Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Adventures in Hooking

So my resolve to spend les time online is going...okay. Problem is, I'm not really working all that much these days, and what work I do is from home for the most part. I'm sort of like a stay at home mom - with no kids. The idea of going into an office every day and wearing business casual clothes makes me feel like vomitting, to be frank. I could do it, if I had to, but I have absolutely no desire, and am lucky enough to have a significant other who doesn't think this is the end of the world.

In fairness, though, I thought I should at least make a token effort to bring my income above the official poverty level and contribute something to the household income. Hence my return to rug hooking. So far I've actually just spent money. I bought two hand drawn patterns ($32 each) from a fiber artist named Martina Lesar - I love the patterns I selected and can't wait to get to work on them. Plus I like that I got to support another artist in the process of my own creating.

I found a very heavy wool shirt/jacket at a high school rummage sale for $1 and purchased three pairs of pants for $3 each at Goodwill the other day. The wool content of the fabric has to be at least 80%, and a lot of clothes out there these days are all sorts of weird blends of synthetic things, so it takes some hunting to find the right stuff.

This past week, I've been dis-assembling the clothes with a seam ripper I purchased for $2.99. I can say with complete confidence, LL Bean makes some tough clothes. No wonder they guarantee them for life. I'd guess it took me close to five hours to take their shirt apart. I tend to have an overactive imagination, so the five hours went by pretty quickly when I found a Peace Corps button in the pocket - I spent the whole time imagining the fantastic adventures the shirt and its wearer had been on all over the world. Then I felt sad it had ended up in a heap at a high school rummage sale. Then I decided I was glad that at least I could give it a chance at a new adventure as part of a treasured piece of art in somebody's home (I told you I have an overactive imagination).

I have one and a half pair of pants to finish taking apart, then I need to go back to Goodwill and find some crappy old pots to do the dyeing in. And research how to do the dyeing. I want to use all natural materials rather than synthetic chemical dyes, but I've heard some concerns about how color fast they are.

What I've already come to appreciate, without actually starting the project in earnest yet, is that it's no wonder hand made stuff is expensive compared to what they have at Target and such places. It takes a lot of time to carefully source materials. It takes a lot of time to do quality work. And it's not cheap to do things well. I already have a new appreciation for the value added when a person makes an item versus when a factory makes an item. The funny thing is, I'm not new to this craft. The difference is, it's always been a hobby for me, so I've never dwelled on things like the value of the time that I put into it too much.

With that in mind, I'm off to buy those handmade produce bags I've been thinking about for the last two months. I'm sure they're well worth the cost.


Willow said...

I have alway wanted to learn to do rug hooking. I'll be checking to see your progress.

I used to buy 100% wool sweaters and skirts and felt them to make into bags. I changed to a front loading washer and now my wool doesn't felt as well. I have also bought sweaters to unravel and reknit the yarn into something new. That wasn't as successful. I agree that some companies make their clothes so well that they are hard to take apart. Then there are the companies that cut out the arms and necks from knitted material and simply sew in the arms and necklines. It's faster and cheaper, but then I couldn't use the short bits of yarn to reknit something else.

Heather @ SGF said...

Sounds like a really fun project. I can't wait to see photos!

Debbie said...

Once I finish my mermaid rug (LOL) I want to design my next rug myself which would save on the price of the pattern. So far I have always found the price of the pattern to be the most expensive part of the process (not counting the price of the frame, cutter etc.) You have a true natural talent for hooking - and I can't wait to see some of your finished products.

Melissa said...

Willow, rug hooking is a really easy thing for anybody to pick up, which is why I like it! Do you put the wool items into the dryer? If you don't, you might try it and see if that helps them felt more.

Heather, I'll definitely put up some photos - just be VERY patient :)

Falcon - I wish I could draw, even a little bit so I could feel more confident to design my own. I bet yours will come out great. How's the mermaid coming? did you start the baby one yet? You should post a pic of her and her pretty hair.