Sunday, September 7, 2014

Still hooked on rug hooking: a yarn mat and 'Just Marbelous'

I have many hooked rug projects, at various stages of completion, and the #30DaysOfMaking Challenge seemed like the perfect time to pull them out and really rekindle my passion for rug hooking.

(No, not latch hooking, you children of the 80s. I'm talking about the much older technique that uses a crochet-like hook to make a running loop stitch using fabric scraps cut into strips. It began as a thrift craft, and is carried on now as a textile art with multiple styles, from folk-art 'primitive' designs using wide cuts and reclaimed fabrics to meticulously-shaded 'traditional' designs using narrow cuts and specially-dyed new material.)

I. Hooking with wool yarn

Feb 14th, reverse side of a Cheticamp-style rug hooking kit using two-ply wool yarn on burlap. I bought this a couple of years back at Jennifers Of Nova Scotia as a gift for my daughter, to help her learn to hook, but it became mine when she became too frustrated with the slow pace of hooking in nearly every hole and the yarn loops pulling back out on her. We'll try again when she's a bit older. This piece was meant by the original (unnamed) designers to be a round mat to protect a table.
Feb 19th, showing all the kit pieces (except the hook, which was made by my father for me,
the hoop, and the stork scissors). As you can see, I modified the design quite a bit, in order to commemorate a whale watching trip to Brier Island, Nova Scotia - I took out the enormous seagulls and added a whale watching boat, a whale tail-lobbing, and a couple of brier rose bushes. It's a bit folkier and busier than I would like, and I'm not happy with the lighthouse (which was hooked exactly as drawn on the burlap). Hooking with such fine yarn can be tedious, because it takes longer to fill a motif than if you're using fabric strips, and the loops have a mind of their own, so the direction of your hooking is lost. The trick is to lose yourself in the moving meditation instead of overthinking it.
Finished and framed, on March 11th. Destined for a bathroom wall, I think.
II. "Just Marbelous"

Detail of "Just Marbelous", primarily wool fabric on cotton monkscloth, March 7th. This rug is my own design, inspired by my collection of antique handmade marbles, many of which we believe were childhood gifts from my dad's maternal grandfather to him, but the bulk of which were won during dad's childhood marbles bouts in New Glasgow. They're like miniature works of art glass, and made the perfect subject to challenge my skills in hooking circles, working with many widths of woolen fabric strips (mostly #3, #4, and #5 cuts), and working with multiple materials (the marbles also include spot-dyed and dip-dyed fabrics, a couple of types of yarn, and a metallic-laminated wool). The biggest challenge in it was the temptation to overpack, but the result of that was that a few of the marbles took on a domed appearance - a tripping hazard on the floor, but a pleasing effect in a wallhanging. It would also make a brilliant stash-busting project, although in my case the materials were leftovers given to me by friends from the Dartmouth branch of the Rug Hooking Guild of Nova Scotia, back when I began hooking.

The date on the rug is 1997, when I began it, and the reason it has taken me so long to finish is that the matte black wool that I chose for the background, to show off the bright colours of the marbles, is an absolute bitch to hook. Never again! It requires bright daylight for me to be able to see what I am doing properly, and a drum-tight stretch on the hooking frame (because I chose monkscloth as the backing). I have, however, found that the little purse-size OttLites can be clipped to the neckline of your shirt, at the point of a V-neck, if you need to shed a little light on the situation.

Here's a work-in-progress photo and a detail photo from July 30th. You can see by this time I'd added this year's date, which commits me to finishing this by the end of December. I'm determined to get this background finished before the short days of winter hit. So I brought it on vacation with me.

My work-in-progress cellphone shot from August 17th, while on vacation in Nova Scotia. In this photo you can really see the domes where I overpacked the loops early on in the process. Every bit of black background that I add makes the marbles pop more, which is so satisfying. Before I can complete the rug, I need to cut more #3 and #4 cut of my flat black to fill the remaining spaces. I also need to hook in a few more rows of the teal border. 

Hopefully the next time you see a photo of it here, I'll be celebrating its completion!
Note: This post is part of my #30DaysOfMaking Challenge. 30 nonconsecutive days, as it turns out.

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