Hooking With Friends

What a lovely day I had today (friday). While much of North America was apparently shopping…..I was happily curled up at Cynthia’s house, sipping coffee, chatting, eating,  and hooking with friends. 

The day was warm, and the sun was streaming in through the windows. Kathy and Helen left their hooking at home and brought knitting instead. The wools they were working with were so yummy…I’m almost (but not quite) inspired to start knitting again myself. 

Gayle was sewing old jewelry mementos unto a Christmas tree hanging her mother had made. The rest of us were hooking. (I’m so sorry I didn’t get photos of everyone)


Cynthia and Pat are sharing a joke


Cheri needed a lot of room for her large piece


 Jeanne is hard at work.


This is Cynthia’s ‘Wonky Christmas Tree’…she put the finishing touches on it ….then


Began a new Christmas  ‘banner’ for this year. 


Marion was working on the background of a scroll…I think it’s to be a pillow.


This is a ‘Deanne Fitzpatrick’ inspired piece Jeanne has just begun.


Pat hooks with 100% wool yarn. I can’t wait to see her bird

Cher’s ‘Girl Playing Hopscotch’ has really progressed since I last saw it.


She drew the pattern, and used a Klimt style background at the top.   It is really long …I would guess about 8 feet, but I never thought to  ask.


 I never cease to be amazed at her wonderful and bold use of colour.


Cheri cuts her strips by hand and uses a wide variety of materials. 


The hair is a sweater that she cut up (or I think perhaps unravelled)…since the kinks of the used wool form wonderful curly hair.

I was hooking the last of the background on Fat Cat, and I will force myself to go straight to the finishing when it’s done…I’m aiming to have it totally completed next week…..then it’s back to the hall runner and getting it finished before I start on anything else. (Hopefully by writing it all here, I’ll feel bound to do what I’ve said I will…before I start on a brand new venture)

Bits and Pieces

Fat Cat is coming along. I changed the upper part of the leaves that were not showing up..


When viewed from a distance the top just disappeared.


What a difference that one lighter strip makes. Thanks for the advice Jean.

I’ve completed the body,


and I’m pleased with the way the extended shading has worked out. I thought about putting the glue on the whiskers now, but fortunately I didn’t…because then I realized I could have created quite a mess if I’d steamed over the glue….so I’ll wait and do that after it’s all steamed and ready to bind.

Now just the border and background to finish.

I so appreciate all the little tips I’ve picked up along my hooking journey, that help to make my work just a little bit better. Gene Shepherd’s method of doing a square corner is just one example.


The first thing was to take note of the turn, and keep it in the same line at each corner (should be obvious….but I used to just ‘turn away’) On this border…the vertical lines all go right to the end of the lines. Then he suggests snuggling up the last few loops before the turn, quite closely, and make the turn right into the next space. Then leave an extra space before starting down the new side, so the loop has room to relax. I think my square corners are much neater now than they used to be.

 I’ve been drawing sketches for the chair seat and back. My first thought was to do something old and antique-ee, but then I thought about the fact that it will ultimately go to one of my three sons, and now I’m thinking of something more abstract and modern, that they might appreciate.


Still very much at the doodling stage. I’m not really sure yet if it’s appropriate for this style of chair. I’m thinking of browns and blacks…a combination I find striking, and it would go with almost any colour of decor, as well as not detract from the beautiful colour of the wood. But everything is just in the very early planning stages. 

We’ve had about 10 cm,( 4 inches) of snow for the past few days, but it’s supposed to be up to 11 C. by tomorrow ( can’t remember what that is in fahrenheit ….mid 50’s I think) weird to be that warm here in late November!


Carrying on

I haven’t been hooking every day recently…and it sure makes a difference in my progress. I’m working on a number of areas on Fat Cat at the same time…and not getting too far with any of them. When I put the background around the top light green leaves, I felt the leaves  disappeared….that the values were too close., so I outlined them first with a very dark brown….too stark, that came out in a hurry.


 Then I outlined them with a fine strip of dark green.


They still jumped out too much….so now thanks to Jean Chabot…I’m taking that out as well, and  will try changing the leaf colours slightly to have a better (brighter ) colour on the outside of the leaves in this spot. Thanks Jean your advice is always ‘spot on’.


The part that needs concentration, is the body of the cat. 


This is the wool I have left to complete the body…the remains of the dip dye…a darker version over the same oatmeal…and a smaller dark version dyed over a brown plaid. 

 The centre section of the body has been quite tricky, because I decided to extend the mid-depth brown to give more delineation to the very dark tail. I like this effect, the tricky part is because while shading with a dip dye is easy…I have a very small portion of the dip dye wool that is this mid-brown colour….and have extended it in the cat to a longer length than it is in the long strip of wool. That required slow work, and laying out each strip carefully so that it blended all the way around as it was hooked.


This is how it looked before….


Now it’s lighter, and the tail stands out better..

Lots of trying and removing of strips that didn’t quite match…but I’m pleased with how it looks so far. 

 I have lots of brown worms too, as I’m only using small sections of the dip dye strips. I could have just cut through the middle, but thought the left over would be more useful as a long graduated piece.

I’ve been working on the background when I don’t really want to have to concentrate on what I’m doing (like at Sunshine meetings when there’s a lot of important chatting and visiting to do).


 I just seem to like both styles, and I think I’ll just have two different, but related areas in the background. 

I think,….like most hookers, I am always thinking ahead to my next project before completing what I’m working on….and I was quite inspired by a ‘hooked’ chair was was at the ATHA Biennial this year. Of course I haven’t seen it in person…but it got me to thinking….I’d love to hook a chair…..maybe that’s how I should finish my Grandfather’s chair I’ve had in the basement for years. 


My parents used this chair, and it is the only keepsake I have from my father’s side of the family. Years ago I took a refinishing class, and stripped all the old green paint off to discover a lovely walnut chair with a bit of carving at the top.


It had originally been caned, but the caning was ripped and I removed it. A few years ago, Ray bought me a book on caning, I took a brief (one hour) workshop on how to do it, bought the supplies, and thought it would be easy….NOPE! After spending hours and hours, days and days…everything I’d done started breaking, and I gave up. Now maybe here is my solution. I’ve been surfing the web looking for inspiration, and pattern and colour choice ideas…I’ll keep you posted on what I decide.

Fat Cat Decisions and Changes

Several areas in my Fat Cat rug have had changes and adjustments…..the face…the body direction…and the background.

The face problems are mostly because I’m making my Fat Cat into a Siamese…without really altering the non-siamese face shape of the pattern. The area on the head between the ears began dark……changed to light (sorry I didn’t get a picture while it was light) , for the sake of reality….then reverted to dark, for the sake of the look of the hooked cat.


I didn’t like the skinny nose area so I broadened the dark area on each side of the nose….and


although the markings don’t match those of Akuma…with the exception of that little bump above one eye….I’m satisfied with how they look on the piece.

I played with various options for the background, but had pretty much decided on a basically light beige  swirly background done with a number of wools…..that is ….until I did a portion of the outside border in the darker tweed…


.and realized there was simply too much BROWN….way too BLAH! I debated about redoing the whole background in a pale blue…and put in some pieces to check the effect. 


(the blue stands out much more in the picture than it does in reality)

Much to my surprise…I liked the look of the small bits of blue mixed in with the light beige…and at least for now….that’s how I’m planning to continue. It gives a hint of a sky without being one. I think I’ll try dark brown touches along the bottom to give the same hint of earth without actually using a horizon line…..or maybe I’ll just mix the whole thing together….

The biggest dilemma I’ve faced has been on the directional hooking for the body. Around the neck and shoulders,it was obvious….but what about over the back…from the tail back and the flank.


..I thought I had it figured out, drew in guide lines and started hooking….it was WRONG.


I checked out the direction of Akuma’s hair when he was sitting in approximately the same position.


I straightened the lines out and tried again…and that’s where I am right now.


Still very much a work in progress. (the angled strips will come out)

Talking about a ‘work in progress’…the hall wall is progressing, and will be a wonderful home for Hygieia…


as long a my dear husband doesn’t slip on the ladder….it’s a long way down to the front hall.

A Remembrance Day Rug and Managing Worms

After I had finished taking the pictures of Mary Lou’s rugs last Tuesday, someone whispered to me….get a picture of Ann’s rug before she sends it away. Since I had been late arriving, I’d missed seeing or hearing about it….but when I did I was deeply moved. 

Ann Hallett is a well known artist, teacher and designer, who lives in Coldwater (just down the road from Orillia). She hooked this wonderful “Remembrance  Rug” out of ‘stump sox’ and military uniforms which were donated by veteran amputees. Stump sox are the wool sox that are pulled up over the stumps of amputated limbs to reduce friction and absorb perspiration under the prothesis….can you imagine anything more appropriate for this rug!


The colours are stunning!


This is the back and the dedication


…a little more information about its making. What a keepsake.

Thanks Ann for sharing it with us…Lest We Forget..

Now from the sublime…to the ridiculous…

Rughookers will know exactly what “managing worms” means…but for those of my family who faithfully read my musings, and aren’t hookers, or perhaps newbies catching my blog……worms are what rug hookers call the cut strips of wool that are left over when a piece is finished hooking.


The more you hook…the more you acquire…and most of us being frugal…don’t throw them out…but stash them away for when we need that little bit of light yellow-green, or a touch of red…etc. My problem being…trying to find what I want amongst the bags and bags  I have stashed in a big box. Til now…I’ve kept them by project…using them when I thought…”that yellow from Adele would work well here”….then rummaging to find that bag, and rummaging further to see if there’s any yellow left in it. What a pain!…so I usually instead, go to my yellow bin…and cut into a larger piece of uncut wool…leaving more worms, when I don’t use everything I’ve cut.

My arm, shoulder, and neck have been sore recently, so I’ve been trying to moderate my hooking time, and decided that sorting my worms would be a useful occupation. I thought that sorting them by colour made more sense than leaving them by project, so I bought a new box of large ziplock baggies, and plunged in.


I was quite specific with colours….light yellow green…light blue green…orange red….cherry red …etc.


then I found some pants hangers, and put several bags in each one, and hung them up so they’re easy to see. They look pretty, and can be easily accessed. Not the best hangging solution…but certainly better than what I had. I’d sure be interested in how others store their worms.

Maybe I should do a ‘hit and miss’ rug next.


A Tribute to Mary Lou Justason

Once again the first Tuesday of the month arrived and this month was a tribute to Mary Lou Justason.

Mary Lou works tirelessly to promote the Rug Hooking Museum in Nova Scotia, and is” Director at Large’ for Ontario. She is  a member of The Sunshine Rug Hookers in Orillia in the spring and fall…and a member of the Heritage Rug Hooking Group in Largo Florida during the winter months..a Yahooker, and a member of Gene’s IRC….and those are just her current hooking activities.


She has been a local rep for OHCG (Ontario Hooking Craft Guild), and both convener and co-convenor the OHCG annual. She was a founding member of the Huronia Rug hookers in Barrie, and was for many years an active rug hooking teacher and twice president of the Teacher’s group of OHCG. She claims she only  became a teacher in order to have people to hook with, after her first attempt to gather rug hookers together resulted in a group of latch hookers arriving at her door. …All of this while raising four children, working full time as a nurse, and sharing her life with her “prince charming”…Don.


Her first rug….. hooked in 1971. She lived in Georgetown at the time, and her first teacher was Shirley Lyons. It is the Rittermeyer pattern called Annabelle. As she said…there was no messing around then with small learning pieces…this is what she was given, and this was how she was to hook it.


A later piece, done for adjudication in the teacher’s group….has a sad tale to tell. Being upset by the finicky, and mistaken criticism that one rose had skipped a colour value, she actually stopped hooking for 11 years. She said she never admitted it, and would bring knitting to the meetings, but for a long time couldn’t face hooking. Her good friends Wanda Kerr, and Faye Goode finally got her hooking again. Her attitude about that episode  now?…how could I have been so stupid!


This beautiful oriental was originally started by her  friend Edith Chapman, and after her death…completed by Mary Lou


At a workshop in Nova scotia with Deanne Fitzpatrick, she chose this rug. She was to hook women who had been significant in her life. After much thought she settled on…her 4th and 5th grade teachers who were sisters, and were known by their hair colour…red haired Miss Nash, and white haired Miss Nash.


This is my favourite…her Elizabeth rug…hooked in memory of her sister. Her name at the top is actually a copy of Elizabeth’s signature.


Having barely closed the cover of this lovely  book “Night Garden”…


The mailman delivered this rug…based on the same book…a gift from a friend….The amazing co-incidence of this made a big impact on her…are rug hookers on the save wave length or what !!!


I love the progression of this rug….the gnomes were hooked by Mary Lou in the waldoboro style many years ago, and remained unfinished. Last year she did some clearing out, and brought many items she no longer wanted to see if anyone else would like them. Cynthia Young chose this little piece and is finishing it. Cynthia’s free form style of hooking couldn’t be further from the sculptured, precise Waldoboro…but the result is wonderful. Cynthia’s glorious yarns and colours are setting these lifelike little fellows free in a world of fantasy.


Mary Lou and Shirley Poole began the Huronia Rug Hooking Group in Barrie, and for their 25th anniversary, the group co-operatively hooked this beautiful rug for Mary Lou (with their initials in the hearts). What a wonderful thank you gift.

Mary Lou is our only member who must journey by boat to get to the meetings, as their summer home is in the idyllic Honey Harbour region of southern Georgian Bay. In early November, the waters of Georgian Bay are choppy, and the morning fog coming off the water is dense. As a result…Mary Lou had to load up her rugs, and make her boat trip the day before our meeting. Although she couldn’t bring any large rugs, we enjoyed seeing a photo album of many more of her wonderful hooked pieces. I’m only sorry
I can’t share them all here.

Mary Lou and Don are off to Florida next week, and we wish them a safe journey, and a warm winter.