What WIll It Look Like?

So often during my hooking life, I’ve been disappointed when an absolutely gorgeous piece of wool looked not gorgeous and in fact yucky, once it was cut and hooked.  This has been an ongoing learning process for me. I remember seeing a brilliant mat once, made entirely by affixing a piece of plaid next to a hooked square of the same plaid. What a great reference chart.

The more I try out hooking with various plaids, checks, patterns etc, the better I get at anticipating what they will look like. I have a few favourites, that never seem to let me down.

DSCF4897First on that list must be black watch plaid. (The flash makes it look lighter than it really is) I love the highlights it gave to Adele’s hair.DSCF4898But it’s also great as a black too, it has such vibrancy. I like using it in lots of places….such as here in the phoenix in the Althea piece.DSCF4881

Second would be this brown/black diamond check, which has never disappointed me.DSCF4879I first used it for Hygieia’s hair. Although the picture doesn’t show it, in real life there is a clear distinction between her hair, and her headpiece ( which has lots of black watch in it)DSCF4880Then along with several other wools, it created highlights in Althea’s hair.DSCF4876….and now I’ve just used it for the dark side of the trunk in Wanda’s teaching piece.  It’s such a versatile wool.DSCF4896

I’m getting better at knowing how houndstooth checks will hook up (Lots of trial and error to get there). I tried several wools in this area before I tried the hounds tooth. I’ve found that the style of hooking (antigodlin style used here in order to get a good mix of the light and dark) has a lot to do with the final effect. …straight line filling would have looked stripy.DSCF4894

Right now I’m looking for greater variation in the background trees of the Wanda teaching piece, and I keep looking at a green/brown/white plaid sitting on the shelf across from me. At first glance, it seems too light, but with judicious cutting (using the darker strips?) it might just give the spark and interest I’m looking for…..I might just have to try it out.

As an aside….since taking this picture I have pulled out most of the shore-line and replaced it with a lighter section of the wool I’m using….but I’ll get into that next time.

Have a safe and happy holiday weekend everyone. Thanks for stopping by.

Working With Values

I am oh so bad with colour theory! Unless pushed, I know I don’t think in technical “colour terms” the way I should/could.  It’s not that I don’t consider value, intensity, tint, shade, etc. etc., I just don’t think in those actual terms. I make an uneducated guess, and fix/change as I’m working . I spend a great deal of time looking at my work and deciding what works and what doesn’t work, As a result I have a lot of difficulty choosing an entire colour palette before I begin hooking, and usually end up with a drastic departure from my original ideas. Since I dye my own wool, this isn’t as much of a  problem as it would be if I had to choose all my colours from a store or vendor beforehand.

BUT…I want to get better at it, and Wanda Kerr’s on-line course is a great way to force myself to consider value as decider number one when it comes to wool choice….to analyze in terms of plane and cohesion BEFORE I start to hook.

I’m going to try and hook this little piece entirely from existing wool in my stash, but the operative word there is TRY. I am at heart a monochromatic person, so if the colours are too different, I may have to amend them in a little blending stew.DSCF4847Here’s my pattern.DSCF4862I chose a selection of blues from my stash that I thought might work, but they cover a wide range of values.DSCF4870I settled on these medium and dark values, plus the greyish white for the moonDSCF4867These browns are possibilities for the groundDSCF4868I found two bags of green strips that may workDSCF4871…and began sorting them according to valueDSCF4872They were mostly an 8 cut, so I’m cutting them down the middle so they are roughly a 4 cutDSCF4874I haven’t forgotten Althea. I’ve been working away on the background, and it’s nearly done. Then I will be forced to tackle her hand, and the re-do of her nose. I’ll need to be in the right mood when I sit down to destroy her face, and re-hook it.

Although it is officially spring, we still have about a foot of snow on the front lawn, so no need yet to think about spring clean-up and yard work. I can happily stay indoors and hook to my heart’s content.

Thanks for stopping by.

My Evolving Backgrounds

I’ve very gradually come to realize the importance and potential in not only background colour choices, but in its hooking style as well….but it has been a slow and evolving process.

This is my first rug, in a 4 cut, a solid antique black background and I was taught to do squiggles.ist background

The background of my first few rugs were all done that way, and my only consideration was colour.

My first departure from that style of background filling was for my Oriental “Canadian Mosaic” DSCF4857 I think this is when I fell in love with the idea of smooth even hooking. (this was the first time I had been able to achieve a semblance of it). DSCF4858…and it was also the first time I experienced the effects of using an abrashed wool rather than a solid colour for a background. (I was not dyeing my own wool at this point). But I wasn’t an immediate convert . In fact I can remember being mightily disappointed when I later dyed my first background, and the wool turned out somewhat mottled. (I’ve changed my thinking a lot since then!)DSCF4860I experimented with a wavy background in several colours for this Deanne Fitzpatrick rug, but truth to tell, it was more because I was only using wool I had at hand, and I didn’t have enough of any one colour.DSCF4859

By the time I came to hook the background of my two hall rugs, I was dyeing my own wool, and my version of antique black was based on using bottle green and black over a plum coloured wool. No more solid colours for me! I was using the echo style of filling.DSCF4850 Hooking “Fat Cat” was a move away from my comfort zone in colour choices, so I decided to be venturesome in the background as well. I liked the look of this 3 colour curly pattern


….but then I liked the look of THIS 3 colour pattern as well.


Going totally away from my custom…I used both and split the background corner to corner colour-wise.

I struggled mightily in choosing the colours for the background for Hygieia. I “wasted” tons of wool dyeing colours I thought would be wonderful, only to find they were awful!DSCF4855It was a simple reference to the colour wheel which finally led me to the greens (red’s complimentary colour of course….why did it take me so long to think of that) DSCF4856Finally the style and colour gave me the textured yet unobtrusive effect I was after.DSCF4840

I still use squiggles…great for an expanse of skinDSCF4834I still use echo filling….

But since I’ve been looking carefully at a lot of paintings, I’ve become aware that I can use my wool background to enhance the overall piece .DSCF4843

I’m extending the curves in the echo hooking of Althea, and even adding the odd circle when the space is large enough.DSCF4849This is my favourite part of the background. I love the effect of movement created around the bird by the sweeps around his tail, and the variations in the wool colour.

I get so excited when I try something new and it works. …..and in rug hooking there’s SO much for me still to learn and try.

This and That

The other day at a hooking gathering, we were discussing our work for the barn project. I mentioned that I had grown to dislike mine, and had put it away unfinished.DSCF4846
Although I was faithful to the photo in most aspects, it seemed boring and BLAH. Gail and Cheri (two wonderful and creative hookers) suggested that perhaps it needed a spark of colour  hidden in the foliage, or barnboards. Lynda even donated some rich wine strips for the purpose. So that is what I’m contemplating with my poor old barnDSCF4847

Those of you who are members of the Welcome Mat, likely know that Wanda has had an online course recently dealing with aspects of landscape. What a wonderful learning opportunity. I have drawn the pattern, but haven’t started mine yet, but I can hardly wait to try and incorporate her ideas .

This and That

…and finally I have been plugging away at the background of Althea.I was surprised at how much wool it took.  I dyed one yard, thinking that there really wasn’t much open area to cover. ( it’s 36″ x 36″ ) but I’ve had to dye an extra 1/2 yard to have enough to finish it.  Although I used the same recipe, I decided to make some subtle changes, so that there was a little wider range of colour shades and intensites to work with. I simply added a little less than 1/2 of the dye bath to the original pot before adding the wool, then waited longer before I spooned on the second half . I’m happy with the results.

Filling and Fiddling

After two tries (and failures) at reproducing the left over flesh tones I had used on Althea’s face, I thought I might have to take out the face and re-do the whole thing with a new colour. Sometimes I wonder at my own stupidity! I had only read the first part of the recipe I’d used originally, when in fact there were three steps needed  to get the  colour I was after.


So I took my two “failures” and overdyed them (as per my own instructions) with more pink sand and a bit of charcoal grey, and I had my flesh tones.

Althea has undergone two “chin reductions”.


I was never impressed with her original chin line. I thought it was too prominent.


….so when I was redoing her nose, I reduced the chin line by one row of hooking.


When I started doing the neck, it still seemed too heavy , so I reduced it yet another row, and now I feel she has a more attractive chin . (I still intend to redo her nose and probably make adjustments to her left eye)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the style of hooking used for  filling, and the effects it can have on a piece. While the hooking of the facial features is directional, her neck and chest are hooked with squiggles to give the effect of an expanse of skin.


I wanted the background to both highlight the objects of the piece, and as well have some interest of its own. I was struck by the beautiful background on a tea cozy being hooked by Gene Shepherd, and used that as my inspiration. While Gene’s background was primarily one colour, he had created interest with occasional circular movement of the filling. I decided to use an echo backround ( hooking around the features outward) but emphasizing areas which had curves, by extending them much further than I would normally do for an echo filling.


I also eliminated a number of leaves and flowers since I felt certain areas were too cluttered.


I’m hoping the overall effect will be pleasing to look at.


While this flower shows clearly against the background up close, it gets a bit lost when looked at from a distance. The values are too close, and I’m still pondering how I will address that…if at all.


The blank areas are getting smaller and smaller, and the completion is in sight, but  I already have two new projects in mind so I am a happy hooker!

All About Liz Edwards

It never ceases to amaze me when I learn about the wonderful and diverse lives our Sunshine Rug Hookers have led.

Liz Edwards was raised on an island in Lake Simcoe which had few amenitites, and later lived in many locations throughout Canada  from the west  to the shores of Newfoundland, finally returning to her roots in the Lake Simcoe area at Beaverton.

As a child she learned sewing, knitting , and embroidery, and along her life’s journey had a number of businesses selling unique hand made children’s clothing.


This example is now the family christening gown, worn by successive grandchildren.


The beautiful smocking on the yoke reminds me of special dresses I wore as a child. Does anyone smock any more?


Liz became an avid spinner, spinning her own wool and using it to create unique, one of a kind garments, like this fanciful shawl.


Both warm and elegant!

Liz is such a creative artist. She had knit this vest (again from her own wool) and debated how to finish the front.


It was hanging near this completed scarf, and she decided to combine the two. How ceative is that!

When she was first introduced to rug hooking, her instructor gave her a piece of burlap, and said draw some lines.


This is her first rug hooking effort.


Her wonderful personal style developed with successive rugs.


The sense of something about to happen pervades this piece, while the eye is immendiately drawn to the pink dragonfly.


The feeling of movement and beautiful colours make this one of my favourites.


Her flowers are blowing in the wind. Now what is that pig up to?


There is a wonderful depth of colour in all of Liz’s pieces.


Again the movement in the water catches my eye, as well as the colourful undersea creatures.


I love love love this piece. I’m always partial to hooked lambs, and this Sheilagh Klugescheid pattern is on my “want to do” list . The beautiful blues, mauves, and pinks give it such depth. Thanks Liz for sharing your creative journey with us.

I must end with an apology to Mary Wiles. Her special day was in January, and I was not at my best during that month. I was at the meeting when she presented, but with no camera, and only half a mind, so I was unable to share her story . Please forgive me Mary.

Now back to Althea and curling. (I just realized yesterday that for years I’ve been spelling it BRIAR when in fact it’s BRIER..never to old to learn something new!)….and if you don’t know what I’m talking about…chances are you’re not a Canadian. We love throwing rocks and sweeping ice.

Dyeing the Background for Althea

I have the background underway, and I’m still procrastinating about the face and the flesh tones.


I’m still debating about removing the face altogether (except the lips, one eye and the ear, which I like) and redoing it with a newly dyed batch so I have enough of the same colour to do the whole thing…..since I can’t seem to match this colour.   SOOOO…while I dabate this dilemma with myself, I’ve gone on to the background.

I got out a variety of existing yellows from my stash, and thought I’d try transition dyeing to blend and mix the various yellow tones.


Well that was a raging failure! They certainly match some better, but are still way too far apart, and don’t have blending sections so that I can merge them while hooking.

I knew I wanted a gold colour with some depth to it, so I found a yellow I liked in the sample colours from the book Jewel Tones, which I had borrowed from the Sunshine library. I decided to start by dyeing 1/2 yard. Simple….except that the Jewel Tones book is written for 1/3 yard of wool ripped into two – 8 tone swatches, and the one I liked called for the dyes yellow, sun yellow, golden yellow, and chestnut brown. I have neither golden yellow or chestnut brown.

Not to be deterred by the fact that I had the wrong amount of wool and the wrong dyes, I forged ahead. I checked my prochem swatches, and decided that cantaloupe would do for golden yellow, and chocolate brown wasn’t too far off from chestnut brown. I mixed it in two colour baths as per the instructions, and from then on …went my own way. I put half of each dye solution in the dye pot, added the wool and spooned the other halves over the wool  later when much of the colour had been taken up. I didn’t actually stir, but moved the wool around enough so that the colour differences blurred.


This is what I ended up with, and I’m delighted. (it’s all carefully written in my recipe book so I can re-create it)


Off I went to a hook-in on Friday and started the background.


As usual, I jumped around to see how the background would look. I started doing it against the darker sections.

You would have laughed if you’d seen me trying to get a picture of the whole thing on Saturday morning. It was hanging up in such a way that to get the entire piece in the photo I had to half stand in the middle of the bed, leaning this way and that to try and get it straight on.


I fell over several times in my attempts, and the dog thought he should come to my rescue and lick my face, or make this into a great new game. There were a multitude of shots like this one….chopped off and not straight on.


Finally! A straight-on shot of the whole piece. Whew.

I should get lots of hooking done this week with the Briar on every day. I’m the world’s most avid Television listener.

Thanks for stopping by.