Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sideways Sweaters

Gosh, where have the days gone since my last post?  I bet everyone is as busy with summer activities as we have been so far.  It's been gardens, gardens and gardens,  friends, lousy weather, a few side trips shopping, cooking and baking (ah, another story for my other blog), some entertaining and trying to get some rest in between it all.

I promised to put up some photos of the crazy sidways sweater I've been knitting.  I've been  FOREVER  at this project (just seems that way to me since so many months have flown by since I started it in January - yikes)!  Not exactly like I'm going to need a sweater when it's 90 degrees outside and 95% humidity is it?

I bought this book - "Knitting Cuff to Cuff" several years ago and thought this might be the answer to all my prayers to knit an EASY sweater for a change - just knit, knit, knit and sew up the edges!

Well, you do wind up doing a whole lot of knitting - it seems like I'm never going to finish this monster.  I know it isn't any bigger than any other sweater I've knit, but...........  Maybe  it's because EVERYTHING - front, back, sleeves, cuffs, etc. - is being knit at the same time and all of it is sitting in my lap all the time that it feels like it will NEVER be finished.  

I had to lay this out on my carpeting just to get a good photo.
I decided to use up a bunch of Wool Ease yarns that I had hanging around so if the total job wound up being a HUGE flop then not a lot of wasted money.  I decided I would change colors as I went and if I ran out of a color - wing it, in other words!  (Shush, I really did have a bit more of a plan than that but that's fairly close to my plan....)  I didn't even do a gauge sample (horrors....) figuring I would get creative with the side seams if it turned out too small (funny aren't I?)

Back side band almost finished - actually, it is finished now and I'm on to the front band.....that's all that is left to do.......wheeeee!
Band is just a plain k1, p1 ribbed edge since I did not want to fuss around with trying to get some odd assortment of stitches to work out properly so stuck to what I knew would work.....remember, you are picking up for the band, cuffs and neck on the odd side of the knitting which gives you a totally different number of stitches then if you pick up at the live side.

Neck band with a cast off using the yarn over method for extra stretch.  Looks a little rumpled in the front and at the back but this will even out when it is blocked.

Photo of one cuff, which is extra long to compensate for a mistake I had in reading and understanding the instructions when knitting the length of the sleeve.  I caught the mistake when I was finishing up the second sleeve - oops, so I just shortened the second one and knit the cuffs longer than I had planned.  I must admit I found the directions a little confusing when it came to increasing and decreasing for the sleeves but then I'm a very visual person who rarely reads any pattern, if I don't have to, and always manage to get the project done.....really HATE WRITTEN directions for knitting and much prefer graphs - graphs make me happy.

One of the ideas I had BEFORE I started this sweater was to make it as simple as possible, get it finished to the point of sewing up the side seams and then go back into the sweater with a crochet hook and get CREATIVE.  I'm not sure I want to spend another minute on this sweater except call it a day, sew up the side seams and go on to something else......still thinking......
That's all for today folks, drop around again when you have the time and see if I decided to doing anything crazy with this beastie!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bizy Bea's Sweater

I've been bogged down for the last several months with family problems but I won't retype my reasons here once again.  If you are interested you can read my post on "Downeast In Maine" blog on June 17th.  Needless to say, it's been a trying many months and I'm hoping some things will settle down in my life so I can once again focus on the fun stuff!  I'm up for the FUN STUFF for a change!

I did finally finish the last dog sweater I was knitting several months ago.  It actually turned out cute and I gave it a nice long/high collar just for the fun of it.  Whether the longer collar keeps her warmer in the cold weather is anyone's guess.

Bizy Bea in her dog sweater

I also have a sweater in progress for me that I've been working on since December - no one said I was quick (ha) but many things have come between me and that sweater!  I am at the point of almost finishing up the ribbing on the bottom and then putting it together.  As soon as I can get some photos of it I'll get them posted.  I have NOT done one thing about rug hooking since I posted last but hope to change that soon also as long as health, family and other interruptions cooperate! 

 I'll be back......

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"Winter" panel finished

Back of dog sweater in the works

Okay, I got a little side tracked with knitting a dog sweater but I did manage to get the next "Four Seasons" panel finished - behold "Winter" in next photo.


After I finished "Winter" I decided to fix a few things I wasn't happy with in the "Fall" panel.


 I changed the trunks on the trees because I felt the other trunks with the wider strips just didn't look right.  Now I'm on to panel # 1 "Spring" below.


The extended lines are to make sure that all four panels are the same size.  I started out with  5" x 7" panels and after finishing "Fall" the size has balooned to 5" x 8" and then after I finished "Winter" the size was 6" x 8" so I went back to "Fall" and added the necessary inches.  The two finished panels are now 6" x 8" and I can not let this one get away from me because the frames are cut - curtains if one of them is too big!
I quickly roughed out a drawing with a marker to denote placement of objects for "Spring" which I'll start soon - dog sweater is calling me to get it finished!

My  3 year old English Springer Spaniel,  Bizy Bea has very thin hair on her chest and gets chilly.  How do I know this?  Well, now that the wood stove is going most of the time in our family room since we have not turned any heat on just yet and it can get as low as 50 degrees in the house and even colder at night she has taken up almost permanent residence in front of that stove even with a sweater on!  I call her my substitute CAT.  She has two sweaters now but we all know how dogs like to roll on the ground, chase after things and get wet so she needs a couple more.  I'm going to cut a paper pattern with the dimensions of this pattern and the next one I'm going to sew.  Anyhoo, that's it for now - panels coming along, even if a bit slower than I planned.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

"Winter" Four Seasons Panels - Update

I have started the Winter panel and thought you might like a peek.
I posted a wider shot of the hooking being done so you can see it in comparison to the Fall panel.
Still have a long ways to go since most of this is #3, 4 and some #6's with over spun white yarn.  
One of the objectives with these panels was for me to try to use as much left overs in my wool collection without having to cut anything far so good.  I have put in one strip at the top for the sky color but not sure it's as dark as I would like it to be.  There is one lighter strip near the snow's edge.  I'll have to wait until more is complete before I make a final decision.  Of course changes could also take place in other areas as it evolves - we all know how that can happen!
That's it for today - see you all later.

Friday, November 2, 2012

"Four Seasons" Panels - Update

As promised, an update on my first hooked "Four Seasons" panel.

I started with the Fall section first and I think I will do the Winter one next.  This one turned out a tad bigger than the originally planned 5" x 7".  It is now 6" x 7.5" so that means all the rest of them I will have to be careful to get them all the same size.  I have found some neat frames that will work nicely with these panels when finished.  My husband is going to make them for me so I will have control over the opening which is comforting.  The wool strips are mostly #6 with a few #4's and the greens and yellows are hand dyed whereas the orange bottom is a plaid off the bolt along with the cream color of the trunk of trees.

I only posted this one for a size comparison.

That's it for now but stay tuned and I'll post the other one soon.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Thank You to Everyone!

Just a small "Thank You" to everyone who wrote to me plus posted comments on my "Lollipop Dreams" rug.....I really appreciate your kind comments.

Small Project - POTHOLDERS

I have been needing some new potholders for a very long time.  Could I buy them?  Sure, but I thought it would be nicer to make them myself, but then I'm always lining up projects I think I can do better myself.....that's how I get myself into mucho trouble from time to time!!

  Well today was the day to sew since I've been putting this off for months since I bought the insulating material to go on the inside (purchased from  So I went up to my studio and looked around for what I thought would be some nice thick wool.  I originally was planning to do some crazy log cabin piecing with multiple colors and then I put my head between my legs and took a long deep breath and asked myself "what are you thinking, for potholders?"  So down and dirty quick was the solution I needed, at least for these two for now, and this stopped me from hyperventilating over this project!!

I found this scrap of the dark very heavy twill that will not go through the Frazer cutter to make hooked rugs and thought this will work.  Next what do I have that sort of matches or contrasts?  The background twill fabric that I absolutely loathe that I used in the background of my "Lollipop" rug.  Nice fabric 100% wool but because it is a twill and very thick you can't cut it very narrow or it pulls apart when hooking so I figured let's use up as much as I can anywhere I can of this nasty stuff.

I put lining, back and front together and thought it was way too plain - they're potholders for cry'n out loud - there I go again, so I just had to add something for a tiny bit of decoration - can't help myself!  Not wanting to do any hand stitching I decided to cut out the star appliqués and use the sewing machine to zip around the edges with the blanket stitch.  The next one I decided to appliqué first before I put everything together.  I did not worry about the corners too much or getting everything perfectly straight - remember VERY THICK FABRICS -  POTHOLDERS remember, so turning the corners was not easy.  Anyway, I think they are cute and will fill the bill for now.  I plan to make a couple more and probably do something similar.

Anyhoo, use up that left over small scraps of wool and make some pot holders......LOL!  Oh, they are over-sized at 6" x 9" and will go in a drawer so I didn't need any tabs on them either.....all this for something that will go in a drawer - I'm really mad!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"Four Seasons" Panels

I decided I would do a hooking project that is a little smaller than the last one for a change of pace and maybe a quicker finish time.   I came up with this idea of four 5" x 7" sections that will show the same design but at different times of the year.  I'm not even going to draw the design on the rug warp but keep my original sketch handy and work blind.  I think by doing that I will have some variations in the hooking and each section should be slightly different but still in the end, the same design.  

I drew a 5" x 7" outline on the paper and then walked over to one of the windows in my studio and looked out at the trees and sketched what I thought would work as far as balance.

One of the windows looking out at the woods and a grove of birch trees from my studio.
Want to see other photos of my home and property in Maine then go to my blog:
What you are seeing in the window in a very large 60" Cranbrook loom
sitting idle......ho hum, if I only had more hands.....

Not much to look at at the moment but I'll post progress reports as I go along.  Each section is exactly 5" x 7" with 2" all around.  I plan to put these finished pieces in country frame to hang in my powder bathroom.  Check back in a few days and maybe I'll have finished one of them.  Oh, btw, I'll probably hook these using a #4 since the space is so small and a #8 might just be too big and crowd out any details.  

Saturday, October 20, 2012

"Lollipop Dreams" FINISHED & HUNG!!

"Lollipop Dreams" hung in its new home location.  I finished up the binding on the back today and decided to GET IT UP before it got ROLLED UP and stored away until I got around to it, LOL!
Not the best photo but lighting is a little dim in this mudroom/hallway but I think everyone gets the idea.  Better photo below.

"Lollipop Dreams"

35.5" high x 37" wide
Designed and hooked by me
Lots of hand dyed wools in #'s 4-8 cuts
Background and bottom edge between points is an off the bolt fabric

On to the next rug:
"A River Runs Thru It"
Coming Soon

**Additional notes about "Lollipop Dreams."

I sort of jumped the gun on posting this as FINISHED when it's not actually 100% finished yet - just the hooking - since I have some added things to make for it to be complete.  "Lollipop...." is going to be a wall piece and the points on the bottom will have red polymer clay country style hearts hanging from each tip along with maybe gray/blue tabs at the top for hanging over a dowel.  

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Just a little teaser...."Lollipop Dreams"

Progress is being made........

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"Idea Boards, Binders and Color Wheels"

I was cleaning up my kitchen from breakfast this morning and I thought of a couple of habits I have practiced for many years that can be so much help when planning a rug, your next sewing project, decorating a home or color coordinating a wedding!  

Idea Board or Story Boards
Find a place in your home - backside of a door, wall over a desk,  inside a kitchen cabinet where you can hang a cork board or pin right into a wall - something I've done in my sewing area.  DH wasn't too happy about that one but he has long forgotten and it is my studio anyway.  Start collecting ideas.  Color combinations you like together.  Fabrics that are in a room where you want to put a rug.  Carry samples with you when you go shopping in a 3-ring binder, see next suggestion, when shopping wool or trying to decide on a dye swatch and whether it will match that quilt on your bed.

Whether you are trying to pick colors for a rug or for a whole house this is the best way to not go crazy in the process.  My husband and I have built and I have decorated 6 homes, along with a couple of strays, my definition of homes we didn't live in very long or those of clients when I owned an Interior Design and Decorating business many years ago.  I always had a binder for my clients and for myself with plastic sleeves where I organized fabrics and paint samples, ideas for styles or treatments for cabinets, plumbing fixtures, bathtubs, flooring, wallpapers, draperies and on and on - whatever I knew I wanted in the house went into that binder!

Acquire a collection of paint chips or if you can get your hands on a full book of samples all the better.  Wonderful tool for trying to match colors.

A whole book of color chips used to run around $10 from some of the major paint companies but I have no idea what they cost these days.  I still have several from our last house we built and still live in from 20 years ago.  I keep promising myself to locate a few more current color books but just haven't gotten around to it yet.  I still use one of these paint books if I'm trying to match a color like for instance my country bench color is matched to one of the colors in the rug under my kitchen table.

Buy a Color Wheel!
There are a zillion color wheels out there so pick wisely.  You can get them that are very basic and then those that shift several levels in value which can be very helpful.  Keep one handy and learning how to use it can be an invaluable tool when matching wool colors in a rug.  Not all greens go together nor all the other colors in one color family.  Learn to see the differences and you'll be on your way to a more harmonious presentation.

That's my tip for the day on color and planning a rug or even decorating a home.....back to cleaning up my kitchen!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Worms, Worms & Worms!

Did you think I was shifting topics on this blog from fibers to gardening?  Nope, I'm talking about "wool worms."  If you are a rug hooker then you definitely know what I'm talking about!  Never ending growing ever larger quantities of these cut pieces.......eeeeeeeeek!  What to do about it?

My solution is a "worm roll." I took a long piece of canvas, hemmed all edges,  sewed plastic curtain rings approx. 6-8" apart down the center of the length.  Thread a long cord or twill strap material (see in photo) through the rings.  Make sure you are attached at one end and leave enough length in your strap to go around the individual bundles of wool worms and then wrap around the roll when rolled up.  Make sure you don't roll too tightly or some wool strips will pull apart when you pull them from the roll.  Number 4 cuts and below and particularly out of twills can pull apart easily otherwise plain weave cuts hold up well all the way down to a #4 cut.

I have a cute little bench that sits next to my chair where I do my hooking and can easily pull strips of wool as I need them.  

You can make these to accommodate various lengths of worms and small or larger quantities of strips.  Just make sure you have enough to overlap when rolled up and your strapping material is long enough to wrap around the roll and tie a knot to hold the whole roll together.

Happy worm control!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"Inspiration & Creativity" - TIME TO WAIT!

Set back, take a big breath, wait and think.

It’s now time to ponder your new ideas and any sketches you have made.  Maybe leave the drawings and notes for a few days or even longer.  You don’t want to leap into a huge project BEFORE you have considered all of the possibilities.  Planning a painting or a rug is like telling a story.  At the base level, we are all story tellers and the better we understand the need for balance, harmony, relationships of components and color arrangement the better our story will come out.   These components are much more critical when planning some styles of art or rugs.  If you are painting a still life then there can be a very strong story, or not, but the relationship of the objects in the painting is important.  The same is true of a landscape rug.  If you are designing a primitive hooked rug then the rules of balance and perspective are not quite as important.  All things to ponder first before you leap into a monster rug and then find something isn’t working right.

Here are a few thoughts and ideas to consider and questions to ask of yourself.   

1.  Does this design reflect cleanly and completely what I’m trying to say?
2.  Can I take away any part of my drawing that does not fit? 
3.  Can I add something to the drawing that is important to tell the story?
4.  Is the drawing balanced, i.e., a good repetition of components throughout            
                   that work together?
5   Do I need to consider any one thing the focal point in my rug?
6.  Color – what colors and where do I place them?  Remember the need to spread the color around – red here, then some red over there.  Enough on color because I digress.

Here are a couple of exercises that work for me:

Do additional thumbnail sketches and re-arrange the individual design components several different ways until you find one that you like.

Make full size cut out shapes of all of your subject pieces, i.e., cat, duck, dog, horse, crow, geometric shapes in different sizes, houses, trees, cars and so on.

Get a large piece of paper the size of the rug you want to make.  Here is what I use.

 You can buy this paper from moving companies and shippers.  The bundles are huge!  Best kept secret that most artists don’t even know exists so avail yourself of this wonderful inexpensive resource.  I have called around and prices vary but I’ve found that the large moving companies are the least expensive.  You can buy a large 25# bundle, which will last you a LIFETIME!  I could not get the exact sheet count but when I asked the salesman as to whether it was maybe the size of a ream (500 sheets) he said “oh my, probably more than that!” for around $32.  You can also buy much less in 10# amounts.  U-Haul sells the paper at 70 sheets for $5.95 and 200 sheets for $9.95.  The sheets from the moving companies  are 24” x 36” and from U-Haul they are 24” x 27”  If you are going to be doing a larger rug than these sizes then just cut and tape extensions to these sheets.  One note, I’ve being using one large 25# bundle of this paper for 20+ years and I still have maybe 100 sheets left – so buy wisely or buy to share with others!

Now, back to our discussion on topic.

Put all your shapes on the paper and start moving them around until you find an arrangement you like.  Rearrange your design pieces in different ways until you get one that makes you sing – “that’s it.”

Think about how wide you want your border to be and what type of design pieces would go with the central theme of your rug.  Maybe even do some cut outs of those pieces and position around the rug’s edges.  

When a composition works, you will know it almost instinctively.  I could go into a lot on the topic of “rules” about composition but I’ll save that for another discussion at some point in the future. For the time we will leave the “rules” about composition, line, balance, focal point for another time.  For now, just focus on emotion and whether your drawing/arrangment “talks” to you and makes you happy.  Why else do these rugs if it’s not to make our selves happy anyway?  If you are determined to move into the art world of galleries and shows then a little time spent on understanding some of the above topics on “rules” will be necessary tools to learn but for now just focus on what you love.   If you are designing a rug that is primitive or whimsical then you don’t usually have to worry too much about composition rules. 

One final thought on inspiration.

No one person has a corner on the “creativity” market; it’s open to all of us.  Many rules have been written for artists to follow, some good and some not so good.  Many rules are valuable assets to learn and many rules scream to be broken.  First learn the rule, and then decide if you want to break it and why.  A good understanding of design, color, line, perspective and texture will always be beneficial elements to have tucked away in your creative toolbox for when you need them.
I hope you have enjoyed my thoughts on "inspiration and creativity" and learned a few tips to help you go forth and tap your own inner core of creative juice.   These techniques have worked for me for many years.  I don’t always go through the entire multiple steps each time I plan a rug or a painting.  Many of these steps are very ingrained in my brain and therefore I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about them.  If I’m arranging a still life painting I just add and subtract objects, somewhat like moving paper pieces around on a large piece of paper, until I get the arrangement I like and then I photograph it.  I look at the many photos on my computer, delete and analyze until I get the one that says, “that’s it.” If I do get hung up and something isn’t working then I’ll go back to these exercises and explore where I might fix my problem. 

I hope you find these recommendations to accessing your “inspiration & creativity” useful and you will give them a try.  There is nothing more satisfying than the ability to bring forth YOUR VERY OWN ideas and create beautiful original designs no matter whether it's painting, rug hooking or maybe even writing a novel.  Give them a try and I bet you probably will be surprised at what happens next.

If you liked these helpful hints about “inspiration and creativity” then drop me a note.  If you have other areas about design, color and rug hooking or painting you would like to see explored then e-mail me.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Embroidered Child's Sweater

Just a little "change of pace or topic" until I post the final installment of my ideas on "inspiration and creativity."

This is a little girl's sweater, approx. a 3 year old size.
I originally knit the sweater and never planned the embroidery.  I finished the sweater and thought it was awfully plain and w/o interest.  I decided I needed to punch it up a bit and then I wound up with a 6 month project of adding the embroidery!  It was actually a fun project but way more involved than I had originally intended.  

I had no plan or pattern to work from.  I just started adding the stems first, then the big flowers to the front, back and sleeves and finally the small area at the bottom after the big sweater pieces were put together.  I crocheted the ruffle around the bottom and the band on the front.

I thought the whole thing came out rather cute and I could imagine doing something like this on a "big girl's" sweater next.  I would change one thing - do the embroidery on a stocking stitch rather than a garter stitch.  Garter stitch is way too springy and I had to make sure there was plenty of give in all directions when doing the stitching of the stems and big flowers.  The entire sweater is out of needlepoint wool for the embroidery and the base sweater is Lion Brand Fishermen's wool.