Re-Icing the Cake and Dyeing Off White

YIKES! When a few Sunshine Hookers didn’t recognize  that what I had hooked was a piece of cake…it was time to do some fixing up!

OK, I’ll back up some. Here is the cake before I did the icing.


Instead of the text I drew a maple leaf.


…and hooked it…DSCF6275

I thought it looked a bit like two eyes and a mouth, and when neither Gail or Cynthia at first even recognized it as a piece of cake, I knew change was really needed.


So here’s my new and (hopefully) improved birthday cake and candle.

Aha! only the background to do now….but alas, my natural white wool has not arrived. I intend to mix both white and natural in the background for a bit of variety.

Then it hit me…’ve got lots of white….just dye some with a mild tint and carry on! (Sometimes I’m a little slow with the obvious!).


Just this much maple sugar dye on a tooth pick.


Add some vinegar….the wool (1/16th yard)….pop in the microwave until it clears (I did 2.22), and……DSCF6287

I have some off white wool to mix in my background. (it will be a little lighter when dried).

Now to decide the style of hooking I’ll use there. I’ve been paying attention to the backgrounds of rugs for ideas and examples of what I might like.

Since my last post, we’ve actually had two  snow storms, but hopefully that’s it! I’m ready for spring.



Olympian Lunenburg

Yes, I’ve been spending a lot of time in front of the TV this week watching the Olympics, and most of the time I have been hooking at the same time.  As a result, the Lunenburg piece is really coming along.


I was able to find wool in my stash for everything, until I came to the sky. That I would have to dye. I used a mixture of various blues, and added the pieces at 30 second intervals to get a variety of shades.DSCF6036

I thought the end result looked quite lovely….


….until I started hooking them. WOW! What was I thinking? They were all WAY too deep. My excuse is that I had been working with such saturated colours, that they seemed quite light as I was dyeing them.

I am running out of Dorr natural, but had a small piece left , so I dyed that using 1/128th tsp instead of 1/8th. I also found a piece of just barely blue wool.

Try #2….


I decided I needed some pure white for clouds, and used a lovely white I have that has a slightly fuzzy surface even though it’s wool.

Try #3….DSCF6057

…as I go up higher, I’m gradually adding little bits of the very lightest blue of the first batch. Hopefully the darker colours will be OK for the water.

In the meantime, I’m having fun hooking the border. I chose a variety of wool …all dark values, and I’m hooking it in hit and miss.



…it gives the border a lot of life, and to me, it looks a bit like old wood.  Lots of fun and easy for when the concentration must be totally directed to the TV screen.

I’m so proud of all the Canadian athletes at the Olympics, but I’m not sure if my heart can take much more snowboard cross!


A New Dyeing Adventure

Yes, a new adventure, at least for me. Although I have been dyeing my own wool for several years now, I have never yet dyed yarn to whip a rug.  With the spotted/mottled background of the Twin Roses rug, I knew I’d never find yarn to go with it, and a solid colour I felt would distract from the mat.

So….I’m dyeing yarn for the first time. My first step was to watch Gene Shepherd’s video on the subject, and I picked up quite a few pointers which I’m sure will help in this process. The second was to consult with Ann Hallett, who also gave me help and suggestions for a successful result.  Then to buy the white wool yarn to be hooked. There is only one place in my town that carries an all wool yarn, and wouldn’t you know it, they had no white. A quick call to “The Purple Sock” a wonderful yarn shop in the village of Coldwater (about 15 miles from here) and I had found my wool.

The first tip I learned from Gene Shepherd, was to prepare the skein so that it will stay without becoming a bird’s nest in the dyeing process. (Tie it in at least 4 places.)


…..just divide the skein in three, and loop a piece of yarn around each so it is secure, but can spread out.

Now a time out……and an aside….I got to this point in the process, had my camera at my side to record the dyeing, and guess what….I forgot to take any pictures at all…..never thought of it again until the wool was dyed and lying on a towel!!  I was so annoyed at myself.


Here’s a quick recap of what I did (without visuals).

The dyeing itself was just the same as the spot dyeing of the background. Spread the skein in a flat pan of simmering water so that it is spread out as much as possible, DSCF5727

(spread out the wool to cover the bottom of the pan and as much as possible so the yarn is exposed to absorb the dye….in the pan….not on the table like this photo)

…..and spot with dye baths plus citric acid. (again I used turquoise, blue 440, lilac, and blue violet).

I wanted the same intensity as the background …so here’s how I figured out how much dye to use (another great tip from Gene Shepherd’s video).  1/4 yard wool is about 3 oz. 1 skein of yarn is about 4 oz. I had dyed 1/2 yard at a time, and used 1/128th tsp of each dye, so I figured I needed a little more than half the dye of the original background. I roughly measured 1/2 of 1/128th tsp of each colour, and ta dah….ended up with the same intensity.


…some arm stretching help from DH and I’m ready to get on with the finishing.


In the meantime, I had finished hooking the background, so here it is ready to steam and bind.


Having forgotten to take photos of the dyeing process, I then went ahead and forgot to take my camera to a wonderful hook in I attended on Wednesday with the hookers in Gravenhurst. So I can’t show you all the rugs on display there, or the wonderful food and hospitality they showed the 13 of us who were there from Sunshine Rug Hooking group. ARGHHHHH!

The Background Story

When choosing how to do the background of my “old rug” pattern, I knew I wanted something light, but interesting and relating to the colours of the scroll. I decided to do a spot dye with just a very small amount of the dyes I had used for the scroll. (the scroll used 1/4 tsp dye, the background used 1/128th tsp of the same dyes… violet, grasshopper, turquoise….and I also added 1/128th tsp lilac, each in 1.5 CBW with citric acid added to the cups. I did just 1/2 yard the first time, and knew I’d need more.DSCF5452

I felt I had agitated it too much during the process, leaving a muddy background colour, so the next time, I was careful to leave it alone while it was in the pot taking up the dye. The first batch also didn’t really have any of the grasshopper green visible, so I strengthened that dye bath a bit. (a heaping 1/128th tsp. of dye)DSCF5711

Although it looks more green in the photo, in real life, the green is not green at all but yellow. I tried hooking a bit of background with it, and didn’t like the results at all. The yellow jumped out and wasn’t pleasing to my eye. Back to the dye pots.

For my third attempt, I left out the grasshopper dye altogether, and used blue violet and turquoise  (both majic carpet) lilac, and 440 blue (both pro chem)….still being careful not to stir the dye bath so there were bright spots of  white left.

The differences between batch 1 and batch 3 are subtle, but important in achieving the results I’m after..


Strips of the first batch are at the bottom, and you can see that the third batch at the top is both brighter and a little more intense in colour.

In choosing how to hook the background, I was guided  by the pervading circular motion of the scroll.  I am using the brighter version of the background to make little cats paws of colour, and using the white background parts of this version around the leaves and flowers to help make them pop. The duller version I am using to fill in.DSCF5724

Again the differences are very small, but I think they add to the effect, and I may as well put my mistakes to good use.

That Hooking Urge

Do you ever just get the urge to hook colour for the sheer joy of seeing it develop? Well I’m in a “just want to hook…not think” mood, and I must admit I’m enjoying it.

I wanted to try Gene Shepherd’s dump dye method (with no particular end product in mind), and chose 1/2 yard natural wool, and one  of my favourite colour combinations… violet, turquoise, and grasshopper.


Yummy!….but what would it look like hooked up? I went rummaging actually looking for a small piece of backing that would fit on my frame, and I came up with a pattern on burlap. I’ve no idea where I got it, probably picked it up for next to nothing at R.U.G. It has a scroll border with some large flowers in the centre, and the colour suggestions are both printed and painted on…obviously an old pattern, and not one I should  really be hooking on, but it is firm, in good shape and has no burlap-ee odour, so caution, and rules were over ruled by my impatience.  I plopped it on the frame, and happily started hooking away. It’s just what I feel like doing….no big decisions, no pre-conceived notions, just enjoy hooking.


I cut the strips so that each one went through all the colours, and started hooking. If I started with the purple end, which ended with green, I then began with green, which goes through again to purple…thus getting a smooth gradation through all the colours. Simple and fun.


I did the opposite on the other side of the scroll, and played with any holes in the middle….nothing planned or precise, but lots of powerful colours.


Thinking about the centre flowers, I pulled out these colours. and then promptly changed my mind. The scroll is definitely not fine shading, and I didn’t think fine shading of the flowers would look good with it. (besides, I don’t feel like hooking fine shading anyway!….and this is definitely a “hook what you want” project)

For the background, I used the same colours as the scroll, plus lilac, and did a spot dye. This time using 1/124th teaspoon of each dye in 1.5 CBW over 1/2 yard natural. (the dump dye was 1/4 tsp of each colour)


…a little more colour than I would have liked, but the scroll is deep enough that it provides a good contrast.


!/2 yard won’t be enough for the whole background, so I’ll do a lighter version as well, and mix the two. I decided to try a lilac and purple flower with minimal shading, but that is definitely coming out and the treatment of the flowers is still up for debate.

Leaving Sunday for Nova Scotia and the museum….yipee!


I love dyeing wool, and the other day, I just felt like getting out the pots and doing a batch of “something”. I’d been looking at some of Gene Shepherd’s subtle colour changes on one of his posts, and thought, “I haven’t really got any transitional pieces in my stash. I’m going to do some transitional dyeing.” It’s easy… soaking….no dye required.


I gathered up some odds and ends of darks and lights.


….ripped them into suitable sized pieces, and arranged it all in my pan in several layers.


I mixed some dish detergent in hot tap water(I have no synthrapol) , and pored it over the dry wool.

DSCF5345….turned on the stove……


….and soon knew I was in trouble!!  Yikes….too much water….too much red……dark purple not bleeding at all…


….oh well….it was a nice day for drying wool outdoors, and my red stash now has extra variety.

Note to self: less water….and that beautiful purple plaid is no good in a pan of transitional wool.

Working at Night

I have very little experience hooking landscapes, and none whatsoever with a night scene,  so I’m enjoying getting back to the teaching piece with Wanda Kerr…(in case you missed my earlier explanation….it’s an online course which is free to members of The Welcome Mat.) I’ve completed the large tree, and some of the far shore trees, and decided to start the night sky.DSCF4862I chose this variety of blues from my stash, but I wasn’t comfortable with the wide variation in the blues. I had promised myself I wouldn’t dye new wool for this project, and I didn’t….not really…..well I didn’t use any dye…….so that makes it fair. What I did do was take all this wool plus a bunch of already cut strips and soak it all in warm water and dish detergent, then simmer it all until quite a bit of dye had bled out. Then I added citric acid, and simmered until the water cleared. In other words I just redistributed the dye.DSCF4916Now  my colours are more homogeneous, and I’m much happier with them.DSCF4918 I used an off white (very pale grey) for the moon, and I tried a couple of options for the circle around the moon. This blue will NOT be staying put. Nor as I kept going, was I happy with the colour of the moon. The grey made it dull and I wanted it to have more ‘spark’ The two lightest blues were not a part of the “brew”.

As you can see, I also changed the location of the moon. It seemed to be too far off to the left, and I want it to be the centre of attraction….Just another example of my “mind changing”. I put it to the left originally, thinking it left more space for the reflection on the water……what can I say!

DSCF4919   To improve the moon, I cut a few pieces of natural Dorr in a 4 cut  and worked them in randomly . That gave it the  ‘life’ I was looking for.


I used a pale spot dye for the reflection of the moon on the water, …but…DSCF4922

…ended up adding some of the Dorr natural to this as well.  I haven’t decided yet just how I will do the rest of the reflection in the water, and I’m not really happy with the small trees….but this is my natural way to hook….trial and error….I tried to think everything out scientifically before I began the way Wanda suggested,…and ended up changing my mind anyway. …so I’m doing it the way that makes me happy.

There is still lots of snow on my front yard, but today I saw some snow bells peeking out along the driveway. Spring can’t be too far away now.

Thanks for stopping by.


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.

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.

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?