Taking a break

I actually didn’t hook at all yesterday! I was so intensely involved with Adele, I feel I’ve come up for a bit of air!  ….(and I got up at 4am and watched the royal wedding)


I now have 9 of my projected 12 brooches made. I went back to the originals and added a bit of glitz to them so they now have a bit of sparkle.

Next weekend I’m off to the Matrix workshop with Jennifer Manuell, so my main chore this week is to do three more brooches, and sort wool in preparation for that. …we’re to take as many colours in each colour family as possible. (my stash is still relatively small)


my purple bin


my blue bin


my green bin

I store my wool in basic colour families, but it is mostly just dropped in the appropriate bin.

And….I want to pull some loops on my hall runner background. I promised myself I would work on it 10 minutes a day while I was working on Adele….but I didn’t!


It’s getting so heavy that just rolling it out and back up again is a chore….so it has been rolled up and idle for a couple of months….


this larger section still to be done


and this smaller one

…..so near to completion!…and yet so far!

Making Proddy and Felted Brooches

When I arrived at the meeting Tuesday morning…I had never seen the room so full of wool. It seems everyone had brought stacks of materials for making brooches. 

I keep saying  ‘proddy brooches’ but in fact there were two types being made. Cynthia Young, one of our most artistic and creative members, had designed a wonderful , whimsical brooch style using dyed nylons, and felting…so…. many of the members were creating these. Those long felting needles were flying, and much to my surprise, no one stabbed a finger!


The nylon pieces were laid on blocks of sponge for felting.


The centres were made of roving, or wool yarn, and felted onto the scrunched nylon pieces.

Many were very creative in what they used in the proddy brooches.


This one has a wonderful button in the centre. 


Others used whimsical ‘fun yarns’ and even lace for details.


Plaid wools added texture.

Mine are much less imaginative…


more traditional.


I think I was going for quantity! I plan to do 6 more, and I’m going to make the next 6 with greater variety!

These proddy flowers are quick to do. Gene Shepherd is certainly the expert, and his book on realistic prodded flowers has been
my ‘bible’ .


I like to do the centre first.


the petals can be cut in any variety of shapes, then pulled trough the backing…(each piece creates 2 petals)


When completed, a thick line of glue is applied around the edge and let dry. The flowers will then be cut out, and a backing circle of wool or felt applied with a brooch pin inserted. (I haven’t got that far yet). We’re hoping they will be the new ‘IN’ fashion statement that everyone will want to purchase at the Quilt and Rug Fair in September!

Finished hooking…and moving on to proddy brooches

I have finished hooking Adele. Yesterday I steamed her before leaving for Toronto and a lovely Easter dinner with family.


It’s been great fun trying to re-interpret a painting! (I couldn’t convince myself to give her those dark shadows under her eyes!)


(well a small portion of a painting)

It took a couple of tries until I was satisfied with the side part of the choker.


I ended up using the same ‘salt shaker’ wool in a 6 cut following the contours. Then decided to use the ‘shadow’ wool in between the rows. I scissor cut #6 strips down the middle to make it very narrow and liked that effect.

After tossing around various ideas….my plan now is to just turn the backing back….with no whipping or edging. I’m hoping that I can at the same time create a pocket using the excess linen backing so I can put a rod through it for hanging.  I’ve never done that, so tomorrow at Sunshine Rug hookers meeting…I’ll be looking for advice from those who use that form of finishing on a regular basis. 

Tomorrow is a special get together, we are going to be making proddy brooches. Our main fund raiser of the year is a Quilt and Rug craft fair held each September at the Simcoe County Museum. We always make and donate items for sale, as well as show rugs, and demonstrate hooking. This year we’re going to raffle a rug, and make porddy brooches for sale. I’ve done some proddy, but have never made a brooch…so this should be fun. The ones I’ve seen made  are just beautiful! 


Today I’m putting away ‘Adele’ wool, and pulling out ideas for proddy brooches. I’ll take my camera tomorrow so I can get lots of pictures. 

Almost finished hooking

Just a quick post this morning. There is little hooking left to do. 


Once I had added small black-edged circles to the right side, I felt ok with leaving the left side as it was. (a few changes still be be done there)

I’m still debating about how to complete the choker. I’m also not sure how I want to finish it….do a small black border?….whip/not whip??….always so many decisions.

Experimenting with the background

I think the best learning tool I have…is hanging my hooking up when I’m not working on it…in a place where it is easily visible while I read or watch TV.  I stare at it for long stretches at a time…assessing my work and pondering what decisions would be best.

After contemplating a variety of ideas on a background, I decided to try the very pale yellow used in the checks of the dress. I hooked a small area, and hung it up to see how it felt.


I like the colour, but it is too consistent, and the longer I looked at it, the more I felt it robbed the piece of its essence of Glimt. Not so much because of the colour I decided , but because it simplifed the background too much….just a bunch of circles against a pale background……more staring and thinking. 

I decided to start by using a greater variety of pale yellow shades in the background itself.


I ripped 1/4 yard natural wool in pieces to fit my small pan


…. and used the ordered pancake dyeing method using 1/128th tsp of sun yellow, mustard, bronze and maple sugar, each in its own container with 1cup boiling water in each jar and some vinegar.


The results…while nice…are too dark. When I thought about it afterwards…I realized that for the pale yellow, I had used only 1 colour with 1/128th tsp, and while this is the same amount of wool..I’ve actually quadrupled the total amount of dye by using 4 colours.

I tried again….this time using 1/256th tsp of each of the dyes, in 1 1/2 cups boiling water…. A much weaker solution.. 


I still had lots of dye bath left over


much paler 


Much better this time.  ( from the left….first attempt…pale yellow….second attempt)


Most of this background will come out to make way for small circles. My hope is to re-capture the essence of the Glimt ‘feel’ by using this subtle variation in background colour, and by filling in the spaces with as many small circles as I can manage to fit in. I’m feeling a little better about it already.

Hooking the Choker and future decisions

Hooking the choker has been an interesting experience. I began by hooking random squiggly lines with the salt shaker wool, in an attempt to create a likeness of the painting. That worked well as a base, but as I went along starting to fill in…I realized The coloured ‘splotches’ needed to be evenly balanced throughout. Very little of the bronze showed up on the wool…but it adds an important highlight and I wanted it speckled throughout.


That required searching for the bits I wanted, and cutting them out, then working with little pieces 3 or 4 inches long to get one or two loops, and adjusting the strip so that the tiny flecks of bronze would show at the top of the loop. This has been a slow process…I’ve worked on it for two evenings, and it’s still not finished.

There are two other areas which I still haven’t made a decision about. The first is the background around all the cat’s eyes. (sorry for the flash glare in the next two pictures…it’s glossy paper and I can’t seem to get rid of it)


The actual painting has myriad small circles outlined in black, and the background…what there is of it …is a dull ivory/taupe colour. At this moment, the plan is to keep adding cat’s eyes…and delay a decision….but my urge to dye something to try there…  is getting stronger!

The second is the triangle section of the dress at the bottom right.


There is a peachy/pink triangle in the pattern,


but in my cropped version….only one triangle would be this colour. One spot of an entirely new colour would likely not be wise…so I’m still debating….


I think Adele looks pretty smug about all the decisions to be made….doesn’t seem to bother her at all!

Beginning the Choker

 The choker has a number of colours in it, which appear in tiny specks and are random throughout. The overall effect is ‘squiggly’.After staring intently at it for some time, and discarding a variety of ideas on how I would interpret it….I finally decided to try salt shaker dyeing. 

I’ve never done it before…so I went to Gene’s archives, and read up on it. I bought 2 sets of salt/pepper shakers at the dollar store, and checked to make sure I had kosher salt.


I added a heaping 1/16th tsp of dye to each shaker which was partially filled with salt. I used black, grey, bronze (cushing) and sun yellow.

I had wool already soaked, but Gene said it needed to be soaked in vinegar and hot water..


.so I dumped my wool and water into a pan, added a good glug of vinegar, and let it simmer a few minutes.


I spread it out on tin foil, and shook each salt/dye around the piece.


I covered it with another piece of tinfoil , rolled it up, and put it in the oven at 300 degrees F. for an hour. 


That has got to be the ugliest piece of wool!. The cushing bronze and the grey don’t really show up at all …and the black certainly predominates, but in spite of that..


I think it is going to work!

Yesterday, my sister had her third major surgery in two weeks. When I went in to see her this afternoon…the first thing she said to me was….Elizabeth…I think I’m going to make it!


 My backing of choice is primitive linen. I love how soft it is against my hands when I work with it, how easily the loops pull through, and how far I can spread it to facilitate wide pieces..eg. doing proddy flowers, leaves et. It is recommended for 6 cuts and up (I think)….and therein lies the first problem it has ever presented me.

While Adele is being done primarily in #6 and #8, I’ve also used a certain amount of #4 for details, and scrolling. I had no problems while doing the lips and eyes (where I even used some #3), but because of the loose weave, it is difficult to keep the #4 loops even when they are alone in a single line.


With lots of wiggling and adjustments by hand, they look OK from a distance, but up close, the lines are somewhat wobbly.


I discovered, when doing the straps of her dress, that if I used another strip of #4 on either side, I would keep the centre line much more even. My little bit of learning for the day 🙂


Over the past couple of weeks, I have also found that hooking has a therapeutic effect for me . My sister (whose husband died less than a month ago), is very ill in hospital, after a  surgery ‘gone wrong’. I find that hooking for awhile each day soothes my soul, and dries my tears.

More Tweaking

Adele has been getting a bit of tweaking………again. 

Two areas of the face still bothered me…and I’d been staring at them for a number of days. Wednesday, I got down to business and changed them. 


The first was her ear. I started by adding a line of the shadow colour between the edge of the ear, and the striped yellow ball. Before it looked like she had a growth attached to it! I was also disturbed by the ear itself. The straight lines didn’t follow the normal ear contour.

I pulled some strips right out, and some back a loop or two, and reworked the top edges, following what I thought was a more lifelike shape. 


There….better!…although now that I think about it…I think I’ve got it backwards…perhaps the outside should be light, and the inside dark….ummmm…I’ll look at it awhile.


Then, there was a line of slightly darker wool along the side of her chin, that also seemed to ‘stick out’ .


Because I have essentially used up all the flesh colour, I was trying to figure out a place where I could ‘switch strips’ i.e. where the slightly darker strip would blend in and release a lighter one for use.


Then I remembered that I had a wee bit left over from the chest area. I dug it out, and used it to fill in the space. It is actually a little too light….but I’ll look at it for awhile and see how it sits with me. 


If you’ve been following Adele’s progress, you’ll recall…I’ve had a dilemma about the ‘red’. i finally decided on a rich, dark wine red…not unlike the darkest lip colour.  It appears in the choker and in the section at the top left. I decided to make the larger rectangles a yellow gold, and just introduce very small bits of red in the top part,with the maple sugar colour from the top of her dress as a background there, and then use the odd small amount of red within a few circles.

I’m still doing mental gymnastics about the basic background colour. 

A Tribute to Ruth Cotton

Yesterday was the first Tuesday of the month, and our tribute day at Sunshine Rug Hookers. This month we paid tribute to the rugs of Ruth Cotton.  Ruth began hooking in the early 1970’s, and created a wealth of finely crafted pieces. She was an inspiration to many of the local hookers, and held meetings in her home for a time. She passed away in 2007, and Jean Wallace, Ruth’s sister, (also a Sunshine Rug Hooker),  presented a small sampling of her work.


This crewel style piece is delicately shaded.


Apparently this is a rare piece in that she used no blue…..a colour she was known for.


This rug is from Trent School of Rug Hooking. Each year there is a community rug, which everyone attending can hook on. At the end of the week a draw is made and the winner gets the partially finished rug to complete, and own. Ruth won the rug in 2005, and completed it. The bird is a sculpture which stands on the University grounds. Her sister Jean particularly treasures it because the names of everyone who hooked on it, are written on the binding.


This is a portrait of her beloved spaniel Danny….how life-like is that!!


She was well known for her exquisite orientals. …a little personal story…Shortly after getting back into rug hooking…I decided I wanted to hook an oriental. My friend and mentor June Baker called Ruth (whom I had never met), and asked if she would show me hers. She had us over for tea and cookies, and spent several hours with us. I remember this rug from that one time visit….the hooking was breathtaking…such even loops…that I’m still aspiring to remotely emulate!


She hooked this piece, then sewed the bag for it. I love the colours of the grasses. They show up perfectly against the green leaves behind them.


These two samples of specialty techniques were of great interest to many of the newer hookers, who hadn’t seen them before.  We often forget the wonderful options available to be created with just a strip of wool and a hook!

Jean also showed an entire binder of pictures of her sister’s amazing quilts, (all hand sewn) as well as paintings, basketwork, dolls, and sewing. What a talented woman!

These Tuesday Tributes are great for the newer members in particular, giving us a glimpse into the creativity and skill so abundant in this, and I’m sure every rug hooking group.