Monday, August 31, 2009

Pattern #1 Vogue

You can see it makes a very nice repeating pattern, What a beautiful border it might be !
Right from the Front Cover The Letter E in Vogue ! A little rough but you got the idea I bet !

Making The Patinaed Pewter

Here I am , making pewter !
Step One
I probably am sending you a grainy lispy video but hey ! It's better than none !

Step 2

Step Three

I post a picture of the dried results in the morning ! It is very nice !

Decisions about The Vogue

I'm excited to get a start on my Vogue rug. I woke up in the night thinking of unique ways to play out each day's design. Should I try what I did on my 30 Days Hath September of 06, a random and gnarly journal/expose of my month on a daily basis ? Click on the rugs to see a close up view.

Or in the row style of journal Rug October of 07 ?
Perhaps I 'll have a combo-nation, do a little of each one. A straight behind with a jazzy overlay !
7 deadly sins and their colours
A great surprise for me last night - there is a precedent already set for matching colours to these. ( NEW NOTE Jackster just noticed I had 8 deadly sins, I guess e need that many in Wiarton LOL! I'm sticking with it ! )
Gluttony - Orange 
Avarice - Deep Green
Anger - Red
Sloth - Blue
Vanity - Purple
Lust - Red Violet 
Envy - Yellow Green 
Pride - Turquoise
 I noticed by looking a the photos of the two rugs above I'd be wise to give my palette a little twist to the  side, I don't want to be stuck in using the same combos I did 3 or 4 years ago... it's time for some growth.
Of course in each of these wonderful colour families there are   thousands of relatives so I have a pretty good scope for  growth here!
I decided I needed a "background" type colour, due to my Daughter of Darkness birthright I want it dark, like old pewter. I think I'll use my dye method, wandering to produce that.
I rarely dye for a rug so that will be a treat.
I also need a neutral type colour, I'll let Vogue dictate that but whatever it is it will be a combo of some of the above to create calm. I need to look out for making straighter edges too I see on these types of "growing " or draw as you go rugs. 
Happy hooking !

Sunday, August 30, 2009

To keep me posting, I offer you an opportunity

I was wondering how to get me sparking at the frame in September. After an admittedly tiring summer (ok, I'm not super human ) I really want to do something fun.
I saw a documentary on the making of the September Vogue magazine.
 In my hey day as a designer that was one tome not to be missed, it was so big and chock full of crazy I needed a crane and a bottle of tylenol to get it home and read.
As I became more of a hooker than a clothing maker I found myself looking to see how often wool was used !
I often make a geometric in September.
How interesting would it be to create an inspired rug from the pages of Vogue's September issue ?
Each day I'll draw and colour something informed by a page in Vogue and I'll post it here. I'll do this for the 30 days of September. You can join me by using these patterns I post in any way you wish ! I will be  hooking a rug of them. You can too ! I'll be using 7 colours representing the 7 deadly sins, tongue in cheek of course...
Vogueing anyone ?
 Of course you might want to create a rug from the pages of Vogue yourself ... please join us that way, it will be delightful anyway you try it on!

This is a wonderful demonstration why we can't believe our eyes

We can't believe our eyes nor our instincts
 A& B squares are the exactly the same value.
Squint and you will see this is true.
For more optical illusions of all types

Livestock Update

It has been awhile since I reported in in our livestock.
On the 18th of August they began to pupate. This means they turned into their chyrsalis.
We have 9 hanging beautiful green and golden transformation chambers.
To watch the development of these helps you believe anything is possible.
When those caterpillars spilt their skins, it is so amazing.
They really want to go on to their next stage of being. I love the grainy look of this photo taken through screen.

 Look at the gold !
Each day it gets more prominent and shiner.
 They say there is no known reason or need for these gold spots.
I went looking to see the hypothesis out there

Fred Urquhart first studied the gold spots on monarchs in the 1970s. He felt that the spots were involved in the distribution or formation wing scale coloration. However, the experiments that he did involved cauterizing the gold spots on the pupa, and it is possible that this process may have damaged the underlying tissue and affected the color patterns. Interestingly, all danaine butterflies (monarchs and their relatives) have metallic spots on them. A group of researchers in Germany did a careful study of the properties of these spots. They are not metallic, but the cells reflect light like metals do, giving them the appearance of being metallic. Other danaids have silver, copper, or gold spots.
Here are some hypotheses for the reasons that these butterflies have metallic-looking spots on their pupae:
a) camouflage – they could reflect colors of the surroundings and break up the shape of the pupa; they might also look like dew droplets.
b) Warning coloration
c) Filtering particular wavelengths of light which might be harmful to the monarchs
d) They might not have any function, but just be the result of something else in the cuticle of the insect.

I must be in a researching mood ! lol

Let's Look At This

This is a new type of post I'm going to be making to help our powers of observation. It will feature art work and I'll point out things I notice about it, what experts say and more importantly I hope you will comment also.
Today, let's look at the work of Hans Holbein

Georg Gisze, a German merchant in London
1532 (200 Kb); Oil on wood, 96.3 x 85.7 cm (38 x 33 3/4 in); Gemaldegalerie, Staatliche Museen, Berlin 

The first thing I admire about this portrait is the way the artist put the subject in a situation, he gave him context to add interest using his status as a rich merchant. We can see scattered about different things needed to be a merchant. The table he sits at also gives him an air of respect as its covered with a fine turkey rug as they were called.
Although this painting seems somber, many areas of light , almost white are present. look at he fine rendering of silk on the sleeve. There is everything from the lightest of pink to the deepest brown present. The face is not so delicately rendered, always fascinating to me. Notice  how the green wall behind complement the rose and though warm by nature ( yellow green )  provides the only and coolest colour in the palette.
For me the little details of paper sticking out of a book, things set on angles and piled up and almost  slipping from the table release the formal sitting from being too staid.

Here is what Jason Zweig says about the symbols in the paintings
This cosmopolitan trader must have asked Holbein to make him seem as thoughtful and cultured as possible in this wedding portrait.  Books of various sizes litter his workspace, and the carnations (or “pinks”) that symbolize betrothal dominate the foreground and blaze against his black waistcoat.  His desk is covered with an Ushak rug imported from Turkey.  An intricate brass desk-clock, a reminder that time is fleeting, stands next to the delicate Venetian blown-glass vase that holds the flowers; coins, the symbol of Gisze’s wealth, are shown off to one side, an apparent afterthought idly heaped in a pewter dish with its lid askew.  Scratched on the wall at the upper left is Gisze’s personal motto, “Nulla sine merore voluptas” (“There is no pleasure unmixed with sorrow.”)  Seeming to float almost like the moon in a night sky, an ornately decorated string dispenser hangs from the shelf on the right.  Gisze’s bride must have been enchanted with this portrait, which remains one of the most humane and intriguing pictures of a businessman ever made. 

Friday, August 28, 2009

The BIGGER Library

Seldom do I go to the bigger library near here as it is in a different county and I'm not able to remove books, but as a treat I went this week with a card carrier.
While there I found some very interesting books
Sheridan The Cutting Edge in Crafts
This book is a great read for any hand crafter.
Sheridan College is a School of Crafts and Design
In the  bread part of the book many questions are posed to the varying  students and faculty about the hand craft tradition.
Such as :
The criteria of what is good...
The hard lessons of working in crafts
Hands Mind and Raw Material - Who is running the show ?
Learning to learn
Elitism in Crafts

 The meat part of the book shows handcrafts ( wood, glass, fiber, clay ) has the artist reflect on the piece and then has the teacher do a write up about the student.

All very good to read. In fact as compelling as Diana Gabaldon to me !

Another book I got out was Folk Art Primitive and Naive Art in Canada
There were many rugs in this book. Surprisingly some were pictured from the backside, I don't know if this was due to fading , they wanted to show the true colours or an oversight.
Here is a picture of my favorite rug, oh man is it full of spirit !
 Bring it ON , I want to see LIFE in work, I can't stop looking at this Beneton  Raccoon !

Other thing I noted in this book.
The naive artists frequently copied works of greater known, professional artists. Sometimes by painting on glass, laying the glass over the work and mimicking it.
Much editing ensued. It was rarely more effective than the original. Sometimes the twists were interesting. Related to rug hooking I wonder how much verve is lost in doing the same works over and over or for that matter teaching the same things over and over ?

Portraits - I've  noticed this before in all artistic executions of the human form. Cloth presented no problem to the artist, there was form, shadowing, very well done. Move to any skin, hands, face, neck and suddenly skill was forfeited, I see this with hooking too. I wonder what is it that allows the good execution of inanimate objects but doesn't allow for the animate. Could it be we believe that is difficult and therefore it is ?

I've enjoyed reading these books a great deal.
Happy Hooking !

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Yellow Spot

Rumoured to be the only painting sold during Van Gogh's lifetime.
All this beautiful heat, saved by the cool neutrals of the ground, workers and trees.
Look at the rich colour, areas that contain many colours to create one.

"There are painters who transform the sun to a
yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transfer a yellow spot into the sun."--Pablo Picasso

Class Tie Up and Reminders

Most times after the end of a class I have things I want to remind my students of... just when they think they've escaped me up I pop nagging them about THE most important items of the trillion we discussed.
I thought you might like to read some of these also.


Colour has a house number, a street and a town it lives in. All these things are happening at one time.
A value, saturation percentage ( how bright or dull ) and a name.
It can be warm or cool or in between.
It has weight.

For a while be kind to yourself. Just tackle value. Rest there until you feel you got it down pat.
Blending values, great iridescence. Didn't mean too ? Fatal lack of contrast.
Use your digital camera set to black and white to see the values in your work properly.
You can glow extravagantly or subtly, but please glow from now on.

We will all make colour errors.
Remember there can only be three things wrong.
Value, temperature or saturation.

Why did I have you make those apples from ripped magazine pages ?
This is the easiest way to do colour studies with out using our precious wool.
It will aid you in seeing what you have in your wool at home, in imagining possibilities.
It will teach you many things, how composition works, what you need to think about first and how surprising the colours are that you can use to create something red for instance.

Please I beg of you, consider your whole colour idea at one time. Your background, it must be the stage upon which your colours play, let them have all the fun they deserve, you deserve it too. Once you do that preliminary work you can just hook ! What a relief when hooking time is at a premium for many of us.

PLAN, HAVE GOALS, then have FUN.

Make ugly, make mistakes, now you are really making something.
Always keep in mind, the good, better, best possibilities.

buying/making wool all from your value comfort zone
wool sellers who only have wool in their value comfort zone
those who talk about colour but whose work does not show proficiency in this area
dye books who mostly have recipes that are all the same value
liking "it".... just 'cos you like that colour , don't mean it's good right there
substituting your hard won knowledge for that of someone else's
not paying attention to the bigger picture and getting caught up on details that are not observable
not editing enough
you need to double the amount of dye for each value going down the value scale

understand, the colours you don't like make the colours you do like look all the more gorgeous
add some little thing to your colour journal, each week if you can, if you can't paste it throw it into a designated box
do little hooking studies ( vignettes ) some things are only intellectual pursuits, once your curiosity is satisfied, you are done and don't have a big albatross around your neck to finish up or act as closet filler
expand your ideas about what you can do with what you have
get support from other like minded people for encouragement
play with your paint chips, get more !
let the colours on a magazine page inspire a study
count how many colours there really are on any given page

Do these things and you will be doing about 98% more rumination and hands on experimenting and learning on the topic of colour in the arena of hooking than all the hexperts put together.
Own your colour circus and you will have the tiger by the tail and I can't wait to hear what it growls like !

A 3 Value Study well done by Loyalist Student.

Proof that is was well done:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Playing what you know forward

There is a very strange thing I've noticed in the last few years.
I've met amazing people who have dozens of years more experience than I do in art of all sorts as well as in life.
But when it comes to hooking they want to defer to someone else to tell them stuff they already really know.

I couldn't believe it.

I always tell people don't substitute your own intelligence for that of someone else.

Every time you go to class you ( hopefully ) gain a building block in your total hooking knowledge.
Every new rug you do you can and should bring these things you learned into play.
This is what will make your rugs unique.

You are the prism through which the light shines, how you reflect it is very special, to be protected and encouraged.

I really only think about two things while I hook, what shape is this area and what value is it.
Those are the only two tricks I use no matter the topic of the rug !
This rug
This one:

OR this one

I'm always building and learning something new about these two subjects but I'm only ever thinking about them because they work for me time and time again no matter what I'm doing.
I don't think I'm doing the same thing ( rug/project ) over and over but I feel I have great tools that get me where I want to go.
These are tricks I stumbled into by accident, I like to use lots of colours to create one but I couldn't afford to but lots of colours but I could buy bags of leftover stripettes ! It was the best learning ground.

What are the the bag of toys you carry from rug to rug ?
Are they confining ?
Are they freeing ?
Nevertheless they are yours and that is always good.
You can guess which ones I think work best ! LOL

A Mess Creates New Combos

I was in a hurry the other day to get my wool unpacked from my last excursion to Belleville. I know that was two weeks ago !
But between very hot weather for the first few days and then the ankle wobble I was woefully behind.
Erin, Talia and Jan were coming for a visit, we were having an afternoon hooking session !
It was my wish we could circumnavigate the tables and the routes were buried by bales of wool !

There was no time to a sort through and assimilate the wool that went with the wool that stayed.
You know I like to keep them arranged running through the value scale, dark on the bottom up to light on the top.
I find it is easier to get at what I'm searching for.

This is what the hastily put away wool piles look like !

What I found interesting was the factor of new neighbours. The middle values can somewhat "disappear" when confronted with very dark and very light. I found new combos and merriment !

Just like a change of circumstance refreshes us, the wool was vivified !

For a great colour training experience arrange your wool according to value, not only does it look good it is good exercise for the eyes !

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

September Online Dye Class

Learn how to make these coiled Long and Lovelies !

This online class will introduce two fun dye methods, the Long and Lovely and the Burlington Bullseye. The cost for these two classes is $40 USD. No need to have special dyes, pots or equipment. I will do these methods in the crock pot but they can also be processed in a jar or pan which I will fully explain also. These classes take place in the Wanderful Dye Kitchen, an online network, just like the Welcome Mat. On the day class starts you will recieve notice the class instructions have been posted in the Forum. They will be supported by video and plenty of visual and written instruction.EVERY QUESTION WILL BE ANSWERED. You do them at your leisure, you have until the end of October to complete them. You will have homework to do and the pleasure of interacting with all the other students. You can dive into whichever depth you wish. It really is a great way to learn.
If you want to join up to class press this link to paypal to pay. When payment clears your invitation to join will arrive at the email address the your paypal account is linked to. If you need an invitation sent to a different email please add that to in the comment box of your payment. If you have any questions or wish to arrange alternate payment please send them to me titled SEPTEMBER DYE CLASS, or I might miss them. Reread this letter in case you want to ask a question but it is already answered above, I'm drowning in emails these days.

What's Great About Majic Carpet Dyes ?

Update:  September 2014 
I loved these dyes so much I bought the company! To buy your Majic Carpet Dyes go to WandaWorks.calook in the store We are proud to create these amazing handcrafted dyes.

From August 28th 2009
I use Majic carpet dyes because of the following reasons:
Beginners only need to buy 14 dyes and they have the world by the tail.
They can get any colour in the world from these 14.
They are of good strength with no filler included.
They are very good true colours, browns are actually brown, green are properly yellow green, blue green and true green, and so on through the whole colour range.
They are great mixing colours, meaning they produce good clear colour when combined with each other.
I find it more productive and easier to reference a single set of dyes when making my column. I'm not calling into use one of the 200 dyes I have in my drawers and expecting people to buy them to create this colour. Cushings has 98 colours ! Pro chem ! I stopped counting about 3 years ago. I cannot possibly expect people to lay out that kind of cash to buy the dyes I used for each article. So I settled on what I felt to be the best collection of colours with a limited number needed and proceeded from there to bring you an amazing world of colour.

Do I use other dyes ? YES I DO ! I have used them all. Do I have preferences, yes but colour wise not brand name wise.

All colourant works the same, you can get the same colour from any set of dyes. The labour you must involve your self in to do this will vary according to dyes chosen and colour required.

There is no cross reference chart.
Each company has different dyes, they will produce different results when the same recipe is used.

The Majics come in a 14 colour set, costs about $60 and that is the sum total of your investment. You havde what you need. I believe it is worth it. With the other companies ... where do you start ? What to buy ?
All of these acid reactive dyes are the same, you can use them in the same recipe, a colour from each company with no bad results.
Have an adventure ! Make an investment in yourself, instead of worrying about your investment in wool. All wool is good wool and unlike an investment in peaches, it will never go bad !

Update:  September 2014
I loved these dyes so much I bought the company! To buy your Majic Carpet Dyes go to, look in the store We are proud to create these amazing handcrafted dyes.

Why I Use Majic Carpet Dyes For Colours To Dye For

Here is something I wrote Oct 31, 2007 to The Old Welcome Mat on the topic of why I use Majic Carpet Dyes in my RHM column.

Hi All, I have several interesting things to say about dyes and dyeing.
I want you to realize I am speaking generally here and not personally.

It is a fine line I walk my friends when writing my column.
You've got all these dyes ... yet I am using the ones you don't have.

But you want to make those colours I made.

Let's use an analogy.

I am a chef.
I write recipes for public consumption.
Do I use the unlimited ingredients and equipment that spare no expense I have on hand in my restaurant kitchen or do I try to create recipes for things people can easily get inexpensively ? Like broccoli.

If I write a recipe for broccoli soup you think sounds tasty do you expect me to turn the recipe into several variations for you using ingredients you have ? Or do you just say well I have no broccoli today but I do have cauliflower ... I think I'll give that a try.

If you want to make the soup as I have you have to get broccoli. But you don't need it.

In the previous RHM dye column Recipes From the Dye Kitchen you got one or two recipes with their intrepretations in other dyes. I 'd rather concentrate on expansiveness, lots of methods, what about trying this ..... have you ever though of that ..... recipes are the least of it for me.

I can't possibly meet these needs people have. For $60 a person can start dyeing if they buy Majic Carpet. They have the BEST of several colours and can dye anything.

There are NO true conversions among the dyes. Because each colour sold is a formulation in itself it cannot be directly substituted with exact results.
To extrapolate, let's say it takes ( and it doesn't really ) 2 tsp. cushing copenhagen blue + 1/2 tsp Prochem black and 1/32 turquoise to make majic carpet turquoise.

Because of rates of absorpstion and the fillers used in some dyes, and the way they are mixed up if you use several of these conversions to follow a recipe you will not get what you want anyway.
Think about your dyes microscopically.
They are like a bowl of m& ms.
Each time you draw out a spoonful you will get a different number of each colour.
One time the selection might have more reds, the next more green. This affects the end result colours more than any other factor, that and we cannot truly measure accurately.

Using conversions will muddy results more if you have several converted recipes to make up a formula.

See how complex it is to even talk about, never mind do.

And while I'm on that topic of results what you see in the magazine is not what will come out of your pot anyway.

Let's get back to dyeing, although I have said this already in my articles quite a few times... SO WHAT if you don't don't have that yellow, just try another yellow.
Isn't it better to dye by eye ?
Instead of majic carpet yellow, use the yellow you like and have.

Spend the time to figure out what you want to know.

Instead of thinking about what can't be done, get out your dyes and see what can be done.
Instead of expecting someone else to meet your needs met them yourself.

Frankly it's not me who is keeping you from what you want because I'm using these dyes... it's you.

In my last column the idea was use one or two dyes over tan.
Can't you do that without me telling you exactly what to use ????

I'm writing this with a smile on my face....
Holy Dye Pot !!!!!

Just wondering.... , don't you think that it's time for rug hookers to stop expecting to be breast and spoon fed ?
There is no reason for you NOT to pick up your own spoon, all wool is good wool. Dye like you want to learn.

Own your dyeing my ladies.

Don't wait or complain, get in there and get busy. That's the only way forward.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Perils of The Student/Teacher Relationship

A few days ago I got a letter from a person who had been hurt by a rug teacher she had.
I found this letter interesting. It led me to think of times I've had a whole class declare me the second coming with one dissenter who wished I was shot and pissed, tarred and feathered and ran out of town in lieu of pay !

Here is sorta what I said, I removed the personal stuff.

I had to think several days about your problem and I apologize for leaving you swinging.
Generally rug hookers are good people but just like the rest of the population they have their quirks. Although you probably wouldn't ever do something like that we aren't all blessed with the same guide of manners.
I think frequently instructors of all kinds don't realize the extent of their influence. I always say people might not remember what you taught them but they will never forget how you treated them. Your story holds this adage to be true.
So what to do now so you feel better ?
If you can find it in your heart to think there might have been extenuating circumstances and give this person a second chance with caution that might be beneficial to you. Harbouring hurt feelings is very seldom healthy. You could also ask if you did something wrong, in my experience with this you rarely hear the truth but its worth a try. Something I've found out the hard way, for most people teaching is a business, they are just doing a job. I think this job is more of a vocation though and we carry the physical, emotional, intellectual and even spiritual needs of our students in our hands before, during and after teaching. Students are treasures we need to handle with care. Not everyone thinks this ! Try to forgive this person and carry on with your splendid journey all the richer. Take from this person the positives you gained and leave the negatives in your wake. No one can take away from you the amazing being you are, unless you let them.

Isn't that true of all our experiences ?
Here's a picture of Loyalist students hard at work !

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ankle- masquerading as a baseball

I spent all day with my foot in the air on ice. Sounds a bit like Dorothy Hamill !
With it being so hot I find I can only think of wool and start to itch. To entertain myself I've being knitting a cotton shawl.
My yarn is one of lovely colour transitions. It flows from turquoise to blue to purple to fuschia through to orange.
It reminded me how much people love to look at gradations in life.

When we find something aesthetically pleasing is usually involves gradation.
This can be gradation in size, colour, shape, thickness of line, texture.
Try looking at visual aids you've picked out in your collection of inspiring items.
Can you see gradation ? Observe some samples here

1. any process or change taking place through a series of stages, by degrees, or in a gradual manner.
2. a stage, degree, or grade in such a series.
3. the passing of one tint or shade of color to another, or one surface to another, by very small degrees, as in painting or sculpture.
4. the act of grading.
5. ablaut.
6. Geology. the leveling of a land surface, resulting from the concerted action of erosion and deposition.
1530–40; < L gradātiōn- (s. of gradātiō). See grade, -ation

Related forms:
gra⋅da⋅tion⋅al, adjective
gra⋅da⋅tion⋅al⋅ly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ideas, Plans and Fields

So far today I've had a very close up inspection of the gravel in my drive way, the eye level kind. The kind where you suddenly think, what just happened as you roll around moaning. Ankle just bruised not broken !
I forgot to post the question of the day, I am still in my pyjamas. It is almost 2pm Good Gravy !
I'm a firm believer in a plan.
You can see what happens when I don't have one on any given day. On an off shoot, our caterpillars have went into their j formation, the step before becoming
Imagine that amazing genetic plan !
Yes back to plans....
You have terrific ideas, everyone breathing does.
But they just aren't enough.
If you can expand and stretch, twist and grow your idea into something toothsomely singularly yours, your harvest will not be as juicy as it could be.
You need to work your field.
Your field needs regular applications of fertilizer.
It needs to be disced and harrowed and generally double dug, stirred up, turned top to bottom.
Your field needs to be weeded.
It needs to get wet.
It needs to be attacked by pestilence which you will valiantly vanquish !
One part of your crop might need to be pinched off in order to let another bear fruit.
Look out for SUCKERS and parasites that feed on your crop.
Make your long term farm plan.
Invest in good seed.
Get accurate and good advice.
Listen to the scientists and the conjurers.
Decide what's best for you.
Do a test patch.
Do another.
Make sure you are growing and showing what you want to. YOUR AMAZING RESULTS!

Enjoy all your blue ribbons at the fair because you deserve them after all that work.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

To Lurk

As I was going over Welcome Mat files I discovered some very inadvertent words of knowledge.

"Many lurkers feel left out of things but if you lurk it is difficult to find some way to connect with you. If you reach out by posting others will happily respond in kind. What you get out of something directly corresponds to what you put in."

It is often difficult to connect to shy people or reserved people. In my experience they often can feel upset or even bitter when they observe others getting more attention or enjoyment from situations. Usually the two things go hand in hand. On the Mat the less people post or say about themselves the less there is for us to hook into and relate to, leaving many members with no happy connections.

As I watch our livestock I realize though there is plenty of milkweed to go around some caterpillars are getting considerably bigger than others. They are taking what they need and want, the more they eat, the bigger they get and the hungrier they become. Thus leaving less for the smaller ones and making it difficult to for them to claim their turf due to size.

Now what causes this ? Do these bigger caterpillars have a sense of entitlement ? It reminds me of Survivor, the more the physically strong teams win the more they get to eat and the healthier and more able to win they become.

Do you damn the big caterpillars because they know what they want and get it ? Try to corral them into a smaller pen or reduce their intake ?

Or do you encourage the smaller ones by giving them their own plants, by helping them overcome their retiring nature ? By empowering them?

The big caterpillars are working it, their jaws, their territory, getting to the young easy to eat leaves first.
The little ones are hanging back.
Over time the big ones will win the evolutionary race, because they will form pupa stage first, hatch first and begin their journey using up food sources first.

I'm saying all this to encourage you to be your own advocate. You might be shy or feel you don't deserve or don't risk asking something in case you are wrong. You might have a form of social anxiety or frustration might be impeding you.

Do the best thing, speak up !
If you say what you want people seem to want to give it to you. I've found this true in all parts of my life.
What you put into something will reap rewards.
If they are overtly negative, you got it, it's what you'll get back.
Positive, you'll reap thousands of benefits.
Speak up ! It's now or never ... don't you want to turn into the beautiful butterfly we know you are ?

Today is Vanessa's 20th birthday, Greek for Butterfly.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Livestock Update

I could NOT believe how big our herd of caterpillars had grown while I was away and since I've been home they have doubled in size again, we expect to see them going into j formation any hour now, you can hear them eating !
I'll keep you updated. It has been years since we "grew" monarchs and I forgot how fascinating it is.

What has turned you from caterpillar into a butterfly.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My Goodness it's hot !

The weather here is very hot. I'm taking my sweet old time unpacking and doing laundry and getting things back where they belong. As I was going through my mail I saw something that might be useful for rug hookers. It's a cushion for a chair that holds stuff in side panels. Krafter's Komfycush
It seems like it might be handy during rug school. You decide.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Paying Attention to Yourself

Everyone has developed a special way they work best. You use all sorts of things to help you go about your day in the most productive way. Hooking is the same. Some of wouldn't think of twisting a loop, others would laugh with delight if it was suggested. Some of us want to get up to cut wool, others of us only want to reach to the left or right.
Some want to have everything they have drawn to be clearly delineated, others work with out lines.
Fine cut, wide?
Do you work from a Big Colour Pile ?

Or do you like more colour order ?

This is all good, pay attention to your learning modality, it will help you do better and feel more at ease. More at ease means freer expression.
Happy Hooking !

Friday, August 14, 2009

What Robert Said/ Colour Exercise

As usual Robert Genn nails it.
This week in class we discussed the importance of good technique vs good colour use.
This was debatable issue.
I feel if you can see the loops first or second when looking at something the motifs are missing the boat in the colour department, usually value.
Look what Robert says... and how he adds fun to the magical summation !
You need to read the whole article, the meat for me was in the Esoterica section !

Where is white ? How many areas are there ? Look very, very carefully !
Where is black ? How many places ?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Oh ! This is the night I hate

Yes I'm full of disgust. The end of the week at hooking school, what a pooper. You have a great time all week and all it is from here on in is sad partings, ( maybe glad for some, said with tongue in cheek ) heavy lifting and aching hips and knees and that is just the guy helping me ! Imagine how the rest of us feel.

Want to increase your colour power ?
Go to the paint store and get about 100 paint chips, tell them you've got a homework assignment.
Take 3 baggies. In them collect


When you get home open the love bag, write on the backs of all those paint chips # 1 Are you a daughter of darkness or a sister of the light or a dreaded fence sitter ?
Label the other two bags contents numbering them with hate = #2 and useful and useless=#3 .
Now throw the Bag # 1 colours out on a table, are these colours that are in your rugs ?
I hope so, if not why ?
Push these to one side and dump out Bag 2.
Are these colours in your rugs ? Sprinkle a few of them among your beloved colours
What happened to the ones you love, did they become all the more beautiful ....
Push these uglies from Bag 2 to the other side of the table and open up the Bag 3 .... what do you think of these ? Sprinkle a few of The Usefuls you might think look good into your beloved pile. What happened ? Did it enhance or detract ?
Sprinkle some usefuls and not usefuls into the uglies, did it help them ?
Take some pictures to see what you think in the abstract...

Other questions to ponder about your bags, do they include colours that are full range in value ? Grab a handful to sort from light to dark, the toss them up and try sorting from bright to dull, then sort according to colour families then try warm to cool.
While we look at these notice which colours at full intensity are very light, which are dark ?.... can you imagine what an interesting thing shading would be if we went around the colour wheel to go along the grey scale from light to dark using this chart ? Maybe you would like to print the colour one twice so you could arrange the colour values into a value scale ? ( Some colours are the same value at full saturation or brightness)
Play some more with your favourites, make up some colour plans, try laying them out on different coloured paper or wool backgrounds, warm, bright dark colours , cool light, dull ones , what happens to your plan ?

Have fun learning more about yourself and how you view colour.
Analyze this: how many colours do you see , how many values are there areas of warm and cool ?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Hot and Heavy Hit List For Designing

Here it is, the gospel according to designers. I also found this great website with drawn examples about these delicious guides to better compositions, they got em and we needs em.

Checklist for Designing
Do you have different thickness and direction of line in your piece? Do you convey the feeling you want with your use of line? Did you create a center of interest ?

Do you plan a variety of values with contrast ? Will your piece have darks and lights as well as middle values?

Have you arranged your basic shapes in the most pleasing manner? Do you have some variety even if the shapes repeat?

Are there areas of small and large sizes , are these spread out in an interesting way?

Using similar shapes and lines across your work keeps the eye moving and provide continuity. Can you see any pattern in your drawing?

You might want to convey speed or energy , calm or quiet. Certain shapes and lines convey these. What kind of movement message do you want to portray?

Design Principles

These are principles we are more familiar with because of our training as rug hookers.

Unified shape, restful lines, calm movement , low contrasting colour schemes all provide this element.

This element provides spark and vigor to a composition. It provides energy and excitement . It can be achieved by adding opposites to whatever exists in your work. If you have lots of horizontal lines a contrasting vertical one will provide interest.
The same goes for colour. A monochromatic( one colour) or analogous
( close on the colour wheel ie , blue and green) colour scheme will be boring without a spark of contrast.

This is achieved by the repetition of a line , shape or colour.
It indicates movement, and it best used with variety, varying colours slightly and thickness of line and spaces.

Carry colour around your work, make it repeat itself and appear elsewhere, do the same with a shape. Viewer’s eyes look for these things and it pleases them.

Gradual changes in colour and shape provide grace and interest, Drawing the eye slowly they support the unity of your design.

Symmetry, asymmetry, or off balance - explore this as you design, it is a very important tool to convey feeling. Colour intensity, value and temperature are other things to keep in mind to be well balanced too.

Make sure you have a leading lady! Let the other be bit players.

How do you like this composition ?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The More You Do the More You Can

I've noted this week the more I do the energetic I get about doing other things.
Although I'm busy teaching this week I'm still able to keep up my 5 day a week commitment to The Welcome Mat, my social network and to my promise to blog every day. And the ideas of what are blog worthy are pouring , questions of the day are appearing as though by magic, thank goodness.

The ideas are hopping and so is my mind as I'm stimulated by my wonderful students and their questions and creativity.

Tonight we had dinner at a lovely nest in Belleville. We were discussing how valuable it is to be an advocate for yourself and how we wished we had all been taught this as children. To be able to say, I am a auditory learner and I must hear what you need me to do, or I need to see it done or I need to be doing something while you talk. Wouldn't it make life much easier ?

The ability to know yourself and I mean really know yourself, your motivations, your requirements for happiness, your love languages , your weaknesses, the the inkling of you working towards positivity, your negative tendencies...... what a glorious thing.

Think about the qualities I listed above, could we not apply them to rug hooking ?
To know ourselves more fully creates a strong advocate, the best ally we can have because they are always with us...

"No man will work for your interests unless they are his." (American psychologist David Seabury, 1885-1960

If you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything.

Be sure to look skyward, hot weather creates beautiful cloud masses.
Here are Cumulous Towers , the kind of clouds we saw to the east of Belleville today, maybe it is all the hot air I'm spouting LOL!

Photo courtesy of USATODAY

Monday, August 10, 2009

Relaxation, Vexation and Creativity

Creativity is an amazing thing I think is the birthright of every human. We come here with it.
I was just reading Post Secrets and one was about someone wishing they were as happy as they were at 7.

Kids do have that ability to cut to the chase of what they want and act to get it.
But over time we do get complicated. And the opportunity to really enjoy ourselves can easily disappear.

I can get some of my happy tank filled by knitting or watching a movie away on something but I'm not immersed and "in my right brain" aka Betty Edwards right brain. It's more of a contentment thing.
And our right brain is where we should all reside much more frequently.

You know you are using your creative right brain when:
Hours pass in one minute
You aren't hungry
You aren't thirsty
You are completely single minded about your task
The sensation that the world stands still as you create

Have you ever felt any of these as you created ?
These are the hallmark of a child deep at play.

After a busy summer of teaching I'm due for a grand tank up and have taken the month of August off from my regular activities.
What will fill me up ?
Time to fool around with my stuff
Reading what other artists are doing
Seeing what people created, I can literally feel myself mending when I see what amazing and unusual things people make.
Hooking without pressure to be done or do a good job !
Imagining what might be.

Creativity needs to have some food and water sometimes and I'm due for that. Bring on the fertilizer for my hot house flower.
Sometimes creativity is a tea bag though and needs a bit of hot water to get it rolling. Vexation can help me as much as relation because problem solving is a addiction of mine.

Here is a picture of me really relaxing, Honey and Thea paddle me down the river while I rest back like Cleopatra floating down the Nile ! Grab some relaxation of your own today. Stop and breathe in and out 10 times , laugh and then carry on about your crazy day !
That's what I'm going to do !

PS I'm here at Loyalist deep in the bowels of Cell block D. Thea and I feel like this is quite the spa treatment as it is as damp as staying in Mississippi. We plan to each be 10 years younger by the end of the week ! Looking forward to teaching abbout my favorite topic, expansive and expressive use of colour in rug hooking.
Here is a creative exercise for you if you have more than a minute today.
Pick a word you hear on the radio or found in today's paper.
Do a word association game.
If my word is water here is my associations that spread from there, each associated word leads to a new association.
It might not always wind back to itself but just go with the first thoughts that come to mind.
Have fun then spread it around.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Making a Plan

As Thea and I are trying to figure out what we might need all week at our "apartment" at Loyalist, she is of the the TAKE EVERYTHING mentality, and we try to find a route that will largely avoid MetorontoIis I realized we hardly do anything without some sort of plan.

Well, everything but rug hook.
I know it sounds ridiculous but we are so eager to get our hands on a hook and pulling up loops, we sometimes pass go, don't collect $200 and of course we end up in jail !

Rug hooking is the only craft I've done to date that doesn't involve some preliminary work.
When I wove I made a sample, when I knit I made a gauge sample. Come to think of it I've had to make more plans about a making a meal than a hooking project.
When I started hooking I was a bit shocked.

No sampling !
Nor colouring out a sketch, just pick some colours and with a nod from someone else get cutting and pulling loops.
I wish we would just do a tiny bit of prep work.

When we are picking our colours do they really work for what we want to achieve ?
What will be the focus ?
Pick out the actual colours that will cover the largest areas first, then lay down what you want to use on top of it, does it work?
This step alone will save you hours of irritation and money later in the project.
Does everything you need to include show up and be counted the way you want it to ?
Take a photo of it to get a more abstract view of it.
Got a new plaid or texture ?
Try sampling it to see what it looks like hooked up in your cut of choice. Will the work the way you want it to ?
Reference the actual subject, don't draw inspiration from how other people hooked it, look at how other artists handled it.
Take a wide view.
Remember, the colours you dislike will enhance the colours you love !

There is a light up there ahead on the road, get yourself ready and head towards it!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Quilting Bee

Lots of other making happens here as well as rugs !
Thea pieced and quilted a quilt for new baby Luca.
Here Thea and Alexis, a first time quilter stitch the quilt together.
This was going on during my week long class in July, hence the late posting. Who said it would be up to the minute news ?

Here it is finished.

It made me unreasonably happy to see the young ladies quilting away.
What else gets made in your house ?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Look ! You all can't fit in the car !

The lucky pile that's coming with me.

As I get ready to go to Loyalist I have to sort my wool and leave half of it at home !
What a tough choice, it is so hard to know what I might need.
I try to think about bringing a good full range of values of each colour with a good range of dulls and brights as well.
It is good practice to sort your wool.
We often sort them into colour piles to store but do you ever sort them from light to dark or dull to bright ?
There is a lot to learn by doing that. You can really find out if you are gaping huge sections of the value scale.

If you don't have a lot of wool grab yourself a BIG selection of paint chips, colours you love , hate and might find useful will be your criteria !
Playing with colour, that is one great way to enrich your understanding.
Try going to to really have fun understanding the importance of the interplay of colours.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Making Decisions

The act of creativity is largely based on making choices. When you are making choices about colour going into your design, you need to hone that choice to support your main idea. What do you want to convey ?

Calm ? Then choose colours that are:
close to one another on the colour wheel
or are only a value or two apart
that are cool ( green , blue , purple )
that are dull

Exciting ?
Choose colours that are :
across from each other on the colour wheel
are several values apart incuding as dark as black and as light as white
that are warm ( yellow, orange, red, magenta, yellow green
that are bright

The most intriguing works are ones that include areas of both calm and excitement.

The skillful use of colour is all rug hooking is about and it is a difficult subject to grasp hold of and then apply. There is much misinformation around or more pointedly, head knowledge of concepts but not heart knowledge of them. Don't substitute your own intelligence for that of some one elses. If you are taking advice from someone make sure their adeptness is evident in their work, not just their talk.

On another note, we have just become farmers, though how successful we will be is evident by how we refer to our live stock as "children" Here is a picture of one of them.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Cooler today and still dyeing !

Here is a picture of something I dyed for RHM but I can't use because I took a picture at the wrong setting and had to make a whole new batch. Isn't it interesting how the same formula and method can look on different wool.

Also my friend Anita came by yesterday with some treasures from a ex rug hooker.
I have a little love for the cleverness of hookers when they want to sort their wool into values or otherwise.
This gift she received has a sorting method I hadn't seen before and that is saying something.

Happy Hooking !

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Today I dyed

I probably chose the world's worst day for dyeing. The humidity level was through the roof !
There was a wind but it was like getting slapped with wet sheets.
I was also getting to the down and dirty with the article and here is a teaser for you.

There were many opportunities for cat fun too with tons of wool lying around.
As a disclaimer I don't generally let cats make nests of bowls but this was cute.
Also I just discovered who the patron saint of Dyeing wool in the summer was ...look closely:

I needed all the help I could get !

Monday, August 3, 2009

Welcome Mat September Challenge

Every September I like to throw out a challenge for Matters to take part in or observe as they wish.
These are quite a bit of fun and you can also learn quite a bit.

This September the challenge is called 2010.

In 10 inches I want you to use 20 colours. That's it.

How you arrange 10 inches and the colours is up to you ! Use your imagination and really work it.
You have until Jan 20, 2010 to complete it !
Enjoy !
I'll be starting a group in The Welcome Mat for those who want to accept the challenge where you can post your thoughts and your projects.
To join us on the Mat just go to
I hope you join in !

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Thinking About What's Important

I was talking to a good friend today,( hooked some samples while I did it ! ) the kind of person you can say anything to. We have lots in common but foremost I think we always want to ask the question why. As we skipped around various topics I began to see a theme. Live and let live, well at least let them live for a few more months.

I was irritated because I have sets of samples to reinforce my talks on colour and they are separate from my wool for sale, they are pinned together and without a price tag. But somehow someone unpinned them, removed several and either took them or placed them else where.

This is a very small thing on the scale of things in this world. I know. In my defense, it takes a long time to gather these samples together, to make sure they are accurate and elucidate my points and as I'm getting ready to teach a course I frankly want my stuff where I put it in the condition I left it in. I'm probably not alone there.

In my studio I want people to feel welcome and free to move around, to look at things, do as they wish. I like to leave my samples out in case they spark discussion or people want a closer look even if it hasn't been part of the class.

Do I need to put these things away ? Should I change my open behavior and have a less than desired atmosphere ? At least it would be less than desired in my mind.

Uptight ?
I don't think so. I was caused quite a bit of extra work today when time is short. Instead of focusing and being high powered I felt grouchy and thwarted !

Which brings me to what's important, I have to accept when people come into your life and space all manner of things will transpire. You need to be ready to look after yourself, your peeps and your stuff in that order.
Most of what will happen will be good and even the stuff that makes you crazy still makes you a better person if you can learn from it. I don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water. I'm going to leave my samples out. I've had them over ten years and it was good to pick new examples. But I'd rather make that choice than have it made for me.

Off to make some more Iridescence from all sides of the colour pie while I watch True Blood!
Iridescence is best achieved via different coloured wool strips than a dyed piece of colourfull wool. If you want to try doing a bit of "oil slick " effect just look for all colours of the colour wheel of the same value, you will be amazed how well this works and how quickly you use up scraps. You can also skew your oil slick by creating a warm or cool one, a bright or dull one.
Are we using what we have to the best advantage ? Now that's what's really important !

Saturday, August 1, 2009

What Happened ?

Well, where did the time fly ? I'm going to endeavor to post each day in August to get back in the habit
I know I did something since I last posted so let me see if I can review...
We went to Toronto to visit relatives from Scotland and on the way home we saw the MOST amazing double rainbow

I went to North Carolina for about 10 days the end of June.
Here is a picture of the Blue Ridge where Honey went to cycle while I taught.

I had a great class and we did a lot of stuff in 5 days.
There were many exciting projects being done. I had 17 students and everyone had an amazing attitude.
I don't work to the end of getting a rug started but how to do a great job of all the rugs you make, so it can be a bit of a shock. I'm more of a tool building teacher.

I had a week of recovery through cleaning and it was time to start my week long in-studio class.
We had a interesting time. We were all teachers and it was very enriching. On July 1 Jackie Roop won the prize of a silk hank, thank you all for entering. Jackie came to pick it up in person !!! We were so busy with class and socializing I didn't even see which colour she picked.
In case you are wondering why I'm not showing pics and talking about projects ... I don't like to teach and tell. I figure my classes have a right to tell their story about their rugs as they see fit.

Just as this month ended I began hooking again after several without. I finally just made myself sit down and do it.
Better something BAD than nothing, better something WRONG than nothing, better SOMETHING than nothing. So yah I'm doing it! Coming out of the corner swinging !
I'm working on an already started landscape. I'm peeking through some shadowed scrub to the water beyond which is highly lit. Here is a sideways picture of my inspiration, Spry Lake.

I'm using a wide cut #12 and I like to hook out of the trash, meaning I use the lost, the neglected, the just plain unwanted to create what I do. I find this makes it a lot more fun for me. So I don't dye specially for projects. It really allows me to look carefully at my resources. Are they more than they appear to be, can I use them unexpectedly ? My heart thrills to this playground of possibilities.

I spent today writing e-mails, yes almost the whole day long, I was that behind.
This week I 'm prepping for a stint in Belleville, the content of class is colour and I love teaching about this. I wish the days to stretch out and be hours longer so we can play and play !
I'm writing an article about using the crockpot for RHM , doing my year end planning, September seems more like the start of a new year and I'm not a school teacher but I guess I'm conditioned.

Traditionally September is the month for me to initiate a Welcome Mat challenge. I'm cooking up a juicy one I hope you want to join in with us. We have had many great challenges in the past that have produced terrific work.
Here is picture of a challenge mat from several years ago,I sent the same wool to 6 people and we did what we could with what we had, we could add one piece or change another with dye.

I started a new group on the Mat called The Enrichment Assembly, it promotes mutual growth and support for advancement of our hooking. To get the most out of the Mat you need to join some groups ! There is so much more than looking at pictures!

I'll keep you posted about the eventualities.
I welcome any comments or questions.
Happy hooking !