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. … 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?

Mouse Grey and Sand Pink

Every piece I do is a learning experience, and some “little girl” part of me gets excited whenever I figure out something new (for me) and like the results. This week has been one of those “aha” times.


I ‘ve been hooking the kimono, and (as usual) struggling with the colours. At the end of the last blog, I mentioned that I was soaking some pale lilac wool to overdye.


The results were pretty, but glaring against the other colours of the kimomo.

Then Dorr came to my rescue. My 5 yards of natural arrived, and I was in 7th heaven. I have lots of recycled wool in my stash, and use it whenever I can, but I love nothing more than the feel and joy of hooking with freshly dyed new wool. I rationalize the expense by comparing it to the cost of buying wool dyed by someone else, and by resisting the urge to replace my Bliss and Frazer cutters with a Beeline or Ault.

But I digress….I wanted some very pale pink, some shades of brown, and mauve and blue, and some very dark wool for the stripes. Everything I tried looked garish. I liked the splotches at the bottom of the kimono, and had created them by dyeing mouse grey and pink sand over oatmeal wool. It dawned on me ( it should have occured to me sooner) to introduce at least one of these two colours in everything, and now I’m so pleased with the overall results. My aim is not to try and reproduce the original colours, but to achieve the essential overall effect.


I overdyed the light brown houndstooth with mouse grey.(the dyed piece is on the right). It looks splotchy and ungly in the piece, but suddenly “matched” the rest of the kimono.


I did the same thing with  maple sugar pieces and now they co-ordinate too.


The pink plaid (overdyed with pink sand and mouse grey) was originally intended to be in the light part, but is now in the dark section.


I used lazy swatches of pink sand for the pale colours, and my main deep blue for the stripes.


Now I’m happy and can’t wait to finish this section. I think Althea is smiling too.

Starting my new Klimt Venture

I finished drawing the pattern for ‘ Lady With Fan’ a couple of weeks ago, and began the actual hooking last weekend. I chose this particular painting to hook because of the many chinese symbols in the background. They are all related to a personal sense of peace and well being, and really spoke to me as I was struggling with my sister’s illness.

The pattern is 36″ x 36″…an unusual size. I’ve never before hooked a large piece in a square, but that’s what Klimt did, so who am I to argue.

I altered a number of the background details to make them “hookable”, for example many of “my” leaves, were mere slashes of colour in the original.


I experimented with some 1/8th yard pieces done in the microwave (my first time doing that), and dug through my stash for other colours to try.


I like to begin with the eyes, then mouth, then nose, so I am immediately working with a personality. I also always have to do a lot of altering. My way seems to be…plunge in with both feet, then figure out what’s wrong and keep changing it until I’m satisfied . That has certainly been the case with her face. (I think I’m going to have to give her a name…just ‘lady’ doesn’t seem appropriate for such an intimate relationship as we have).


At this point, I had already ripped out my first attempts at her skin, and had started again.


One of the first things to bother me was her chin…too heavy.


I removed the bottom row of hooking around her chin and was much happier with the result. I liked her nose on it’s own, but it didn’t match with the angle of her eyes. It was too face forward, while her eyes looked left. With suggestions from my good friend Jean, I took out the left side and tried again.


As I look at this picture, I wish I had left this profile….because…


I’m not pleased with how it ended up, and I intend to do version number 3. I did however decide to work on something else first until I could figure out how to fix it…’s way too bulbous at the bottom.


I also altered the left eye…adding some white beyond the edge of the pupil so it was a better match for the right one. (the last two photos show the change)

I moved then to the crane, and hooked it with left over pieces from my stash. It is mostly hooked with a 6 cut, and I originally began with a 3 cut for the yellow edging.


It got lost amid the turquoise however, so I took that out and replaced it with a 4 cut. Amazing what a difference that little bit of extra width made to how it stands out.


I added more hair along her brow line, and left little ends at the bottom of the curls on her face (I may or may not clip them off) I hooked her hair with 4 different textured wools all jumbled up together. I love watching how such different wools blend together to make hair that is vibrant and alive.

For the first time in awhile, I have an entire weekend without comittments, so I’m looking forward to snuggling up and getting lots of  hooking and reading done.

Thanks for stopping by .

Crocheting with Nylons

At one time in my life, I crocheted afgans, vests, scarfs, hats….you name it, but it has been a very long time since I picked up a crochet hook, and a first time using a nylon stocking cut up on the diagonal into one long strip. To be honest, although at one time I had a case with every size of hook….I couldn’t lay my hands on even ONE proper crochet hook…so I’ve been using my poor discarded pencil hook, and although it is a little “fine” for the job, it is certainly adequate.


I took a scrap piece of rugwarp to practise on, and it was sure a good thing I did.


My first attempt was UGLY bad,


but with trying again, I got the knack of it.

Never having tried an edge rolled forward before, I waited until the ‘try out’ session to decide how wide the edge should be. I decided on an inch, which gave me enough fabric to fold twice, hiding the zigzagged edge.


and I’m rather pleased with how it is turning out.

In the mean time…..


I’ve started drawing the pattern for “Lady with Fan”….I must admit I enjoy the process of drawing it……….not so enthused about the transfer part…it’s slow and time consuming to make sure the ink is getting through to the backing. Maybe one day I’ll get hubby to make me a light table….that would be lots easier.  🙂

Thanks for stopping by.

Finishing and Beginning

Christmas is over, family has returned home, and once again it’s just Ray and I keeping the home fires burning.

Last night I completed the hooking on the cats paws mat.


I still have some questions about it….for instance….I don’t imagine I can steam it. I seem to recall having someone say to lay a damp cloth over it then after it is damp, block and let dry. Was this a dream???…my imagination????….does anyone know??

Next then will be the finishing. I have to dye more nylons for that task, and then experiment with crocheting the edge after it is rolled forward. This will be a whole new experience for me…never having done a “rolled forward”  or crocheted edge.

For the last while I’ve been hooking small pieces, and while I’ve enjoyed them all, I’ve really missed having a large, challenging project to be excited about. I tried to think what would create this enthusiasm, and I realized I wanted to do yet another Klimt. After an hour or so of browsing, I’ve settled on “Lady With Fan” a portrait of an unknown woman. I was drawn by the wonderful background and the significance of the birds and flowers…love, happiness,peace etc. …..a balm for my soul at a very difficult time in my life when my dear sister is very ill with cancer.


The lady seems so graceful, peaceful and pensive. I only hope I can capture that feeling.

It is square…and I decided on 36″ x 36″. Thanks to my clever husband who was able to take the 8″x8″ picture, and mark out a grid on it that will be 3″ squares on the 36″ inch square pattern.( I need 3″ since he made me a 4’x8′ board of 3″ squares for drawing my patterns.) By labelling the squares and drawing from them, even though I am artistically challenged, I can adequately reproduce it to the size I want.

Now to make sure I complete the cats paws before I get involved in this new project!!

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 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… 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… 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 … 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.