For the birds

I said I was going to leave the ‘antler redo ‘ for now…but I just couldn’t. They bugged me too much.


I went on a google search. This is a kudu…and I looked at hundreds of pictures. I finally found a black and white drawing of one. By copying the shading somewhat..I was able to get a result I was happier with.

(Just an aside….one site…kudu trophies….was entirely of hunters posing with their ‘kudu kill’…it really upset me…and I left it in a hurry)


I really like the bottom antler….the top one not so much. It may need more tweeking.

Just the birds to do now.


Once again I used the pale green shading. My favourite part of this bird is his beak. The top of it is a bit of brown plaid left over from my summer swap piece.


This fat little fellow gave me more trouble than all the others. His original head seemed to small for his small, but powerful body…so I redid it.  I think I will move his eye (again). I think I did about four different beaks, and finally settled on this one.


I kept looking at the placement of this bird, and finally decided that he had to move. It was a fairly simple process to pin that portion of the pattern in the new location and re-trace it….this time in red so I wouldn’t get mixed up.


This is the only all-black critter…and he’s actually a very dark navy cashmere. The ‘bumps’ at the top of the ‘crown’ I did with embroidery floss french knots. Filling in between them will be tricky.


The tail of this elegant fellow is black watch, and the beak once again bits from my summer swatch.


There……All the animals are done. That was so much fun….and very rewarding to do….each one felt like a little project in itself.

I’ve been dyeing up a storm…trying to get the right colours for the background. That always seems to be an issue I struggle with…what looks good as a colour palette takes on a whole new aspect when it’s hooked….but I’m anxious to jump in and give it a try…..thank goodness ripping out loops is so easy!

More Animals

This has been so much fun. The only real problem being…to come up with ways to have the animals distinct from one another…while still being black and white.


The chicken I did in black watch plaid…its got to be the most useful wool ever.


The stork…(no idea if it’s really a stork)…I used very pale green to delineate the feathers, and wing and tail tips


….for this antelope, I used a different white….one with a yellowish/brown tone. The blacks are overdyed browns….and still have a brown cast to them


I’m not happy with the antlers…but I’ll leave them for now. (This animal in real life has really strange antlers…but I didn’t quite pull them off)


Just the one large one on the right to do.


I used a grey and white glengarry plaid for this. All the other animals I hooked in contoured lines, but it looked wierd with this wool, so I pulled it out and filled it in with squiggles. I didn’t like it at first…but it’s growing on me. I need to tweek the bottom of the antlers though. I made the hooves grey so they would show up against the legs.


My animal menagerie is done. Now on to the birds.

Tigers and Zebras and Cranes…Oh my

I learn so much with each new project…and have so much fun while I do.


6  cut zebra mane

I used a very light grey to delineate the mane from the body, but the six cut on the mane didn’t please me. To make it look a little more like hair, I did the whole mane in a 4 cut…and while you may not be able to see the difference…I like it much better.


4 cut mane


The more I hook…the messier I get…with little piles of strips scattered about me…..and on the side table…and the floor…and…


I was a little concerned about the off white I prepared for the bodies of the animals…it was decidedly tinged with grey, and had some quite grey splotches. (1/124th tsp grey in 1CBW…1/2 in the bath, and half spooned over)…however it has turned out to be very effective, and the sections I like the best so far. 


The eyes have been a challenge, and have been altered several times. I really should do a bit of research, and find out how to do them properly…instead of trial and error.


I had hoped to finish the stork/crane ??? last night, but I didn’t manage it….so he’s still headless


Combining the cuts has been interesting . I use the 6 cut whenever I can, but use 4 and even 3 as necessary for detail or fine lines or tiny fill-ins. Since I’m working with primitive linen, I try to be extra careful to keep the small loops straight, and surround them with larger cuts so they are secure. I think I’ve finally and completely thrown out the door the “rule” of using a particular cut for a piece. I like the flexibility it gives me in creating the effect I want.  

Several people have asked me if I have chosen a colour palette for the background….the answer is …no. (You’re supposed to do that first…but hey…the background police haven’t been by lately).  I may choose a group of colours related to the living room rugs…( I expect to hang it there)…or I may just choose something that I think is spectacular in itself. We didn’t choose paintings that already hang there to co-ordinate with the living room…but chose them because we loved them (or their creator)… 

I have lots of ideas for the background, but they’re still just swirling in my head

The Australian Open is on…so a great excuse for lots of hooking.

Hooking in Black and White

The pattern is done and I’ve happily begun my hooking.


I’ve started with the tiger…and I think he’s so cute! Originally I thought I’d hook him in just black and white, but I’ve actually used several colours of grey as well and like the effect. I’m using both 4 and 6 cuts throughout…wherever it seems appropriate. The 4 cut was too big for outlining the eye, so I cut a #6 strip down the middle to create a #3 strip (much simpler than changing a cutter wheel for such a small amount.)

The background will be last to do…so I have lots of hooking in shades of black and white in my immediate future.

Now I’ll back up a bit to show the pattern .

After I completed the pencil drawing on the red dot,…I made a trip to Staples. I have always used sharpies, but have been told I should be using the fabric “Rub-a-dubs”. I thought I’d do it ‘properly’ this time…but when I compared the prices..I ended up with sharpies once again. (I have never had a problem with them…..and it takes several to complete drawing a large project.)


Here’s the pattern on red dot


Here it is completed on the linen.

I drew the background lines with blue to make them stand out from the black outlined animals and foliage.


The next step was to dig through my blacks, greys and whites to see what I had, and what I would need. I have some antique black left from the hall rugs, but I’ll need more and I wanted some variety.


I gathered together some really dark colours, and overdyed them with 1/8th tsp. black. I didn’t want them to all end up the same.


There are some really nasty colours there that may come in handy (or not). My camera does weird things with colours sometimes…I realized just now that in the pictures, the wool looks darker before I dyed it…..not so in reality.


I dyed 1/2 yard of natural Dorr with 1/128th tsp of charcoal grey in 1CBW….with 1/2 of it in the pan, and the other half spooned over the top of the wool. Here it is against natural Dorr. (It’s not nearly as dark as it appears in the photo)

I was really disappointed when I realized that I would have to use so much #4 cut, but by using the #4and #6 together, I like the look and feel much happier.

The shopping is done, the snow is falling…and I’m off  to enjoy the afternoon hooking.

Beginning my Dahlov Ipcar Adventure

I found that winding up a series of rather large projects (my Klimt and hall pieces) left me without a major project to be enthused about doing…and that wasn’t a feeling I liked….so….I set about to find another source of inspiration that excited me. I found it in the works of the artist Dahlov Ipcar.

You may not be familiar with the name…but perhaps are with a rug she actually hooked…now known as “tumbling cats”.


I have seen several versions of this piece, loved it, and actually went so far as to enquire about purchasing the pattern. However at the time I was looking for something small as a relief from my hall rugs, and the pattern available was very large…so I passed on it, although I didn’t forget it.

Dahlov Ipcar is 93 years old, and lives and works in Georgetown Maine.


She has written and illustrated over 45 children’s books, as well as paintings, soft sculptures, and large scale murals.


“As a painter during the 1940’s and 50’s, her art was influenced by the prevailing style of Social Realism, but by the 70’s her love of nature, especially jungle animals, led her to..a more fanciful approach….


Intricate patterns and geometric designs gradually became her artistic signature.” (from the biography on her website).

I have never before been inspired to hook animals(Fat Cat excepted), although I’ve admired the work of Elizabeth Black, and more recently the work of Judith Carter (isn’t ‘Eye See You’ fabulous…she’s just finished it…and if you’re a member of ..”The Welcome Mat”…..I’m sure you’ve drooled as you watched it’s progression)….but I digress….

It wasn’t the animals that so caught my eye in Ipcar’s work…..but her fanciful backgrounds.


To me they were just begging to be hooked.

So….off I go on another hooking adventure. My first step was to email her son Bob Ipcar, and get permission to hook my piece. He gave that and suggested I get a copy of her children’s book Black and White. It is out of print, but I was able to secure it from a used book store.

These black and white animals are the source for my hooking, and I will add an Ipcar style background to achieve the colour and impact (at least that’s the plan).


These are the two primary pages I’m using.


I had hoped to use the balck panther, but the scale was larger than the other pages.


I had a multitude of birds to choose from, and made my decisions based on what would fit, and what would translate well with hooking.


I used the zebra from this page.

I made some adjustments, cut out the extra animals and birds I wanted and pasted them on the introductory page of the book, and then set to work.


I drew a grid on the pattern page that is 1″ x 1″ then numbered the horizontal squares, and lettered the vertical one (makes it much easier to locate the squares to draw).

Up from the basement came my marked drawing board  and the diningroom table has once again become my ‘drafting table’.

My assembled picture measured 10″ x 15″, so I took the easy way out, and dec
ided to make the hooking 30″ x 45″. Two major reasons for this….it meant that by drawing a 1″ grid on the picture…it easily translated to the 3″ grid on my drawing board….secondly…I didn’t want to end up with such small details that I would have to hook it in a 3 or 4 cut…I’ll use that for details as necessary, but I want at least a 6 cut to be the major cut of the piece.


I started with the tiger (cause he’s the cutest)…and promptly drew him in the wrong place!!! ARRRG…..he was one set of squares too low (helps if you refer to your own number/letter system before you begin)…but not to be daunted, I carefully cut it out…moved it up a square, and patched in another strip of red dot on the bottom.


I found some parts simple to draw (like the zebra) and some got quite messy before I was satisfied (like the ear of this antelope)


I haven’t figured out yet how I’ll hook the  crown on this chap!


I think these will be tricky.


I’m no artist, and even using the grid system…there are tons of black rub-outs on the red dot. But I’m finally satisfied with the birds and animals. In order to keep the various details straight…I’m going to draw the background lined sections with a coloured pencil, and I’ll use a different coloured marker for them when it comes to the actual transfer onto the linen.

I have no idea whether I can do this…but it is sure going to be fun to try.

A Tribute to Barbara Wilson

The first get together of the Sunshine Rug Hookers in the new year featured the work of Barbara Wilson.


Like many rug hookers (myself included)…. Barb had several ‘false starts’ at hooking.

She was born and brought up in Cornwall Ontario, then worked in Montreal and Calgary. After a few years, her mom thought it was time she came home, and she said she would after she had seen Vancouver. While  there she had a meeting with a fortune teller, who told her she would stay for seven years. As fate would have it, she soon met a young man, was married, and indeed stayed for many years.

The family eventually moved back to Whitby, and it was there at a craft show in the 1970’s, that she first saw traditional rug hooking. She recalls it was a sculptured purple iris, and she loved it. She signed up for lessons with Clare Freek,


and this was her first piece.


Another rug hooked at this time was this beautiful one. She hooked for about 3 or 4 years, then it gradually fell by the wayside.

In 1987, she happened to visit the Rug Hooking Annual, and fell in love with rug hooking again…she joined the Sunshine Group, and truly enjoyed the group and how friendly people were.


She hooked this ‘geranium’ chair pad at a course sponsered by the Sunshine Rug hookers In 1991, she took up golf, and rug hooking was once more set aside.

In 1996, her husband died, and while sorting through things to throw out, she came upon a partially hooked bell pull. She felt it was just too lovely to discard, and she was determined to finish it. She came back once again to Sunshine Rughookers, and began hooking again.


In 2004, she signed up for a course on Celtic rugs, and had a lovely 12″ x 12″ design chosen. Iris Simpson, who was teaching the course, mentioned that she thought it wasn’t very ambitious, and she changed her mind, and purchased Rittermere’s “Four Angels”…


….. which turned out to be one of her favourite pieces.

In 2005, she returned to Trent, and took a course on Orientals with Dorothy Haight….this time making sure she chose a good big pattern.


I love the rich red in this.


This is a smaller oriental used on a table top.

Her daughter wanted her to hook a piece inspired by the Group of Seven, so she produced this wonderful tree.


You can’t tell by the photo. but the pine needle sections are sculptured.

Last year she completed this well known colourful patchwork pattern


…. and for the first time used an 8 cut for this lovely geometric.


She felt the large cut was hard on her wrist, but wants to try another using a larger hook.

Barb, counts herself a sewer, rather than a hooker, but has also dabbled with other crafts. She made this wonderful basket using pine needles and raffia.


Isn’t it intricate!

The purpose of these monthly tributes is of course to highlight the hooking and show newer members the work they might otherwise not have an opportunity to see, but it also gives us fascinating glimpses of the personal lives of women we may only know as hookers. That was certainly the case for me this month. It turns out Barb is a veteran world traveller..having several times visited Australia, New Zealand China, and the South seas, South America, Scandinavia, the Balkans, and not once but twice sailed around Cape Horn…(and that’s just what I can remember…the list seemed endless!!!)

Thanks Barb for sharing your hooking and your life story.

For myself, I’m deep in the work of Dahlov Ipcar….preparing my next project.