Progress with Fat Cat

It just dawned on me…that one of the biggest changes I’ve made in my hooking style in the past year or so….has to do with colour/wool selection. Of course my stash has increased significantly…giving me more options, and my apprehension about dyeing my own wool has largely disappeared…so that is a big factor…BUT…

While I have a general idea of what I want when I start…(or maybe not)…I choose much of the wool as I go along… discarding what doesn’t work without a second thought. 

I used to choose the wool…or have help choosing the colour palette….then hook it…and that was that. Now I ponder over each choice.

 Rather than stressing about the background for Fat Cat…I’ve felt like I was ‘playing’ with options as I tried various wools and hooking styles that might work.

I tried a variety of options


The greys I originally chose were too blah, 


I overdyed some of them….and it was too dark


What looks grey in the photo is actually a light beige…but there there is too much contrast with this…the darks and lights don’t blend at all


I like this combination best (it’s much better blended than in the photo)…the pale beige plaid and another light tan plaid I picked up recently…but it’s still pretty ho-hum! I still haven’t made a final decision


This is the 2nd version of the eyes. The first I did with black…and they were ugly….ugly…looked as if the cat would attack at any moment!


It took me a few days to get back to the dyeing…I needed darker wool for the points. I doubled the dip dye recipe, then added extra black…and dyed it over three textured wools…and after 3 tries…I was satisfied….so now I’ve started the body of the cat. I changed the eyes again….after looking at Akuma’s in a better light…when the pupils weren’t so large. 


I like the bigger area of blue.

I was just reading someplace (I think it may have been Gene’s blog) about doing cat’s whiskers with a separate loose strand. I had some threads of linen backing which ravelled off the edge of Hygieia, so I used that to create some whiskers….just pulled a piece up in two places….and knotted it close to the hooking. I may put a dot of glue on them later to hold them in place, so they aren’t so helter skelter…but I like the effect.



I’m not trying to have any sort of realism here…but would like the fat cat to be recognizable as a seal point siamese.

Finishing Hygieia

Hygieia’s done…and off for her first adventure. On Sunday, she will be a part of the OMAH (Orillia Museum of Art and History) house tour.

I have a very sore finger from doing all the blind stitching around the edge in one day…but having deadlines seems to be a good way for me to complete the dreaded ‘finishing’.

I’ve been asked to go through my finishing steps here…so I tried to take pictures of the various steps I took along the way. 

Ignore the pencil lines in the first two pictures (they’re drawn in after these steps)


I decided how wide I wanted the fold over, and measured that plus a half again a wee bit out from the edge…I made a mark there with the pencil


Then I counted the number of ditches out this was from the hooking (I’m careful during the hooking to make sure my outside edge is in the same ditch all the way around)


Then I drew a pencil line all the way around the piece… 27 ditches from the hooked edge was what mine happened to be


Then I used the elastic zig-zag stitch, and sewed just inside the pencil line….all the way around…twice…whew…that was 36 feet of zig-zagging


Then I cut off the excess backing…


….being careful to cut exactly in the ditch with the pencil line


I folded over the raw edge so that I had the 1″ backing strip I wanted, I finger pressed this for a few inches…making sure that the fold was in the same ditch all the way…


……pinned it down, and carried on all the way around the piece.


I then steamed and pressed this fold….taking out the pins as I went before steaming, to avoid pin marks or distortions from the pinning  (always checking that I was steaming down it in the same ditch)


I put it down on the floor to dry overnight.


The edge fold was done gently…with space so that it didn’t distort the hooking 


If it’s folded too close it will pull over the last line of hooking.


Keeping my fold in the same ditch all the way around…I once again pinned it down…


The top and bottom sections are over the side sections at the corners to create a pocket for hangin
g at the top and a rod at the bottom to pull it down straight


Once again I steamed it…removing the pins little by little before applying the iron and press cloth


After leaving it to dry again overnight…it’s ready for the final step


…Blind stitching it down….following the same ditch all the way around…..leaving the pockets open at the ends


the finished edge.  i can’t show a picture yet of her hanging and finished….since she’s gone off to the museum open house for the weekend….but I thought I’ be able to show her hanging in place in the stairwell early next week. Imagine my surprise when I came home from a hooking event in Gravenhurst yesterday and glanced up the staircase! 


My DH in preparing to hang her….discovered the wall was quite crooked at the top (did I mention our house is 135 years old?) ….so he decided to fix it . She’s finished, but her eventual hanging spot is now under re-construction!

Back to the Dye Pots

I didn’t wait until the cat was done to make up my mind about the central flower. 


 After consulting with my friend Jean…I ripped it out and redid the centre. I like it much more now.



Time to get the wool ready for the cat, and the background. The colours I decided to try were khaki drab and medium brown (cushing). When I checked back in my recipes…those were the two colours I’d chosen when doing a brown dip dye for my hall rugs…so I decided to go with the same ratios. 

For the body of the cat I started with the same recipe over a lesser amount of wool. 1/64 tsp medium brown, and 1/16th teaspoon khaki drab. 

The cats were snoozing in the TV room,


so I draped the wet wool over them to check the colour.


…right tones…just not dark enough.

I re-dyed the first piece, and doubled the recipe for the second one. By then Akuma had decided it wasn’t cool to have wet wool plopped on his back….so I ended up chasing him around the house trying to get a picture of his back, and the deeper colour


.. He is not impressed with being the subject of a rug!


Not too bad…


but I’ll overdye with a bit of black to get it even closer. 

For the background, I cut the recipe in half, and then only used 1/2 of the dye bath. That was fine for the light grey…but the tweed didn’t appear to me to change at all. I spooned the rest of the dye just over the tweed….but still couldn’t see any change. I figured the tweed was a lost cause, until I compared it with the original,


and realized it had, in fact changed colour.


I hooked a bit of the background colours in, and I’ve decided to do the next batch even lighter, and mix it all up.


The leaves are still a question mark…but I’ve dabbled with them.

The next few days will be spent doing the finishing on Hygieia. The Orillia Museum of art and History…OMAH…is having a fund raiser, in the form of a house tour…where each house is displaying the work of local artists. One house is devoted to displaying hooked rugs….so here is our chance to help the museum, and at the same time promote the art of rug hooking. I finished the bit of hooking on the neckpiece and did the bracelet…then steamed the whole piece.


Next step is the dreaded ‘sewing of the zigzag’ . Then turning it back….no whipping for her!

Mental Gymnastics

I seem to go through these mental gymnastics with every piece I do! I like it…I don’t like it…..I’ll change it…I’ll leave it…it’s OK…it’s all wrong. 

Fat Cat is no different. I altered the central flower, and while I was working on it…changed it several times…I started with the variety of blues, but the petals didn’t have enough delineation


Then I tried a blue dip dye so the edges of the petals would stand out


I settled on the dip dye.

Now…I’m not sure at all. The colours I like…since it will be against the dark brown body…my dilemma is….does the dip dye I used in order to delineate the petals, make it look out of character with the rest of the piece….too refined?


I think my decision is…leave it for now, and see what I feel after the body of the cat surrounds it. If I still don’t like it…I’ll remove the inside petals, and use something more resembling the inside of the upper purple flower.

About the body….I looked through all my dyes to see what I might have that would work for the dark brown/black….and found 2 cushing dyes that I think will work. I have a confession to make here….I have no swatches to go by. The Sunshine Rug hookers have the swatches for “Primary Fusion”, and I borrowed and used them extensively as I began dyeing most of my wool about 2 years ago. I found that what I ended up with was seldom if ever exactly like the swatch (different water, natural dorr rather than white dorr etc.) So at this point…I eyeball and use paper towel dips to determine if I’ll like my results. Sometimes it works….sometimes it doesn’t…but my tastes are turning more and more to variety of depths and shades and colours in everything  I do …so…exact matches have pretty well moved off of my screen. I do record my recipes as I use them…so that I can dye more when needed.

A good example of how my style has changed….The large purple flower’s outside petals, are done with a piece of deep teal left over from an oriental I did when I first went back to rug hooking, about 5 years ago.


I loved the wool at the time..and it is appropriate for the oriental…..but now…the fact that those outside petals are  one solid colour bugs me to the extent that I’m having trouble leaving them there.


How my tastes change!

Starting Fat Cat

finally, now that The Quilt and Rug Show, and RUG are over…I’ve been able to do a bit of quiet hooking on my own…..and I’ve been getting started on  Heidi Kramer’s  Fat Cat pattern.


I had quite a lot of wool that I dyed for Hygieia, that for one reason or another I didn’t use, so that it the basis of my colour palette. 

I’m using  a batch of pancake dyeing I did over a yellow cashmere jacket I found at the Good Will, that I loved, but it just didn’t fit into the scheme for the robe of Hygieia.


I chose the soft greens and blues, that I originally  had dyed for her background, and again didn’t use.


I picked up a grey tweed, and a very pale grey plaid, that I thought would be nice for the background, but I’ve since decided that I want the background pale brown…so I intend to overdye this wool and see what I come up with.


This is my colour palette so far (at least today….subject to change)…don’t want to box myself in here! 🙂

The cat, I’m fashioning after my own ‘fat cat’ Akuma…who is a sealpoint siamese….


so I plan on dip dyeing a very dark brown and letting it fade out to a  pale creamy tan, for his coat. All the dyeing is in the future, and for now I’m playing with the flowers.


I decided to go big and bold colour-wise…and I’m mixing red gold flowers, with purple blue ones. I want this to be a fun piece…no subtlety …just ‘in your face’ fun.


I tend by nature to be a monochromatic person…so this juxtaposition of red and purple, is a wide leap out of my comfort zone….but surprisingly I like it!

Show and Tell at RUG

One of my favourite portions of RUG is the Show and Tell, and the chance to see and hear about a multitude of rugs in all shapes and sizes. I tried to take pictures as they were being presented…but the large corner window in the room made my photos too dark. Many of the rugs were displayed in another room after lunch, so I was able to get better pictures of those that were there….but I’m sorry to say, I can’t remember the background for many of them. 


a Rittermere winter scene


Such an interesting story behind this rug….hooked by Gayle Gunby…these are members of her family who fought in either the first or second world war…now together for all time…with the names of battles they were involved in around the border. The woman is Gayle’s mother. (Thanks to Debbie Bloom for recognizing the rug and passing on information I had forgotten)


A very old pattern done in fine cut.


This is Willa’s cat Jake….she calls him Jake the biter….wonder why?


This is a Jennifer Manuell matrix rug, begun at our workshop with her last March.


Darlene’s lady makes me chuckle.


This may be a very familiar pattern to many…It was a free insert in RHM and featured as a rug challenge by followers of Gene Shepherd’s blog. Great to see another interpretation, I love the border.


I think this must be for some lucky dog!


If I’m correct…the hooker of this rug said she decided to just pick up her hook and start…and she hooked it without any pattern


A wonderful log cabin…I don’t think I’d ever have the patience to do one.


Gail Laberge’s wonderful sunflowers…a pattern she picked up on a trip to New England


These oak leaves were hooked by Gail Mueller. She began it at Trent in the primitive class with Bea Grant.

Happy Thanksgiving to all  fellow Canadians. I’m looking forward to an artist tour in the nearby countryside and a yummy turkey dinner with family.

A Tribute to Edie Crockford

Sunshine Rug Hooking meetings have been very busy this fall, but with the Quilt and Rug Fair, and RUG, now over…today we were able to have our first ‘tribute’ of the season. These monthly events were begun so that the newer hookers in our group would have the opportunity to see the work, and hear about the lives and background of the more experienced hookers……but everyone looks forward to seeing all the beautiful work. This has become one of my favourite events.

Edie Crockford was Tuesday’s featured hooker. She said she thought she had begun hooking in 1976…but discovered that her first rug was dated 1974. She has lived her whole life in Barrie , and is a member of both the Huronia group in Barrie, and the Sunshine Rug Group in Orillia. She works with #3 and #4 cuts, and is a master of fine shading.


This is a heritage pattern.


This is my favourite….amazing detail…I can almost feel the wind.


The bell pull was Edie’s first hooked piece. The arched stain glass piece was framed with actual stained glass. That smile is always in evidence!


Looking at the sheep out the window..


This is the colourful piece she is currently working on.

She also did some wonderful cross stitch.


Edie is such a talented hooker and a wonderful woman. She travelled to Trent with me last spring and her cheery disposition and infectious giggle lifted every day. Thanks to Jean Chabot….who anticipated that I would forget my camera…brought hers,….and took the pictures for me.

Thanks too to Cynthia Young, who sent me these pictures of my rugs being presented at RUG.






My hall rug

I still have the “show and tell rugs” to show from RUG. I was going to include them in this post…but I realize now there are far too many…and they deserve a post of their own.


We returned from camping a few days ago…we had a wonderful time….


a lovely campsite and terrific weather. What more could you ask.


Wonderful Ontario scenery


The falls at Fenelon Falls


…and our only close neighbours…..Max and Bill….two retired clydesdales.

I haven’t picked up a hook since we got back…..but that’s not to say I haven’t been busy with hooking matters. Today (Saturday) was our semi annual meeting of R.U.G. at the Simcoe County Museum. R.U.G. stands for ‘rughookers united gathering’. A number of the hooking groups in the general area get together twice a year, with vendors, a program, show and tell, an auction, and lots of munchies and visiting.

It was Sunshine rug hookers turn to be hosts, man the door, provide coffee and munchies and present the program…..  Our program was about ‘inspiration’…….and was broken down into two parts….still life  as a source of inspiration…and Klimt as a source of inspiration.


 I was the speaker for the introduction of the Klimt portion, so I spent a couple of days researching, and writing what I wanted to say.


We had a good turnout….this was taken about 2/3rds of the way up the room.

 Unfortunately I didn’t get pictures of all the rugs, but I’ll share the pictures I did get. Cynthia introduced the general topic, and Margaret discussed the processes the group went through to design and draw a still life. Then each hooker introduced her work and discussed it….background, process..etc.


 I gave some info on Klimt’s life, influence, present popularity, and ‘hookability’. These are some of the pieces where Klimt served as inspiration.


Cheri’s work is still in progress


And of course I showed Adele and my ‘ not quite completed’ Hygieia. Unfortunately….I missed getting pictures of several of the Klimt inspirations.

Next blog I’ll share pictures of some of the ‘show and tell’ rugs.

Oh…by the way…I picked up a light grey tweed, and an even lighter grey check…which I think (fingers crossed) will work well for the background of my Fat Cat.