The Old Tyme Fiber Arts Festival of the Upper West Side
November 6, 2008
There is no other way to say this except to just come right out with it: I’ve ditched knitting for rug hooking and quilting. Right now, right this very minute, I am having a very serious and perhaps life-changing debate with myself on these questions:
Should I get a rug hooking frame? Which I could also use for hand quilting? And I would put this thing where, exactly? (Perhaps next to the churn, and the washboard I tote down to the Hudson to do the laundry?) Have I gone too far? Is it too late to turn back?
Those who hook rugs and quilt, please weigh in with your recommendations. I’m not sure I’m ready to step up to this new level of Equipage, but I’m giving it deep and constant thought.
Introducing: My First Rug
Trying to start out with good habits, I followed instructions in Wool Rug Hooking by Tara Darr, to finish this little rug (10 inches across) with a whipstitched edge all round. (You roll the trimmed edge of the base fabric around a piece of cotton cord and whip stitch it down. Then you cover the rolled-up edge with close whip stitches of wool yarn. This line cracked me up: “Many yarns can be found at your local rug hooking, needlepoint and knitting shops.” Or in my case, within arm’s reach of the bed.)
I even labeled it for posterity. I like the way the back looks almost as well as the front.
It has its flaws, but it’s mine. And it works. I use it as a big coaster.
The Joys of Hairlessness
You know how I love Big Hair. But as I was googling around about rug hooking, I kept seeing mentions of “hairless linen” for use as a foundation fabric. Tara Darr writes about the many possible foundations for rug hooking, including the burlap I was using from my Cat’s Paw kit, but she pretty much raves about the linen. “Hooking a 1/2 inch-wide strip of wool on linen is like pulling wool through butter…”
A kind, enabling reader sent me a generous sample of hairless linen. (Thanks, Camilla!) Longing for the Butter Experience, I “cast on” for a new rug immediately.
It’s like BUTTAH! Totally different experience from pulling loops through hairy, splitty burlap! I’m kind of mad that I ever had to hook through burlap. (Those were hard times, the Burlap Times.)
Once you go hairless linen, you never go back.
Adding to the alternate crafts magic, I got to use my new Rhinebeck lucet to make a nice linen cord to finish this little rug.
Here’s how it’s done, to start with.
You whip stitch the linen over the cord with a strong sewing thread, and then cover it with wool yarn whip stitches. I cannot properly convey to you how satisfying this is. Must hook more!
The Old Bergere She Ain’t What She Used To Be
Another fun projeck. I’ve sent this dilapidated fake French chair (which almost got sent to the curb) to the upholsterer’s to redo it for Carrie. She thinks she ought to have a special chair for reading. I have in mind a fabric that’s screen-printed with handwriting. Carrie wants to paint the woodwork silver. This is going to be interesting.
Department of Co-Bloggette Affairs
I want to thank you for the last post. Once in a while–and I will admit that this is rare–something happens in the world that actually overshadows knitting for a minute. (It sounds crazy, but it’s true!) In a blabby blog like ours, where the line between knitting and life is pretty blurry to begin with, it would be unnatural not to share a point of view on such occasions. That anyone should feel so offended by this that they do not want to hear another word we have to say (even on bipartisan issues as applied i-cord and how to accessorize a Fair Isle sweater with a crinoline and Wellies) is a pretty sad commentary on the state of civility. I think we have more to gain by listening to each other even when we disagree, and keeping communication going on things we share (like knitting), but I don’t expect everyone to agree about that, either.