Search This Blog

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What About Loop Height?

A question of the day on Wanda Kerr's site was, "Do you think loop height is something to be concerned about?" Most of us were taught in our beginner classes that the loops should be as high as the cut is wide and we strive to make the loops even in height. Here are three interesting responses to the question. What is your opinion?

1) With beautiful hooked rugs being mass-produced (by hand) and offered at retail, I choose for my hooking to be easily identified as an individual work of labor and love. Slight variations in loop height, irregular sizes and shapes, color mix as well as incorporating names and dates do this for me. Many of the antique items we own - rugs or other treasures, show all sorts of "amateurish" or questionable execution but have stood the test of time and are probably as appreciated today by their lucky owners as they were by their proud or practical originators. While they may have strived for perfection within their skill level, their lack thereof is what would have attracted me to their pieces.

2) I love Barbara's answer about the variations, and individualism in contemporary, and older rugs. While I admire even polished rugs, but don't do them(a lot of it is can't), not with the varied, recycled materials I have to work with because they are not all the same weight, thickness, or texture. They pull up and hook differently even if they are all the same cut. I use thick to thin fabrics from coats, jackets, skirts, pants, sweaters, blankets, and almost no new fabrics along with commercial and hand spun yarns, sheep fleece, and other non wool materials and yarns. I like using the different materials as to me it's what I can afford, and i get interesting effects, textures, and looks to my work. I'm not a perfectionist who has to color in within the lines, and have perfect, even loops, or I feel I've failed as as a hooker. A lot of the old primitive rugs, and hookers I admire like Deanne Fritzpatrick do not do even polished rugs and do encourage variety in hooking and materials. Maybe if I used all the same weight or type of fabrics, like all new Dorr, etc. my loops and their appearance would be more even, but it'll be awhile until I can find out. When I have focused on trying to have perfect, even, polished loops I have ended up frazzled and hating what I'm working on out of sheer frustration, and almost gave up completely on hooking. I'd much rather enjoy what I am doing and not worry about even height, straight rows, or perfect consistent loops.

3) I strive to make my loops even because I personally like the way it looks. I'm not a grand master at it, but pressing usually takes care of the little variances. I find it especially important to watch my loop height if I am mixing different widths of wool. That said, I would vary loop height in projects that are not meant for the floor depending on the effect I want to create. This is especially true if I am using materials other than cut wool strips.

Rug Hooking Isn't Just for Underfoot!

Our members create cushions, footstools, wall hangings, coasters, trivets and purses. Here is a tea cozy, hooked by Sharon, from a design that was included in the Spring, 2008 issue of Needle Pulling Thread magazine. Sharon has created a colourful English garden around the cottage. Smaller hooked pieces like this are an excellent way to use up left-over bits of wool. A hooked tea cozy is an attractive way to keep your tea piping hot or it makes a welcome gift.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hooker News

During the education portion of the April 28 meeting, we will view a portion of Gene Shepherd's DVD, "Hooking Learn at Home, Volume 1". The video starts with very basic information on how to pull loops and progresses through more difficult concepts. The information is useful for beginners and a good review for those who are more experienced.

There are still a few openings for the retreat at Manitou Beach.

*photo credit: docman at Flickr (Creative Commons licensed)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Rug in Attic: Cleaning Advice from Jessie Turbayne

After a member found this rug stored in her attic, we emailed Jessie Turbayne, an author and expert on antique rugs and rug restoration:
Hi Jessie,
A member of our group recently found this rug, which had been stored in an attic. We don't know the age or history of this piece. The backing is burlap, while the hooking appears to be done with a knit fabric. The rug is quite dirty, but not badly worn. We have heard of using snow or soap bubbles for cleaning. Can you suggest the best way to clean a hooked rug or can you refer us to a source of this information? Have you seen this rug pattern before? Thank you for any suggestions you are able to provide.

Jessie replied today with the following detailed and helpful message:
Hi Rita,
... Your rug is most likely 20th century ( 1930s-1950s? ) but it is difficult to get much closer on the dates without me actually seeing and touching the rug. I believe it might be an original design perhaps inspired from a pattern or copied from a pattern. Again it is hard to tell without seeing the actual rug.

As to cleaning I did write about the process in two of my books. Whatever you do don't send the rug out to a cleaner or put it in the washing machine or hose it down in the bath tub. Air the rug out and broom sweep both sides. Mix up some cool water and a very small amount of dish washing liquid -7or 8 drops in a gallon of water. Also add about 1/4 cup white vinegar. With the back side facing you... take a white cloth ( like an old washcloth) and dampen the cloth with your soap mixture. On the backside of the rug daub the different colors (1" areas ) with small amounts of the liquid. DO NOT saturate the rug. This is done to check for color fastness. Leave the rug flat for 48 hours and check the areas that you have daubed for any running of colors. If none of the colors have run then you can proceed to surface clean the front and the back of the rug using a soft brush and gently clean using circular motions.

Leave the rug flat to dry. The rug should be barely damp when you
finish cleaning. You do not want to get that burlap foundation soaking wet.

Cleaning with snow is also a good method. Broom sweep the rug clean
and if available take light fluffy snow and cover the rug. Let it stay for a few minutes than sweep off the snow. This method really works and won't harm the rug. Just don't leave the rug out in a blizzard!!!!!!

ou can repeat these methods of cleaning several times until you have achieved the desired effects. Just let the rug thoroughly dry between cleanings. Also you may have to put a little more effort into spots but just take your time and proceed with a gentle hand.

I hope this helps you out. If you need more advice please feel free
to call...


Jessie is the author of several books, some of which are available from the Saskatoon Public Library
(see the list of "Hooking Resources" at the bottom of this blog page).

Friday, April 10, 2009

Hooker News

Happy Easter!
Agenda for the meeting on Tuesday, April 14:

Discussion topics
1. Is there interest in starting a dyeing group?
2. Kits for sale to new members
3. Feedback re: blog

Show and Tell
1. The "Over Tan" challenge
2. BettyAnn's method of finishing wall hangings
3. The latest edition of Needle Pulling Thread

*photo credit: docman at Flickr (Creative Commons licensed)

Our Rugs Exhibited in England

Diane, a member of the West Riding Ruggers in northern England, invited rug hookers to submit photos of their rugs for a huge display featuring rugs from all over the world. We submitted a disc with photographs of our members' rugs.

We've now learned that the display, called "A Rough Guide to Rag Rugs" will be held at the Bradford Industrial Museum, in Bradford, England, from May to July, 2009! In England, hand-made cloth rugs are called "rag rugs."

Diane adds in an email to us: "We also have a couple more museum /galleries that are interested in taking all or some of the work after it finishes in Bradford so it looks like we could be going on tour!"

Finally, she thanks the members of Heritage Rug Hookers of Saskatoon for their contribution: "
Please thank your members for the picture disc that you sent for the exhibition....We are hoping to get a website organised so that we can put pictures of the exhibition on the web..." --Rita

Monday, April 6, 2009

On the Way to Borden...

On the way home from Dyeing "Over Tan" at Rita's in Borden, I went to the Strawberry Ranch area to purchase 3 crock pots that I had found on Kijiji. I ended up in the middle of nowhere down a long driveway.

In the process I was ankle-deep in icy water in the driveway of my destination, but undaunted I plodded on to gain these beauties. It helped to have a front-wheel drive.

I passed deer, ducks in the pond, and the rocky road along the riverbank near the dump. It was an interesting drive at sunset, and next time I'll be sensible and take someone with me, and I will go down 11th St.!

Why do I tell you this? because I'm told blogs need to have a little of this and that.....and I hope to use these crocks for my rug hooking supplies. --Patti M.

*photo credit: Ron Marken

The Over Tan Challenge

Wanda Kerr challenged her readers to experiment with over-dyeing tan wool.

Dorr #46 wool was used, which is camel-coloured, but any new or recycled tan could be used. Over 1/4 yard of tan, 1/16 teaspoon of dye was used. Each dye pot had only one colour of dye: Majic Carpet dyes Red, Red Violet , Moss Green, Blue, Bottle Green, Reddish Brown and Orange, as well as Pro Chem Teal and Cranberry. A small piece of natural-coloured wool was added to each pot for comparative purposes.

The results? The colours dyed over tan have a richness and depth that is not apparent in the colours produced from natural (white) wool. One of the most pleasing aspects is that the colours are all related due to the common base colour, so they blend together well and can be used together in a rug. All of the colours were "yellow influenced" by the tan wool.

The dyeing process was simple, as only one dye was used in each batch. It would be interesting to repeat the process with other base-coloured wools such a pastel blue or pink. The experiment produced beautiful, useable colors. --Rita

Friday, April 3, 2009

A New Formula

Wanda Kerr offers interesting dyeing challenges and insights on her site.

After finishing some other dyeing, I attempted her challenge to make a new formula. She asked that we choose two dyes- one we love and one we hate.

I chose a dull gray-green Pro Chem dye called Evergreen as the dye I like. I certainly did not like my second choice, Pro Chem Magenta, a screechingly harsh pink. I mixed equal small amounts in a dye bath and dyed Dorr natural wool, with very little stirring.The photo shows the result.

The green, a compliment to red, dulled the magenta to a red violet. This colour will be useful in a small mat I am making about the Painted Desert of Arizona.

The process and result were interesting and I will try new combinations in future dyeing sessions. Through this type of experimentation, we can learn more about colour and dyes and at the same time, add to our hand-dyed wool stash. If you don't like the resulting colour, you can always over-dye! -- Rita

*photo credit: Rita

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Member Rugs: Susan's "Give Ye Thanks"

Susan writes, "'Give Ye Thanks' was designed by one of my favourite primitive artists, Lori Brechlin of Notforgotten Farm. The pattern is available for purchase from Spruce Ridge Studio."

"It is my first large rug & it took me over a year to complete as I only worked on it sporadically. It measures 27.5 x 36" inches & is hooked on Scottish Burlap with 100% hand dyed wool. All the strips were hand-cut, so the rug has a really great texture & feel to it...something you just can't get with machine cut strips. The overall colors of this rug are fall-like...I added a dash complimentary colors to jazz it up."

"I am a mixed media artist who specializes in creating miniature wool felt characters with other interests in punch-needle, rug-hooking, folk art dolls, painting & altered art. I graduated from Capilano College (Vancouver)with a diploma In Fine Art & I have been rug hooking for about 3 years. You can go to my blog Mouse Droppings to learn more about me & my other interests. I can be reached at"