I have been making hooked art and rugs for many years. I love what I do. Every aspect of creating a piece is fulfilling. It is always exciting for me to watch an idea evolve from start to finish. At times, when I begin a piece it is just a shadow of an idea, but as I proceed, transferring the initial sketch to the linen backing, selecting the colors and textures of wool, to finally hooking.
This May, I finished my whale rug, Windrose Whale that I had blogged about in April. It was a delightful pattern to hook, and I’m excited to offer it at my ETSY shop. As I said before, the whale with the compass rose, floating roses and arching branches was a fun rug to create.
I had barely finished hooking Windrose Whale, when I got the idea to make another whale rug. I was curious. What if I used the exact SAME whale, but changed everything else. Could I create a totally different feel to this new rug.
That is how, Find Your Anchor, came to be. The whale is the same shape, but the color and hooking technique are different. This whale is hooked with darker wool, greens, blacks, browns and has a few directional lines running across his middle.
I was intrigued with the idea of making a very primitive hit-and-miss style background. The whale is a dark neutral, so there were a lot of color choices available for background colors. I am a sucker for using reds and greens, complimentary colors, with a wide range of neutrals. The more neutrals you use, in similar range of value to your colors, the murkier or softer the rug will be. The greens ranged from olive to khakis, the reds were red orange, maroon, with paisleys and textures to add more interest. The neutrals in the background are beige, dulled oatmeal, taupe and camel.
The whale was the central motif, but somehow the idea of an anchor within the design became just as important as the whale, and then, adding words seemed like a fun way to create balance to the piece and the hearts spouting from the blowhole helped to convey a heartfelt message….Find YOUR Anchor!
The red hearts originate at the whale’s blowhole and expand as they float with the current of the background. It was exciting to use the strong intense reds within the hearts, because the rest of the rug had limited hints of reds, so that the red would not take over the whole rug.
Finally, the anchor and lettering, used similar strong dark colors as in the whale to tie those central motifs to the rest of the rug!
I did a tunneling sort of outline around the whale and hearts and just a bit of the anchor with a narrow cut of the grayed oatmeal color. I liked how it made those motifs stand out more, and added a bit of quirkiness to the rug.
In the end, I am very pleased with both whale rugs, and really cannot choose which is my favorite. So perhaps you will decide to hook a whale with a compass rose to guide you, or a whale with an anchor to help ground you. Then that will become your own story of the Tale of Two Whale Tails!
Windrose Whale and Find Your Anchor are both available at my ETSY shop. Thank you!
With an upcoming workshop to teach in just two weeks, I should be dyeing wool, writing out lesson plans, getting organized. And, truth be told I am doing all that, but in between the cracks, I am designing and hooking this sweet whale rug! As I hook, I can think more clearly about what needs to be done. It is a win-win situation because I get a new rug design, and I get more focused on the other things I need to do. I have got a lot of lists on my clipboard.
With Windrose Whale, I am still making decisions about color and design. Up until yesterday, the second small scalloped border had been sidelined. I am so excited I decided to rework that idea and add it back in. It brings the whale colors out into the border without being overbearing. The subtle scalloped shape reminds me of waves on the beach, very fitting for a whale rug I think!
I am not sure if I will leave the stems of the arching branch in this soft value, or if I will change it and make it more bold. That is a decision that will wait until I am almost done. Sometime I like a motif to fade into the background. There is no rhyme or reason to that decision, really, it is just what seem to flow best with the main motif and overall balance and feel of the rug.
The whale was so fun to hook using non-directional, or messy hooking technique. I used my marbleized wool, hand-dyed and as-is wool. The way the colors blend makes me think he is coved with algae and barnacles. I love his happy, self-assured personality!
The name of the rug, Windrose Whale has a double meaning. The little magenta pink flowers, or roses represent wild-like roses that cover cottages on Nantucket, but also look very much like a Nootka Rose that grows in meadows and near coastlines here on the west coast.
I like the idea that whales migrate around the world, and always find their way home. Hence, the compass markings of N,S, E, and W. I had forgotten that the face of a compass is called a compass rose. I did not know of the other names for a compass, Windrose, or Rose of the Winds! I found either of those names a lovely, fitting description for this piece.
There are still a few openings for my workshop May 5th and 6th at Shelley Lencioni's of I Love Rug Hooking in Auburn, CA. She has included a super deal where you can stay overnight in her home for far less than a hotel. Check it out and come hook with us! I have beautiful marbleized and hand-dyed wool, and so many ideas I want to share with you! It will be a wonderful, cozy, magical rug hooking weekend!
Windrose Whale will be available for class participants upon request (whether I have finished it or not) as well as all other rug designs at my ETSY shop.
Praise Every Morning, size 28" x 50" is a rug I designed last summer that has taken me until now to finally complete. Up until a few days ago, I always referred to this as my "big rug". Usually, a name comes to me as I hook, or often before I even start. Yet with this rug, taking over nine months to complete, I was surprised that a name hadn't jumped out at me. Then I remembered backed to the summer when I was thinking about making a big rug.
As the ideas for my rug were coming together, there were several mornings when I would awaken with the song "Morning has Broken" dancing around in my head. The lyrics (praise every morning) now seem like a fitting, positive, uplifting name for this rug. Perhaps like many of you, I grew up loving this song, which was made popular by Cat Stevens, yet it is actually a hymn first published in 1931. The words are by English author Eleanor Farjeon and are set to a traditional Scottish Gaelic tune. Who knew?!
My design was inspired by an antique rug that had intriguing hit-and-miss sections along with flowers set within diamond shapes against a light greenish background.
I find it interesting that something as simple as hooking repeated hit-and-miss lines can create unity in a rug. I love how the hit-and-miss repetition keeps drawing my eye in, inspiring me to look longer and see more. The parallel and perpendicular lines are hooked in soft browns and golds on the straight of the grain. The diamond shapes are hooked a little quirky here and there to compliment the homespun feel of the rug.
Sweet birds, blooming flowers, bold roses, and vining hearts are the focal points within the diamonds that all come together creating a garden theme. I like to think that my little birds are "praising every morning" as they greet the day with song, flitting amongst the flowers in this hooked garden
Of course, my goal was to use up several of my already cut worms, but this never seems to be the reality for me. I was surprised that I didn't have too many worms left over, but I'm thinking I will have to find another way to design a rug if my goal is to use up wool worms.
I am so happy to finally have my "big rug" on the floor. The lovely soft colors, the hit-and-miss lines, the garden flowers and cheerful birds are reminding me to "praise every morning" too!
This pattern and other items are available in my ETSY shop.
These past few weeks I have been lucky enough to spend time in the dye kitchen experimenting with this wonderful dye technique. Marbleizing, the blending of colors onto wool that uses no dye. The technique was invented over 15 years ago by Karen Kahle of Primitive Spirit. I still remember the day she called me to come see the amazing results produced by having colors bleed out onto each other, using no powdered dyes. The wool was breathtaking. Now, years later, as I marbleize my own wool, I am still ridiculously giddy and inspired by the results as I take the wools off the stovetop and unroll them in the sink, seeing the magic unfold before my very eyes.
I think what I love most about marbleized wool is the varied color changes that wash over the piece of wool. The base layer can totally change in color depending on what wools were layered next to it. The colors can be soft and muted, or dramatic. Each piece of wool is so versatile because of the coloration, with warm and cool colors that flow over it. Marbleized wool is most often reversible, one side can be very different than the other. Marbleized wool is perfect for blending wools, for a background or motif, because of the depth in color. Those subtle color changes in marbleized wool can be the "bridge wool" that blends readily with other colors, values and texture as you create your hooked rugs.
Look at this soft and romantic color combination. I am envisioning a light background with pink budded roses and greens for leaves, reminiscent of an old quilt pattern.
This color combination might be used with a dramatic red barn, smokey grey sky, and furrowed fields. The possibilities are endless!
Currently I am marbleizing wool for two classes that I will be teaching this year. The first class this coming May, with Shelley Lencioni, of I Love Rug Hooking. It will be a two day workshop May, 5 and 6. There is still room in that class, and she has more information posted on her website at iloverughooking.com under "Classes". This will be a fun workshop, nestled away at Shelley's Auburn California studio. I'm excited to teach, share some new patterns, and my dyed and marbleized wool.
The other class is a four day workshop in September in Texas. That class is already full. I hope to have more marbleized and dyed wool to add to my Etsy shop and for vending at some local Hook-Ins. Wow, I better get back into the dye kitchen!
While I adore the results of marbleized wool, there is a lot of work that goes into choosing the wools, preparing and processing. It takes a long time to get the wools rolled, tied, twisted and up to proper temp, without over processing the wool. It really does seem like magic that this beautiful wool is created without adding dyes. However, my tired feet and stiff back are a good reminder that as in all good things, effort and hard work bring about good results, NOT the flick of a magic wand!
Please check back to my ETSY site for patterns, new designs coming, and I hope marbleized and dyed wool too. Thank you!
Valentine's Day seems like the perfect time to be reminded that, "love binds us"!
This phrase, "loves binds us" kept bouncing around in my head, as 2016 came to a close. So, of course, when an idea gets caught in my brain, I did what I always do. I pulled up loops and hooked it into art!
I like the simplicity of this design and the soft, romantic colors. The background was hooked with mellow greens, camels, gray and other neutrals. The outline of the hearts was hooked with sari silk. I liked the sheen of the silk, and the unpredictable way the loops lay, because of the differing widths of the silk. I used yarn as well, to add accents to the outline. The inner areas of the hearts were hooked with warm neutrals.
The three little separate squares are each 6" x 6". You can hook one or all three. This idea is a spin-off of my previous Heart Prayer Flag idea, but simpler in construction. Each little square is hooked and finished with a wool backing. A simple sari silk loop is attached to the top. At this point you can either use the loops to attach the little heart squares to a rope, or you can individually pin them to the wall.
This design, with all three heart patterns, is available as one PDF at my ETSY shop. So if you need to meditate on good things, creating this project will be a happy distraction. Once completed, this positive message will help remind you to focus on the positive, to breathe, to relax, to remember to find joy, because after all,...."love binds us"!
I like the idea that my first rug of 2017 has the message of love, doves and hearts! Doves Ascending is a hopeful way to begin the year don't you think!
The scrolling hearts were the original idea that brought me to my sketch book, the doves came later. However, for over a year now I have wanted to do a primitive style rug featuring doves, and some how, some way, the doves insisted on being part of this design.
Interestingly enough, last year, my first 2016 rug, was an antique reproduction that featured a dove. My new design, doesn't look anything like the antique one. My intent was not to copy the motifs of the antique rug, rather I wanted to recreate the feeling of peace with doves, and the feeling of motion by how the background was hooked. I had found those elements so inspiring in the antique rug.
The color plan is a simple complimentary color plan with reds, dirty greens and neutrals.
The doves, the "love" motif, and background are hooked with an 8 cut. The scrolling hearts are hooked with a 6 cut as is the background within the hearts.
I really enjoyed hooking each part of this composition.
I like how the doves seem to be flying upward, with the background "movement lines" hooked with the wool loops at an angle, seeming to push the doves along.
I hooked the doves in dirty whites and light to medium grey.
The word "love", seems grounding and significant placed at the bottom of the rug. I like to think, that the doves are carrying that message aloft, upward and onward. Notice how the red outline of the word, disrupts some of the flow of the inner part of the letters. I did that accidentally, but later chose to leave it like that because, well,...love isn't perfect.
The earthy green/brown background was the ideal foil for the red hearts. I found that hooking them in a 6 (or smaller cut could work too) was the best way to not have everything get too squished. There are three different, close in value reds that I used. Each line of the heart is a different red. That helped me not get confused as to what line continued where, as they scrolled and circled around to create the connecting hearts.
A friend suggested I offer three different variations of the rug. So there is the original design, Doves Ascending, that is 11" x 30". Two other variations feature the top half of the rug, Scrolling Hearts and Dove. Another variation, Love, Dove, and Hearts, with the lower half of the original rug. Those two designs measure 11"x 17 1/2". (See the listings at my ETSY)
Hooking this rug was very therapeutic for me these past few weeks. What can be better than practicing your craft, creating a rug, or wall hanging in which the colors, the motifs, the hooking technique all come together to make a design that sends out a positive, love-filled message.
I feel blessed!
Please visit my ETSY shop to see these new designs, or other hooking related items.
Also, I'm excited to say I will be teaching this September in Fredericksburg, Texas at Two Stars In Texas Rug Camp. Come hook with me!
When it comes to hooking, my guiding force has always been, "Hook what makes your heart sing!" Creating these Heart Prayer Flags does just that. Yet, perhaps you are wondering, just WHAT are Heart Prayer Flags? Let me explain...
Earlier this year, the idea came to me to create banners. We rug hookers are always thinking of new ways to use our rug hooking skills. We make all sizes of hooked rugs from very large to small. We make table mats, wall hangings, chair pads, stool covers, mug rugs, ornaments, tree skirts, standing hooked items and even little stuffed animals.
For me, the original concept of simply calling them banners, quickly evolved into calling them hooked Heart Prayer Flags, because the idea became much, much more than just a way to use up wool strips.
Hooking my Heart Prayer Flags, follows the custom of traditional prayer flags, that honor special events and to share blessings. The prayer flags send out a sort of prayer of peace, love, and kindness to spread out on the winds to the surrounding countryside. Instead of real winds blowing through my Heart Prayer Flags, the winds of creativity, flow through my hands to share, peace, hope, and love in a whimsical, happy sort of way, out into the universe.
I am offering two different sets of patterns at my ETSY shop, and you can order them two different ways. As an instant downloadable PDF and as PAPER patterns. The first pattern set is Heart Prayer Flags: St. Nicholas & Reindeer, with three designs. The second pattern set is the Heart Prayer Flags: Snowmen & Snowflake, also with three designs. There are several photos to aid in color selection, how to hook hints, and detailed instructions of how to assemble the Heart Prayer Flags.
Making these Heart Prayer Flags: St Nicholas & Reindeer is a fun, sweet way to herald in the holiday season!
I find it reassuring and cozy almost, to make these heart prayer flags to celebrate the homey feel of winter. Notice how in between the Heart Prayer Flags: Snowmen & Snowflake, the word S-N-O-W, is spelled out.
As an artist, I often use hearts as the main theme for a design. I love the idea that the heart symbol universally represent positive, encouraging and love-filled thoughts. Making these Heart Prayer Flags seems like a natural way to share love in a fun and playful way, all embedded with a heart, my favorite.
I plan to have many more Heart Prayer Flag pattern ideas to share in the new year. Stay tuned for Valentine's Day, Easter, Americana, encouraging words, nursery, baby animals, gardens, fall and Halloween,...Oh my, the list goes on and on. New designs will include this triangular shape, as well as squares and rectangles.
I cannot wait to see all the clever ideas you come up with in recreating these designs! These designs would be perfect for punch needle and wool appliqué too.
Please visit my ETSY shop today and get your Heart Prayer Flags, and start sending your creative, good vibes out into the universe too!
Making a small hooked mat is a perfect way to experiment with color. Maybe you are in-between projects yet feel the need to have wool and hook between your fingers, so you grab a small design and commence with the hooking. Perhaps you have a large pattern and want to experiment with the colors on a smaller scale, before you commit to using them in a large rug.
These scenarios were just the case for me, earlier this summer, when I was finishing a rug. If you are like me, you most likely have another project vying for your attention, before you have even completed the current one! I had a big rug design/idea in my head and sketch book yet I had not quite settled on the lay-out of the elements. I also had a couple of color ideas, inspired by antique rugs that I was trying to decide upon. So, picking up a small design to hook seemed like a good way to take care of my desire to hook, and to experiment with the design and colors.
As I hook a small mat, I am experimenting with many aspects of the rug. There are several questions I try to answer when I first begin to hook. It's not a stringent strict test, but more like an eye-opening exploration of ideas. A flow of give and take, a journey, with a hopeful open-mindedness on the road of discovery. There is a feeling of anticipation and excitement as I begin.
What design elements "work"? Do I want part of the motif to fade into the background. Should I use a thin strip or beauty line to outline an area of the motif to make it stand out more than another area? What wools do I want to use. Do the textures I hook with "read" darker or lighter once hooked? If I use an as-is texture, is there a dyed-wool or one of my marbleized wools that will also work with it or could be substituted to add interest and depth to the piece? Do the values of the wools reflect the feeling I am trying to achieve. Do I want my neutrals to lean to a warmer or cooler tint? What hooking techniques will I use? How about using hit-and-miss (as a way to use up already cut strips). Will non-directional hooking for the background be a viable choice as a way to give a naive-sort of look to the piece, and as a way to move color, or will I use a blending technique. Do I need to dye wool, or will my stash be enough to complete my rug with the color choices I am hoping to use? Do I want to finish the rug with a crocheted edge or a different finishing technique?
Below are some photos that show how I hooked some of these ideas into my mats.
My large, yet unnamed rug, is 28" x 50". I am excited to get hooking on it. I really had high hopes to use my already cut wool worms, as a way to deplete that ever growing pile. Yet, I have to confess, I suffer from an affliction of wanting "just the right color", so the dye pots are never far away in case I need to augment my wool supply.
These little color studies are so fun to hook! They can be used as home decor, wall hangings, mug mats, or to use as gifts or donations.
My latest design, Forget Me Not, was inspired by an antique rug. The original piece featured several flowers with a narrow border. I wanted to simplify the array of flowers, and add a geometric aspect to play off of the organic shape of those flowers. Above all, I wanted the design to look muted, time-worn, washed out, soft and faded. The large rose-like flower with the oversized leaf, surrounded by different flowers reminded me of a vintage-type postcard, which made me feel sentimental, hence the name, Forget Me Not.
Once I decided on offsetting the two large flower-filled squares, the diamond and triangle shapes surrounding those flowers followed! To add a geometric portion to border the flowing-flower shapes seemed so right. Maybe that is why we like fences with flowers planted alongside them, an arbor covered in roses, or a checkered pathway with a riot of flowers on either side. The uniformed with the unruly, the tame with the wild!
I knew I wanted the rug to look antique, instant OLD! This was achieved by using medium values for the background, flowers and diamonds, so that they blend into each other. I did use lighter and darker values with neutrals too, but I tried to use these sparingly. I found it interesting that the diamond/triangle shapes didn't need to be the same exact colors that were used in the flower portion, but rather, keeping them within a range of medium values was what mattered most to make the whole rug feel balanced.
The rug measures approx 20" X 40". The two squares of flower bouquets are similar but not exact replicas of each other. Drawing them slightly different and hooking them that way too was my way of knowingly adding some charm to the rug. The lines for the diamonds and triangles are also purposefully slanted or crooked in some spots to add a feeling of naïveté. The edges are drawn on the straight of the grain.
Forget Me Not, other patterns, and hooking related items are available at my ETSY shop
In the spring of 2014, three rug hookers, independent of one another, told me I should design a goat rug. And so I did! In this rug, Kids At Play, each goat represents them and their favorite flowers...trillium, hydrangea and the heavenly-scented sweet pea. I love how happy these goats are! It truly is a good day to be a kid!
For me, what is even better than designing a rug, is to get to see other rug hookers interpretation of my design. Below are photos of the beautiful rugs made by them. It is really inspiring to see how they make the design their own, whether through subtle color changes, or a totally different color plan. It is also interesting how some chose to make it more primitive or add more detail. One of the rugs, is an adaptation I made for a friend. Her sister had been gifted two goats to be companions for her lone horse. I love their names and this story! We adapted the rug's name too and called it, Boys At Play!
The rug hooking artists are in alphabetical order and the rug gallery that follows, reflects that order starting with Marie Beers, Kathy Burton, Joan Humen, Cathy Lanning, Maureen Lowrey, Lilly McIntyre, Patty Rogers (the adaptation) and Lois Sutton. Thank you Ladies! Beautiful Work! Seeing all of these cute goats makes me want to run out to a county fair to pet some kids! BTW, all three rug hookers who inspired this design, have a hooked rug included in this gallery.
Please visit my ETSY shop to see Kids At Play or other patterns and hooking related items.