Where Do I Begin?

Dear rug hooking friends,

I’ve been a rug hooker for many years and I’ve hooked and taught many different size rugs and many different styles. And one thing they all have in common is the question  “Where do I begin?”

Well, there is no single answer to that question.

Sometimes, when I’ve been away from hooking for a bit I feel rusty and I dont want to begin on the most important part of my rug, the main motif. So I’ll find a smaller design element in the larger pattern and begin there.

IMG_2647 Perhaps the rug pattern needs some type of outline. The pattern shown here has many flowers and I wasn’t up to tackling them right away. So I needed to ease into the pattern by starting with an outline. That also helps me to see if my loops are pulled high enough for the style I am looking for.

IMG_2649There are times when it is obvious where you need to start. This happens for example when you hook a flower. You should always start with the petal on the top and work your way to the last almost hidden parts of the flower.  That does not mean that you have to begin with the biggest flower in the rug as your first item to hook. I would like to suggest that you start with a smaller flower, hook that and build your confidence, style, technique, then move on to your larger images.

Do I begin with my background? No, but I might put a bit in here and there next to a motif to see how it works. And it’s OK to jump around a bit, especially when you attend a workshop or class so you can get instruction for all the places you will need help with.

So, where should you and I begin? It’s our choice. Just begin where you are comfortable and your rug will soon be done.

 

A Trip Down Memory Lane

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Hello Friends,

September is here and Fall as arrived. The air is cooler, children are back in school, apples are crisp and my latest rug has been finished.  The rug pictured above is Skaket #109C, Cranberry Bog, a pattern from Heirloom Rugs, designs by Louise Hunter Zeiser. To my knowledge this special pattern is no longer available.

Many of the rugs I hook are chosen because they have a special meaning to me and my family. This rug is special because the place where I live, Sisters Three Farm, has a 100 + year old cranberry bog. This bog was created by the settlers who lived here over 350 years ago because it is a natural depression which collects water.  It is surrounded by an old field-stone wall to keep the livestock out.  At the end of winter it fills with melted snow and rain, it then comes alive with the first peeper frogs signaling that spring has arrived.

My Bog has a life cycle all it own and come fall the wetness has dried enough that I can walk out upon the peat-moss and around the wild cranberry bushes.  I have fond memories of my children and I gathering enough cranberries to make relish for Thanksgiving, taking our favorite goats for walks, and finding my girls floating in a tub in the deepest part of the bog. This is a special place and holds special memories.

Skaket Cranberry Bog ( 2.4′ x 3.9′) was hooked using a #5 cut and two 6 value swatches of green. The green swatches were from a finished project and I did have to dye some more to complete this.  The background was several ugly pieces of brown wool over dyed with a recipe called Compost.  Thrift is important it me so using leftovers is a good thing.

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I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane with me. And I hope it will inspire you to hook a rug that reminds you of your special memories.

Happy rugging,  Ellen

Too Cute Bunnies

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Hello Rug hooking friends,

I wanted to tell you about my latest finished rug and the process I used to create this pattern on the spur-on-the-moment.  This rug, Too Cute Bunnies,  was started in Canada. I had signed up for a “Wide is Wonderful” class with Tina Cole and completed the hand torn project with time to spare.  You can see the completed hand torn rug on my last blog.

I wanted to make a small table topper project as a birthday gift for a special friend. But how could I do this while I was away from home and all my pattern making tools? this is a brief description of what I did.

masking tapeFirst I purchased a piece of linen from the rug school store and put masking tape around the edges so it wouldn’t unravel while I worked on it.

 

Then I googled what a Netherland Dwarf rabbit looks like so I could free-hand draw the rabbit on a piece of notebook paper. The notebook paper limited the size of the bunny I would draw, but that was fine with me because Netherland Dwarf rabbits are small.

template (2)After drawing the bunny on the notebook paper I cut it out on the line, creating a paper silhouette or template.   I then choose to make a pattern with two rabbits facing each other so I made sure I knew where the middle of the rug would be and placed the template so it would be on one side of the middle. Using an industrial sharpie marker I trace around the template on the backing. and then did the same for the other side.

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This is a paper pattern showing where the bunnies were placed and drawn. I hooked the original pattern before I could get a photo of it on the linen.

I enjoyed this process of using templates and have done similar patterns using templates that I have hand-drawn. I would encourage you to give it a try. Of course you can find this paper pattern on my Etsy shop.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.

Happy hooking! Ellen

 

Finishing a Round Rug

Dear Rug Hooking friends,

I was recently at a the Ragg Tyme Rug Hooking School in Canada. I had a lovely time and would highly recommend going if you get the chance. It is run by Ingrid Heironimus of Ragg Tyme Studio of Ontario Canada.  While there I took a wide cut class taught by Tina Cole. I truly believe that we can learn something new from each class we take, and Tina’s class was no exception. I enjoyed my time with her and follow classmates enormously and learned more about spacing my loops on my hand torn rug. My project was a small 22″ round mat by Woolen Memories called Bee Skep. In the following paragraphs below I will tell you step by step how I finished this round mat.

 

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First I measure out 2″ from the hooked edge of my rug. I make a dot with my industrial marker from Sharpe. I mark the 2″ dots completely around the edge of the hooked motif.

 

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The next step is to connect the dots with the marker making a complete circle.  I do this by hand. and its easy when you dot close together. 

 

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The next step is to apply a thin bead of fabric glue to the completed drawn circle. Make sure you use a glue that is specifically made for fabric. I find my glue at my local fabric store.

 

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After the fabric glue dries, cut the excess backing off on the outside of the marked and glued circle.

 

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This is a photo of the scrap linen backing that I removed. I pull off many of the threads and save them to use for sewing. They blend nicely into the backing and are nice and strong too. I use them to sew the prepared edge onto the hooked backing.

 

 

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This photo is of the linen thread wound onto an empty spool, and of the needle I use to sew with. 

 

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I next baste around the entire edge of the rug and gently gather the material by pulling gently on the linen basting threads, making a ruffle. This is when the gathered edge when pulled is turned toward the center of the back of the rug . You can see the hooked back and how it is gathered.

IMG_2114 After I gather the edges and distribute  the ruffle evenly I turn under the raw edge and steam it. This step keeps everything in place while I sew the steamed edge to the bottom of the rug. I know many of you dislike finishing your rugs and the way described above is nice and easy.  Hope you give it a try.

 

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This is the finished Bee Skep rug. It’s happily residing in my up stairs bathroom and my feet are happy when I stand on this soft and squishy rug.

Happy hooking,  from Ellen’s Hooked Rugs.

Welcome to my rug hooking adventures

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Hello rug hooking friends,

I am thrilled to tell you about my latest adventures in the rug hooking world.  Pictured above is the rug I designed and hooked for Wool Works, a magazine for wool lovers.  

This wonderful opportunity fell into my lap and before saying yes I had to ask myself several questions. Would the pattern design be easy for beginners?  Nice enough for experienced hookers to want to do it? Would I be good a making a deadline or taking photos? I was a bit worried.  But I also love a challenge and said yes!

So, here I am with my first published work, and I may have a few more. Thank you Melanie for giving me this opportunity.  If you would like to see the article and rug it can be purchased at Wool Works.  In June you will be able to find the pattern on my Ellen’s Hooked Rugs @ Etsy

Another exciting adventure I had recently was when I attended an open house at Lucille Festas at her Lollipop Farm in Vermont. The Open House was held in her rug hooking studio and we all know how much fun it is to see others’ work space. The walls of dyed wool were beautiful to look at.unnamed  I also attended the  Hook-in the next day at the Manchester Country Club and met old and new friends. Well that’s all for today.  Happy hooking,

Ellen

 

Dyeing Wool at Home

Dear fiber friends,

March has rolled in here in Massachusetts like a lion; winds, snow, ice and bitter cold. So whats a rug hooking person to do besides hook? Well, dye wool! I usually dye with a project in mind and I have several rugs planned for the next few months. So I thought I would show you what it’s like to dye in my home.

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First I prepare my wool for dying and I’ve found its easy to rip my desired wool into fat quarters. I often use the same textured wool and dye it in two or more values of the same hue. I also like use the same texture with an entirely new color. I use my kitchen counter to lay out and measure my yardage. My counter top is nice and large and flat so accurate measuring is possible. I always soak my wool in Synthrapol to open the fibers in preparation of dying.

 

DyeAreaThe next area I use in my kitchen is my stove top and the area next to the cook top. I cover the counter with a piece of cardboard so spills will be less likely to hit my counter top, make stains and contaminate any future food preparation. If the cardboard surface is damp it helps to trap any dye particles that dont make it into my glass mason jars. I place my kettle full of water and set it to boil and fill my white enamel pots. My dye equipment ( enamel pots, mason jars, measuring jars, and dye spoons) is only used for dying and never for food use! 

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I often use W. Cushing dyes or Prom chemical and refer to dye book recipes to get an idea of the end product. Dye books have been a good resource for me and I recommend them as a good foundation for your dying adventures.  I often want to reproduce a hue and keeping notes is important. But for me, as well as others, city or well water changes and can effect your end results. Don’t forget to replace the plastic dye packet into the correct paper packet.

 

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This is a photo of what my work area is like. You can see the cardboard, glass mason jars for holding dye, dye spoons and my special Bluette gloves which allow me to touch hot wool without being burned.  when I’m done dying I clean up my dyes, swish my dye spoons in salt, wash my enamel pots with a little bleach and wipe my counter tops with a dilute bleach water solution. Done, safe and ready for regular kitchen use.

 

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This is some of the fat quartered dyed wool that I’ve prepared for a special project I”m teaching this summer.  I love to dye wool and wool yarn for punch needle and it brings my happiness level to a 10 out of 10, and dying at home is safe because I prep my area well.

Happy dying from Ellen’s Hooked Rugs.

Valentine Up-Cycle Silk Heart

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Hello Fiber Enthusiast Friends,

Happy Valentines Day! You deserve to be loved. And in keeping with this months’ theme of love and friendship, I thought I should make an up-cycled project that would be fun, easy and use found fibers.  And so here is my Friendship Sachet. A cute little lavender sachet hooked with silk. It’s a hooked heart that you can easily make from your own stash or from my kit on Ellen’s Hooked Rugs @ Etsy

Most people probably have some unused silk ties hanging around their closet or at least can buy some funky extra wide silk ties at their local thrift store.   It’s a bonus if we rescue fabric from landfills in these projects because the apparel industry  is a significant polluter and we want to leave our planet a better place than we found it.

After collecting my used ties I began to deconstruct them. First, I ironed the fabric to remove the wrinkles and make the fabric easier to cut.  While doing this, I thought why not use the lovely red die in the ties and transfer some of the red die to my smaller pieces of natural wool and use it for the backing of the silk sachet hearts. I was very pleased to find a second way to up-cycle. img_1635colortransfer

Pictured above is the fabric roll I used for transferring dye from the silk tie to the natural color wool, and the end results. This material is a perfect match for the silk sachet hearts.

Next I drew a small heart onto my backing, cut the silk ties with my #10 cutter and hooked my small silk heart. After my hooking was complete, I put some fabric glue around the edges, let it dry, and cut. This step is to prevent the backing from fraying while hand-sewing.  The next step was to sew on the wool backing by hand turning under the seam allowance and leaving a small opening to insert the batting, lavender and leftover pieces of wool snips from your last hooking project. Up-cycled material again!  If you dont have snips and scraps, of course use batting.

Now you have a lovely silk sachet, enjoy!

I hope you liked reading about my up-cycled silk heart.  If you are interested, you can find a few kits posted on my Ellen’s Hooked Rugs @ Etsy

Happy Valentines Day!  Ellen