Friday, February 27, 2009

Needle Felted Surprise Gift!

A few weeks ago, I got an email from Patty Hope, a customer, saying that she had a gift for me and to watch for it in the mail. Not having any idea what to expect I was amazed when I opened the box to find a needle felted pillow of my sheep logo! Patty is a true artist and a very generous person to share something so beautiful with me. Here is a photo of the pillow. You may remember seeing other needle felted pillows she created in my previous updates. Also incuded in the box were some beautiful dried flowers from Patty's garden. My only regret is that she lives clear across the country from me, and I am unable to thank her in person (and try to learn how she makes those pillows!).

It just shows you much the Internet has opened ways to meet wonderful people that you would never have had the chance to meet.

Here is a photo of the pillow!

I looked up needle felting online and came up with some information on its history. This information came from Marie Spaulding's Web site:

"Felt is the oldest textile fabric dating as far back as 6300 BC. It is created from wool or other animal fibers that are densely matted together. Felting predates spinning, weaving or knitting and for centuries, this non-woven fabric has been used for yurts, blankets, rugs, hats, boots and clothing. Felt has the ability to protect against cold and insulate against heat, and can absorb and hold moisture, and can be cut without fraying.

The creation of felt using traditional techniques simply requires wool, water, soap and two hands. A few other items can aid in the creation of felt - but no machinery is required to create this amazing fabric.

Wool may be used in it's natural state, or processed, dyed and carded.

Wool is layed out in layers with each layer going in a different direction. Hot water and soap is added, gentle agitation begins. The process of agitation varies depending on the methods of the felter and the piece being created, but the result is the same. The more agitation, the tighter the resuting fabric. Wool fibers have scales -- the process of felting causes these scales to grab onto neighboring fibers and interlock.

To emulate what people created with wet felting, industry created the felting needle. Thousands of these needles were used together to "needle punch" wool into a fabric and allow the creation of felt without soap or water. The felting needles have small, downward barbs that entangle the wool fibers together. It is from this process that industrial felt is made - the kind you find in the craft store, in your car's air filter, etc.

'Needle felting' is a term for using one or more felting needles by hand to create flat felt or felt sculpture. The first use of felting needles in this manner that we know of was in the early 1980's by artisans David & Eleanor Stanwood who took a tool from the woolen mill industry to use on a small scale and began needle felting by hand. David & Eleanor taught Ayala Talpai who then created some fun books and shared needle felting with others in the quest to promote the craft. Needle felting is currently less practiced than wet felting, but it is gaining popularity amongst crafters, doll makers, bear artists, and artisans."

After checking that site out, I googled kits for needle felting and found that there are lots of them for sale. However, I didn't see anything like the pillow I received from Patty.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Patriotic Inspiration

Back from vacation with a little less money but a nice find at an antique store in Stratford. Got a nice USA cobalt blue pitcher to add to my collection.

I guess because February is the month of presidents, and since we have a new president, I checked out some Americana books while browsing in a bookstore. I saw the following book -- 100 American Flags. Came home and purchased it on Here is a link to that book. What wonderful inspiration for patriotic rugs including flags, flag pins, war memorabilia, children's toys, and patriotic needlework to name a few.

Another patriotic book of interest is Polly Minick's Book The Americana Collection of Hooked Rugs. It's been out for a while, but still a great book for inspiration. Check this book out here:

And finally, the last book I would recommend is this one:

So even though it's not the Fourth of July, you can still get all the inspiration you need for those patriotic masterpieces!

Saturday, February 21, 2009


I'm off to the Connecticut woods for a little gambling and a lot of antiquing. The Indian casino, Mohegan Sun, is close to Mystic Seaport, so we'll be visiting there and heading to Stratford to the Stratford Antique Center, one of those great multi-dealer shops. Can't wait!

I love looking for vintage 50s pitchers, especially Hall and McCoy. And my husband and I are avid collectors of anything having to do with our hometown of Saratoga Springs, NY. In its heyday, Saratoga was quite the resort, so lots of souvenirs, postcards, etc. can still be found. Our only problem with this collecting bug, is that we keep telling ourselves to downsize!

Anyway, if you are looking for me, I'll be back on Tuesday afternoon. Either email me or leave a comment. Happy hooking!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Placed my first order with Woolrich wool yesterday. I normally buy from Dorr, but thought I'd give Woolrich a try. I've read on other sites that Woolrich is a bit fuller than Dorr, so I'm looking forward to working with it. Not to take anything away from Dorr, as I have always had great luck with them. I need to dye two yards of Sky Dive for a customer and bought some of Woolrich's light celery color for this. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it works up well with this formula. Here is a photo of the wool.

If you are interested in checking out Woolrich fabrics, this is the link:

I dyed some wonderful transitional swatches yesterday. I'm going to offer them here on my blog for a few days before placing them on Ebay for auction. If you are interested in the five-piece set, the cost is $10.00 plus $2.75 s/h. Normal price is $11.00. I have eight sets of each color combo.

Summer Lullaby is a transitional swatch that ranges from yellow to soft plum with blends of these colors in between.

Rolling Hills is a blend of yellow green to a green and mottled khaki.

Please contact me at to place an order and be sure to check out my other sites for other wool and patterns.

If you are looking for possible transitional swatch color combinations, let me know and I'll see what I can come up with.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

When I first started rug hooking back in the '90s, I went back and forth between fine hooking and primitive hooking. At the time, I was fascinated with shading flowers, and managed to hook a few 3- and 4-cut rugs. In my quest to find the perfect shading technique (!), I was lucky enough to get a copy of Mildred Sprouts "Design-A-Patts" book. I believe it dates to 1954.

"Design-A-Patts" is a manual for shading both flowers and fruits. Each plant has a picture with shading instructions and some of the patterns even having suggested formulas you can try. Here is a sample of shading techniques for an apple, banana, and cherry. The detail may be a little tough to see, but I think you'll get the idea. The following photo is a closeup of calla lilies that I hooked using help from Mildred's book. Had a lot of fun hooking this rug.

This book is still available. Try googling Mildred Spouts. If you have photos of shaded rugs, I'd love to see them and will post them on this blog.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cute Bunny Rug

I'm sharing this photo of a rug hooked by Marie Ciaffa. This rabbit pattern is simply wonderful! Marie used some of my wool -- Prairie Berry for the background and Dirty White grads for the bunny.

I'm not sure you're going to be able to tell, but the pattern was made into a pillow. Marie had the pillow professionally sewn and the piping is such a wonderful complement to the colors in the pattern.

Marie had three people ask her to hook this pattern for her, but she's on to other projects. Marie, thanks for sharing this photo.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I've been doing lots of dyeing and lots of listing on Ebay, Ecrater, and Etsy. (See the left hand side of this blog to find links to these sites.) I've had some fun doing some dip dyes. The first is a soft rose dip dye and is now listed on Ebay. The next is a dip dye I call Rustic. It reminds me of terra cotta tiles and is also listed on Ebay.

Another nice piece is an orange/yellow piece that reminds me of a soft sun. I call it African Sun. Would make wonderful fruit and flowers also. This piece was overdyed over Dorr's Sunflower Yellow wool. It's one of those pieces
I'm having a hard time parting with. Unfortunately, I keep to much wool as it is!

This last dip dye is called Cashmere Rose. It is a very soft mix of pinks and plums. Just beautiful.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Switching gears here a bit to show a picture of a pair of socks I just completed for the Prayer Shawl Ministry I belong to. We knit items for families in need for Christmas and work at it all year. I love making socks!

I guess the whole process is intriguing. Starting out on three needles, turning the heel, decreasing to the toe, and having a completed sock there when you are all done.
These particular socks were down in Rowan cotton (sport weight). An expensive yarn that was donated to our group. I'm not sure I really like working with cotton; it stretches a bit too much, but I was pleased with the result.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Dick LaBarge

Just had lunch with Dick LaBarge in Victory Mills, New York. Dick was my teacher for years and taught me both to hook and to dye wool. We had lunch at the Bakery in Schuylerville — absolutely scrumptious!

After lunch, we went back to his studio to compare projects. Dick is working on a very large rug designed by George Kahnle. Houses and people in a colonial America style. The colors are fabulous! His other current project is a rug begun last June at Green Mountain Rug School with Rosalyn Logsdon. It is based on a photograph of Dick and his mother when he was a child. The photo was a black and white, and the rug is done in muted tones.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Dye Workshop

I'm trying to find out how many of you would be interested in attending a one-day dye workshop. If you live in the Saratoga-Capital District area of upstate New York and would like to attend such a workshop, please drop me a line at Topics covered would be simple overdye, abrash, and spot-dyeing.


As usual, I have some wool to list at reduced prices. I have several pieces of wool that I'd like to sell as I'm planning on a big dyeing week coming up. My wool closets have recently been reorganized (at last) and I'm trying to avoid clutter!!! Before I put away the wool I brought with me to a recent show, I thought I'd give you a shot at some nice prices. So here goes ....

Mountain Trail (1/4 yard).........Was $8.75 Now $7.00........3 available
Tornado Checks (1/4 yard).........Was $8.75 Now $7.00........2 available
Blue Iris (1/4 yard).........Was $8.75 Now $7.00........2 available
London Eve (1/4 yard).........Was $8.75 Now $7.00........2 available
Bronze Medal (1/8 yard).........Was $4.65 Now $3.5........4 available
Marshlands Plaid (1/4 yard).........Was $8.75 Now $7.00........2 available
Forest Moss Plaid (1/4 yard).........Was $8.75 Now $7.00........2 available
Burgundy Pld. "as is" (1/4 yard).....Was $6.00 Now $5.00....4 available
Woodcut (1/4 yard).........Was $8.75 Now $7.00........4 available
Harvest Orange (1/4 yard).........Was $8.75 Now $7.00........5 available

Wool photos listed in same order as above.

Please email me at to place an order or to ask questions. Prices do not include s/h. Because quantities are limited, please order soon. Sale good through Feb. 16, 2009.

Don't forget to visit Woolly Mammoth Woolens at and and check out my auctions on Ebay. See links in upper right hand corner of this blog.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Rugs in Progress

Here are two of the rugs I'm working on. The first is my "garden" rug which some of you have seen before. I've finally reached the sky! I'm also planning on a checkerboard border — colors to be determined.

The second project is a rug I'm working on
with a group from Gene Shepard's blog. It is a pattern adapted from Rug Hooking Magazine's December 2008 issue. That particular rug was a Christmas pattern. The version I'm hooking has been altered to a basket with flowers and a bird. Here is a photo of the pattern as of today.

The pattern is drawn on a piece of Belgium linen (an expensive foundation, but what the heck!). I'm using 5- and 6-cut wool. The blue background is my "Scary Night" formula overdyed with black. The brown in the basket is a new formula. The red in the bird is "Crimson Tide" and the inside of the flowers is "Venetian Gold." The green leaves are grads in Silver Gray Green shades. The blue leaves are a new, as yet unnamed color I dyed specifically for this rug.

Although I ripped the bird out three times (!), I'm pleased now with this red version. The breast of the bird is done in "Soft Swirl." If you are interested in seeing photos of any of these colors, let me know.

And now, for the photo of the rug 15 years in the making! Here is the Garden Rug that I'll finally be finishing after the Bird and Basket rug is complete. Although the picture doesn't show close-up detail, the rabbit's tail was done with a natural roving giving it a real puffiness about it.

Just to remind you, continue to send in your photos of completed projects. I can easily post them to my blog.


Over the years, I've communicated with my customer base with a newsletter, sent out via email as an attachment. Rather than continue that practice of an attachment, I've decided to post my newsletter in blog format. A link, not an attachment, will be sent to my customers to bring them to this blog. Wish me luck!!