Sunday, March 29, 2009

Walk Me progress

I've gotten a lot done on Walk Me since Friday. I'm working on his wings now and with luck will have them mostly done by the time I finish tonight. I redid the dragon legs a little and had to undo three rows of stitching as it looked cut in on his upper leg against his belly. His leg is sturdier looking now. I may have to dye more fabrics for this. I'm hoping I'll have enough greens but this is really using up the fabrics faster than I thought. I had dyed the last time for both Walk Me and Green Cat, but for Green Cat I might have to get a whole new batch of fabrics for and dye them. Most of the belly, wing and triangle ridge spikes are from an old wool blanket I got last fall on one of my thrift store hunts. It's about coat weight and dyed beautifully. I think it was going in something else originally but I cut up enough to make 6-8 gallon bags of 1/4 hand cut strips. This was before I got the cutter. It's a nice batch of spot dyed pale yellows and greens over the cream sort of a lemon lime color.

The dragon body is a real mix of fabrics. The main body color is some spot dyed yellows and oranges over some Pendleton teal that came from a skirt and jacket set. I wasn't sure how the teal would do when I threw it into the dye pot but it amazed me on how it took up the yellows and oranges and changed the teal in greens with bits of the original teal still in it. I'm mixing in some herringbone dyed in dark green and mossy greens, and some fabrics that were overdyed from camels and grays. The dark green are from dark green coats, watch watch plaids and some blues and purples dyed over greens. Because I don't have large amounts of the body color and I need to blend in some darker colors to spread the lighter ones out I'm having to spot hook (hope that's a real term as I don't know what this technique is called) the body to get the shading right, little bits hooked here and there and fill ins. Hope that made sense.

I think this is what you do to get meander backgrounds or sections. I wish I could find some information on hooking with spot dyed wools so far I haven't run across any info in my books. Maybe I'll ask on the Welcome Mat or Hooking Today boards and see if I can find some info. I really wish I could go to a teacher and ask her or find a class on this. Though I'm not sure what kind of class I need or be looking for. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I'm still slowly working on 2 headed dragon, but not that happy with it though the kids love it. This is in wide cuts, and I really should have done this is smaller cuts. Having a hard time with contrasts and details in this. Colors that look good close up in person aren't showing up that well at a distance or in photos unless I really lighten them a lot. May have to rehook some areas like the sword in front of the left dragon and make the treasure chest stand out someway. If I do this design ever again I'm going to do it way larger or else go to smaller cuts. Definitely a primitive style as is. I have so much to learn on shading primitives and getting details to show up.

I started Walk Me Dragon yesterday. It has been nagging me and with the frustration s I am having with 2 headed thought I'd try something different. I did design this for wide cuts and am trying my new #8 blades out, I had a bunch of greens already cut and I am using them and going through my new greens I dyed a couple of weeks ago to supplement them if I need to. Already I have had to make modifications to the design. I had to do some minor changes to the dragon's muzzle and enlarge his head slightly for everything to work. I'm using my finished cross stitch and one of my painted canvases as a color guide. Today when I took everything loose to reposition my quilting hoop I enlarged the dragon's body as the head was too large for it. The new drawing now fits the space better.

But I am still dithering on what the background is going to be: meandering in cream colors, or do a scene? So I stared at it for a while and came up with a cave on the right and maybe a castle with turret on the left? I have the dragon standing on a rock ledge--I see that in beige's, tans and creams. I've got some more rocks by the cave maybe rusts, browns, golds, and grays? I also sketched in some mini dragons flying around. I'm not doing a McCaffery dragon so I'm not going to call them fire lizards but use your imagination. My walk me dragon has been around since 1993 when I first designed him as xstitch for my then PhoeniX Stitchery xstitch business when I was doing sci-fi cons, He's one of many dragons I've done over the years but my most favorite. If I go with this scene then I have a wonderful sky blue suede I can use for the sky that I found at my last thrift store hunt. I've also got some other pieces of sky blues I can add to it. The lettering will have to go or else be made smaller. My other opinion is doing the meander style background in shades of creams, and light colors. I found a bunch of sweaters that will work for this and some new light colored plaids that are heavy on the cream and beige side. Either way this is not getting a border as I want to try it without one.

Color planning for rug hooking is so much different than any other medium I have worked on before including quilting. Picking out the 'right' colors that will work well together, blend, shade, and look good with the whole composition is proving harder than I thought it would be given my background in art, painting, and other crafts. So much depends on your dyeing, what size cuts you do the fabric, and how it the cut hooks up, what colors are next to it to throw the color off or make it become invisible. There are more infinite possibilities for disaster as well success than I dealt with in cross stitch even using overdyed floss in my designs or mixing 2 to 4 strands of embroidery floss to get a color. Most of what I am working with is uncontrolled spot dyed fabrics that are overdyed over a base color or color and pattern. What looks like a great piece to use somewhere does not necessarily come out like I thought it would for good or bad. I think I'm going to try doing some controlled graduated swatches for future work and see if that cuts down my frustration levels. I know what I want to achieve but I am far from getting the results I want or need and I'm not even sure what questions I need to ask to figure out what I am doing both right and wrong on the dyeing and color selections for my work. Maybe I will break down and take a class with someone as I am gradually losing confidence in myself to pick the right colors for projects. Though most of my frustration is with the wide cut hooking, I'm still happy with the things I have done using the fleece and yarn instead of fabrics. It's just getting colors right in the larger cuts that is driving me nuts.

Friday, March 20, 2009

2Headed Dragon

I've gotten more work done on the two headed dragon mat. I hope to have this finished by Tuesday so my son can take it when he moves. I'm still learning on how the different cuts change the appearance of a design. This is hooked mainly in 6's cut on the Fraiser, but I had some hand cut 8's? 9's, 10's? that are roughly around 1/4" wide, and then cut a lot of strips in half to make outlines and the shading work. Ideally this design would have really worked better in 3's and 4's to better show the details in it. But I wanted to do this quick so it's not coming out exactly like I thought it would. Maybe if I had enlarged the design 1/3 to 1/2 percent bigger I wouldn't have lost so much detail. The other problem was not having that great of range of colors on hand without hitting the dye pot. I do like how the inner wings are turning out. I'm using a red, teal, yellow and black plaid cut #6. I think it looks good. Still have to work on outlining and shading more.

For Green Cat and Walk Me Dragon I am going to try and do some 6 to 12 shade swatches especially for the lion flowers in Green Cat. To get the coloring and shading I want that might be the only way to do it. I haven't tried dyeing graduated color swatches before so it will be a real test of my dyeing abilities. I want do some of them like sunflowers and some like daisies. Though I might do some cornflowers in blues and pinks to give it a little bit more color. I might do the some of big leaves with pink and yellow edgings. Since white is rather hard to come by in used clothing I finally bit the bullet and am getting a yard of Dorr White so I can do the white daisies and the sunflowers. Though I did luck into a bunch of creams and off white coats and sweaters my last trip to the thrift store but no pure whites though. Did get two more camels, more blacks, grays, blues, burgundy, and some interesting rust and tan plaids.

Most of the creams are going as a background for Walk Me. The original cross stitch had a plain off white/cream background. I am going to attempt to do it in a meander pattern like I have seen other people do for their backgrounds. I have gotten great suggestions and instructions on how to do and how many different colors of fabrics I need to work with from several seasoned hookers. I'll need at least 12 different but close in color as a minimum so I'll keep gathering until I have enough related fabrics. I tried black before for a background for WM but because of the darker greens in it, the dragon fades too much into the background and the design loses it cheeriness and happy feeling to it in my opinion. Sunny blue skies would have worked too but I want to try the cream first. I have designed this for using my new #8 blade which should be getting here soon. GC will be using my new #4 blade and maybe some 6's. When I can buy new blades again I'm going for the #1 and a #3. With the #1 I can do 1/2", 1" and 2" Still need to get back to Folk Angel and finish her.

I did start in on the yard at my daughter's and got some new bulbs planted, cleared out some of the leaves in the beds and planted some spring veggies in the front yard pots. We still have leftover onions going in a few places and I'm leaving them be for now. I've seen some volunteer peas, lettuce and a couple of other vegs and I'm going not bother them. Only 2 of the 6 rose bushes I put in last year have survived. The four that didn't are dead dead. They were cheap markdown ones from Walmart and never really took off anyway. Sons or SIL are going to have to rake and run the lawnmower over the front and back. I'm not really able to this year. My yard work on Tuesday has taken me until today to recover from as I over amp. Maybe if I threaten no Warcraft or Internet for any of them for 2 weeks they'll go do it. We finally had a decent looking yard last year as I killed myself doing it over 4 months time, but then I got busy and the kids didn't keep it up since I quit doing it and now it's back to looking like c..p again. Technically my oldest daughter gave me the house, but youngest with SIL and baby are living in it with me just visiting, working on large craft projects in the backyard, and storing craft junk there for the moment. When they move out I'll move in. Though right now we don't have the money we had last year for me to the gardening I'd like to do. Though I hope we will be able to get some veggie seeds and starter plants so we have a family garden again.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

New Photos of the Basket rugs and new dragon

These were taken with my daughter's digital camera and really show the real colors of these rugs.

New Hopes and Dreams Basket

New Dragon Basket

I started the my son's two headed dragon mat. I'm using 6's, 8, 9 and 10 strips. I had a problem with the first dragons mouth and nose coming out right so already I have modified the design. Decided to go for a red dragon with gold ridges and belly. I'm saving up my greens right now for green cat and Walk Me Please. Hope to get more hooked tonight.

Friday, March 13, 2009

New Designs and GM progress

I got some more done on GM. I'm working on the upper 1/3 at the moment. I like the way he looks like he's peeking out in the one shot.

I've been working on new designs the last couple of days. The new green cat is proving to be a royal pain to transfer. I wrote on the Welcome Mat in the forum section about my problems but haven't gotten any answers yet. I had traced the design onto gridded interfacing for supposedly being able to trace through to the cloth underneath. In my case the rug linen that my friend Saundra had given me. I tried black markers, purple and blue ones both Bics and Sharpies and just got partial transfers here and there through and I retraced and retraced several times with no improvements, and these were fresh, never used pens. I had had no trouble transferring Walk Me dragon on burlap, but I used ungridded interfacing. I was trying different ones to see which I liked best. I have redrawn the green cat pattern on non gridded and will see what happens on the reverse side of the linen. Does it make a difference which side of the linen I use? There doesn't seem to be any obvious differences I can see. It takes 1 1'2 to 3 hours to draw out the Green Cat because it's big 26 x 55 and has a lot of detail in it.

I have also done a variation of the design in which I took the center green cat, redrew the winged mice on either side and added some more fl orals. It measures 17 x 34. I'm going to do an experiment with this on some green 26 ct Heatherfield. I'm going to be sewing 10" all around this in burlap as the Heathefeild is only 19" wide. My idea is to make a hooked frame in wider cuts. The design is going to be an experiment in adding felting and dimensionality to parts of the design. Greenman is being hooked on 26ct Heatherfield so this should work. This will hopefully be along the lines of my greenman purse but done as a hanging. I what to experiment with some of my fancier threads and fibers too.

Lastly I did a quickie for me design for my son Brian and his friend RJ. They are moving to Atlanta very soon and wanted me to do a welcome mat for their new place. They wanted a tribal dragon...well, I came up with a two head guardian dragon instead. It seemed more appropriate somehow. They're 27 year old single gamers so had to throw in some swords and skulls. Other kids get nice normal things, mine get dragons, werewolves, vampires, skulls, and weird stuff for their rooms. Spike and Drusilla from Buffy live on top of my computer monitor along with spiders, a phoenix, a witchblade glove, and other strange things. The guys have approved the design and I'll be pulling colors for it tonight.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Getting Ready for Green Cat and Progress on other rugs

It took a couple of days to get the new Green Cat design worked out for the linen I'm going to use. Once I got one side of the design worked out the rest of it clicked into place. This is not asymmetrical design where everything is identical on both sides but reversed. It has similar elements on both sides, but slightly different. It's a tad more complicated design wise than my original and may not work for wide cuts after all. This will make a great rug for a kid's room now. It's got a very happy feeling to it. I think. While I was working on this I was think about other variations on the 'green' theme a green dog, a green wolf, and maybe a monkey. I have a stag/deer already done as a sketch and needlepoint canvas some years back I may use too as a hook design. I wish I could draw as fast as my mind comes up with ideas. Still have to draw it out on interfacing then transfer to the linen. I though I'd see how the interfacing tracing worked as I haven't tried it before, I usually just stick the drawing underneath the backing fabric and draw over.

I got some fabrics dyed for the GC yesterday. For the most part they came out pretty much like I wanted them too. I'm still working out the colors I'm going to use and have to figure out what I'm going to do with the cat flowers in the sketch. I just sketched out generic fantasy flowers sort of daisies and straw flowers. I'll have to look at some flower books and hope I can find some decent color references. Flowers and shrubbery are not my strong suit.

In the evenings I've been catching up on my older in progress rugs the Greenman and the Family rug. I've about got the bottom 1/4 of the family rug filled in so I can move my fabric to reposition it to hook Bill the metal Rabbit and work on Nicholas the fire pig, my mom the earth snake, myself-- the metal tiger, my dad the fire rabbit. Most of these are in the center.

Going from clockwise Bekka fire dragon, Mark-teal water horse, Michelle-fire sheep, Heather-wood rabbit, Chloe-water sheep, and Cecil center- metal dog. Not hooked yet--Nicholas-fire pig and Bill--metal rabbit.

The original rug layout. I've been making more changes as I go along.

Mom and Dad

I am using a large stretcher strip frame that 30 x 32 as I gave up on the oval quilt frame when I couldn't get the finished hooking parts in it without crushing them to reposition. I'd kill for either a wide rug frame or something with the gripper strips. Though my compliant with most of them is the limited area you have to work in. I like seeing the surrounding area of what I am working on to get the colors to blend in--just like when I was painting. I still might break down and make myself a large rug frame but then there's where to put it and work on it given my space limitations and liking to have my rugs portable so I can work on Bill's desk at night, at my desk, or take it over to my daughters to work on.

Greenman is about ready to be repositioned too and I'm going to finish the top part before the bottom. This will end up as a wall hanging. Since I am hooking with just unspun dyed fleece I think I'm going to have to needlefelt the back to sequre everything and neaten it up. This does not make for a neat back just using the fleece, but it does give a thin layer of padding tot he back. Working with this I am seeing ways to do my combination felted and hooked pieces I have in my head. I'm making myself not jump projects and to try and finish these things I have started before jumping into new ones. I have so many ideas in my head that I want to and never enough time--grrr.

On the pictures, they are taken with 2 different angles and lighting. One shows up the textures really well and the other is closer to the real colors in them.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

I should have some new pictures tomorrow of the 2 basket rugs. My daughter's been busy and hasn't had time to take pics of them.

I redesigning my Green Cat. I had the original sketch sized for needlepoint canvas so it's half again smaller than I need it to be and not quite long enough. The actual design size will be 26h x 52w with 4" margins on each side on rug linen that my friend Saundra gave me. The original was 15h x 27 1/2w long. I'm also adding some sort of cat headed flowers that weren't in it to break up all the greenery and give more color to it along with more flying mice. I'm also designing this with wider cuts in mind. You could hook it either way. I've done this design as both needlepoint and cross stitch. I designed a package of Green Cat designs to use Charles Craft products that Stitcher's World magazine didn't use for their kitchen towel, huck towel, apron, napkin, and potholder. I haven't offered it for sale in awhile on Ebay or anywhere. If you're interested in it, just email me.

This rug version will not have the Celtic knotwork in it. Maybe a future version might. I am thinking of doing a smaller one of just the face area in sculpted felt and the rest hooked as a purse, pillow or a hanging.

Meanwhile back to drawing.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Not much going on

Voogee is progressing slowly. I'm having some problems getting the right colors in different spots namely the her collar thingy. I tried different gold combinations, but each one sucked and I took them out. Hot pink really didn't work. Now I'm trying some reds with the circles left golden sunny yellow. Will work some more on her later today.

Tuesday night I spent some time filling in the background on my family rug with wide strips and almost have about 1/4 of the rug completed, except for the outer border which is still blank. It may get every one's name and maybe their animal. Like Chloe-sheep, Cecil-dog, etc. along the edge where they are located. My lettering right now is not that great in the hooking so I'm still thinking on it. Or I'm going to create a large label to sew on on the back of the rug to identify everyone. If I do that, using the label on the back then I might do the border as dancing stars with maybe suns or moon phases at the corners.

This week I got my #4 head for the Frasier but haven't tried it out yet. Next to get will be either 8 or 8.5. I also got a primitive bent hook to see how it works and if it makes hooking any easier. It not a Hartman, can't afford one yet. Did get some more old clothes yesterday. I was on a hunt in the local thrift stores for light colored fabrics like creams, pale gray, white, etc. Did find a few interesting ones but no whites or camel. Though I did get a couple of Penningtons and a cream and red wide stripe wool blanket.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sheep Done

Got the sheep done this afternoon. Still have to bind and finish the edge but all the hooking is done. About a day and half all total. It's 11h x 14w, so not that big. This was an exercise for me in 1) hooking directionally, 2) controlling my loops, trying to get them more even and consistent, with better spacing and less packing, 3) shading with wide strips, 4) using wider than I have been strips and finally 5) to see how fast I could hook and get this project done. I'm not sure what to call this--Purple sheep, Glow Sheep or Just Sheep 2. I'm still debating on whether it's going to be part of a purse or as is.

Hobby Lobby has burlap on sale this week for 1.99 a yard so I got 7 1/2 yards of their light green. Their beige was discolored and stained very badly in the center and wasn't usable even for me to play around with. Though if thy knock the price off that bolt I still might get it to muck around on. I also got a package rug linen burlap by M.C.G. Textiles for 21.99 and I think Green Cat is going on it instead of trying to make it fit on small piece. It's 54 x 60. I have tried rug linen before so this will be a test for me on how it does. The same company had a Rug Yarn Punch Needle Tool for 4.29 Looks like it'll handle up to sports or worsted weight yarn. Then there was a three needle set of punch needles for floss and small yarns for 1.2mm, 1.6mm and 2.2mm by Boye I picked up for 6.99. Thought I'd try playing around with the punch needle too. I have a very huge stash of every brand of embroidery thread there is and type and color. Maybe doing some punch needle will reduce the slash I hope. Fabric for doing them on is covered too. I might play around with some of my tribal tattoo designs and see how they do.

Now to go start dinner and work on Voogee doll tonight.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hopes and Dreams Finished!!!

I got the Hopes and Dream basket completely finished last night including the binding. This is my 4th rug finished all together now. I still have 5 unfinished to do--Family rug, GM, Dancing Star set, Voogee and one I started last night a small sheep mat that will be 10 1/2h x 14w and might end up as part of bag or something. I also have a heap of draw out canvases to do. Older ones from '07, some from when I did Barb;s last batcg, and some more recent ones. I will be drawing out the Green Cat on the linen Saundra sent me. The design will fit perfectly on it and I might even try out my new #4 head for the Frasier as I want really good shading on this rug.

HD finished is 19h x 27w on burlap, done in mixed sizes of strips with a heather gray yarn whipped edge. It's going over to my daughter's to get photographed with her better digital camera. Wish the pictures were better but here it is finished. I'll post the pics when I get them and send copies to Gene for his blog.

And here is the small sheep. As you can see that I screwed up on the canvas when I drew it and just hooked over my mistakes. I liked the rest of the design. I did this canvas back in '07 when I was doing canvases for both Barb and Susan and this was too messed up to give them so I kept it. It was part of a similar background series of animals I did at the time as I like wave effects around objects and wanted to try it. I'm working in wide hand cuts on this. The strips vary from 5/16 to 10/16 with most in 6/16 size by my ruler. I'll have to find the list of what these translate in strip cutter sizes. As fast as this is going I might have it done tonight.

No more baskets for a while. They were fun and challenging to do but I am really eager to get back to my own projects and not get involved with a swap or hook along for awhile. I really feel that both could have been way better though I learned a lot on these two projects and am getting the hang of more precise hooking done so I have neater looking projects. Both should have been done in narrower cuts rather than the medium wide ones they were done in or else done in yarn. A little disppointed in both, colors could have been better, and better shading.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

HD day8 Almost Done

Hopes and Dreams is almost done, Just a corner, row of border, and binding and I'll be through. I'll get the last of the hooking done tonight watch Trial and Retribution. It's a UK cop show we follow. We watch a lot of British TV. The binding will get done tomorrow, just simple whipping, nothing fancy. This rug is getting done in less time than the dragon mat. I'm happy with my speed on this.

I'll get back to Voogee and get her done. She's definitely a her. Then back to the Family Rug. I really want to get it done before the end of March, April at the latest. If I can get it done by the end of March and if I can talk my hubby into it, going up to Virginia for the Rugfest show. I'd really love to go to it someway. It'll be a long drive and it'll depend on how the poor car is doing and money--always money as we are still paying for 3 places plus utilities because of the kids.

I will be doing up some new designs. I found my needlepoint masters that I used to for drawing needlepoint canvases. I will have to enlarge the designs somewhat as the designs are too small for hooking as is. I will be doing a Green Cat which is along the lines of a Greenman except with a cat face and winged mice. My Walk Me Please Dragon, some of my Star and Patchwork Snowmen. Tribal Phoenix, Dragon riders, and Dragons in Flight. There will also be a new one There Be Dragons Welcome mat, and I have been thinking of doing something with dinosaurs. Not that much different from doing dragons, but thinking in terms of kid's rooms. Also have some fairy, knights and other fantasy ideas in my head to try.

I'm hoping I can get the Green Cat out on a piece of linen Saundra, an on line rughooking friend gave me. It's my only piece of rughooking linen I have right now and this design merits using it. Gene Shepherd inspired me today on his blog with his dyeing for his hen rug class. I love some of the mottled colors he is going to be using and I can see some of them in both the Green Cat and Walk Me. Here's a picture of my cross stitch model of the design to give you an idea of what the mat will look similar to. And a picture of the Green cat Painting I did for a friend but I will be doing different colors than this as it was for her house and wanted particular colors in it. The painting was 36 x 60.