Friday, January 29, 2010

Latest Rug Project

Wow, it's been a long time since I blogged. I've been working on a rug that I drew that simply says "Saratoga" in honor of my hometown. I've had this rug on the back burner for awhile, but decided to finally get started.

I had already decided where it was going to hang, so that became a factor in my choice of colors. I had some lovely casserole-dyed wool that I was keeping for myself, and I decided this was the project to use it in. Here is a photo of one of the pieces of wool.
It was great fun snipping and cutting the strips to get just the color combos I wanted. Once the main part of the rug was finished, I knew it needed a border. Since there wasn't a lot of green in the background, I found a textured "as is" green wool that I liked, and I'm in the process of adding three rows around the rug.

Here is a photo of the rug to date:

Color is more vibrant than the photo shows. I'm toying with the idea of having the rug framed, something I've never done. Since it's going to hang high up on a wall, I think a frame will set it off nicely. Once it's framed, I'll post a picture.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Customer's Rug Story

A while back, I sold a large quantity of rug binding tape to a customer. Curious as to why she needed so much tape, I asked her what her project was. She happily replied with the story behind the rug and several photos. Thought I'd share Sandy's story with my readers.

"We were at a Bed and Breakfast in Natchez, Mississippi on our anniversary, when I saw this rug on the floor of Monmouth Plantation Home.
I turned to my hubby and kept asking him what he thought of it. He said, 'It’s nice.'

After a few times of me saying this, he looked at me and asked why I kept asking about it. I replied that my walls were full of counted cross stitch pictures, and I’ve always wanted a needle point rug to put on my wood floors, so maybe I should copy this one and make myself one. He didn’t hesitate and said, 'If it were anyone else saying this, I’d think they were joking, but you’re my wife and I know you. You’re going to make this rug, aren’t you?' I told him I thought I could make it in sections, and join it at the borders. He just shook his head and said, 'You’re my wife; I know you’ll figure out how to do this.'

Look closely. In the first photo you'll see me holding my section of the rug ON TOP of the real rug at the plantation home. I’ve not yet stitched the outer sections (four on each side). Because my den is not nearly as large as the room in the plantation home, I’m not adding the outside border. If you look closely, you can see the color differences in my rug and theirs, as yarns now are available in much brighter colors.

So a few weeks later, I began the process of meeting folks and talking to my friend Marion at my local needlepoint shop, The Elegant Needle in Baton Rouge. She and I discussed how cost prohibitive it was to get an artist to paint the canvas for a rug that large.

Almost a year and a half later, we were at Thanksgiving dinner, and I casually mentioned how I wanted to make this rug. My brother (a computer guru), said, 'That’s easy. Just go take photos from the same height, enlarge and enhance the photos till actual size, then print out on that iron-on transfer paper like you do for tee-shirts, but iron it on to the needlepoint canvas instead. You’ll have an exact copy of the rug, and can duplicate each stitch.' He made it sound so easy.

It took a few months to get all the supplies together, so we could test this out. We drove back up there to take photos (with a ruler in each photo so we could enlarge to exact size (100 stitches per sq inch). We tweaked the computer program and made a chart of each of the steps required to get the photos to the exact size.

I tested different types of canvas to see which would work best, and how it would look if I overlapped the sections to stitch the border through multiple canvas layers. It worked fine.

So I decided to tackle making this huge rug. I knew it would take time, but life goes on even if you’re not stitching, so I figured why not?
I spent an entire week at my brothers’ using his sophisticated equipment to enlarge, enhance, and print all the photos on iron-on transfer paper (exhausting!!!), while listening to that stupid dot matrix printer make all that noise as each page printed.

Then came the laborious process of cutting all the canvases, ironing on the transfers (four 8.5 x 11 sheets per “square” in the rug), plus numerous pages on the center section.
And after that, the fun and exciting part of choosing yarns for each of the flowers! Marion and I had so much fun doing this, and it was really easy, because I had “named” each flower and noted how many colors I saw in the original rug for each flower and leaf.

The entire process from conceptual idea to completion was a long time—almost 10 years. But one has to realize I’ve had a life to live, too! Here’s some of what also happened sequentially during that 10 year time period:
  • I was working full time at LSU, received 3 promotions, and finally retired in April 2008
  • Raised 2 kids (now 25 and 28)
  • I had medical treatment for several years when I was hit by another vehicle and suffered severe neck injuries
  • Recovered from that, and was again involved in another car wreck (not my fault either) , so it was back to physical therapy for a few more months
  • I was working on, and completed my Masters’ degree
  • My mom passed away unexpectedly with complications from surgery
  • My dad had heart surgery
  • Our daughter got married
  • Our son graduated from college,
  • I had hip surgery
  • And had my first grandbaby!
But despite all this, I’ve managed to stitch almost 1.2 million stitches on this rug!!! It was actually featured in the LSU Employee Art Show when the first phase (the large center section) was complete. Because that in itself was over 250,000 stitches just in the center section.

Anyway, as you can see I’m REALLY excited about getting it finished. So the rug binding (not available locally) was the final item I needed to finish the rug, and it had to be colorfast, because I certainly didn’t want it to bleed onto the rug when I needed to steam clean it. I think you can understand why.

So for all you hookers out there who think their projects take too long, remember Sandy's journey of 10 years. What a rug!!!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Bought Myself a Christmas Gift!

After Christmas was over, I looked at my Paypal account and decided I could finally get that gift I've been wanting for a long time. I ordered a Townsend cutter!!! I'm so excited. I've been hooking a lot lately, and although my Rigby has worked well for me, it just doesn't give me an even cut all the time. I find some of my strips are too narrow, some too thick.

I bought my Rigby the year I attended the Green Mountain Rug School back in 1994. What an exciting purchase that was. I was a new hooker dabbling in both the primitive and fine cuts, and since the Rigby was being sold right at camp, I took the plunge and bought heads 3-8. (I think I bought it from Bob Armstrong who patiently showed me everything I needed to know!) I will continue to use it for the narrow cuts, but I'm looking forward to the Townsend for the 6- and 8-cut heads I purchased. Just got an email confirming that the Townsend will ship today!!!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Time Travel Rug Update

The hooking is finished!! Yeah! I started this rug in September. It is a pattern called Time Travel, and it measures approximately 30" x 33". My sister drew the pattern some time ago, so I was glad to finally work on it.

Don't you love how things develop on a rug in an unplanned way. I had decided the background was going to be a mix of gray/black textures. The swirls of alternating colors just seemed to happen by itself! Once it appeared (!), I kept adding more and more swirls. Was really fun to do.

The other thing that is hidden in the rug is a wormhole. Because the rug is called Time Travel, I wanted to put the year of my birth somewhere in the rug in a subtle way. I got thinking that that a wormhole will take you to another time or dimension, so just above the clock is a finely hooked oval with the year 1957 hooked into it. Not sure it can be seen on the photo, but it shows up well enough when looking at the rug.

Now I have to finish the edges, give it another steam, and decide where to put it. I usually have a place in mind for a rug when I begin it, but this rug is so different, that I'm not sure where to put it. Hopefully, a spot will reveal itself.

This rug is another testament to the "Ten-Minute Challenge." By following this challenge, I have hooked more each day than ever before. I find that if I put on a "book-on-tape" and hook while I'm listening, I get a great deal done.

I'll post a picture of the next project I'm going to begin as soon as I sort out the colors I'm going to use.

Happy hooking and happy new year!