7...6...5...4...3...

With the arrival of some early fall-like weather, I seem to be emerging from my annual summer heat coma.  This past week has been a whirlwind of hooking, crocheting, painting, and animal husbandry.

My Down to Earth meditation mat is coming along pretty well.  I only have two more petroglyph-inspired chakras to do. Hooking with a wide 8.5 cut of wool strips makes quick work of my hooking sessions.  I’m anxious to complete this mat and take it when I go to guided meditation.  Lying down while meditating is just about perfect for me.

Yesterday a group of Magdalena Rug Hookers spent a beautiful day at Fort Hunter in Harrisburg, PA.  Fort Hunter Day is when a variety of groups demonstrate their old-time crafts.  We enjoy showing interested folks how to pull loops.  It’s mostly the kids, who like to sit a spell and learn how to make a picture with wool, but we even had a man, Al!  He loved it.  This event also has great music, vendors, food, etc.  We always have a wonderful time.

I have been hooking toppers for a few small footstools.  I’m pleased with the results and I’ll share them with you soon.  I’ll see if I can put the finished hooked rugs and these footstools on the Shop page of my website.  I am still feeling the urge to purge!

There’s a lot of beauty out there and in sharing rug hooking with the public.

P.S.  I have added three finished hooked pieces to the Shop page of my website.

Down to Earth meditation mat is approximately 3' x 6'

Down to Earth meditation mat is approximately 3' x 6'

A winner revealed and a new season begins.

Thank you for all of the entries and comments in this book giveaway.  The lucky winner of Celebration of Hand-Hooked Rugs 27 [© 2017 Ampry Publications LLC / Rug Hooking] is Debbie Bryant, who said, “Hookin’ my way to Sauder”. Congratulations, Debbie!  I will contact you for your mailing address, so you can start enjoying this book filled with this year’s winning rug entries.

Although the month of August was still hanging on, I was in the mood for autumn.  I traditionally start with the fall decorations at the beginning of September, so this was pretty much on track this year.  I admit to having a bit of a glass bottle and jar fetish and use my large collection [hoard] of these to decorate around the house.  I just swapped out the beautiful “Mason jar blue” bottles for my beloved collection of brown glass.  I don’t know what it is about brown glass, but I love it!

A fellow autumn lover just ordered my Stack o’ Jacks pattern, which reminded me to rearrange the pattern photos on the Shop page of my website.  The most fall-like ones are shown below. 

I mentioned recently that I am in a major PURGE of things here at Crow's Foot Farm.  I do love my belongings, but it’s time to lighten the load.  It feels good. I will be selling a few of my finished rugs and will post them in my blog in a week or so.  I’m also busily hooking toppers for a few small stools that have been waiting way too long. 

There’s a lot of beauty out there and in living simply.  Less is more.

Stack o' Jacks 36" x 18"

Stack o' Jacks 36" x 18"

La Hora del Te  26" x 21"

La Hora del Te  26" x 21"

The Recipe  24" x 18"

The Recipe  24" x 18"

Fall Fields  22" x 19"

Fall Fields  22" x 19"

Barn Owl With Moon  28" x 38"

Barn Owl With Moon  28" x 38"

Creative Energy  28" x 12"

Creative Energy  28" x 12"

Summertime in full swing.

August is truly a summer month in every sense of the word.  The weather is hot, the gardens are bursting and we are enjoying a visit from our son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter, Lucy.  They live far away, so their visits are treasured.

Perry County, PA is a quiet place full of country vistas, Amish buggies, and a slower pace of life.  Our plans may include a trip to the safari park, swimming at the big pool at Buffalo State Park, a proper luncheon at a tea shop, possibly a visit to an amusement park, and definitely hosting our annual corn hole party. 

So, with summer in mind, I’ll share some of my Cape Cod inspired rug designs.  I’m excited that I will be going to the Cape once again at the beginning of October.  That’s my favorite time of the year when there are fewer vacationers and a more laid back pace.

These designs are available as patterns on the Shop page of my website.

There’s a lot of beauty out there and in the special times with family.

Smoked Bass , a whimsical rug I designed for my brother and sister-in-law.

Smoked Bass, a whimsical rug I designed for my brother and sister-in-law.

Ship in a Bottle,  one of my favorite designs.  

Ship in a Bottle, one of my favorite designs.  

Cape Cod Tidal Pool,  a rug I donated to a fundraiser.

Cape Cod Tidal Pool, a rug I donated to a fundraiser.

Wedding Day , a rug designed for a friend's son.

Wedding Day, a rug designed for a friend's son.

MJ's Tidal Pool,  a rug hooked for a friend.

MJ's Tidal Pool, a rug hooked for a friend.

For whom the bell tolls.

It tolled for us at 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday, when our smoke alarms gave off one loud blast, which jolted us out of bed in a hurry.  As the dogs cowered under the bed, we searched the house and basement for smoke and fire and thankfully found none.  Another reason for an alarm to sound off is dust in the smoke detectors.  Hmmm….dust.  I made a beeline to my rug hooking studio, and sure enough, that smoke detector was flashing a red light.  Wool dust was the culprit!

I am not shy about saying that I have OCD. It’s the “good” kind, not the kind that makes me return to the house over and over to check that I locked the door.  I have the kind that makes me want to put things in order.  Tidy.  I can overlook some dust and dog hair, but things must be in their place.  I was planning on doing a studio cleaning, dusting and tidying after finishing my Down to Earth meditation mat, but I had to put the mat aside and get busy cleaning. This process took me two days and I do hope it will fix the alarm problem.

I mentioned my Frog Spirit Animal last time and this week, I dusted off one of my frogs and set him by the hen house door.  The hens avoided him at first, but they seem to have gotten used to him now.  I hope the frog mojo will keep them safe.

The hooking of my meditation mat will be back on track this week.  I am enjoying the process and look forward to using it.  It will be soft and cushion-y.  It would also make a nice yoga mat, but my yoga days are behind me. 

There’s a lot of beauty out there and in having a place for everything and everything in its place.

My studio is all clean and ready to be made wool-dusty once again.

My studio is all clean and ready to be made wool-dusty once again.

Spirit Frog bring good mojo to the hen pen.

Spirit Frog bring good mojo to the hen pen.

7...6...5...

I made a good start on my meditation mat this past week.  The motifs are hooked with a #8 cut and the background is done with #8.5 for a cushion-y feel.  Those wider cuts of wool also make the hooking go faster.  I’m not in a rush to finish this, but I am looking forward to taking it to a local wellness center when I go there for guided meditation.  Serenity now… and then.

I mentioned last time that I’m combining petroglyph-inspired chakra designs.  If you are unfamiliar with what the seven chakras are, and what each of them means, you can follow this link for an explanation.  The frog that I have in the fifth (throat) chakra area is one of my spirit animals.  Frogs warn of danger or interference.  If you come to my home, you will find a frog of some sort near every entrance.

The wool that I dyed for the background simulates stone.  I will be using lighter wool at the top of the mat and down along the sides.  The two-headed snakes will be hooked from the bottom up in the chakra colors.  Kundalini rising.  But that is a discussion for another time.

As always, this project will evolve as I go along.  I never make definite decisions on color or design beforehand.  I enjoy the journey and how a rug determines its own look.  Even these petroglyphs are not written in stone.

Hot and humid days here in south central Pennsylvania are making for some sticky weather.  But the tomato, pepper, and squash plants are going gangbusters.  The chicken population is holding steady for now with no further encroachment from predators.  I think I will put a frog out there today, just in case.

There’s a lot of beauty out there and in the balance of nature.

Working from the top down on the petroglyph-inspired chakra designs.

Working from the top down on the petroglyph-inspired chakra designs.

A book winner and a pizza finish.

It was a fun week reading comments on the book giveaway and tossing names into the dye pot.  This book, Designed by You: Ideas and Inspiration for Rug Hookers, by Tamara Pavich [© 2017 Ampry Publishing LLC /presented by Rug Hooking] is so full of ideas and colorful rugs by many hooking artists.  I received my RHM Book Club copy of the book, and I’m happy to also have a giveaway copy to send to lucky winner, Naomi Duval. Naomi’s comment reads, “I hope I can get this post to work.  Great blog. Great pictures. Like your designs very much.”  Thanks, Naomi!  I’ll contact you for your mailing address and send this book on its way.

I completed my large pizza with a variety of toppings.  I finished the piece by trimming the excess linen to three inches and steaming two and a half inches of it to the back of the piece, leaving one-half inch showing all around.  I then spot dyed a piece of speckled wool, which wasn’t quite brown enough.  I laid the pizza [face up] onto the backing wool, which I trimmed in a circle about one inch bigger than the pizza . I brought the wool over the edge of the linen and folded it neatly against the row of loops on the front.  Basting it in place held it nicely until I could use two strands of wool yarn [one brown and one beige] to crisscross the edge.  The beige yarn was too light, so I used a brown marker to color it a bit here and there.  I wanted it to be spotty.

Now to decide on my next project.  I do want to hook a wall hanging for the back hallway.  And I have my super secret project that I have begun. Our weather is very hot and humid, but that doesn’t seem to deter me from working with wool.  How about you? I hope you are all hooking and having fun.

There’s a lot of beauty out there and in all of our wooly artistic projects.

The Zen Pizza is finished!

The Zen Pizza is finished!

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.

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!

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 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!

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.