April Flowers

Dear Rug Hooking Friends,

We are a bit into April and my thoughts have turned to spring. That means spring flowers and spring cleaning. One of my spring projects is updating the downstairs bathroom with a new coat of paint and a new hooked rug to match the new decor. I wanted a rug with  a rose, a limited color plan, and wide cut strips. Most importantly I wanted a fun and easy rug to hook.

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So I designed this cute little primitive flower basket. I’m keeping it simple and have named it “Ellen’s Rose Basket”.  I’m sure this flower basket will be hooked long before I finish painting the walls and tiling the floor of the bathroom.

In my last blog I showed you a bit about how I set-up my kitchen for dying wool and pictured below is the wool I dyed for this rug. Happily, I am now all set to start this project at my next Hook-In at the end of the month.

pinkfatquarters Ellen’s Flower Basket will be available on my Etsy shop  on demand and wool is always available.

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.

wool Prep

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.

 

FatQuarters

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

 

New Year Resolutions 2019

Dear fiber friends,

Do you make New Years Resolutions? I haven’t in a long while but this year I will and the resolutions I would like to share with you are fiber art related.

First, I resolve to manage my time more efficiently and effectively so I can work on my projects more often. More often, because when I am working and moving forward it brings me joy, satisfaction and physical well-being. Living in the cold dark New England area can be challenging to my mental health happiness and this should surely help. 

I intend to reuse all my fiber waste in small hit or miss rugs, table toppers and use scraps as backing for pillows and for stuffing. I plan on weaving leftover cut wool strips into my  loom projects too.

I plan to explore more ways to use recycled fabrics and fibers into my projects. This should be a fun ongoing project. And the one I’m working on right now is pictured below.img_4421 (1)

Locally, I hope to bring rug hooking awareness to my  immediate area by sharing my knowledge with others through small local classes and events. And lastly, use locally produced wool yarns to support and showcase local farmers. 

So, what are your fiber new resolutions for 2019? Chime in and let me know.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and creative year!

Ellen

Christmas Rug: Past, Present & Future

Hello rug hooking friends and fellow fiber enthusiasts ,

I recently reviewed my hooked rug collection and found it was lacking in holiday themed rugs. I have flowers, dragons, deer, chickens, pigs and goats,  but I dont have holiday rugs. So, I am trying to remedy that small problem by beginning a long term project to hook a rug for each major holiday, beginning with Christmas and a Star of the East.

This is a peek at my Christmas themed rug  Star of the East and like Dickens’ A Christmas Carol it has a past, present and future.

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The Star of the East is a 28″ x 37″ pictorial of the three Wise Men on horseback following the Christmas star. I purchased this rug pattern designed by Louise Hunter Zeiser many years ago from Heirloom Rugs.  This company is no longer printing patterns and the last catalog appears to have been printed in 1994. The pattern it is no longer available and cannot be copied due to copyright restrictions. The first and only time I’ve seen this rug completed was in the home of my rug hooking friend, Thelma Floyd.  She hooked the piece in a tapestry style with elegant colors and background of a simple green.  I loved the pattern the minute I saw it.  But when I purchased this rug I wasn’t confident in my ability to hook this very detailed pattern so into my stash it went.   Now, years later, I felt it was time to hook Star of the East as the first of my holiday themed rugs.

This pattern is unique, not only it its lack of availability, but in that it is an Anglicized version of the Wise Men, or as my daughter said “where are the camels?”.  I thought this pattern had beautiful horses with stunning tack and lots of detail to explore. I  also thought that with its small details it would be good for bright hued value swatches that I could dye at home and contemporary fabric  with sparkle purchased from Ania Knap at Ania’s Creative Design .  So, I began my journey with the Star of the East at Betty McClentic’s who is also hooking this pattern.  I have to say it looks very different from mine!

I believe this rug will be finished in the near future and at some point hope that Betty will allow me to photograph her rug and share it with you. It would be awesome to see these two rugs side by side and let everyone see how differently we both explored its design elements. I hope that some day some other hooker will have the opportunity to hook this beautifully challenging pattern and make memories of their own.

 

So, that my story of the Star of The East, it’s past, present and hopefully it will have a future. May the story of this beautiful rug continue.

I wish you all a Happy Hanukkah and a Merry Christmas.

Hugs, Ellen

 

Giving Thanks

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Happy Thanksgiving to everyone here in the States and a belated Thanksgiving greetings to my Canadian friends.  With this blog I would like to share a story of the pocketbook pictured above and give a small gift to you.

I like to do a bit of travel in the rug hooking world and attend classes, guild meetings and workshops. I like to hook other peoples patterns and compose my own patterns to hook, and I love to learn from other hooking teachers. I am blessed with an inquisitive mind and the ability to travel.

Over a year ago I signed up with the Olde Cape Cod Rug School  with teacher Betsy Reed and her lovely helper, daughter Erica Tracey of Heavens To Betsy .  At this time I did not want to start hooking a large rug because I am currently working on a large, finely shaded one and I knew hooking another large rug would be too much for me. Having a small project would give me peace of mind for not having too many unfinished projects.

So I examined my goals for this weekend:

  • Small project to be completed in a few days
  • Self-created
  • Approach this project like a teacher would
  • use teachers wool selections and color pallet
  • Complete a project of utilitarian design

I drew a pattern on paper, traced it to linen and what you see is what was created in my weekend workshop. I am truly thankful for the fantastic time I had at the Olde Cape Cod Rug School, with my Teacher Betsy Reed, seeing and socializing with old and new friends and reaching my rug hooking goals.

This Pattern is my Thanksgiving gift to you all. I am available at Ellen’s Hooked Rugs   Shop for $1.00 as a PDF download with directions on how to make it.  I know I am thankful for the good things I have, for family and friends, for warm hospitality, and for your good company.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Ellenpocketbookside4

 

Exploration into Proddy

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I recently re-discovered the proddy technique. I had always thought of proddy as a way to make pretty little flower pins, but why not think outside the box?  What else could I do with proddy?

Being an avid rug hooker and a dyer of wool, I had some leftover pieces of  pretty pink wool fabric from another project.  Reusing leftovers for an experimental project is something that frequently piques my interest, so I thought “why not make a very large proddy pillow?”.   For my experiment, I designed and made a Dahlia pillow (pictured above)

To make my Dahlia pillow, I first drew a circle in the middle of my backing material and then a smaller concentric circle within the larger circle. Then I started working the center of the flower. I used my Oxford Needle Punch (from The Oxford Company)  to place a combination of yellow yarn and yellow wool strips.

The next step was to rip my wool into usable size proddy pieces.  For that, I used my lovely wooden  Proddy Tool and Gauge  

 

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To do this, I snip along the salvage pieces every 3/4 of an inch and rip into long strips. I then wrap the strip around the proddy gauge and snip. This results in beautiful petal like pieces of wool.

Working from the back of the fabric backing, I then poke a hole with my proddy tool and poke in one end of the petal and then poke a second hole next the the first and insert the other end of the petal. This goes round and round until you finish to your desired size.

It is a satisfying feeling to poke and poke and poke and then turn the piece around to see the front of the flower pillow.

This is  second pillow I have finished recently.  I plan on sending the piece to Canada to a church that is being converted to a fiber arts center.

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You can find two Dahlia Proddy Pillows on my Esty shop Ellen’s Hooked Rugs