Summer Was Blue

June, July and August found me weaving again after a long break for carpal tunnel surgery (and other distractions).  I dove into a stash of blue fabric.  This rug is made of repurposed sheets and pillow cases plus some killer blue scraps.

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Meet Beryl and Butters

My polydactyl cat, Butters, takes a star turn on one of my recent rugs made from old t-shirts.

My polydactyl cat, Butters, takes a star turn on one of my recent rugs made from old t-shirts.

I love my rugs at many moments…like the first few shots of the fabric (weft) across the warp. That’s when I really see if the colors are working together or not. Then there’s the moment when I cut it off the loom. At that point, it’s attached to all kinds of crazy material, yarn, possibly brown paper and anything else I’ve used as filler. I can see it as a real rug at that moment, if I use tunnel vision to ignore all the filler and if I also use a little imagination to picture the hem done or fringe in place.

But my most favorite moment is when it hits the floor and I see it as the beautiful, useful thing I’ve wanted it to be. And I am indeed a fortunate because I have a four-footed critic who lets me know right away how it feels underfoot.

The Green Green Green of Home

I always ask people who buy my rugs to send photos of their rugs in use.  A rug I make is made to be used (especially considering it is made of used material in the first place!) so it’s a great pleasure for me to see them “in action.”  Also, I’ve spent so much time looking at them on the loom and then during the finishing fringe or hem work, that it brings a fresh perspective to see them in their new home.

This green cutie is a custom order (for a bathroom as you can see) for a house on the east coast.  So now besides Minnesota, rugs I’ve made have homes in Texas, Montana, North Dakota and Maryland.Mary's green rug

Happy to Have the Blues

BK on loomI’ve been working on a custom-ordered table runner which features much blue and some yellow and greens.  Merely thinking of all that blue turns on a warm light in my psyche…who says blue is a “cool” color?

And because I wound on enough blue/yellow/green warp (but mostly blue).  following the table runner, I will be weaving blue and green rugs.  Expect much contentment to follow. Blue suncatcher

Speaking of blue, this beautiful blueberry sun catcher hangs in the window in my studio.  A kind person gave it to me at the Pine River Farmer’s Market last summer.  If this is you, please get in touch with me if you will be visiting the area again this summer.

If this is NOT you, but you’d like to get in touch with me anyway, please do so at my email: jenneferghill@gmail.com

Spring Green

green warp

Yes, I know there’s blue in this warp. When I study greens I love closely, I almost always find blue. So I’m trying this out.

Show me someone who hasn’t caught his or her breath at least once this spring as the new green leaves overwhelmed their senses and I’ll show you someone who needs a heart enlargement. I am lucky to be working on a special order of two rugs for a customer who wants green–any or all green! So I am employing some wonderful sun-faded green drapes, some paler-than-thou green pillowcases and a delicate green print with blue flowers that I am calling morning glories, since the color is morning glory blue. Here is a photo of the fabric sampling:

Oh, did I forget to mention the electric green which is what turns us all on in spring in the first place?

Oh, did I forget to mention the electric green which is what turns us all on in spring in the first place?

Rollaway Red

rollaway cover oneI am incredibly fortunate to have good friends, good customers (sometimes one in the same) and complete strangers give me fabric, old curtains, t-shirts, you-name-it. One of my recent rugs was made from a rollaway bed cover used for many years at a cabin owned by my friend’s parents. If you don’t know what a rollaway bed is, ask someone over age 50. Or picture something the shape of a cover for a toaster, only the size of a double bed.

I'm a weaver, not a photographer! So which color is the real unforgettable red? I'd say it's halfway between these two photos.

I’m a weaver, not a photographer! So which color is the real unforgettable red? I’d say it’s halfway between these two photos.

The rollaway cover was made from an unforgettable red ribbed cotton fabric. It had the fade marks that can only come from putting years in next to thin glass windows throughout all Minnesota seasons. So I was a happy fabric junkie from start to finish of this project. And here was the finish: my friend who gave me the fabric liked the rug so much she bought it. So now the red ribbed fabric is back in its cozy cabin home, just in a new form.

Custom order inspiration

My customer offered this wool blanket to show his color preferences.

My customer offered this wool blanket to show his color preferences.

In my previous post, I featured two “cousin” rugs that made up a custom order. The rugs were going to be used in the same bathroom, but one rug was to be a square and one a rectangle. As I played with pencil sketches, I found the stripes needed to be different proportions depending on the shape.

The customer had a beautiful wool blanket, pictured above, as a color guide. The challenge was to translate that to polyester, since I had a vintage Lady Pepperell blanket that would be the base fabric with its Adobe-ish color. Most of the rest of the fabric was polar fleece I was reusing from a variety of sources: a blanket, a pullover top, even a slanket, that sleeping bag/blanket combo to be worn when you curl up on the couch.

Two of a kind, but not identical

What is better than one custom-made rug for a kitchen?  Two, of course!

What is better than one custom-made rug for a kitchen? Two, of course!

I have been fortunate to receive several custom orders for two rugs for a given room, like a kitchen or bathroom. At first it may seem counter-intuitive to make rugs in pairs, since I like to think some of the appeal of my work is that each one is unique. And I’ve certainly learned (ahem!) that it is pretty much impossible to make a second piece exactly like an original.

Things happen on the road to the second rug. Even though I’ve learned to carefully divide the fabric when I know I’m making a second rug so it doesn’t run short, even though I measure multiple times on the loom and use the temple faithfully, even though I take photos of the first rug along the way, something always comes up. It’s as if the second rug must assert its own personality.

Sometimes, of course, the second rug is supposed to be longer or shorter or a different shape entirely. I find those pairs especially fun. I think of the rugs as siblings, then, or maybe cousins. And I play around with which elements best tie them together and yet what makes each rug stand on its own?

The rug on the left is 36" square and its cousin is 24" x 48".

The rug on the left is 36″ square and its cousin is 24″ x 48″.

Watch for my next post where I’ll detail color choices in paired rugs…

White Christmas via warp thread

Let's sing altogether now: "Over the back beam and through the heddles..."

Let’s sing altogether now: “Over the back beam and through the heddles…”

Our November in central Minnesota brought some early snow and serious wind chills that kept the early snow around. The closer it got to Christmas, however, the faster the snow disappeared. We had drizzle. We had fog. We had a sad view of our lawn and the lawns of our neighbors (because with all the leaves off the oak trees, none of our houses are tucked away in anything anymore).

So to cheer myself up on Christmas (and to meet a few custom orders), I set up white warp on the loom. The many scars, knicks and rough edges of my Grandma’s loom are now covered under a peaceful white wave of threads. It will help me keep my eyes focused indoors until we can just get Mother Nature to lend us her white blanket for the outdoors as well.

The case for pillow cases

I’ll just come right out and say it: I love pillow cases. I have always been a fabric snob. As a small child I remember declaring to my Mom that a certain pillow case was just too rough to sleep on. As an adolescent I was sure the wrong thread count was going to mess up my complexion. Now in my (late) middle age, I have discovered that pillow cases can rescue a rug design faster than I can say “organic cotton.”

Here are two of my recent rugs which were rescued by a single, beautiful red 100% cotton pillow case. I bought it at my favorite thrift store for a quarter. Alas, I did not take a “before” picture of my hero, but here are the two rugs:

The red pillow case provided irregular red stripes to this rug, reinforcing the liveliness of the main fabric.

The red pillow case provided irregular red stripes to this rug, reinforcing the liveliness of the main fabric.

This rug was a custom order to match a first rug of the print fabric. I did not have enough print fabric remaining to make the rug, so I "watered" the print down with some plain off-white fabric and then reinforced the red presence with stripes made from the pillow case.

This rug was a custom order to match a first rug of the print fabric. I did not have enough print fabric remaining to make the rug, so I “watered” the print down with some plain off-white fabric and then reinforced the red presence with stripes made from the pillow case.