Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Grasshopper Rug, Day 29

I think this is day 29 and I'm still hooking border. I'm really surprised how long the border is taking, I'm going to have to come up with a faster way to get it done. I like the border better from a distance than from close-up. The edge of the main part has a rough-torn look that I like. I'll avoid doing some of the border tonight - after my mother goes to bed - by hooking some of the grass around the tennis court.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Slow Border Progress

I've been getting in a lot more than the required ten minutes for the Ten Minute Challenge during the past few days, but I'm still not making very much progress on the antique black border. I found I needed to fill in a lot more grass under the horse, so I planted a few little wildflowers, too. That's one thing that's nice about working on my own pattern, I can change anything anytime without any qualms - but, at the same time, that need for change is a bad thing about working on my own pattern and finding I haven't planned very well - but, the truth is, I like hooking grass and flowers a lot more than I like hooking border.
I wanted to cut down on the amount of border at the far end, where I'm still holding off on hooking the final motif, so I hooked in some trees. I suppose I'm thinking about the apple orchard next to my outdoor riding arena because we didn't ride near an orchard when I rode with the Grasshoppers. I think I'll change the horse and rider to western. We used to ride English, hunt seat that is, for our weekly lessons, but whenever we could, we rode again on the weekend at a western stable. There was one stable in particular that we rented from for years, even though they moved almost annually to new run-down farms on the outskirts of the city. They ended up at a farm not too far from where I live now and I went there to buy my first horse - and ended up with two horses. The cowboy who owned the stable was quite a horsetrader. I picked out a small bay horse and the cowboy insisted he couldn't be separated from his "brother", a medium size gray. When I went back a week later to pay for the horses, the gray brother had disappeared and now the bay had a big palomino brother and they couldn't be separated. The palomino proved the truth of that lie by jumping over the hitching rail he was tied to when I tried to ride the bay out of the stable yard. He was caught halfway over the rail, teetering back and forth wildly. The rail had to be sawed apart to get him down. So, I took those two horses home. Named them Millard and Thunder. Anyway, I think I'll make the horse bay and put western tack on him.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rug Hooking with Varied Stitches

I finally started hooking some of my border, It's going to be hit or miss antique black with a worn out look - most of it gray now rather than black.

I'm hooking the border in straight lines, but those are just about the only rows of hooking done the normal way. For example, the horse is hooked with a little raised hooking - which doesn't show well in the photo, but the horses' rump is hooked higher than the legs, etc.

The hockey field is hooked anti-godlin style. That means the loops are hooked in all different directions - so they look like kernals of rice tossed into a bowl.

The skirt that was hooked with a gray, red, and white plaid was also hooked anti-godlin, while the blue skrt was hooked in wavy cornrows. The background was hooked in normal vertical rows with the loops generally locked together side by side.

The water in the swimming pool was also hooked with wavy cornrows, The contrast is apparent when the tile around the water is hooked in diagonal rows.

I think the wavy cornrows show up a little better in this photo. I think it gives some movement to the water. I like hooking with textured wools, but I also like creating more texture with the way the loops are treated.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Day 18 Grasshopper Rug

I have the basic rug completed except for the last motif, the second horse. I still have some details to work on, then I'll surround it with an antique black border with an odd shape, sort of flowing in between the motifs. It's hard to get this rug into a photo and it's going to be even harder once the second horse is added.

I've made a lot of changes as I've gone along - the center pair in dresses have been a real problem - maybe because I wasn't even sure in my mind what they were doing. When we were in high school, we belonged to a YWCA group called Y-Teens. I mostly remember going to and presiding over meetings. I'm sure we must have done other things, but I can't remember them, so I thought I drew a fashion show, but in my mind they kept on being speakers at a meeting. The month I turned sixteen, I travelled by train for a couple days and nights from Detroit to Denver for a national YWCA convention. I had to speak to fifteen hundred people. I read a speech written by another teenager who couldn't take the trip. I practiced the speech a lot, but when I stood up to read it, I accidently left the last page at my seat. I never told anyone. I just stopped reading at the end of the second to last page and sat down. No one ever asked me about the abrupt ending. The other strong memory I have of that trip is that an anonymous donor paid my way. I never found out who it was who was so generous. It was enough money that even now, half a century later, I still think it was a lot of money - so that kindness and all the memories of my first train ride and the huge wooden YWCA where we stayed in downtown Denver were in my mind all of the time I was hooking and reverse hooking that part of the rug.

I think I've taken a photo I can use for my next rug - which also might be a runner. I'm going to post the photo on my gibbydogblog since it's a farm picture - shows my last four horses.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Only Ten Minutes Hooking

Today was the kind of day that leaves me too tired to go to sleep. The day started with making coffee and breakfast for my mother, doing a couple loads of her laundry, and then filling in her caretaker so I could have some hours off.

As soon as the caretaker took over, I headed for the post office. Some books are on the way, but weren't in my mail box. Yesterday, I finally received Mary Shepherd Burton's book after wanting it for years, but the books I'm expecting aren't going to be that special.

Next on to Smart Auto, where Sid (of Sid's Mechanical and Repair Technology) removed the tailgate from my truck for me and then checked my engine for me. The computer said I need a part replaced, so Sid would order it and I could stop back later to have it installed. Then I was off to the farm. I passed a yard sale on the way, and left with a can full of 32 cookie cutters that I plan to use somehow to make patterns for mug mats. When I got to the farm, I went in the west gate and right back to the hay field where I expected to spend a few hours clearing the weeds with my brush hog. My luck wasn't so good - after about half an hour the tractor started acting up. After I cleared the debris in the filter bowl half a dozen times, and started and re-started the tractor at least a dozen times, I gave up and walked back to the truck. While I was on the tractor, I got a call from my vet's office. They offered to give me a bag of cat food if I wanted to pick it up - so I started out in that direction, but stopped at a gas station to try to wash off some of the gas that was all over my hands and probably my clothes. I guess I didn't do a very good job because now, about twelve hours later, I can still smell gasoline. On the way to the vet clinic, I saw a large yard sale - and, of course, stopped. I found a few things, the best being a Harris Tweed sports coat. It's basically tan and gray with a nice blue thread. I haven't found a good Harris Tweed for quite a while, and this one was only fifty cents. I also found a wool blanket - made in Scotland in a Clan Gordon tartan, a yellow wool sweater, and two really nice non-wool sweaters for my mother. Then I paid a whole dollar for a pseudo leather bag, like the ones advertised on TV for a lot more. With three dogs and the toys I thought I might want to use during my afternoon off (my laptop, camera, and bag full of sketching supplies) the truck was getting a little crowded, so when I was given the cat food and two big plastic bins full of hay at the vet clinic, I had to put that stuff in the tail-gate-less truck bed. I'm going to have to come up with a tail gate substitute.

From the vet's, it was back to Smart Auto where Sid installed the new part. Then home about four minutes late to relieve the caretaker. Fifteen minutes for phone calls, then I had to rouse my mother so we could go back to the farm and feed the animals. From the farm, to the grocery store, to the kitchen to cook dinner for friends coming for dinner.

We had dinner and played Blackjack, swapped some books and eggs, then, after our friends left, we watched a Sidney Poitier movie. During the movie, Mother finally agreed to go to bed and we had to go through all the getting-ready-for-bed procedures. By the time we were done, I had hooking time. I had watched my rug all through dinner and Blackjack and knew I had to dull down or dirty up the white wool making the YWCA sign. I tried tea first and wasn't satisfied, then I painted it with coffee. The painting took about ten minutes - so, minutes before midnight, I met my ten minute challenge.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sky Instead of Background

I'm finally happy with my background choice - instead of background, I'm just continuing the pictures by adding sky and ground - letting those elements unite the different motifs. I also did some work on the YWCA fashion show. I changed the blue dress, gave it a gored skirt and more of a yoke. I still have to complete the stage. I'm not really sure it's a fashion show because what I keep on remembering about the Y is giving speeches and leading group meetings. I have tried to remember other things that we did, but nothing else comes to mind. I know we had a sister city in India, the city of Madras, and I think we raised money to help the people there, but I don't remember how we raised money.
Anyway, I'll surround the pictures in the rug with antique black - an uneven border, no straight lines.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dyeing, Bleeding and Mushrooms

Dyeing instead of hooking today. I was unhappy with my third attempt to hook a background on my grasshopper rug when I realized I shouldn't be hooking a background. I wanted to have sky around the rider and top of the horse, so it made sense to have sky above the tennis players, too - and then I realized I should have sky all the way across the top (I'll do some kind of ground/grass/wildflower for the bottom portion) so I needed to dye some wool for the sky. I had some sky blue, but it's in a very heavy wool and I hooked it already around my horse and rider and I'm not really pleased with it, so I decided to do some bleeding. I chose a piece of dark royal blue, about a 3"x 18" strip, and selected some white wool - without measuring, I think I may have picked up about half a yard, and tore it into a few pieces. I simmered them all together with some dishwasher surfactant and some dish soap (I didn't have any powdered Tide, which I prefer.) I simmered them for about half an hour, checked and found all blue wool, no more white. I poured in a large glug of vinegar, and then added a second glug just to be sure. Then I tore two more strips of white wool and added them to the mix a minute or so apart. I left the new pieces in the pot only a few minutes and then pulled them out so I would have some lighter blue for the sky. I left the wool alone in the heat for another twenty or thirty minutes, then pulled them out to cool, and rinsed them with hot water. Then they went into the clothes dryer with a towel.
The photo shows the finished wool. The dark blue on the left is the source wool, the next narrow strip is what the source wool looks like now. The next two strips are the white wool I placed in the pot briefly toward the end. The next five pieces were in the pot the whole time. I have no explanation for the grayer looking piece next to the light wool, but the random results from bleeding wool are the things that make it fun.

After pouring in the vinegar and letting the wool set for about fifteen minutes, I started bailing some of the dye water out of the pot. I saved it in jars, so I will have acid dyes ready to go if I need to make more sky wool.
While the blue wool was in the dryer, I started working with some mushrooms. The mushrooms in the photos are two that were in our backyard. I gathered them this morning when I was concerned that the dogs were playing too close to them. I haven't identified them, my good mushroom books are at the farm and not here, but I'm thinking there's a good chance they're in the Amanita family and are poisonous. I didn't want the dogs to lick them or break them up and get the spores, etc. on their feet, etc. I put them in a stainless steel pan and added some water to the pan. Adding the water was a little iffy - without thinking, I took them into the kitchen and then suddenly remembered that they could be killers... so I was very careful with them from that point on.

They are now soaking in water. I should have shredded them, according to the books, to release dye color, but I didn't have the heart to shred things so beautiful - so I'm soaking them whole. The water immediately had a very slight yellow tinge, so maybe color can be obtained without destroying them.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Reverse Hooking

I'm going to have to do some reverse hooking. My hooking time has been very limited today, I couldn't start until after I served dinner and played cards with some very good friends. I cut a piece off of the army blanket I've kept hanging down in the basement. It's a funny brown color, which must be faded khaki because the binding threads are an army green. The blanket has a big US stamped in the center. I have planned to use it right from the beginning, but it was a bad choice. The color isn't what I remembered and I don't like it - when I do the antigodlin hooking with it, it looks like spilled horse pellets that have gotten wet. But, even if I liked the color, it is just too heavy to cut in an 8 and pull through the MCG linen I'm using. I tried several different hooks, including the very fat primitive Hartman that I really don't like to use. I think if I continued with this wool, I'd ruin my hands and wrists. So, I'm going to have to do some reverse hooking and some rethinking. Maybe I'll revert to antique black for my background - antique black with a red beauty line and antique black border - or, maybe I should do a gray background with a red border - using our high school colors... hmmm, reverse, rethink,and revert, or reverse, rethink, and reflect...
Tomorrow the little village of Hamburg is having it's annual festival - a festival I started. When I planned the festival, I included a rug show, and I'm sorry I haven't been able to make that an annual event. At any rate, I'm going to spend whatever time I can at the festival. I'm hoping my mother will feel like going with me,although very little in the village is handcap accessible. When I'm festivaled out, I'll have to find my background wool - I'm thinking gray will be my first choice. Gray background, red beauty line, and antique black border...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Jump, Sky, and Ground

Not much hooking time today, too many doctors, nurses, and physical therapists for my mother, and then a trespasser at the farm. I spent way too much time on the phone trying to solve problems, can't imagine how I could get by without a cell phone. However, I did get in more than my ten minutes of hooking time. I hooked a jump in front of the horse and rider - even though the rider is sitting on a dressage saddle. I set the jump down low so it would be reasonable for a dressage horse to jump it.
Of course, the dressage saddle is completely wrong for the Grasshoppers - back when we rode together, we either rode hunt seat or western. I didn't discover dressage until 1972 when I met Fritz Weiss who became my long time riding instructor. Fritz was a former Prussian Cavalry officer. I once wrote a magazine article about his experiences during World War II - his family raised Trakehner horses and were the last Prussians to escape on a ferry that took them from Prussia to Germany at a time when most Prussian Trakehner farmers had to drive their wagons and horses across a frozen ocean inlet - where they were bombed and about 90% were killed. Fritz was on the trek to Stalingrad when he had to shoot his horses that were pulling artillery. He was captured by the Russians and escaped from seven different prisoner of war camps. He walked from Stalingrad to Berlin in the middle of winter and found his wife and the baby who had been born while he was gone.
I also perused a very enjoyable little book today, Rag Rugs of England and America by Emma Tennant. I have to admit I mostly looked at the pictures because I was looking while I was on hold, but the pictures are of some very interesting rugs.

One Horse to Go

Finished the swimming pool tonight. I doubt anyone will be able to figure out what it is without being told. Maybe I should do some lettering around all of the motifs. Hmmm, lettering is not my favorite thing to do.
I have the last horse to hook, then the background and the border. I'm still planning to use the khaki/gold blanket that's downstairs as background. First I'll have to fill in some landscape around the horses and do the stage for the fashion show.
Amazing how ten minutes turns into several hours and half of the night is gone.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Grasshopper Swimming Pool

If I've counted correctly, this is day 8 - well, actually 9, because it's after midnight. I didn't blog last night because I was way too tired, but I finished hooking the field hockey grass and moved on to the swimming pool. I had to dye wool for the pool water. I had a jacket lining that was a shiny blue gray that would have made a great water color, but the color didn't bleed out of it. So, I used a large crockpot and simmered some white wool with a strip of navy blue and another strip of dark green (the wool used for the two swim suits). After the color bleeding was done, or at least done enough to get the colors I wanted, I threw in some pink wool - the pink I've been using for faces, arms, and legs. I figured that most of the body parts of the swimmers should be under water, so I wanted the pink wool to be overdyed with the water color. I think it looks like they are under water.
I'll probably get the pool finished tomorrow, then only a horse and rider left before I have to go back and complete each scene, then do background.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Grasshopper Antigodlin Grass

I didn't get nearly as much done today as I thought I would. I hooked the grass of the hockey field with antigodlin hooking - which is supposed to look haphazard, like rice thrown into a bowl. The second photo is a close-up of the grass - somehow the close-up process changed the color of the wool - the antigodlin hooking looks to me like a swarm of little maggots, but I suppose rice is more appealing. I really like using the antigodlin here, since I'm using the same wool for the grass as I used for the tennis court. The tennis court was hooking in straight rows.

Today, I also added to my supplies for the Rug Hooking Daily rug camps - I went to Walmart and bought a new canner - I actually already have several, but any of them might have a little rust, and only one still has a jar rack and it's very rusty. I discovered at Walmart that they sell replacement jar racks - for a little over six dollars. While I was at Walmart, I checked out the art supplies and found the drawing pencils I couldn't find yesterday. I'm interested in the dyeing projects, but I'm most excited about the sketching. I have tried to draw and sketch forever. When I was teaching school, I could draw recognizable cartoonish things on the chalkboard - which impressed my students because they didn't expect to see dimensions or shading, they were happy with just outline drawings. Somehow during those decades of teaching I developed my scissor skills better than my pencil skills - so I can make cut-outs that look like the picture in my mind, while my drawing just never makes it. I looking forward to improving my pencil skills.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Grasshopper rug, Day 5

I finished the two field hockey players and wanted to get the grassy field done behind them, but too many things interferred. One interference is the need to make a decision about how to hook the grass - I can hook it in straight lines, either horizontal or vertical, or I can do it the anti-godlin way like the dress next door, or I supposed it could do it in waves or swoops. I think I'm leaning toward anti-godlin, I kind of enjoyed doing the dress that way.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Re-do of Yesterday's Hooking

Part of my ten minute hooking today was really unhooking. I pulled out yesterday's ugly dress on the right hand figure and re-hooked her with an anti-godlin dress. The wool for her dress came from a red and gray Pendleton plaid shirt. Her skirt was hooked with the red section, the top with the gray portion.
I'm leaving the Janet Reno looking figure for now. I'll probably re-hook her, too, but haven't decided with what color yet.

I took a photo of the part of the rug that has been done so far. I think I've decided on the background color - I have a khaki green/brass colored blanket. I've used strips from it on several rugs and always liked it. It will make a perfectly bland background.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Grasshopper Rug, Day 4

I got the two dress-up figures done today. I'm not particularly happy with them. I was going to have them in a fashion show, but they turned out to be rather unfashionable, so I think I'll change what they are doing. When I was a teenager, I went to the national YWCA convention and gave a speech in front of an audience of 1500 people - more people than I had ever seen in one place. Maybe I'll have this pair of Grasshoppers speaking to an audience. I'm not going to fill in the stage around them until I have a better idea about what they are doing. Maybe I'll even go back later and revise their wardrobes.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Grasshopper Rug, Day 3

There's something so addictive about hooking on a new rug. I was so anxious to get the next motif finished that I came back home from my afternoon off two hours early. After two years of being my mother's caretaker 24/7 we finally have some great help. Caroline seems to be able to talk my mother into anything - even taking a shower when she doesn't want to. So, I have no qualms about leaving the house and my mother in Caroline's care. I've been told I should get out of the house and go do something for myself - so, most Wednesdays, if I don't have lunch with a friend, I go up to the corner cafe, have a mocha caramel latte, and read the newspaper. Sometimes I work on a writing project (and try to pretend I'm J.K. Rowling working on something as wonderful as Harry Potter) but, today, I could hardly stand it. I read the local news in the newspaper - our township officials are always having a Hatfield and McCoy kind of vendetta going on - chatted with the hard-working cafe owner, and then I packed up my laptop and headed for home. I just had to finish that tennis court.
My tennis players have done something that I've seen happen in other rugs - something without planning, something surprising - and in this rug, that's the dimensional look of the tennis players, with the left player looking larger and therefore looking closer to the viewer. When you figure both figures were traced from cutouts that were exactly the same, it's hard to figure how that happened. It'll be interesting to see if that same look is still there after I hook in the background.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Today's Ten Minute Challenge

Here's what I tried to do today. The weather was just perfect, not too hot, not too cold - I took Mother to play Bingo and tired her out, so I had some free time while she napped. I thought it was the ideal time to grab a pillow and a book and have a little rest on the swing in the backyard. My little rest lasted about ten minutes - my mind was jumping with rug plans and all I wanted to do was get inside to hook. I finally gave in and went inside.

This is what I hooked - one tennis player and the beginning of the tennis court.
I guess, so far, I'm averaging one Grasshopper per day. At that rate, it won't take long before I have to figure out what I'm going to do for the background.