Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I'm going to reveal a little part of my psyche here - I can't outline a box and not fill it in.  There is something about incompleteness that nags at me.  Which is really funny if you've ever seen my desk or house, because those entire spaces are studies in incompleteness.

On some days?  This is clean.

When I started my Vintage Iowa Postcard rug, I wanted to outline the entire thing first, because I've heard other hookers say that's how to start your rug.  But I can't do it.  I can't have that big outline and not have it filled in right away.  I find myself MEANING to outline the entire border, but then I'll start the trees and next thing you know, that small part is outlined and then filled in.  I start the cornfield, and then it's outlined and filled in.  Then the barn.  You get the drill.

It's a little tougher with the sky, because it's so big.  I can't really outline the entire sky, nor do I want to, so I'm outlining chunks of it and then filling in with swirls and wavy lines.  It's interesting, because as much as I want to think I'm consistent, each "chunk" turns out different.

Once again, I'm packing, and once again, I'm counting on the magic of steaming to work out some of my issues.  I just bought some wool from Nola Heidbreder to use on the clouds (you can see it on my desk - there is this fantastic turquoise/jade color, and the "Snow" wool is underneath it), and am waiting on some orange wool from Gene Shepherd to fill in my letters.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Signing the Card

One great thing about learning to rug hook is that the rug hooking community is so supportive and willing to teach the newbies.  I find I learn a lot from looking around at other people's blogs and websites, and it helps me to reflect on my work and see what I can do to improve.  Some of my favorites are Gene Shepherd's, Susan Feller's, Rug Hooking Daily, and The Welcome Mat.

The other day I was perusing Gene's blog, and I saw some signed rugs, and I thought, "Egad!  I haven't signed anything I've hooked!"  Since Bucky Bee is technically Bee Line Company's rug I wasn't too concerned, but my sister's Magdelena purse (hooked, but yet unfinished, I have until Dec. 22 to get it to her before her next birthday) is not signed, and my Iowa Vintage Postcard is also unsigned.  I worked to fix that immediately.

Numbers and letters aren't exactly "my thing" yet, but I can read them so at least I'll know when I hooked this piece.  Provided I get it done in 2012, of course!  It looks a little more like a child's vintage needlework sampler than the beautiful, flowing letters I see on some hookers' work, but it'll do.

It's a wonderful thing that Bee Line Company has recognized the importance of having a rug hooker in the company, and so I'm able to do some hooking during the day.  I get PLENTY of ribbing from people walking through my office area while I'm hooking, but I know I'm pretty lucky, so I only have a sharp retort for the fourth or fifth person who comments. :)  Great restraint, I know!  Today was one of those lucky days when I have a little time to get some hooking done. 

I finished my barn and the patch of sky next to it.  My barn is a little slopey, but hey, so are a lot of barns in Iowa!  It's unintentional realism, people!

It's fun seeing the rug start to take shape and get some color in it. I love the pop of red from that barn, and am still in love with that pomegranite wool from LeAnn at Camp Wool in Maine.  When I took my rug off of the frame to take my picture, I realized there is still an issue:

Oh dear.  Once a packer, always a packer?  I certainly hope not!  Looks like I'll be relying on a good steam again for this rug.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Looking Skyward

When I hooked Bucky Bee last year, I did a blue background because it is one of the colors of our company, and it is the color of the sky, where Bucky would technically be flying.  Back then, I was just happy to be hooking at all, and to have a rug completed.  Looking back, there are of course a few things I would change about the rug.  One of them is the direction in which I hooked the sky.

I hooked Bucky in a #7 cut, so the loops are fairly big and can be seen well.  You can see that I did overlapping outlines of Bucky - his shape, repeated in about seven rows.  You can definitely see that effect in the finished rug:

The rest of the sky has a nice, swirling marbled effect, but Bucky's outline definitely eminates outward from him.  If I could hook Bucky again, I would make the area behind him go out straighter behind him, like wake.  If he's flying through the air, he won't have his "echo" coming off of him, he will be moving through air like a duck dives through water.  Again, I have Susan Feller to thank for making me think about these things.

On my Iowa Postcard rug, I'm trying to think about that as I hook.  I had already hooked a border line on the sky area, but I didn't want to hook my sky vertically, I want my sky to have a more horizontal appearance, as I think it does in nature.  Here is what I've done (and yes, it's the same wool from my Bucky rug!):

My question to you, Gentle Hookers, is would you have left the vertical border line, or would you have pulled it out and made it all horizontal?

Speaking of Susan Feller, I've found a new way to keep tabs on her - through her blog!  You can find her at , where she has photos of her works in progress, including this amazing treeline, called....wait for it...."Mountain Treeline":

Isn't it beautiful!?

I can't completely tell, but it almost looks like the edge of Susan's piece has a vertical line of loops going up the sides for the border, and then different patterns and directions on the actual mountain.  It's harder to tell because the wool is darker than mine and has that terrific pattern in it.

This brings me to a question I've had about hooking borders - some people say you do your border/outline first, and then hook the pattern.  Some people say hook from the center out.  Some people say Do Whatever You Want.  What do you do?  Do you have a tried-and-true method you use when starting a rug?  What is your reasoning for doing it that way?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lessons in Unhooking

I feel like I hit another hooking milestone today - I have begun unhooking.

When I first started hooking, I couldn't understand why people would ever, EVER pull loops out unless there was a major crisis.  As a rookie, I work so hard to get those loops in there that the mere THOUGHT of pulling them out makes my heart hurt a little.  But yesterday, that all changed.

I hooked my tree line in this beautiful green wool that I love so much, only to discover halfway through the tree line that I don't have enough wool.  DRAT.  I had already hooked the outline on the trees, so I knew I was going to have to pull some of it out.

I'm going to blame a lot of my rationale for what happened next on Susan Feller, from Ruckman Mill Farm, and author of the fantabulous new book, "Design Basics for Rug Hookers". 

Susan may not KNOW I've been stalking her a little bit at shows, but I have.  The secret is out.  I've watched her do tours at Sauder Village, and give advice to other hookers on color choices and hooking styles, and it's because of Susan that I have pulled out a lot of loops in the last 24 hours.

You can sort of see what I'm talking about here.  I love the dark green trees, but ran out of that wool.  I had already outlined all of the trees in the darker wool, but I have this other wool with some lighter tones, so I thought "I'll go crazy and mix it up!" I pulled out the loops (gasp!) along the top outline and replaced it with the lighter checked wool.  I thought I'd stick with the lighter green on the left side, because that looks like the side that has light, hence the shadow on the barn.

So I put the lighter wool in, but then I thought about Susan.  She talks about movement and what would things be doing in nature?  Would this lighter tree have a dark splotch in the middle of it?  Possibly, but it would look more natural without the one row of light green wool going vertical.  So I pulled it out.

I re-hooked it with darks, and then some dark patches in the light.  Close-up I'm not sure I love it, but from a bigger perspective it seems a little better.

I think I like it better.  I will probably need to add a little bit more of the light green to make it look less choppy, which is still a shame because I loved the trees with the dark green.  But now is not the time for regrets, but for moving forward.  I thought one should only pull out loops in a major crisis, but I've realized that not completely loving or at least believing what you hook looks real does constitute a major crisis that requires the pulling out of some loops.  This is all an experience in my journey to learning to hook. 

I'm off to finish hooking a row on the border today.  Not sure about the clouds - would you hook those in white?  In cream?  Other suggestions?