I’ve decided I’m a ‘dye as you go’ kind of hooker. I start out with what I think may work…and invariably change my mind.

This is my progress to date.


The large tree is in shades of mouse grey. The suckers are silver grey…but I think they will come out.


The window panes are black watch plaid, and the casings, a variety of greys I had in my stash. My original stucco/cement colour of the walls was too bright and new-looking, so I overdyed it with 1/128th tsp charcoal grey to dull it down, but I kept the bits I’d hooked in originally for some highlights.

The whole point of this piece…is that it’s a deserted…and decaying barn


….so the green mossy moldy parts are really important to try and get that idea. (I think I’m going to have lots of yucky drab wool hanging around before I get this how I want.)

My first attempt (but not likely my last).

I chose Khaki, khaki drab, and ivy to test. I don’t have swatches, so I spooned some of the dye bath on paper towels to get an idea of the colour.


I decided on the Khaki (middle one) and overdyed some of my ‘cement’ coloured wool in that.


The colours aren’t true. I watched it carefully and took it out when I thought the colour was OK. I haven’t hooked any in yet…but I’m not convinced I’ve got it right yet.

I had dyed about 1/2 yard in a pale mouse grey for the roof….but realized that if the tree was mouse grey….the colour for the roof needed to be another grey altogether.

Rather than discard the original wool…I overdyed it too.


Again I used paper towels to see what it might look like….with a bit of mouse grey first, then other greys spoon over top. I tried, silver grey, charcoal, and black…and decided on the silver grey. I’m not at all sure that’s what I’ll end up using…but it’s been fun dabbling.


Whipping and Beginning

I actually didn’t pull a loop all last week. I have to admit…I was in a bit of a hooking ‘funk’. Even though I re-worked quite a few sections of the pillow background…it still didn’t look the way I wanted it to…and I knew that if I re-hooked it in squiggles…I would lose the straight line effect I wanted.

I chose to ignore it for awhile….and finally decided I’d listen to Mary Lou…who commented that I was being too fussy.

I pinned the hooking to the front of the pillow I bought (so I wouldn’t have to sew anything)….and it fit perfectly. 


That was step one in feeling more positive.



The whipping is tricky….going through the tightly woven material of the pillow covering. My usual bent,  dull -ended needle wouldn’t work at all, so I picked up a package of sharp ended darning needles. It’s really hard on my fingers…but it works.  I just do a few inches at a time…but I’m pleased with how it looks.

My next project is my monochromatic barn.

In the last blog…I naively said I might draw the barn pattern straight onto the linen. Who was I kidding! It didn’t take me long to change my mind , and I went back to my tried and true system…drawing it in pencil onto red dot, then tracing it onto the linen.


I’ve just started the hooking…and I’m really enjoying working with the greys. The skinny branches are silver grey…the larger tree is mouse grey, and the window casings will be a recycled cashmere in a charcoal grey. The panes are my ever- favourite black watch plaid. 

I dyed the greys in my standard fashion…1/2 the dye bath in the pot…and 1/2 spooned over the wool a bit later after some of the dye has been taken up. I did three different intensities of the mouse grey over two different wools so I would have lots of shades available.

This is my latest aquisition….


…a 4′ x 4′ piece of tintest, which Ray marked out in a 2″ grid for me for drawing patterns. I pin my backing straight on the lines around the perimemeter, then pin the red dot pattern on the top so that everything is square when I trace the pattern. I have an 8′ x 4′ piece in 3″ squares, but this new one is perfect for smaller projects, and fits easily on my dining room table.

Yesterday Ray and I went for a drive to find the deserted barn I’m using for this project.(I took the pictures last November).


This is the whole barn…


…and this is the picture I’m adapting for my piece.

I wanted to have another look at it…and see if I could get any information about it…..and the name of the road it was on, so I could record it on the hooking.

I swear it must be in Brigadoon!!! We drove around for over an hour…and couldn’t find it . We both thought we knew where we’d been….but it’s vanished!!! 

fixing and Barn Raising

The canoe pillow I’m doing for my friend has caused me no end of frustration this week. It seemed like such a simple project, but I’ve run up against a new problem. The picture Heather sent me has a decidedly straight  line background. I dyed a light mottled blue background, and hooked it in straight lines. BUT…even after steaming, in certain light, the lines are not exactly a uniform height, and I don’t like them.


Last night I took out as many of the offending lines that I could find, and rehooked them ever so carefully. They looked fine in the dimmer evening light…but this morning, every slight variation seems to scream at me . I think I’ll give it one more try, and if I’m still not satisfied, I’ll rip out the entire background, and hook it in swirls. I’m told that the picture I’m copying is actually machine done…aha…no fair.

I also hooked my little 8″ x 8″ summer swap mat this week…but I can’t show it to you yet, as it’s supposed to be a surprise.

Have you heard about the Barn Raising Project?

The Huronia Branch of OHCG in cooperation with the Simcoe County Museum, is planning to curate a rug hooking exhibition celebrating the barns of Canada. Entry forms must be in to the museum by Oct 12, 2012, and the pieces submitted by Oct. 5, 2013. 

With this show in mind, Ray and I took a Sunday drive just north of town last November, looking for old barns.

It would have been prettier if we’d gone a month earlier…but somehow the November sky and bare trees add to the sadness of the ‘decaying’ barns.



I love this sky, and would omit the house, and probably the metal shed on the right.


This is the typical barn-shape in our area.


This one doesn’t have as extensive a roof.


This is the only building left standing on this deserted farm. The neighbour told me it was the slaughter house. The carcasses were hoisted up inside to ‘season’.


I loved the covered entrance to this barn and winding drive.


This barn has an interesting peeked roof. I got up close for some other shots. These two are my favourites.


I’ve looked at these pictures on and off all winter, and finally decided I’m going to try this one.

I’ve been dyeing a variety of greys and beiges to get a start.


These are much lighter than they appear in the picture.


Submitted pieces must be no larger than 24″ x 36″. I settled on 20″ x 26″, because that is the same proportion as the picture I printed  from my computer.


Because it is mostly straight lines, I  think I may be able to draw it directly onto the linen.  This is a half size “try out” (10″ x 13″) ….I’m working on to see if I can do it. 

Wish me luck!

A Tribute to Jeanne Wallace

I can’t believe we’re already into March! Where did the last month go!

First Tuesday is tribute day at Sunshine Rug Hookers, and this month we were able to enjoy the wonderful work of Jeanne Wallace.

Growing up during the depression, Jean’s family had always made rugs of old clothing cut by hand. (Jeanne brought one of these ‘hand cut’ rugs, and somehow I missed getting a picture of it.)

She said that she was astounded to discover that there were ready made patterns, and wool cutters to cut the wool into small, even strips. She felt like she had discovered a new craft  on her first visit to a ‘rug hooking store’…(Rittermere’s…then located ??? toward Hamilton??)…she purchased this pattern, and the cut wool to make it.


She said it is now faded, but it is still a beautiful piece. She was delighted with this ‘new’ form of hooking, and took lessons to learn shading etc.


Some of her first small pieces were shaded flowers and fruit.


Jeanne said this is her ‘oldest’ rug…and it now has a place of “honour” in the basement in front of her washing machine.


For a period of time Waldoboro was a very popular style. They would make these small pieces for sale. I love the little piece mounted on barn board….the picture doesn’t do it justice, and you can’t see the precise sculpturing either.


Jeanne admits that hooking animals isn’t her favourite subject matter, but loves her giraffe, done at a workshop with Jon Ciemiewicz.


These beautiful eyes were done at a workshop at Green Mountain.


While on her trip to the Green Mountain Workshop, she took a picture of this quaint covered bridge, then later hooked this from the picture.


This purse is a Jennifer Manuell pattern, hooked after a workshop taken with her. 


When I first joined Sunshine Rug hookers, after retiring from teaching, I remember watching Jeanne working on this piece. I was totally in awe at how she could translate a picture into wool so beautifully.

I found out more about it Tuesday….. it was adapted from a painting done by her daughter.

The trilliums in the border set the time and place as Ontario in springtime.


Jeanne hooked this Christmas stocking using a variety of specialty hooking techniques.


This piece was hooked at a ‘hit and miss ‘ background workshop. Jeanne said the wool was put in a brown paper bag and pulled out at random to create the background. Hard to believe …it seems so beautifully planned and highlights each cup so well.

I’ve always admired this Rittermere pattern, and it’s  beautiful colour pallette. Jean’s piece has an interesting story.


For some reason (I can’t remember exactly the circumstances)..Sunshine was given a number of patterns and partially finished pieces. Jean selected this one, which was partially hooked,…but came with no wool. She said it was difficult to match the colours…but I think she did a wonderful job!


This piece is a Deanne Fitzpatrick pattern. Jeanne is a wizard with a needle, and applied a braided edge. 

Last Fall Jean was our leader for creating hooked ‘still lifes’, and gave a wonderful workshop on composition, balance etc. 


This is her hooked example.

We recently held an auction of patterns , wool etc.  left by the passing of our dear friend June Baker. (the money raised was sent to the Rug Hooking Museum).

June had started this small yellow plaid, and Jeanne thought it was too beautiful and precise not to finish. 


Being ‘hooked’ on the procedure…she is now in the process of hooking the Wallace plaid…shown here in a tie


….a landscape


….Father Christmas


…a penny mat/applique/hooked combination…done at a workshop with Bea Grant.

In spite of her obvious hooking talents, Jeanne considers herself primarily a quilter….and a hand quilter to boot! I’ve seen many of her quilts, and they are highly prized. She keeps a notebook on them, and reported that she has completed 71 full sized quilts (all quilted by hand)….it boogles my mind! 


This is a rare example of a machine quilted panel.


She didn’t bring any quilts with her on Tuesday, since they are heavy to carry, but these are two hand quilted  panels. The Japanese lady in particular took my breath away

What a talented lady! Thanks for sharing with us Jeanne.

Four Seasons swap…Spring edition

Just in case you don’t know…or have forgotten…the Yahookers are having a year-long Four seasons swap. Everyone involved hooks an 8″ x8″ mat for each season. The winter one is completed. I sent my mat to Rhonda in Penn. and she sent hers to me. My swap mate for  spring  is Teresa in Lubbock (Texas). I recently received this lovely mat from her, along with a note explaining it.


These are bluebonnets, a flower which carpets the countryside in Texas before the grass turns green (hence the wonderful beige background). Isn’t it striking.

My original thought for my spring mat was trilliums (the provincial wildflower) which fill the woods before the leaves come out in spring. I wanted to do a woodland picture, but I didn’t think I could pull it off to make the specks of white look like trilliums in an 8″ x 8″ space. 

So I changed gears altogether, and went to a colouring book site, and downloaded a cartoon-like picture of a mother bird feeding her chicks.


(in my case I think it’s the dad feeding the chicks…since the female cardinal isn’t bright red)

While robins are the traditional ‘sign of spring’ , I love the wonderful calls of the cardinals looking for a mate in the spring, and watching the flashy display of the male courting a female. 

I was out of red dot at that time…


so I used a dryer sheet to copy the picture,


then retraced it on verel. It’s hooked mostly in #4 cut, with a few bits of #3 when necessary.

It’s hard to think of what I’ll do for the summer swap…when it’s a brilliant winter day today…  -15 celcius, bright sunshine…and diamonds sparking in the fresh snow.