Custom Project - Part 1

Well, with the gracious permission of my custom rug customer, Kate, I am going to document this process from beginning to end. I will get out there right up front that I'm not sure I will ever do a custom commission again...not because it's too much work, or too little pay, or anything like that - this project is fine in those regards. It's about the enormous sense of responsibility I have to really get this right. That didn't sound good either, did it? I do not mean to say that I don't always want to get a piece right...but when a customer comes to you with an idea for a design that you know is about experiences and memories near and dear to them,'s intimidating. But who knows - I may finish this one and think, "Wow, maybe I should do that again."

A little background info on the design: This pattern was drawn by Daniel Rosenburg, Jen's husband, because I was unable to get it to a state where I thought it did the subject justice. I draw chunky, very primitive designs - that's my thing. If you go to our Etsy shop you'll be able to see the difference in style between what I draw and what Dan draws. Still, I took a stab at this one, working from photos Kate gave me, and then she and I sat down together to fine tune where elements might be out of proportion or place. This was a great excuse to meet with a great woman at the great Cafe Nomad on Main Street in Norway, Maine - that's a lot of greats, but they're all justified! After that I took the pattern home and started tweaking. And tweaking. Aaaaaaand tweaking. And vowing to take a drawing course some time soon at the local community college (which I still plan to do). And more tweaking. And then....I contacted Jen and Dan with a cry for help. Dan agreed to rescue me so I sent my version, all the photos, a video Kate had taken of the subject, and a long and involved email out to him, along with a check for his services lest I feel any more like a dweeb than I already did. Dan assessed the multi-element design as a request to fit a "five pound ham in a three pound can" task, but proceeded to pull off the following drawing, which I think is pure genius:

Copyright 2012 Parris House Wool Works/Daniel Rosenburg
This pattern depicts Kate's view from her husband's family's gorgeous lake front home in our fair region, northern New England. Our family also has a waterfront cottage, and I grew up summering on a lake in Maine, so the importance of this spot for them and the love they have for it is something I can easily relate to. Thus...the sense that I need to really make this beautiful. After receiving it back from Dan, I presented it to Kate, who declared it wonderful (yay!) and I set about transferring it to linen. But...hold the presses!

Again, I'm a chunky, primitive kind of girl. (Oh dear...that came out all wrong...) My patterns are relatively simple, so tracing them under bright light by just putting the linen over the design has always worked for me. Not with this project. I tried multiple places in the house, with bright sunlight, lamps, big flashlights - I just could not see the pattern well enough in enough detail to properly get it on to the linen. (Up side? Hubby has promised to build me a light table, which will also come in handy doing photography for the Etsy shop.) I called up Connie Fletcher of Seven Gables Rug Hooking - my mentor and eternally patient guru - who told me to come on in to the shop she co-owns, Artful Hands Fiber Studio, also in Norway (aren't we lucky???). Connie showed me the process of tracing the pattern on to dot covered sheer interfacing, and then tracing through on to the linen. I know many of you reading this have done this before, but as Jen and I explained in our very first post - we are still learning.

Copyright 2012 Parris House Wool Works/Daniel Rosenburg

Copyright 2012 Parris House Wool Works/Daniel Rosenburg

Copyright 2012 Parris House Wool Works/Daniel Rosenburg
I will sheepishly admit also that I had to ask Connie to show me the best way to make sure a pattern is drawn on the grain, as I have had some occasional mishaps in the past making that happen (although please be assured that any pattern purchased from our shop is successfully drawn ON the grain).

Next came the fun part - choosing the wools. I could have dyed my own wool for this project but it's just not necessary. Seven Gables Rug Hooking has so many beautiful wools to choose from and Connie is such a master at dyeing that I felt that doing it myself would just add time to the process that by now I do not have - this rug is going to be a Christmas gift. Here are some of the wools I chose yesterday, and stripped in to 6 and 7 cuts today. My camera does not do them justice - the color saturation and richness of these wools is much greater than it appears in this photo.

Wools purchased from Seven Gables Rug Hooking/Connie Fletcher

So that's it - that's where I am. Only one thing left to do, right? I'm starting with the rocks. Wish me luck!

What have you got on your hooking frame these days? Please share! I'll keep you posted on this project - happy hooking! ~ Beth

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