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!!!


Suzanna said...

Thank you for sending the wool so promptly. I've been enjoying using it as backgrounds for applique. It works very well.

VintageThreads said...

Oh, my goodness! Quite an ambitious project! It's lovely! I bet the grandbaby doesn't get to eat in that room! Thanks for sharing the story!