The return of Bob and Ron’s Fish Fry

I said I would NOT do another one of these rug yarn latch hook projects.

I was very clear on this.

Clear like crystal.

And the second I finished my last latch hook project…

I already focused on my next one.

Yeah, I’m a glutton for punishment, what are you going to do about it?  You guys could have talked me out of it…

But unlike last time … I’m taking better steps to make this a more fully rounded project.

Let me explain.


In 2018, I crafted my Mail Pouch Tobacco Barn rug project, a four-month endeavor that incorporated an old photo of a Dutchess County barn and 33,000 strips of rug yarn.  The project encompassed two latch hook canvases, and I had to get my yarn from several different suppliers when the original distributor, Mary Maxim, ran out of my necessary colors.

Not this time.  No way no how.

Bob and Ron’s Fish Fry. Photo (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

Let’s start with the picture.  This is a cleaned-up version of what I plan to stitch.  It’s the original Bob and Ron’s Fish Fry sign that lived on Central Avenue for many decades, until the restaurant closed and the sign was dismantled.  Bummers.  The sign itself had fallen into disrepair and decay, and there wasn’t much left to save it.  Another Capital District icon lost.

But maybe not.

I took that image and forwarded it to an online latch hook website called leftsource.  They came back with a pattern that would feature sixty different rug yarn colors with 22,100 strands of yarn – a relatively simpler project than before.  And rather than get involved in ordering from Mary Maxim again (boo!), I tried another company – Herrschners.  The printed pattern identified every necessary color I would need for the project, and Herrschners had all of them – except for one batch of terra cotta, which I ordered from an eBay supplier.

On January 1, I took my canvas and, with a thick black permanent ink marker, marked off every 10×10 square on the canvas.  This way, I could match my patterns on the printed paper to the proper locations no the canvas and not accidentally complete square 9G when it was supposed to be 10G.  Plan ahead.

A couple days later … a box arrived.

Dude … the supplies arrived.  Lots and lots of supplies.

Okay, it’s time to hook.

And unlike last time, where I hooked all over the canvas, this time I’m starting at the bottom and working up.  This way, I don’t accidentally hook strands together, causing uneven hooking and stray strands.

Prior to hooking, I carefully labeled all the yarn bags, so that I don’t accidentally use the wrong shade of brass in the wrong spot.  Trust me, there’s three different shades of brass needed for this project.

So I started this project on January 1, 2019.  If I do at least one square per day, I could finish this project by August 10, 2019.  That’s maybe enough time to enter it in the Big E and that’s it.  And that’s not taking into consideration finishing the project,  adding rug binding and rubberizing the back to make sure none of the rug yarn can be pulled out or fall out.

In other words … I must pick up my pace.  No laziness here.  At least I have all my yarn, so there’s no delays while I search for missing colors.


Okay.  I started on January 1, 2019.  On January 22, 2019, I took a picture of three weeks’ progress.

As you can see, the signage “SCALLOPS” and “SHRIMP – CLAMS” stands out.  This is called progress, folks.

176 boxes to fill.  Completing a box per day will get me to July 18, 2019.  That would still give me time to finish the back, frame it up, and get it entered for Altamont, but I’d be cutting that deadline mighty close.  No goofing off.


It was around this time that I discovered I was short two colors – I needed 41 strands of ecru and 3 strands of light straw.

Yeah, you could argue that I should stop kvetching and just use another color as a substitute.

When it’s YOUR project, you can use whatever color you want.  Not me.  Pattern says ecru, I’ll use ecru.  Even if I have no idea what color ecru is.  I don’t remember that color in the Crayola box.

A quick e-mail and another bounce to Herrschners, and the remaining batches – 320 strands of each – were on their way.  Again, when this project is over and I have remaining strands, everything’s getting dropped off at the Altamont Fair’s Arts and Crafts building so that other people can use these hooks and strands for their own art projects.

And while I waited for the remaining strands to arrive, I stabilized the strands on the back of the canvas by applying a coat of liquid compound.  Once this dries, the fibers will remain in place.  I gotta tell you, though, that compound smells like bad petroleum.  Headache for hours…

I kept on hooking.  And on February 5, I hooked my first big letter from the sign’s middle.  It’s the “Y” in “FRY,” which stretches through 12K all the way to 10J and 10K.  The letter’s interior is a mixture of grey and light grey, with a red-brown-terra cotta outline against a royal blue-cornflower-dark cornflower background.

Swank.

And by February 26, after completing the “Y” in “FRY”, I made major progress and completed the “F” and “R” as well.  If I completed at least one square a day, I should be done with this by July 9.  Need to pick up my pace.  But I’m making pretty decent progress nonetheless.

As I worked on this project, I thought about whether I should have smoothed out some of the colors from the original photo.  By using a photo that had age spots and paint damage on the sign, that paint damage came through on the final artwork itself.  It also added to my assortment of necessary colors – nearly 60 different fiber shades to get through this project.  If I had smoothed out some of the colors, I could have brought my color palette to a more manageable 45 or 30 shades.

Well, it’s too late to worry about that now.  What am I going to do, pull out all the strands, re-compose the picture, re-order the yarn, and start from scratch?

Yeah, that ain’t happening.

By the way, as I progressed through this project, I had the sinking suspicion that Herschnerr’s didn’t add all the yarn that I requested.  Because of this, I had to make emergency purchases here and there to get more of one color or another.  Damn it.

Well, at least the yarn is in stock.  It’s not like last time, where I had to cobble yarn from here, there and everywhere just to get my project completed.


It’s mid-April, and I’m chugging along with this project.  But again … I’m noticing that, again, I’m short some colors.

Mostly a color called cornflower.  I thought I had ordered enough of the color to finish this project and have strands left over.

This was not the case.  I was running dangerously low, and as you can see, I still have several portions (including the script “Bob & Ron’s”) that needed the cornflower color.

Okay, I’ll order an emergency pack from Herrschners.  Two packs of cornflower, one pack of dark cornflower.

A few days later, I received a pack of dark cornflower, one pack of regular cornflower, and one pack of light aqua.

Light aqua may look similar to cornflower … but they ain’t the same.

Trust me.  Ask a woman about which shade of lipstick she uses.  It ain’t just “red.”  And they know the difference, that’s why Revlon makes 730 different shades of lipstick.

All right, let’s see what kind of customer service I can get from Herrschners.

One phone call later … lots of apologies, the correct package of cornflower is on its way, no charge.

There is a saying that a company is only as good as how it reacts to a customer’s complaint.

Well if that’s the case, Herrschners did well in that category.


By the end of April, I had finished up the “Fish Fry” section of the sign, and was almost done with the “Bob & Ron’s” script at the sign top.

And as I’m hooking my way up the project, I’m also taking the time to paint the back of the artwork with a rubbery compound to lock the strands and keep then from coming loose or getting snarled.

I apply the compound at night, and by the morning the white compound has dried into a clear, rubbery substrate.  Strands are locked like a clock in a block.

Just keep going, Miller.  You’re almost there.


Mother’s Day weekend.  I’ve made amazing progress, and now I only have a few areas left to complete.

The weather’s crappy today.  And I don’t feel like battling the crowds – rain-soaked as they may be – for TulipFest.  I’m this close.

I mean … the only visual left to complete on this is the arrowhead.  Everything else – the wordage on the sign, the background – it’s done.  Just the arrowhead and some background sky and this project will be finished.

Whee.

A little background noise on the television, and I’m hooking like a schnook.

And at 3:00 p.m. yesterday …

I hooked my last strand, a strip of sky blue yarn.

Holy crap.  Five and a half months into this project, and I’m done with all the hooking.

Sweet.

I’ll need to pain the background with the rubbery white compound to lock these strands, but I can do that tonight.

And later today, I’ll drop the artwork off at Arlene’s Artist Materials and let them frame it up for me – I used them to frame up one of my stitched burlap art projects and they did a fantastic job on that occasion, let’s give them the opportunity to go 2-for-2.

Oh you want to see the whole final project?

Sure you do!

There it is.  Five and a half months of hard work and dedication.

And it’s finished in time to enter it at the Big E.

Or maybe at one other location prior to the Big E.

Maybe some location in Central New York. 🙂

And maybe after the Big E, this could find a spot in some place that’s custom-BUILT for such an occasion. 😀

But the fact is … my Bob & Ron’s Fish Fry artwork is done.

Do I make another latch hook artwork of an Albany locale?

I’ve had requests by one of my readers for an L-Ken’s latch hook project.  And I may actually consider doing one in 2020. I have pictures of L-Ken’s that I can use for such an occasion …

But let’s take a rest for the moment.  I can build that L-Ken’s in 2020.

Right now, let’s just enjoy the fact that I finished this project in 2019.  Ahead of schedule.

And this Albany-based fish fry sign looks pretty damn swank, if you ask me.