Monday, July 7, 2008

Day 281 I spent the 4th hooking!

As promised, here is another picture of the rug. I made a lot of progress this weekend. Most of the progress is in the upper right hand corner. When I lug it back upstairs, I will hook more of the border this time. Once I decide that the hit and miss with the circles are at the right size, I will begin drafting out the major border. This will be roughly based on the Queen Anne Rose stair riser.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Hooking the circle border

Another post I found in my drafts file....

I am still in the middle of rug camp season. Three more classes and one family vacation (my parents' 50th wedding anniversary) and at the end of July I will be on my own for a while. In the meantime, I had a tiny bit of downtime this week so I worked some more on the circle border. I reread my January 7 post where I first introduced the circle border. Why did I say that I ruled out an all black background? Hmmmm.....

Several students have expressed interest in hooking this type of design and have asked me to explain how I am hooking this border. So here goes....

Hooking the circles:
1. Set up the space to be filled by hooking a line of background down both sides. My lines are purposely NOT straight. I leave that explanation for another post.

2. Hook the first circle. I am not making them perfect circles on purpose, so no pattern, no template. I force the circle to touch one of background lines. I had already decided that there will be roughly two columns of circles.

3. Once the circle outline is hooked, I hook a partial second row with the same color. I want the circles to look lopsided.

4. Next I fill in with another color, with either a single row or another lopsided double row, depending on the size of the circle. Be sure to move the doubled up areas around.

5. Fill the remaining area with a third and final color. The size of my circles and the cut size determines how many colors I can use. I like the busyness of smaller circles and it keeps my color decisions easy.

6. Hook one row of the background color around the part of the circle that does not touch the row of background.

7. Hook the next circle so that it touches the row of background and one or more of the existing circles. Be sure to make it a different size. Fill it in as I did the first one.

8. Hook a row of background.

.... and repeat.

I find this method easier than drawing the circles in advance. When you draw them it is almost impossible to get them so that they are exactly one strip of background away from the next. I think this is what holds the design together - the consistent size of the surrounding background.

Pat's Project:
One of my studio students, Pat, brought her granddaughter and a friend to me for hooking instruction. They picked it up in no time flat. Both are Juniors in high school but looked like they had been hooking forever. They started out with a small square piece that I have most beginners start on. They had it done before their visit ended. They went home with a completely finished and bound piece -- and a new project to work on.

Pat's motivation for their lesson was insurance. She is beginning a large rug filled with these circles. With a large piece of backing and beginning in the center, she is hooking the circles. She even had the girls hook a few before they left. She figures that if she is not around to finish this rug, the girls are prepared to finish what they started.

Controlling the edge of a large rug:
When hooking a large rug, roll up the edges of the backing and baste them in place to keep them out of the way. On my large rug, I rolled the edge and basted it up, then rolled it some more and basted again. I figured this way, as the rug gets heavier and I need more space, I can let out the basting and the edge is still out of my way.

Ready for Sauder Village!

I finalized the pattern I will hook at Sauder Village. Sorry for the words plastered across the pattern, but this pattern is for sale and will be on Spruce Ridge Studio's website soon. It is called "Antique Rose Basket." The colors will be similar to my room-sized rug. I'll continue to hook with these colors and shapes until I get them out of my system. One difference is that the scroll around the outside will be hooked with paisleys. I am taking Anita White's class so I am looking forward to supplementing my stash. I bought some paisley in Manistee from Cynthia Norwood. I have never hooked with them before, so I will let you know how it goes in August.

I hooked most of the weekend, so I will try to take another picture on Monday.

To dye or not to dye.

I found this in my drafts. It was never posted.

I received a question and thought I would answer it in a new post.

I am a newbie to rug hooking, and have a slightly silly question. Do you buy undyed wool? Or do you over dye?

New rug hookers are often frustrated when their rugs do not look the way they want them to. As with any art or craft, your work is only as good as the materials you use to make them. For the scoop on rug hooking, a subscription to Rug Hooking Magazine is a must. Their website has been rewritten lately if you haven't visited in a while.

Rug hookers as a rule prefer hand dyed wool. You cannot create the same look with factory dyed wool. That does not mean that you have to dye the wool yourself. You can buy it from someone else, usually a teacher. You can find the teachers at workshops (and you find the workshops in Rug Hooking Magazine) or if you are lucky, you can find one in your local area. Use the McGown National Guild website as a starting point. They list teachers by state.

Some rug hookers prefer to dye their own wool. Be sure to get into dyeing because you love the process of making color. It is very physical. You must lift heavy pots filled with water and you are on your feet, often for hours. Do not get into dyeing because you are shocked at the price for dyed wool. When you dye your own wool, you have to “buy” all your mistakes as well as the final color. It often takes me four or five pots to match a particular color if I have to develop my own recipe. That experience will cost you much more than the price of hand dyed wool and you lost hours of hooking time that you can never get back.

If you decide to get into dyeing, order my book, Dyeing by the Numbers, from my website. It is a dye book with some recipes but the focus is on technique. I was unable to find this information anywhere else for my students. I started jotting down notes and it turned into over 60 pages of instruction. Order the Recipes From the Dye Kitchen PRO Chem starting kit and a few tri-pour beakers. The starter kit is not in the catalog, but PRO Chem assures me that it is still available. Use #SLINC, price is $10.95 as of May 27, 2008. It is a low cost way to get started. But read my book before you purchase anything else. I explain why I prefer stainless steel to the enamel pots that others prefer. I give you the facts on both sides and you decide for yourself which will work. It will save you years of experimenting or struggling with the wrong equipment.

Thanks for the question. If you are wondering about something involving rug hooking be sure to ask. Leave a comment here, or ask privately by contacting me through

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Day 275 Progress on border and scroll

The Manistee camp was great fun. I love the area. The lakes (Portage and Michigan) are beautiful and I cannot get enough. Wets my appetite for September in New Jersey at Cape May. Walking the beach before and after rug camp is a bit of heaven.

It seems impossible, but my last important post for this rug was Day 99. That was when I first tried the circle border. I hooked a bit on the main part of the center since then, but my time has been tied up with my website, teaching and packing.

The more I hook the circles, the more they belong. I will hook another foot or two before I begin to lay out the next border which will be based on the Queen Anne Rose stair riser (the top one). These patterns are available at Spruce Ridge Studios.

I tried to fill the spots in between the circles with multicolors and then with just one neutral. I think I like just dark for the background, so that is what I will continue to hook. You can never be sure what will work until you hook a bit and live with it or a while. 176 days are not usually required.