Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Back home again in Indiana, but too busy unpacking to spend any time online. Hoosiers- call, text, or stop by (AM or dinner time only pls)

Wrong season, right idea.  Yep, we've traded the hustle and bustle of Chicago for more relaxed and friendly (and friend filled) environs.  

The move was a nightmare... we would have done better to hire my homeless friends to pack and load.

Already though, my H.S. best friend has spent the afternoon with me because he knew I needed a friend and because he missed me (it'd been over a year!), and have made contact with or seen several other dear ones in my life.

Most of our stuff is still in boxes, it'll be a while before I have the time or energy to spend any amount of time online.

Hoosier folk reading this though- please do call, text, or stop by!  Our general schedule is awake and upacking 5a - noon, noon-2 wind down, 2-? nap, ? - 8, dinner and "Mama time", so mornings or around 7pm are the best time to catch us.  Eventually that will even out / change, but right now, there's a lot to do.

  Setting down new roots, even in fertile familiar soil, takes a lot of time and energy.

Barb's move was equally inept- about half the boxes marked for her went here and vice versa, but it was less stuff and a shorter distance, so less opportunities for destruction.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Its a good move for us to make, but its not made without sadness- A Fond Farewell to Chicago... and to all of you for a while too

Yes, I've been busier than... a campaign worker taking down all the yard signs, or a reporter trying to get an interview with anyone who's ever known and might work for the Prez Elect.

But I've been taking time to shoot some of my best, most picturesque, and most poignant videos and stills of Chicago ever.  They'll mostly have to wait- I've not even turned on my computer (or been able to get to it) in days, and mostly did so today to burn backups off.

Here's some of the stills I've taken.  They were all taken with my new cell phone, the aptly named (for me) Samsung RANT .  It shoots at the same resolution as my still camera, but generally the photos come out better.

My mother is very excited about us moving, and we need to do this, but there's much I love about Chicago, much I'll miss.  I love the Lake of course, the mass transit (best in the Midwest), the eclectic diversity of the place.  People wise, Snark rocks, but beyond that, there aren't any, other than "my" street people.  I hope someone else here comes along who will look at them has human beings worth a second of their time, and not just as another pile of refuse to step over.

Anyway, this is but a sample of what I've shot this week.  I'll probably still be uploading backlogged Chicago stuff when we've lived in Indy a year!

PS- I see some have taken me up on my challenge, but I'm not going to do anything other than thank those who have commented, and urge on those who haven't, until well after we're settled in in Indy!

PS#2- Barb's recovering as expected. She showed me her place yesterday... very nice, I'm happy for her. Pix and vid of that are in the que too.

PS for rug folk- been doing some very creative things, lots of stories and pix to upload there too, once we're settled in!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

2 Parts Frustration + 3 Parts Boredom + 1 Part Ingenuity = Rug needle made from a discout key fob

While my wife was in the hospital, I took a rug with me back and forth to work on while on the CTA. One day I made the mistake of leaving it in "Savi land" and she decided the needle was a chew toy. I got it back, but forgot to put it with the rug.


 We show up for her follow up apt. after discharge and... no needle. Initially I tried using a key, but the head of the key was just too fat to fit through. Then frustration and ingenuity came together, and I cut up one of my discount key fobs, and it worked. It wasn't ideal- it was a bit shorter than I'm used to, and I was always worried about giving myself a hellacious papercut, but it worked! I love the "make do with what you have on hand" aspect of this craft!

You can see me discussing this in the video below, and also see the canine culprit, angelic papillon puppy Savina...

Watch Toothbrush Rugs: Discount Key Fob as an emergency needle in Video Blogs and How to Videos  |  View More Free Videos Online at

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Not dead, just moving- Look for better tutorial videos Dec / January as a side effect

I tend to keep details of my personal life off this blog for the simple reason that they're not relevant to this craft. What my tastes in music are, where I live, and so forth having nothing to do with anything, and easily become distractions. (I've been involved with the medium of computer-aided communities and communication since the days of 300 baud dial up modems, so I've seen a lot of flame wars, etc.)

Those who have asked via email, I'll say a bit more to, but I love this craft so much that I don't want me, my life, or my personality to distract from it.

That being said, events in my personal life obviously affect the frequency and nature both of my rug making, and of my posting about it. I've mentioned before about working on rugs while waiting at the doctor's office and in my wife's hospital room (she is disabled and is hospitalized several times a year.)

So, a big one is coming up which will take me off line for a while, but when I come back, my posts here and especially my videos will show the difference. We're moving to a new home in a different but not very distant city. That home has much better lighting and "studio" resources, and that city has several other rug makers in it, so I may get the chance to showcase the craft of others, should they be willing to.

I expect I won't have anything new until December at the earliest, and for a week or so in November when the move itself happens I probably won't even have access to email, but go ahead and keep sending me questions, and as I have the chance, I'll be happy to answer them as always.

Happy rugging, be well, God bless...

Questions asnwered: Too many / few doubles and clockwise or counterclockwise?

These came in by email, and I always figure if one person is asking, many more are wondering.

The last first- too few:
When the rug is cupping up, you've put in too few double stitches. If you catch it early on, and depending on how tightly you stitch, what kind of material you're using, and so forth, usually no drastic action is necessary. Just make sure to put a normal number of double stitches in the following rows, and it will probably flatten out.

In extreme cases though, you will have to pull out a row or two. Except for where you've joined one strip to another... I usually just snip the joints out rather than try to pull them through.

Ripples and Waves- Too Many Doubles:
This is more often my problem, especially since I stitch so tightly. Unless you're sewing very loosely, or catch it early, you'll almost always have to undo to correct this.
The rug I'm working on currently has had this problem, but I'm trying to correct for it because I'm sewing it very loosely and using much more thin strips of fabric than usual. No, its not the rug most recently pictured. As per my next post, our life has turned upside down, so...
So, you'll be able to see when I'm finished with my "sari rug" as I call it how well trying to counter the ripples worked.

The big exception to both of these: Working with fabrics with spandex (such as hosiery) or plastic bags.
Both make wonderful rugs... I think rugs made from old pantyhose feel the best to walk on. But both of these are very unforgiving. Its easy to overstretch any fabric with "give" in it, only to find your rug is trying to self form itself into some bizarre 3D shape. Plastic bags, on the other hand, will NEVER stretch out. You have to keep the number of doubles just right with them from start to finish.

Clockwise vs. Counterclockwise = right / left handed
It was recently observed that the rug start I posted October 2nd seems to be going in a counterclockwise spiral. In the picture, indeed so it seems. When I work on it, however, its back is towards me, and I stitch with my right hand, so I actually go clockwise.
Left handed people tend to spiral in the opposite direction.
As I do many other things left handed, I've had no trouble teaching people to do it that way, and can stitch left handed also, just not as quickly.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A new beautiful start (Photo) - But I don't know what to call this one yet- suggestions?

This equals only about 3 hours work- starts are easy for me.  The pattern will be three rows pink print to one row teal print, as long as the teal holds out.  I havea LOT more pink than teal.

This will DEFINITELY be for sale... its contrary in every way to our idiom, but beautiful none the less.

I don't know what to call this rug though... country kitchen, cute and cuddly...?  Suggestions?

As dark and painful as things might be, I can always work on my rugs, and turn to my wife.

(She'll be calling her doctor during his calling hours today... once that's figured out, we'll call mine about my foot.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Another rug done: Sister of Monarch rug- pictures and video, and a preview of my next rug

I was working on this before the wedding rug, but had to set it aside to rush that one into reality in time for my best friends' nuptials.

The inner area of it is made of leftovers from the final row of the rug on the left, the "monarch rug".  The tan rows in both rugs are from the same sheet.  The final variegated rows of the new rug were one entire sheet.

As you can see, it came out EXACTLY the same size as its "older sister."

In the video below, you can see some the details better, and also hear and see what I have planned for my next project.  We're keeping the sisters, while this next one will be for sale or gifting.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

First peek- The "Fade to Black" wedding rug

Since my foot is preventing me from doing much other than sit at the computer, and I'm waiting for the videos of Ike hitting Indy to finish upload, here's the first peeks at the finished rug. I'm desperately hoping the ones I took with my SLR come out better, but no idea when they'll be processed (or how they'll turn out- the film in that camera was at least 5 years old!)

This shows the best color, but the arpeture was such that the entire rug did not make it inside the area focus (wide arpeture = shallow depth of field)

I had to phutz around with the settings on this to make it look halfway decent... REALLY hope the SLR version of the picture comes out MUCH better

Friday, September 12, 2008

A new slogan for my rugs: "Art you- can/are supposed to- walk on" - Help me decide

Forgot to mention in the previous post, the "fade to black" rug inspired such awe in those who've seen me working on it / the finished product, that a new slogan for the craft came to mind. I had been calling it "Beautiful recycling" which it indeed is, but in talking with those here who were admiring the rug someone said (I think it was me, but I can't recall right at this moment),

"Yeh, its art, but art you can walk on"

So, I'm working on honing that down to either

"Art you can walk on"
"Art you're supposed to walk on"
"Art designed to be walked on"

Let me know which of those you think is most apt, or give me your own variant. That's your "assignment" while I'm off fulfilling filial piety and being a happy David as I see my Jonathan from college years get married.

The rug is done, but I'm leaving for the wedding presently so pix and vid next week

I did get the rug finished in time. It turned out being 29", by far the largest jean rug I've made. It only took 19 days, which for a normal rug would be nothing, but it took quite a toll on my fingers, knuckles, etc., doing a denim rug that quickly.

I'm leaving for the wedding after I've taken care of getting my wife to the doctor etc. I'll be back sometime next week. I won't be having as long a visit with my dear mother as usual since her oldest living cousin died yesterday, so she's leaving for her funeral Sunday. I'll stick around till Monday or Tuesday doing household maint. for her, then head back.

So look for pictures and video of the "Fade to black" jean rug sometime late next week.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Toothbrush rugs: Sequencing with blue jeans, extending a color, and a fun bit of folk art.

I've been very busy lately working on a rug for my best [college] friend's wedding, which is a week and 3 hours from right now. I'm almost done with it.

He gave me his old jeans, which I thought was fitting- out with the old ratty life, in with the new life.

I separated them into darker and lighter blue. Generally this corresponded to wear/age, but not always. My pattern (after a colorful center I'll explain in a post when the rug is done) was to alternate darker and lighter strips. This technique my mother calls "sequencing" and I like the term. I'll finish it off in a really stunning way, but again, I'll wait to talk about that for when the rug is done.

Here is a close up of the rug, showing the effect of alternating the lighter and darker strips.

This shows you very clearly the two different "blues" which went into this rug. I GENERALLY cut the lighter blue wider because it was thinner and more worn.

This was a Juniors 7 which I had to cut up to add to the darker more intense mat'l to get the rug large enough.

When I do this, I start blending in the strips of the new clothing source before I've run out of the old, so there's no jarring demarcation, and the rug evolves organically and naturally.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Toothbrush rugs: Tutorial on how I plan a rug, pix of my two current ones

I've not posted to the rug blog in a while, nor about the rugs on my regular blog. So I thought I'd give you a couple of pictures showing how my current rugs are progressing and a video discussing the planning of my next rug (which I'll start while back at my mother's for her 80th birthday party.)

The Sari Rug

The "Daughter of Monarch rug"

This one is almost finished.

The Video

This video discusses how I go from a pile of clothes to a plan for a rug. As usual, this will be a free style rug. When making them for my own purposes/pleasure and stress relief, that's how I do them. Patterns or more precise sequencing put more work into it. I'm willing to do that from time to time as a challenge, but usually I only do those when its on commission or for a gift.

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And here's a slideshow of all the rug pix I've uploaded to multiply

See you all when I'm back from my mother's 80th, and recovered from same! God bless and keep you all!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.

My mother's mother had a sign with this quaint saying on it hanging in her kitchen, and now, I can REALLY relate.

For five weeks now, its been "boot camp" intense and busy in all regards here. We had our anniversary in early June, then Tess got sicker, then we had to get everything ready for the trip back to the place-formerly-called-home, while there our car engine almost melted, my brother's alcoholism (and family's passive enabling of it) both exploded back in my life, and my dog died. We got back reeling from all that, got a new puppy, then Tess went into the hospital.

During this time, Barb's been trying to recover from a shoulder injury without going under the knife.

So if it's had to be done, I've been the one to do it. Well, I'm done done in!

I am going to have to be pretty selfish for a while and take care of and love myself because... somebody's got to!

I wish I could say when I'll be back to visit your pages or post more blogs, but I'd best not make promises I just don't have the ability to keep.

Here's a few pictures from the various aspects of my/our life to tide you by.

The Sari rug is my "travel rug" - I work on it on the "L" at the store, etc. The Son of Monarch I started in Indy, worked on at the hospital, and now work on at home.

I'm sure I'll try to sell the Sari rug (really is made from Saris!), its not at all our idiom, but I've not had the time or energy to pursue selling the 50s/confetti rug on Ebay or Etsy. We could REALLY use the money, but... I've such a back log of things I have to do which I know how to do, that going into uncharted territory just isn't likely to happen anytime soon.

Tess and I went to the Lake this morning, and saw this

(Taken with the Aiptek, it actually got the color balance right for a change.)

Savina is up to 5 pounds, and is very cute and cuddly!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The monarch rug finished & tutorial on matching an orphan color/pattern

I finished the "monarch rug" today, which is apt, since my wife loves it and helped me plan it, and today's our 13th anniversary.

So we will be keeping it, though I have very similar materials around should anyone see it and want one like it.

Here's two videos I shot with Tess as we planned the final row. The challenge was how to finish off the rug in a way which tied back into the center when I'd used up the entire sheet on the center. So these videos give you a glimpse of our artistic process, and our loving interaction.

It can be frustrating when you use a one of a kind fabric and then need to duplicate the effect of it, but we made it fun, and I hope you can have fun with it too.

Part I

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Part II

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

One sheet, one week, one rug - The "Monarch Rug" - ¿Finished?

It took me one week to do this, which is pretty quick, but sheets are the easiest to process. It came out pretty small, just 15" - The Lady of the House definitely wants to keep it (so if you wanted it, let me know and we'll work out a way I can buy similar fabric, etc) but she hasn't decided if 15" is large enough for the niche she wants it to fill.

I'm pretty sure this must have been a twin at most. I didn't measure it before I cut it... I found it while walking the dogs before my final, took it and my heavy duty shears along to the final, chopped it up and started work on it while waiting for the results of my final, and so on. (On those, BTW, "A" both on the final and for the class.)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Rugs: My current one, the two "mistakes" I've made in it, and how I fixed them

I decided that I needed a nice low intensity, no brainer rug to work on in the aftermath of my final in Anatomy and Physiology. So as I scrambled together my stuff Sunday morning to head off for the test, I grabbed a needle, my best sisciors, and a wild animal print sheet I'd just "rescued."

After the test was over, I had time to kill waiting for it to be graded, and also waiting for the students who'd not presented their final projects to do so. (They'd sat through mine, it seemed only gentlemanly to sit through theirs, even though I didn't have to.) So I got out the sheet and shears, and away I went. This is 2 days work on it. In the overview picture with the uncut mat'l, I added arrows so you can see the rug... it blends into its source so well it took me a while to see it... I thought I'd goofed up the photo!

Now here's closeups of the front and the back. I made two mistakes in this rug.

1) One time I joined a strip, somehow a 3" loop of strip got caught, and I couldn't get it straight. The presentations were about to kick in, so rather than doink around with it, I just made sure it lay flat along the advancing row, and made sure my needle passed through it each time.

I was going to circle it on the pictures below, but it worked its way into the rug so well that I can't even see it. When I first did it, it seemed like just a slightly thicker row, and if you spot 2 to 4 inches of row about 5 rows out which seems thicker, that's it.

2) (This is my most common mistake) I added too many repeat or double stitches as I moved from the rough start phase on to the rug proper. To fix that, I just skipped a stitch when ever I noticed pronounced puckering. As you can see from the pictures, the rug is still a little more 3d than is optimal, but that kept it from getting worse, and the natural evening out of tension will do the rest.

The problem I've noticed in myself is that I tend to think a double stitch is the solution to any problem... so sometimes I've made matters worse not better.

The moral of the story: Yes, you need double stitches, especially early on, but as with all things in life, don't overdo.

The more precise advice for you ruggers out there- pay attention both to the direction your needle is leaning AND to the surface of the rug. If the needle is leaning far back to the left, its time for a double. (Say, 40 degrees or more.) Otherwise, leave it be. If the needle is leaning forwards OR you have puckering going on, skip a stitch.

Yes, this is stuff better illustrated in a slide show or video, but my wife's still "hospital sick at home" and given how my previous attempts to be both the camera man and the rug guy worked out, I'm holding out for when my wife can help me do a quality shoot.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Finished "Poodle skirt" trivets

They came out slightly different in size. This could be because the seams did not divide the skirt into exact halves, or it could be that I cut the 2nd set of strips slightly thicker. Either way, they came out very well. I'm sure our friend at Diamond will love them!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

When rug making is not only recycling, its a humanitarian act to save us from horrible fashion

I found this poodle skirt last week, which was timely, as one of our dear friends who works at Diamond is retiring this week, and she has a thing for black and white patterns, so I offered to make her a pair of trivets with that scheme.

It was especially fortuitous for the people of Chicago that I needed to do such a quick turn around (I'm taking the trivets in Friday) as Tess' mother, our dear Barb, would surely have prevented me from taking the scissors to it and claimed it as our own. Barb is beautiful, a wonderful mother in law, a quality human being... but such things are best left as fond memories of ones' halcyon youth... rather like the peg legs and jean vests I wore to high school in the 80s.

Now... if I could only get my hands on a pair of candy apple red or lime green 3x hot pants...

poodle skirt and trivet 001

poodle skirt and trivet 002

poodle skirt and trivet 003

poodle skirt and trivet 004

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Video- stalking the wild umbrella in Chicago

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(In Elmer Fudd voice) Ssssshhhh, be wery wery quieeet, I'm hunting 'brellas! Its the little things like this to which I look forwards. Each time I walk the dogs, its an opportunity to meet new people, or find new things for my rugs.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Toothbrush rugs: Matching hot pads, yellow umbrella

I made these for Tess' migraine doctor. We see him today, so as soon as I finish this post I'll add the hanging loop to one on the right.

I like making hot pads for people as gifts. Its easy and quick, useful to the recipient, and you don't have to think so hard about matching the person's decor, etc. I did ask him his kitchen theme etc. last time we saw him.
nissans hot pads

yellow umbrella for rugOf course, I always love it when I find umbrellas to work into rugs. Here's my latest find.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Please take my survey- is this rug as ugly as I think it is?

The horror... the horror...

Maybe not all materials can be recycled into a beautiful rug?

These are curtains I "rescued." I had hopes they would look better in a rug than they do laying flat, but from the little start I've done... I'm dubious.

Now, Tess and I have particular and rarefied tastes. I'd be glad to hear if someone else sees beauty where I see a mixture of baby foot and dog vomit, but I'm not going to continue working on this unless I have pretty good reason to believe someone out there somewhere might want it when I'm done (either as a gift or sold.)


PS- No improvement on Tess. We take her for her weekly pain shot tomorrow, but if things aren't looking much better, we're going to ask that she be admitted.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The 50s rug- soon to be completed and made available for sale / Update on my wife's health issues

Click for larger image50s rug with future final row

I found a lusciously beautiful sheet set last night (outside my friend's Snark's)- it will make a beautiful stand alone rug, but I'm going to use a bit of it to make a final row on this rug. I'll be available for sale afterwards.

I've so many rug projects in progress, it'll be nice to finally finish one. And since this one- as previously discussed, needs more light to work on than my wife is usually able to bear, this will be a very elegant way to finish it, and the sheets will make a GREAT future rug!

So if anyone's interested in this one, drop me a word.

Tess Update
As for Tess, my wife... we saw her doctor yesterday. I give him lots of credit- he takes us and our situation very seriously, trusts us, and is willing to several extra miles to help Tess lead as "normal" a life as possible. So, we're trying a few new things medication wise to see if we can keep her out of the hospital.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The good news is, I found another umbrella for my rugs - The bad news is, Tess is so sick she will probably go into the hospital Monday.

The bad news- Tess is in status migraine

tess so sick she has a blanket over her eyes as killian tends to herWere  a picture ever worth 1,000 words it would be this one.  Tess is so bad that even with our blackout curtains drawn and the only light coming from fairy lights, it was too bright for her. Killian as always was aware of this and was taking care of her.

The good news- I found another blown apart umbrella for my rug!

umbrella for a rugI'll just finish removing it from its skeleton and cut it into strips.  Works great! ... Wonder how many rugs I'll finish this time she's in the hospital? 

So yeh, prayers appreciated.  I have a MAJOR exam Sunday also, over three chapters, so...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

My 50s rug and other pictures

In my other blog world, there is a weekly picture post, and the topic this week was your hobby. So I created this post for that, but, thought ya'll'd enjoy it too. Since it seems like Multiply images don't work well here, I uploaded all of these to photobucket.

50s pastel rug - maybe finished, may sell?

This rug I call my "50s rug" because the colors are reminiscent of that era. I'm not sure if I'm done with it or not. It doesn't work with our decor AT ALL, but it is one of the most beautiful I've made.

I may wind up selling it, I do have the materials to continue it... the problem when a rug reaches this size is, you need to have a lot of space to work on it. A second problem unique to this sort of "abstract art" freestyle rug is... you need to have good and fairly natural light to work on it, as I chose each strip individually by how it "works" with the ones around it. The only "plan" for this sort of rug is to go with the "artistic dao." Well, with my wife disabled with migraines and often needing a low light situation, I don't often have enough light to really make the choices properly.

So here it sits... for now. I'm always game for ideas about it. In the mean time, I work on plastic bag/umbrella rugs when I'm on the "L" or at Tess' doctor (because they're lighter to lug around) and monochrome rugs made from jeans or old blankets at home, since neither needs the attention to color congruity that a rug like the one above does.

These images are all of clothing rugs, but the technique works equally well as a way to recycle old shopping bags, umbrellas, hosiery, etc. I couldn't put my hands on images of those more exotic materials so easily, but if you look through my blog here or the blog I have which is just about this craft- you'll see them.

Its a great way to recycle time and mat'ls which would otherwise go to waste, and anyone can do it. I can't draw or cut a straight line, I'm a menace with tools, but... I can do this, and have for over 30 years!


Still images

Questions, comments?

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