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Old rugs and new wool

Any moment now, this charming old rug will be auctioned off. It’s in today’s sale (10 am) at Eldred’s, in East Dennis, MA. The estimate is $450-$650, and since it is Lot 440, you may still have time to bid on it.

I liked the nice bright, random colors of the autumn leaves in the outer border, and the bright yellow and orange lines of the oval inner border – the colors frame the pale horse well, and let’s face it, that just looks like a happy horse that someone loved!

The sale description was: “ HOOKED RUG: DEPICTING A PONY (25″ x 30″), 19th Century. Affixed to a modern painting stretcher.”

Now here is an antique rug that will be in another Eldred’s sale, on Nov. 17th (also 10 am). It will be Lot 994, described as “Lot 994: EARLY 20TH CENTURY HOOKED RUG 5’9″ x 7’2″ Multicolor geometric design.”

The odd thing about this rug (especially as it is a hit or miss) is that I actually don’t like it much. That seldom happens to me! So I stopped to think about why I don’t like it. I think the geometric border is great, and you know I love hit or miss, but for me, the two just do not go together well. It feels like the precision of the border is almost the complete opposite, in style, of the hit or miss center. If the outer border was done in slightly less precise squares, maybe I’d like it more. Or if the color palette were brighter…But as it is, it actually made me feel a little tense to look at it. Well, sometimes you can learn from thinking about what you don’t like, as well as from what you like and admire.

So on to the “new wool” part of this post. I had a “Jumbo Size” Hefty bag, full of multicolored snippets from the last many months of hooking. When I work on a rug, my snippets go into a little tin next to me, and when the tin is full, I go dump the wool snippets into the plastic bag.

So the bag was full, and it was getting in my way. I was still pretty down-and-out with my cold, so thought I would do some spontaneous and unpredictable dyeing, mostly to get rid of that full bag, and of course to see what would happen. And while feeling punky, it would make me feel like I got something done.

So all the snippets got emptied into my biggest dye pot. I soaked three small pieces of white wool (each about a foot long and 6” wide) in synthrapol for a few minutes, and then rumpled them up and shoved each of them into a different part of the pot. Then I just left it to cook for about an hour, not stirring it at all. And I poured in a “glug, glug” of white vinegar for the last 15 minutes.

Somehow, I thought I would get three completely different colors of wool, or maybe something with many multicolor flecks of color. I was amazed that each of the three pieces basically came out the same color! A nice bright but light green, with highlights only here and there of other colors. In person, they are more green than this photo shows:

The snippets I started with really were every color of the rainbow, collected during the time I hooked at least four different rugs, each with a wide variety of colors. Were there a lot of greens, plus a lot of blues and yellows to make more green? Who knows?

But I was greatly pleased with the experiment, and will definitely find these three new pieces of wool useable. My conclusion: dyeing is magic. So if you have snippets and are willing to give up a few small pieces of white wool to fate, try it yourself with your own snippets and see what sort of a surprise you get!

The photos of the antique rugs are courtesy of Eldred’s Auctions, online at www.eldreds.com.

One Comment

  • Cathy says:

    the old hit or miss rug reminds me of a static tv, love the pony rug very sweet. I thought you meant little bits of wool I was wondering how you were going to dye them.

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