Changing Gears

It had always been my intention to hook my 5′ x 7′ rug “Oil on Water” in two pieces, then join them as late as possible.

My reasons for this were:

1.  Backing available from my usual suppliers wasn’t wide enough to do it in one piece and to have a large single piece shipped from the States was way too expensive for my meagre purse.

2. The only large piece I had seen done before was done this way.

3. Doing most of the work on the two sections would be much easier to handle than manipulating such a large and heavy piece of hooking.

4. I’d never seen much information on hooking a large rug, and none on joining two pieces of backing so I went with what information I had.

Then two things happened that changed my plan of attack.

DSCN0747 (1).jpgI was hooking merrily along and had even finished the blue section farthest to the right when:

1. The pattern at the far right seemed out of kilter….the blue was too big, or too far over or…..something bothered me about it.

2. Gene Shepherd’s Internet Rug Camp had several posts about large rugs and joining them together if using two pieces of backing.

After looking at it for about a week, it hit me that the last blue section needed to come out. I wanted the eye  to be drawn around in a sweep from left over the top and down the right to the bottom centre. I then realized I could only do that if I did the bottom section first then joined the two in a visually interesting way.

SOOOOOO…..I needed to change gears and  join the two sections now. (I admit that having made that decision….I procrastinated several days since I would once again have to face my sewing machine)

Luckily I had plenty of markings on both pieces to match the two sections up exactly, so it was a relatively simple job  (once I got down to it and thanks to the new details on how to do it supplied by the IRC).DSCN0752I began with a widely spaced zigzag stitch just inside the joining and overlap lines of both pieces. Then did a quick pin-together to make sure they still matched. (when I drew the pattern initially, I had drawn lines every 10 ditches to make the matching easier)

DSCN0755Then I did a careful exact pinning together and  basted the two sections together both top and bottom.DSCN0767Just an aside here……and a heartfelt thank you. I received this leather finger shield as a gift not too long ago and it is the most wonderful thimble alternative I could imagine.DSCN0766If you are as useless with a thimble as I am it is a tool you’ll love to have available. If you ever see one buy it! (or have a friend like Isabelle). No sore fingers now for me! Thanks again Isabelle.DSCN0768

I was pleased with how the design matched.

It is already heavy so I will hook the join areas first and I immediately started with the outside edge to give it some stability. I must admit I was both surprised and pleased at how easy it was to hook through the overlap.DSCN0772 (1)I’ll cut the fringe off only as needed to keep it from ravelling.

Whew!   It’s all joined together, and today I’m hitting the dye pots once again. Lots more dark blue background needed, as well as some dark rhodamine red. Thankfully this is the coolest day we’ve had all month!

Thanks for stopping by.



Two Down…????? To Go …plus Pan Am

That’s right. I’ve completely finished two rugs, and I haven’t counted how many yet to go.

Sir John was the first , since I needed to show him as a part of the Sunshine Sir John A. group at R.U.G.. What an adventure that was. I found out the Tuesday before R.U.G. that he was needed, and although I could have shown him unfinished, I was determined to have it completely done. It seemed reasonable….just the few gaps in the background and completing the rows of black around the edge. DSCF6300


By Thursday evening, I had completed the hooking, zigzagged the edge, cut and used my clips to secure the edge, and then steamed it down. Friday I would just have to sew down the back edge, creating the packets from the backing. Easy and quick!. (here’s the back…)


I snapped this photo just after steaming the edge down, and went off to bed.

Friday morning I flipped it over, and discovered that the white backing showed up along the edges of the black border, and I knew I’d never be happy with it if I finished it the way I’d intended. After contemplating a variety of possible solutions, I finally settled on whipping the edge in black yarn…..just a teeny tiny whipped edge to cover up the white. Great idea…but it took me HOURS! I worked literally all day Friday, and then stitched the whole thing down after supper Friday night.

I was so tired that I didn’t even take a picture of the finished piece, and now it’s gone off with the pieces to be displayed at the annual. I’ll eventually get a photo of it finished to post here.

Yesterday I completed “Scott’s Dogs”. No drama with the finishing of this one. Whew! I tried a different way to finish a rug for hanging (well a bit different for me). I whipped the edge through the binding tape, and tacked it down (Gene Shepherd’s technique) , then created loops along the top using strips of the binding tape.


The black loops don’t really show up against the black tape. I made 5 loops across the back so hopefully that’s enough to have it hang nicely.

That’s number two finished.


And now for a flashback to R.U.G. Along with the barn display, there was a display of rugs celebrating the Pan Am Games. Here’s the background.

The Pan AM (Pan American …all the countries of North and South America) games are to be held next year in Toronto. OHCG is hoping to have a Canadian hooked rug to present to each country, and both groups and individuals have been working on the project for some time. Designs were submitted, and hookers could choose one of the selected designs or one of their own. Some of these rugs were on display at R.U.G.


There was certainly lots of eye candy at R.U.G. what with the Barn Project and the Pan Am Rugs, and the usual wonderful “show and tell” which I didn’t get even one photo of!

I’m looking forward to the Annual at Durham College in two weeks where I know there will be another wonderful rug display. For now it’s back to the finishing for me!  Next……


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!

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.

Port Severn Hook In

Anyone living in central Ontario knows that we have been having extreme weather for the past few days…..  high heat, high humidity, lots of rain and terrible flooding in Toronto. As a result the turn out for our get together was small, but our immediate area has escaped the bad rains, and the day was sunny at Port Severn.

Michelle and her family have come from DC for the second year in a row to vacation in our area (they know a great place when they find it!)….and we met up with her and had a lovely day of hooking visiting, and eating.


Here is Michelle with her hooking.

We soon moved to the gazebo at the park…where there was shelter if it rained, and a picnic table where Michelle could sit…..I remembered to bring her a lunch…but forgot to bring her a lawn chair (I plead old age).


Mary Lou brought us copies of the beautiful “magazine?” put out by the museum, and told Michelle all about the opening. (she also brought me maps and info to help when we go there in September).


I think there was more visiting than hooking, although we did get some work done.


Michelle worked on her Heron, which she started in a workshop a while ago. I just love what she’s done so far. Those leaves are so vibrant……


..and just look at the water and the reflection of the bird. The water was dyed by her teacher in one very long strip, then cut and hooked in order.


Jeanne is hooking this stained glass piece from the picture she found. Edie was hooking as well, but for some reason I have no photo. I wasn’t hooking…


….I was whipping my memory rug…..and that’s the topic for the second part of this post…


….when I prepared to steam it I found to my disgust that I had “packed” several areas…

Packing means hooking the rows of loops too close together so that the work doesn’t lie flat…but bubbles up. You can see the bulge I’m pinching in this photo. When the work is under tension in the frame, it often looks like the spaces between the rows may show, but when the work relaxes there is no space. This happened in several spots where I was hooking animals and filling in small spots with an 8 cut. Best case scenario…the steaming will flatten it out….if not, minor tweaking and removal of some loops may be necessary. Worst case would be needing to rehook the section with more space between the rows.


Fortunately, mine was fine once it was steamed….but I’ve made a note to myself to be more generous with the spaces.


For this rug I’m whipping the edge and using binding tape and the method I learned from Gene Shepherd. I like it because it doesn’t use a cord, whips through the binding tape, and requires only sewing by hand around it once to tack down the binding tape to finish.

It’s very neat on the front, but I’m not always satisfied with the back. The trick is to have the whipping come through the tape in a straight line….and that an be tricky. Sometimes I manage pretty well…


(sorry for the poor quality photo…but you can see the stitches into the back of the tape). ….but sometimes…


….it gets uneven. I’m getting better at it, and I’m considering perhaps using a pencil line on the tape next time to help guide the needle tip. It’s on the back of the rug, and won’t be seen, but I still want that straight line!


I think these two must know they are a part of the rug….they certainly seem to like it.

….and I just have to show off my birthday present….well the fancy case at least…


….my Beehive Townsend cutter…from hubby and my sons. How lucky can a hooker get!

A Special Request

Last week I had a special request from my son Mathieu. He asked if I would make a brooch for him. Here’s the story.

Friday he would be attending a family wedding.   Mathieu was escorting his very good friend Scarlet, and wanted to buy a tie to match her dress. However he was unable to find one in the right colour, so decided that a boutonniere to match would be a good option. Soooo would mom make one?

I was delighted to be asked…….a photo of Scarlet’s dress was sent to me, and I got out the dye pots.image

Ummm…I thought…a coral pink….and went and dyed 2 pieces   1/16yd each…one a dip dye, one just mottled. Boy did I get it wrong! The slightly dulled cantaloupe was WAY too orange, so I started again. This time with salmon. Still too orangey….so I added  1/2 in. of a toothpick of magenta…..on the right track….but still not right….I think I did that twice more, until I finally had it.

I thumbed through Gene’s proddy flower book for a refresher on the flower types, and made this. I hasten to add that my camera isn’t very accurate with colours, …so these don’t look the same at all, although they were. I chose the centre to go with Mathieu’s shirt.


I had the whole thing finished, when I realized it would look better with some leaves. I cut half leaves and glued them to the petals, tucking the edge under the felt backing.

Here’s the finished product.DSCF5162

…and here it is being worn…


The wedding was at an absolutely lovely country venue…so why oh why did I take this picture in the parking lot of all places!


…my great niece and her proud dadDSCF5182

…in an arbor of trees…DSCF5172…..and my ‘bunch’.

Chugging Along

Being a member of Gene Shepherd’s Internet Rug Camp has lots of perks. Just one, is several times a year getting a free pattern.


I seldom hook seasonal topics, just because I dislike the thought of them being useable/out for a short period of time. However, I decided to hook this little bird and holly to have on the table as a hot mat for Christmas. It is traced onto the red dot, ready for transfer to the backing. I looking forward to hooking with wool again.


The Cats’ Paw mat is nearing completion, and I’m starting to contemplate the finishing. I’ll have to dye more blue nylons and then cut them on the diagonal in a long coil to creating whipping material. Jill told me how a friend finished her nylon mat by crocheting with the nylons, but I’ve got lots of experimenting to do to see if I can make it work.

Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you have a joyous holiday season….hug your loved ones close.

Figuring things out

Since I was running out of red, I decided that I’d better do the ribbons on the other side of Hygiea’s headpiece while I still had some of the original wool left, in case I couldn’t match the reds exactly.


When I finished them, I wasn’t happy…


The far side looked dull and too dark, but didn’t have enough left of the brighter reds to use there.

A happy ending though…..with some wiggling , and an extra stint in the dye pot to add more red, the second batch of  reds turned out just fine.


I redid parts of the ribbons to make them brighter. (the contrast is more noticable than the photos indicate.)

Not quite such a happy outcome with my attempts to dye more background wool. While I like the muted tones of my first ‘pancake’ dye efforts, there was too much blue predominating, when I essentially want a ‘greenish’ background.

I thought that maybe one of the problems was in the colour choices themselves. They were all very blue greens. I decided to look for a ‘mint’ or light apple green. I dug out my inherited collection of cushing dyes, and sure enough there were several possible greens to look at.

Now I know why I prefer prochem or majic carpet dyes….as I opened the packet to look at the dye colour, somehow a large portion of it jumped out…all over my hand and down the front of my housecoat. I sat …stunned…trying to figure out what to do. I brushed as much as possible off in the sink, then tried to wipe it off my housecoat (which is terrycloth)….bad idea…so I whipped it off, doused it with dish detergent, and washed and rinsed…. time and time again. A trip through the washing machine, and it is almost OK. (not that it was anything spectacular before….but it is sooo comfy)


After this little distraction, I settled on the mint green, added a toothpick of charcoal grey to dull it a bit, and did two small pieces.


These I like.

Next I soaked 1/2 yard oatmeal, and tried Gene’s ‘dump dyeing’ technique, using slate blue, mallard green and mint. I halved the amount of dye he used for the same amount of wool, but it was still too much…and the result is too dark in many areas. (I have a hard time just using a weeny amount of dye)


Parts of it may be usable but the background remains unresolved. It sure is fun to play with the colours though.

Preparing the Background

Those of you who read Gene Shepherd’s blog, or are members of the Internet Rug Camp, may have seen my inquiry for Gene’s advice on a background colour (s) for Hygieia. He suggested light green-grey-bluish colours, done with movement. (If you’d like to check it out…it’s in the archives under ‘inspiration’ at

Soooo…I visited the prochem site, and chose 6 new colours…mallard green, country green, ivy, sky blue, slate blue, and mouse grey. My first attempt, wasn’t too successful…


mostly because I made a mistake with the vinegar (didn’t put it in with the dye bath…then tried to correct it by pouring it on directly) as a result, the blue was too strong and too bright.


I overdyed this with ivy and country green with a toothpick of charcoal grey to help dull it down.


I don’t have enough to complete the background , but I think I’ll now dye a few pieces with just one colour each, and see how I like that to go along with what I have.

I’m chugging along with the gown,


and I think I will have enough of the golds and yellows, but I’m going to have to dye more reds. That will be a bit of work, since I used 2 different formulas over two colours of wool, then overdyed it all.


Fortunately I wrote down everything I did…so I just have to figure out how much wool I’ll need, and adjust the dye amounts accordingly….and hope they haven’t changed the chlorine count too much in our drinking water…so that I end up with approximately the same results.