Expanding My horizons

I decided I wanted to try a larger cut, and a different style of pattern. While not primitive exactly, it was quite a departure from my previous hooking.

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The pattern is called ‘Breakfast’ and it comes from Heartland Creations. I didn’t dye any of the wool for this rug myself, other than the taupe border, but for the first time I used quite a bit of recycled wool. It is done in a #5 cut. (I moved up gradually). I was working in a vacuum, not really knowing how to deal with the colours. I enjoyed the larger cut, and the freedom to create my own vision (even if it wasn’t completely successful). I love this rug in spite of its design and shading flaws. I gave it to my daughter-in-law for Christmas two years ago. (Thanks Scott for the picture…no toes visible here! lol)

I had joined the ‘yahookers’, a marvelous internet chat group, and there I met a great hooking community, and first heard the name Gene Shepherd. I began reading his daily blogs, and soon realized that his work embodied the style I was now striving for. His great teaching/writing style, tremendous organizational skills, and wonderful sense of humour are an added bonus.

I retired from teaching on  January 1 2008. I had been looking forward for years to being able to join the local rug hookers guild….finally! June Baker and I had often talked about when I could go with her, but by now June was having more difficulty getting around and hadn’t been able to get to a meeting for some time. However, true to her fighting spirit, she was determined !! We went late, as she couldn’t sit for long, I carefully drove around all the potholes,took a circuitous route to avoid extra stops and starts, and took her right to the door. She was given a rousing welcome back, and I was warmly brought into the local rughooking ‘fold’. She was able to go a few more times in January and February, but by March she was hospitalized. Cancer was eventually the victor, and she passed away in the early spring. I lost a special friend and mentor, but her family lost a devoted mother, wife, and daughter. She was a fine teacher, and active in her church, the rug hooking, and card making communities, The Sunshine Rughookers completed the last rug she was working on and gave it back to her husband. At their fall craft show the next fall, her church had a special room devoted to displaying her work. We  lost a very special lady.

My First Efforts at Dyeing

Up until this point, I had purchased all my wool ready dyed. When June suggested that she would teach me how to dye wool, I was excited about the challenge. By this time, June’s nearly 5 year hiatus from cancer had ended, and the dreaded disease had returned in her spine. She had been forced to give up teaching, but was always cheerful and optimistic. Her deep faith was a great solace to her throughout her illness.

She sat in her kitchen giving directions, while I dug through the cupboards getting her equipment, and making tea for us to share during the process. During several session she taught me how to do 6 value swatches, dip dyeing, and dyeing a background. She had me set up a 3 ring binder for my methods and recipes and  glue little swatches by each one. She provided me with an old porcelan  refridgerator crisper, and 8 square sided glass jars and my introduction to the world of wool dyeing was on its way.

`The first rug I made with wool I dyed myself, I gave to my niece for Christmas two years ago. I’ll talk about that rug next time.

My Third Beginning

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A group of teachers were sitting around the table in the staffroom one day, (I think it was the fall of 2004) when June Baker mentioned that she was a rug hooker. I quickly said that I hooked too, but hadn’t done any in years. She encouraged me to return to it and suggested we get together to hook.

June was one of that very special, rare breed of teacher…the professional supply teacher. (for me it would have been a fate worse than death, but she loved it)….and we loved her! You could always happily recover from illness at home knowing that your class was in marvelous hands when June took over. I had known her for years as a valued colleague, but now she became my hooking mentor and personal friend. We hooked together on weekends and holidays, and she dispensed countless tips and advice as we worked. I was interested in doing an oriental rug, so she took me to the home of a friend who had hooked many of them, to both see them and pick up tidbits of information.

That spring we went to Lindsey to the ‘Annual’, to view the rugs. I had decided to do another Rittermere pattern… Canadian Mosaic. Not a true oriental, but with many oriental influences. Ingrid Hieronimus of Ragg Tyme Studio was a vendor, and spent ages with me helping to choose the colour palette. The rug contains the flowers of each of the provinces and territories. It is 25″ x 46″,  and done in #3 and #4 cuts. I had always admired the beautiful even hooking of other hookers, and I think that the quality of Ingrid’s wool, plus the straight line hooking of the oriental style, allowed me, for the first time, to produce that kind of hooking. Again, Rittermere’s provided shading charts for the flowers, so there is very little of my own creativity in this rug.  I was, however, developing a hooking technique I was pleased with.

With the Peony rug not a suitable pattern to hang, I thought this rug might fit the bill. Alas! It is too small, and totally lost on the 18′ height of the stairwell. The wall there remains bare and Canadian Mosiac, although finished, remains stored in a drawer awaiting that special place to hang it.

A Very Old Pattern

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They say ignorance is bliss….and I’ve experienced lots of it while hooking. Particularly with the third rug I started to hook. While I had no hooking friends at this time, I happily shared my efforts with many I knew. My good friend Kerry Koenig was one of these, and she found packed away, a pattern on old burlap. She thought it must have belonged to her mother, although her mother hadn’t been a ‘crafty’ person. It’s true origin remains a mystery. Perhaps someone reading this will recognize the design and shed some light on where it came from, its name or age. The pattern was coloured (painted?) on the burlap.  In any case, she showed it to me and asked if I would like it. Of course I would!

I knew nothing about colour values at that time, and blithely chose medium tones of green, blue, and a medium grey background. Of course the blue and green don’t show up well against the gray. Another lesson learned. Most people would never hook a rug on very old burlap, but in this case my ignorance didn’t bite me (at least not yet). The rug has been on the floor for a number of years and appears hale and healthy.

It too however, had a long shelf life! I ran out of the red for the border, so it was relegated to the closet for about 10 years. When I finally started hooking for ‘real’, about 2005, Sheilagh Klugescheid matched the red for me, and it ended up being one of the first rugs I finished completely.

I’ll tell how I finally became a committed, dedicated rug hooker next post.

ps Kerry passed away of breast cancer several years ago, and I miss her still.

My First Rug

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Late in the 1970’s my father saw a lady demonstrating rug hooking at the mall in Barrie. He thought it might be something I would enjoy and purchased the pattern, the cut pieces for the foreground, and a moshimer hook, and gave them to me as a gift. This rug is about 18″x 30″ and done in a 4 cut.  I had never heard of traditional  rug hooking, but he demonstrated how he had seen the loops pulled, so I jumped right in.  I did a lot of crewel work at the time, the design appealed to me, and I was fearless.  (looks like I’ve come full circle doesn’t it…quite a resemblance to my current  project)  However my enthusiasm faded, and it ended up on a shelf unfinished for about 13 years.

While I hadn’t pursued rughooking, I had been busy with machine knitting, crocheting, and crewel embroidery. My interest in these crafts was lagging and I wanted to try something  new. With the express purpose of finding an interesting new craft that appealed to me, my husband and I went to Creative Stitchery, the big yearly craft show in Toronto. As luck would have it, there was a beautiful display of hooked rugs, and Jeanne Field was there explaining and promoting the craft. I was smitten  (a second time). She gave me the name of a teacher in my home town, and I began hooking again. This rug however, remained unfinished. (I’ll talk about my second rug next time). It wasn’t until about 2004 that I hauled it out to complete. I finished the few unhooked flowers, and added the background.  By then my father had passed away, and this little rug he had given me had added meaning to it. I completed it and gave it to my sister for Christmas. I know she treasures it and the connection it has with our dad.