Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Fungus Dyeing

While looking for my lost dog yesterday, I spotted something white in the fencerow, so I stopped the car to investigate. I discovered two giant puffballs. Later, I was able to identify them as Calvatia gargantua.
I took the closest one home and took a photo of it with a coke can to show the size - it's larger than a soccer ball.
It may already be too late to use it for dyeing, there's a split in it that shows some yellowing of the inside. I was glad I kept it in a cardboard box because a lot of moisture was seeping out of it.
I sliced off a chunk of it and found that the inside was a light tan color. To eat it, it would have to be snow white, and I wouldn't be surprised if dyeing would have the same requirement - but I'm going to try it anyway.
I cut the slice into two inch squares and took the rest of the puffball outside. I put it in a woody area not too far from the house - maybe next year I won't have to be down at the farm to find puffballs.

I put the puffball pieces in a pot of water and turned on the stove. I let them simmer for about an hour.

The water had turned a nice brown color when I turned off the heat. I wanted the dyepot to cool before removing the puffball pieces, but it was already quite late and I fell asleep while the pot was cooling. This morning, the water color had cleared quite a bit, so I turned on the heat again and simmered the pot for another hour, then I removed the puffball and put a pre-mordanted piece of wet wool in the pot. (I took the puffball pieces outside and dumped them in another woody area where it would be nice to find giant puffballs next year.) The wool isn't dry yet, but it looked like it would be a warm and mottled yellow-brown. I was concerned about the color being fast, so I poured in a glug of vinegar, and the wool color changed right away. I'm not sure now that it's going to look any different from a dirty cleaning rag. It will, at least, be mottled.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mushroom Dyeing

I haven't been hooking much lately, I'm getting ready for an exciting new dye project. I have been in love with mushrooms for forty years. I used to hike around in wild areas just to see them, and way back when, I could even identify dozens of kinds, at least by common names. I had two friends who were my former teachers and who were also excited about mushrooms and wild flowers. We used to go hiking with our Euell Gibbons Stalking the Wild Asparagus and other identification books and "stalk" for hours. We ate a lot of wild plants, which worked out okay because they were both gourmet cooks - I was just an eater. Unfortunately, they have both passed on, and I have been too busy for some years now to do much stalking.

This year, I decided I couldn't wait much longer to stalk some more, even if I just go on short little hunts. I started my hunting on the internet, ordered several mushroom identification books, but I'm finding that none compare to the one I used to use. I'm going to have to hunt through my books at the farm and see if I can't find that good old book. I also acquired a highly recommended book about dyeing with mushrooms - had it here for two weeks before I had enough time to open it. People seem to have stopped using common names for mushrooms, everything is listed under scientific names, which makes it much harder for me to re-learn what I used to know. I have gathered quite a few mushrooms anyway, figuring I'll identify them later.

I'm trying to figure out how to dry the mushrooms before they turn all gooey. I put them in a covered dyepot with some newspaper, then put the pot in the sunshine. I thought the heat would dry them pretty quick, but not so. Three days, so far, and they haven't changed a bit, other than making a good spore print.

While the ones I have collected are drying, I'll have to figure out how many I need to dye. I believe the dye process is basically the same as other natural dyeing, various mordants making different colors, etc. - but I have a lot to learn.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Natural Dyes

I started dyeing this week with some pine cones, gathered from the little pine woods that belongs to my mother. I gathered some brown ones and some green ones, simmered them up for half a day, let the pot cool, removed the pine cones, and put pre-mordanted wool in the pot.
The mordant was alum, but I seem to have lost my cream of tartar, so I left it out. The wool became stiff enough to teach me that cream of tartar is a good thing. The color is a warm brown, however, I should have strained the dye through some muslin because there is some pitch from the pine cones that adheared to the wool (you can see the darker brown spots on the wool).
On the way to the pine woods, I walked beneath a hickory tree that had already dropped a lot of nuts, so I gathered a bagful. I followed the same procedure as with the pine cones, only the dye was hardly present after one day, so I let the nuts, in their green husks, soak for three days. I might have had quicker results if I had chopped up the hulls, but I didn't want to make that much mess.
To make clean-up easier, I used an old enamel spaghetti cooker. It consists of two parts, the inner part is a strainer, so I could just lift it out of the pot and leave the dye bath in the pot.
This hickory dye was not as rich in color as I've had before. The picture shows it a little grayer than the actual color, perhaps because I took the photo when the wool was still wet. The picture shows hickory nuts in the hull and out of the hull on the dyed wool. (addition September15 - I put the wool back in the dye pot and let it sit for a couple days. It turned a much darker soft brown.)

My next project is walnut dyeing. I have an ice chest full of bottled walnut dye that I made last year. I've gathered some fresh walnuts so I can compare year-old walnut dye with fresh dye. If it continues to rain as it has all day today, I should get that project going tomorrow. I'm going to use the walnut dye as an overdye for some textured wools and maybe some plaids.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sauder Village Rug Show

I've just started posting some photos of the Sauder Village rug show. There were 500 rugs on display and I wasn't able to take photos of all of them, but I do have a lot more photos to post.

Friday, August 08, 2008

I'm Hooking Again

With all that's been going on here; big dog George sick, losing Rusty dog, acquiring new dog Gibby, niece and family visiting from Guatamala, and getting extensive dental work done (three hours at a time in the dental chair, moooooaaaaaannnn), I haven't had time for hooking. Also, all of my hooking supplies have moved out to the new studio, but it's been waaay too hot to sit out there and I didn't want to carry it all back into the air-conditioned house - sooo... I turned to eBay.

I have enjoyed looking at the little kits made by Sharon Perry and auctioned on eBay for quite a while. She is Deanne Fitzpatrick's sister and often I see a bit of Deanne's flavor in Sharon's little rugs. Her kits are usually pretty basic and I decided that's what I need - something already planned, with the wool already cut - something I can hook without thinking. So, I bought one of Sharon's kits - a penny rug pattern that came in the mail yesterday. I started hooking it last night - I did have to go out to the studio to get my hook bag and one of my frames, but all of the wool is already cut and fits in a gallon size plastic bag - much easier than having to choose wool from my stash and much cleaner than having to cut strips and have wool dust all over. So, I am doing a lazy project - I have to think a little more than planned, since I have to decide what colors to put together in the pennies, but at least it's all sitting there right in front of me. Nice to be hooking again.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Found Rug

I stopped for a quick check of the local consignment shop and couldn't believe my luck - I found the rug in the photo. It's mounted on a piece of plywood. The burlap edges that are usually folded and whipped are just folded over the edges of the plywood. The burlap still has the pattern label showing that it's called Stained Glass Bench 13 x 26 by Jane McGown Flynn. On the back, on the wood, is the inscription, "Love and Blessings Barbara Branch 6/86". Barbara Branch and I used to belong to the ATHA chapter, Heirloom Hookers, in Northville, MI. I think she may now belong to the McGown guild in Dearborn, MI, but I haven't seen her for a few years. I couldn't leave it in a shop where someone who never heard of hooking might buy it, or, worse yet, might not buy it and it might just stay there.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Designing and Making a Memory Rug

My mother and I drive down to my farm every afternoon. On the way, my mother's deafness makes normal conversations difficult, but we have worked out a way to communicate - we point out trees - beautiful trees, old trees, tall trees, favorite trees. We have even "adopted" a set of oak trees into our family - there is a perfect one in the center of a large green lawn that Mother has named Jenny and two other trees are her "brothers". We look for them every day, and have now taken photos of Jenny through all of the seasons. This interest in trees led me to thinking about the trees of my childhood. We had a wonderful old cherry tree in our backyard in our home in Rosedale Park in Detroit - my brothers and I each had our own branch where we could sit without being disturbed. That was a great tree. There were also huge weeping willows in front of our summer cottage on Big Lake, near Davisburg, MI. I started remembering those willows and decided to hook a memory of them. We had a big heavy rope hanging in a branch that extended over the lake - we could swing on that rope and drop into the water. I can remember the thrill of fear that lasted for about three seconds while flying through the air. Those thoughts led to the making of a memory rug.
Step 1 was deciding on the theme for the rug and I chose the old stone cottage/willow tree theme.
Step 2 was creating the images. I did this by taking out some old Martha Stewart Living magazines and finding some ad pages that had spaces of solid color. I can cut images out of paper better than I can draw what I am thinking, so I started cutting. The first photo at the beginning of this blog is the cut-paper result.
Step 3 was using the paper pieces like stencils and drawing the pattern on linen. I used a commercial grade fabric-permanent marker to trace the stencils.
Step 4 was going through my wool stash to find appropriate colors. I found I had everything I wanted except flesh color for the child/me flying off of the rope. Eventually, I decided I didn't have to be too accurate and settled for a pretty bright pink - which, when hooked with a dark blue swim suit doesn't look quite so bright.
Step 5 is hooking and making any necessary changes. The second photo shows some of the hooking completed. I have decided that the flat front image of the cottage is too boring, so I'm going to add some drawing to make it more three dimensional. I have always loved the stones in that cottage and haven't hooked them very accurately, but I guess I will be the only one who knows that.
So, there's my brief lesson in designing and hooking a memory rug.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Parenting Parents

The following is not about rug hooking, it's about being a woman in the United States. I thought it should have wider reading than just in West Virginia. If you read it, I think you will know why it reaches me very deeply. This candidate is the only one who has ever acknowledged that taking care of parents is tough and deserves some help. Everyone wants to help parents support kids, but it would be nice to have help for kids to support parents.

Hillary Clinton's remarks on Mother's Day in Grafton, WV
Click here to listen to the speech. (MP3)
Good afternoon. Oh my goodness.
This is just such a pleasure and we are thrilled to be here. What better place to spend Mother's Day than here in Grafton, not far from the Andrews Methodist Church, where the very first Mother's Day was celebrated 100 years ago. So this is the hundredth anniversary and I want to thank all of you for spending part of this day with us here at the B and O Railroad Heritage Center. I want to thank the County Commission President Dave Goebel for being here and all the elected officials who are here with us. It is exciting to be here with my daughter too, because whether you're a son or a daughter, or in fact, a father or a mother, or maybe a grandfather or a grandmother '' or even a great grandparent, you know that you're part of an ongoing celebration every mother's day that began as a simple commemoration of a West Virginia woman and that's what I think is so special.
When I walked through the home and saw where Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis lived, and there's so much there that is authentic and of period, it really did touch my heart. I was told by Tom and Olive who were taking us through that people come sometimes every Mother's Day, they bring friends and relatives from out of the area to experience this real walk back through history. I was inspired when I first read about Ann Maria and how she worked so hard to raise her family like so many women in those days. She had ten children but only four survived. She taught Sunday School. I also learned that she was a Methodist like I am and her husband was a Baptist like my husband. For 52 years of marriage they never went to church together.
Well, Bill and I have done that a few times. They eventually, under the leadership of Ann Maria, organized what were called Mothers' Work Days and they worked to improve sanitation and health conditions and raise funds for medicine, and try to care for women with tuberculosis. They inspected bottled milk and food and treated wounded soldiers, both Yankee and Confederate. The upstairs bedroom, which is the guest bedroom, there is both the grey and the blue on the bedspread because they cared for any wounded soldier; it was safe passage if they made it to the Jarvis home. That was very inspiring to me. She had a tremendous sense of duty and obligation and her story might have been lost in history had her own daughter not come forward with the idea of Mother's Day and to honor her and all mothers for the contributions.
So as we look at the mothers and the grandmothers who are gathered here today and as we think about the tens of millions of mothers across our country who are busy taking care of their children, doing their jobs, supporting their communities and living lives of faith and service, we are reminded from generation to generation that our progress often come from the hard work, determination and the tenacity of women.
I wanted to begin by saluting my own mother who couldn't be here, because my mother, as some of you may have heard me say or read in my book, didn't have the benefit of a stable family growing up. Her parents were unable to care for their two young daughters and were divorced in the 1920s which wasn't very comment back then. My eight year old mother and her five year old sister were sent away on a train all by themselves from Chicago to California to live with grandparents who had little interest in raising them.
So when my mother was about 14, she left that home and was hired as a live'in helper by a woman who encouraged and supported her. My mom took care of the children in the morning, got them off to school, then she could go to high school, she would come right back and take care of them when the kids got home from school. She never had the chance to go to college, but she was determined that her own children would have that chance.
As I grew older and learned more about my mother's own story, it really impressed upon me more fully what it took for her to forge ahead in the face of life's challenges. I saw how hard she worked every single day to support my father and our family, to raise me and my brothers, and to be involved in teaching Sunday School to helping out at the neighborhood school.
My mother didn't have the luxury to put up her feet and take a breather. She just kept going, kept working, kept meeting her responsibilities and pursuing her dreams for her children so that we could have opportunities that she, and prior generations, never ever dreamed of. She wasn't alone.
Judging from the mothers I meet across our country, I've come to believe that hard work, determination and resiliency are encoded in our DNA. We know we have the "worrying" gene. We know we have the "put your coat on because it's cold outside" gene. Well, we also have the "stand up and fight for what you believe in" gene.
Take, for example, my grandmother, my father's mother, Hannah Jones. She was a formidable woman. She died when I was quite young but I have vivid memories of her. She was the kind of woman who never took no for an answer.
And one time, when my father and a friend were hitching a ride on the back of an ice truck, and their feet were dangling over the back of it, the truck came to an abrupt halt and skidded and smashed into something crushing my father's feet. He was rushed to the hospital, word went out to Hannah that her son had been seriously injured. She got to the hospital only to be met by doctors who said that they had to amputate his feet. Hannah said no. And she barricaded my father and herself in their hospital room, would not let anyone in until her brother'in'law who happened to be a doctor arrived and then she basically browbeat him into agreeing to save my father's feet. My father went on to play football in high school and college. They did a good job, I think. But if it hadn't been for that mother saying "no, you're not going to do this," my father's life would have been so much different.
So when I think of Hannah, I think of the mother who is working to help her child who is labeled a failure in school until he finally experiences success. I think of the mother who petitions the mayor or the city council or the police chief to demand more protection for children when they are outside playing in the neighborhood. Or the mother who takes matters into her own hands and sends body armor to her son or daughter in Iraq when the military didn't provide it.
This is not a new phenomenon. Women have been standing up for what we believe in, defying convention, and going forward for a long time. What about the brave suffragists who didn't abandon their fight for the right to vote even when they were ostracized and harassed and thrown in jail? What about Harriet Tubman, who wouldn't back down in the face of danger as she led slaves out of bondage on an underground railroad? What about Dolores Huerta, who helped to found the United Farm Workers and worked long and very unglamorous hours as a grassroots activist to bring dignity to the lives of other mothers? What about Sally Ride, who wouldn't give up her dream of soaring into space when women were told they didn't have the "right stuff" to become astronauts? What about the women around the world like the extraordinary Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who became the president of Liberia in 2005 and whose leadership has literally helped to mother a wounded and suffering nation?
I find inspiration from all of these women and from their stories and I find inspiration as I travel around West Virginia and America. I find inspiration from the mothers and grandmothers I meet every single day. I was in Indiana toward the end of the campaign; in fact it was the very last event we did in Evansville. We were in a high school gym, hundreds of people were there and after I spoke I was shaking hands and I came upon a beaming glowing mother, standing next to the wheelchair which her son, who was incredibly, profoundly disabled. She introduced me with such love and pride to her son.
And he could be well understood by me but she could understand everything he was saying. She proceeded to interpret for him how excited he was about this campaign. And how he knew exactly what I was saying across Indiana. Jobs, jobs, jobs. And he said it over and over and over again.
I think of all of these mothers who take whatever life throws at us, gets up every morning, gets the kids ready for school, does the laundry, buys the groceries, cooks the dinners, helps on the homework and maybe works a day shift, a nightshift or a double shift. And mothers who tell their daughters "you are just as smart and capable as anyone else and don't ever think you aren't." Women who ask the PTA "why don't we do more to get girls into math and science classes." Women who dare to compete in the board room and the back room, the locker room and the newsroom, the halls of academia and the corridors of political power. Through their perseverance and resilience these women are standing up for the bedrock principle of American democracy '' the promise of opportunity for anyone who is willing to work hard and pursue their dreams. That is a principle and a promise that must always include girls and women.
Now, if you are a woman of a certain age, as I am, you have likely experienced a moment along the way when your own sense of limitless possibility collided with a harsher reality. For me, it was a small moment.
I was a teenager; I dreamed of being an astronaut. So I wrote to NASA to volunteer for astronaut training and find out what you had to do to be prepared. I got a letter back: Girls were just not accepted into the program. The truth is, given my poor eyesight and very, very modest athletic abilities, I would have never been accepted in any event. But the rejection, however small, carried a message. I hadn't realized until then that anyone be denied an opportunity simply on the basis of being a girl.
Later, in a class of 235 students at law school, I was one of only 27 women enrolled, at that time the largest group ever. Today women are the majority of students in law school. But I remember when I was just starting my legal career and a colleague advised me not to be a trial lawyer because, he said, I had no way of getting the one thing every trial lawyer needed. When I asked him what, he said, "a wife." I said, "Really?" Very seriously he said, "When you're in a long trial and you're busy, who's going to make sure you have clean socks for court?" I had honestly never thought of that and I had always washed my socks myself. So it didn't seem like it would be that big an obstacle.
Thankfully, I, like generations of women today, are able to make our own choices because other women stood up and demanded that for us. I often think about how much lives have changed for women since when my own mother was born in 1919, when I was born in 1947, and when Chelsea was born in 1980.
We've made an enormous amount of progress. Women are now neurosurgeons and NASCAR drivers, judges and generals, CEOs and CPAs.
But it's also true that the higher you go up in the ranks, the thinner it becomes, whether it's business, or law, or politics, or other fields. Women still face a lot of barriers, some visible, some invisible.
In 2008 it's really important we recommit ourselves to making sure that our daughters and our sons have an equal chance to lead and serve in the future.
Over the past few days I've gotten emails from around the country from people offering words of encouragement and advice. One man from California wrote: "Keep fighting. No matter what the outcome may be, the fact that you stood throughout the constant ups and downs in this race, one thing is sure: You never wavered and you never gave up."
A woman named Linda said, Linda wrote and said: "Don't give up. I'm supporting you looking at my girls and knowing that when the going gets tough, you keep forging ahead."
A Californian wrote, "For the sake of all future and current mothers everywhere, keep your head up and keep on in this race, keep fighting, I am with you all the way." But I guess my favorite message was from a woman named Angela. "Keep strong," she said, "it's not over until the lady in the pantsuit says it is."
I share that, because the underlying lesson is not so much about me but about all of us. About whether or not we do stay with what we start, whether or not we can make progress if we don't commit ourselves to it and see it through, unless we are wiling to stand in the face of adversity. The same is true for our country. We need to rise to the challenges facing us, no matter how daunting, and take care of the unfinished business before America.
Unfinished business that resonates not only for women but for all of us - for children whose lives and well'being is affected because their mother is paid lower wages than male counterparts doing the same job. For husbands who share the burdens placed on a family when a woman can't get maternity leave or get a bank loan or qualify for a decent pension. For fathers who want their daughters to have the same opportunities as their sons ' to compete at sports, or be engineers, or fly jets or break any barrier to be whatever they dream, including president of the United States.
It's unfinished business that we see everyday in the headlines, the supermarket lines, the bank lines, the emergency room lines. The question before us as a nation is whether we will forge ahead with that sense of resilience and purpose that has always marked America. Will we address the mortgage crisis so more families don't lose their homes? Will we finally achieve health care so that every single American has quality, affordable health care?
Will we get serious about reducing our dependence on foreign oil? Will we tackle the gas prices that are going up astronomically? Will we stop shipping American jobs overseas? Will we adopt green energy policies including clean coal that will make economic sense and protect us, and our children's children? Will we make college affordable again for the young people who are now being shut out of going to college? Will we end No Child Left Behind, which is not working? Will we bring our troops home from Iraq and end this war that has cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars?
Will we take care of those who have taken care of us - our veterans. West Virginia has the highest proportion of veterans anywhere in our country.
I am running for president because I believe we can answer all of those questions. I know we can achieve solutions to fix our economy and create new jobs and safeguard people's homes from foreclosure, relieve the burden of soaring food and gas prices. I believe we can bring our troops home with honor, following a strategy that is smart and safe starting within 60 days of my becoming president. I believe we can once again see good jobs with rising incomes, to do more to support children and families, especially in places like West Virginia.
And for just a moment, I'd like to mention your wonderful Senior Senator, Senator Robert C. Byrd. Many of you know that Senator Byrd lost his mother when he was only 1 year old. He grew up in poverty, but was fortunate to be taken in by an aunt and uncle who gave him the love and foundation of family. Every year around Mother's Day, Senator Byrd gives a speech on the Senate floor in appreciation of mothers. When I came to the Senate, and my mother spent a lot of time with us, she now lives with us, she used to watch C'Span all the time to see if she could catch a glimpse of me - to be very honest about it. And she fell in love with Senator Byrd. And a few years ago I took her to have lunch with Senator Byrd in his office and she told him how much she appreciated his Mother's Day speeches.
In 2003, he said something so cogent that I just want to repeat it here. "That the best mothers invest the best of themselves in their families - they are high'stake brokers, and we, their families, are the stocks on their exchange. If we simply try our best, she will consider the return on her investment to be well met."
One of the poems he read that year was "Like Mother, Like Son". Although he barely had a chance to know his mother, to this day he still feels her gentle presence, her soft urging to do his best to make her proud.
Bill and I often talk about the challenges he faced in his family - when after his father died before he was born, his mother had to leave him to go to school to become a nurse. He was left with her parents while she was away. And there is such a poignant picture of him being taken to go visit his mother who was in nursing school in New Orleans. And he is about 3 years old and he is all dressed up in a little suit that his grandmother had bought for him for the trip. And I remember his mother, Virginia, telling me that she was so happy to see him but it was so heartbreaking when he left on the train going back to Arkansas. One of Bill's earliest memories is seeing his mother drop to her knees and just sobbing as her son left. But she was there to get a better education so she could take better care of him. I know Bill, like Senator Byrd and millions of sons across America, as well as daughters from coast to coast, carry their mother's love with them everyday.
I think there is more we can do to make sure that young parents are not so stressed out. It is hard raising children today. There are so many demands - the jobs don't pay what they used to, which means that usually you have to have both parents working, don't you? If you are a single mom, honestly, I think you are a miracle worker to be able to manage the family and a job at the same time. I think we should do more to help young families -I would like to see us experiment in our country with what other countries have.
And that is not only expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act, so that we protect more families in times of emergency. I am very proud that millions and millions of people have taken advantage of that, the first bill that my husband signed. But we need to expand it because right now it cuts off at 50 employees - we need to bring that down to 25 employees because when you have a newborn baby, or you adopt a baby, or your spouse or yourself is sick, or your parent is sick, it is terrible having to make a choice between losing your job and taking care of your loved one. I just worked to pass legislation which we have passed to extend the Family and Medical Leave to the families of wounded soldiers. Because so many of them, when they are brought back to the country they need extensive and lengthily care, and they need their families by their side. So we're going to make sure we protect their jobs and I'd like that to be available for more people. Here in West Virginia, that would help a lot of West Virginians.
I also want to push for something that is not available in very many places today. That is some form of paid leave for limited purposes, because what happens now with unpaid leave is that if you can't afford to go from your job, you can't take it even if it is available to you. If we had a small limited program of paid leave that the federal government would work with the states to provide, 490,000 workers in West Virginia in the private sector might be eligible.
I also think it is important we look at the end of life and the beginning of life together. We need more child'care for families. We have 64,000 children under six in West Virginia that don't have good child'care. But we also have many, many families taking care of loved ones and they don't get much help doing it. The average family in America taking care of a child with a disability, a spouse with Alzheimer's, a parent with Parkinson's, will spend at least $5,000 out of pocket taking care of that loved one. I think we should give a $3,000 caregiver tax credit so that families are not put at a financial disadvantage for doing what they are doing out of love and dedication.
I also would like to see us make it easier and less expensive to buy long'term care policies. It's one of the biggest concerns families have What happens if my parent or my grandparent or my spouse is no longer able to take care of him or herself and I physically can't do it any longer and don't have any help to do it. How can we get some long'term care in the home or in some other setting? And I think we should have a long'term care tax credit, as well, so people can buy long'term care insurance.
On all of these issues, it really does matter whether we are going to care for one another. And I think it is interesting that this holiday we start today was the idea of a woman, right here in Grafton. Anna Jarvis prevailed against the odds. If you were to come with an idea right now for a national holiday and you persevered for nine or ten years like she did, it would be a labor of love. And that is what it sometimes does take to make the changes that are going to benefit us.
I want to just end by spotlighting another mother, because this whole question of equal pay for equal work really is at the core of my belief that we have got to get to equality in the workplace. Lily Ledbetter was a mother who raised her two children while working at a tire factory in Alabama. For almost two decades, before she learned she was being paid far less than her male counterparts doing the same job. She sued under the Equal Pay Act, which has been in existence for 40 years. The Supreme Court, controlled by the new Bush Chief Justice threw her case out. They said she didn't file the complaint soon enough. The only problem was she hadn't known until after all those years she wasn't being paid the same. You don't go up to your fellow employees and say show me your pay stub. You just don't do that. The information was a secret.
So we tried to fix that loophole in the Senate a few weeks ago but the Republicans blocked us. I want people to remember that in this upcoming election season. Because when women in workplaces are discriminated against, paid lower wages than they deserve, that affects their husbands, it affects their children, it affects the family income. When women make $.77 on a dollar for a man and a mom goes to the grocery store, the checkout counter person doesn't say, you only make $.70, so we are going to cut the cost of the groceries by 25%. That doesn't happen. So we have got to remedy that.
And there is a lot of other unfinished business. But it is exciting to know that we are here on the hundredth anniversary of this celebration. And in two days, the voters of West Virginia will join the tens of millions of Americans who have already cast their vote for president.
I am asking for your support so that I can continue to fight for you and fight to finish the work that we have started. I would not be standing here if it were not for all the women who went before. Not only the women in my own life, like my mother and my grandmother, or my wonderful daughter whom I am so thrilled to have with me here today, but it is also because of countless women and men whose names we may never know who really believed strongly in what they thought would make their community and their country better places.
So I leave you today with a Mother's Day message I received a few days ago from a 23 year old young women in Kentucky: "Happy Mother's Day," She wrote, "Hopefully I will be wishing you one next year as president. You have already succeeded as the world's hardest job, being a mother. The second hardest job should be a breeze for you."
Happy Mother's Day everybody.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Back in 2006 I posted a blog about some of the UFOs I had accumulated. One UFO that I mentioned was a rug I started after one of the Harry Potter books came out - well, I finally finished that rug this year. That's it in the photo. I didn't have the wool that I had planned for the squares in the border, so I finished it (three sides) with textured wools I have accumulated since I've been at my mother's house. Some of the squares make me feel really good because the wool was sent to me by Yahookers ( ). The original background wool was dyed with one of my favorite antique reds, but that wool is gone, so I mixed up all the reds I could find - some left over from my cave horse that looks pink - and just hooked it anyway. It's a lot brighter than it would have been - I know that it almost looks fluorescent in the photo - but I like it anyway. I have put it on the floor and my big dog, George, loves it. George is not well and has been losing tons of hair, which all accumulates on the rug, so I have to vacuum it a lot. I've never vacuumed a rug before but it works really well. I thought I ought to prove that it may take me forever, but I actually do finish some rugs. I'm going to take this to the SE Michigan Hook-In rug show next week.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Two New Books!

I have been waiting since last August for Cynthia Norwood's book, and almost as long for Deanne Fitzpatrick's newest book. Creating an Antique Look in Hand-Hooked Rugs by Cynthia Smesny Norwood is a wonderful photo collection of antique rugs and "imitation" antique rugs. The photos are really inspiring, and then the addition of Cynthia's suggestions for wool and dye and style - makes me want to start hooking this minute. One of the photos reminds me that I have the same pattern - half-hooked and waiting over at my studio. Unfortunately, I sold the wool to finish the background - something I seem to do too often - but with Cynthia's suggestions I think I can just go on and hook it with whatever wool I can find on the front porch. Maybe I'll run over to the studio and get it after Mother goes to sleep tonight.

The other book, Hooking Mats and Rugs, 33 New Designs from an Old Tradition by Deanne Fitzpatrick is a wonderful addition to my collection of Deanne's books. I have loved Deanne's rugs ever since I bought a collection of her kits to sell when I opened up my shop back in 1995. Her rugs have changed, all for the better. I was lucky enough to take a class from Deanne in 2005 and one of the things that stayed with me is a sketch book. Deanne suggests having one along all the time so you can sketch the things you see whenever you have a chance - well, I find I'm really not much of a sketcher, but I use the sketch pads to record ideas and thoughts and information that helps me keep my mind active - it would be too easy otherwise to sink into thinking about being a 24/7 caretaker, about loading the dishwasher, changing Mother's bed, running out for groceries when she's sleeping, putting batteries in her hearing device, keeping her wheelchair nearby, etc. This way, I have the sketch pad and I can flip through it and get right away into a relaxed and purposeful zone. The last few days, I've filled a book with information from the internet about my family. I have been amazed to learn that the internet lets me sit right here in Hamburg, Michigan while my mother's snoring and trace my ancestry back to the 1500s in England and Ireland. I have enjoyed learning about the Great Removal that effected Deanne Fitzpatrick's family back in the 1940s and now I have some real stories about my family, too - like the Indian raid that killed some of the Otis family while others were carried off to Canada. I didn't know that the Pilgrims didn't like the Quakers, even though they all left England for the same reasons, and I didn't know that some of my family members were Quakers. Ever since the peace marches during the Vietnam War, when so many gatherings of thousands of protestors remained peaceful because of Quaker leadership, I have thought the Quakers were a cut above normal people - now I am pleased to know my great-great-great grandparents were Quakers. Now, if you followed that chain of thought, you know why the sketch books are important - I obviously need something to organize my thinking!
Anyway, I need to stop writing and start reading my wonderful new books!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Contemporary Hooked Rugs

Contemporary Hooked Rugs, Themes and Memories, by Linda Rae Coughlin, published by Schiffer, came to me from an eBay auction today. I am so glad I won that auction. I opened the package in the car right after picking it up at the post office. That gave my mother a chance to look at the book while I went to the farm and fed the chickens, cats, horses and dog - by the time I was finished, she had decided Contemporary Hooked Rugs is the most beautiful book she has ever seen.

I didn't have time to sit down and look at the book until after dinner, dishes, putting Mother to bed, etc. Normally, by that time I'm ready to kick back in my recliner and take a snooze, but after the first few pages of Linda Rae's book, I was wide awake. What a wonderful collection of rugs!!

The book starts with Patty Yoder's alphabet of sheep rugs. I was already familiar with those rugs, I had a copy of Patty Yoder's book until I foolishly gave it away, but I am so pleased to have those pictures. Now, when I tell people about Patty Yoder, which I do often because she is my prime example of how kind and thoughtful and creative rug hookers can be, I have an easy way to prove my point - at least about her creativity!

Another of my favorite creative people is featured in the book, Deanne Fitzpatrick. So far, I have only looked at the rug pictures and haven't read the text, but the rugs look like they tell a story about the people and places Deanne first hooked - the people her family lived near when she was a child. I had never heard about the Great Removal when Newfoundland became a part of Canada until I opened my shop in 1994 and bought my first rug hooking kits from Deanne. I was so impressed by her story that I'm sure I talked my kit-buying customers half to death before they bought the kits.

There's another set of rugs that tell a heart-grabbing story - a story about a black and white dog, a border collie who is the star in seven rugs. As soon as I saw the wonderful dog rugs, I started thinking about all of my sources for dog rugs - surely with four dogs I must have some good rug possibilities. I made the little mat in the photo, and fastened it to the top of a little wooden stool before I saw the border collie series. The dog in the mat is Blue, an Australian Cattle Dog, who goes with me almost everywhere. I'm sure she could help me design more Blue rugs.

There are a great many other wonderful rugs in the book, it's definitely a book well worth having.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dyeing update

I had some disappointing results from my dyeing experiments. The cold I mentioned in the last blog turned into really being sick so I neglected the dyeing. The lichen was left in a plastic container on the stove, too close to a cooking pot. I heated something in the pot, the heat melted part of the plastic and I think the lichen was heated up. I didn't even notice it for over a week. When I did notice it again, the red color was gone. I didn't even try to put it in a dye pot.

The moss was also a bust. It sat in water for a long time, a week or so, then I simmered it and got only dirty water. I added some ammonia, just in case it worked like the lichen, and still only got dirty water.

I have been doing a lot of reading about natural dyeing and I think there is a lot more to it than just being able to run out, grab some lichen, and simmer it up. My experience with natural dyeing so far has been so easy, but expanding into lichen, moss, etc. requires more knowledge. I now have the book that is listed as the definitive book on lichen dyeing, so I won't try again until I have thoroughly digested it.

I've been reading a book by Pat Hornafius, Victorian Cottage Rugs, published in 1995. The book was written during the Cushing Dye transition from union dyes to aniline dyes. The discussion of this transition clarifies the reason for being careful about following dye instructions from older books. I think the natural dyeing instructions from way back when are helpful, but the commercial dye instructions from maybe the 1970s, 1980s, or maybe even the early 1990s would not be talking about the same dyes we have available today. There is not only a difference in what fabric the dyes will dye - the acid dyes will only dye animal protein, the old union dyes also dyed plant material - there is a difference in the dye process. Pat Hornafius recommends using a lot more vinegar in the dyepot than I usually use and she recommends putting it in the dyepot only after the wool has been in the pot for a while and then adding a couple cups of vinegar, a quarter cup at a time, every fifteen minutes or so. I think back to some of my dyepots that never exhausted and wonder if this technique would have solved that problem.

This book includes 16 Victorian patterns with instructions for not only how to hook them, but also how to dye the wool for them. Dye formulas are included with very thorough instructions for each one. The patterns have the sort of "frue-frue" look that I always think of as fine-cut designs, with lots of flowers, but the instructions are for hooking with 6 and 8 cuts. I find this interesting because they are wide cut but not primitive designs. Some of them are old Edward Sands Frost adaptations. This is one book that is not going to be stored away on a shelf, I think I'm going to read it again, from cover to cover.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Some Natural Dyeing

I'm getting ready to do some natural dyeing. I have a butter tub partially filled with the lichen from the downed branches in our yard - probably black walnut branches. I gathered the lichen last week and put some ammonia in with it. The liquid has turned a deep red color. The little reasearch I have done indicates that it should dye wool that same deep red color - I hope so. I'm not sure how to do it, I guess I will just add water, boil it, and then put the wool into the pot.

Today, I found some really nice moss. The moss was on rotted wood in the field behind my dog pen at the farm. I have no idea what kind of wood or what kind of moss, but I gathered a couple of really nice clumps. I don't feel bad about removing natural things from that field - if the new owner ever gets the right permits it's going to be fenced off and filled with hair sheep, so all the wild things will be removed. I am debating with myself about adding ammonia to the moss and letting it sit for a while - maybe I'll just boil the moss by itself.

I'm also not sure if I want to use alum and cream of tartar...

I have a cold sapping my energy right now, if I feel better, I'll do the dyeing tomorrow and post the results.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2008 Brought a Huge Snowstorm

My plans to hook today didn't work out. I fell asleep shortly after welcoming the new year in, woke up a few hours later because it was soooooo quiet. The power was out - no tv, no furnace noises, and no light. I took the dogs out and found a heavy fog, almost a complete white out - to hook it would be impossible. I went to bed and woke up when I could hear my mother's power wheelchair beeping - she was up and eating breakfast. Outside, everything was completely covered with snow - it was so deep the dogs had to jump instead of walk - over a foot deep. Instead of hooking, I spent the day getting my mother bundled into several layers of clothing and several blankets, and then trying to shovel out. My new snowblower wouldn't work - I bought electric instead of gas. I worried about going in and out of the house too much and letting all the heat out, but I had to keep on checking on my mother and I had to get enough snow cleared so I could get down the hill and out of the driveway in case we had to leave the house and go to friend's in Ann Arbor where the heat was on. Finally, I was rescued by a friend with a wonderful snow plow. Shortly after the driveway was opened, the power came back on. So, I drove down to the farm, with the snowblower, and found the power off down there. I gave up, will have to go back down in the morning and hope the power is back on - but we're supposed to have a couple more inches of snow. I won't be hooking for a while - my arms are totally worn out. I guess I'll have to read about hooking instead.