Thursday, 31 March 2016

Very validating

Two creative endeavours have matured, one giving me great personal satisfaction, and the other actually producing a cheque which I have just banked.

The first creative endeavour is the rag rug of course, pushed to full completion two days ago. I'll do a separate post on the other thing. It will follow this one.

To briefly recap on the rug. I was a complete novice, but nevertheless boldly started the rug on 6th March, throwing about forty hours at it by 16th March. I took it away on holiday to finish it off. It was by then almost complete. There was just a little more to do. But annoyingly I ran out of fabric, and had to put it aside until my return from holiday a week ago. A little more fabric, and a few more hours, and it's now done.

I was so confident that I would polish it off at the start of my Cotswold holiday! Here is the rug being worked on in the caravan on the first night - I was using light blue cotton to fill in the sky in my design.

But it's amazing how much fabric you need, even to do a fairly small area. I'd misjudged it. My confidence turned to frustration when I ran out with two square inches on the edge remaining bare! Grrr.

Still, it was good enough to show to Angie when I met up with her. Here I am in the pub car park at Miserden, proudly brandishing the almost-finished rug, my left fingers concealing that bare patch:

Once home again, I quickly got on with the job - here's the last strip of light blue cotton going in:

Then I had to sew a rectangle of hessian over the untidy bottom side of the rug. I could have avoided this final task if I had woven the fabric strips onto the correct side of the rug in the first place, which was the same side as the hem. But I discovered my error too late to turn back. I ended up with this:

The rug's hem should have been invisible, indeed on the other side of the rug, entirely covered by the woven-in fabric strips. The back of the mat would then all be like the central part in the picture, showing a 'ghost' image of the design. No special backing would be necessary. As it was, I needed conceal the hem, which as you can see was fraying a bit.

Well, I had a rectangle of hessian already cut to size and hemmed, which simply needed to be sewn onto the back of the rug. Before doing that, I marked it with my name, and drew a 'Lucy-Lou' logo on it. I invented this on the spur of the moment. Lucy-Lou is the name my friend Jo in the village likes to call me by. The lettering for it resembles my handwriting (so no real strain on my powers of invention!), and, to give the logo more impact, I added a big red heart:

It's a bit optimistic, numbering my rag rugs, but I do expect to start another soon, and - who knows - may have completed three of them by the end of the year!

It struck me, after drawing the logo, that it bore a passing resemblance to the heart-with-writing-on-it that appeared at the beginning and end of the 1950s Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz TV comedy sitcom I Love Lucy (which I used to watch as a child):

Clearly my memories of that show had given me a subconscious nudging!

I hadn't actually sewn the backing on at that point. When I did, I didn't make an especially neat job of it. To my eye, my sewing looks crude:

But Jo and Sue assured me (this was last night) that the overall impression the rug made transcended any glaring lack of skill here and there. They thought it was a fabulous effort. I'm happy to take that verdict on trust! The next rug will be better-done anyway, because I have some experience now.

The last thing to do, as the rug will go up on my lounge wall as a kind of picture - with the same effect as an oil painting done impasto -  is to construct a simple wooden frame and fix the rug to it. But I'm not doing that just yet. I want to take it down to North Devon shortly, rolled-up for easy travel, to show to various people there - most definitely to Jayne, whose own rag rug efforts inspired me in the first place.

I am proud of what I've managed to produce here. Not so much proud of the rug itself - it's an unsubtle first attempt, and a bit amateurish really - but of how I kept at it, and finished the job. I never thought I had that in me. And, do you know, throughout the fifty-odd hours thrown at it, my interest in what I was creating never flagged. It was unexpectedly absorbing and interesting.

Here's some more shots of the finished product, and how it looks particularly good in sunlight:

In a strange way, doing things like this is very validating. I feel (to make a girl guiding/boy scouting analogy) that I've earned a 'badge of achievement' as a woman. My Mum would have pooh-poohed the very thought of my sticking at this and producing an attractive result. Well, I have. To be sure, making a rag rug is utterly straightforward - anyone can do it - and I'm not yet claiming any true aptitude at home crafts! But in the next week or so I will however be turning to knitting. I want to get on with a knitting project. Now that will be a challenge, and any success there will be something to crow about!

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