Having Fun With 8

It’s been awhile since I hooked a mat which was primarily done in an 8 cut, and I’d forgotten how quickly it goes . I’m really enjoying hooking these pets.

The background, of course, for me is always a series of try outs. I decided to roughly use this Magdelena rug as my inspiration.DSCF5140_2

….and tried this out….


….too dull…

Then I tried a little colour….


…..too blah…

Then I took it out and added black….


….and just like in The Three Bears…this one was just right.


Poor Snowball the white rat is toes up over Soo Ling…who did him in!


I dyed a 1/16th yard piece of natural with a tinge of medium brown for the body of Beckett, the fox terrier, and another 1/16th yard with a wee bit of chocolate brown for the two chocolate point siamese. I did them in the microwave…such an easy way to do small pieces of wool.

I’ve left the hardest till last….my black and silver Miniature Schnauzer Brannigan….hardest I think because of the way I’ve drawn him. Of course if he doesn’t work out, I’ll just draw him in a different position.


…so that’s my progress to date.

Now I’m off to get my plants in the ground….hopefully the threat of frost is over.  It’s been a very late spring here in Ontario…we brought  all of our hanging baskets into the house for several days  because of the cold nights and below freezing temperatures. Sure makes you appreciate the warm weather when it finally arrives.

I Tried….But I Just Can’t

Well my intentions were good….to hook an authentic primitive styled rug…specifically in the style of Magdelena Briner…..but it’s just not in me!


I started hooking Beijong…our Chinese shar pei. (wrinkle dog)..and included the characteristics of the breed….curled tail, small tight ears, square snout, and bulky body. Before you knew it, I had altered his rump and added two more legs to make it look more like him and it no longer looked very primitive.


Then I began the pets we now have (Beijong has been dead for 12 years)….2 siamese cats, and a standard schnauzer. If they were going to be identifiable as siamese (which I wanted) they had to have their points visible……Akuma…the seal point is on the left, and Akira…the lilac point on the right. I hadn’t intended to shade Akuma…but just happened to have wool left over from my large protrait of him  (Heidi Kramer’s pattern fat cat) ….so of course it made sense to use it. ….woops…too much realism again!


Now here’s the real Akira….he helps me  with everything I do at the computer.DSCF5128

Baxter is our Standard Schnauzer and again I readjusted his stance and added a leg to make him more lifelike. (He looks a bit chubby here because the backing isn’t lying flat)

Perhaps if I’d chosen generic animals instead of beloved pets….but I knew I was in trouble even when I was drawing the templates. My need for them to actually look like themselves was too strong. I could happily leave eyes and details out…but could not force myself to add faces that weren’t realistic (so my sitting cats show their backsides)

DSCF5127….so there it is….the end of my attempt…and now I’ll carry on with my memory rug in a wide cut (8) and I’ll use Magdelena style background, (although when I started that I realized I couldn’t be authentic there either).  I’m not putting myself down….just recognizing that what pleases me is what I have to hook…not only in substance, but in style as well.

This is not the first time this has happened to me. Much earlier in my hooking journey, I read a book by Deanne Fitzpatrick, and tried to hook a piece in her style…..couldn’t do that either….I am by nature a low hooker, and love the look of even loops, so I can’t get that wonderful effect Deanne creates.

One of the very best things about the Sunshine Rug Hookers group is that we have very skilled traditional hookers in fine cuts who do detailed shading and realistic portraits and landscapes, and we have others who hook with alternate fibers, hand cut their material, and pull high loops, and create pieces which take my breath away….and we have those in the middle…like me….who enjoy wide cuts (6 and 8) and strive for a painterly style. If you’re going to the Annual in Kingston this week end…stop by the Orillia Sunshine Rug Hookers display, and you’ll see what I mean….we do it all!….but I don’t (sigh).

Lynda (also a Sunshine Rughooker) commented on this blog on face book..and said it so well that I wanted to add it here……” I guess some of us are sopranos and some are altos but we have a “harmonious” group.”

Starting Magdelena Briner and Finishing Althea

While I’ve always admired rugs hooked in the primitive style, I was never inspired to hook one myself. But then I kept seeing the rugs of Magdelena Briner Eby on various sites. and was fascinated by her distinctive style and colours. I decided my next venture would be a primitive rug in her style.   I ordered the book “Rug Hooking Traditions with Magdelena Briner Eby” from Woolley Fox  and quickly read it from cover to cover..DSCF5102_2

..and now  I’m beginning my Magdelena style rug. I wanted to use animals that were significant to me, and thought of the wildlife of this area…..deer, beaver, moose etc….but others have done that. I wanted something more personal.

I made a list of the pets my youngest son has had, and it turned out to be 4 dogs, 6 cats, and one white rat, plus numerous fish…..aha…that sounds like a “rug full”….so my next venture is entitled “Mathieu’s Pets”.


I sketched outlines, and made templates on bristol board.


….then simply traced them on the backing.  Right away it becomes apparent why I have never been a “primitives ” hooker….my animals even just as outlines…are way too accurate….but I can only go against my own nature just so far….and this may become more a memory rug than anything else.

I love the colours and backgrounds of the Magdelena rugs, and when I was at  R.U.G. I picked up some wool that I thought of as” Magdelena colours.”


.I have lots of “blacks” to “spark” these up.

..and pulled out a stack of browns I bought last year from Jennifer Manuell..


….sorry…I forgot to crop that plastic bag they are sitting on…..So those are the basic colours I’m thinking of using (but always subject to change).

I’m itching to get hooking now….BUT….first ….the dreaded finishing requirement is once more upon me.

May 25th weekend is the yearly Annual of OHCG (Ontario Hooking Craft Guild) in Kingston. And while I’m not going to it this year, the Sunshine Rug Hookers will have a display and Althea is to make the trip on my behalf.

When I finished hooking her, my back and legs were acting up. so I rolled her up without even steaming her. Now she must be finished and ready to go in less than a week.

My first little problem came with the zigzagging when I had to deal with the fact that I had drawn the pattern way too close to one side (who knows why!) I solved that little dilemma by leaving half the tape on the edge and sewing through it so it wouldn’t ravel.


I pulled off the excess when I was done, and didn’t worry about what was left.

My preference for my rugs which will hang on the wall is to just turn the backing under……but I still like it to be a nicely finished rug, with straight edges, and  stitching hidden as much as I can. I fold and steam along the ditches, and have fought with myriad pins during this process in the past . I now have these wonderful little clips  ( intended for quilters) which make the process soooo much easier…not one pin required!


…everything is held securely in place, and I just remove the clips before steaming that section.


I like that straight edge with no pin marks or puckers. I use the backing to create a pocket for the rod, so it is all in one process,. That’s why there are no mitered corners.


So here is Althea, laying up-side-down to dry, and all I have to do now is blind stitch the edges down before next Tuesday….easy..peasy!

Sites where I got my Magdelena inspiration….three of my favourites..check them out!




Thanks for stopping by.

My “Sisters” Portrait

When I went to the photo mat workshop two weeks ago, I had chosen two possible pictures to do.

Screen shot 2013-04-11 at 11.53.59 AM

…this one….which I thought was probably the best photo, but the colours weren’t interesting.

Screen shot 2013-04-11 at 11.57.19 AM

…and this one …which has better composition (Wendy told me that).

I decided on the second,…and got to work. I found it both rewarding and frustrating. …rewarding as I saw my sister’s face start to develop….and frustrating  trying to capture myself, and figure out how to do the background.

After trying different versions of the waitress in the upper left, I finally decided that the background bore no importance or interest in the photo and eliminated it altogether. Then came the dilemma of how to hook it.

I gathered a variety of colours, and draped them around the hooking, finally choosing to make a half frame with a small piece of dip dyed wool pink to grey, then filling in the rest. I tried the mottled pink first , but eventually took that out leaving it only as the outline around my head, and I used a spot dye and squiggles to fill in the rest.


….here is my first finished version. I like the background….not happy with my face…nose off centre, chin too broad and lopsided, eyes still too wide, (although at this point I’d already reduced them once)

So I spent Saturday evening reworking the eyes, lips, nose and chin. DSCF5093

I extended the shadow above the right eye,  added a small strip below each eye to reduce the size, made the smile wider and the upper lip smaller, reworked the teeth, reduced the nose and centered it better, and trimmed down the chin. Did I mention that I reverse hooked the teeth? That way they sink into the mouth….a neat little trick. (not original of course….someone else at the course was reverse hooking for a special effect…I think it was Linda Wilson….and it suddenly dawned on me that it might be a great way to make the teeth more realistic…..sometimes it pays to snoop at what your neighbours are doing )

I’m still not thrilled with my face, but I think at this point it’s the best I can do with my present skills. I’m really interested in increasing my abilities in “wide” cut painterly style portraits. (well not exactly “wide” this is a 6 cut) …..and I’m looking forward to tackling another one.

HOWEVER….that’s not what I plan to do next. I’m preparing to venture into the world of primitives….for the first time.  I’ll tell you all about my plans in the next post.

Thanks for stopping by.

A Tribute to Erma Newhouse

After a two day scare when I thought I had lost my camera forever…..my dear husband found it and the sigh of relief could be heard all over the house! Soooo I am delighted to be able to share these photos of Erma’s work, after fearing they were lost and gone.


Erma is a multi talented fiber artist, with rug hooking being just one of her many skills.


A striking pillow. My favourite lamb is that off white one. I think he’s the leader of the flock!


This Waldoboro rose is hooked on verel, and was done as a part of her course requirements for the Georgian College diploma in fibre arts.


Erma brought a sampling of the many forms of work she has done…bear making…


….print making…


…silk dyeing….these were sooo beautiful…


weaving ….towells and..



blankets. …and crocheting…


I was intrigued by this blanket…one side has a multi coloured highlight…the other side is green. I’ve never before seen reversible crocheting.


Erma is also a skilled basket weaver…


This little one is actually made from pine needles.


Erma not only made these moccasins, but did the traditional beadwork as well.


You can see on the table examples of her photography and print making as well. My photos of those didn’t turn out.

Thanks Erma for sharing your work with us…..you are a very talented lady!

and thank YOU for stopping by to see her work.

A Day at R.U.G. Part 2

For me, one of the best things about rug hooking is the wide range of cuts, styles, and materials used by hookers.

DSCF5045Wow…look at the detail in this fine cut landscape. This is another example of a partially finished rug acquired by a hooker who finished it. Hooking in a 3 cut is not what I usually do now…but I certainly admire the fine work done by others.

DSCF5042This colourful leaf mat is a first rug. What a fine beginning! Since taking the photo, I’ve noticed lots of interesting detail that I missed when it was shown. ….all the little bugs throughout…especially the hot pink one in the upper left corner.


I showed Gayle’s rug while it was still underway, and here it is finished. Gayle was recently on a safari in South Africa, and this rug evokes the colours and shapes she saw there.DSCF5048

….another rug hooked by Gayle. This time a geometric scrappy.


This lovely small landscape hooked by Lorna is another example resulting from Wendie Scott Davis’s workshop (not the recent one I attended).


I love the braided edge on this mat…oh so wish I had the patience and skill to do that! I’m also extremely partial to anything to do with lambs….(Lamb was my maiden name).


I must have been distracted when these two handsome rugs were presented, because I can’t recall any details about them.


I also showed Karen’s spectacular zebras in an earlier post, but she has since had it framed…boy does that ever put the finishing touch on it. The frame has all the colours of the background. Great choice Karen!


I love how the edging line in this floral creates a border while not changing the background colour.

Deanne Fitzpatrick is a very popular designer in this area, whether or not the hooker hooks    in her free form style or not.



Whether its houses…..DSCF5056

….or hockey…her patterns are always so distinctive.

At last year’s annual, famed cartoonist Karen Johnston provided an inch worm (I admit I thought it was a caterpillar) as the “hand out” pattern for all attendees (How appropriate since the theme was “All About Bugs”) You may remember my version….Charlie…who made a repeat visit on the blog post…”Oh So Blue” not long ago.

The ladies from North Bay brought along their completed versions, and had a unique method  of presenting them which I though was so cute.



There were so many I couldn’t fit them all into one photo.

…and I saved the best for last…DSC03727

R.U.G. is a wonderful place or old friends to get together. Dorothy Braithwaite and Hilda Hayes were delighted to reminisce about past good times and high jinks they shared while attending Trent Rug Hooking School.

Thanks for stopping by.

A Day at R.U.G. part 1

For those of you who live in other areas, R.U.G. ( Rughookers United Gathering) is a twice yearly get together held at the Simcoe County Museum near Barrie Ontario. Admittance is free (a purse is passed for donations to the museum), and all rug hookers are welcome. It began as a gathering for local groups, but has become popular, and now people travel from a wide area of Ontario to attend.

There are venders, show and tell, a speaker, or programme, and various other activities, and causes that are promoted. (yesterday our group Sunshine Rug Hookers held a draw for this rug. The proceeds all going to Gilda’s Club, a support for cancer patients and their families.)DSCF5063

The rug was donated, partially finished to our group who then finished it, and decided to use it to raise money for a worthy cause. It is circular (it is hanging over a rail in this photo). Someone went home with a great memento of the day!DSCF5035IShow and Tell is always the highlight , with many wonderful rugs and stories shared. I’m sure many of you read Jennifer Manuell’s blog Fish Eye Rugs, and know that she made a life changing (her words) trip to Guatemala this winter. They visited a group of hookers there who are creating rugs from used local clothing…..and she purchased this rug from a Guatemalan lady. The colours and design are so distinctive….it took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes.

A small, informal group of hookers get together each week at a yummy shop in the village of Coldwater (about 15 miles west of where I live). The shop, The Purple Sock, specializes in wool and teas (interesting combination), but also carries some hooking supplies. The women in this group read the article in Rug Hooking Magazine about the Yahookers “SIncerely Jane” challenge, and decided to do their own version.DSCF5049DSCF5050DSCF5051DSCF5052 They each bought the book “Dear Jane” and laid out and drew the squares for their rug. Each rug was then passed around to the participants, and each hooker added a square from the original quilt to every rug so that the owner didn’t see her own rug until it was returned with the blocks filled in.

I didn’t take notes about what people said about their rugs, and it is all very informal, so no names were attached to the mats, so if I’ve got some info wrong, please let me know and I’ll correct it


This hooker is working to become a certified Jane McGown teacher, and this is her piece for fine shading.


And her scrolls…


A beautiful scrappy geometric…I’m pretty sure this is by Jo-Anne, and was given to her daughter to put by her bed in residence…her first year away from home at University.


Iris took city transport to catch her ride to R.U.G., so she brought 2 small rugs….this lovely kilim…..


….and this eye catching blues piece…..a variety of textures (including some bling) and some needle punch.


This wonderful mat is from a picture of the hooker’s parents. what amazing hooking!

I’ve got lots more to show….and I’ll do it next post. Right now…..the day is sunny and DH and I are heading out to pick up wonderful fresh drinking water at the spring in Elmvale……the world’s purest water.

Stay tuned for the rest.

Wendie workshop Part 2

On the second day of the workshop, Wendie showed us how to use our computers to create a colour palette for any photo we wanted to hook.  I think this will be a VERY useful tool for me, and I’m looking forward using it.

Then we spent the rest of the day working on our mats.DSCF5015In the last post I showed this pattern before Wendy (with a Y) started hooking….it was mostly squiggles….I love how the moose and foliage is beginning to emerge.DSCF5013Linda chose a picture of their hotel in Cuba. She chose to hook shiny nylons to give life to the flowers in the garden. I wish the picture showed how effective this was.DSCF5016

We were encouraged not to hook figures, but shapes in each colour, and be patient until it all came together. Helen is doing just that.DSCF5014

I’m looking forward to seeing this as it progresses.DSCF5021Moose are popular wildlife to hook in our area. Looks like this one was on the move.DSCF5023

Karen has her giraffe underway.DSCF5022

People chose all sizes of wildlife…..From the very large…to the very small….Lynda is hooking a chipmunk.DSCF5024

Cecelia chose a photo of her son’s two golden retrievers.DSCF5025…….and Diane is hooking a picture of her grandson on a rocking horse.DSCF5019

Jan is starting a still life incorporating a coffee mug.

DSCF5018Marion has started a portrait of her house.DSCF5020There is such a touching story to go with this photo…I hope Pat won’t mind that I share it . She sold her cottage and was moving to town. This was taken on the last day she had possession, shortly before they left. Her grand daughter and her friend were sitting on the end of the dock saying….goodbye lake….goodbye dock…..goodbye trees. DSCF5017Kathy’s photo also has a special story. These are her parents sitting in the garden. Her father used to hand feed the chickadees, so she has added them (one in his hand, and one on his head) as a special memento of her dad. (you can just see the outlines for the birds).  She was able to alter the picture to remove a third person sitting on the bench, and add the birds to make it a true memory mat.DSCF5032I have to confess, I didn’t take a picture of my portrait of my sister and I as it existed on the second day. This was taken the next day when I had made significant alterations. Although it is mainly a 6 cut, I used smaller cuts for the eyes and some other details. I reverse hooked the teeth (hooked from the back side), which worked really well….letting them sink behind the lips.DSCF5033At this point, I’ve started my own head…but it still need major changes…to the eyes, mouth, and chin. I have to say I REFUSE to hook in my double chin….I’m claiming artistic license!

I took a break from the portrait on Sunday, and made some changes to my Wanda landscape.


When I looked at it for a time…I decided I wasn’t satisfied with the haze around the moon, so I googled pictures of moonlight on water, and realized that the moon was only hazy if there were clouds in the sky….Duh…..DSCF5031

So I did lots of taking out, and reworked portions of the sky.

Ta dah….it’s done.

Thanks for stopping by.