I’ve been busy catching up from our trip a week or so ago. I’ve been reviewing my photos from the South Korea trip and have plans to sketch a wall hanging using roof tile end caps at the inspiration.
However, I managed to pick up a weird cold that is on again off again, or has been for over a week now. BUT I have also been busy restocking our freezer and pantry for the remainder of the year. Lots of baking and cooking happening. Our boarder is happy. Or at least will be until I present him with some vegetarian dishes. They are now added to our rotation in the interests of me losing some weight and improving my overall health.
While in British Columbia, I stopped by Granville Island in Vancouver. Had a great time chatting with shop proprietors and purchased some lovely silk yarn and ribbon, and some wonderful wool yarn. I’ve already sold one of the skeins of silk ribbon. I look forward to trying the others out before putting them up for sale.
Silk yarn and ribbon.
Here’s to feeling better and hope to soon be able to do something around here! Have a good week! Talk to you later.
We had a great time on our trip to B.C. A beautiful drive down the Fraser Canyon led us to a very busy lower mainland. Spent time visiting with family and checked out 10th Ave. Found the lovely Figaro’s for a real cup of tea and dessert.
Saturday we headed out to Granville Island. We checked out the Market. I had great fun poking around, and picked up yarn for hooking at SanJo Silk and the Fibre Art Studio. Also checked out Maiwa and Paper-Ya. Picked up a quality notebook for next year’s household bullet journal.
Sunday we went on a very informative walking tour of Chinatown. It was a free tour, which meant you tipped for it. The lady who gave the tour was excellent. She talked and walked us for 1 1/2 – 2 hours! We finished at a Chinese pharmacy that had dried geckos in it, to treat asthma and back problems. I’m curious how they’d use it…
We had a late lunch, and then walked back to my sister-in-law’s condo. Checked out some design features in the cityscape on the way.
Monday we checked out the Gulf of Georgia Cannery Museum and the Britannia Museum. It was a day of lots of walking. We had a beautiful walk down by the shore in Steveston.
Tuesday we headed to Vancouver Island to visit friends.
Brentwood Bay, B.C.
We spent Wednesday in Sidney shopping thrift stores and bookstores for anything rug hooking related. I found a book on Celtic knotwork and calligraphy I plan to make use of. I found a rug hooking book for my friend who is learning to hook now.
Thursday we headed up Island to Chemainus in the rain to visit Val Galvin of Renditions in Rugs in her home studio. We took the Brentwood Bay to Mill Bay ferry. Quaint and small, but got the job done. A fun ride, even in the rain!
View from ferry heading to Mill Bay from Brentwood Bay, BC.
Val is very friendly and helpful. I was able to purchase some pencil hooks from her, so if you’re looking, keep an eye on my page or contact me to have a look and a try. Thanks Val!
Jean Ottosen and Val Galvin
Friday we took the ferry back to Vancouver to be with family.
Ferry to Vancouver (Tsawwassen), B.C.
My sister-in-law and I had a great time checking out Michelle Sirois-Silver’s studio on her Open Studio Saturday. It was nice to see her again and chat. I loved seeing her work with zippers in it! While there I took a quick photo of the books on the counter. I’m always on the lookout for a good book! I’m curious to know which of these Michelle found most helpful. Guess I’ll have to interlibrary loan them and check them out. 🙂
My sister-in-law and I checked out the Artisan Market in the West Vancouver Community Centre. I dropped a fair bit of change on homemade jams and jellies, chocolates, etc. It was deadly on the pocketbook because everyone was using Square, meaning they all took credit cards!
We also attended the Vancouver Institute’s lecture Saturday evening on the global arms trade. It was very interesting. Mr. Andrew Feinstein from South Africa (well now from London) spoke. I had no idea how widespread it was and how bad it was.
Sunday we were at the Vancouver Art Guild Show and Sale. Lots of good work there, but the artists who stuck out for me were Beatrice Watson and Robert Kitt. Margaret Stott had some whimsical work that was excellent as well.
Monday and Tuesday we spent the days driving home.
Evening in the Rockies.
Dawn in the Rockies.
It’s a long haul from Vancouver to Regina! But Hubby was eager and I was glad to arrive before another snow storm. Yes, Regina was covered in a blanket of beautiful white snow when we arrived, and more followed. Hubby has been out shoveling and I’ve been busy with laundry and making a grocery list. And so life goes on! A wonderful trip and a great big thank-you to everyone who made it possible!
A friend gifted me this lovely mohair blanket this week. Not entirely sure how I’m going to handle it and prep it for hooking. Any ideas anyone? It’s a very loose weave.
I finished deconstructing my greys and blacks this week. It took six hours total. I have a lot of greys and blacks. I put them back on the shelf today.
Works in Progress
I’m also back at “Moss”. It is taking a long time for a variety of reasons. One has been developing my new website. Then there was the rewriting of course syllabuses lost in the computer switch over that didn’t happen in the end, earlier this year. Another is it is a large wall hanging for me at 1′ x 5′. I am finding it a bit of a challenge staying focused on that large a piece. Then there’s the colour planning of the piece. I like the colours well enough, but I’m not sure I’m conveying the image I want with the piece. But I do plan to finish it. Hopefully in time for the Cathedral Village Arts Festival Street Fair on May 27th.
I had a great class again on Saturday and plan to prepare for another one this coming weekend. Sorry, I will not be teaching any classes in April. Instead I will be preparing for, going to, and recovering from a trip to South Korea! Looking forward to the change of scenery for a bit. Classes will resume Saturday, May 6th with a Finishing class. If you want to register contact me by April 24th.
Exhibit at the AGR
I dropped off my wall hangings Friday afternoon for the Art Gallery of Regina Salon Show and Sale. The show starts Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at the Art Gallery of Regina in the Neil Balkwill Civic Arts Centre on Elphinstone Street in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. I will be in attendance at the opening from 7:30 – 8:30 PM. As mentioned Friday, those wanting a studio tour please let me know and I can arrange to open my home studio in the evenings for guests.
Talk to you all later.
Hi everyone. This week has been busy. I have been preparing for an upcoming show and sale. I relabeled and packaged up “Dancing Tree” and “Blue-eyed Grass” for the Art Gallery of Regina Salon Show and Sale. I’ll drop them off at the gallery in the Neil Balkwill Civic Arts Centre later today. The show starts March 22nd, 2017 and goes till May 5th. I’ll be at the opening briefly on March 22nd, which is between 7 and 9 PM. If you want to meet me there, contact me first to make sure we don’t miss each other.
If you’d like a studio tour while you’re in town for the show, please let me know ahead of time. I will be away from the studio for two weeks in April.
I also managed to update and write more of a lesson plan for my student this weekend. I am looking forward to exploring the world of rug hooking with her.
This week I am sorting through my greys and blacks and doing a full deconstruction of wool clothing. In the past it was partly done, but not wholly. So now I am cutting off seam finishes, ripping the fabric (pants, jackets, and skirts) down to a size that a cutter will handle easily, and pressing the pieces. Then I’ll put them away. This is taking surprisingly longer than I thought it would. So far I’ve devoted four hours to the greys alone. I figure I have about that to go. I have a lot of grey and black fiber. My goal is to save some space in my storage units.
Hope everyone has a great St. Patrick’s Day! I’ll be celebrating with the boarder today. Hubby is off to a supper with some ex-coworkers to talk shop and do some mentoring. It’s pizza night here. Might have to throw in a green salad! 🙂
Well, here are the results of this week’s dye jobs. The photos do not do the colours justice. They are more intense and deeper than the photos show. I really enjoyed dyeing these colours. I’ve been away from the dye pot too long!
An added bonus this week was receiving Gene Shepherd’s “Prepared to Dye” DVD set in the mail Monday. When I wasn’t dyeing fabric I was watching his DVDs. He does an excellent job of making what some see as complicated into a much easier to understand and do process. The first DVD in the set covers the basic traditional rug hooking dyeing methods. The second DVD is devoted to various spot dyeing techniques. And the third DVD is devoted to various dye bleeding techniques. I am excited and eager to try some of his techniques.
All this dyeing and class prep got me thinking it might be time for another trip to my favourite rug hooking supplier in Cochrane, Alberta – Legacy Studio – for more supplies. I’ve been making a wish list for the trip.
I am also busy preparing for tomorrow’s Start to Finish class. It’s on colour planning and material selection. By the end of the class we should be hooking rug.
I hope everyone has a good weekend planned. This weekend is a special event for us. Hubby is being honoured at a community event and his 65th birthday is Monday! We plan to make the most of it.
Wall hangings and ornaments yet to be posted on Etsy.
It’s been a busy week. I’ve been posting wall hangings and fiber bundles on Etsy for sale. Check out my shop to see what’s new! I’ll be posting more work next week.
I hooked a bit on “Moss”.
I knit on the cellular baby blanket.
I worked a lot on my new website I hope to have up and running by January.
I finished putting together my green wool and silk fiber bundles…for now. I have a lot of green fiber!
I’ve been busy knitting on the cellular baby blanket. I was joking to some friends that there were so many mistakes in it it looked like a pattern! The pattern is going to be thrown out when I’m finished. I never could get it to work properly. Next time I’ll pick up some plain knitting to work on in the company of other people. It appears I cannot stay focused on a basic lace pattern. I’m going to block the blanket when it’s done, see how it looks, and then decide what to do with it. But I strongly suspect it will find its way to the local thrift store. Note to self: not all projects work out…and that’s okay.
I hooked a bit on “Moss” this week. I am not overly happy with the values I’ve chosen for different colors. I am trying not to go to the dye pot because I have so much fiber in the house already. I’ll hook a tad more on it and then take it off the frame on a nice sunny day in natural light to make some color decisions/revisions.
I’ve also been loading a lot of wall hangings on Etsy for sale. I started uploading Christmas wall hangings. I know. I’m a bit early. But I’m sitting beside a big tote of wall hangings and ornaments that have yet to be listed. It’s going to take a while.
I’ve also been making more fiber bundles and uploading them to Etsy.
And I’m working on my new website.
I think that’s enough “Works in Progress” for one week! Time to get busy on them. Talk to you all tomorrow. 🙂
Hi everyone! I had a good weekend and hope you did too. 🙂
On Friday I posted more finished hooked wall hangings for sale on Etsy. Check them out! They are also available direct from me. Email me at <firstname.lastname@example.org> for more information.
Above the Garage
Saturday was dreary and rainy here. So I bundled up more fabric and yarns and posted them on Etsy too. They are $25 each + shipping. They also are available direct from me. 🙂
This week I would like to post more finished work on Etsy and more bundles as well.
If the weather clears up and it’s sunny, then I’m hoping to work some outside in the yard. The patio garden still needs some work. We still have herbs growing!
I haven’t hooked at all this week. But I have been knitting on the baby blanket. I can smell the end! Just need to knit 2″ more in ribbing and cast off.
I’ve been a bit preoccupied since Hubby retired the end of September. We’ve been running errands, on a trip to see extended family, and busy learning Korean. Yes, we are going to South Korea next spring. A friend invited us to meet her family and show us around her home country. We said “yes!”
So we’ve been busy planning immunizations, travel insurance, booking flights (there was a really good deal if you had Aeroplan), and learning Korean. At least I am learning some Korean. Hubby thinks they will all speak to him in English over there. He’s never traveled outside of North America.
I’ve been trying to think of fiber things to see and do in South Korea. Not coming up with much. I know they quilt and embroider. But I don’t know of any rug hookers in South Korea. There is a special cloth made from local plant materials on the west coast. But we will be focusing our visit on Seoul and the east coast I think. At least that’s the plans so far.
In rug hooking news: I sent more “Star Rug” blank greeting cards up to Saskatoon for the SCC Fine Craft Boutique. So if anyone is wanting any for Christmas they can contact the Boutique or me. I’m hoping to get back to making more bundles today. Lots of fun and inspiration in those. 🙂
Star Rug blank greeting card – $5 CAD
Other Christmas themed or winter themed cards people might be interested in purchasing are below:
Autumn Spot Dyed Wool Blanket – 7″ x 17″-18″ – $30 CAD for all three pieces, plus shipping. $15 CAD for one piece, plus shipping.
Look what went on Etsy for sale this weekend! Yes, I put up some of the spot dyed blanket I used for the background in “Rose Hips”. It is $30 CAD + shipping for the entire lot of three pieces. If you are interested in only one piece, which is 7″ x 17-18″, I will sell it for $15 + shipping.
I also put up these two dark green wool and silk bundles for sale for $25 CAD + shipping each.
This week I am continuing my hooking on “Moss”.
I also plan to make more bundles for sale.
I also plan to knit more on the cellular baby blanket at Crafting.
I am currently reading my way through “Professional Blogging for Dummies”. That will be followed by “WordPress Web Design for Dummies”. Hopefully, between the two of them I’ll be able to get a website up and running by the new year.
Cranberry Red Fiber Bundle – wool and silk
Well this is kinda a weekly review. Let’s face it, we didn’t get home till Tuesday evening. Still, I did manage to knit on my baby blanket. I’ve finished the pattern area and am on the final 3″ of ribbing before casting off, blocking, and donating to the local thrift store.
I also hooked more on “Moss”.
And I’ve made a few bundles of fiber for sale. Check out my Etsy shop to see them. They’ll be selling for $25 CAD each plus shipping of $15 each. They are a mix of silk and wool fabric and yarns. There is at least one color coordinated plaid in each bundle as well.
Aside from that I tried my first video blog. I’m going to have to figure out a different way to do it. The file was way too big for WordPress and in the wrong form. Had to convert from .m4v to .mp4. Also the wrong format for YouTube. I have a lot to learn about filming yet. I also need a proper video editing program. I have to decide if I’m going to shell out money for this or see if there is an open source program available.
I put holds on more library books related to website development. And picked up “WordPress Web Design for Dummies” at Chapter’s last night.
I also listed items on Etsy. More will be coming next week.
I’m back into my regular routine here. Today I’m working on cleaning up the studio and hooking “Moss”. I’m also going to create some fibre bundles to list on Etsy for sale.
Speaking of Etsy, I renewed a lot of expired listings last evening. I plan to have more listings up in the next few days. It would be a good time to do your Christmas shopping early. We need time for shipping from this end. Anything ordered after December 2nd cannot be guaranteed to arrive before Christmas. A reminder: we ship by courier, unless you’re in Canada. Then we ship using Canada Post.
WIP – “Moss”
Well nothing’s changed in the WIP department. Still a baby blanket to finish knitting and a wall hanging to finish hooking. Hopefully today I’ll find some time to work on them. I plan to change the values on the left side of the tree in “Moss”. Too close in value to the background.
I have a friend coming over this afternoon. I want to rest a bit, do laundry, and prepare for our upcoming trip. We’ll be off to fair Alberta for a week to ten days to visit family again.
I’ve been thinking about my sewing room and studio, and realizing I have a lot of fibre and supplies to work my way through. I have no idea what I’m going to do with it all. I’m thinking it might be an idea to pack up fibre kits to sell. I did sell some fibre in a kit the other weekend. But it’s not something I’ve focused on up till now.
Do any of you think there might be a market for fibre kits?
Hi all. It was another busy week. We saw another couple of insurance brokers, had the cleaner in for a couple hours, ran a mess of errands, and visited with friends and co-workers at Hubby’s retirement party. A big shout out to the people who made it a very successful get together! Hubby really enjoyed himself, and so did I. We came home laden with chocolate, his chosen theme for the party. 🙂
I did manage to hook a bit, a very little bit, on “Moss”. My friend stopped by with not one, but two fleeces! One is dirty and needs cleaning. The other is perfectly clean and coarse. I’ll try to spin it and see if it can be used for rug hooking.
She also dropped off a gorgeous piece of velour upholstery fabric. I have no use for it, but I’m thinking what might be the best thing to do. It’s creased and faded in spots where it was folded. I’ve called in another friend to assess the situation and see what can be done with it.
Hoping to get back to more hooking next week. 🙂
Had great fun today! My hostess took me to Shuttleworks outside Calgary. I told her I was “just going in to look”. What happened is I bought yarn…a fair bit of it. They had Briggs & Little yarn there, and I love to use that for dyeing and hooking. I also found Lamb’s Pride wool, which I use in my wall hangings.
Then my hostess took me to meet a friend of hers. This lady is a quilter, a spinner, a weaver, and a knitter. I felt like I’d met a kindred soul. But she is much better at her crafts than I am. I was humbled. Such beautiful work! She showed me her dye workshop and her quilting/spinning/weaving studio. Sigh…serious crafter envy! She generously gave me some of her excess yarn.
She is also a horsewoman and has gorgeous horses – which I am slightly terrified of, being city slicker folk and not being close to a horse in years. We walked them to the barn with her and played with the dogs while she fed the horses and treated them. My chief accomplishment was keeping her three dogs from knocking me over. She was not impressed with them. I was having a great time petting them, but they did vie for my attention!
My hostess took me on a driving tour of High River, Alberta – an area hit hard by floods two summer’s ago. I spent some time there when I was younger. We stopped in to visit another friend before heading grocery shopping.
We had a delightful supper of GF Sweet and Sour Meatballs, broccoli, brown and wild rice, and tossed salad. And we had a dessert of homemade GF Chocolate Zucchini Muffins. I’m back on my diet for this trip. 🙂
I hope everyone has a wonderful day today. I plan to. 🙂
View from the road. Love the gold leaves against the blue sky and evergreens. The blue is washed out in this photo.
Had a great time today taking the back roads from Okotoks, AB to Cochrane via Bragg Creek.
We saw this gorgeous red barn.
Horse enjoying the sunshine.
Beautiful pastoral scenes stretched in all directions with the foothills and mountains as backdrops.
We stopped in Bragg Creek for lunch at the Creek Bistro. No food pics, sorry. Too hungry. Ate it before I had a chance to take a photo. It was a wonderful roast beef panini with tossed salad. As you can tell, I have largely been off my diet so far this trip. Hubby and I declined the two gluten free desserts on the menu. We figured we’d be having dessert at our hosts tonight. There was also Tim Horton’s to consider for afternoon snack.
We left Bragg Creek and went up to Legacy Studio in Cochrane. I spent a lovely hour with the proprietress, Laura, fondling her fibre and picking up things to buy…and sell. I now have some beginner hoops for rug hookers just starting out. And I have the coveted Red Dot! 🙂
The haul from Laura’s Legacy Studio! 🙂 I really had to control myself there.
Hubby and I came home through Calgary, stopping by Best Buy to scout out the best laptop deals in tax free Alberta. We save 5% by buying in Alberta. That can be $50-100 or more off the price of a laptop.
I came back to our hosts, who had to work late, and made a delicious supper of GF breaded fish, pan fried carrots and parsnips, beets, wild and brown rice, and…totally off diet…the remains of a saskatoon pie. We dined fashionably late and enjoyed the remainder of the evening together.
I did not accomplish my planned hooking this week due to a cold and processing food for winter use. I did manage to mail and receive some orders though, including this lovely silk habotai from the US. Not cheap, but great texture!
One of my orders came with mistakes…this is the third time for that particular company. I think I will stop buying from there…unless I make the cross-Canada jaunt to actually walk in and pick up what I want. It is so frustrating because it is a well known rug hooking store with some wonderful choices of fibres. The colours sent are not in my palette range for use. Nor do I want them to be… I am not returning the order because of shipping costs and the lack of a return policy on their website. Instead I took my time to over dye them. It is a good reminder to me about what not to do in business.
Here are the before and after pics…
Gold before dyeing. I ordered orange.
My “new” orange boucle!
The original variegated green, which was beautiful, just not what I ordered or wanted.
Aside from that small frustration, I am doing fine here. I have a source for the undyed fibre and I will dye it myself from now on for my personal use and for my students. I had hoped to create a bit of a shortcut to my time involvement, but apparently that is not to be.
My new to me yellow greens. It remains to be seen if I’ve got good colours or mud here. I’ll take photos when they dry and post those too.
For my students and customers this is good news! It means I will eventually be offering up specially dyed fibres for sale in keeping with the palette and style I hook. 🙂
Hi everyone. Just a reminder that I sell plaids and various patterned swatches for $2 CAD each plus shipping. I give a 10% discount if you order more than 50 swatches at a time. Check out my Fabric for Sale page.
Today I’m packing up an order to be shipped out tomorrow. I ship out orders Thursday mornings. 🙂
WIP – Prairie Sky – Cirrus 10
A little late, but better late than never, I always say! 🙂
Today is more food processing with rug hooking in-between. I started the Prairie Sky wall hangings for one of the shops. Hoping to finish them before heading out the end of the month to TIGHR Tri-ennial Conference in Victoria, B.C. Hubby and I are doing a road trip out to the coast so I can do some shopping for supplies along the way.
Look what arrived in the mail yesterday! Ooooh, I’m gonna have so much fun with these! 🙂
Silk yarn from SilkDivine on Etsy in Quebec, Canada. 🙂
Hanging sleeves ready to be sewn on wall hangings.
Slow going yesterday for me. Didn’t quite finish the wall hangings. I did finish hemming them. Today I will be sewing on the hanging sleeves. First I will have to make a few more. It shouldn’t take long.
Big excitement here. I put in an order for some supplies and can hardly wait to see what it all looks and feels like when it arrives! 🙂
My bag for Crafting is a bit full today! 🙂
Today I am off to the gym and then Crafting to finish the wall hangings.
Yesterday I had a delightful time with a patron and her teenage daughter putting together the materials she needed for a project.
I also ordered more supplies online. I’m hoping to do some shopping on the way to Victoria, B.C. this fall…and back.
I also received an order from one of the shops I sell through. I was delighted to find I already had backing prepared and the necessary designs drawn on! Saves me some time. Which is good because I’d like to get these hooked and ready to hem by the time we leave for Victoria. I can finish them on the trip and drop them off on the way home.
“Prairie Sky” wall hangings on backing. I only had to change two to meet the order requirements.
The Cathedral Village Arts Festival Street Fair is this coming Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM! I’ll be in front of Traditions Handcraft Gallery. Come down and pay me a visit! I’ll be demonstrating rug hooking and selling my work. There will also be cards for sale and a sign up sheet for classes.
I offer my beginner classes for 1 1/2 hours on Saturday afternoons. They are $50 for lessons, and $50 for supplies (a kit – fibre and backing with design, hook, and hoop). Starting this year I can take up to 3 or 4 people at a time. You can email me at <email@example.com> if you are interested.
As a reminder, I also sell tweed and plaid swatches for rug hooking, as well as bags of scrap wool, and some fat quarters. You can check the “Fabric for Sale” tag at the top of this page, or contact me in person at <firstname.lastname@example.org>. I will not be bringing fabric and supplies to the Street Fair as they prefer to have finished products sold there.
Yesterday I skipped making a list of things to take to the Fair and instead brought everything I’d need to the living room/studio area. I think I will buy some vapor barrier plastic to put behind the rugs to protect them from sawdust. I am sharing space with a wood lathe artist. I don’t know what those are like for creating sawdust. I’m hoping they are not as bad as a table saw. I do not want to be washing all my wall hangings and re-blocking them after the Fair. Not to mention I’m allergic to sawdust. 🙁
I finished adding a hanging sleeve on Goldfish. It was a toss up whether to do that or use hook and loop tape and shellack a hardwood hanging board. I decided to go with the sleeve, for now. It can always be swapped out if people really want to put up an invisible hanging system.
I edited another three wall hanging photos. Three to go!
I printed out the SCC juried logo for 2015. Found my Dept. of Finance permission to sell certificate in the province too. I’d forgotten about needing that at the sale.
I’ve decided to hook more e-patterns of the month at the Street Fair. So if you want to see what’s coming up on Etsy in the way of e-patterns, come on down and take a look! If I have space and time I’ll draw out a design of either a barn or some poppies to hook. 🙂
After a post on backing, you know I just have to do one on fibre. 🙂
A mixed bag of fibre for hooking.
In the rug hooking world we are so lucky to be able to use so many different types of fibre. In the olden days of rug hooking people would cut up their old clothes and hook them. They were mostly woolens and silk stockings.
Nowadays we have a raft of fibres to choose from. Purists still seek the coveted even weave woolens, often at great expense. They may combine it with texture plaids and checked woolens as well. And there is often hand dyeing involved. It looks and feels beautiful! But it is not the only way to hook.
Fine wools and plaids dyed and over-dyed to create depth and texture in rug hooking.
My first full sized rug was made from what I was told was burlap backing, but now think must have been primitive linen. I used to wash it in the washing machine every six months. I know. I am embarrassed to admit it. Do NOT put your rugs in the washing machine! It lived on our basement concrete floor for 22 years before it finally sprouted a hole. That’s a lot of washing. It was hooked with polyester double knits and old t-shirts.
“Pennsylvania Dutch” – double knit polyester and old t-shirts.
I’ve hooked a variety of materials over the years, including this sunflower rug which is on monkscloth. Unfortunately, the blue denim border did not survive washing. It does, however, show the use of hand dyed linen, silk, cotton t-shirt, fleece, denim, polyester, and terry toweling. Anything is fair game. BUT it is a good idea to match the fibre you are hooking with your backing. My denim would have been better on a firmer backing, and with less vigorous washing!
Sunflower rug – mixed fibre.
Well now you’ve seen two of my “experiments”. Let’s see if I have a third “experiment” to show you.
Hollyhocks is a meeting of traditional wool rug hooking and a trip to the Dollar Store after seeing Deanne Fitzpatrick’s rugs in her studio in Amherst, NS. I picked up some fibre at Deanne’s shop as well, and was well on my way. I was conservative and stuck to wool fibre from her shop, but had a myriad of fibre from the Dollar Store. I kind of liked it, but was disappointed with the polyester and nylon fibres in the fields.
Hollyhocks – 26″ x 34″ – my last big piece on burlap before joining the Saskatchewan Crafts Council.
I decided I wanted to stick to natural fibres and hook hand dyed or indie dyed fibre as much as possible. I picked up a few commercial yarns at my local yarn shop to fill in the gaps in colour and for added texture.
About that time I also discovered spinning and art yarns. I purchased some lovely art yarn spun by Island Sweet in Newfoundland, Canada to hook into my wall hangings. Unfortunately they were one of a kind skeins and when they ran out I was faced with having to create my own. So I took my spinning wheel in hand, analyzed the yarn in my wall hangings, and set to work creating homespun art yarn. I now prefer homespun yarn in my wall hangings, but I do like the commercial too, for the change in texture it gives.
Canola fields art yarn drying for my “Prairie Sky” wall hangings.
One day I stopped by a garage sale and found an old set of red velvet curtains! I was in love with that fabric! I still have tons of it. It’s a cotton rayon, I think. It has to be ripped a certain way or it frays like crazy. And it needs to be ripped in thin strips or it’s too difficult to pull through the backing, even on primitive linen. But it looks luscious!
Mixed Emotions – 12″ x 6″ – red velvet, silk, and wool! Ooo la la!
Now I stick to primarily wool and silk fibres, with a few synthetics thrown in for sparkle (Angelina) or some odd materials (bamboo fibre, Ingeo) for texture and shine. Occasionally I find a yarn with a bit of lurex in it, a metallic thread. That can be interesting. I try to keep the rich feeling of my wall hangings through use of colour and texture of my materials.
There are definitely other ways to hook and other materials to hook with successfully. As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’ve even tried 28 gauge wire! And I still think it has possibilities for sculpture.
The general rule with fibre is to match it to your backing. Fine yarns with fine backing. Wide cuts with primitive or coarser and stronger backings.
Rug hookers measure fibre by width. We have special machines called wool strippers or cutters. They come with special heads that cut our even weave wool fabric to specific widths. A #3 is 3/32 of an inch wide, #4 = 1/8″, #5 = 5/32″, #6 = 3/16″, #7 = 7/32″, #8 = 1/4″, #9 = 3/8″, #10 = 1/2″. I use a #6 width for the most part. Sometimes up to a #8. A wide cut is anything #6 and over.
Be aware that you need more fibre per square foot if you hook primitive or wide cut, than you do if you hook narrow. This is because you also hook higher when hooking wide cut. This means your backing must be stronger or firmer. A primitive or wide cut rug is going to be heavier than a fine cut rug, and will need more support if it will be hung on the wall.
One of the challenges I have is I use hand dyed Dupioni silk in my wall hangings. Once it is bunched up and pulled through the backing it is hard as rock. I cannot get a needle through it to strap the back of the rug properly. Dupioni silk is part of what gives my wall hangings the texture and rich feel they have. For that reason I only hook rugs/wall hangings smaller than a certain size. – usually no bigger than 24″ x 36″. Without strapping a large rug would sag in the center and along the bottom center edge. I do not want my work sagging on someone’s wall.
What is strapping? It is a 1 1/4″ cotton twill tape that is attached in a grid fashion on the back of the wall hanging to help it hold its shape.
Tomorrow we will look at and discuss cutters…
Hi everyone. This week I’m doing something a little different with my blog. I want to cover some of the materials and tools rug hookers, and I in particular, use in our work…specifically I am talking about backing today.
Why am I covering this? Because recently I had some people look at my work who were unable to tell the difference between burlap and primitive linen. While I think these people should have known the difference, I also think it is our responsibility as rug hookers to be able to explain what we use and why to those who are in a position of viewing, buying or jurying our work.
Rug hookers use a variety of backings depending on the materials they use to hook their rugs and the style they hook. A narrower strip or fine yarns necessitate a backing with fine holes or more threads to the inch. A primitive or wider cut strip of fabric and thicker yarns (as I use) requires a backing with fewer holes per inch or fewer threads per inch.
Ideally the backing needs to be strong enough to support the weight of the hooking on it as well. A lightweight backing will not support heavy primitive or wide cut hooking.
Burlap backing comes in fine to primitive sizes to accommodate a variety of fibre widths.
Most new rug hookers are looking for an economical way to start the hobby. Teachers will often recommend burlap for this purpose. But it is not your average run of the mill burlap purchased at Fabricland or Joann’s (though Joann’s does sell packages of special rug hooking burlap in parts of the U.S. I understand). This is a special high quality burlap made from 100% jute, with few slubs and threads of consistent thickness. It is even weave and looks a bit yellow brown.
In fact it does yellow with age, and may become brittle and break, or rot over the years, depending on the climate it is kept in and how you store or treat your hooked piece. Burlap, if left in water too long, will weaken. Burlap lasts about 30 – 50 years in floor rugs in my experience before it starts sprouting holes. For a beginner it is a good choice.
This monkscloth is for wide cuts. You can buy monkscloth for fine cuts too.
Monkscloth is another economical backing for the beginning rug hooker. It is often recommended for places where you know there is going to be a lot of moisture, like the bathroom or in front of the kitchen sink. It can take a little getting used when you hook on it, as it can be a bit springy. But some people prefer this backing and use it all the time. It is made from 100% cotton. I don’t like the springiness of it, so I don’t use it.
Verel – a type of polyester backing
Then there is Verel, or other polyester types of backing. These are suitable for fine to medium cuts and are often used in sculpted rug hooking used for wall hangings. This is a special area of rug hooking that results in a somewhat 3-D finished product, also known as the Waldoboro style of rug hooking. You hook yarn various heights and clip the tops off the loops to sculpt a shape from your work. The background may or may not be hooked, and at a lower height if it is.
Polyester backings can also be used in areas with moisture.
Next up is rug warp. Rug warp is a strong 100% cotton fabric that holds fine cuts well. I have hooked a #6 cut on it, but I would not do it again. It is heavy for the backing and the rug will need strapping to keep its shape over the years as a wall hanging. Rug warp is considered second to linen as a desirable backing.
Fine Linen for fine cut rug hooking.
The king of the rug hooking backing world is linen. There are two types of linen backing: fine linen for fine cuts, and primitive linen for wide cuts. Both are made from 100% flax. The fine linen I’ve seen and used is great for fine cuts and if you are hooking wearables, like a cape or vest. It drapes beautifully and is the most expensive backing we rug hookers use.
Burlap on primitive linen
Primitive linen looks a bit like burlap, hence the confusion to people unfamiliar with rug hooking. It is grayish brown, rather than yellowish brown. And it is smooth to the touch, whereas burlap is rough to the touch. It supports heavier fibres such as silks, velvets, and wide cut woolens. It is much easier on the hands when hooking – the hook just slides in and out of those holes. It often comes in 11, 12, or 13 threads to the inch. It is two to three times the price of burlap. Linen, unlike burlap, is stronger when wet. It lasts easily 50-100 years, and some beyond that, depending on storage and care.
This is just a quick run down of various backings. New products and fabrics are being created all the time, and rug hookers are stretching the boundaries and frontiers of hooking on different backings. I once tried hooking 28 gauge wire on aluminum screening. It worked, but the wire was too heavy when hooked – the screening did not hold the shape of the 3D sculpture I was hoping to attain.
I would be interested in knowing what backings any rug hookers out there have used and what their experiences with them have been. What is your favorite backing and why?
Since I have been juried in with the Saskatchewan Crafts Council I have used nothing but primitive linen backing for my primarily silk and wool wall hangings. In fact, that was the one concession I made to the SCC in order to be juried in…all my pieces were on primitive linen. The strength and longevity of linen have proven the test of time. I sell my work to discriminating buyers across North America and I want them to have the best.
But other people’s purposes and pocketbooks may vary, and that’s okay. As long as we are honest about materials used in our pieces, and understand the advantages and disadvantages of that material, we will be okay and so will our piece. There are enough options for a variety of expression in this craft. That’s the beauty of rug hooking…there’s something there for everyone’s pocketbook, large or small.