Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Red Dye Everywhere

Not any blogger time lately with my mother in the hospital, but now she's in a nursing home and, as of Monday, I am only allowed to be with her for four hours each day. I spent the afternoon at the farm doing a few small chores and chatting with my neighbor who is working on getting my hayfield and pastures ready for haying next year. When I finally came home, I decided to throw some wool in a pot to see if a nice piece of Black Stewart plaid would bleed enough black to make antique black. That's the third or fourth batch of antique black I've made recently, but it seems I need more and more. The Grasshopper rug border requires more and I've changed the background on the silly hooking class mat so it's now antique black. The only problem was, I forgot I put the pot on the stove when I went into the living room to read and fell asleep.

I had added some red and green wool to the black stewart and the pot was pretty full. When it boiled over, the liquid was quite red. The stove was red, floor was red, and the large bath towel that I used to soak it up was red. Now the white enamel pot is quite red.

I added vinegar to the pot, turned the heat waaaay down, and put the pot back on the stove - then I promptly fell asleep again in the living room. I woke up about 2AM and thought I smelled another boiled over pot, but this time I was lucky. Most of the red had been absorbed, so I set the pot in the sink to cool. I guess that's really effortless dyeing.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I was planning to do some natural dyeing today, but got involved in skimming through way too many rug hooking books to find the right recipe. I have some blue-green algae that should make a good color - but I don't remember what color, and I don't remember what I'm supposed to do to draw out the color. I think I'm supposed to soak the algae in ammonia - or something similar.

Right now the algae is soaking in rain water. The rainwater has picked up some color from something, it's a rich brown color - I hope that isn't what the algae will do, there are just too many easier ways to get a nice brown.

Soaking in the rain water seems to have really fed the algae, it popped up and away from the fallen branch its been growing on, and it was easy to pop it off the branch and into a jar.

You can see I'm a little scattered - trying to care for my mother while blogging sometimes makes me as confused as my mother is right now - so, I posted the same photo twice and can't find a way to delete the photo. Can anyone out there tell me how to delete an unwanted photo?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Saved by Rug Hooking

Thank goodness for rug hooking and the Ten Minute Challenge. I've had a few rather stressful days but have been able to chase the stress away by being determined to stick to my ten minute commitment. Hooking for ten minutes always turns into a lot longer and each additional minute is just that much more relaxing.

My mother fell on Saturday and I was afraid she had broken her hip. Seven hours later, the ER doctor finally said she has a minor fracture of her pelvic bone. He admitted her to the hospital and I've been afraid we were about to start another hospital-nursing home routine, but I insisted we didn't need to follow that routine just because Medicare will pay for it, and - shock of all shocks, the discharge social worker actually listened to me. Mother will be coming home tomorrow.

I couldn't take my hooking to the hospital but was going to sit there all day, so I took my sketch book and a couple Martha Stewart magazines, some glue and a pair of scissors. My mother had fun watching me cut and paste, told me I'm a "real artist" after I cut out some cat and kitten pictures. She really loves cats - and here I have a couple dozen of them and can't even bring one into the house for her because of the dogs. There I was, working on my own selfish little project of gathering inspiring pictures that might help me with rug designs, when I suddenly realized that the kittens made my mother smile and feel better than she had since Saturday. For a few minutes, the kittens were great pain killers. My sketch/scrap book did for my mother what my rug hooking has been doing for me - and I'm going to go do some hooking right now.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Dyeing Antique Black Again

The last time I dyed antique black, I really didn't get what I wanted. That batch turned out to be a smoky gray and I've been using it anyway, but, late last night, I decided I just couldn't go on with it. I simmered up another batch of the same tweeds and plaids and this time, added the collar from a black jacket, the black lining from the jacket, and the black lining from a black and white jumper. That batch became very black wool. When I'm cutting the strips, I rarely see any of the original colors peeking through, so I simmered up another batch this morning. I used the same black collar and same black linings as my sources for black dye. This batch is again dark, but it's a little more blue than black. I'll mix the black and blue/black and probably reverse hook all of the smoky gray that I've already hooked.

I guess the dyeing and strip cutting will count as my ten minute hooking. I really haven't hooked at all today and it feels kind of funny. Instead of hooking, I took my new boat out on a lake - but I'm going to write about that on my Gibbydogblog - where I'll tell the story about my little boat becoming a rescue boat.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Thirty-fifth Day on the Grasshopper Rug

The final motif is done. The horse is going up a hill. I didn't change the saddle and rider to western, but I did put the rider in jeans instead of formal breeches like the rider at the other end of the rug.

My mother asked me yesterday what I planned to do with this rug, so for the first time I said that I wanted to put it over the opening between the dining room and the living room (I'm sure there's a name for that kind of architectural feature, but I don't know what it is.) My mother said she thought that was perfect - now I'll have to figure out which way to hang it. I guess there will be time to think about that while I hook the border - and then work once more around with the whipping. I guess I'm not nearly done yet.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Sketching Circles

I started my afternoon with every intention to work on sketching circles. It was one of the afternoons when an aide took the responsibility for my mother, so I packed a bag with a sketch book, pencils, pens, crayons, water colors, and my camera, and headed for the nearest coffee shop where I fully intended to sit and sip coffee and draw circles all afternoon. On the way to the coffee shop, I made a couple stops and took some photos of circles.
These pumpkins and mums are for sale on the lawn part of our nearest strip mall, and would make nice subjects for rugs.
I thought the mums and pumpkins made great circles - and elipses, which I think are just stretched out circles.
These pumpkins were the smallest ones, all piled on some bales of straw. Circles bumping into circles.
These flowers almost make the series of circles that would be warm-up circles once I start drawing.

After the pumpkins, I reached an office that used to house my attorney, but now is a real estate office - and I thought how effective a nice black beauty line around a circular hooked rug would be.
This sign is on the little drive-up bank kiosk - nice way to turn a circle into a globe.
Then a surprising return to my youth - a peace sign on the car parked next to mine when I stopped to check out the consignment shop (where I bought a stone horse - no circles there, and some new hand cream that comes in a circular container .) Does the extra line on the peace sign mean anti-nuclear? seems like I read that somewhere...

Finally got to the coffee shop, which is in a red brick building with some nice extra architectural details, like this elipse. I not only think this circle pattern might be useful someday, but I also really like the bricks. Next time I hook bricks I want to remember to have some black bricks in with the red.
Later in the day, I went to the farm and found a few circles. Those cat eyes are certainly round, as are the cat heads and bodies.
This wheel is from my gold Schwinn bicycle with 3 gears - the first thing I bought with money I earned on my first job while I was in high school. I kept it forever until a man I hired to clean the yard threw it away, but strangely kept the wheels to hang on the side of the barn.

This wheel is from an old farm implement (probably a horse drawn manure spreader) that used to reside in my orchard. There used to be two of them, but someone took a liking to the other one and removed it from my gatepost.
I had great fun collecting circles but never got around to the sketching because I bought a boat. My first warm-up exercise at the cafe was to read a newspaper with my coffee and that's when I saw an ad for a rowboat in the classifieds. The boat I bought earlier in the summer hasn't worked out very well, it's really just too heavy and the motor is too complicated for me to use easily - so, I called the number in the ad, learned the boat is aluminum, and drove right over to see it. It's light weight enough that the ninety year old gentleman who was selling it could lift it by himself - of course, he's in pretty fit shape. If he hadn't told me he'd been married for 61 years, I would have guessed he was about 70. The boat was his wife's and he lost her 16 months ago. They lived all those years on a summer camp for poor city children. The camp sits on the edge of a good fishing lake, and I now have permission to take the boat back over there and fish in that lake. The camp, his home, is on a dirt road that brings back wonderful memories for me. Many years ago, I used to ride horses on that road. It was just a sandy track back then with hardly any traffic and we used to gallop up and down like it was a race track. That's where I rode my favorite horse, my Morgan stallion Tara. This new boat will be easy to handle, easy to transport in the back of my truck, so I can take it to any nearby lake, but I think I'll try out Mr. Witte's fishing lake first. So, anyway, I never did get to my sketching assignment, from Heidi Wulfraat's Sketching rug camp, I went to a boat camp instead.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

End of September Report

September is finished, but my rug isn't. I really thought it would be done by the end of the month, and it is close I guess it's the border that slowed down the progress. The border on the top now reaches the last motif, so I started the last horse hooking. I putzed around and fussed around and found wool in my barn studio, went to my old studio for more, and even acquired wool from the Salvation Army, all looking for a good, rich brown for the horse. I found the perfect brown in my sale wool at the old studio, put it in the washing machine, and then started hooking with the same heathery tweed I used for the trunk of one of the trees. I guess I just couldn't wait any longer. It's too bad dimensional hooking doesn't show up well in photos - this horse looks pretty blah in a flat photo, but I do like him when I can see his curves. I still haven't turned the rider into a cowboy, I still might make that change but probably won't since the horse's head is up too high for a western pleasure horse - he looks more like a European warmblood, which is completely inappropriate for the Grasshoppers since warmbloods hadn't even come to this country yet back when we were riding together.