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! 🙂
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org> 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 <email@example.com>. 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. 🙂
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.
Fine wools and plaids dyed and over-dyed to create depth and texture in rug hooking.
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.
“Pennsylvania Dutch” – double knit polyester and old t-shirts.
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.
Sunflower rug – mixed fibre.
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!
Well now you’ve seen two of my “experiments”. Let’s see if I have a third “experiment” to show you.
Hollyhocks – 26″ x 34″ – my last big piece on burlap before joining the Saskatchewan Crafts Council.
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.
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.
Canola fields art yarn drying for my “Prairie Sky” wall hangings.
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.
Mixed Emotions – 12″ x 6″ – red velvet, silk, and wool! Ooo la la!
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!
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.
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.
I have been plenty busy. Hubby was off work yesterday so we rearranged the living room and hallway. The idea was to move some large bookcases back into the wider than normal hallway so we have room to hang some of my hooked wall hangings in the living room above the couch.
This, of course, resulted in a general discussion about what rugs to hang where. Hubby had some ideas I had not even considered. He even suggested hanging Lost Soul, which surprised me. He didn’t seem to be fond of the idea of me exhibiting it earlier. Hmm…
So which of my hooked wall hangings do you think would go best in this space? It doesn’t get much sunlight, so something bright might be good.
We culled the books while moving things and have taken some to a Little Free Library near us, and plan to take more later…when the others disappear from the Little Free Library.
Finally finished ironing the last of the swatches. I will photograph them this afternoon and hopefully post them for sale by the end of the week.
I loaned a friend four of my Prairie Sky wall hangings to take to a meeting this weekend to show some other friends. She is going to try and see if she can drum up some business for me in her part of the province. We shall see.
I received my greeting cards from VistaPrint unfolded. That surprised me. I spent some time folding them with my bone folder yesterday.
I tried to pick up mailing tubes at Staples and ended up having to order them online. It was mega expensive thanks to the shipping and handling costs.
Today I’m back to making a hanging sleeve for Okra.
I think I will hook a Prairie Sky for my second 12″ x 12″ wall hanging.
Didn’t re-hook the mouth on Goldfish yet, so that is something I want to do today too.
I seem to be tying up a lot of loose ends. I may get into that bin of uncut/unsorted fabric and cut it down to fat quarter sizes or at least half metre pieces. We shall see.
The last of the swatches are posted for those who are interested. Check out my Swatches for Sale page. Feel free to contact me to purchase any of them. $2 each + minimum $1.50 shipping and handling – all in Canadian dollars. I take payment through PayPal and Square.
These aren’t fat quarters. They are skirts and vests in various states of being taken apart. The purple/pink/blue on the right is a short kilt. Read: lots of fabric, but not very wide, unless you want to take the time to rip out the multiple seams from the waist that form the pleats, which I don’t. I’ll leave it intact for someone else to do the work.
The red/green/yellow fabric on the left is a skirt and vest set that’s been torn apart. It’s ready to use.
Both of these fabrics have been pre-washed.
The only other psw fabrics I have fat quarters of, or could have, are:
psw 026 – 7 swatches
psw 036 – 7 swatches & 1.25m 60″ wide
None of the other fabrics were in big enough pieces to start with to make fat quarters…or even fat eighths in most cases. I have used pieces in various projects and whittled them down.
And the current state of what I think will be the last batch of swatches?
I want to get them all photographed and uploaded today to my Swatches for Sale page.
Onto other news… 🙂
I finished hemming Prairie Sunset last night…finally! Onto preparing the hanging system.
These are the fabrics big enough for an 18″ x 22″ piece of wool or larger. The bottom wool is 2 1/2 yards of 54″ wide wool fabric. I also have 1 1/4 yards of the tweed below…
The going rate for wool fat quarters online is anywhere from $12-20 USD plus shipping. These are ‘as is’, not hand dyed, textures and plaids, so I’m letting them go for $15CAD/fat quarter and $10CAD shipping each. I’ll keep the shipping at $10CAD for two. If you want to order more than two I can figure out the shipping and let you know the total via email. Contact me at <firstname.lastname@example.org> if you are interested in these fabrics.
g.a.s. if you’re serious about buying a bin full, it would include all the wool in the top photo of this blog post and be $420 CAD (including shipping and sales tax – I see you’re from SK.). If you’re local or can pick it up, you can save $40 in shipping and handling. Also this is a mix of clothing from thrift stores (recycled kilts) and wool yardage from fabric stores. All of it has been washed to my knowledge. You’d be able to get at least 24 fat quarters from it.
If anyone else wants the wool, I’ve put a 24 hour hold on it for g.a.s. After that, it’s open season for everyone! 🙂 If interested, send me an email and I’ll put you on a waiting list.
Busy on Round 3 of the swatches this morning. Even better yet. Only found one blend in the whole pile. 🙂
I did not accomplish much yesterday at all I’m afraid. I slept a lot. Hubby was off work so we ran errands.
Today is swatch day. I want to finish the plaids and tweeds on the open shelving. Then I’ll attack the Rubbermaid bin another day.
I am also hoping to hem Prairie Sunset today. And I have Okra poised on my frame. It will be for the Weyburn Join the Thread exhibit coming up this summer.
I am reading the article on portfolios in the CARFAC newsletter today and taking notes.
Plus there is the business plan. I’m a bit stymied with it. I seem to need more information than I have, and the only way to acquire it is to ask other artists I think. Though I will be delving into a recent study done on Saskatchewan artists by SPAR and SSHRC.
Next big event for me is to send my wall hangings to Saskatoon to be juried for Dimensions 2015. Hopefully one of them will be accepted for the exhibit, but we shall see.
Arrived home safe and sound again. Hopefully we’ll be here for a while. 🙂
In my studio this week…
I forgot to pack Prairie Sunset to finish the edges, so that’s up to be finished, including the hanging system.
I want to prepare more swatches to post. If nothing else I am making space in my studio and arranging and organizing my textures and plaids better.
It would be nice to hook some on Okra. We’ll see.
I want to work more on my business plan.
Once again I’ll have a short week. Hubby is off Monday and Friday. I get some things done when he’s off, but not as much as when he works. I allow him to distract me when he’s home, and sometimes I’m the instigator myself! We are struggling with scheduling joint activities and creative alone time. He can retire any time now and we are thinking of the pros and cons, and how to manage a business for me and retirement for him. His days off are our practice ground.
Anyone else struggle with this scenario? Or any been there, done that experience?
I spent time on the trip going over my business mind map and updating it. I have so much I want to do! I will be prowling the neighbourhood this summer, looking for a good clump of poppies to photograph and hook. I will be part of a Remembrance Day exhibit at one of the shops where I sell. It will actually be up all of November.
I also took time to read a couple of CARFAC newsletters and make notes on articles. I really need to acquire some back issues. Laureen Marchand has written some excellent articles on the business of being an artist.
Well that’s it for today folks. Hope everyone has a great Monday! Take care all. ?
I may not have time to post these today, but they will be ready for next week…more swatch sets coming up! 🙂
The swatches are going to be an ongoing project I have a feeling. This set marks the end of the first shelf of plaids and tweeds. I have another entire shelf and a Rubbermaid bin full of plaid and tweeds. It is going to be a challenge to get through them all. But I will try to post some every week for a while. At the very least I will have all of them neatly torn and pressed for storage on my shelf yet again!
Today I am busy preparing for a trip to yet another funeral. Plus I am taking an online course through Creative Live on SEO for Etsy. Basically that’s how to help search engines find my online product. I’m hoping I learn something new I can use. I’m sure I will. I don’t know much about SEO.
Attended the Saskatchewan Craft Council Social Media workshop this past weekend. I am going to try and streamline my online presence as a result, and use Facebook and Twitter more for ads and events. A fun time networking and learning.
Also busy ripping up plaids into swatches. I just managed to do one shelf. I have another shelf and a couple of bins left to do. I have lots of plaids to work with!
My Monday morning consisted of the gym and attending a friend’s funeral. I seem to have a lot of deaths in my circle of acquaintances lately. It’s kind of sad really, but I have been thankful they have been more upbeat kinds of funerals…more a celebration of the long lives lived. Still, I’m starting to miss people…
So I’m keeping busy with my texture and plaid sorting and swatching today. This week is my Week of the Plaid! lol Here’s hoping I can post some for sale soon. I’m off to take photos now. Keep an eye on my blog for swatches for sale.
Yesterday was errand day. We also had a visit from the kitchen tiler, which resulted in us realizing we need to rethink the trim around the window and doors. But that’s okay. I can smell the end. We should have a functioning kitchen by month’s end. 🙂
Today is gym day again, and company. Not sure I’ll get much rug hooking related things done. But we shall see. I’m working on ordering a new cutter for Christmas. 🙂
I’ve been talking to Laura at Legacy Studios to see what she has for options. I like the look and sounds of the Townsend. Most of all I like its light weight. I am hoping to have one in-house before the new year.
“LYS” stands for local yarn store in the Internet world. And I have a doozy of one within walking distance of my home. It is terrible temptation. I love it! And I love the ambience of the store. Just being in amongst all that colour and fibre is pure heaven to me!
So I figured the black yarn in Geraniums was too much. I needed an aubergine (dark purple) for the shadows of the leaves. I headed to my LYS to pick up some. This is what I bought…
I have a serious love/hate relationship with this place! I love, love, love many things about it – some of which I told you about above. But my wallet quivers whenever I go in there. I never make it out without buying more than I intended. I always find a use for it, though, so all is well. Sharon, the owner, knows my weakness…beautiful 100% wool yarn, and has been very good to deal with when it comes to special ordering certain colours for my work.
If you ever make it to Regina, SK, I highly recommend you drop in to Golden Willow Natural Fibres on 13th Ave. I am sure Sharon will welcome you in for a chat and to help you find what you want for your next project. It is a small shop, but mighty! 🙂