A New Background??? Maybe 3rd try will be lucky

Antique black has always been my background colour of choice. So getting this light background right has been a new adventure. I searched through my dye collection again, to see what I could come up with for the new (green only) background colours. I chose the Cushings ‘mint’ I had used before, Majjic Carpet ‘moss green’,  and Prochem ‘drab olive’. I used 1/2 yard Dorr natural, and 1/2 yard oatmeal (each torn in half ).


This time I decided to dye each piece separately and each with just one colour. I used 1/64th tsp of dye in 1 CBW for each 1/4 yard piece, putting 1/2 of the dye bath in the pan, and spooning 1/2 over the wool for the mottled effect I like. I did the moss green and drab olive over the natural wool, and the oatmeal wool I did with the mint and drab olive dyes.


It was interesting that when the drab olive dried, it was way too light (really just off white) , so I re-dyed it  using another 1/64th tsp of drab olive. This time it definitely has blue in it….I think I can still use it, but the blue isn’t noticable on the oatmeal piece that was died with drab olive.

The small bits of background showing through the ribbons, I decided to try with just one colour (moss green), and I like the way it pops the reds out.


Then I thought it was too much contrast with the rest of the background, so I took parts of it out, and did it with several colours of gree…..that was just nasty!…so I rehooked it with the light green. I will have to do a gradual transition to the mottled background. The dip dye I’ve used at the border also doesn’t work….so that will be replaced. I feel that I’m doing more reverse hooking than regular hooking right now, until I get this background settled.

I worked for 2 days on this ‘all green’ background


…but the fact is ….I don’t like it either. I don’t think it enhances the main hooking, and it draws my eye to it far too much. It is also sadly far too much like what I disparagingly call…’public washroom green’. I want something that enhances the figure, but doesn’t call attention to itself.


How I wish I had an ‘artistic eye’, that could envision these things in advance!

Rather than pull anything out at this point, I decided to try just the colours dyed over the oatmeal…they are much duller and more subtle than those dyed over the Dorr natural.


Then I hung it up and I’ve been looking at it now all day. I’m still honestly in a dilemma, not sure how to proceed…..my motto right now….when in doubt….wait…

The Quilt and Rug Fair is coming up quickly,(September 17th) so I spent a day hooking more ‘proddy pins’. The Sunshine Rug hookers are selling them , and we’re each asked to donate some since this is our main money making event for the year.


I’d like to provide a dozen to sell, plus a few to keep to give away as gifts. I don’t mind making them, but I’m not fond of the finishing (surprise surprise). Since I’m temporarily halted with Hygieia, I have no excuses for leaving them undone!

Well that’s Not Good!

Susan mentioned that it was hard to get the scale of Hygieia from the pictures, so I had my son Mathieu stand beside her to perhaps give a better idea of her size. (It’s hard to find a place to hang her …..here the hooking starts about a foot off of the floor)


After finishing up the last small section of the gown, I happily started working on the background. It didn’t take me long to realize that, although I liked the background by itself,…… against the gown it was a different story. I decided to keep going for awhile, because I very often don’t like something when I start it, then change my mind after I’ve looked at it for awhile.

I did this section, and hung it up to look at for the rest of the evening.


….but….they just look horrible together.

This morning I got out my box of greens, and held up a variety of options. I soon realized I didn’t like anything with blue in it at all but these pieces from my stash do look good…(why didn’t I do this before….sigh…)


So my lovely pile of background wool will head to storage, and I’m off to the dye pots once again. This time for a grey…mossy green.

Which Gown???

When I first decided to hook  Hygieia, I went on the internet, and found a number of  variations of her.


This was too wide


This was only a section


This one was just right (sounds like Goldilocks doesn’t it)

I drew most of the pattern using this version….primarily because the dimensional proportions were what I wanted (twice as tall as it was wide), and I was able to download quite a large picture. This made it possible for me to graph it out to the 3′ x 6′  size I wanted.

However, when I got to drawing the details, it got quite murky….so I switched to this version,


because the details were more clearly defined. Still later, I purchased a book on Glimt, and studied a photo of the original painting for further details.


So now that I’m completing the hooking on the gown, it doesn’t all quite work out. Some sections which are clearly yellow at the bottom, should be red by the time they get to the top. The trickiest part has been  to sort that out. It has resulted in lots of pondering, and some adjustments in the pattern itself. so that it is balanced and the whole thing makes sense.


Some small details were removed altogether


Some were moved so that the ribbon could be followed logically from top to bottom.

Whew! I think I’ve finally got it figured out, and now there is just a small section of gown to complete.


The actual hooking of the gown has been easy….mostly straight line hooking, with lots of choice for the variations and shades that  I want, since I dyed more reds.

I’m really pushing to get this part finished, because frankly…I’m sick of hooking nothing but reds and yellows. I don’t think I’ll put EITHER of those colours in my next project….I’m looking forward to an entirely new colour pallette for Heidi’s pattern.

Figuring things out

Since I was running out of red, I decided that I’d better do the ribbons on the other side of Hygiea’s headpiece while I still had some of the original wool left, in case I couldn’t match the reds exactly.


When I finished them, I wasn’t happy…


The far side looked dull and too dark, but didn’t have enough left of the brighter reds to use there.

A happy ending though…..with some wiggling , and an extra stint in the dye pot to add more red, the second batch of  reds turned out just fine.


I redid parts of the ribbons to make them brighter. (the contrast is more noticable than the photos indicate.)

Not quite such a happy outcome with my attempts to dye more background wool. While I like the muted tones of my first ‘pancake’ dye efforts, there was too much blue predominating, when I essentially want a ‘greenish’ background.

I thought that maybe one of the problems was in the colour choices themselves. They were all very blue greens. I decided to look for a ‘mint’ or light apple green. I dug out my inherited collection of cushing dyes, and sure enough there were several possible greens to look at.

Now I know why I prefer prochem or majic carpet dyes….as I opened the packet to look at the dye colour, somehow a large portion of it jumped out…all over my hand and down the front of my housecoat. I sat …stunned…trying to figure out what to do. I brushed as much as possible off in the sink, then tried to wipe it off my housecoat (which is terrycloth)….bad idea…so I whipped it off, doused it with dish detergent, and washed and rinsed…. time and time again. A trip through the washing machine, and it is almost OK. (not that it was anything spectacular before….but it is sooo comfy)


After this little distraction, I settled on the mint green, added a toothpick of charcoal grey to dull it a bit, and did two small pieces.


These I like.

Next I soaked 1/2 yard oatmeal, and tried Gene’s ‘dump dyeing’ technique, using slate blue, mallard green and mint. I halved the amount of dye he used for the same amount of wool, but it was still too much…and the result is too dark in many areas. (I have a hard time just using a weeny amount of dye)


Parts of it may be usable but the background remains unresolved. It sure is fun to play with the colours though.

Preparing the Background

Those of you who read Gene Shepherd’s blog, or are members of the Internet Rug Camp, may have seen my inquiry for Gene’s advice on a background colour (s) for Hygieia. He suggested light green-grey-bluish colours, done with movement. (If you’d like to check it out…it’s in the archives under ‘inspiration’ at  www.geneshepherd.com)

Soooo…I visited the prochem site, and chose 6 new colours…mallard green, country green, ivy, sky blue, slate blue, and mouse grey. My first attempt, wasn’t too successful…


mostly because I made a mistake with the vinegar (didn’t put it in with the dye bath…then tried to correct it by pouring it on directly) as a result, the blue was too strong and too bright.


I overdyed this with ivy and country green with a toothpick of charcoal grey to help dull it down.


I don’t have enough to complete the background , but I think I’ll now dye a few pieces with just one colour each, and see how I like that to go along with what I have.

I’m chugging along with the gown,


and I think I will have enough of the golds and yellows, but I’m going to have to dye more reds. That will be a bit of work, since I used 2 different formulas over two colours of wool, then overdyed it all.


Fortunately I wrote down everything I did…so I just have to figure out how much wool I’ll need, and adjust the dye amounts accordingly….and hope they haven’t changed the chlorine count too much in our drinking water…so that I end up with approximately the same results.

Back Home

We’re back home…the trailer is unpacked and the washing done. We had a great time with one exception…the module that controls the trailer brakes from the van stopped working, so we had to stay an extra day and have it replaced. Apart from the unwanted expense, that wouldn’t have been a problem…except…it meant that I missed a hookin on Wednesday that I was really looking forward to. One of the Sunshine members had invited us to a day of hooking at her cottage on Six Mile Lake, about 20 miles from here. Not only did I miss it…I had intended to get photos of the work being done by everyone to share here…which of course now I can’t do.

Here’s the embroidery I worked on while we were away.


While looking for my embroidery hoop…I found these tea towels , and they were just the whimsy I felt like working on while sitting around the picnic table at the campsite.

This afternoon I had a chance to visit with my grand daughter who is visiting from Regina, and she and I got into the dye pots and had lots of fun. She started out as my official photographer and assistant, but by the end, I was the assistant and taking pictures of her.

We started with some marbelizing….just for fun to see what would happen.


While we did that, I soaked some oatmeal and natural.


then lined up the dyes for experimenting with pancake dyeing for the background of Hygieia


I used sky blue, slate blue, mouse grey, country green, ivy, and mallard green.


Then spooned on each one…ivy was first in the left hand corner


now the sky blue up the middle.etc, ’til all 6 were used and the piece was covered


after a few layers this is what it looked like…I like the gentle blends and muted, soft colours


By now Olivia had it figured out


and was ready to change jobs with me. She was a natural.


all finished, covered and cooking


The results of our afternoon’s work


Maybe a scarf?

The yellow and green marbelized pieces were Olivia’s favourites, and they’re going home to Regina with her. I think the pancake pieces were fun and lovely…but  too predominantly blue for what I want for the background….more experimenting to come.

Leaving her behind

It was hard…but I’ve finally decided to leave Hygieia at home while we go camping. In fact I’m not taking any hooking at all…sigh…Hygieia is just too big and cumbersome for hooking in the trailer, and she would drag on the ground if I hooked outdoors. The only other hooking I’m working on is the background of the hall runner, and that is even bigger than Hygieia…soo…


I’ve dug out my embroidery box,  some partially finished fingertip towels and a pair of pillowcases…and I’ll do needlework while we’re away. I can carry it all in a small bag….even to the beach if I want.

Hygieia will stay at home with the cats and Doreen, (a friend who’s kindly looking after them all).


Is that a tear I see in her eye?

Talk to  you when we get back.