Hooking a Dip Dyed Sky

Hooking the sky for the Virgins piece has been quite a learning experience with lots of little problems to solve to make it work.

DSCN1801First of all, the test pieces I dyed were of course WAY too narrow.  To figure out how wide the wool would need to be …..DSCN1805….I hooked a row from side to side at the widest point, pulled it out and measured it. The only Dorr natural wool I had on hand left was not quite wide enough  (78″ of wool needed to hook one row from side to side), but I decided I would be able to fill it in with left overs that would blend . (said with fingers crossed).

Luckily The centre line left from drawing the arch was still visible, so I darkened that  and was ready to start.  For the dip dye to work, the wool must be hooked in the order.

DSCN1816I marked the right side of the wool with a pin, and used tape to keep the strips in order. ….keeping the right side on the top (as opposed to the left).

DSCN1817I put tape on the right end of the strip before hooking it….DSCN1818

……then folded it to find the middle.DSCN1823…then hooked that middle loop on the centre line marking……hooked the right side over, then the left, leaving the extras hangingDSCN1806

Once I got up high enough to go all the way across, I could work back down, thus keeping the rows straight and aligned. (I hooked every other row of the backing).DSCN1811

My wool was longer the the actual sky, but I wanted the deepest top blue to be used, so I began hooking from the top down….DSCN1812…..and took a chunk out of the middle so that the blues blended where they met.DSCN1826I finished by hooking from the bottom up using the strips that were hanging.  There were lots of left overs to fill in the few spaces left over on the edges.DSCN1831

It’s not quite as pale as shown in this picture. I like the fact that it doesn’t compete with the brightness of the virgins’ clothing. Some fix ups to do (like changing the black outline of the brown building) and the final step is to add some greenery.

A number of years ago I hooked this tea cozy, and my plan is to use the same techniques to add some vines and flowers.dscf2386-scaled1000

They are applied over top of the hooking using both yarn and strips and embroidery techniques.  Should be fun!

Tomorrow is April 1st….but I think April Fool’s day came one day early. Look what I woke up to this morning!DSCN1833

No spring flowers yet in my yard!

Thanks for stopping by.


Redistributing Dye

“Redistributing dye” is just a fancy way of saying “fixing” a dyeing mistake, and that’s what I’ve been doing today. The mistake part is not the fact that it turned out wrong, but rather that I dyed my wool the wrong way, and now I’m hoping to fix it.

I often dye my wool to be intentionally ‘blotchy’ which gives me movement, and highlights in my hooking. I do that by adding 1/2 of the dye solution to the dye bath, and then after the wool has taken a lot of that up, I spot the rest of the dye over the top , mixing minimally. This particular wool turned out to have very strong ‘splotches’ because without thinking of the result, I added the vinegar to the dyes in the mixing cups, so it was taken up very quickly without dispersing very far.DSCN0390

I dyed several pieces for my ‘oil on water’ with this method, BUT discovered when I started hooking, that I needed a smooth even colour to create the right effect.   So now I am hoping to remedy that mistake to make my 1/2 yard of wool usable.

The first step is to try and remove some of the dye. To do that I simmered my wool in a dish soap solution (or whatever you use to open the wool prior to dyeing).DSCN0391It took about an hour before the water was significantly coloured with the released dye.

Then I removed the wool, added a glug of vinegar to the water(or citric acid if you prefer), then reintroduced the wool and stirred it to make sure the dye was evenly taken up…..the result is not perfectly even, but much better.

The second fat quarter I did the same way, but since I wanted it darker than the first, I added 1/32 tsp of dye in 1 CBW to the dye bath along with the vinegar before I put the wool back in the pot. (they are both deeper and evener than this photo shows)DSCN0396

My initial foray into dyeing for this rug was a little more successful (but not much). It was intended as a ‘test run’ of colours. I prepared 1/8th yard strips of natural and oatmeal and dip dyed them using the microwave method.DSCN0380This involves adding boiling water to a microwave safe bowl (designated for dyeing only) , adding the dye bath with vinegar added as well, and dipping the wool immediately in the very hot water. When satisfied with the intensity, finish with 5 minutes in the microwave. I find this is an easy way to dye small amounts of wool quickly. To set the wool, simmer on the stove in clear water for 1 hour. DSCN0385

While I can use all of this wool, I now realize that Gene Shepherd’s ‘lazy swatch’ method will give me the best wool colours for this rug. This involves adding pieces of the wool to the dye pot at about 30 second intervals to create, light, medium and dark versions of the same colour.

Don’t you love that vibrant pink in the centre? It’s Pro Chem Rhodamine red, a new dye (for me) that  just arrived in the mail. I’m not sure yet how much (if any) I’ll dare to use, but I sure like looking at it.

Thanks for stopping by.

Proddy Broaches Revisited

I received a “wish” from my daughter-in-law recently, for a proddy broach in the style of a prairie lily. I was quite flattered and more than delighted to see what I could come up with.

Not being a prairie girl myself,  my first task was to google prairie lilies to see what they looked like.

Aha, much like the day lilies I have growing in abundance in my yard. (…..well will have growing if spring ever arrives)

With only six petals, I felt I’d better use blanket weight wool so it wouldn’t be too flimsy….but my supply of blankets is non-existent, and  in fact all I could find was one piece of beige that I’d rejected in other projects because it was too heavy.

OK. I could make this work. What dye(s) would magically transform this blah beige into a vibrant orange. I looked through my charts and decided to try mustard, golden yellow, cantaloupe. and orange.


I dyed a little test strip of each colour….and….

got this…..top….mustard….too dark and too red    2nd down….cantaloupe……YES!

3rd down……orange ….too dark    bottom…..golden yellow…..too yellow, but with possibilities


I dyed two pieces with the cantaloupe (OK), and two pieces I dyed golden yellow, then dip dyed them sideways on both edges with cantaloupe. These were my favourites. They would have some shading and yellow in  the throat.

I began with a test flower.


….and just laid out the petals on my desk to get an idea of the outcome. 6″ was a bit too big, so I cut down all of the petals about 1/2 “. Of course fixing one problem just presented me with another..cutting them down made them also narrower. I need enough backing covered in the centre to attach the pin and hold the whole thing together without it showing through to the front. Not having the option of adding more petals, I made skinny “lily-leaves” and placed them between the petals.



….then ….out with my trusty “Tacky Glue” and on to the finishing. First I glued the ends of the leaves under the petals.

…then the backing. Many people sew the broach pins to the back, but I choose to purchase the ones that have a sponge sticky pad.  I use a hole punch and pop my pin through the holes, then glue the backing and pin to the back of the flower (staying within the backing circle) The pin sticks to the back and absorbs the glue holding it in place securely.  I’ve found if I use something to spread the glue evenly (like a ruler, old credit card, or piece of heavy construction paper) it makes a much smoother backing.

…a day to dry, and I’m ready for the final step……cutting off the excess backing. I do it from the top so as not to cut into the petals or leaves by mistake.


Finally I use a black fabric marker around the edge to make that white backing edge less obvious.So tomorrow….into the mail and off to Regina, where my wonderful  clever and talented daughter-in-law will have a prairie lily  (the symbol of the Saskatchewan NDP party) to wear on her lapel as she begins door to door canvassing as the NDP candidate for Regina Pasqua in the upcoming provincial election. Thank you Heather for allowing me to have a weeny teeny part in your exciting campaign.







After going around in circles for several days, I finally came up with an answer to my colour  planning dilemma  for Signa Meus Vita (the symbols of my life)

While mentally going through all the options for the treble clef at the bottom, I even considered what it would look like if I used the very dark blue of the central spider. That’s when it hit me. Before settling on the very dark blue, I had dyed that colour in a much lighter dip dye, then discarded it for the richer deep centre…..but of course! That would be perfect for the treble clef. I wasn’t introducing a new colour, just a much lighter version. I would use it again at the top. This allowed me to use lilac in the motherhood symbol and make the peace symbol turquoise. I knew it was the answer the moment I thought of it.


I’m very pleased with the rather serene mood I feel from these colours.


Now I’ll ponder a background colour which I hope will enhance that quiet mood.

My Creative Process

I know…I know….I was determined not to start anything new until I had done all the finishing on completed pieces. I didn’t mean to…..it just happened.

Well….sort of…..here’s what transpired. As I was whipping Lunenburg Harbour, I couldn’t help but think about what I might like to hook next, so I started clipping inspiration ideas for a large hall rug.

DSCF6595 DSCF6596Then the new Rug Hooking Magazine arrived, and while reading the article “Folklife Rugs”, I started sketching symbols of my life. DSCF6599

I didn’t like it at all.  It was very literal, and everything just plopped down, but I did like the concept, so I started looking for symbols.  I liked the treble clef in the centre, not because music is any longer the centre of my life, but because its shape allowed me to overlay the other items around it. Then I realized that celtic symbols did just that, so I started researching them. That led to symbols found in other cultures, and I eventually ended up with a variety which I felt were all significant to me.



I replaced the treble clef in the centre with an african symbol for creativity which would allow me to “hang” the other symbols on its arms.


It’s a west African Adrinfa spider symbol called Anaise and denotes creativity and wisdom (but I’ll skip the wisdom part for me).

I drew several sketches which I either discarded or redrew.DSCF6602

A chain denotes friendship, but I couldn’t see a way to include one, so I searched other cultures for friendship symbols that I liked. I found the Maori Pikorua .


(sorry it’s so fuzzy)

Married love and fidelity doesn’t seem to have been a high priority with “symbol makers” but eventually I found this lovely one…DSCF6600


After many tries, and thanks to a great eraser, I came up with a design I was satisfied with, then took it to the local “Copy Shop” and had it blown up to 36″ long.

DSCF6561 ……drew it on “red dot” then transferred it to my backing.

DSCF6583….male symbols for my three sons


….peace in my soul, my life and my family….


….marital love and fidelity….DSCF6588


…..friendshipDSCF6587……….motherhood….and scattered throughout….the tears of sorrow and loss and grief….(the treble clef I dropped to the bottom to anchor the whole design.

At the same time I had no idea about a colour plan that might work. I just felt I’d know what it was when I saw it. (and I’m still not certain that what I have so far is what I’ll end up with).

I liked this photoDSCF6604oops fuzzy again….so I decided to try dip dyes.

This colour scheme caught my eye a few days ago. I think it’s done by Donna DiPalma and I ran across it on The Welcome Mat.DSCF6605

I got out the Jewel Tones swatches and came up with this….DSCF6606

….so yesterday I started dyeing a few samples and got these…..DSCF6572

…..which of course I had to try last night….


It’s called “Signa Meus Vita”….the symbols of my life.

I will get back to the finishing…..just not sure when…..




Working in a Flower Garden

This week has been a labour of love in a flower garden. (well not always)


The main things on my mind were balancing the flower and leaf colours over the whole piece, and what kind of dyeing technique to use to use to create the effects I wanted.


At the bottom right it was simple enough to use the dip dyed salmon for the large flower, but a dip dye wool wouldn’t work for the other flower on this stem.


I ended up cutting the piece of wool the other way (dark end and light end), and using the darkest and lightest colours to create the frilled petals.

The same problen arose with these flowers.


The one on the left I did with 3 versions of pink sand, and I ended up with a pale blob of nothing. I thought at first I would just use one colour for the ones on the right…again…another ugly blob. I took that out, and at the point where I took this photo, I thought I’d try outlining in a darker colour, and filling in with a ligher version of the same wool….equally ugly. Frustrated, I went digging in my stash of red left overs. I found a 6 colour swatch in a colour that would work (an orange red).


There was very little wool, but I managed to get enough. I did opposite petals the same colour, choosing two colours far enough apart in the swatch that they were easily distinguished. The petals are in the darkest green I have for this piece. I like the flowers, but worried that the whole area was too dark (being that it was beside the phoenix) I’ve decided to leave it though, since the background will be “yellow” and hopefully that will give a “spark” to this more intense area.


So most of the left side is done, with the exception of my pink sand blob.


I started ripping it out, but when I got this far, I realized that maybe there was hope for it yet. If the botton section of the flower became green, and the petals were subtly distinguished …..I’m still pondering this one!

When in doubt….leave it alone and go on to something else. (did my mother tell me that?)

I did this flower with a paler salmon dip dye. The edges weren’t well enough delineated, so I inserted a wee strip of very dark salmon between the petals.


I’m calling this a stylized water lily. I copied Klimt’s use of black outlining for this and rather like it.


It’s done in a paprika dip dye, and since it was outlined, I  mostly used  the dark part of the strips.


Just simple circles with the dip dye for these little berries (or buds)


Well that’s what I accomplished this week.

I’m thinking ahead to the background. I know what kind of end result I want, but I haven’t yet decided how best to achieve it. …..spot dye…..pancake dye….a variety of colours in individual pieces.?? This morning Wanda Kerr has an article on wandering wool   and how to dye it…a bit of a twist on what I’ve tried and I think it may be worth a try……There’s always something new to attempt…One of the reasons I love rug hooking.

Thanks for stopping by.

Chugging Along

I’ll start at the end. This is what I’ve accomplished on Althea this week.


….the fan, the kimono sleeve lining, the peacock, and two groups of flowers. As usual, it has been a process. some things work, and many more need rethinking or redoing along the way.


This is the wool I used for the fan. All the colours except the dark one I have used in other places in the piece. I had the centre completed, when I realized that the triangle was in the wrong spot….so out it all came and was moved to the right and down.


The dark colour is from a grey cashmere jacket that I had overdyed with navy and mahogany. I had originally intended to use it for Hygieia, but it wasn’t right there, but came in handy for here. The cashmere has lots of depth and richness (which you can’t really see in the photo). It’s also quite thick, and doesn’t fray when it’s cut in a very small strip, so it was easy to use for the outlining.


To hook the bit of the lining of the sleeve, I just used squiggles of many of the kimono colours.


I’m calling this a peacock, although comments about the painting that I’ve read don’t mention what this bird is. I hooked the back in ordered sequence (as you would for stained glass) in order to get the effect of the spotted wool. The breast is the same yellow that I overdyed with mallard green and used for the outlining on the phoenix. The head is a pale spot dye of Sea Breeze and Mallard green. My favourite part of this bird is his eye. His neck looks a bit too thick to me, so he may be in for a trim!

The original painting has multitudinous colours of pink and red in the flowers, so I thought I’d introduce a new pink in the lotus flowers. I spot dyed 1/8th yard with raspberry (and something else which I’ve forgotten).


I hadn’t gone very far when I began to wonder about it. Actually I didn’t like any of it! Didn’t like the spot dye effect, and didn’t like the colour.


When I got home from a hooking get together on Friday, and hung it up to take a look at the whole thing, I could hardly wait to get it pulled out! The colour has no connection with the rest of the piece at all. I decided to change tactics altogether, and dip dyed  2 1/16th yard pieces.


This dip dye is Cantaloupe with a bit of Black to dull it down.


The second is Cantaloupe by itself.

I can’t believe how easy it was to do the dip dyes in the microwave. I actually did the dipping just on the kitchen counter (using boiling water as the only heat source) then when almost all the dye was taken up, I popped the whole thing in the microwave for 2 minutes, and it was done!


I feel there is a cohesiveness to the colour palette now that really pleases me.

I guess I did a lot of hooking yesterday. I was so anxious to see how the dip dyes would work. My wrist is a bit tender this morning so I’d better take it a bit slower….did I mention that I’m impatient?