Carrie Martin and a needle felting lesson

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending a class that Carrie Martin conducted for the Stash Sisters here in Houston. She is a very creative person, and taught us how to make bags using needle felting and other embellishments. So I learned to needle felt, something I have been wanting to do since last year. I loved it! I will try to create a "basic how-to needle felt" post this week, but I wanted to share with you the little rug I finished from the class last night (I have not sewn the bag yet).

Carrie gave each of us a little starter kit which included some roving and ribbon and yarn embellishments. I choose a red kit, and had all the intentions to go "abstract" since this is the direction that Carrie teaches the class and I am part of the 2010 abstract challenge. But as soon as I got the little red roving out and started to needle felt all I could think of was hearts and Valentine's day and chocolates. So my piece went in the representational direction instead of abstract, and in the end I hooked "Bon Bons Valentine".

Saint Nicholas 2009

I am starting Saint Nicholas 2009. My intent is to make a pocket pack out of it. Its outside measurements will be 10" by 15", so a little bigger than those 10" by 10" pocket packs I hooked this summer. I need a bit more room for all the stuff I carry around with me!

Here is the picture that inspired me and the sketch I made of it on my linen backing. Since I will be hooking by value, I made a black and white copy of the color picture so I can watch my lights and darks, hooking lighter values in the light areas and darker values in the darker areas. This will allow me to not worry so much about what colors I am hooking, but concentrate on values which will cause the face to emerge more creatively.

I probably won't hook the same colors because I'm a purple person and Christmas is purple and white for me. So I have to use some shades of purple. I am using the wool palette I dyed this season as I have been teaching the Palette Dyeing rug camp on Rug Hooking Daily (join the group for details). So first the neutrals. These are the two neutrals I am going to use. In lefthand photo: the wool on the left I created by mixing half and half of my recipes for 11=PURPLE and 5=YELLOW; the wool on the right I created by mixing half and half of my recipes for 1=RED and 6=Green. In the righthand photo, these are the other hues I will use (from left to right): my 6=GREEN; my 11=PURPLE; my 12=PURPLE-RED.

Finished totes

Today I had the pleasure of enjoying a day of rug hooking with the Stash Sisters ATHA guild. Two sisters had finished their Fanciful Flower Sampler totes and several others made great progress. With their permission, I post here the fabulous results. I love to see how these designs came to life through others hearts and hands!

Sondra Ives and Sylvia Hale sport their fancy totes, beautifully hooked and finished.

Annie Ore shows her embellished sampler top ready to be sewn into a pack or tote. Marguerite Evans started to hook Mr. Toad's Garden and made good progress on the sunflower. Look at that color!

Martha Lowry and Janie Kennedy worked up fantastic examples of daisies, still working on prodding other areas of the sampler top.

Sondra's progress on her tote

Sondra Ives sent me some pictures of her progress on her Fanciful Flower tote so far. I was so excited about her creativity, that I asked her if I could post a couple of the pictures even though it is not finished yet. She kindly agreed.

Here is a photo of the whole tote top. Notice how she sewed a piece of linen foundation fabric in the center instead of four wool fabric blocks, so that she could hook the toad from Mr. Toad's Garden. She then appliqued by hand a lily pad under him. She used unusual fabrics for the dragon fly's wings, and embellished the sunflower with a bee button.

But the neatest feature I think is her needle-felted cattails. Wow. She needle-felted them directly on the top. I saw them in person on Thursday at the Stash Sisters meeting, and they are beautifully done.

Needle-felting is new to me. Five years ago, when I took my leave from rug hooking because I had a new baby, I don't recall anything about it. I am hoping to learn how to do it from one of the women in the guild since several are very good felters.

As the women finish up their totes, I hope to get their permission to post pictures of their work here. It is impressive indeed.

Fanciful Flower Sampler Workshop

Did we have fun!

The Stash Sisters are some of the most creative women I have ever had the pleasure of rug hooking with. None are afraid of color and experimenting with fabrics. Each came with the sampler top sewn and we first worked on the sunflower, talked about daisies and leaves, and in a couple of hours all had their sampler tops well underway.

I loved the way in which each person made the sampler top her own. Sondra and Sylvia put some blocks of linen in, so that they could hook some elements on their samplers.

Martha used black and white plaids for her sampler top which gave her a wonderful neutral but stunning canvas for prodding.

Louise, Janie and Annie combined bright wools for tops that show off with limes and plums and oranges.

P.D. worked on Mr. Toad's Garden and used an outstanding mottled wool for sunflower leaves.

I can't wait to see the progress on these pieces in a few weeks!

Loopgram: Hooking eyes

Last night I finished hooking "Meet me in Paris" but I can't post a picture of it until my sister is on the plane Tuesday. I want her to be surprised. So check back then for a picture.

I have to bind off all three pocket packs and sew the packs today. So I have a lot to do.

After finishing "Meet me in Paris," I went back and studied the frog's eyes on Madison's mat. I haven't been satisfied with them. Even though the photo's of frog's eyes have a tiny white line around the black center, I felt that this line was closing off the hooked eye. So I pulled it out and adjusted the eye, including a bigger white reflection dot.

I was careful to keep the eye from bulging by keeping the top lid line so that it cuts across the top of the black part of the eye (so that you don't have a round black circle, but a circle with the top cut off). If you hook a black round circle that the top lid line goes around, you end up with an eye that pops out and looks unnatural. I also expanded the jaw line to give a more rounded feel to the mouth.

Alexander says that it looks like a baby frog now - so the bigger black area has made enough of a difference that a 5-year old recognizes it as a "baby" now!

This is the result:



Something different with "Meet me in Paris"

My sister asked me to make her a pocket pack with the theme "meet me in Paris." Tall order. What to do?

I browsed internet images of Paris and was inspired to make a collage "postcard" with my own memories of Paris when I traveled there a few years ago for an academic conference. So the collage had to have the red bus tour which I took the day I got off the plane and was waiting for my hotel room to be readied. The Eiffel Tower, the Arch, Notre Dame, the bridge and river, and a sidewalk cafe.

After drawing this on my backing, I looked at it and thought, how am I going to hook this? After some consideration, I decided to outline everything in black and to proceed to color in the elements with colors of the French countryside. Here is a picture of what I've done so far.

One of the fun things about these 10 by 10 pocket packs, is that they are a good way to try new things whether it be proddy or outlining in B&W or using metallic yarn and other embellishments. They inspire creativity.

These pocket pack mats only take a few days to hook and give a nice break from the bigger more committed projects that I have on-going.

My five-old son just asked me, "Where are you in the picture?" I said that I'm sitting in the cafe drinking tea and looking at the river. It took him a minute, but I think he got it because he is now pretending that he is drinking tea and looking at the water flow.

"I love chocolate"

The chocolate kisses pocket pack mat is coming along. Worked on it last night and added some rose details to the edges since the design was feeling incomplete. I am liking the embellishment that this metallic yarn is giving the elements. I am going to go back to Michael's today and pick up some different yarns to experiment in other pocket pack mats. Hum...the possibilities!

Loopgram: Hooking with yarn

My sister and her family will be coming to Texas in mid-July to visit us. I have two nieces about my son's age, and when they saw his Woof backpack on this blog, they wanted one too. I am going to try hooking them "Pocket Packs" - 10 by 10 mats to attach to small purse-like packs I will sew.

So each of my nieces has told me her desired design. One a frog with a dragonfly, the other a chocolate kiss which, she said, I can hook white if I don't have silver wool.

Now I have gray, but gray isn't silver. So what to do? I went to a specialty yarn shop thinking metallic yarn. They had none. So over to Michael's where yes! they have metallic yarn.

I have never hooked with yarn before, and after working with it last night, I have a new appreciation for all hookers who use it as their primary wool-of-choice. Yikes it is tricky to use. I found it too thin, and easily pulled out each time I tried to ply a new loop. When I tried hooking one row after another consecutively two strands apart, it was impossible to see what I was doing and the yarn flattened out and was very hard to deal with.

So this is what I found with some experimentation. First I used two strands of yarn at the same time, twisting them onto the hook as I pulled it through the backing. I hooked one row across, another row about three fibers away from the first, then back across between the two rows I had already hooked. Hooking in this trench helped me be able to keep my loops high enough and it was easier to see what I was doing. I don't know if it shows well in this picture, but there is a metallic thread running through the yarn and it makes the hooking sparkle like foil on a chocolate kiss.