Join me as I travel my creative road. Understanding how important it is to document the works we create, I plan on using this blog to do just that, with thoughts, processes and photos. I would enjoy sharing your creative road with you too, so please share your thoughts in return.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Before Rug Hooking....

Starting this blog has really gotten me thinking. Immediately I started to post about my start with rug hooking, because that is truly where my creative energies are going now. However, there is so much before that that has colored what I do, especially with my rug designing.
Growing up my mom braided rugs and the sewing machine was often out. I remember nice homemade outfits, doll clothes, curtains, and decorative items, besides the rugs. My mother's mom was very active with yarn. My mom could knit, because she taught me the basics, but she didn't do much of it. Her sister however, knit up a storm. She is one of those individuals that can knit while riding along in the car. Me, I need to watch and count or there will be a dropped or missed stitch along the way. As I said before I, I took sewing classes and made a few outfits in high school and more in college.
Getting ready for college I decided I wanted an afghan, so I got a great pattern from my aunt and started knitting. I got it done. In fact, it not only lasted through college, but is still used on cool nights now. During college I was doing more hand stitching like needlepoint and counted cross stitch. One of my roommates was really into embroidery, another's family owned a large fabric shop in Maine. One of my best college friends worked for Jo-Ann Fabrics one summer we lived together. I still have a file box of old patterns, without the envelopes of course, from that time together.
After college, the sewing machine saw minimal use, until settling down and starting a family, but I was getting into knitting. Once back in Maine, I decided I wanted to learn more than the basics and there was a great knitting shop around the corner from where I was living which had evening classes. I began dating a navy man (whom I later married) at that time, who got deployed to Iceland and I found myself with more Icelandic yarn than I could use ($.50 a skein). Needless to say I ended up knitting matching Icelandic sweaters for my parents, a sweater for my husband and myself, as well as, many pairs of very warm mittens. There is still Icelandic yarn in safe storage in the back of my walk-in closet.
Once our family started, I got back to sewing - baby quilts, infant clothes, stuffed bears and a very large Raggedy Ann (Andy is cut-out and waiting).
Now that I was sewing again, quilting just seemed to naturally become my primary creative outlet. Fabric was mostly calico, but the low price was certainly right. The speciality quilt shops were not that common yet, with their African prints, batiks, flannels, homespun and the reproduction prints. Friends and family were also starting families and I loved making a homemade gift - what better than wedding and baby quilts. I got involved with a great group of quilters out of Windham, Maine - The Nimble Thimbles. Could only stay active a couple of years, but so enjoyed the inspiration this group provided.
Know there are a few old photos around of some of the quilts I made during this time. Will post as find.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Folk Art Influence

I played around with hooking small wall hangings that I adapted from patterns purchased. I even hooked primitive snowmen and gingerbread men pillow dolls that I sold. At this point I a met a couple of other hookers that got together at one of their homes at least one Monday a month. It was a chance to be with other hookers and hopefully get some pointers. Most of these hookers were of a more traditional leaning when it came to designs and colors, however I was and continue to be intrigued by color. I was interested in folk art at this time and decided to try a rug with this leaning. The design was simple, but the colors were a bit of a surprise to my fellow hookers. Primitives are often done in more natural and duller colors. I always thought that if the original hookers had the bright colors available they would have used them. One very accomplished hooker in this group told me she wasn't sure about the colors, but my hooking was good. My loops were pretty consistent in height and compaction - thank you knitting, needlepoint, etc. I also got my first and probably best tip while working on this rug - how important it is to finish and start in the same hole whenever possible.
I finished the rug and I must admit it doesn't really go with anything in my house, however it's being used in an upstairs hallway. I'm glad I did it. Working with the strong colors was fun and I'm not afraid to include strong colors in other pieces now.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

First Rug

In 1997, I was really into country wood, working with herbs and craft sewing. For a few years, a couple of friends and myself worked year round crafting (for a little side money and to cover our craft interests), selling our products in a couple of area consignment shops and an annual holiday craft open house at my home. About this same time, I had decided I needed a more portable craft that was low cost and the end result would be useful. I had seen some primitive rugs and thought this might work for me. The backing material - burlap was readily available and I had no problem dismantling recycled wool clothes. I had access to a lap frame that my father had made my mother. (My mother never really got going on rug hooking, but was very involved in weaving.) I took a book on hooking out of the library, got a primitive hook, binding tape and was ready to get hooking. I have always loved penny rugs and thought that style would be easy to draw up as a hooked rug. I had made many scrap quilts and figured I could use whatever wools I had available in the same way. I was off and running. No sense going slow - jump in with both feet as they say. I set up the size of the rug on newspaper I had taped together and marked off from center every 2". I still do a lot of my designing on newspaper to start - I like to reduce, reuse and recycle whenever I can. The newspaper also folds easily for storage. This gave me my grid for the final circles. Once I had a design I liked I redrew it in black Sharpie, then taped the newspaper to a large glass door, taped up the burlap (where I had one true straight edge already lined in Sharpie) and traced the design onto the burlap. Then I machine stitched the binding tape along the outer edge. I was ready to start hooking. If I made a mistake it was no big deal. I still love my first rug. The day I finished it and laid it on our wide pine floor I was HOOKED!

The background was hooked with as-is black wool from an old skirt. The outer circles are from different tweeds/plaids. All the centers are solid wools. The boarder was hooked with extra worms from all the wools used in the circles. I later learned this is referred to as a hit-or-miss style. I did it because I liked the look I was getting and wanted to make really good use of the material I had on hand. I cut all my wool 1/4" by hand using my rotary cutter.

Now this rug is used in a less traveled area - a spare bedroom, because in trying to be helpful, my husband took it out to shake clean one day and I'm afraid the burlap gave out. I couldn't repair it by hooking a section back, but I also couldn't throw it out, so I cut it cleanly across the area that gave out and then machine stitched the two pieces back together. A little shorter, but still looks good to me.

I have since made another rug in this style as a donation to the Maine Public Broadcasting Network's annual TV Auction. Nice rug, but didn't quite match the first one.

A Start ~

This is something I've been thinking about doing for awhile now, but with getting my educator's blog organized I figured I didn't have the time. I also figured I really didn't have anything to share. I still don't know if I have anything to share, but that's ok, because I'm really writing this blog for myself. I have notebooks, patterns with notes on them, photos, etc. throughout my craft room and I want to get them organized in a simple way that shows my story to whomever might find it of interest now or later. Especially with my quilts and rugs, I'm beginning to fully understand the importance of documenting from inception to completion. I'm sure the blog will travel back and forth in time, because I'll be posting as I come across items, not worrying about chronological order, as well as on what I'm currently working on.
So, thus I will begin...........
I attended school at a time that Home Ec was a required class. I enjoyed it and signed up for sewing classes at a local fabric shop. I got my first sewing machine, which I still have, as an early graduation present from college. I ended up making most of my clothes for student teaching the summer before my senior year. I continued to make clothes and decorative items.
My clothes making came to a pretty solid stop as my first child reached toddler point. I still have a drawer full of totally cut out outfits with the pattern pieces still pinned on. UFOs for sure, but cannot seem to part with them yet - maybe grandchildren down the road?
Now my clothes making amounts to those quick pajama pants, usually made for Christmas presents.
But that sewing machine has remained active in other endeavors. Think it is something I will always do.