In the interests of blogging more often, and wanting to share Life’s experiences in a more immediate, less processed fashion (thus kicking my inner perfectionist to the curb), I’m doing something I’m calling Mobile May.
Each day this month, I’ll be taking a picture with my cell phone and blogging it using my WordPress app on my Windows smartphone. (Just like I am right now.)
The first installment? My latest rughooking project. I started this on Saturday. It’s sized to be a 16″ square pillow, but whether it ends up stuffed remains to be seen. For now, I’m just happy to feel the strips of wool slipping through my fingers again.
(Posted “on the road” via my smartphone…)
This was originally published on my old blog in December of 2008. I re-read the post today and wanted to share it again.
An unexpected gift from beyond.
When my late grandmother was moving out of her house and into a seniors’ apartment complex several years ago, one of the pieces of furniture I was given was a large handmade yellow and green cabinet with storage compartments.
My grandmother did a lot of cross stitch and other embroidery work, and the cabinet was full of spools and bobbins and skeins of floss and thread. My youngest sister had the cabinet first, but since she had no place (or real use) for it, it was given to me. (Both my sister and I were taught to cross stitch by Grammy, so it was logical.)
Well, I stopped stitching a few years ago, mainly because I love to do miniature samplers for dollhouses but my need for glasses is getting in the way. So I put most of the embroidery materials in one section of the cabinet and began storing my scrapbooking materials in the then-empty drawers. I love having everything within easy reach, and the door in the middle was perfect for storing my Sizzix die-cutter.
About a year and a half ago, I sold my Sizzix because I wasn’t using it a whole lot at the time, and I hadn’t been in that middle cupboard since. A few minutes ago, however, I decided to tuck my lavender reed oil diffuser in there because Hubby has a headache. I knew the smell would bother him, and I could rest assured that it wouldn’t spill in there.
When I opened up the door, my jaw just about hit the floor.
Hanging in a slot on the inside of the door was a rug hook. Or, to be more exact, my grandmother’s well-used authentic vintage bent-shaft-and-handle, tapered, rug hook. I was stunned.
I took it out and held it in my hand and stared at it as if it had come from outer space. (I didn’t even register what now looks to me to be a well-used proddy tool beside it.)
I don’t remember ever having seen either tool before. I didn’t even know my grandmother had been a rughooker.
From my limited knowledge of the history of the art (and it is limited), I’m pretty sure that rughooking was more of a North American thing than a European one, and my grandmother (and her handiwork heritage) came from Denmark. Whether or not she picked it up here, I don’t know, but Dad never mentioned it, and I don’t remember ever having seen hooked rugs in her house. Tons of needlepoint pictures, yes, but not a single hooked piece.
Grandmothers come in all different kinds, and ours wasn’t the stereotypical warm, fuzzy, touchy-feely kind of relationship. Some people have that skill set, and some don’t, and I certainly don’t fault my grandmother for that. (She could play the piano, and I can’t, so we’re even. *grin*) But because she was my only grandmother (I never knew my maternal grandmother as she died before I was born), the warm, fuzzy, touchy-feely side of me always kind of felt something was missing.
If you read this blog at all, you know that I’m pretty much a sensitive, sentimental person, and that the value I place in a material thing is not what it would cost to buy, but in its history.
I can’t fully put into words how I felt when my hand closed around the handle of that hook. But I can tell you that, for just a moment, I felt like a little girl holding her grandmother’s hand.
So I tried to coax the fibres in the monkscloth back into shape, and it just wasn’t going to work. The more I hooked, the more distorted it looked, and while a five-year-old won’t be staring at it too critically, she might still have it when she’s twenty-five. A landscape or an abstract rug would have been more forgiving, but when you’re hooking a geometric, every millimetre counts.
The decision was made with a sigh. The best course of action was to cut my losses and make it smaller (about 10″ x 15″) so that the messed-up monkscloth wouldn’t ruin the whole rug. So I kept hooking away, pleased with my decision, and happy that it would still be large enough for Emily’s little feet first thing in the morning (and a wall-hanging later in life). I was almost finished, when …
Just one more little glitch.
Back to the Kool-Aid aisle I go …
I’m sitting here waiting for “the guys” to come do some minor renovations to the kitchen and I’m about to pick up my rug hook again. It never fails — I go literally weeks without hooking a single loop, and then once I pick up the hook, I can’t put it down!
On Friday, at around 4 PM, I finished transferring the pattern I was going to use for my Kool-Aid wool to the backing, and I thought I would just hook a loop or two to see how the colours would look together. Well, by the time I got out of my chair, it was nearly 1 AM! I even forgot to eat supper!
Here’s the “loop or two” I hooked.So I thought I’d better take an “in-progress” photo before I picked up the hook again today!
As I was hooking away on it Friday night, my five-year-old niece called me on speakerphone as she and her family were heading to a Halifax Mooseheads hockey game. Emily asked me what I was doing, and I told her I was hooking a rug. She was very curious about that, and once she understood that I was making a “small carpet,” she asked why I was making one instead of just buying one. Rather than attempt to explain Zen and the Art of of Rughooking, I simply told her that it was because it made me happy. “Oh!” Emily exclaimed. “So you’re a happy hooker!”
As my sister and brother-in-law broke down into choking gales of laughter in the background, Emily immediately started composing a song about “Auntie Karen the Happy Hooker.” I would have given anything to be there! I’m sure I would have had tears streaming down my face from laughing so hard.
So after we’d said our “love yous” and “goodbyes,” I decided that this rug, with its bright, happy colours would be for Emily. And the longer I hooked away at it, the more I realized it even looked like (and smelled like?) Emily’s favourite cereal, Fruity Pebbles.
I’m loving the way the colours are coming together, and I’m loving the soft feel of the wool. This is the first time I’ve hooked with TWC wool and the first time with any wool I’ve dyed myself. But it’s also the first time I’ve used monkscloth as a backing, and I have to say that I’m not loving that part quite so much.
First of all, the threads move around much more easily than they do in linen. On the “pro” side, it’s easier on the hands to pull the loops through, but on the “con” side, the loops fall out much more easily. But by far, the worst, most frustrating part is that the gripper strips on my Puritan frame are wreaking havoc on the weave and distorting the pattern to pieces.
I’ve tried pulling it back into shape, but it’s not easy. I think I’ll save the monkscloth for scroll frames and hoops in the future, because I’m not quite sure if I’m even going to be able to fix this. Linen may be more expensive, but it’s definitely my backing of choice from here on in.
Hey! (blowing off the dust) Is this thing on?
It has been fourteen years plus forever, it seems, since I’ve written anything here. Oh, sure — I told you about adopting Nero — but that wasn’t exactly a wordy post like you’re used to. Forgive me, Gentle Reader. It’s been a period of ups-and-downs and growing pains. Nothing too catastrophic — don’t worry — but just enough to keep me relentlessly preoccupied. Forty is the new eighteen, I guess, and I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up!
You know when you meet someone who inspires you, and just by talking to them for a little while, you can tell the creative parts of your brains are humming along at the same frequency? I met such a lady a little while ago and just blogged about her on The View From the Market. Go read it. It’s okay — I’ll wait here.
I’ve been doing a little bit of rughooking lately, but I’m really being drawn to the dye pots for the first time. I have started accumulating tools (pots, spoons, Cushing’s acid dyes…) but I’ve been a bit timid. So this week I decided to start off with a kinder, gentler dye project. I used Kool-Aid!
Aren’t the colours just gorgeous? I’m completely in love with the Tropical Punch red, and the Orange makes me crave Creamsicles. I’ve designed a geometric rug to use these on, but haven’t gotten it transferred to backing yet.
In other news, I’ve applied for a job that I’m really, really hoping I get. I haven’t heard anything yet, but my fingers are still crossed. The job would mean steady income at a decent rate, and would allow me to do the Masters of Science in Space Studies. It would also go a long way to helping me replace my aging car. I love Betsy the ’98 Malibu, but at her last safety inspection, they said she only had about a year left in her, and it’s just a matter of time before the rust takes over completely.
In other news, I began gearing up for NaNoWriMo on October 1st. Although this is my fourth year giving it a shot, I’m determined that this is the year I make it to 50,000 words. And in a legitimate way. I mean, I could have my characters act in a production of Romeo and Juliet and then just paste the Bard’s words in as dialogue, but hey. Where’s the challenge in that?
So I’m writing an outline. A detailed outline of what I should expect to accomplish each day. I’m normally more of a write-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type, but that hasn’t gotten me to the finish line of NaNoWriMo yet. So it’s time for a change. And when November 1st gets here, and the starter’s gun sounds, I’ll be ready!
And now, a confession: After seven months of “sobriety,” I’ve fallen off the wagon and am drinking Diet Pepsi again. Well, actually it was more of a swan dive. But how I missed it! I feel awake for the first time in months.
Not sure if I told you or not, but the non-credit creative writing course I was going to be teaching at the university was cancelled, along with all of the other non-credit courses for the fall semester. It was a red tape thing, with there being problems in securing classroom space. We’re all hoping that things can fall into place in time for the winter semester. I was really looking forward to teaching, but here’s hoping for a second chance.
Anyway, I should go hang out with the pets for a while. With Nero’s arrival, Zaphod Beeblebrox and Piper are feeling a little bit displaced, so I’m making an effort to give extra snuggles and ear skritches. Talk soon!