Friday, June 22, 2012

I Wish I Could Hook

There will be no rug hooking for me today. Neither was there any yesterday. I am hard at work cleaning, and reorganizing our Boston Victorian to get it ready for sale!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pure Heaven

I have so far only hooked with recycled woolens from vintage garments. I really enjoy searching for these vintage skirts, cutting them up, and dyeing them. But yesterday, I received samples of woolens from Heavens to Betsy.

They are absolutely gorgeous. So gorgeous that I could not resist taking pictures of them.
The colors, textures, and patterns are amazing.

 I am dreaming of what I could do with them. I could use them just as they are... I could over-dye them...

They are so soft and fluffy, I am sure they would be a joy to hook with. It is going to be so hard to chose which ones to order! I like them all!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Hooking Impressions

I adore hooked rugs that have subtly shaded flowers and details, hooked with fine cuts, like the rugs of Pearl Mcgown, or Joan Moshimer. I would spend hours looking at them, delighting in their visual softness and realism. At the opposite end of the spectrum, I love primitive rugs, hooked in wide cuts, with simple naive forms like the rugs created by Magdalena Briner Eby, or the rugs created by Kathy at the Grinning Sheep, or again the ones created by Karen at Primitive Spirit.

When I set out to design, and then hook my" Roosting Hens in a Bleeding Heart Bush", I knew right away that I would not be opting for fine cuts with subtle shading. Just the fact that my hens decided to roost in a bleeding heart bush made the rug one of fantasy, not reality. I knew that my rug would have to follow a more primitive path, where the elements of the rugs are" impressions" of themselves. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the hooking of the flowers.

My first thought when I start hooking a flower is to color, not in terms of shading, but rather in terms of what will make that flowers pop against the background.

If I think about our night vision as humans, objects at night loose their definition, we register them for what they are even though they only hint at what they are. The flowers in my rug, are hints of flowers at night, reflecting the moonlight.

Hooking each flower is pure delight, it feels so free. I love not being trapped by the need for realism. I love letting the simple hand-dyed colors do all the work for me.

I wonder if you feel the same way I do. I wonder what guides you when you hook.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rug Hooking Again

When I went to France last week to meet my new grandson, my first grandson, I decided not to take my rug hooking with me. My decision was a practical one. I wanted to travel light, with just a little backpack. I was having so much fun with my daughter, her husband and their baby, that I barely had time to miss my roosting hen project.

I was so glad though when I came home to get re-acquainted with my project, and to return to my routine of hooking in the early morning hours.

I have made some progress. The little hens are now sleeping in their night blue "sheets".

Flowers have started growing around them, each a little different.

Night is spreading around the flowers. I just love playing with my married over-dyed "night" fabrics.

The branches are growing, adding movement and at the same time continuity as I am using only one type of textured wool, a brown and white herringbone.

A demain!

Monday, June 18, 2012

I Am Back

I have been back for a almost a week, but I spent the last week sitting on the couch, recovering from a great, but sleepless trip. I barely slept while I was in France. Too much excitement for one thing, and also the desire to spend as much time as possible with my daughter, my son in law and of course, my adorable grandson.

I feel so fortunate I was able to visit. I am a happy grandmother!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I am so Happy!

I became a grandmother last night! My daughter gave birth to her first child, a healthy baby boy! I just booked my plane ticket. I will be heading to France tomorrow to meet my first grandson, and hug my daughter and son in law.
I will have a lot to blog about when I return on Monday.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Where Did the Time Go?

Where did the time go this weekend? I guess this is what happens when you decide to move. Friday, my husband and I visited a house we really liked. It is in some ways the best of all worlds for us. It is a 10 minute walk from his work, a very convincing point for him, it is an 1810 historic house, a very convincing point for me, and it sits on an acre of land, a very convincing point for the children.

As buying a new house, means selling the one we are in right now, you can imagine I am going to be busy over the next few days packing, and cleaning, and straightening so we can quickly put our Boston home on the market.

So this is where my weekend went, into packing and cleaning... and dreaming about restoring "my" 1810 house. Notice I already say "my", though there is nothing definite yet!

I got a few rows of my rug hooked yesterday, the branch is growing, one hen is comfortably asleep on her branch, surrounded by the cozy darkness of the night. Flowers are starting to bloom on the main branch.

I hope I will have some time to hook a little today. But if I don't I know I will be dreaming of where I could put my hooking in "my" new house!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

I Love Early Mornings

The early morning hours, before the children are up, after my husband leaves for work, are a very special time for me. This is the time of the day I have for myself, when I can sit, drink a cup of coffee, hook a few rows, and enjoy the magic of the morning light.

Early in the morning is usually when I like to take pictures. There is something about the early morning light here that keeps the colors true, and gives a soft yet bright beauty to everything I photograph.

Early morning is when I write my daily blog post, sharing with you the few rows I hooked, the pictures, the sunlight. A perfect start to my day...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Look What My husband Made for Me!

I want to take the time today to share with you what my husband made for me. He made me a simple, sturdy frame for my rug hooking.

My husband loves to do woodworking as much as I like rug hooking. I asked him if he could make me a frame, and he did! I find it really nice that even our crafts complement each other.

I love the fact that he used reclaimed wood. I am very fond of the natural wood color. It looks so beautiful next to the primitive linen.

I am really happy that he built the frame without front legs. This makes hooking so much easier as my arm can move freely under the frame, unhindered.

I am going to keep this post short, as I want to take advantage of the early morning hour to hook a little! A demain!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Once Upon a Time, There Was One Little Hen...

Once upon a time, there was one little hen roosting in a bleeding heart bush, and then a second one came... These were the thoughts that came to my mind this morning, as I was photographing of my rug in progress.

Last week, my first little hen sat there all lonely, but this weekend, a new little hen joined her. When I first started working on the second hen, I thought she would be a twin of the first one, but then, she, the little hen, took control. She decided she would be redder, and plumper, making her own unique contribution to this rug.

I think, this is one of the things I love so much about rug hooking. When you relax into it, the elements of a rug take on a life of their own, surprising you and guiding you. As I hook the night sky background of the rug, it is as if the sky was talking to me, telling me, make me a little bluer, make me a little darker!

Hand-hooked rugs are as beautiful as the world we live in, bursting with life, unique, diverse, and beautifully imperfect.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Rug is Bloomimg

I did not have as much time as I would have liked yesterday to work on the rug. But a few flowers have bloomed on it.

Deep purple flowers... and coral red ones...

Discrete lavender flowers... and bold golden ochre ones...

I hope to make a lot of progress on the rug over the weekend. Happy hooking!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Hen Rug is Started!

Every Wednesday, I take my daughter to chorus. Yesterday was not like any other Wednesday, yesterday was the day I started hooking my new rug while waiting for her.
I packed my new lap frame (which my lovely husband made for me, I will tell you more about it another time.) I took all my hand cut wool strips that I had dyed for the project. We took the bus, then walked, and I dropped her there. I headed to the local cafe, ordered a coffee and a blueberry muffin, and sat down to hook.

I started by hooking a heart, seeing what I could do with my muted jewel tones. See, I had an idea that I wanted the colors to look like they were bright and rich colors but as they would appear at night, being lightly moon kissed. After all, chickens roost at night!

This night idea really came to me yesterday morning as I was looking at the colors, and wondering what I was going to do for the background. At first I considered a safe neutral, but safety is not my thing. I thought a grey could work, and was about to settle on that, when the idea of the night blue came to me. As always, impulsive, I pulled my dye pot out, grabbed some recycled vintage wool fabrics, in light grey, greying celadon, and even a plaid in navy and white, mixed a little bit of "night blue" , and over-dyed the fabrics.
I ended up with some variations of married night blues, some a little bluer, some a little more teal, and some almost black, and some grey blue. I have started playing with the background already. I am so happy with it!  

In my little Rhode Island Red's world, it is night time!

I am really enjoying working with the hand-cut strips, their slight variations in width really add a dynamic feeling to the rug, and maybe also a more authentic appearance. I just love the naive charm of this rug! I really hope I will have some time today to rug hook!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Almost Purposeful Dyeing

I started dyeing wool for my new project (which by the way still does not have a name.) I would call my dyeing, almost purposeful. It is purposeful in the sense that I am dyeing wool for a particular project, and that I have a general color idea before I start the process. The rest of the dyeing process is all done impulsively!

I gathered recycled woolens from vintage skirts in beige, peach and grey tones. No whites today. I love the fact that they have slightly different textures and appearances, but I am diverging. When I went downstairs yesterday to dye the wools, I knew I wanted to hook my new rug with muted jewel tones. I knew I wanted one of the hens to be a Rhode Island Red. When I dye, I basically only use very basic colors, primary colors, and black that  I mix until I have the colors I want. I place the colors on the wool in a way that pleases my eye, expecting surprises from their interactions.This is my favorite way of dyeing.

I created purples in a range of depths, ochres, aquas, rusts, corals, reds, greens, night blues, and browns. And you know, even though I have been a hand dyer for many years, I still marvel at the beauty of each piece of wool after I rinse it. The magic of color never ceases to amaze me. I am forever grateful we live in a colorful world!

I have transferred the pattern to linen, my wools, at least for now are ready. It is time to hook!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Nothing Beats the Excitement of a New Rug Hooking Poject!

I worked on a new design over the weekend. When I started working on it, I only knew that I wanted a curvy branch, and hearts to be part of the design. I very quickly settled on two hearts. They reminded me of one of my favorite flowers,  bleeding hearts.

The branch kind of naturally started sprouting flowers, here and there. What I find amazing, is how creative ideas come to us. As I was sitting there doodling, from the base of the main branch, a new branch grew, curled like the scroll-like structures in the hearts. Almost naturally, as if they had always been meant to sit there, two hens decided to nest in the sheltered scrolls.

I imagine the piece will be rather large, maybe two feet by three feet, using mostly 1/4" hand-dyed wool strips with textured wool strips here and there. The colors I have in mind are deep, slightly muted jewel tones. I will be transferring it to primitive linen today, and I hope to start dyeing fabrics for it too.

I can hardly wait to start hooking this rug. Nothing beats the excitement of a new rug hooking project!

Monday, May 21, 2012


I did some more marbling over the weekend. I used 3 pieces of wool for it, a dark green, a bright red, and a peach colored one. I wanted the bleeding of the red and the green to transform the peach one. In this kind of marbling most of the results happen on the lighter piece of fabric, and only very subtle variations happen on the dark fabrics.

The differences on the darker pieces were subtle as I had expected. The red darkened, and the green had slightly more teal areas. I did not photograph them. The peach piece on the other hand came out with amazing color variations.

The peach undertones are still there, but were layered with a range of pinks, light and dark greens, and occasional  touches of luminous blue.

I really did not expect the blues! They were a marvelous surprise!

I have a project in mind for it. I need to work a little more on the design before I share it with you. For now, I will admire my marbled fabric.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Kalon is Finished

Kalon, my little heart is finished. I had a great time hooking this design. I planned but not too much! I made most of my decisions as I was hooking. I love the freedom that gives me.

I dyed recycled woolens from vintage skirts, and used them in the heart. There are no new wools in it. Somehow this makes me happy. There were some plain wools, and some textures. I really like the contrast of the two. The contrast adds a lot of dimension to the work. I did not outline any of the forms as I preferred the soft transitions between background and forms. Rather I used the directional possibilities of rug hooking to create a background that would follow the forms. I lined the back with a piece of soft brown wool, and whip-stitched it snugly against the edge of the heart.

I am planing on creating a pdf of the pattern and offering it as a free pattern on this blog. I hope to have the pdf ready in a few days.

Have a great weekend, and happy hooking!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Of Rabbits and Copyright

So yesterday, as I had written, I found inspiration in my coffee cup, and drew the design for a new rug.
I posted my pictures on RughookingDaily. I went on to do some marbling, and then went back to look at people's rug on Rughooking Daily.

Rachelle had left a comment on my design. She warned me there could be a problem with copyright. I thought surely, because I was only going to use the rug at home, and had no intention to sell it, or sell the pattern, there should not be a problem. I was wrong.

I followed Rachelle's advice and did some research, and found the information I was looking for.
I think this issue is a very important one, so I will give you my understanding of the question. This is of course not intended as legal advice.

If you find inspiration in a picture out of the public domain, or any work out of the public domain, and you create a rug from it, you are in effect creating a "derivative work." The owner of the copyright is the original creator.

In order to create a rug from the original piece, you have to either ask permission from the copyright owner, or transform the intent of the work significantly in order to claim "fair use." Let's say for example that you find a picture of a red barn in the fall in New England, and you hook the picture exactly, but change the color of the barn. That is not transformative of the original message, and you would be infringing on the owner's copyright.

Now let's say, you hook that barn, but add skyscrapers instead of the trees in the background, I believe that would be transformative. The message of the original artist was about farmland. By adding the skyscrapers, you are making a commentary on the rise of the cities suffocating the idyllic farmland of the past. In this case, I believe you would not be infringing on the copyright.

Even if you have no intention of selling the design, and are only doing it for personal use,the same rules apply.

So to get back to my bunny, as I was clearly creating a derivative work, but not transforming the intent of the original artwork, I did search in vain for a way to contact the company who had made the cup. I could not find their contact information, so I will not be hooking a rug from it. It is a little sad, but I had rather do things by the book. I hope my explanation will be useful to you.

If you want to read more about it, I recommend this very clear article. I am sorry this was not a very fun post. I promise you pictures of my finished heart tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I See a Rabbit Looking at Me

The Kalon heart design is almost completely hooked, and this morning as I sat on the couch sipping my coffee, I started thinking about what to hook next.

My coffee cup became my inspiration.

As the words of the famous children's book resonated in my mind: "What do you see? I see a rabbit looking at me,"  I started doodling, some hearts, some flowers, and a rabbit full of mischief staring at me.

I am thinking of a circular design, but these are just thoughts at the moment. I am sure the design will evolve as I redraw it, and then as I hook it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Wool Street Journal

Yesterday, I received my first copy of the Wool Street Journal! I had been expectantly checking the mailbox everyday, hoping it would be there, and yesterday it was.

This publication is like no other. I love the fact that it is printed in the US.  From the soft cream colored pages, to the fonts chosen for the articles, and the lovely decorative touches on each page, it is a delight. Reading the articles, is like visiting with old friends.  When reading you feel that you are part of a warm loving community.

I enjoyed the variety of topics covered, from personal accounts about rug hooking, to dyeing, to wool applique and needlepunch. The patterns and the technique descriptions were inspiring.  I was delighted by the story behind the cover rug, the Bicycle. I found the individual experiences and stories to be inspiring.

I can hardly wait for my next issue to come!


Monday, May 14, 2012

What's in a Heart

When I started designing Kalon, I was inspired by a type of embroidery from Brittany, a region of France, called Glazig.

Then, as is always the case, as I started to draw, the design evolved and adapted to rug hooking. I placed flowers, branches, a heart within the heart. As I was designing I considered balance and movement. However, I did not realize that there was a more subtle reason for my choices. One so deep I was not even aware of it, until on Friday evening, when I stepped away from my hooking to look at the heart, it dawned on me.

I placed five flowers within my heart, one for each of my children.  The three flowers buds on the right, under the protective branches represent three of my children: my two teen boys, as close to each other in the heart as they are in real life, and then slightly to the side,  my 10 year old daughter.

On the left is a single blue flower bud, under a protective branch. This is my 8 month old baby boy.

In the top left corner of the heart, the bud has transformed into a glorious blossoming flower. That is my oldest daughter, who has left the protective branches, but is still within my heart, and will in a few weeks give birth to her first child.

I knew this heart was special to me. I put all my love in it.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Blossoming Heart

Today, I just want to share with you the progress on Kalon, my heart design. I had a little time to hook yesterday. I added stems and leaves to the flowers.

I used vintage, recylcled wools to hook both stems and leaves. Both textured fabrics had been over-dyed in the same pot of green.

The stem fabric is a very subtle plaid, while the leaf fabric is a chevron. The almost solid plaid seems perfect for the simplicity of the stems. The contrasting texture of the chevron gives the leaves a certain glow.

I cut some more strips of wool from my hand-dyeds. I am proceeding slowly, laying colored strips here and there, making sure that I like their color before hooking, enjoying the time it takes to create.

I am hoping to have a lot more rug hooking to show you on Monday. Have a great weekend, and happy hooking!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Resistance is Futile

Yesterday happened almost as planned. I drew the heart design for Kalon on primitive linen.

I cut some 1/4 inch strips of wool.

And then, instead of following my plan, and working at finishing my Moshimer rug, I thought, I'll just hook one little flower, just one.

Then I started wondering what a blue purple flower would look like.

It seems that at that point I lost all self control. One flower led to another, until they were all hooked.

To sum up my day a la Bridget Jones:

Goals accomplished: 0
Fun had: tons!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Magic of Colors

Yesterday, I hand-dyed some woolens. I started with a cream base from a recycled skirt. I had RIT dyes at home. My goal was to create bright colored wool for my heart design, Kalon.

I plan on using the hand-dyeds in the circular shapes. I placed the wetted fabric on plastic wrap, and applied the colors. I then rolled the fabric into a  burrito and cooked it in the microwave for 5 minutes. I have no precise records. I just mix the colors as I go.

I created this piece using wines, reds, yellows, peach, and a touch of aqua. The close-up shows the aqua a little better.

I dyed a`second piece with more reds and still the magical aqua.

And then a section with navy blue, and muted purples.

They all look so wonderful together!

 I still have some work to do on the Moshimer rug, so I might just draw the Kalon design on my linen, and precut strips today. It will be hard to resist pulling a few loops!

I hope you will try to dye some woolens too. There is something magical about how the colors come together in a piece of wool.