Finished and on to the Next

The hooking is completed on Black and White.


It still needs to be steamed and the edges bound, but my pressing board has finally given up the ghost, so steaming a large piece will be a little more trouble. 

A little while ago I was asked if I would hook a pillow in memory of a wonderful young man who died of cancer. I have multiple connections with his family, not the least of which is that I was his singing teacher for a number of years while he was growing up. 

His mom sent me a picture of this pillow and asked if I could hook it.


He loved canoeing in Algonquin park.

It’s a very simple pattern…. the hooking should be no problem…but as I’ve often lamented….I hate sewing, and I feared I would make a mess of the ‘pillow part’.

The wonderful yahookers suggested I buy a ready made pillow, and whip the hooking to the front…. so that is the plan.

I found a beautiful pillow in an appropriate size which has a lovely off white silk back, and I’m doing the hooking  to fit the front.


I sketched it out on paper,


cut out the canoe and paddles, and taped them to the backing, and outlined the pattern. (pinning it distorted it too much)


After it was done…I realized the paddles were too erect,


so I redid them at a lower level.

I’ve decided I am a ‘trial and error’ hooker. I seem to only be able to see my mistakes…not anticipate them very well. The body of the canoe is a perfect example. 


I thought I would hook it in a 6 cut and follow the contours of the canoe (far right)….when that looked wrong, I tried random hooking in a 6 cut (middle)……when that didn’t work either, I switched to random hooking in a 4 cut (far left)…..YES….took me 3 tries.


I’ve started outlining the paddles, and again, it’s not right, so I will alter them once again, and make them longer, and hook inside the lines a little further to make them slimmer.

I’m off now to dye some wool for the background. Lets hope it doesn’t take 3 tries to get that right.

getting to the end

Well most of the major decisions have been made…and now there are the bits and pieces. 


I thought perhaps extending the coral to the right corner would be a good idea…boy was I wrong!

I like to pin a swatch over the area to see if I think I’ll like it.


Bringing in the purple green from the left side looked much better


I think I’ll change the pink vine as well.


I took out the small triangle of pinky colour above the green and extended the purple green. 


I eliminated the small areas on the right corner and extended the lilac and green there. I’m trying to get away from a patchwork impression and create more of the feeling of ‘shafts’ of colour.


I extended the lilac down through the zebra


I decided to do all the leaves in blue green, and not worry about them standing out particularly.

How would I do the bottom????

Ipcar tends to use multi coloured borders….related to her backgrounds….but I decided against that….for two reasons…one artistic…one practical. I wanted to ‘ground’ my animals with a little more realism…and I didn’t have enough of some of the background wools to do a coloured border.

I started with a pale green line about an inch below the lowest animal…but I soon pulled that out. It had no relationship to the rest of the piece. I replaced it with the blue green variegated wool that I had used for some of the leaves. 


Then I got out my bag of blue/green worms, and started hooking in clumps pf colour…with dark bits for the animals to stand on.


Aha…that I like. I’m just going to enjoy doing the bottom….tack the back of my spring swap….and get the plans for my next project underway.

Thinking Out Loud

For me…..doing a background is an ongoing, evolving process. I’m learning from each one, but the next just seems to present a different set of challenges. The coral in the background of “Black and White” has been such a struggle…will I keep it? I like it! I hate it…The real problem was that it looked so different in different lights.  

I finally decided that the coral had to go…I was certain…


Would I replace it with this pale mottled green?


What about repeating the mottled lilac?


This blue green seemed a good choice.

I left it overnight, and completely changed my mind in the morning. It was so ‘blah’ all in muted colours…I liked the power of the coral…to me it suggested sunset, or perhaps fire. I was drawn to the Ipcar paintings because of the fantastical backgrounds, and I didn’t want to give up yet. Perhaps it would blend better with the rest if the scrolling/vines were green.


Nope…I didn’t like that. What about if it was lilac scrolls/vines…might tie it better to the rest of the background


I just couldn’t decide. What I did decide though was that I didn’t want a background that I didn’t like in some light situations. I decided to throw out the whole ‘muted’ idea, and added a strong blue…several colours, mixed together.


Now I felt I was on the right track. I thought that even more of the coral would balance it out, and it wouldn’t stick out so much.


I scrounged in my stash and found enough to do this section….and I did a small section on the other side in the vivid red/purple that I’d used for the leaves in the lilac section


Now it looks the same in every light and makes a bold statement. It may make some people’s hair curl….but it has the impact I was after.

This is where it stands now….some decisions made….but still some changes to do. I’m going to extend the purple green section at the top left….and who knows what else!

Background mind changing

This seems to be a repeating theme doesn’t it……..indecision with background colours. I’ve already got a mountain of ‘pulled out worms’ from this background. 


At the point this picture was taken, I didn’t like the pale green, or the coral colour. But an added problem is…it looks entirely different to me depending on the quality of light (daytime/night time) At night I’d think it looked fine, but in the morning I didn’t like it at all….or vice versa.


I thought that by having a duller, muted red tone next to it…it might calm down the coral. The maroon on the right is cushing ‘old rose’ and silver grey over oatmeal…but I still didn’t like the pale green…so last night I pulled it all out, and added a muted yellow green. It looked good last night….but in the daylight…it disappeared into the green beside it…..and I still didn’t like the coral. Then I thought perhaps the answer was to take out the offending coral, and replace it with something much more muted.

I spent the morning dyeing. I thought that if I used oatmeal as a base…it would by nature end up much duller……but in spite of my using a different red dye altogether (paprika, charcoal, and silver grey) it ended up looking way too purple….almost identical to the maroon on the right of it.


Still determined….I overdyed it with a light colour bath of poppy red….and now I have this…..I love it….but it looks dreadful in the background…..more wool for a future project.

So then I decided to go ahead with bits of some other sections…and added the green, blue, and lilac on the far right. As I did …I lost my ‘hate’ of the coral…..but it still wasn’t right.

After staring at it awhile I thought maybe it was the green and coral together that was bugging me and if I used the very lightest swatch from the maroon (not used on the other side at all) it would work. So that’s  the point I’m at right now….I’m going to take out the dull green to the left and try some of the light maroon that’s lying there in this picture.


….but I make no promises that it will look like this the next time I post a progress report.

Wish me luck!

A Tribute to Kathy Smith

Once again the first Tuesday of the month was tribute day at Sunshine Rug Hookers…and this month, we were treated to the work of Kathy Smith.

Kathy is a native Orillian, and  a multi talented artist.

One of her early rugs was the traditional shaded rose…..


….but  she soon moved on to styles that she found more interesting.


This rug was from a course she took with Deanne Fitzpatrick in Nova Scotia


This too is influenced by Deanne’s style.


This is one of Emily Carr’s paintings…re-interpreted .


This was a shed at her grandmother’s place.


This wonderful piece could be mistaken for a painting.

We all know rug hookers tend to be multi-talented, and we love to see, and learn about member’s work in other genres. Kathy is no exception.

Kathy’s mom taught her to sew, but never thought she would ‘take to it’……Many years later, she surprised her mother with this beautiful quilt.


Growing up on the water in Orillia, she says that water is connected to all of her inspiration and interests.


This memory quilt recalls all the areas of influence the water has had for her.

Kathy never does anything by halves, so once bitten by the ‘sewing bug’…she went ‘all out’ and said she has more than 60 jackets and vests in her closet that she has created. Perhaps it’s only natural that she became a dealer for Pfaaf sewing machines.


This is a wonderful jacket…although Kathy regrets having made it in white…says she’s never worn it….there were lots of offers to take it off her hands from those of us in the room.

The amazing detail doesn’t show up in this vest.


The different details are applied in a woven pattern….it’s exquisite.


This vest is made entirely of jeans…all the different coloured pieces are appliqued, with the tree branches cut, rolled, and stitched to create a 3 dimensional effect. Kathy warns that if you don’t like to be touched…you shouldn’t wear this vest…..people are always wanting to ‘feel’ the trees.


This amazing vest is done with appliqued doilies…overstitched with gold threads.


This is my favourite….a reversible jacket of rich jewel tones, all stitched with with gold thread.


Can you imagine how many pieces were needed to create this batik style pattern?


Kathy said she created this vest for a contest…to demonstrate the capabilities of an embroidery machine. All the motifs are machine embroidered.

Being someone who breaks out in a sweat when I have to sew a zig zag around a rug in order to finish it….you can imagine how impressed I was with Kathy’s stitchery.

Wow what a talented lady.

starting the background of Black and White

After several false starts…I have the background underway.


I began by starting some leaves at the bottom. I used a dip dye that I dyed for my hall runner, but I somehow goofed on it, and it turned out way too green. I like the colours for here, but not the hooking stye, so I will take it out later, and figure out a different way to hook it.


Then I decided to work here, and this is the first background block I did. The background is a gentle lilac spot dye. The leaves, a left over from my Emma Sue background.


I spot dyed the recycled wool on the left, with 1/128th tsp lilac ….much more interesting now….I find I no longer like to hook with a solid colour.


This chunk…has had several incarnations. Originally I hooked it with a left over flesh tone dip dye….the background pale, and the vines dark ….yikes…it jumped out and didn’t work at all. I changed the background to this mottled turquoise (originally intended for background on Hygieia….but it didn’t work there)… just never know when your dyeing goofs will be absolutely perfect. 


This purple/green spot dye seemed like a good transition to the greens I wanted to use in the next blocks. (this wool was another failed attempt to dye a suitable background for Emma Sue)


This section is done with 2 of the 4  lazy swatches I dyed in drab olive.


When I first dyed them…I didn’t think they would work at all.


So this is the progress to date.

I’ll confess to my dyeing experiments which haven’t worked…. there’s lots of re-dyeing ahead)


This is a lazy swatch done in raspberry….beautiful….but not for this piece!


This is a lazy swatch done in paprika….dulled done slightly, but still way too bright for the background.


 My two red lazy swatches.

I’ve mentioned Emma Sue several times, so here she is .


I had a really hard time dyeing a background for her…I think I went through nearly two yards of wool until I got what I wanted..but I’m making use of much of those mistakes in this piece.

Now it’s back to the dye pots to dull down the paprika and see if I like that….got to have wool prepared so I can hook while the super bowl is on tomorrow!