Sunday, June 30, 2013

Three Flowers Rag Rug - Progress Report

I have been working on my latest rag rug for a number of months now (just the odd hour now and then). I have nearly finished the hooking on this piece.

This one is made of repurposed fabrics (mainly cotton t-shirts and tops) sourced from family cast-offs, and from charity shops. A few of the fabrics have been overdyed by me (the yellow used in the flower centres, for example).

The rug is hooked onto a natural linen base cloth fixed to a wooden frame.


The design is drawn free hand onto the backing material with a felt-tipped pen. The hooking is done with a hand hook, which looks like a large crochet hook in a wooden handle. The fabric is cut with scissors, into strips of 1/4 - 1/2" in width depending upon the thickness. (This can be done with a rotary cutter and self-healing cutting mat if you prefer a more uniform strip, but I find that it creates more dust that way. I prefer to do a bit of cutting alternated with hooking as it makes for more variety in the work).

 The end of the fabric strip and one loop have been drawn to the front of the rug

To make a loop in the fabric, you start with the strip below the backing fabric, poke your hook into the backing and draw the end of the strip to the surface, leaving about 1/2" above the surface (more if you want a higher pile on your finished rug). Skip a few holes in the backing, poke the hook back through and draw the strip up again forming a loop of your chosen height. I have made the loops about 1/4" high on this piece. I normally pull the loop slightly further up than I want, and use the hand below the fabric to pull the strip back down the right height.

A row of loops (roughly!) following the line of the design

You should end up with rows of little loops on the front and flat 'stitches' on the back. Trim the ends on the front to the height of the loops. You repeat this loop-forming action thousands of times and you have a rug!

Front of the rug showing six rows of hooking

It is very easy to learn and you can start by just making a small 'hit and miss' piece like a cushion cover to practise the technique. (Just hook random colours in straight lines, so there is no design or colour placement to worry about.)

Reverse of the rug, showing the flat lines of fabric strip

The technique is very time consuming and you get through far more fabric that you would imagine.  This rug (27 x 35") has so far taken pieces from approximately thirty t-shirts and tops, one pair of leggings and a jersey sheet!

Only a few more weeks of hooking to go...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Views From Latrigg, Near Keswick

Rob, Brock and I had a pleasant walk on Latrigg, a fell near Keswick in the Lake District, yesterday. You can walk from the town centre: see this walk for an example; or park near the summit and do a less steep, circular walk from there. The parking area is extremely busy and the access road is in an appalling state of repair and very steep - so be warned!

I think that this is one of the easiest walks with the best return in lovely views! For that reason, it is very popular, so there are always lots of people about.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Love Buttons Mention in The Knitter Magazine

I am delighted to say that some Love Buttons wooden buttons have been picked to appear in Issue 60 of The Knitter magazine, on sale 28 June 2013.

I think they have done a lovely job of laying out the buttons for the feature. Here is a preview:-

To buy the buttons featured at top right of the article, please click here. To see all of the new wooden buttons at Love Buttons HQ, please click here.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Pinyon Review Number 3

I have just received my copy of the latest Pinyon Review, a journal "celebrating the arts & sciences". This is the May 2013 edition, Number 3.

The journal includes the work of eight contemporary poets, including Kurt Heinzelman, Diane M Moore and Dabney Stuart. The ethereal cover photograph depicting a Spring blizzard is taken by Rob Walton.

Kurt Heinzelman's poem Cabbage Hauling evokes wonderful images of travelling to work in the fields:-

of stammering cabbage heads
whitened with lickspittle hoarfrost,
knotting like water at the brim..."

Another featured poet, Richard Cecil, dreams of visiting Paris in his poem, La Vie Parisienne, but it was his second poem, Faculty Annual Report that I loved. It remorselessly lists the (lack of) achievements of a university lecturer, who seems to have lost all enthusiasm for his work, summed up in the final lines of the poem:-

Service to the University:
Attended pointless meetings of committees.
Attended pointless meetings of committees."

Having worked for a council-run museum, I can wholeheartedly identify with this feeling.

A tantalising chapter from the new book by Gary Lee Entsminger and Susan Elizabeth Elliott is included: Fall of '33.

In the book, "12-year-old Eva looks back—observing, associating, remembering the fall of 1933, her last twenty days on her family’s farm nestled in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains."

For me, the language and descriptions are so enjoyable to read, and conjure up the time and place perfectly:-

"Billy and I walked beside the creek. The sycamores were smooth, shiny white-barked, and their leaves had begun to fall. The blackbirds were gathering, cackling, talking to each other, one branch to another. We stopped where the creek pools and tossed in leaves, watching them swirl downstream. I asked Billy if he wanted to play Invisible Universe."

The journal also features the work of two artists, yours truly, and Mary Moran Miller. Mary Moran Miller makes sculptural baskets made from painted watercolour paper, that she cuts into strips and weaves. The results are stunning: a mixture of beautifully-judged colour, pattern, texture and form.

To get your hands on a copy of this wonderful journal, please visit the publisher's website: Pinyon Publishing.

1 Austerity Britain and 9 Green Britain Patchwork Flags (commission for EDF, 2009)
By Fire Horse Textiles

Monday, June 10, 2013

Brock and Our Wildflower Beds

We have let most of our lawn and borders go wild this year, after experimenting with a small patch last year. Rob has mowed some strips so that we can walk around and enjoy the flowers. The buttercups, red dead-nettles and stinging nettles always do well on our heavy clay soil. This year we have some red campion growing in amongst our chives. We have planted a few sunflowers in the gaps and other random patches of mixed seeds on the mole hills to see if we can introduce some variety.
[Please click on the photos to see a larger version.]

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Portinscale & Swindale Walk, Lake District

Rob, Brock and I went on a walk in the Lake District on Tuesday. The walk is number 13 in the Footprint 'Walks Around Keswick' guide. ISBN 9781871149579.

It was a beautiful day and we started out from the small village of Portinscale, near Keswick. After a few false starts (a few things have changed since the guide was written!) we found the start of the walk. It goes through meadows and past Swinside hill.

Brock looking forward to a refreshing paddle in the beck.

You pass the small hamlet of Ullock then head towards Newlands Beck, a clear and refreshing stream.

We stopped for lunch at the Swinside Inn (around the 2 mile mark of the walk). Dogs are allowed inside. It was such a nice day that we sat at one of the tables outside. Rob had a ploughman's lunch and I had a jacket potato with cheese and beans. With two (very weak) coffees and two soft drinks, the bill came to over £24. Rather pricey, but that's the Lake District for you.

Coconut-scented gorse blossoms.

We headed back to Portinscale, where we had parked the car opposite a cafe (possibly a better place to eat.) A very attractive walk and, without any hills, it makes it a simple and relaxing stroll.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Visit to Dunkeld

Rob, Brock and I went on a visit to Dunkeld, Perthshire, Scotland last week.

Here are a few photos from our trip:-

Brock on a walk in Moffat, to break the journey on the way up.

Rob and Brock on a walk around the city walls in Sterling (another break: this time for lunch).

The Mars Wark Cemetery in Sterling.

Our hotel in Dunkeld.

Some views from and on the bridge in Dunkeld.

We had afternoon tea in the Spill The Beans Cafe, which we have visited once before. They allow dogs into a tiny corridor-sized room, so we were able to take Brock with us. When we eventually got our tea, coffee, meringue and scone. Rob said that his scone was hard and not very palatable. My meringue was a large one, laced with strawberry and served with a few fresh strawberries and cream. The drinks were fine. Service was slow, especially when it came to pay and we probably would not go back for that reason.

Dinner was in the restaurant at the Atholl Arms Hotel. The dining room has a good view of the river (if you can get a window seat - which we did.) We had an asparagus and almond salad to start which was good and fresh and very tasty - maybe a bit too salty. Rob had a lentil loaf with potato croquettes for his main course, which he enjoyed. I had a potato rosti with braised celery, red onion and fennel. It should have come with a ginger puree, but I could not taste any ginger at all. It was however an interesting offering of vegetarian main courses, so full marks on that front. I found my main course a bit too oily and salty for my taste. We did not have desserts, but there looked to be a good range. With drinks, the bill came to around £56.


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