‘Oil on Water ‘ Progress Report

The title of this post should really read “Oil on Water – Little Progress”. It seems I spend much more time  debating how I will hook areas, than actually doing it.DSCN0605.jpgOne concern that needed lots of contemplation were the little rivulets of a slightly lighter colour of blue  on the left side.DSCN0607 There will be many more of these, so I had to come up with a way to keep them subtle, but visible. They show up readily when viewed up close, but tend to disappear at a distance. I decided to try an outline just on one side. The outline colours are actually the main cantaloupe and raspberry colours dyed over an ‘oatmeal ‘ wool. I particularly like the ‘oatmeal cantaloupe ‘ wool for the small connecting details. It blends but doesn’t dominate. (I used this a lot when hooking Hygieia…creating a bright and dull version of the same red by using the same dye formula over both Dorr natural and Dorr oatmeal)DSCN0610

I’m still debating how I will tackle the large area of bright blue which extends out to the right of the ” flames” . Since I couldn’t decide how to go forward with that, I moved to the lower right of this upper section of the rug, and encountered another problem to solve. Since the grid isn’t proportionate to the picture, I have to alter sizes and shapes and as I get closer to the area where the two halves will be joined, it becomes more important that details are in the same relative spot.DSCN0608There has been a lot of drawing and redrawing on the backing to position elements so they will match when I join the sections.DSCN0606So this is what it looks like to date. Lots of fun involved in the process and the decision making. This is a new way for me to tackle a rug (drawing the pattern freehand as I go along) and as usual I’m learning a lot from my trials and errors.

Thanks for stopping by.

A Tribute to Edie Crockford

Sunshine Rug Hooking meetings have been very busy this fall, but with the Quilt and Rug Fair, and RUG, now over…today we were able to have our first ‘tribute’ of the season. These monthly events were begun so that the newer hookers in our group would have the opportunity to see the work, and hear about the lives and background of the more experienced hookers……but everyone looks forward to seeing all the beautiful work. This has become one of my favourite events.

Edie Crockford was Tuesday’s featured hooker. She said she thought she had begun hooking in 1976…but discovered that her first rug was dated 1974. She has lived her whole life in Barrie , and is a member of both the Huronia group in Barrie, and the Sunshine Rug Group in Orillia. She works with #3 and #4 cuts, and is a master of fine shading.


This is a heritage pattern.


This is my favourite….amazing detail…I can almost feel the wind.


The bell pull was Edie’s first hooked piece. The arched stain glass piece was framed with actual stained glass. That smile is always in evidence!


Looking at the sheep out the window..


This is the colourful piece she is currently working on.

She also did some wonderful cross stitch.


Edie is such a talented hooker and a wonderful woman. She travelled to Trent with me last spring and her cheery disposition and infectious giggle lifted every day. Thanks to Jean Chabot….who anticipated that I would forget my camera…brought hers,….and took the pictures for me.

Thanks too to Cynthia Young, who sent me these pictures of my rugs being presented at RUG.






My hall rug

I still have the “show and tell rugs” to show from RUG. I was going to include them in this post…but I realize now there are far too many…and they deserve a post of their own.


My mind has been in a swirl about this background….making and discarding options both physically and mentally.

While I liked each choice on its own, I didn’t like the first two backgrounds when the piece was viewed as a whole…particularly against the gown. I didn’t like the blue against the red and yellow, and the green was too busy and competed with the dress.

Klimt’s backgrounds are usually one of his distinctive features, but in this case..in his Hygieia….the distinctive portions of the background were the tortured embodiments of disease and illness which presumably Hygieia (representing the field of medicine) would stave off.


I chose not to include the background figures, so when I thought about it…my background serves no other purpose than enhancing the figure of Hygieia. I like the green against the red, so I decided to keep that basic colour, and altered it by eliminating all the pale  and variegated greens which stood out too much. Now the  background  is all the same value and quite muted, with just a few touches of a bit darker wool to give it some vitality. To me , it makes the reds look rich and somewhat antique-ee…and I like how it doesn’t fight for attention.


With the flash, lighter strips show up which aren’t visible  in natural light.

I liked how the pale green popped the red in the ribbons around her head, and for awhile, contemplated either just leaving it, or creating a bit of an aura with the pale green extended around her headpiece which gradually would fade into the more muted colours.

Once again I decided it would be too distracting, and there wasn’t enough background space above her head to develop it properly, so I opted for the more muted alternative, and pulled out all the pale green. It’s a good thing that linen is forgiving…by now I’d hooked parts of that section 4 times. (and have a large bag of pale green cut strips)…..You would think that after four times…I’d finally have it right…..but no!


When it was finished…it was just too blah…


…and wasn’t a close enough match with the background.

I couldn’t forget how the light green gave it life


….so….I took some of the light green strips I’d pulled out….cut them down the centre and hooked them just along the edge of the ribbons. That was a step in the right direction…..but those sections (being just up and down…since it was too small a space for the wiggly motif of the rest of the background)….meant that it just didn’t “go” with the rest of the background.


My final solution, was to hook these spaces in the same curly motif and colours of the background, using a #6 cut rather than the #8 of the background, so that it was possible in the confined space. So out it came once again…and I’m rehooking it for the LAST time.  (6 times lucky)


The left side (as you look at it) is finished.  WHew…..now I’m satisfied with it. I’m not going to think about it or alter it any more…at least until it’s finished. OK out comes the right side…ever onward and upward.

A New Background??? Maybe 3rd try will be lucky

Antique black has always been my background colour of choice. So getting this light background right has been a new adventure. I searched through my dye collection again, to see what I could come up with for the new (green only) background colours. I chose the Cushings ‘mint’ I had used before, Majjic Carpet ‘moss green’,  and Prochem ‘drab olive’. I used 1/2 yard Dorr natural, and 1/2 yard oatmeal (each torn in half ).


This time I decided to dye each piece separately and each with just one colour. I used 1/64th tsp of dye in 1 CBW for each 1/4 yard piece, putting 1/2 of the dye bath in the pan, and spooning 1/2 over the wool for the mottled effect I like. I did the moss green and drab olive over the natural wool, and the oatmeal wool I did with the mint and drab olive dyes.


It was interesting that when the drab olive dried, it was way too light (really just off white) , so I re-dyed it  using another 1/64th tsp of drab olive. This time it definitely has blue in it….I think I can still use it, but the blue isn’t noticable on the oatmeal piece that was died with drab olive.

The small bits of background showing through the ribbons, I decided to try with just one colour (moss green), and I like the way it pops the reds out.


Then I thought it was too much contrast with the rest of the background, so I took parts of it out, and did it with several colours of gree…..that was just nasty!…so I rehooked it with the light green. I will have to do a gradual transition to the mottled background. The dip dye I’ve used at the border also doesn’t work….so that will be replaced. I feel that I’m doing more reverse hooking than regular hooking right now, until I get this background settled.

I worked for 2 days on this ‘all green’ background


…but the fact is ….I don’t like it either. I don’t think it enhances the main hooking, and it draws my eye to it far too much. It is also sadly far too much like what I disparagingly call…’public washroom green’. I want something that enhances the figure, but doesn’t call attention to itself.


How I wish I had an ‘artistic eye’, that could envision these things in advance!

Rather than pull anything out at this point, I decided to try just the colours dyed over the oatmeal…they are much duller and more subtle than those dyed over the Dorr natural.


Then I hung it up and I’ve been looking at it now all day. I’m still honestly in a dilemma, not sure how to proceed…..my motto right now….when in doubt….wait…

The Quilt and Rug Fair is coming up quickly,(September 17th) so I spent a day hooking more ‘proddy pins’. The Sunshine Rug hookers are selling them , and we’re each asked to donate some since this is our main money making event for the year.


I’d like to provide a dozen to sell, plus a few to keep to give away as gifts. I don’t mind making them, but I’m not fond of the finishing (surprise surprise). Since I’m temporarily halted with Hygieia, I have no excuses for leaving them undone!

Well that’s Not Good!

Susan mentioned that it was hard to get the scale of Hygieia from the pictures, so I had my son Mathieu stand beside her to perhaps give a better idea of her size. (It’s hard to find a place to hang her …..here the hooking starts about a foot off of the floor)


After finishing up the last small section of the gown, I happily started working on the background. It didn’t take me long to realize that, although I liked the background by itself,…… against the gown it was a different story. I decided to keep going for awhile, because I very often don’t like something when I start it, then change my mind after I’ve looked at it for awhile.

I did this section, and hung it up to look at for the rest of the evening.


….but….they just look horrible together.

This morning I got out my box of greens, and held up a variety of options. I soon realized I didn’t like anything with blue in it at all but these pieces from my stash do look good…(why didn’t I do this before….sigh…)


So my lovely pile of background wool will head to storage, and I’m off to the dye pots once again. This time for a grey…mossy green.

Which Gown???

When I first decided to hook  Hygieia, I went on the internet, and found a number of  variations of her.


This was too wide


This was only a section


This one was just right (sounds like Goldilocks doesn’t it)

I drew most of the pattern using this version….primarily because the dimensional proportions were what I wanted (twice as tall as it was wide), and I was able to download quite a large picture. This made it possible for me to graph it out to the 3′ x 6′  size I wanted.

However, when I got to drawing the details, it got quite murky….so I switched to this version,


because the details were more clearly defined. Still later, I purchased a book on Glimt, and studied a photo of the original painting for further details.


So now that I’m completing the hooking on the gown, it doesn’t all quite work out. Some sections which are clearly yellow at the bottom, should be red by the time they get to the top. The trickiest part has been  to sort that out. It has resulted in lots of pondering, and some adjustments in the pattern itself. so that it is balanced and the whole thing makes sense.


Some small details were removed altogether


Some were moved so that the ribbon could be followed logically from top to bottom.

Whew! I think I’ve finally got it figured out, and now there is just a small section of gown to complete.


The actual hooking of the gown has been easy….mostly straight line hooking, with lots of choice for the variations and shades that  I want, since I dyed more reds.

I’m really pushing to get this part finished, because frankly…I’m sick of hooking nothing but reds and yellows. I don’t think I’ll put EITHER of those colours in my next project….I’m looking forward to an entirely new colour pallette for Heidi’s pattern.

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  www.geneshepherd.com)

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.

Leaving her behind

It was hard…but I’ve finally decided to leave Hygieia at home while we go camping. In fact I’m not taking any hooking at all…sigh…Hygieia is just too big and cumbersome for hooking in the trailer, and she would drag on the ground if I hooked outdoors. The only other hooking I’m working on is the background of the hall runner, and that is even bigger than Hygieia…soo…


I’ve dug out my embroidery box,  some partially finished fingertip towels and a pair of pillowcases…and I’ll do needlework while we’re away. I can carry it all in a small bag….even to the beach if I want.

Hygieia will stay at home with the cats and Doreen, (a friend who’s kindly looking after them all).


Is that a tear I see in her eye?

Talk to  you when we get back.

Ordered Pancake (casserole) Dyeing

One of the reasons I so admire Gene Shepherd’s work, is his amazing use of colour. I am instinctively a monochromatic person, but I’m determined to learn, and push the boundaries of my knowledge and imagination regarding the use of colour. I think that’s why I have been rather disappointed with my dyeing to date for Hygieia. It was only variations of two colours. I’ve spent time staring at the details of the painting, and trying to analyse the actual colours in the folds and curves of the fabrics. Then I had to decide how I could merge these colours seamlessly into my hooking, what colours to try, and how to dye them.

I decided to use the pale yellow cashmere jacket I found at Good Will and use the  ‘ordered pancake’ dye technique. By roughly laying the pieces over other wool, I decided I had about a yard of fabric. I re-watched Gene’s video, and set out with my fingers crossed, to create something beautiful (I hoped).


I settled on 6 colours: (all pro chem)  poppy red, red, paprika, raspberry, mahogany, and mustard, and made up a dye bath for each using 1/8 tsp. dye in 1 1/2 cbw….plus a little vinegar in each one.


Since I was using odd shaped pieces from the jacket, I cut the larger pieces to fit my pan, and for the last layers, used several of the smaller pieces in one layer.


With the first layer in the pan, I spooned on the colours in splotches, making sure it was entirely covered.


I did this for each successive  layer, but kept each colour in the same general position each time (raspberry – top right, mahogany – bottom right etc. I added water to the dye baths as I got near the last layers, spooned dye from the edges to help blur the edges, and added a bit of water to the surface, when I wanted it a bit lighter.


I think I had about 10 or 12 layers, but I didn’t count them.


Ray helped me pour off the excess dye, keeping the wool in place so it didn’t slide out of the pan. Then I added white vinegar around the edges, and some water so it wouldn’t boil dry. I covered it with tin foil, and simmered on the stove (I used 2 burners) for 1 hour.


This is what I ended up with…….that’s more like it!