her creativity and color planning. Sometimes , in these stressful times, all one can do is sit down and do something simple, designed by a kind talented person who makes it easy to complete. Thank you, Julie.
Although I worked on this only two times, it took twenty days to finish it because after I got it started on the 4th of January (see below)--
--it took three weeks before I had time to get back to it. I kept looking at it with longing, but simply could not carve out the time to sit down and finish. This type of dilemma always points out to me how over-committed I am.
Here is a picture of how it looked yesterday as I picked it up again and was about 1/4 of the way through finishing it. I had put down a first layer of color on the green "leaves (top half) and was putting down a blending layer (bottom half) when it occurred to me to take a picture at this stage.
and here's another photo, different from the one at the top of the page (different lighting) of the finished piece for contrast.
It's interesting to contrast this version to another version I did (in December) as I was taking a class with The Tangled Yogi. The December 10th version was a situation where I just had to go with pencils I happened to have on hand; this one is more "me" in terms of colors and execution. I highly recommend Romi's videos and classes as I learn a lot from watching and emulating.
A video is also a great way to jump-start one's practice after a long hiatus. After I've been away from tangling for a few weeks, it's so helpful to follow along with what someone else is showing in order to rev up my own mojo. Once I've done that, I'm ready to go off on my own again.
Doing a bit of practice with Zen Gems today. I've done these before but took a class with Joanne Quincey ("ZenJo") who has a great website HERE, and who gave the best explanation of blending with colored pencils that I've ever heard. Kudos to you, Jo, and thanks. Will be practicing more. I love studying with other artists.
"Better a diamond with a flaw then a pebble without."
(supposedly said by Confucius, but if everything attributed to him was proven, he'd still be alive and talking, right?)
With apologies for the bad photography, I wanted to experiment with Lynn Meade's tangle Fassett for an upcoming class. Fassett is based on triangles. Here is Fassett done on four Bijou tiles (2x2"), each tile with an increasing number of triangles. (The class will only be doing the very first one on the far left)
And here below are the four strings that I used to create the four tiles. You can see the number of triangles increasing in each.
Fun to experiment like this.
Goodbye to 2019. I'm somewhat inclined to add, "And good riddance," but it's more complicated than that.
To the left is the result of a test patch I did today on an oriental rug pattern I've owned for years and have always wanted to make. The question is, what if I punch-hooked it? Is that possible?
Using some test skeins of 3/36 rug yarn that I dyed, I produced this.
Mmmmmm, I just don't know. I need to live with this for a few days but my first reaction is, I am not sure I like it. Best to leave it for awhile and see what my reaction is over time before I make any decisions. (These are not the colors I would use on the final piece; they are just for testing.)
It's been a long, tough year. Some things in my life have dramatically improved. And I'm frequently aware of how privileged I am on so many fronts. But the state of the planet and the political situation in our country are downright frightening and discouraging.
All I can do, I know, is try to stand up for what I believe in and at the same time try to be kind and compassionate. And I can be thankful every day for what I have and for all the good things in my life.
I wish the same for all--kindness, compassion, safety, enough food and warmth in life and plenty of love.
Let's move forward into 2020 with clear eyes, wise action, and inner peace. Thanks for reading.
Today I took a quick pencil drawing class from a friend who is an excellent artist. I knew it would be intensely focused on working with light-medium-dark values, and value studies are helpful in any form of art.
Not only in representational art, but also in rug hooking and other textile work.
This was a tiring and very fun class and I learned some extremely useful things. One of my other artist friends talks about how drawing is highly physical work, and every time I spend a day drawing, I realize how right she is. It's meditative as well (although not so much when you are learning something for the first time, but with practice it's highly meditative). And at the same time, drawing for several hours straight can be exhausting.
Here is the second drawing from today's class:
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!
Whew. The last two weeks have been a blur, and none of it holiday-related. I'm not a holiday celebrator (no offense to those who are--if you enjoy it all, more power to you), so most years, while others may be stressing out buying gifts, sending cards, gathering with family, I am nurturing my introverted self with quiet and reflection--I love it! But not this year. Visitors--welcome indeed but unusual for this month--a few minor health inconveniences, a couple of intensive workshops, and on and off insomnia have combined to create more stress than usual. But it's all good, and it will all straighten out.
Many projects are underway. I have been working to finish my punched pillow. First I had to un-punch and re-punch some areas, and then begin the finishing process. It's a time-taker but I hope it will be worth it. Here's what I re-punched:
I got that fix done (all will be revealed once I get the pillow completed), and now I'm into the messy process of creating and binding the back. This boring looking beige-y broadcloth was the single fabric I could find that would not clash horribly with the front. Hopefully it won't show once it's done. I'm creating an "envelope back" for the first time, and sure hope it works.
Next up: a good friend and I were lucky enough to go to a workshop with the Zentangle® folks at the Kripalu Institute in Lenox, Massachusetts, and the focus was creating a Compass Rose. I had made one before in 2016, and you can find it HERE in this blog. I wrote about the origins there as well. We used a very different method this time (no protractor, just folding the paper). All of us made small Zendala versions first and here was the class mosaic (some are missing from this mosaic):
We then moved on to beginning the actual Compass Rose. I wish I'd thought to take more pictures. I only have one "before" photo, below. Wish I'd taken pics from the folding-stage through the initial black and white stage, then adding color, then embellishing, etc. This (below) was perhaps almost halfway through. I wasn't enamored of it at this stage. That is an understatement.
We then added the North arrow and used the Embedded Letter tangle technique. I liked it a bit better but was still dubious. We added a bit of gold gellyroll as well. Still dubious. However, that was as far as we got in the workshop and I took my tile home, where it sat for over 2 weeks until I had time to get to it.
That happened today. Below is the finished (??) piece.
Yup, working and taking my time on it definitely improved things.
Finally, I took a chance on a product I saw on a Kickstarter campaign and it arrived last night. I haven't yet had a chance to play with it:
Looks like it will work great, but I've yet to take it for a test-drive.
Just too darned busy.
A good night's sleep would also help.
"Last night I dreamed I ate a ten-pound marshmallow, and when I woke up the pillow was gone."
Whatever possessed me to start and finish this 6"-in-diameter Zendala in one day? I am truly ready to fall of my perch. Tired...
This was another class from The Tangled Yogi, whose wonderful videos and fine classes you can find by clicking on her link in this sentence. She has a unique and incredibly helpful way of teaching. I wish you could have seen the mosaic (collection of student work) on this one. No two looked anything alike--coloring was wildly different. Similar, yes, but still, vastly different. The magic of Zentangle® for sure.
I advise students on the subject of color as follows:
If it looks good enough to eat, use it.
Can you hear Elton John singing it? "Saturday, Saturday...Saturday night's alright..."
Actually it was the day that was alright but that's beside the point. I'm testing some colors for possible use in an upcoming oriental rug, and here's what I've got so far. First I had to make some skeins:
"Niddy-noddy, niddy-noddy...two heads, one body.
Tis one, ’tain’t one, ’twill be one soon
’Tis two, ’tain’t two, ’twill be two soon
’Tis three, ’tain’t three, ’twill be three soon …"
This is one version of an incredibly old counting rhyme I first learned back in the 1960s when I was first introduced to the tool (niddy-noddies were in use as early as 800 A.D.). To find out more, click HERE.
No, I am not in Nova Scotia. But since I'm useless as a cook (food cook), I thought I'd cook some yarn today for a textile project. The color is from a recipe called Nova Scotia Blue. What fun!
I'll have a relaxing day and then go out to a local restaurant with friends for a traditional U.S. Thanksgiving Dinner with all the fixings. Therefore, the fact that I'm hopeless at cooking - except for cooking yarn - won't matter one bit.
I am grateful for good friends and for the privilege of enough health, enough time, enough money, and enough shelter. So many folks do not have any of these.
May all beings have enough food to eat today. I know that is not true for a great many in this troubled world. May we all have at least that much and more, on this American Thanksgiving holiday.
A friend stopped by my house today, exhausted and distraught, sharing a very sad but very familiar story of serious family trouble. I think I may have been the first person outside the family she told. There was nothing I could do but listen. I can only hope that being present with her, and listening, was enough to help.
She was here for hours. After she left I had to help myself, so I did this "variation," of the tile above, experimenting with what I'd learned in Zen Linea's class to produce this on a Bijou tile (2"x2"):
Listening with loving-kindness was the only thing I could do.
I am frequently reminded, as I hear other people speak of what they are going through, of how fortunate I really am. I am grateful for my life, with all its warts and minor upsets and imperfections. And with all its privilege and grace.
Compared to what some of those who matter to me are going through, I often feel like the luckiest person on earth.
May she and her family heal. May all those who suffer heal. May all of us know peace.
I do love punch needle embroidery. This is my wildly different interpretation of The Old Tattered Flag's Dutch Tulip Pattern. I needed to be doing something that was meditative during the last couple of weeks, and this fit the bill.
I've used the title "Perseverence Furthers" once before, but it never more true than when I did this tangle:
It started out as a hot mess about 3 or 4 days ago. Instead of giving up on it, I kept leaving it and coming back to it, adding a few things here and there until today when I declared it finished. I wanted to keep it all black and white (color can hide a lot of mistakes) and I'm glad I did. I'm also glad I stuck with it. It's no work of genius but it's way, way better than when I started!
"Try again. Fail again. Try better."
I have two partly-finished textile projects underway. One is the punch needle embroidery piece above (this is a partial photo of the edge of the piece--just a teaser). I'm liking it a lot.
The other is a rug. I'm getting pretty close to finishing the rug, but don't want to show it until it's done. There's quite a story behind it and I look forward to sharing that.
And I just finished punching a 16" square piece that will become a pillow. As soon as I get it into the pillow form, I'll reveal that one as well. Lots of textile work going on around here. Feels good.
These were all quick tangle "studies" done for Inktober 2019. On the upper left is the tangle Baton, done for day 28. Upper right is the tangle Abundies, done for day 22. Center tile is Dreamdex, done for day 19, and lower left is Pixiose, done for day 23. The one on the lower right is the tangle Kaas, which I showed and described in the previous post.
None of them took long and they were quite fun to do. Experimenting maximizes the fun, since the results don't matter.
Charles Darwin (to whom I am NOT comparing myself) said, "I love fools' experiments. I am always making them."
Let's hear it for screwing up, flubbing it, being imperfect.
Much of my drawing is like this, and yet, somehow I like it anyway. I will never be perfect. But I'll be "good enough" for me and will have fun along the way.
Below is a practice tile (a Bijou tile, only 2"x2") for a new-to-me tangle called Kaas. I had a rough time with this one and ended up adding a lot of rounding (rounding is a Zentangle® technique which does what it sounds like--you "round" sharp corners) which can hide a plethora of errors.
Convinced I'd do a better job on my second try, I used a regular (3.5"x3.5") white tile for my entry in the Full Moon Mosaic Project for this month.
Nope, just as imperfect, and even more flubbed-up in some ways. Again, I used lots of rounding.
I had fun, however, and I like it anyway. If you have read this far, you probably can relate to what I'm saying.
"My mistakes are my life."
Here is the little:
Another insanely busy week but blessed with absolutely gorgeous autumn foliage. It has been spectacular around here for days now.
Day 16 of Inktober was Trentwith, a tangle entirely new to me (it looks like art nouveau roses in the tile above) and day 17 was Dreamdex, also entirely new. I didn't have much time so tried them out on a tiny Bijou tile and was quite interested in both tiles; I will try them again, for sure. Next time I'll make both of them bigger.
I'm not going to get Inktober done in October, but I don't really care. As usual, this project is enormous fun.
Fast forward a coupe of days and I've finally gotten to sit down and do a few more tangles, below.
All I can say is, wow did it ever feel good to practice today. It ain't the outcome, it's the experience that is so relaxing and that makes me so joyful.
Oh boy! New gray-toned paper to play with.
I'm beginning to think I do my easiest tangling late at night. Both the previous work and the work below were done very late. It was after midnight when I finished each of them. I'm thinking that being tired slows down the critic in my head, plus at that time of day my goal is really relaxation, and I don't care much about what comes out of the pen. The result is usually better than the more self-conscious efforts when I'm more alert.
I take note that in meditation, focusing on the current moment and not worrying about the "results" is prime. And so is acknowledging that there is an inner critical voice; realizing that the voice is "just thoughts," and that thoughts are not the same as facts. We do not have to believe or pay attention to thoughts that pass through our heads, and that goes for the critical voice as well.
It's difficult to have fun or to achieve concentration when your ego is engaged in what it thinks is a life-and-death struggle.
(W. Timothy Gallwey)
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