Monday, October 26, 2009


This must be the night for recommendations !
I have been getting this magazine off and on for as many years as I've hooked almost.
It is a rich resource of Canadian artworks, specifically Quebecois.
The ads themselves would create salivation in the even the most jaded.
Written mostly in French and my early ones were all in French, they now include an English section. You can easily purchase a subscription or pick it up at your local book store if you are a Canadian.
It is a treasure trove of interesting treatments of subjects and there is a WIDE variety of styles.
It can help broaden your appreciation of the vast array of what is possible with colour and form.
Happy Hooking All

Drawing your Attention to

I found a wonderful book on the foundation we all need to create more expansive work.
It is called " A Painter's Guide to Design and Composition" by Margot Schulzke.
It is chock a block full of valuable info we can all use, handed down over centuries from one generation of artists to another. TRIED AND TRUE.
Frequently in rug hooking I find we have lots of unfounded and very dubious references we use to create rugs. Sit back, take it easy and learn from this straightforward and comprehensive book, the proof is in the pudding, the artist's paintings used for references.

WE all do it

You know I recently complained that EVEN though I set out to make a remarkably different rug they often end up looking the same, sort of like a nut bar got loose in the wool factory.
It is going to take a lot more than a few moments of outer blogflection to get that monster dragged out into the light of the day.
Meanwhile I took great solace reading a article about John Irving in the weekend Globe and Mail where he stated: "One's obsessions as a writer – those things that recur but are unplanned – they just insist upon themselves
I just want to replace the word writer with hooker !
I wondered what the symbol on his arm is ?
Dear God in heaven is there nothing we cannot google in this day and age ? Just ask and you shall be answered.....
a symbol on his right forearm signifying the starting circle of a wrestling match (because he is a wrestler).
But I digress, take a look at your rugs, are their very strong similarities in subject matter, colour or structure ?
I think we all do it to some degree.

Tarting up the Brown Stack

Today I began dyeing in earnest for the first time in months. I'm taking it slow though. Don't want to be on my feet too much and ruin my progress. So in between dye baths if they were dark and I had a few minutes I finished Steig Larrson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and started Genesis by Karin Slaughter. I just remembered when I was dyeing I was listening to the Audio book The Help by Kathryn Sockett ! Oh Boy !

The first thing I do when dyeing to top up my stock is examine the remains of the given colour left on the shelf. A shocking trend emerges.
See if you can note what that might be in this brown stack.

A blanc mange blandness.
Examining my scanty piles of wool I realize I have one ultra light, tons of dull, cool mediums and no darks to speak of.
That minute or two of classifying what is missing really gives direction to my dyeing.
I usually go downstairs and make sort of a master list of what I need on all the shelves but due to my needing to slow it down I brought the pile to me. This allowed me to see quickly, was I already doing something I've done ?
Dyeing create the happy but boring returning to what you like best scenario resulting in a pretty predictible pile of wool due to following my heart.
When I looked at the poor pile of browns it really helped me to get some much needed variety in temperature, value and saturation. This makes it easier for me to use and a useful variety for customers.
Here is the amended pile with the old pile blended in. So much richer.
Hints for dyeing browns:
Use good proper brown dye to begin with
Varying them by adding black, red, violet, orange or blue or green to the brown dye.
Try dyeing browns over violet or blue or orange or pink or green wool.
Have fun while you dye, remember you can change anything for the better if you add enough dye. As one recent dyer said after coming to be mentored... I came 2000 miles to learn I was either using too much dye ( to create real lights ) or not enough. LOL That about says it all !

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Let's Take a look at this ....

It's time for us to take a look at another work of art. To refresh your memory I want us to take a careful look at what we can learn from these amazing creations about colour and its placement from time to time.
Here is Van Gogh's Starry Night over the Rhone.
The first thing I notice is the way the sky changes colour to indicate atmosphere. As interesting as that is to compel the eye into the distance, those yellow reflections in the water are amazing! Let take a look how he transitioned from the reflections of light to the dark water. Going from yellow to orange, no problem, it is a smal leap, but how to go from yellow to blue ?
If you look closely you can see the yellow green which acts as the bridge.
We can see the same trick in the sky with the stars and their green halos, although yellow green has been used, a most strident colour, in this setting it acts as a neutral transition.
Let's look back to the shoreline, see how the distant lights are yellow but the ones closer are warmed with orange.
The dock or landmass at the foreground is just a lighter version of all the colours used in the work. Lighter makes it actually seem to float out to meet us, make us a welcome part of the scene.
The figures are barely noticable making the water the real star.
You can notice a shock of hot pink in the dress of the woman, but honestly if you were at a dock at night with strong lights what could you see of figures. This treatment rings true.
Light and dark, oh yeah it is all going on.
Contrast with temperature and saturation ?
Yes it has it all.
A leading lady ?
An interesting composition ? You bet !
What do you see ?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

East Dennis Antiques

I found a whole passel of hand hooked antique rugs here.
It is worth taking a look.
Here is one example.

Woolgathering Time

It is time for Woolgathering soon. I've got plenty to do. It's time for several high dyeing days. But I just don't feel like gearing up for that just yet ! Thank goodness I've got until Nov 7.
I'm so depleted from the couple of years work schedules all I want to do is curl up with a blankie and a bottle. LOL probably not the kind of bottle you are thinking about.

We need to be so careful about looking after ourselves and our resources.
So toward that end instead of dyeing I'm listening to an audio book by Harville Hendricks and it is so full of terrific info. I rarely look at these types of books because of the BS quotient but I haven't hit a smelly patch yet and I'm more than half way finished.

I also have a will not go away case of laryngitis. So if you are calling me and I'm not answering I'm saving my voice for emergencies like calling out for my blankie and getting my bottle refilled.

Are you interested in Woolgathering ?
Here is the announcement for it, count it as your invitation.
I hope you are available to join us on Nov.7th 2009. Woolgathering time has rolled around once again.
Our program this session is titled Hidden Talents. I suspect many of you do other marvelous things and it is time to let your little light shine.
Maybe you are also a quilter or knitter, a poet or painter ? Perhaps you make great preserves or tap dance for fun ? Tell us what thing you are good at, bring us a sample of it. If you feel you don't have a hidden talent ( who are you trying to kid ?)bring us a good tip for rug hooking or life.

What's in it for you ?
Come and enjoy great rug hooking fun and laughs at Woolgathering. All are welcome to come, spread the word to everyone you know ! If you can't come forward this onto someone who might. This is a wonderful opportunity for new hookers to see a large variety of work and get inspired, good for jaded old hookers too !

Where is Woolgathering? The Community Church of Christ 2555, 8th Ave W, Owen Sound,ONTARIO, CANADA our usual spot.

What time does it start and end ? 9:30 until 3 but come any time during, show and tell is in the morning this time.

How much does it cost? Still only $8 per person

What to bring ?
Bring a lunch, perhaps some baking if you feel moved to do so, a project to hook on, rugs to show, piece of wool for the grand draw prize and other draw prizes if you can - something you no longer want or need ? Make another hooker happy !

If you wish to vend please come with your wares, a card table space cost $10 ,bring your own table. larger tables are in short supply if you need one book now, these cost $25. Notification to sell must be made 5 days prior to the event for insurance purposes.
To date there will be an abundance of beautiful WandaWorks products, Impressions in Wood with fantastic tools for hooking. If there is something you need specifically let vendors know ahead of time and we will make you very HAPPY !!!

Questions ?
For more info call 534-0799 or write emailto:

How to get there ?

Directions from the South ( Hwy 6) and East ( get to Owen Sound on HWY 26 )

Drive along HWY 6 as you enter Owen Sound, look for 10th St. You will make a left turn onto this street.
You will drive down a hill then cross three intersections.
You will turn right on the fourth one.
You will have crossed a small bridge and the road to turn on is right after it.
It is 1st Ave W .
Follow that a short way until you reach 14 St.W , you will have to turn left.
Drive one block , turn right onto the Eddie Sargent Parkway or 3rd Ave W.
Follow this street until it intersects with 26th St W. Make a left turn.
Drive through 2 intersections , turn left at the third, this is 8th Ave W.
You should be able to see the church on the right hand side.

Directions from The West and North
Go to the Drive In in Springmount.
Turn Left
At the first stop sign you reach turn left.
Continue on this road until it intersects with 24th St W make a right hand turn.
Follow this street until your reach 8th Ave W turn left , this is the street the church is on.
Look for it after you pass the ball diamond on the right hand side of the road. It is the same place but is now called The Community Church of Christ.

Hope to meet you then,

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Rug I'm working on

Today I spent many hours trying to match a 2" square of wool. That has made me tired.
I think I've got it but it was a wandering and they are very difficult to match due the the layers they develop and how the colours interplay.
I've found a splendid web site on colour and its interaction, so important for us to study because all rug hooking is about is colour and you ! After you learn to pull a loop you are pretty much done with technique.

Here is a rug I'm working on as I study light and dark and it's effects. I'm at the edge of a dark wood looking out into a bright lake. As usual, it's symbolic too.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

News From The Hook-in

Today was hook-in day.
For once I was organized and camera ready.
We had a bit of a quiet day but filled with treasures and wisdom !!!
Debbie was here but escaped before I got the camera out. She is hooking another Christmas
stocking for her many grand babies ! Just when she thinks she is caught up ... well you know what happens.
Here is Lorraine Duncan just completing her very successful peach, it is so curvy and she used scraps to create that too. What an amazing lady !

Barbara Muldoon is coming right along with her keep it simple rug , the colours she is using are really making this a rich and gorgeous piece. She is using leftovers for her sunflowers which I over dyed to make darker and more golden.

Erin Gundy is hooking a photo she took of a tree in her yard and she is doing an amazing, wonderful job.
Doreen Lumb is doing a beautiful job of her landscape after the style of one of the Group of Seven artists. WOW !
Gwen Becker brought us a quilt hanging of extraordinary detail and embellishment made by her sister in law Joan Heatherington. Beautiful, I wish the picture did it more justice. OIt is a "green quilt" I like Joan's addition to the three rs.... reconsider !

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Water Colour Dyeing Instructions

Water Color Dyeing

This is what I call it though you might think of a better name... I was reading a book demonstrating water color painting and the making of washes. The paper was wet, paint dropped on the surface and the paper was picked up , then rotated and swirled and the colors mixed and danced with beautiful results.

I immediately thought, I can pick up my frying pan by the handles and move it in the same way !!!


1/8th yd of natural wool soaked

Pick three colors of dye they can be any colours, I used the follwing ProChem ones.

Forest Blush ( each color mixed in their own jar.)

1/32 tsp. Wine Rose 350 + 1/3 cup of water + 1/32 tsp. citric acid crystals

1/32 tsp Golden Pear + 1/3 cup of water

1/32 tsp. Maple Sugar 121 + 1/3 cup of water

The trick for this is all in the pouring, and the rolling.

Lay your wool in the hot frying pan, pour the first color in a triangle with the base towards you, (look at diagram 1 , the fine line) the point will be reaching the left hand upper corner. Add the next color making a triangle with the base away from you coming to a point on the right hand side lower corner

Roll the fry pan side to side and back and forth, be careful !!

Gently movements work well.

When the water is half way clear pour the third color right down the channel in the middle overlapping both colors..

This is a DO NOT STIR method. Please try your own formulas

This is fun wool to use for just about anything, leaves , flowers, some place you need some excitement!!

WILD ANIMAL Remember 1/3 cup of water for each dye in their own jar.

1/32 tsp. Mocha Chino 670 + 1/32 tsp. citric acid crystals

1/32 tsp. Slate Blue 441

1/32 tsp. Clay 561


1/32 Spiced Pumpkin 230 + 1/32 tsp. citric acid crystals

!/32 tsp. Paprika 368

1/32 tsp . Charcoal Gray 670

Right to left Blush, Wild Animal , Mars

WaterColour Dyeing Video from Dye Class

During dye class last week we did many things.
I was able to take a video of everyone working on their watercolour dyeing. The instruction for this have been published in RHM ,titled "If you can't stand the heat" in the summer of 2005 or 2006. It was an article about crock pot and frying pan dyeing. I'll include instructions so you can try it in my next post.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Question about how to Hook a Bull's Eye Dye

Joanne asks:
Now that I see another Burlington Bull's eye hooked, my question is how
do you cut the wool to get the effect that you have? Thanks

Hi Joanne, Oh we are so bound by our expectations of what's possible in wool, and honey it is not just you but all of us. First let's remember we are going to cut this wool up into strips, into tiny strips considering the size of the whole. So doesn't that leave us free to interfere with the wool as we wish ? That in mind I ripped the Excitement in half so I had two quarter yds. That gave me access to my yellow bit.
I hand tore the strips at about a 8 or 9 cut. I started hooking a yellow circle. Sometimes there were areas at the top and bottom of the strip I discarded for the moment. They were not yellow or yellow enough for my purpose. If it didn't work out I didn't put it in. I was left with very little I didn't use in that piece.
Let's imagine this: I had 4 sections of 1/16th yd each.
I used all of two sections and had a half left of two others, with a few partial strips also unwanted.
I made sure I kept the magenta areas of strips meeting and the blues ones in a group where they would touch, violet filled in as I hooked round and round repeating my circular shape. I painted with my palette of Bull's Eye and for a joke created one, though this is not necessary at all. I could have hooked a plain straight sky as often seen rug hooking. For another joke I like the idea that I used Excitement and create sort of a passive picture.
Here are the results again:

Calming The Excited- Overdyeing

Wild Spot Wild Spot split in two
black added on the right
violet added on the left

I'm giving a dye class in my Online Studio - Wanderful Dyeing.
One of the students, Lynn, asked this great question:

Wanda, I have noticed a few of the dyers overdyeing with black to tone down bright colors & have asked them to share their technique. Then I thought others might like to know too, how you go about doing this. Does it work best as an overall wash without much stirring, or does it depend on what colors you might want to keep & then use a spot method? Thank you so much for hosting this class. It sure got me thinking about color & experimenting with it! And your videos are such a great way to learn. Last night I looked at my stack of wool that I had dyed for this class & thought, wow, there are pieces here that I just can't wait to hook with!

Here is my reply:
Overdyeing with black ..... or overdyeing to calm down excited colours.
DYES Decide how much do you want the colour to deepen in value to know how much dye to add. Then you need to look at your wool colours, if you have yellow in it and wish to retain a yellowish cast and turn it into gold, you can't add lots of black, it turns yellow green. It would be prudent to use a brown then. You still have the same calming effect but with a warm cast. Also I frequently use a dullish purple (towards blue) to calm down wool with warm colours.
To calm cool colours I like to use a dull orange.
I do use black quite a bit but only for certain colours, blue for instance, black makes a nicer calmer than say blue's opposite colour orange, which may turn blues green easily.
I like to use black with reds also because the results are spectacular, beautiful burgundies,wines and deep roses. Brown also makes a delicious combo with red.
METHOD I usually use an overall wash. For keeping out certain colours I don't rely in spotting because of its ham fisted lack of control. If I'm going to bother of keeping colour out of certain parts of my wool I would just paint dye on the parts I wanted changed in my frying pan. This would result in my efforts being rewarded with my desired outcome. I might even provide a resist to with an elastic to the parts I want to stay the same.
The uglier the wool, the greater power of dye I like to use. If you have spots or textures that are spectacularly low on the easy on the scale scale, I fight fire with fire. If the wool is mostly cool I'll use the brightest of oranges. If warm I'll use very bright violet.
I'm so glad you have enjoyed the class, it truly seems to me to be the best way to learn, you are on your own time, in your own home, with your dyes and equipment. What could be better ?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Advice to a New Hooker

Here is a couple of terrific questions from a new hooker. It helps me tremendously to think like a beginner.
Here is my favorite quote on the topic.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few.
Shunryu Suzuki

Wanda, I am a new hooker. I am ok if I am going horiz. or vertical but when I want to make a curve, the loops are always twisted and I have to pull the wool up to untwist. Also, if I have 6 loops going vertical and I want to start a new line next to it and come down, should I just bring the strip up and cut and start at the bottom again, even if its only about 4 loops left? Thanks for any information.

Many hookers have problems making curves. The best cure is practice. When I start some one hooking I have them hook a straight line, a slightly curved line, like a big S, a circle, a square and a triangle and then ask they fill the shapes in. Through this I think they run into to every single circumstance they might encounter while hooking. They also use all manner of different width strips, and nylon, yarn and other materials thus finding out what they like to hook with. If you have a space on your current project to draw some gentle S shapes or Cs please do so.
To hook curves I turn the work so I'm always essentially going straight toward myself. There is an old school of thought that countenances the rule "NEVER TURN YOUR WORK". The touters of that rule all went to Chinese contortionist gymnast yoga school and are currently undergoing spine reconstruction. My general belief is rug hooking should neither hurt nor be difficult. Take it easy and make it easy on yourself. Never hesitate to cut your wool. It is the constant threat of cutting that makes wool sit up and behave ! It doesn't matter if you have only one loop to pull up in a given area. They aren't giving out prizes to people who have the longest,continuous strip. Do what you need to to make it work for you. If this did not help you please ask me more questions.
Here is a rug that is largely created from curved lines.I called it Let's Be Friends If you click on it you can see it more closely.
By the way, another great quote on curved lines:
William MacCall: Straight is the line of duty; Curved is the line of beauty; Follow the straight line, thou shalt see The curved line ever follow thee.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What you can do when you have to

I was needing to hook a little rug for RHM... pronto.
So last night Jean Schroderus and I tagged teamed this little mat!
While I made supper she hooked and while she cleaned up I did!
This sky was made using a Burlington Bull's Eye.
Several people have been asking what can be done with this wool that is coloured in an unusual way, sure they say the wool is pretty but what can you do with it?
Burlington Bulls Eye: Excitement on the left, Calm on the right
The real question for me is why we don't understand the more interesting the wool we use the greater the symbiotic relationship between wool and object depicted,the greater the mystery and depth to the viewer. We are cutting the wool into strips anyway, why not create as much magic as possible in the dye pot?

Here is the mat Jean and I hooked with a half of the Excitement sample. I ripped it right down the middle and began to just hook my yellow circle and continued to use the strips as they came off making sure I kept blue to the left and violet mostly to the right. It is 10" x 11" using #7 cut and hand torn strips. The dark areas are the crow wool I just dyed for our recent videos.
Hope you find time to exercise your magic today !

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

In a time far away and long ago

Before I was a rug hooker I designed and made clothing for my work.
I still love hand made clothing and fabric turns me on. When I need to feel better I love to see these representations of longevity and heart. I am currently looking at vests. I thought I'd share a great site with you for antique clothing and textiles. Made to last a lifetime and more, they contain a wealth of inspiration for patterning, colour and even shape for a properly fitting hooked vest ! Is there even such a thing ? I admire the devotion it takes to create these garments.

Dye Class Diary

Our dye class class is going pretty well. Sunny, Sarah, Sharon and Jean are doing a great job. I'm not doing too badly either considering my recovery from my injury. I do need to sit down from time to time though which is unusual for me. We've taken some video for you which I'll pop up here on the week-end for you to see. We are exploring many things and as usual I deepen my understanding of effective communication while instructing.

Our first task was to create a formula.
If you have never made one here is an easy place to start to help you to develop your own formulas or refresh your ability to do so.

While we dye we are being creative. Being creative is a series of decisions.

You might find when dyeing without formulas, you are turning to the same old combos repeatedly with predictable results.

This is one time I’m advising you to stir it up but not in the dye pot, I want to spark your mind. Let’s dream up what’s possible in this session. We will combine some unusual partners, we’ll see what happens when you tinker with the ratios of dye you use. Increasing one colour in a two dye dance can really change the tempo ! Just switching one green for another, or using brown instead can also really alter things.


Pick out a dye you love.

Pick out one you dislike.

Try to make sure the colours are not side by side, like sea breeze and turquoise ( same dye different intensity ) or red and orange.


Decide how much wool you want to dye over. Decide what value you want your wool.

This will allow you to make an informed decision about how much dye to measure out. Not all dyes are made with equal strength. Prochem Lime Green for instance is pretty weak as is Majic Carpet red, you need to use more of these dyes to have them show up !

(You can find out what is weak by doing a sample of each dye you have with a toothpick of dye dyed over a 12” x1 inch wide strip of wool processed in a jar.)

A Value Guideline

Over 1/4 yd of wool ( YOU DYE THE AMOUNT OF WOOL YOU WANT IN THIS CLASS THIS IS JUST A GUIDELINE to give you a place to start)


very , very light - dry toothpick dipped in dye

very light- wet toothpick dipped in dye

light -1/128th tsp


medium light - 1/64 tsp

medium -1/32 tsp

medium dark - 1/16th tsp


light dark - 1/8th tsp

medium dark 1/4 tsp

very very very dark 1/2 tsp.


Measure out equal amounts of each dye to make a very light colour.


( Using natural wool for this value would be best and a dry toothpick for a measure )

Dissolve in 1/4 cup boiling water.

PAPER TEST- this is drawing a line with a chop stick or some such thing on white paper with the dye to test the colour.

Now honestly you might choose not to dye over wool at all but just record your results on paper. You will have tons of dye leftover though.

(This is the time to see if you like the colour and make adjustments though for this class I want you to trust your instincts and go for what you chose.)


It is fun and glam to make pretty colours, but I encourage you to go ahead with the grays and taupes, the dulls. We need these too.


Go ahead and dye your sample in a dye bath.


less water + small pot = lots of mottling on the wool. Lots of water + no squishing = smoothly coloured wool


Let’s look at the formula used

2 equal parts 1 dry toothpick each.

What does it look like if I use

1/128th of one colour and 1/64th of the other ?

What if I used a 1/32 of colour one and 1/64of colour two ?

Explore what happens with a 1 to 3 ratio and then try another tripling your other colour.

What if I wanted this colour very, very dark what could I do ....

Your Homework

Do Step 1

2 dyes in equal parts. One colour you like, one you don’t. Light value.

Now extrapolate.

Choose the variation of your choice as outlined in Step 2 or one you think of, record it.

Do as many variations with these two colours you wish but do at least one for us to see. The more you say what if to yourself and follow through, the more you will learn.

Pick out two more sets of two colours. Do the same with them - create a equal ratio formula, then at least one variation.

At the very least you are sending in 3 sets of 2 pieces of wool but go ahead and try as many variation of different ratios you like.

You can do anything with the two colours for your variations. You are in charge. Do the value you want.

Here is what I did as an example.

Magic Carpet Dyes over 1/4 yd natural wool.


1/128th tsp Black + 1/128th Yellow

The Variation


1/128th tsp Black+ 2/32 Yellow

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Getting The Room of The Great Undyed Ready

I spent a couple of hours getting my storage room that contains my wool and my dyes and equipment tidied up and sorted out.
You can't believe how tossed up things get when I'm busy. It is very easy to toss things into that room and not put them away because it is only used for the purpose of storage, nothing else happens in there !
I found things I didn't know were mine !
How many chop sticks and wooden spoons does one person need ?
Here's how I keep the room functional, I'll take a picture of it once the week is through.
I wonder what it will look like ?

Hyberbolic Hooked Rugs

Don't worry, I wondered too.
In the 1980s a man name Tony Bomford use the mathematical ideal of tessalations and hyperbolas to create a set of fantastic rugs.
To read the whole article about how these rugs were designed and see other pictures of rugs he created go here

Tony Bomford's Squares and Tessalations

I haven't had a second to hook in the last few days. I'm getting ready for my dye mentoring class and I can't wait for the excited dyers to arrive.
I got a OK to go air castless from my Dr. and am now just wearing an ankle "girdle". He told me he could safely tell me to go and dye as much as I wanted. He said it was the first time he has EVER told a patient that.
I'll try to record some of our activities during the three days.
BTW ! Do you want to learn to dye ?
On Nov.2 I'm giving a one day dyeing blitz where people will learn 15 methods of dyeing and get a great handbook on all of these methods and good samples of each to boot ! It will be live and in my studio. Want to come ? I have space for 2 .... it will be a class of 4.
Contact me from my web page
Have a great day.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Eye Candy from Jozan

6) Lakai gadgeri, 6'5"X10'9", spectacular wool textile made up of warp-faced bands with warp-substitution weave, sewn together horizontally.
To see and read more about textiles from Central Asia go to Jozan

Preserving the Hooked Rugs Of Beauport

Here is one of the hooked rugs from Beauport, where there are over 200.

To read how they are being preserved go here