Zen pizza.

Working on my hooked pizza is the closest I’ve come to wanting to cook food.  It has been so hot and humid here in south central PA that the thought of cooking and creating more heat is out of the question. Having grown up in NJ, I should be used to hazy, hot and humid, but it’s a bit too early in the season for this.

I mentioned last week that I’m using some of my many decks of divination cards to enhance my meditation and creativity.  I had drawn three cards, which were really perfect.  Angel of Painting; Whirlwind; and Orange.  The Angel of Painting depicts my love of painting with wool, Whirlwind tells me that I need to mix things up and not be focused on one particular project, and Orange has long been my power color, which means Creative Energy.  I will meditate on these three cards until I feel I need a fresh pick. 

Starting with my pizza toppings, I cut two wools for the standing-wool pepperoni using an 8.5 cut.  One wool is dyed a dark rusty-red and the other is a plaid wool over-dyed a similar, but paler, color.  I want them a bit taller to stand out among the rest of the pizza toppings, which will be in an 8 cut.  At least, I think so at this point.  I don’t plan every detail out ahead of time.  I like to see how things look as I hook along.  It makes the journey fun.

I finished my Resistance Rug #1 this past week.  I whipped it with a charcoal grey wool yarn with white slubs in it.  It’s a Lopi yarn, which is my favorite yarn for whipping.  It has a soft twist and fuzziness, which might not appeal to everyone, but with experience, we each find what works best.  As always, I used cotton clothesline to give the edge a nice fullness. 

I just put this rug pattern on the SHOP page of my website.  There will be another Resistance Rug in the near future.  

There’s a lot of beauty out there and in a variety of design projects.

My three cards and the zen pizza.  The pepperoni are finished and hand-sewn in place.

My three cards and the zen pizza.  The pepperoni are finished and hand-sewn in place.

If you'd like to hook your own Resistance Rug, this pattern is now available on the SHOP page of my website.

If you'd like to hook your own Resistance Rug, this pattern is now available on the SHOP page of my website.

Filling a creative void.

You know how “they” say you shouldn’t grocery shop when you’re hungry, because you’ll buy everything in sight?  Well, the same might be said for rug hooking.  I had just cut into this pretty and colorful pizza, when I had to grab my iPad to take a photo.  I knew I had to represent this pizza in a hooked rug piece.

A while ago, I made another hooked pizza, which was actually in the June/July/August 2016 issue of Rug Hooking Magazine.  I had such fun hooking that one with the standing wool pepperoni.  I gave that one away in a mat swap and it left me feeling hungry.  A few of my friends are very tired of hearing me whine about that pizza, so I’m sure they will be happy to know that I’m going to hook a replacement.

The super secret rug that I will be starting soon is also food oriented.  Is there a theme emerging or am I just hungry?

I thought I would be finished with the hooking of my Resistance Rug #1this past week, but I didn’t quite accomplish it.  One thing I dislike to hook is lettering.  It’s not so much hooking the letters as hooking around the letters.  But with perseverance, I will finish this rug this week. 

Looking to amp up my creative juices, I brought out my many decks of divination cards and I’ve started using them again as meditation tools.  By drawing one card from several decks and meditating on them to find a thread of meaning that runs through them, I can form a creative narrative.  It’s hard to put into words, so maybe I’ll try to say it better next week with some photo examples.

There’s a lot of beauty out there and in the simple things around us.

My dinner that inspired the design for a future hooked piece.

My dinner that inspired the design for a future hooked piece.

This is my original hooked pizza that I gave away.  It looks pretty yummy.

This is my original hooked pizza that I gave away.  It looks pretty yummy.

Here's a black and white photo of Resistance Rug #1.  Almost finished.....

Here's a black and white photo of Resistance Rug #1.  Almost finished.....

Feeling Earth bound.

Sunny and cloudy mountains, a vineyard, a downtown full of unique restaurants and shops, some sips of Lithia water, and grandparents’ day at granddaughter Lucy’s school = my time in southern Oregon.  My trip went by much too fast.

It’s wonderful to get away and also wonderful to return home. This week I hope to finish my Resistance Rug #1.  I found some embellishments for Resistance Rug #2 while I was away, so finishing that rug comes next.  Then what?  I have some ideas for a series of Earth rugs, which I need to bring forth. Sometimes designs give life to themselves and an artist is just the conduit. 

There’s a lot of beauty out there.

I never tire of looking at Grizzly Peak.  Here it is as a storm approaches. The sky had an eerie yellow cast to it.

I never tire of looking at Grizzly Peak.  Here it is as a storm approaches. The sky had an eerie yellow cast to it.

While enjoying a bit of Oregon's grape we witnessed a controlled burn on the mountains.

While enjoying a bit of Oregon's grape we witnessed a controlled burn on the mountains.

I love to see the organized rows of grape vines. Oregon's climate makes for some delicious grapes and wines made from them.

I love to see the organized rows of grape vines. Oregon's climate makes for some delicious grapes and wines made from them.

The town of Ashland is known for its natural lithia water springs. It does come with a warning, however.

The town of Ashland is known for its natural lithia water springs. It does come with a warning, however.

The lithia water public fountains are always bubbling. Lithia water has a sulfurous taste.  Not pleasant, but worth a try.

The lithia water public fountains are always bubbling. Lithia water has a sulfurous taste.  Not pleasant, but worth a try.

Going to my happy place.

I’m flying to Oregon today to visit my son, daughter-in-law, and adorable granddaughter, Lucy.  I can’t wait to see them.  Spending almost a week out there is worth the forever-long trip each way.  Three flights on United!  Isn’t (or wasn’t) their motto, Fly the Friendly Skies of United?  One can only hope.

Oregon is such a beautiful place with a variety of ecosystems.  I will share some of the sights and adventures with you next Monday unless, of course, I don’t take any photos.  I prefer to enjoy the sights without the layer of a camera lens in the way, but we shall see. 

I have hooked a bit more on Resistance Rug #1.  I like how it’s going.  There will be a border around it with wording, so there will be more to share as I go along.  I’m not rushing through this rug.  Actually, the monochromatic background is tricky.  I have an app on my iPad that takes black and white photos (bwCamera is the name of it) and I’ve been using that to take photos of the rug as I go along. It helps me see where I have to make corrections and how the values are working to create contrast.

I am proud to say that I know an Earth Warrior, who marched in Washington DC in support of the importance of Science and the health of our planet.  I think that deserves a rug design and I will be thinking on that.

There’s a lot of beauty out there on this planet we call, Mother Earth.

This will be my view when I get to my son's home later today.  Grizzly Peak, Ashland, Oregon.

This will be my view when I get to my son's home later today.  Grizzly Peak, Ashland, Oregon.

I'm making headway on Resistance Rug #1.  More hooking and changes to come.

I'm making headway on Resistance Rug #1.  More hooking and changes to come.

Two names pulled from the dye pot.

TWO lucky winners this week!  The new book, Needle Felted Tapestries by Neysa Russo [©2017 Stackpole Books] elicited entries from many hopeful fiber enthusiasts, whose names were added to the dye pot.  The two winners are Laura S., who said, “This looks interesting. My felting experience is limited, so should be good.” And Connie B., who commented, “That sounds like it would be so much fun and bring out the creative juices in all of us.”  Congratulations to you both.  I’ll email you for your mailing addresses.

Fiber folks are a curious bunch, who love to learn new techniques.  This book will give them many exciting ideas.  Thanks to Stackpole Books for the giveaways.

I’ve continued to make progress on my Resistance Rug #1, which depicts Dorothy and Toto looking out over the new American landscape.  Contrary to Dorothy’s experience of landing in Oz, where everything is in dazzling color, this landscape is all in shades of black and white.  What to make of it? 

I’m hooking another rug titled, Resistance Rug #2, which I will show at a later date.  So far, the hooking is progressing well, but I want to add elements to it and that will take some time to ponder.

A third piece that I’m about to begin is another “super secret rug”.  I know this is worthy of a sigh and a shoulder shrug, because I can only mention it and not show it.  This means that I need to start something that I can hook and show as I go along.  My supply of hooking mojo is still somewhat low, but with determination I shall persevere and come up with a new design.

There’s a lot of beauty out there and in fiber in all of its forms.

Two wooly book winners. Congratulations!

Two wooly book winners. Congratulations!

Another book giveaway!

Yes, it’s true. I love doing book giveaways and there are so many exciting new books on the market!

I’m going to give away TWO copies of the just released new book titled, Needle Felted Tapestries by Neysa Russo [© 2017 Stackpole Books]. For those of you who love to needle felt and those who would love to learn how, this is a book filled with designs, ideas, and all the practical information you need.

In her book, Neysa has included not only how-to information on her variety of two- and three-dimensional projects, but she also gives directions on how to wet felt wool and exactly what tools you need. She even suggests how you can make some of the tools to make your projects picture perfect.

The designs and projects in this book are really charming.  Neysa gets some of her inspiration from antique textiles, samplers, embroidery, needlepoint, and Middle East rug designs. I can imagine many of them not only as needle felted pieces, but also as hooked rugs.

There’s a lot of beauty out there and in the creative designs and needle felted process of Neysa Russo.

BOOK GIVEAWAY:  I am excited to have TWO copies of Needle Felted Tapestries- Make Your Own Woolen Masterpieces, by Neysa Russo [©2017 Stackpole Books] to give away.  To get your name in the drawing, please leave a comment at the bottom of this blog post on my website.  Be sure to sign in to leave your comment, so I will have your email address to contact you if you win.  [Your email address will not be used for any other purpose].  The drawing will be held on Sunday, April 23, 2017 at Noon [EDT].  I will announce the lucky winner in my blog on Monday, April 24, 2017. Good luck!

Get your name in the dye pot for a chance to win this new book!

Get your name in the dye pot for a chance to win this new book!

Progress in West Virginia.

This past weekend I was in West Virginia at Susan Feller’s Retreat Into the Mountains. This was Susan’s tenth anniversary of hosting a group of rug hookers for a weekend of learning, sharing, and inspiration.  I drove down with the other two Maggie’s Meyvns. Rug hookers don’t travel light, so my Forester was filled to the gills.

This weekend is set in a beautiful woodsy area with a rushing stream and trails to walk into the woods.  It is a perfect place for reflection and recharging the creative batteries.  Thank you, Susan, for another wonderful visit to your part of the world.

I took my Resistance Rug to work on.  I had already hooked Dorothy and Toto in color and left the background to work on while there.  The background will be done in monochromatic black and white, the opposite of what Dorothy discovered when she arrived in Oz.  I am posting a photo of it below with a caveat to “enter at your own risk”.  My political viewpoint is really not so radical, just another way to look at the new reality in our country.  I will post more from the Retreat Into the Mountains next Monday.

Also next Monday, I will be doing another book giveaway.  Really!  This is another brand new book from Stackpole Books, so be sure to read my blog then and add a comment to it.

There’s a lot of beauty out there and the rural mountains of West Virginia.

enter.jpg
Many hours of hooking produced the beginning of the background.  I also hooked lots on my second Resistance Rug, which I will share in a few weeks or so.

Many hours of hooking produced the beginning of the background.  I also hooked lots on my second Resistance Rug, which I will share in a few weeks or so.

A book winner and why "Art is more than just pretty pictures".

What a great response to my giveaway of the new book, Coils, Folds, Twists, and Turns by Tracy Jamar [© 2017 Stackpole Books].  This is truly an exiting book and I know the lucky winner will be as inspired by it as I have been.  It has given me a creative idea for my next super secret rug.

The winner is [drum roll please…] CINDY, who said, “Looks like an exciting fiber book. Thanks for the opportunity to win!  Congratulations, Cindy, I will contact you for your mailing address and have this book sent your way.

I have hooked more of my Resistance Rug and will do the background at Susan Feller’s Retreat Into the Mountains [WV] this coming weekend. I’m looking forward to this relaxing and rejuvenating weekend spent with other creative rug hookers.

Apparently, posting a photo of my Resistance Rug on one Facebook rug hooking group may have offended some people and it was taken off.  I’m not upset by that, just disappointed. and a bit confused.  “Art is more than just pretty pictures”, as I often have said.  I actually think my Resistance Rug is pretty attractive.

One example of this is Picasso’s, Guernica [1937], which I saw many years ago in NYC.  It is probably Picasso's most famous work and political statement.  It was painted in response to the Nazi's devastating bombing practice on the Basque town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. The tortured figures of both humans and animals create a very disturbing and chaotic scene. The large size of this piece [11'5" tall and 25'6" wide] makes the viewer become part of it. I’ve never forgotten standing in front of it and the effect it had on me.

I will show more of my Resistance Rug in a week or two with a caveat for those easily offended. For those of you with a sense of humor, I do want to give a link to the incredibly creative fiber work of Salley Mavor, who has also ventured into the political arena with her Wee Folk Players. Visit her website for a world of her small handmade folks. 

There’s a lot of beauty out there and in using one’s Art to make a statement.

Thanks to all who entered the drawing.  I actually have ANOTHER BOOK to giveaway in a week or two, so stay tuned.

Thanks to all who entered the drawing.  I actually have ANOTHER BOOK to giveaway in a week or two, so stay tuned.

Guernica by Pablo Picasso 1937.  Black, gray, and white oil painting on canvas.

Guernica by Pablo Picasso 1937.  Black, gray, and white oil painting on canvas.

Another fantastic book giveaway!

A new book by Tracy Jamar, Coils, Folds, Twists, and Turns [© 2017 Stackpole Books] is out and it is filled with amazing eye candy and projects to up your rug hooking/fiber craft game!

The title says it all. Tracy shows you how to use these varied techniques to add interest, depth and excitement to your fiber projects. I personally love her coiled and standing wool projects. The instructions are all in the book and I can’t wait to get started. But then I flip the page to a shirred project and I am smitten again. And mixed techniques, too. Tracy also includes a gallery of incredible work by other fiber artists. These photos are sure to inspire you. I love this book!

If you would like to get your name in the dye pot for a chance to win this book, you have until noon on Sunday.  Good luck and thanks to Stackpole Books for offering this giveaway book.

There’s a lot of beauty out there and in the creative fiber techniques of Tracy Jamar.

BOOK GIVEAWAY:  I am excited to have a copy of Coils, Folds, Twists, and Turns by
Tracy Jamar [© 2017 Stackpole Books] to give away.  To get your name in the drawing, please leave a comment on this blog post on my website.  Be sure to sign in to leave your comment, so I will have your email address to contact you if you win.  [Your email address will not be used for any other purpose].  The drawing will be held on Sunday, April 2, 2017 at Noon [EDT].  I will announce the lucky winner in my blog on Monday, April 3, 2017. Good luck!

Enter to win this excellent new book.

Enter to win this excellent new book.

Hook-in inspiration.

Saturday was the annual Woolwrights’ hook-in.  As always it was a fun, well-run and inspiring event.  Thanks to all the members of the Woolwrights group, who worked hard to make it a great day.

There were many excellent vendors, so the first order of the day for me was to shop!  Although I didn’t have a particular future design in mind, I managed to buy some beautiful dyed wool from Jan Cole, The Wool n’ Gardener.  I also bought a new Hartman prim hook from the Green Mountain vendors, because I have actually worn down the end of the one I’ve used for years.  The new hook is identical to the old one, so it has a wonderful, familiar feel to it.

It was great to finally meet Lori Brechlin and her daughter, Hannah, in person.  Facebook is great for making virtual friends, but there is no substitute for the real thing.  I’m looking forward to seeing Lori at Sauder Village Rug Hooking Week this coming August.

I actually did some hooking on a new, possibly controversial, project.  I think I have to get several of these designs out of my mind and onto linen.  Maybe that will unleash my creativity again.

Below are a few photos of the hook-in.  I did take pictures of some of the rugs on display, but I didn’t note the name of the hookers/designers, so I am not sharing them here.  I am not a big picture-taker, because I prefer to experience things “in the moment”

There’s a lot of beauty out there and in a room filled with happy rug hookers.

The beginning of my new design. More to follow.

The beginning of my new design. More to follow.

Lin Keller, a quilter and rug hooker, finished her log cabin design rug. Isn't it gorgeous?  It looks like sunlight is streaming across it.

Lin Keller, a quilter and rug hooker, finished her log cabin design rug. Isn't it gorgeous?  It looks like sunlight is streaming across it.

There was an abundance of dyed wool at this hook-in.

There was an abundance of dyed wool at this hook-in.

More eye candy...

More eye candy...

These colors are so exciting and chase away any residual winter blues.

These colors are so exciting and chase away any residual winter blues.

A book winner announced and a project finished.

There was a large and enthusiastic response to my giveaway for the book, Hooked Carpetbags, Handbags & Totes (© 2017 Ampry Publishing LLC and presented by Rug Hooking Magazine).  It seems that I am not the only one who wants to make something beautiful and practical.

As always, the names were put into the dye pot, shuffled around profusely, and the lucky winner was pulled out.  It’s Estelle Vickery, who commented, “The very book I need. The hooking is easy, it’s the finishing part that intimidates me.”

Congratulations, Estelle, I will contact you for your mailing address and get this book on its way to you. Get ready to start creating all sorts of bags.

I showed the beginnings of my iPad carry case a couple of weeks ago and I’m delighted to say that it is finished.  I got a lot of hooking done on it while I was away at a quilters’ retreat (every gathering needs a few good hookers) and finished it up when I got home. The leather strap and the magnetic closure that I had bought a couple of years ago worked out perfectly.  Now Tinkerbell2 (my iPad) will travel in style.

As happy as I am to have completed the carry case, I now have to design another project.  I’m still struggling with getting my mojo back. I guess this happens to artistic types, but this has gone on way too long. I need a visit from the Muse! I will be reaching out to Her this week. Maybe she needs more chocolate.

There’s a lot of beauty out there and in the enthusiasm of rug hookers everywhere.

Here's the "day" side of Tinkerbell's carry case and the beautiful Harris Tweed wool that I used for the lining.

Here's the "day" side of Tinkerbell's carry case and the beautiful Harris Tweed wool that I used for the lining.

Tinkerbell showing off the "night" side of her carry case.

Tinkerbell showing off the "night" side of her carry case.

A book giveaway and a secret revealed.

There’s a great new book out that is filled with thirteen amazing rug hooking projects.  It’s titled, Hooked Carpetbags, Handbags & Totes, presented by Rug Hooking Magazine and published by Ampry Publishing LLC. 

The range of bags makes this book perfect for the beginner or seasoned rug hooker. Whether you want to replicate the designer’s bag or use it as a stepping off point for a design of your own, the instructions will help you turn your hooking into something useful and beautiful.

The designers included are Ali Strebel, Nola Heidbreder, Linda Pietz, Jennifer O’Malley, Norma Batastini, Sharon A. Smith, Cindy Irwin, Susan Clarke, and Jen Manuell. Each of these women has given her own creative spin on a bag that would be fun to make and carry. And I'm proud to know Kathleen Eckhaus, who photographed the finished bags for this book! See below for how to enter to win this book!

I received the latest issue of Rug Hooking Magazine [March/April/May 2017] and I can finally reveal one of my super secret rugs. My Aesop fable rug, The Golden Egg, is featured. I had so much fun hooking this piece and including some “other” fibers and techniques.

BOOK GIVEAWAY:  I am excited to have a copy of Hooked Carpetbags, Handbags & Totes [© 2017 Ampry Publishing LLC and presented by Rug Hooking Magazine] to give away.  To get your name in the drawing, please leave a comment on this blog post on my websiteBe sure to sign in to leave your comment, so I will have your email address to contact you if you win.  [Your email address will not be used for any other purpose].  The drawing will be held on Sunday, March 12th at Noon [EDT].  I will announce the lucky winner in my blog on Monday, March 13, 2017. Good luck!

There’s a lot of beauty out there and in hooking something fun, beautiful and useful.

Enter to win this excellent new book!

Enter to win this excellent new book!

The Golden Egg is featured in the March/April/May '17 issue of Rug Hooking Magazine. Pattern available on my Shop page.

The Golden Egg is featured in the March/April/May '17 issue of Rug Hooking Magazine. Pattern available on my Shop page.

What's in a name?

I don’t know about you, but I like to name inanimate objects that I rely upon. My car is named BC (Big Car), my GPS is Tiffany Amber, my old iPad is Tinkerbell, and my new iPad is Tinkerbell2. Is that weird? I don’t think so.

I just bought Tinkerbell2 and decided to hook a nice carry case for her. I had bought a long leather strap for a purse that I planned to make a couple of years ago, but never got around to it, so now is the time to use it for Tinkerbell2. I’m a big fan of making something useful. I have enough rolled up rugs in my studio closet, thank you very much.

Since Tinkerbell is a fairy, I designed a case with a woodland theme. I have wanted to do toadstools for a while, so this will satisfy that urge. The case will be folded up from the bottom and one side will be nighttime and the other daytime.  I’ll keep the whole thing simple and childlike. I have a beautiful piece of Harris Tweed for the inside. I’ll show more photos when it’s closer to being finished.

I’m heading off to a quilting retreat in a few days. I am not a quilter, but these ladies were nice to allow a few of us hookers to join in the fun. It will be a relaxing two days to hook, meet new friends, and maybe make a couple of new rug hooking converts. No harm in trying.

There’s a lot of beauty out there and in creating something useful for something named Tinkerbell.

I'm ready with my simple design and some wool choices. Should be a fun project! 

I'm ready with my simple design and some wool choices. Should be a fun project! 

This is what I see when I flip open my iPad cover. Hi, Tink!

This is what I see when I flip open my iPad cover. Hi, Tink!

Old dog. New tricks.

I was going to wait to bind my Snow Angel mat at the Woolwrights hook-in next month, but I needed something to work on this week.  I decided to crochet the wool yarn around the edges and then do something more to suggest snowflakes. 

I single crocheted around it just fine, but when I tried to do the “fancy” stitches, I had a heck of a time.  I must have started, ripped out, and restarted ten times.  What a pain!  I finally finished it and had to say, “Good enough”.  Not every thing I hook is a masterpiece. 

It did reinforce the fact that I love binding using cotton clothes line.  It gives a really nice neat finish.  I’ve posted a photo below of a previous rug being bound this way.  I’m a believer that if you find something that works, stick with it.  I’m an old dog.

Now it’s time to find a new rug to hook.  As always, I do have a super secret rug to design, but I need something I can show as I work on it.  I have an idea and will try to get it started this week.

A good friend visited me this past weekend.  She moved away, so it was great to see her and we spent some fun times running around to our favorite local haunts.  Now it’s time to get back to work.

There’s a lot of beauty out there and in spending time with an old friend.

The completed Snow Angel rug with its fancy edging.

The completed Snow Angel rug with its fancy edging.

This is my preferred method of binding.  The linen edge is rolled over cotton clothes line, basted in place and then whipped with wool yarn.

This is my preferred method of binding.  The linen edge is rolled over cotton clothes line, basted in place and then whipped with wool yarn.

Creating color.

This was a good week for finishing my super secret project.  I dyed three beautiful pieces of wool with what I call the Primary Dye Job.  It’s a succession of dyeing the wool first blue, then red, and then yellow.  You end up with an amazing piece of wool with not only the primary colors, but also the secondary colors.  What a fun way to dye.  I have posted a photo of the back of my project.

Also this week was the opening of an art show at the Perry County Council of the Arts Gallery in Newport PA.  The theme is “Off the Page”, featuring pieces inspired by books, poetry and other writings.  I entered two of my Aesop Fables pieces: The Fox and the Crow and The Fox and the Grapes.  The opening reception was on Friday night and a nice sized group of interested people showed up.

I’m saving the binding of my Snow Angel rug to do at the Woolwrights Hook-In next month. This hook-in is lots of fun and such a busy day filled with seeing friends, networking and shopping.  I like taking something that doesn’t require much thinking or the lugging of lots of equipment, so binding a rug is perfect.

My home is always filled with hearts, and below are some photos of them in honor of St. Valentine’s Day tomorrow.  I “heart” hearts!

There’s a lot of beauty out there and in the heart of my home.

The back of my super secret project showing the Primary Dye Job.

The back of my super secret project showing the Primary Dye Job.

The Fox and the Crow.

The Fox and the Crow.

The Fox and the Grapes.

The Fox and the Grapes.

A heart quilt hooked piece.

A heart quilt hooked piece.

More hearts because I love them!

More hearts because I love them!

Letting off steam.

Recently on Facebook, I posted a photo of one of my rugs and a rug hooker commented that she wished her loops could be as even as mine.  I felt that I had to confess and tell her that my loops are definitely not even, but that a really good steam pressing can help a lot.

I finished hooking my Snow Angel mat this week and I thought I could use it as an example of what my lumpy bumpy loops look like before and after a steam pressing.   I’m sure many rug hookers have their own favorite way to do this important step before binding, but this is how I do it.

I use the countertop on my kitchen island.  It is granite, but I’m sure another counter surface could work just as well or maybe even a bathroom tile floor.  An old beach towel is laid on the countertop and then I lay the rug with the back side up.  I take a white bath towel, wet it with cold water and wring it out.  The bath towel is laid over the rug and then I begin steaming with my iron.  The iron is placed on the bath towel, pressed down hard for about ten seconds, lifted and moved to the next area until the whole rug has been steamed.  I’m standing on a step stool at this point, so I can get good downward pressure.

The bath towel is removed and the beach towel, too.  I let the rug stay on the countertop for several hours until it feels pretty dry and then I flip the rug over and repeat this process on the top side of the rug.  In the photos below you can see the before and after difference.  It’s not perfect, but definitely better in the “after” photo.  The photos are not the best, but I tried to take them at the same distance and angle.  You can decide if my steam method makes a difference.

I have some ideas for the binding of this rug and maybe another fiber addition, so stay tuned.

There’s a lot of beauty out there and in taking the time to finish one’s rug properly.

BEFORE

BEFORE

AFTER

AFTER

BEFORE

BEFORE

AFTER

AFTER

BEFORE

BEFORE

AFTER

AFTER

A Rooster, a Dog, and a super secret project.

This past week I began my super secret project.  I started out slowly by dyeing some dark and mysterious wool for the background and drawing the design on linen.  I was going to stop there, but I got drawn into it and excited to see some early results.  This project will have a couple of different techniques in it and my beginning is looking good.  I wanted to keep going and it’s a good thing I did, because the deadline is approaching and I will need to take it to a photographer for some good photos.

It’s so hard to do a secret project and not be able to show photos of it as I work along.  This won’t be unveiled until August when it, and the other ones in the project, will be hung in the Sauder Village Rug Hooking Week show in Ohio. 

I hosted my Breakfast Club ladies this past Friday.  I always love a theme and this time it was a Chinese New Year. This is the Year of the Rooster.  Do you know what your Chinese zodiac animal is?  It depends on the year in which you were born.  I’m a Dog, which is perfect for me, who loves dogs and has four at the moment.  I’d love to adopt another, but I’m trying to be practical.

I found some great black and white graphics of the zodiac animals and printed out each friend’s animal and framed it.  It’s traditionally good luck to give money in a red envelope on the New Year, so I made envelopes and put a “dollar bill” chocolate bar in each one.   I love doing these details.  I served a chicken recipe and others brought some delicious potluck food to share.  I am blessed to have such a wonderful group of women friends and look forward to our gatherings each month.

There’s a lot of beauty out there and in the company of good friends.

The table is set for my Chinese New Year breakfast.

The table is set for my Chinese New Year breakfast.

A fun dye job for my super secret project.  I might use some of this vivid pink in the design, too.

A fun dye job for my super secret project.  I might use some of this vivid pink in the design, too.

A fork in the road.

As Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”  We all experience times when our plans are moving along nicely in a forward direction and then something or some things happen and we have to make a detour. 

I had planned on getting lots of hooking done on my Snow Angel mat, but that didn’t happen.  I did tweak it a bit with a thin line of dusky lavender hooking between the sky and the snow, which I think helps it a lot.  And I hooked more snow, using a wider cut and lighter tint as I move down to the foreground.   I think it adds interest to use different widths of strips in a piece.  The deadline for this mat is far in the future, so I’m not worried about finishing it.

Instead of hooking, I found myself sitting with a pair of knitting needles and two shades of pink yarn as I knitted furiously to complete five pink hats for friends attending the Women’s Marches in DC and Philadelphia.  It was a way for me to do my small part in this important event.  Not everyone was in favor of these hats, but they worked to create unity among those marching.

Another fork in the road was hearing that a good friend had to have emergency surgery.  I got out my big stockpot and proceeded to make her some chicken soup just like my mother used to make.  I haven’t made it in a number of years, but it’s like riding a bike.   I hope it will bring her warmth and comfort.

I’m hoping for some actual wintery weather with snow.  We have had unusually warm weather recently.  But there’s still February, which can bring the white stuff around here.

There’s a lot of beauty out there on life’s pathways, wherever they lead us.

A bit of progress on Snow Angel.

A bit of progress on Snow Angel.

A few of my favorite things.

Winter scenes. Hooking a sunset or sunrise sky.  Hooking snow. 

I have begun hooking my Snow Angel piece for the Magdalena Rug Hookers group project.  I might not be the only one doing a snow angel design and, if so, it will be fun to see how we each interpret it.

I think the best pieces of wool in my stash are the spot-dyed ones that I have dyed or bought.  The random splashes of color make any hooked rug interesting to look at.  I’ve used many spot-dyed noodles in this sky.  As we all know, it doesn’t matter how many noodles/worms we use, it doesn’t make a dent in the supply on hand.  It’s one of the great mysteries of rug hooking.

This Snow Angel piece isn’t very big, just 16” x 22”, so I should be finished in a week or so.  At that point I will explain how I block and finish my rugs and what a big difference a good blocking can make.  This was a suggested topic by Lucy Richard of Wooly Mason Jar fame and I’m happy to do it. 

I’ve written about how I bind the edges of most of my rugs.  If you’re interested, you can read that blog here.

I’ll be starting on my next super secret rug any day now.  I feel the deadline looming.

There’s a lot of beauty out there and in hooking a few of my favorite things.

A sunset sky and snow wool for the Snow Angel mat.

A sunset sky and snow wool for the Snow Angel mat.

Background check.

Well, plaid, actually.  I’ve been hooking on my New Years Underfoot rug and I’m more than halfway finished.  This rug is 99.5% background.  Do you like doing backgrounds?  I don’t mind it, although I usually have “things” in the background, which make it more interesting.

I’m using a muted plaid here and cutting it in a wide #8.5 cut.  I love this cut for showing off the colors in the wool.  In this plaid, the strips are a muted yellow, blue, tan or orange, which add lots of interest and movement.  My usual background technique is to outline random odd shapes and then fill them in.  The shapes look best if they’re not too small and fussy.  There is also a sense of accomplishment as each shape is filled in.  Small goals, I know, but I’ll take what I can get.

I did manage to dye several shades of blue-green wool for snow and a nice piece of flesh-colored wool using Lucy Richards’ Wooly Mason Jar dye system.  Her system is all thought out for me, which is a huge help.  Thanks, Lucy!  The snow wool is for my Snow Angel mat and the flesh colored wool is for a super secret project. 

Speaking of snow, I have an article in the current Jan/Feb 2017 issue of Rug Hooking Magazine about the color of snow at night and the Purkinje effect.  If you don’t get the magazine (I recommend it highly!), you can go to Rug Hooking Magazine’s website and find my article there.  It’s titled, The Night Visitor.

Yes, the Muse has arrived and has goosed me into action.  I have several rugs to hook that have deadlines, so I’d better get busy!

There’s a lot of beauty out there and in hooking a useful rug for those snowy shoes and boots by the back door.

The background wool before and after hooking.

The background wool before and after hooking.

The Night Visitor pattern is now available on the Shop page of my website.

The Night Visitor pattern is now available on the Shop page of my website.