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By | About the blog | 45 Comments

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Taking a closer look…

By | Art, Color, Composition | 3 Comments

I just came across this lovely painting, for the first time. It is The Homestead, by John Whorf (American, 1903-1959) and it is a watercolor done in about 1945.

Let’s look at it together, and see what we can see. After my very first glance (“what a beautiful old cape! Oh dear, abandoned…“) I notice that almost half of the painting, in the foreground, is taken up by the soft diagonal of the field. The black of the wellpump stands out from the tans and browns of the grasses. The pump draws my eye right to the house itself. In terms of color, the field has a bit of green and even some yellow in with the tans and browns.

Where does your eye travel when viewing the painting? I looked at the brighter colors of the field first, then the black pump led me to the green back door of the house’s ell, and the roofline. And then my eye goes to the hard shadow line across the house, and to the far door… My eye travelled back to the patch of black in the window just to the left of the white door – a broken window, I think, that adds to the abandoned feel of the house. And from the far door, I took in the boarded-up window on the far right.

It was only on the second looking that I really took in the angles of the roof, the two chimneys, and how the house is framed and softened at the top by the unseen tree’s branches.

Look at how the angle of the shadow falling across the house is as hard a line as the house itself. Look at the shadows from the tree on the top roof and far side of the house. Where is the sun coming from?

Did you notice that the diagonal of the hard shadow-line on the house is just the same as (parallel to) the diagonal of the left-most roofline? How do the different diagonals of the roof itself play off against the soft diagonal of the field?

The green bushes here and there in the field balance the greens of the branches overhead. And the field itself: it puts the house at a distance from us, doesn’t it?

Of course the shape of the house itself – the placement of the doors and windows, the rooflines and horizontal lines of the clapboards – is determined by the architecture of any good old cape. But the artist chose just that angle to view it from, with the sun and shadows falling at just that moment, when he contemplated his choices – his composition.

What is the focal point of the painting? I am not sure, and maybe it is different to different people. But I decided that for me, it was the white door – what I took to be the main door that would be used every day.

The whole abandoned look of the house brings to mind who lived there, why they left it, who went in and out of those doors a hundred times, a thousand times. And, at least for me, that is the emotional impact of the painting. I can so easily picture a woman coming out of that green door of the ell to pump water – for dyeing wool or yarn on the top of her old stove. Don’t you think there might have been a hooked rug in front of the stove?

Each art medium has its own look. Watercolor allows that very softness of color, and the wonderful almost blurry top edge of the field grasses, allowing you to feel you are looking right through the grass where it overlaps the house’s foundation. You could dye wool to get the different colors of the field, but it would be beyond me how to create that soft edge where field and house meet.

John Whorf’s The Homestead (August), c.1945 is being sold by Childs Gallery, Boston, MA for $8,500, and they are online at childsgallery.com.

The Gallery description of the painting reads “John Whorf was one of the most accomplished American watercolorists. In this watercolor he treats a Cape Cod house… with a style and technique reminiscent of two of his favorite artists, John Singer Sargent and Frank W. Benson.”

Whorf was born in Winthrop, MA, and died in Provincetown. I did not find much biographical information on him, but it is clear, after searching, that many galleries actively are interested in finding works by him. And a book has just been published about him, John Whorf Rediscovered, available from AFA Publishing. You can see a few more of his paintings here, all lovely.

Today, don’t look at the eclipse without special precautions, so you can continue to look, and then look again, at everything else.

First Rugs

By | Creativity, Making rugs | No Comments

When I meet someone who is just starting to hook rugs, I usually tell them to always keep their first rug. This one is mine. It was a kit I got from the Dorr Mill Store, and I have no idea who did the design – I didn’t know enough to write the designer’s name down or try to remember it back then!

The loops are a bit lumpy, and on the back, I just hemmed it around a piece of cotton for a backing. Hemmed it poorly, I might add, but I never claimed to be good at sewing:

But that’s ok. It still is a design I like, and I still use it as a chair mat. As first rugs go, it was a pretty good design – nice arching lines on the tree, needing to learn a little control to do the leaves and the little apples. Now as I look at it, the outside dark border is uneven – thicker on one side, thinner in other places.

I have always thought a beginner’s first project should be a kit, where the cut wool is provided. Unless they have a friend who sets them up with a cutter and wool, it is better for a beginner to focus on just pulling loops at first. And one of the reasons to always keep your first rug is that it helps you to remember what it was like to just start out hooking.

Then, I tell them, find a pattern you like, and emerge into the wonderful world of choosing your own colors, and learning how to cut your wool. Here is my second piece, a small pattern I got (again no designer recorded!) and also still like a lot:

When that second project is done, I encourage people to dive right in, and draw out a design of their own. Any rughooker can show a beginner how to run a pencil down the gully of their linen to get straight lines to then use a marker on, for the borders. Then, draw it out! It can be a little crooked house with a cat in the yard, it can be a group of stars, leaves, flowers or whatever. I just think it is empowering to see one’s own drawing come to hooked life. It may not be a ornate, fine-shading sort of design, but it will be all yours!

Even if you end up hooking mostly patterns, drawing out a few of your own will give you the confidence to adapt patterns if you want to, down the road. Here is the first rug design I drew out myself:

Of course, I did not realize how tricky all those little pine needles (and the background between them) would be to hook, but I figured it out. To my eyes now, the colors I chose left a lot of, uh, room for improvement, but not bad for a first design.

And I always remind beginners, nervous about facing that first blank piece of backing, to try out drawing your idea a time or two on newsprint, and then either cut out the design elements and trace them, or just start in once you feel you’ve got a design you like. If you make a line wrong in black marker, just correct it in a different color marker, so you remember which is which! And you can always turn the backing over and start again! And you can always change a line as you are hooking.

If you could draw a cat, a house, a lizard, a star, heart, or a tree in the fourth grade, you can still draw!

If anyone would like to share a photo of their first rug, what you remember about doing it, what was the hardest to learn, or what you think about it now, please do! Or if you have advice you tend to give a beginning hooker that really helps, or what you wish someone had told you early on, send it along. Just send photos and any accompanying comments to me at mjanep(at sign)yahoo.com. And keep on hooking!

Ruby in the Garden

By | Composition, Making rugs | 4 Comments

Back in March, I drew out this design, Ruby in the Garden, pretty quickly, since I needed a new rug to work on. At first, it had a butterfly and a second bird in it, but as I finished working on the cat and flowers, decided that they made the composition unbalanced, so left them out. One bird was enough to keep Ruby mesmerized, anyhow!

The only other conscious decision I made about the composition as I drew it out, was to have one of the tulips arch just parallel with the curve of Ruby’s back. I just thought it would, in a subtle way, give her more presence.

The lilac pussywillow flowers were done with the Waldoboro sculpting technique – just enough to add interest, even if you can’t really see it in the photo. And maybe pussywillows are not really lilac, but that’s what seemed right at the time. After I had hooked Ruby and the flowers, I set this rug aside to work on a wide-cut rug for a class I took.

Then about a month ago, I lost Ruby. I had just finished that wide-cut rug, and so a few days later, I pulled out this rug again to finish it. It did help to work on a Ruby rug during those first days of feeling her absence after 15 years. It just worked out that way.

It may not be the last rug I ever make of Ruby, but it will be the last one that has her cat fur embedded in it, from her lying on it from time to time.

May you always have just the right rug to work on, to soothe your soul and raise your spirit, as you go through your days!

More rugs! Never enough!

By | Antique rugs | 3 Comments

There are many more hooked rugs coming up for sale during this summertime auction season, and this may be the only time we get to look at them. First, let’s travel down to Texas, where Bright Star Antiques will be selling the floral rug, above, at their Aug. 26 auction in Sulphur Springs (9am, CST). The only description of it is: Lot 112: Early Floral Hooked Rug 26 1/2″ x 52″. No estimated price given.

What a happy rug! I’m not even sure why “happy” is my first impression of it, but that’s the way it is. Certainly, the bright colors help, and there is something about the way the little rosebuds are peeping up toward the center. And there is just enough oddity in the varied greens (from lime to mid-range to dark gray-green) around the outside border to add interest. Whenever I see “patchy” sections like this, I can’t help but wonder if this is by design, or if the hooker ran out of other greens, and just used what she had. I think the lovely effect this patchiness creates gives us (with our almost instant access to so many wools) reason to loosen up and let the wool go where it will.

Here is another sweet rug in the same Bright Star auction:

This one is Lot 111: Pa. Cottage Hooked Rug 28″ x 52″. No estimated price given. Somehow it got from Pennsylvania to Texas. No real shading, just a bit more of that patchiness on the roof and a bit in the trees, bushes and border. It could have been an early pattern – seems like I have seen a similar cottage rug before, but I’m not sure. It reminds me a lot of Grenfell Mission rugs from Labrador and Newfoundland, maybe because of the simplicity of the design, the outline around each of the design elements, and the lack of any real shading.

This dazzling primitive is going to be sold on Aug. 17 at the James D. Julia auction in Fairfield, Maine:

Another cottage, but so different than the other one! It is Lot 2347: FOLK ART HOOKED RUG OF A HOUSE. Description: First quarter 20th century, American. A folky hooked rug depicting a homestead under a starry moonlit sky in bright colors including reds, blues, greens and more. Also with earthy whites and beige’s. SIZE: 40″ h x 48″ w. CONDITION: Good. Estimated price is $3,000-$4,000.

It looks like it was hooked with yarn, just judging from the fine texture. There is something almost modern/cubist about this design, with the blocks in the background and the moon and stars block above the house. Wouldn’t you love to be able to talk with the person who made this?

And here is one rug that was sold on Aug. 1st, at the D. L. Straight auction in Sturbridge, Mass:

The pre-sale estimated price was $200-$400, but this sweet spaniel, sitting on his own hit or miss rug, was sold for $100.

And one more. This rug will be sold off today at Eldred’s Auction’s sale in East Dennis Mass, sometime soon after 10 am today:

Lot 915: PICTORIAL HOOKED RUG 29″ x 39″ Depicts a winter landscape with horse-drawn sled and rider, a cottage and distant mountains.
The estimate is $150-$250. It’s hard to know what the colors on this rug were originally – it has the look of wools that have faded quite a lot. If I were looking at it in person, I sure would want to turn it over and check the back side, the less faded side, to get a better idea.

As always, there are many design ideas to be found from the antiques on these sites – from stained glass windows, painted dressers, carved birds, weathervanes, pottery. And of course, from paintings, like this amazing one of our beloved U.S. Frigate “Constitution” that sold for about $13,000 at Eldred’s July 20th auction:

© Robert C. Eldred Co., Inc.

Painted by DEREK GEORGE MONTAGUE GARDNER English, 1914-2007. “U.S. Frigate ‘Constitution’ with the sloop ‘Hornet’ at sea 28 October 1812”. Signed lower right “Derek G.M. Gardner”.

All photos are courtesy of the auction houses, and many thanks to them for making their catalogs accessible to be copied and show here. Bright Star Antiques is online at brightstarantiques.com, James D. Julia is at jamesdjulia.com, D. L. Straight is online at www.dlstraightauctioneers.com, and Eldred’s is at eldreds.com.

I confess I have never been to a live auction, but what a treasure trove of lovely things – held in private possession, brought into the public for sale, and then likely disappearing again into a private collection.

Animal Rugs from the Past

By | Antique rugs | One Comment

Let’s look at a few antique rugs that are now in public view, because they are coming up for sale at various summer auctions.

First, above, is a lovely old rug (described as just “Hooked Rug”, Lot 357-156) at today’s auction at the W. A. Smith Auction sale in Plainfield, NH. We don’t know when, where, or by whom this was made, so we just can look, and imagine who loved these two dogs enough to create this rug. I especially like the twisted rope border.

Here is another dog rug coming up for sale, this one is Lot 130 at the Aug. 1st sale at D. L. Straight Auctioneers, in Sturbridge, Mass:

The dog is sweet, and I’d bet the hooker worked to get her own dog’s markings just right. But the red vine elements are a little too unbalanced or maybe un-flowing to my eye. Still, much care was put into making it, and someone loved this dog, and probably this rug, too. Description: 19TH C HOOKED RUG OF A DOG, GOOD COLORS, 26 X 49. Estimated Price is $200-$300.

James D. Julia Auctions, up in Fairfield, Maine will be auctioning off this rug, Puppies at Play, on August 17th (10 am):

Here is the description: Lot 2490, “Last quarter 19th century, American. Based on the Currier and Ives print “Puppies at Play.” Depicting puppies playing upon a hilltop with trees and a house in the background in natural earth tones of greens and browns. SIZE: 25-1/2″ h x 50″ w. CONDITION: Good, rug is professionally mounted.” The estimated price for this one is $2,500 – $3,500.

I searched for the original Currier and Ives print of the same name, and while I can’t be sure this is the only one, the figures of the two pups are pretty similar, though reversed.

If this is the same print the rugmaker used, (and the more I look the more sure I am that it is) then the rest of the design of the rug was the maker’s own. I especially love the closely figured grassy hill the pups are playing on. And my guess is that she set the two puppies in her own yard, and that the house on the far right is the hooker’s own. A wonderful example of a rughooker adapting artwork she liked and then making a rug her own. I think copyrights were not an issue back then!

And here is another lovely rug from the same Aug. 17 James D. Julia auction – just to give the cat world a little equal time:

The description of this one, Lot 2366, is: FINE AMERICAN HOOKED RUG OF LIONESS AND HER CUB, Last quarter 19th century, Probably Edward Sands Frost, Biddeford, Maine. Believed to be a first pattern example of a lioness and her cub in a tropical setting with palm trees in the background within a red and black striped border. SIZE: 32″ h x 62″ l. CONDITION: Area of losses above haunch of lioness and additional holes in area of right foreleg and in lower right foreground facing. Colors remain vibrant. Otherwise structurally good. Estimated price is $400-$600.

Finally, again from the same Aug. 17 auction, is Lot 2484, which includes TWO AMERICAN HOOKED RUGS:

Description: 1st quarter 20th century. 1) Depicting a spaniel resting on a small checkerboard mat within an oval polychrome border and ground, framed by four black, brown, beige floral spandrels. 2) Depicting a pair of songbirds beneath floral boughs, each perched on a branch within an oval border of earth tones. SIZE: 1) 27″ h x 44-1/2″ l. 2) 21″ h x 33-1/2″ l. CONDITION: 1) Deterioration around edges and with light even soiling throughout. 2) Good pile, light soiling. Some bleeding to red dyes. Otherwise good. Estimated price is $250-$350.

You can look at (and bid on) all these rugs online, and photos are courtesy of the auction houses. W. A. Smith is online at www.wsmithauction.com, D. L. Straight is at www.dlstraightauctioneers.com, and James T. Julia is online at jamesdjulia.com.

So which rug do you like the best? Once you decide spontaneously, think about exactly why you like it. For me, as much as I adore both dogs and cats, I would pick the bird rug, the last one shown. Why? I like the birds, the design with the oval inside the square, and the little checkerboard figures at each top edge of the oval, and I like the darker lines outlining some parts of the birds, leaves and branches, and of course, (no surprise to anyone), I like the hit or miss outer border!

Words from John Ruskin

By | Creativity, Food for thought | One Comment

This is a drawing by John Ruskin, titled Trees in a Lane, Ambleside, done in 1847.

John Ruskin (English, 1819 – 1900) was the leading English artist, poet, art critic and drawing teacher of the Victorian era, as well as an art patron, draftsman, watercolorist, a prominent social thinker and philanthropist. He wrote about geology, architecture, myth, ornithology, literature, education, botany and political economy.

In 1869, Ruskin became the first Slade Professor of Fine Art at the University of Oxford, where he established the Ruskin School of Drawing. He taught his students to, above all, observe nature closely. Here is another work of Ruskin’s, this one a botanical study:

But it’s not about Ruskin himself I mean to write about today, it is to share with you something that Ruskin wrote, about the importance of drawing. As you read it, remember that he is talking about observing things, looking carefully around you – and though drawing can force you to notice every detail, what he writes about “sketchers” is also true if you do not draw, but just look. Here’s what he wrote:

Let two persons go out for a walk, the one a good sketcher, the other having no taste of the kind. Let them go down a green lane. There will be a great difference in the scene as perceived by the two individuals. The [second mentioned] will see a lane and trees; he will perceive the trees to be green, though he will think nothing about it; he will see that the sun shines, and that it has a cheerful effect, but not that the trees make the lane shady and cool; and he will see an old woman in a red cloak— et voilà tout!

But what will the sketcher see? His eye is accustomed to search into the cause of beauty and penetrate the minutest parts of loveliness. He looks up and observes how the showery and subdivided sunshine comes sprinkled down among the gleaming leaves overhead, till the air is filled with the emerald light, and the motes dance in the green, glittering lines that shoot down upon the thicker masses of clustered foliage that stand out so bright and beautiful from the dark, retiring shadows of the inner tree, where the white light again comes flashing in from behind, like showers of stars. Here and there a bough is seen emerging from the veil of leaves.

There are a hundred varied colors, the old and gnarled wood is covered with the brightness; here is the jewel brightness of the emerald moss; there, the variegated and fantastic lichens, white and blue, purple and red, all mellowed and mingled into a garment of beauty from the old withered branch. Then come the cavernous trunks, and the twisted roots that grasp with their snake-like coils at the steep bank, whose turfy slope is inlaid with flowers of a thousand dyes, each with his diadem of dew.

And down, like a visiting angel, looks one ray of golden light, and passes over the glittering turf -kiss -kiss -kissing every blossom, until the laughing flowers have lighted up the lips of the grass with one bright and beautiful smile that is seen far, far away among the shadows of the old trees, like a gleam of summer lightening along the darkness of an evening cloud.

Is not this worth seeing? Yet, if you are not a sketcher you will pass along the green lane, and when you come home again, have nothing to say or to think about it, but that you went down such and such a lane.”

Here is Ruskin’s watercolor of a kingfisher:

You can actually go to the website of the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, at ruskin.ashmolean.org to look at many of Ruskin’s wonderful collection of drawings, and the lectures for which he collected the drawings. There are even eight drawing classes you can take yourself.

Some people create beauty with words, some with drawing or painting, and some with hooked rugs. But looking, closely, is the common thread. Hope you find wonderful things to observe during these summer days!

Designs right around you

By | Composition, Design, Making rugs | 2 Comments

A few people asked me about this rug I showed (with Ruby gracing it) the other day. So today let’s talk about it a bit. It was one of the rugs that I’ve had the most fun hooking, maybe because I drew it out quite quickly, and only had the most vague idea of how it would end up looking. I couldn’t wait to see how it turned out!

A few years ago, I took a class called “Designing From Nature” with Liz Alpert Fay, up at Shelburne, VT. A three day rughooking class, and none of us ever picked up a hook! We just looked at things and worked on designs. And we talked a bit about techniques to transition a design from drawing-size to full rug size. I came home with at least three full designs on backing, ready to go. And this was the first one I finished hooking.

Liz had asked everyone in the class to come with about 6 or 8 “natural treasures”. We brought little pieces of driftwood, seed pods, flowers, little rocks. And though most of us were not at all experts at drawing, she had us just sit down and sketch out our versions of the natural treasures that struck our fancy.

One thing I brought was a cross-sectioned slice of blue agate that I have kept in a window for more than thirty years. I have always loved seeing the light from the window coming through it, and highlighting the layered rings:

As you can see, the rug only remotely looks like the agate slice. It was just a starting point. One large squiggle for the outside border (without any really sharp curves that would make it hard to finish when the rug was done) and then echoing inner squiggles that varied a bit each time. I tried to vary thicker “layers” and thinner layers. And I remember I ended up changing these a bit as I actually did the hooking.

I did keep to the overall blue coloring of my original agate, but added in some purples and blue textures as I went. As often happens, I picked the colors as I went along, just mindful of getting enough contrast between the “layers” and enough variety overall.

One thing about designing that I learned in this class with Liz: You don’t actually have to try drawing an exact replica of something. Think of it as drawing your own impression of it. A seed pod can become such an interesting form to create an abstract yet natural design!

A handful of shells can suggest forms and shapes to create a design that might end up having nothing directly to do with shells at all:

Can you envision using the lines of this shell photo to make an interesting pattern for a hit or miss rug? There you go!

A branch of a tree, currents in a stream, the curves of a piece of driftwood, or even the cracks in a rock can be the starting point of a lovely rug design.

Look at this simple photo of a tree branch:

Now, try to stop yourself from seeing it as a branch, and look at it just as a form, a series of lines. What if each section of the background was a different color, instead of being all green? Can you start seeing it as a design, maybe a design that will become completely separated from “a branch”, that you could develop into a pleasing rug form?

I just quickly went into an online paint program and came up with this:

It was done quickly to illustrate a point, and nothing beautiful – but can you start seeing it as lines and forms, and areas of color, rather than a branch? Can you imagine where it could develop from there? There is something organically pleasing about the designs you find in nature.

That’s how I came to design my “blue agate” rug. At some point, it stopped being a picture of my agate slice, and just became a design I really liked. I would like to do another version of this general rug design, maybe in reds, oranges and yellows.

You don’t have to be an expert in drawing to look around, and play with shapes and lines, forms and colors – to create your own designs! Abstract designs might not be for everyone, but they are a great change of pace, and a good way to stretch your “creative muscle”. And don’t forget: rugs do not always have to be rectangles or circles!

Keep on hooking, and hook what you love.

Goodbye Ruby, my friend

By | Making rugs | 17 Comments

This morning, very unexpectedly, my sweet cat Ruby died. She made it to the emergency vet, but died, on her own, in my arms a few minutes later, as I was saying goodbye. She was 15 years old, and my constant rughooking companion. This is my favorite rug of her, looking at the wildlife out the window and turning back to me, as if to say hey, come take a look at what’s going on out there:

She was quite patient when I was busy hooking. Next to my hooking chair, I had a cat post where she could watch what I was doing, from above. She did not mind sharing her perch with my wool.

I’ve done more rugs of her than of anything else. In this one, I used “wild colors” for my “wild cat”:

And this was one of the first rugs I drew out myself, when I first started hooking:

She would watch me hook for a long time, and then let me know when it was time to stop and spend time with her instead. She would sit right on top of my wool, climb up onto my frame, or just give me a cuff, when she decided it was her turn.

I never got tired of hooking her.

Here is a rug I did last year, using “anything but wool” – hooked with velvet, velour, ribbons, t-shirts, and for her, a chunky yarn in just the right colors:

And when I stopped hooking for a while, she would come lie on the rug, just to see how it was coming along:

She sharpened her claws on various pieces of our furniture, but never, not once, did she scratch or sharpen her claws on one of my rugs. I’ve always thought this was because she watched so closely as I was making them – she understood.

And when I was done with a rug, wanting to take a picture of it, I would always have to take the first photo of Ruby on the rug. I think I have a photo of her on every just-finished rug I’ve ever made.

So to my sweet girl, goodbye, pretty one, I will miss you so much. And to all of you: hook what you love. And if you have a dog or a cat, give them a kiss on the head, for Ruby.

Breaking boundaries

By | Art, Contemporary rugmakers, Creativity | 3 Comments

Alexandra Kahayoglou’s family runs a carpet factory in Buenos Aires. She takes scraps of leftover thread from the factory, and uses a hand-tufting process to create wool rugs that are inspired by nature’s surfaces – moss, water, grass, trees, meadows. Some, like the one shown above, break the boundary between wall and floor, between inside and outside.

And sometimes, she breaks the definition between furniture and rug:

Part tapestry and part rug, Kehayoglou has managed to take the leftovers of more standard carpetmaking, and go in her own direction.

Many of her creations remind me of looking down, from an airplane, to see the colors and forms of the earth-bound landscape:

To me, Kahayoglou’s work displays real creativity. Using cast-off material, useless for the purpose it had served, she sees something, and puts it together in a new way. In doing so, she gives us a new perspective of viewing what is all around us. She sees her rugs (“her grasslands”) as a statement of concern for our fragile environment, “like I’m flying the flag for mother earth”.

I have few details about the tufting method she uses – she calls it weaving or hand-tufting, using a “weaving gun” – but I love her work and her creativity. Here is a photo of her in the process of making a rug:

She writes, “I like pieces that can be used, that lie between design and art.” She’s had numerous shows, and coverage in international fashion and interior design magazines, and has her own website at alexkeha.com. May your own rugs fly the flag of your own creative spirit!

Summer days…

By | Color, Design, Making rugs | 8 Comments

I confess, I went to a wonderful few days at Green Mountain Rughooking School, and I took no photos for the blog. If I take photos of other people’s rugs, I then have to wander around and find them to get permission to show them. Maybe the photos are all over facebook, but on the blog, that’s how I do things.
So I took a blog vacation in favor of sitting with friends and just hooking, hooking, (visiting, eating, telling stories, laughing, comparing projects and…) hooking.

Above, you see my current project, started in mid-May. I wanted a rug to do in a wider cut than I have tried before – an #8 cut – and was not feeling very creative, so I ordered this pattern, called Birds In The Border, by Lin Wells of Lin’s Primitive by Design.

I liked that it was sort of symmetrical, but not completely symmetrical. And in choosing my colors, I made sure that I continued this slight unsymmetricality. Is that a real word? Well, you know what I mean. I used the same group of colors for the small and large flowers, but changed the order and pattern of them.

And how did I do, using a #8 cut for the first time? Just fine! I expected to have to work harder to pull my loops, but really, it felt just like hooking with my usual #6 cut. I do use a hook with a fairly thick shank, even when working with a #5 or #6, so maybe that is why I had no difficulty. I just had to remember to space out my loops a little more than I usually do, since even with a #6, I tend to pack my loops in.

The other great thing about this design is that, once I finished all the design elements (birds, flowers, leaves, vine) there was not that much background to do!

One of my favorite parts of hooking is when you put that first row of background around all your design elements. That flower or this leaf looks so different when it is finally surrounded by the background color! And that first background row is what locks your loops into place, so that is the time to nudge a loop a little bit this way or that way to smooth out a curve or a straight line, or give final shape to a bird’s beak or tail.

And as you can see, I only have a bit left to do. As I approach the “home stretch” on a rug, I usually have to set it aside to finalize my next project. Then I can relax and finish up the current one. We would never want to find ourselves rug-less, would we??

Hoping you are enjoying the summertime, and that the rug on your frame is coming along, too!