A Tribute to Barbara Wilson

The first get together of the Sunshine Rug Hookers in the new year featured the work of Barbara Wilson.


Like many rug hookers (myself included)…. Barb had several ‘false starts’ at hooking.

She was born and brought up in Cornwall Ontario, then worked in Montreal and Calgary. After a few years, her mom thought it was time she came home, and she said she would after she had seen Vancouver. While  there she had a meeting with a fortune teller, who told her she would stay for seven years. As fate would have it, she soon met a young man, was married, and indeed stayed for many years.

The family eventually moved back to Whitby, and it was there at a craft show in the 1970’s, that she first saw traditional rug hooking. She recalls it was a sculptured purple iris, and she loved it. She signed up for lessons with Clare Freek,


and this was her first piece.


Another rug hooked at this time was this beautiful one. She hooked for about 3 or 4 years, then it gradually fell by the wayside.

In 1987, she happened to visit the Rug Hooking Annual, and fell in love with rug hooking again…she joined the Sunshine Group, and truly enjoyed the group and how friendly people were.


She hooked this ‘geranium’ chair pad at a course sponsered by the Sunshine Rug hookers In 1991, she took up golf, and rug hooking was once more set aside.

In 1996, her husband died, and while sorting through things to throw out, she came upon a partially hooked bell pull. She felt it was just too lovely to discard, and she was determined to finish it. She came back once again to Sunshine Rughookers, and began hooking again.


In 2004, she signed up for a course on Celtic rugs, and had a lovely 12″ x 12″ design chosen. Iris Simpson, who was teaching the course, mentioned that she thought it wasn’t very ambitious, and she changed her mind, and purchased Rittermere’s “Four Angels”…


….. which turned out to be one of her favourite pieces.

In 2005, she returned to Trent, and took a course on Orientals with Dorothy Haight….this time making sure she chose a good big pattern.


I love the rich red in this.


This is a smaller oriental used on a table top.

Her daughter wanted her to hook a piece inspired by the Group of Seven, so she produced this wonderful tree.


You can’t tell by the photo. but the pine needle sections are sculptured.

Last year she completed this well known colourful patchwork pattern


…. and for the first time used an 8 cut for this lovely geometric.


She felt the large cut was hard on her wrist, but wants to try another using a larger hook.

Barb, counts herself a sewer, rather than a hooker, but has also dabbled with other crafts. She made this wonderful basket using pine needles and raffia.


Isn’t it intricate!

The purpose of these monthly tributes is of course to highlight the hooking and show newer members the work they might otherwise not have an opportunity to see, but it also gives us fascinating glimpses of the personal lives of women we may only know as hookers. That was certainly the case for me this month. It turns out Barb is a veteran world traveller..having several times visited Australia, New Zealand China, and the South seas, South America, Scandinavia, the Balkans, and not once but twice sailed around Cape Horn…(and that’s just what I can remember…the list seemed endless!!!)

Thanks Barb for sharing your hooking and your life story.

For myself, I’m deep in the work of Dahlov Ipcar….preparing my next project.

Yahoo…finished the finishing!!!

I think writing this blog is good motivation for me…at least…it has spurred me on to do all the finishing on  my tea cozy. …and you know..I actually enjoyed doing it!


The steaming was a bit tricky, because I didn’t want to flatten any of the applied flowers, but the hooking really needed it . With all the extra wool pulled up through it, it was no longer entirely flat. I steamed the flat parts regularly, and for the rest, I held my iron slightly above the work and used my steam button, then used my fingers to fluff up anything that looked a little droopy (a proper steamer would have come in really handy…sigh!)


After it was dry, I started by  cutting off the excess linen close to the zigzag stitching then stitched the sides and roof. Using very strong thread, I began at the bottom edges and secured the thread. Then worked my way up, keeping the cross beams aligned. Working on the good side, I took a small stitch on one side right at the base of the loop, then a small stitch on the other side , gradually moving up a bit. After several stitches, I pulled it tight, and a neat invisible seam was formed. (honestly….it is neater than it looks in the picture since it’s bunched up trying to lie flat)


I used Gene Shepherd’s whipping technique to finish the bottom. This is the first time I’ve used it with white tape. It was much easier to see than when I used black tape,  and easier to make the back stitches even. ( could also be that I’m just getting better with practise) The trick to this is to work with the tape facing you so you can bring the needle up in exactly the same place each time. (that’s the theory…I’ve never managed to do it even CLOSE to every time )


Well now that it’s finished, I realize I don’t have a teapot anywhere near big enough for it….it’s huge! One of the women at Sunshine rughookers said she made one a long time ago…hers was huge too, so she weighted the bottom and turned it into a doorstop. Ummmm….There are some bricks in the yard…but I’ll never find them under all this snow!

Country Cottage–finished hooking—now the yucky stuff!

Hooking’s done…that was really fun.


I kept experimenting with various ways to do the flowers as I went along.  I used both strips and yarn for the flower stems, but eventually found one way that pleased me most. (the large shrubs I settled on a yarn chain stitch). For the flowers along the edge, I pulled up varying lengths of long loops, with a number 3 cut wool. Then, I began my french knot flowers by coming up inside the top of the loop, and going down outside, so the flower tied down the stem.  (hope that makes sense).


Although I said in one blog, that the specialty yarns weren’t worth the effort, I found I missed the bit of sparkle that they added, so I did insert some on the back as well. The flowers under the window are a bit of ‘proddy style’ in miniature, I shaped a piece of wool to make it easier to pull through, pulled up both sides close together, then cut the petals into smaller strips.


The only thing left to add is the door handle…I’m pondering several possibilities for it….not sure yet what I’ll settle on. I want it visible, but not really obvious. I have a lovely gold cord ….may be too strong…or maybe a brown yarn…may not show up….or maybe….


I took the bull by the horns this morning, took the cover off my trusty little sewing machine, and did three rows of zig zag around the outside, about a quarter inch out from the hooking (actually just the width of the machine foot) I didn’t even run out of bobbin thread, so I happily closed it back up again quickly when I was done.

I’m finally mentally ready and excited to get back to my hall runner. (although I’ve promised myself I won’t start on it again until the finishing on the tea cozy is complete….out with my needle!)

Country Cottage progress

Well I’m almost finished the straight line hooking on the cottage.


There have been a few bumps along the way….the major one being with the yellow wool I’m using for the stucco. It was in two pieces, which seemed to be identical. But when I had used up the first, and went on to the second piece…low and behold there is a very slight difference in the colour! You can see the difference in this picture….It’s on the back along the top. Actually the two yellows are not as different in real light, as they appear in the picture.  I’m hoping with lots of vegitation applied over the bottom section it won’t be noticeable.


I’ve tried quite a variety of materials with the flowers. I used #3 cut for the stems of the centre and left vines, then tried crewel wool for the right hand shrub…..much easier to manage. I did the purple flowers using french knots, then added wool strips for the leaves. I used some feathery ribbon, and sprinkled in some specialty wools along the bottom, but the effect was lost, other than a bit of sparkle….not worth the effort.


I think I will use more of the crewel wool on the back, as it is the easiest to use, and yet creates a nice effect.

Portrait Necklace and Cottage Windows

I just had to show you a gift I gave my sister for Christmas. I didn’t make it… it was made by Cheri Hempseed, a very talented hooker in our group. She usually makes them with three people, but since I only have 1 sister…she made this especially for me, with details such as hair colour and eye colour carefully correct. Isn’t it precious!


I”m working away on the tea cozy, and  love the leaded glass windows in the cottage, but I was frustrated by the fact that the thread would not stay taut and sometimes separated. It is sewn through loops on the backside, and when I tried to pull it tighter, I only made it worse.


I’m rather pleased with myself that I thought up a solution which seems to be working nicely. I took my bottle of ‘Tackie Glue’ , put a dab on my finger, and gently patted the strands of thread to glue them together and make them stiff. I like the windows much better now…..tackie glue is rather like the rug hooker’s duct tape!

Hooking a thatched roof

I think indecision must be my middle name. I had chosen wool for the thatched roof, but as I got ready to begin hooking it and took the wool out, I realized that having changed the body of the cottage to a pale yellow, the thatch is now too close in colour to the walls. I wanted more contrast.  I looked at a variety of options in my wool supply, and (at least now as I prepare to start) I’ve decided on a sort of peach to rust swatch , with small amounts of yellow and brown, and little touches of a spot dye.


Well that was the colour palette I started with….now at the end of the evening, one side of the roof is finished, and I made several adjustments as I went along.The darker colours in the ‘peach/rust swatch were too powerful, and made it look more like tiles than thatch, so I took them out and used small amounts of dark brown for accent instead.


I used the 2  paler peach colours, and the darker yellow golds, plus the multi coloured spot dye, and added a gold/brown spot dye from my hall rug as well. I was very unsure of the whole thing while I was actually hooking it, but now that it’s finished, and I’ve had a chance to stand back and look at it from a distance for awhile, I think I’m pleased with it (at least for now).


It bares little resemblance to actual thatch, but provides the notion and is pleasing to my eye.

Since I’m just using wool from my stash for this project, I have to be careful not to run out of any colour that I need. There are 8 or 9 different shades in the roof, so to make sure I had enough for the other side, I used no more than half of each piece. I’m learning to plan ahead!!

Hooking a Chain Stitch Vine

I hooked the front steps of the cottage, again from the back side, using a hook-1 skip-3 pattern, but adjusting the repeats in each row to create a brick pattern. I used a brown plaid for this and quite like the cobbled effect.


The flowers over the doorway were hooked in clusters of three, and the leaves left with long loops. I studied the pictures in the magazine carefully, because the instructions said simply …use a chain, or daisy stitch for the vines. They were obviously on top of the hooked wall, so I used a 3 cut, and got out my fine bent hook. I hooked into the spaces between the rows, pulled up a long loop, then pulled up the next loop up a few rows of hooking and looped it through the previous loop creating the chain. I had to leave it all quite loose, so that it didn’t pull down into the hooked wall, but sat nicely on top. The flowers on the vine are simply 1 loop of a 6 cut which I twisted by hand to go in the direction I wanted. The foliage is long loops of a 3 cut which I then snipped at an angle.


Well I’ve satisfied my curiosity about some of the decorative flowers, so I’ll get back to hooking the stucco and beams for awhile.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. We really enjoyed having family here for the celebration, and of course I ate far too much…..but it was sooo yummy! The  house is quiet again today and we are enjoying the calm after all the activity. Time to put up my feet and hook!

Country Cottage Tea Cozy – started

As we all know, wool in the piece can look much different when it’s hooked. I’d already discarded one set of colours for the cottage, but when I started hooking with the light beige for the body of the cottage, it took on quite a pinkish cast, and I didn’t like it. Then I tried an off white, which was too stark, and finally settled on a pale yellow which I finally like. I’m sure someone with more colour expertise could have avoided these stumbles, but for me it’s trial and error until I like the result.


I’ll just back up for a moment…to a prehooking incident, which was a learning experience for me.  Normally when transferring a pattern, I would start with the edges, and outline in the ditches to make sure it’s straight. Then I pin the fabric to the straight lines on my ‘tintest’ backing board, and carry on. This time I didn’t want to bother with hauling out the big board for such a tiny piece (besides the living/dining room is decorated for Christmas), so I tried to do it just on the kitchen table. I never realized before just how much stretch there is in the linen, and was perplexed when the lines of the pattern were way off kilter with the base lines on the linen. I solved the problem by drawing the outside vertical and horizontal lines of the cottage directly on the linen using the ditches, then pinning the pattern to these lines. I think I have a straight pattern now.


The close up picture shows two ‘special effects’. Both are hooked from the back.I’ve seen this done before, but it’s the first time I’ve tried it. The window panes are just hooked normally, except from the wrong side (gives depth), then I did the ‘lead glass effect” using a double strand of heavy black thread. The door is done in “barn board stitch” again hooked on the wrong side…the pattern being…hook 1 skip 3 (sounds like a knitting instruction!)

One of the reasons I so enjoy hooking, is that it satisfies my lack of patience…I can jump around, trying the special effects doing bits of this and that…unlike knitting…where if I must knit 5,000 rows of stocking stitch before the fun stuff, I’m stuck with it! I can’t wait to try some of the flowers and vines….they are hooked on top of the existing hooking…I’ve been studying the pictures in the magazine, plus the instructions…this will be totally new for me. I think I may have to go down to a 3 or 4 cut for them.

Preparing to Hook a Country Cottage Tea Cozy

While at my hooking meeting last Tuesday, I was given a copy of a craft magazine I’d never seen before. It’s a Canadian publication called ‘A Needle Pulling Thread’.  It features a wide variety of fabric arts, but had one article on rug hooking with a delightful tea cozy pattern. It immediately took my fancy…and I decided it would be my next project. (thanks Jean)


The first chore was to enlarge the pattern. Instructions say ‘enlarge to 160%’ . My printer has a photocopy aspect…but it has no enlargement feature, so I took it to Staples to blow it up. I like this pattern for a number of reasons, but one is because the cozy is drawn end to end The roof of the front runs into the roof of the back, so there are only side seams to sew together. It also suggests a number of speciality stitches which I have never tried…so I’m looking forward to that as well.

I’m thinking about the wool I’ll use. It won’t require large amounts of anything, so hopefully I can find what I need in my stash. Although I’ve read the instructions several times, nowhere do I see a cut size mentioned. It looks quite small to me, But I think I’ll try it with a #6, at least to start, and see how it looks.


My initial idea for a colour palette, was based on a light beige/grey for the body of the cottage, and a dark brown (which had purple in it), which was a dye error, for the frame. I had picked up an array of muted grey pinks and mauves, which I thought would work well for the flowers. However, when I assembled the wool together, it was totally ‘dead’, so I started again.


This time I chose a light yellow/tan for the walls, and a red/brown tweed for the frame. I felt it had life and vitality. I added a swatch of yellow to browns, plus some rust and a spot dye to use for the thatch, and a variety of spot dye’s and  worms from a part of the Severn Sunset for the flowers. I’m happy with these colours at this point.

The tree is up, Christmas shopping is done…but the house is full of workmen installing a new furnace, so I’m going to stay out of the way, and spend the afternoon hooking.