My First Rug

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Late in the 1970’s my father saw a lady demonstrating rug hooking at the mall in Barrie. He thought it might be something I would enjoy and purchased the pattern, the cut pieces for the foreground, and a moshimer hook, and gave them to me as a gift. This rug is about 18″x 30″ and done in a 4 cut.  I had never heard of traditional  rug hooking, but he demonstrated how he had seen the loops pulled, so I jumped right in.  I did a lot of crewel work at the time, the design appealed to me, and I was fearless.  (looks like I’ve come full circle doesn’t it…quite a resemblance to my current  project)  However my enthusiasm faded, and it ended up on a shelf unfinished for about 13 years.

While I hadn’t pursued rughooking, I had been busy with machine knitting, crocheting, and crewel embroidery. My interest in these crafts was lagging and I wanted to try something  new. With the express purpose of finding an interesting new craft that appealed to me, my husband and I went to Creative Stitchery, the big yearly craft show in Toronto. As luck would have it, there was a beautiful display of hooked rugs, and Jeanne Field was there explaining and promoting the craft. I was smitten  (a second time). She gave me the name of a teacher in my home town, and I began hooking again. This rug however, remained unfinished. (I’ll talk about my second rug next time). It wasn’t until about 2004 that I hauled it out to complete. I finished the few unhooked flowers, and added the background.  By then my father had passed away, and this little rug he had given me had added meaning to it. I completed it and gave it to my sister for Christmas. I know she treasures it and the connection it has with our dad.

Choosing My Colour Palette

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A lot of people have helped me with my rug hooking…rug hookers must be the friendliest, kindest group of people you could ever meet. However ,  the person whose ideas and style have influenced me the most , is undoubtedly Gene Shepherd. He suggests finding a piece of fabric whose colours please you, and use that as the basis of your colour palette. I spent a long time in Fabricland, and finally found a piece that pleased me. I realized as I began hooking a variety of the motifs, that it was more muted than I wanted, so with some suggestions from other hookers , I added the ‘acid green’, and ‘yellow’ to ‘pumpkin’ tones….the latter being used quite sparingly since they really ‘jump out’. I also added small amounts of a deeper, more vibrant blue and red. The background ‘antique black’ is spot dyed over a claret coloured cashmere with majic carpet black and bottle green dye (thanks to Rittermere’s for the recipe). It gives the background life and vitality. The majority of the colours I  dyed over natural Dorr wool, with  a few  over a light beige tweed, and a pendleton plaid. I am using spot dyeing and dip dyeing methods.

The rectangular rug is a 6 cut, and the hall runner an 8 cut. This picture shows about half of the hall runner.

Now off to put today’s freshly dyed wool in the dryer.

My Hall Rugs…Then Back to the Beginning Part one ..the pattern

I’m very excited that Mathieu has set up this blog for me, and I’ve decided to use it initially, as a record of my journey into the art of rughooking. I’ll begin with the point I’m at now (mostly because I don’t have pictures available yet of my earlier rugs), then go back to my checkered past.

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I’ve been at this project a year and a half, although I’ve put it aside for large chunks of time.  It consists of 2 rugs. A 10 foot hall runner and a large rectangular one. I’m hooking this one to go in the front hall in front of the doors. It is 44″ x 75″ and is loosely adapted from a Pearl McGowan pattern named Queen Anne. Getting the pattern onto the primative linen was an adventure in itself, and I would never have been able to do it without the help of my talented DH.  I found the pattern as an untitled rough sketch on graph paper in a book I had borrowed from the Sunshine rughookers. I photocopied it, then cut and pasted various aspects of this to create a graph one square= 3″ that was the final size I wanted.  Ray used a 5′ x 8′ sheet of ‘tintest’ and marked it out with a 3″ square grid. (the tintest is grest…firm, but porous enough to take and hold the pins easily) He set it up on the dining room table and I went to work!

I used red dot and pinned it carefully to the tintest, using the grid and keeping it square.I drew the pattern using pencil and referencing my graph sketch. Then I pinned the linen to the tintest, making very sure it was square as well ( I literally counted the ditches, and pinned in the same ditch top to bottom and side to side) and pinned the red dot pattern over top. Then the hard work started. I ended up buying a whole box of black sharpies, because getting the ink to mark through the red dot onto the linen was a tough job. Of course by the time I got to the end, I realized that the easiest way was to go with the rather faint line, and free hand over it after removing the red dot. I would have saved myself A LOT of time if I had figured that out from the start. I know lots of people sew a zig zag around the rough edge, but since I am allergic to my sewing machine (I break out in a sweat whenever I’m faced with using it) I just use green painter’s tape on the edge..fold it over and it stays on beautifully. I’ll go through how I chose my colour palette next time.