Background and Confessions


With a couple of false starts, I’ve settled on a background style for Sir John.DSCF6290

….very simple and basic….random wiggles in off white….


….surrounded with the white. I like it. It doesn’t take away from the “black and white” aspect, but gives some life to the background. I’m using a #4 cut, I haven’t done a background in that small a cut for years! (and it will likely be years more before I do it again too!)…it’s a slow process.


I plan to hook two or three rows of black around the outside in a 6 cut to form a more definitive border. Notice the drawing to the left of his body….that was a shadow…which I partially hooked, then took out since I thought it didn’t add anything to the piece. He’s now  “shadow-less”.

OK…now for the ‘confession’ part. I’ve had a pretty productive winter as far as hooking….but the number of pieces totally completed???? ZERO!  That evasive finishing.(sigh). Here’s what I’ve hooked since last fall….DSCF6296


So right now, I committing myself to start NOTHING new until I have all of these pieces (including Sir John) completely done.  (sigh)….but….but…but…



Monthly Sunshine Tribute Day….My Turn

Once again, it’s the first Tuesday of the month…Tribute Day at Sunshine Rughookers, and today was my day to tell my life story, and show my rugs. If you’ve been following this blog since I started it, you’ll have seen all these rugs at one time or another, but here they are again.


My first rug was given to me by my father in the 70’s. I had no idea about rughooking apart from what my father had seen demonstarted when he bought it. After a feeble beginning, it languished, barely begun, in a closet for about 30 years. It now lives over a rocking chair in my sister’s living room.


My second rug ( begun during my 2nd try at hooking in the mid 90’s) is Peonies from Rittermere Hurst Field. My sister kindly whipped it for me just this week, and I sewed down the binding last night….20 years in the making! It too found a home in a closet for many years.


Beginning my third, and final attempt at rug hooking in 2006 This is also a Rittermere pattern…Canadian Mosaic….a semi-oriental rug which features the wild flowers of all the Canadian provinces. I hooked this rug while watching the Tour de France. I was still hooking only with #3 and #4 cuts, and hadn’t yet begun to dye my own wool.


On a trip to Cape Breton in the early 90’s, I picked up this Deanne Fitzpatrick pattern, and attempted to do it in the Cheticamp style with yarn…..hated it….and it too spent years in the closet. I took it out and hooked it with strips in 2008


Another early, uncompleted rug..(finished many years later).This pattern was found in a girl friend’s closet,probably had belonged to her mother, and I believe it was from Eaton’s in the 1920’s. Not knowing any better, I hooked the old burlap, and it’s still holding up just fine.


This stained glass pattern is from Sheila Klugescheid, and is someday destined to be framed.


I began hooking in earnest in 2008, and Women in Hats (another Deanne Fitzpatrick pattern) was my first effort after recouperating from heart surgery. I was not yet dyeing my wool at this point, and used what was available in my (then small) stash.


My name for this is Severn Sunset, although Sheila Klugescheid (it’s designer) calls it something else.There was a sandy section which I removed since there were no sand beaches in the area of the Severn where I spent so much time. I painted the dye on the wool  in the sky and water sections


Emma Sue came to life in a workshop with Anne Boisonnot. I always feel that this piece marked a turning point in my hooking ‘life’ . I dyed all the wool, and stepped out of my box with colour and texture.


This is my non-penny penny rug. I did it in a workshop with Bea Grant, but decided I would rather hook than sew pennies, so my version is VERY unlike the others. I did do applique for the cornucopia and the leaves, but did a hit and miss border instead of pennies.


This will be  my table centre piece next weekend for Thanksgiving. It is the pattern in Gene Shepherd’s book on proddy.


This little bird was a free pattern in RHM and I hooked it with nylons. ….a great travelling project….I took it with me on a trip to see family in Regina…no cutter needed.


Adele is from my Klimt phase… which needs further exploration. I’m still fascinated by his work.


Hygieia, my other Klimt piece, now hangs in my stairwell. I’d
love to do another really large piece, but I only have one such spot in the house.


Fat Cat, a pattern by Heidi Kramer, is adapted to resemble my fat seal point Akuma. My first really whumsical piece, and I loved hooking it.


My two hall rugs were such fun to design and hook. I haven’t dared put them down on the floor yet though.

You can just see the un-upholstered footstool on the table …my latest piece. Ray has completed the box for it, the legs have been purchased, so now it’s up to me to get the foam padding and finish it.


Black and White adapted with permission from Dahlov Ipcar…I struggled so much with the background colours. That’s what drew me to her work in the first place, but I’m still not convinced about my choices. I reserve judgement until I have it up in my living room with the rugs on the floor which influenced the colour choices. Hopefully I’ll like it better then.


My one and only attempt thus far at lettering. I made these large coasters for my sister.


“Charlie” was the free pattern given out at this year’s annual in North Bay.


Ever helpful friends mounted many of the rugs on the two large bulletin boards in the room where we meet. It made them easy for everyone to see.


This is one half of the 2nd board….


….and the other half. I was actually surprised that I had so many rugs…most done in the past three years.

It was a fun experience, but I was really tired when I got home. It’s exhausting to talk about yourself for an hour!

Stained Glass

It’s pretty bad when I have so many unfinished pieces (unbound, not partially hooked) that I miss one entirely in my chronicle of rug hooking! …and it’s one I really like!


These morning glories were one of the first pieces I hooked when I began hooking with June Baker. She knew Sheila Klugescheid and we decided one Saturday to drive over to her studio. It was in the middle of winter, and I remember we drove through a nasty snowstorm on the way, and struggled through snow to our knees getting to the door. (nothing daunts those of us who live in the central Ontario snow belt)

It was my first visit to a studio, and I couldn’t leave without purchasing a new pattern. I loved the morning glory pattern, but had no clue how to do stained glass hooking. Shiela gave me an instant tutorial, helped me choose the wool, and I came home excited to get started. I bought two-sided tape, and used a file folder to keep the strips in order. It is hooked with #3 and #4.  I recall that I was working very hard not to pack my loops while I was hooking this piece. (I still have to remind myself about that!)


I always thought I would like to frame it with a silver edged frame…but as you can see that has never happened! (I wonder if there’s anything else lurking at the back of that drawer???)

My Wool Storage History

When I first started hooking, I had one small bag of precut strips…all for the one piece I was working on. Wow have things changed!….and  while recording my personal hooking history, I realize….I’ve gone through a whole series of storage solutions in the process.


When I began hooking a second time, I got my Bliss, so I cut my own strips and was working mostly with 6 or 8-colour swatches. I kept these organized by using baggies. I labeled each one with numbers 0 to 5 or 7 , then stapled them all together with the colour name on bag #0.


By the time I started hooking my third time, I needed further organization for my growing accumulation of  wool, so I went to the dollar store. I bought small plastic containers for the various colours of swatches and larger covered containers for the various larger pieces of wool. I stored these on a shelf, and it was beginning to look as if I was a real hooker (in miniature!)


Eventually these were overflowing and I had piles of wool on shelves, and falling on the floor. I was no longer often using small colour swatches, and was dyeing my own wool in larger pieces. Last year, while at a workshop at Linda Wilson’s, I was impressed, when someone needed a particular colour, Linda pulled out a large tub with that colour in it, and was able to rummage through to easily find what she wanted. I had seen other similar systems, but I couldn’t afford a dozen or more expensive covered tubs. Again I went to my trusty Dollar Store (who were now offering items for $2 as well) I found just what I needed….good sized open tubs with cut out handles. I bought about a dozen, cleared out a whole shelving unit in a storage area, and now I can (usually) find what I’m after. (the picture just shows 2 of my 5 shelves)

While in the middle of a project, I create quite a mess where I’m hooking, all sorts of wool pieces here and there. When finished, I find I love the re-storing process, going through all my tubs, folding and sorting the wool…..forget the hooking….I think I’m addicted to the wool and the colours!!!

My Hook History

Since I’ve been relating the chronology of my hooking, I thought I’d include the progression I’ve gone through in hooks. It reminds me very much of ‘scissors’. (This was one of my pet peeves as a grade one teacher…we give children blunt, dull scissors and try to teach them to cut well with a tool an adult wouldn’t think of using). We start cutting with these basic, non-sharp scissors, and move on as our skills develop to sharper and more accurate ones. Gradually demanding ones designing specifically for particular tasks. I have many pairs now, special ones for a variety of chores…ones for paper, embroidery, fabric, bent handled for hooking, kitchen scissors etc.


The same thing has happened with my hooks. I started hooking with a general purpose Moshimer hook  ( hook number 1 in the picture) which  was included with my first pattern). The ‘scissors’ analogy breaks down here, because the Moshimer hook is an excellent tool unlike children’s scissors. I held it pencil fashion. (I was a teacher after all!) I used that for the first two phases of my hooking. Somehow I now have three Moshimer hooks, and I have no recollection of getting them….I think they must spontaniously reproduce!

After I started hooking with June Baker, I bought a pencil hook (which I have since given away…it was too thick for me and I never found it comfortable) , then got a finer one (hook number 2) which I really liked the feel of and used for quite some time.

As I started hooking more, I gradually began having difficulty with pain at the base of my thumb joint. I bought support gloves , but nothing really helped and I would have to stop hooking for days at a time to let the pain subside and the swelling go down. I mentioned this to a vendor at the ‘Annual’ in Midland a few years ago, and she sold me a hook designed to aid those with arthritis (hook number 3). It has a groove for the thumb to fit against, and she demonstrated it being palm held. It took me some time to convert myself to palming the hook…unless I concentrated, the hook would magically revert to a pencil hold. I found it less painful, but awkward with the shaft out straight, and I had to use a whole arm motion to hook. When I began reading Gene Shepherd’s blog each day, I quickly became aware of his dedication to the bent hook. I was moving to larger cuts, and needed a hook designed for them so I bought Gene’s 6mm bent hook. (number 4 in the picture) What a difference! I was converted. I no longer have pain, and the bent hook allows me to use a rolling motion to hook. The 6mm was a bit large for 5 and 6 cuts, so I purchased a lovely Irish bent hook from Rittermere’s, which I use for medium cuts. … hook number 5

Luise Bishop heard me talking one day about wishing I had a fine bent hook. She whipped out a little gadget (actually a small piece of wood with a hole drilled in it) inserted my fine Moshimer hook, and bent it backwards. … I had a  bent hook for fine cuts! (numbers 7 and 8) Hook number 6 had been in my tools box forever…no idea where it came from either. I had never used it because it was bent, and the handle isn’t particularly comfortable. I use it frequently now because the size fits between  the Irish and the Mosimers and it’s handy for adding a small piece for a special effect.

I now have this array of bent hooks which I use according to the cut and the backing. I’m a bent hook convert. (with a pain free wrist)

Panty hose Bird

While many of the free patterns in RHM don’t appeal to me, I liked  this particular one and had been thinking for some time that it would be fun to do. It was in that…gee I’d like to try that someday….category (along with countless others).


By the spring of this year (2010) I was once more feeling well enough to travel, and planned a trip to see my family in Regina. I wanted to take some hooking with me, but I was working on my hall runner , and I certainly wasn’t about to lug that across the country. In fact I didn’t want to take my cutter at all…the last time I flew , my leather suitcase had been destroyed, and I wasn’t about to risk damage to my dear little Bliss.

While I was pondering this, one of the women arrived at a Sunshine Rughookers meeting one morning with several pillowcases full of dyed nylons. A hooker who had worked exclusively with them had decided for some reason to give up hooking, and had donated her stash to the group. I was merely an interested onlooker for quite some time while others claimed treasures from the colourful pile. Then it came to me, that trying a piece hooked with nylons wouldn’t require a cutter, and this would be a great ‘travelling’ project. I remembered the little bird, and trying to recall the details of the pattern, I came up with this colour palette..(dictated entirely by what was left in the pile that might work). Fortunately I remembered the essential details, but forgot entirely about the need for a background. Ah well I’d worry about that later.

After a few quick tips from experienced “nylon hookers”, I flew off to Regina with my little project. My granddaughter helped cut the strips while I was there, and I always think of this as Livy’s mat.

I finished the foreground during a camping trip in the summer, then turned my attention to the background. I wanted a pale mottled blue, and thought it would be a simple thing to pick up cheap white nylons at the dollar store, and dye them. No such luck!! Apparently if you want white panty hose these days, you have to pay a premium price for them. The closest I could get were white knee highs that were heavier than nylons. Not to be out done…I bought 5 pairs of them and came home to my dye pot.

After the longest dye session in history…I finally got the water to clear somewhat, and was pleased with the result…only to find when I rinsed them under the tap, that the dye washed right out. I pondered my options, and finally decided that a slightly off-white background would be fine…and if anyone asks…that’s what I’d intended all along!!

Emma Sue

sonoitI attended another Sunshine Rug Hookers workshop in March 2010. (I love going to workshops!) The teacher this time was Anne Boissonoit, and it was on creative abstract faces. When gathering up wool to use, I threw in all the  pieces of transitional wool left over from doing my double cross rug.


The end result was Emma Sue. The face is done in the transitional wool. The hair is a wonderful lumpy, curly wool yarn provided by Linda Wilson, (our hostess for the workshop), with some added bits of unspun fleece, and some sparkly hairy turquoise yarn I found at the dollar store. The second day of the workshop I was struggling with how I wanted to do the hair. I had some whites and grays, but they did nothing for the face. Linda walked over with a hank of the turquoise yarn, and suggested,..what about this? It was like a ‘eureka’ moment. I loved it, and it set the tone for the rest of the piece.

I didn’t have a lot of trouble deciding on the purple background, that is I knew what I wanted, but I had some difficulty getting it dyed so I was pleased with it. I think I ended up dyeing 3 different batches of wool, until I was satisfied with the result. Then I felt the background was too much the same tone as the flesh, so the edges of the face didn’t stand out sharply. By adding the paler purple I solved that problem, and I think it gives her a bit of an aura.

Anne said we must give our creations a name. I have no idea where the name Emma Sue came from, but it simply would not leave my mind…so Emma Sue she is. I like to think that she told me what to call her.

A Failed Attempt

A year ago last spring (spring 2009) I decided my next project would be to hook a rug to replace the rug at our front door. I finally came up with a design which was rather Greek inspired, and somewhat geometrical. I drew the various aspects of it on red dot, so it could be flipped as needed and made symmetrical. I transferred the design to a large piece of burlap, dyed my wool and began hooking.


Fortunately, before I got too far, I realized that in fact the symmetry was way off in various places. I struggled for some time trying to determine what I had done wrong, and how to fix it. Then I called in my resident expert on all things plumb, square, and precise. After several times thinking he had found the problem, Ray would  discover that the correction merely created a new problem somewhere else, He finally realized that the burlap itself was warped. At that point I scrapped the whole project, and began again. I ordered primative linen for my backing, decided to do a hall runner as well, came up with an entirely new pattern, and began the project which I am still working on, and discussed in my first two blogs. I haven’t worked exclusively on these rugs for the last year and a half though, so next time I’ll show you my adventure into ‘proddy’.


Women in Hats

The year 2008 wasn’t one I’d care to repeat. I had gone on medical leave from teaching at Christmas because of a back problem ( I officially retired in June that year), My friend June Baker passed away in the spring, and I ended up having a triple bypass in September. It was 2009 before I got back to hooking. ‘Women in Hats’ is done in a 6 cut and is 18″ x 36″


The Sunshine Rughookers are a wonderful, caring, knowledgable, fun loving group of hookers. They have been my inspiration and support. There are close to 40 members and a wide variety of styles is always evident, from #3 beautifully shaded traditional work, breathtaking landscapes, to hand cut strips in freeform artistic expression, and everything in between. I love it all! Quite a number of the members have been to Nova Scotia to take workshops with Deanne Fitzpatrick, and her style and freedom of expression are highly regarded . I purchased this Deane Fitzpatrick pattern and worked on it during my recuperation….using just wool I had in my tiny stash. I’m not particularly pleased with the result, but it was the first time I successfully used anything other than wool strips. I inserted various specialty yarns for decorations on the hats and necklines, and the white hair is done with a hairy, glitzy white yarn. That’s my favourite part of this piece. I really will get to whipping the edges…..soon!

Washing on a Line

I picked up this pattern during a family vacation to Cape Breton in the late 90’s.


I wanted to try hooking it in the Cheticamp style with yarn, but I didn’t like the effect at all. As a result it joined my many other unfinished projects…on the shelf. That cupboard was getting pretty full by this time! ( Of course I now realize I was using the wrong kind of yarn altogether.) After I started hooking again with June, I got it out, pulled out all the yarn, and started afresh with wool strips

It is 17″ x 34″ and hooked with #3 and #4. It is a Deanne Fitzpatrick design, although I didn’t know it at the time, and had never heard of her then. That was to change when I became a member of the Sunshine Rughookers.