Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Japanese Book Binding

Last winter I signed up for a Creative Bug membership. They have all sorts of crafts represented and some wonderful art classes. I have taken several of the classes, and although some of them are simplistic, I've gotten something out of each one. Membership is $4.99 a month. What I love about Creative Bug is the variety of options you have. Keep in mind, these are not Craftsy-like classes.

One of the classes I stumbled upon under "Paper Crafts" was a Japanese Paper Marbling class taught by Jody Alexander. It was a wonderful introduction to marbling paper. I got the supplies, and as soon as the holidays are over, I intend to practice and hopefully come up with something useful. Along with the marbling class, Jody also teaches a Japanese book binding class. What a wonderful gift to give -- hand marbled paper bound into a book! So here's what I just got from Dick Blick Art Supplies:

If you look carefully, you can see the stitching on the edge.

Really looking forward to trying these techniques out. If you are interested in investigating Creative Bug, here is the link:

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Dye Books

I know that not all rug hookers dye their own wool, but I have always loved dipping into the dye pots.  Because I was dyeing so much, my wool business became a necessity!

I learned to dye wool while taking class with Dick LaBarge, a very well known rug hooker and teacher. Dick is retired now from teaching, but I'm told he still hooks with some of his former students.

Anyway, Dick was a master at dyeing. I always felt like I was entering a secret laboratory when he got the dye pots out. We had lots of fun experimenting with colors and techniques.

From that experience, I developed three dye booklets of my own. These booklets used different methods -- spot dyeing, transitional dyeing, graduated dyeing, abrashing, and overdye. My first dye book -- The Dye is Cast -- is only available as a .pdf, but my later dye books -- The Dye is Cast Again and Three Times a Charm are still available in printed format.

The next photo shows most of my dye formula booklets that I reference when dyeing. My favorites are the three Prisms booklets. I also use Vermont Folk Rugs book of formulas on a regular basis. The Prisms books use only ProChem dyes, while the Vermont Folk Rugs book uses Cushing dyes.

I also have compiled in a notebook all my favorite formulas. I have my own formulas, and other favorites from the books seen in the photo. In addition, I have a lined notebook where I write down formulas I want to try, mostly ones I have developed on my own. I try to keep up with organizing these formulas, but sometimes I get behind and then have to search out that scrap of paper where I wrote down a new formula. That is not fun!

What dye books do you use?

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Woodland Rug update

I have finished the interior of my Woodland scene rug. Just the border remains and some tweaking I want to do to some of the elements in the main body of the rug. I like using dyed roving to accent in small spaces. For instance, I'll probably needle felt in some black/gray lines on the birch trees, add some sparkle to the eyes, etc.

Here are two photos. I'll upload a photo of the completed rug once the border is finished and the rug is bound.

I need to have this rug completed by the middle of January, so I feel that I'm ahead of schedule. I'd really like to finish this week, so I can concentrate on the holidays.

I think I'm going to change the orange plant above the deer. Not really fond of it. Also, the spots need to come off the deer. He looks like part watermelon!!

Hope your hooking is going well, and the holidays aren't overwhelming you. If you need wool check out my Etsy shop and my Ebay sales. Links to the right!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

November Reading

I've been trying to do a lot more reading in the last few months. I love to read, but often don't make enough time for it. So, I started making a real effort to put a dent in my huge list of books I want to read.

I read six books this November, one of which was my book club selection. Here goes:

Georgia's Kitchen
Jenny Nelson

A disgraced NYC chef moves to Italy to work in a restaurant where she is not the head chef. Along the way, she meets some interesting characters, a possible love interest, and has to decide if Italy is really the place for her. Not great literature, but a nice read.

Fablehaven (book 1)
Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star (book 2)
Brandon Mull

I really enjoy reading children's literature, so I picked up book one of this series and was not disappointed. All kinds of fairy tale good guys and bad guys inhabit Fablehaven, a secret refuge for magical creatures in Connecticut. The first book was very good (they can't all be Harry Potter!), and so I quickly reserved a copy at the my local library of book 2. I'm enjoying the books and would love to introduce them to my grandson when he's a bit older. Looking forward to book 3!

The Girl on the Train
Paula Hawkins

I would imagine most of you have read this book if you are into the mystery/thriller genre. We read this for our November Book Club selection. I didn't love it, but it wasn't hard to read. You want to know who did it, so it made dealing with an unlikeable cast of characters and the much talked about "unreliable narrator" easier to push past. Do I recommend it? Yes, I guess so.

Go Ask Alice

I picked up this book at a garage sale a while back and decided it was time to put this one on my finished list. I went into it believing it was a true story, but the abruptness of the ending prompted me to look into the background of the book. Turns out it is not quite what I thought. I won't say much more because regardless of the background of the book, it is a powerful book about youth and drug addiction. Well worth it.

Timebound: The Chronos Files, (Book 1)
Rysa Walker

Another young adult novel, this one about time travel. I love time travel stories, and this was one of Amazon's "Kindle Deal of the Day" options. So, I gave it a shot. I did like the story, but there were too many versions of the time travelers in the past to make it clear as to what was going on in some parts of the book. There are other books in this series, but I'm not sure if I'll continue with it.

Currently, I am reading J.K. Rowlings Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I'm just barely into it, so I'll let you know what I think. It is written in play form, so a lot of imagination is required. Hope to see the movie once I finish it.

Click on the book images to read a description of these books on Hope you are finding time to read!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Ice Dyeing with Wool

This past Wednesday, I left my rug hooking group, came home and decided to try "ice dyeing" with wool. Several members of our group had tried ice dyeing with cotton fabric for use in quilting and had incredibly beautiful results. The cotton does not need to be heat set as wool does, so I was unsure how this type dyeing would work with wool.

Here, in pictures and words, is my procedure:

Using a square stainless steel pan, I placed the wool as shown.

I then added synthropol and water to wet the wool.

After the wool was sufficiently wet, I drained the water, and
scrunched the wool to form nice peaks and valleys.

Next came the addition of the ice. I realized later that I needed more ice, but at this point, I went with what I had. Something I soon learned was that the ice could not be moved. It stuck to the wool!!

After placing the ice, I sprinkled dry dye over the ice. This is when I realized I should have had more ice. Some of the dye went directly onto the wool, when optimally, it should have been only on the ice. Live and learn!

The two photos above show the movement of the dye as the ice began to melt.

This is what the wool looked like when I placed it on the stove, covered it with foil, and simmered for ten minutes. After ten minutes, I added some vinegar but did not really stir. Cooked the wool for another 30 minutes after that.

The pictures that follow show what the wool looked like after being washed and dried.

Here's my thoughts on this process. I definitely needed more ice. I liked using dry dye, but it can lead to large spots of color on the wool that may not be as pleasing as you'd like. I'm not sure what hooking with this wool will look like, but I think you could get some stunning results using this wool for appliqué.

If you give this method a try, let me know how you make out!

As always check out my sales on Etsy and Ebay. Links are to the right.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Beginner Rug Hooking Classes

I have begun teaching a beginner Rug Hooking class. This is a real "learn to hook" class, discussing all aspects of hooking for the beginner. As we progress, I hope to talk about color planning, patterns, wool dyeing, etc.

I am located about 25 miles north of Albany, New York in Saratoga Springs. If you know of anyone interested in learning to hook, please feel free to contact me. At the moment, we meet every other Thursday.

Happy hooking!

Monday, November 7, 2016


Hope you will all get out to vote on Election Day! We live in a great country where we get to choose our leaders, so get out and exercise that right to vote!

Here's some red, white, and blue wool to get you in the mood!

Tomato Red


Blue Prim

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Meet Faye!

As I've mentioned before, I take class every other week with Jule Marie Smith. She has us push our limits in the rug hooking and fiber art area whenever she can. This month's challenge was to hook a face and create a doll. I was skeptical at first having never made a doll, but I decided to give it a go. I figured if it didn't work out, so be it.

The fun part about this project is that we all will be bringing our doll creations to Julie's at the end of the month for a tea party!! We're even having tea sandwiches!

I got busy with my doll a few weeks back and finished her up yesterday. I downloaded a simple body from the Web, but was really flying blind for the construction. The sewing together of the body parts went smoothly, but then I had to attach her overlarge head to her tiny body. Surprisingly, it went well.

Here is Faye. She doesn't sit up by herself, but she's quite posable if she leans against something.

Her hair is braided using a multicolor yarn, and the body is made of a cotton fabric. I think she's quite something!

I'd love to hear what you think!!

My Etsy shop is loaded with wool. Take a peek!

Monday, October 17, 2016


Wow, more than a month has passed since I posted. I don't know where the time goes!

I've been working on my Karla Gerard rug. Here is a picture of my progress. The rug photographed a bit darker than it actually is.

In addition, I've started a new rug for the new grandchild my daughter is having in March. I love woodland animal scenes, so with the help of some coloring books, I put together some favorite critters in a forest setting. Here's the beginnings of that rug. I've used some yarn in this rug, because I just love the texture you get.

In this closeup you can see the birch trees I've started hooking. They use a wool of mine called Winter Tracks, pictured below.

Julie Smith's fall classes began two weeks ago, and we are doing a project on dolls. We are hooking the faces and sewing the bodies. I'm not so sure about the sewing part, but we'll see. It's great to challenge myself with this. Used Pinterest, Google, and various prim Web sites for inspiration. I'll take some pictures of the finished projects as the autumn progresses.

Made a quick trip to Cape May the third week of September to go birding. Cape May is one special place in the birding world, and we got to see some new birds and meet some wonderful and experienced birders. A great place to visit anyway with lovely shops and the beautiful Atlantic Ocean.

 I believe this is a Semi-palmated Sandpiper.

Hope to post again sooner rather than later!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Another cityscape rug

Here is a picture from a friend who also took Norma Batastini's cityscape workshop recently. 

Mary's rug is spectacular! She is one of the finest hookers I know, and also one with a great color sense. Her whipping is impeccable. I asked her how she gets her whipping so even and she said, "I don’t think there’s a secret to my binding. It’s just turtle speed!"

I hope to show you more of our cityscape rugs when our classes resume this September.

Julie Smith's annual garden party hook-in is next week. I'll be taking pictures and will post pictures of the rugs that people bring to share..

As always check out my auctions on Ebay and my shop on Etsy. Links are to right side of my post.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

New Rug -- Shorebirds

During the winter, I went to Heavens to Betsy's hook-in just south of Kinderhook, NY. Ali Striebel was there selling her wool, books, etc. The great thing to see in her booth was all the samples she brought showing the wonderful ideas for using wool. I was fascinated to see that she had made some pillows using wool fabric. Attached on top of the face of the pillow was a piece of dyed linen with a hooked motif on it. The background of the hooking was simply the dyed linen. That got me thinking about some of the small pieces of linen I had left from larger rug projects.

At a dye session in May, some of my fellow hookers went to Julie Smith's studio where we dyed perle cotton thread for use in embroidery. I brought some of my small linen pieces thinking I'd use the leftover dyes to create some colorful linen backgrounds for hooking. Of course, the linen got set aside for a bit!

A couple of weeks ago I came across a pretty aqua blue piece I had dyed, drew some shorebirds on it, and started hooking. Here is the rug I came up with. I haven't finished figuring out how the edging is going to look, but I did finish the hooking and did needle felt in some wispy clouds using natural roving.

I used a variation of the wool to the right called Murano Swirl for the sand. The variation is a fair bit lighter, but you can see how the colors play together. I also used a formula called Pink Sands that is a pale, pale gray pink shade. I like the effect of the colors hooked randomly.

This was one of those projects that I couldn't stop working on. Perhaps knowing I didn't have to hook the entire background helped a lot!

Hope your hooking is going along great this summer.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Finished Rug (well, almost!)

I just finished up a small rug that I began in June. Our rug hooking group hosted Norma Batastini for a workshop to honor one of our member's 90th birthday. Norma presented a wonderful class on hooking this cityscape, giving us loads of ideas for skies and the buildings. She is a fabulous teacher!

I set the rug aside after class, returning to the rug I had been working on. Finally, one day recently, I thought -- finish that city landscape! I had great fun figuring out the sky, the buildings, and the water. Surprisingly, the water -- such a small strip -- gave me the greatest challenge. I'm drawn toward bright colors, but the overall feel of the rug was muted. So after four or five poor selections, I got out my piece of transparent red plastic (not sure what you call it). I covered the rug with the red plastic, and I immediately saw the problems with the colors I had chosen. The shrubs and dark water choices were blending together to create mud. Once I realized I needed to lighten the water, the colors became much easier to choose.

Here is the result. I still need to bind the rug, but I am very pleased with the results!

I'm not always good at promoting my wool, so I'll remind you that I have lots for sale on Ebay and Etsy. Please click on the links to the right of this post. Thanks for looking!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Owls and Wool

We were watching TV the other night at dusk when I saw out of the corner of my eye something swoop into the maple tree in our backyard. I grabbed the camera and was lucky enough to get some wonderful shots of a Barred Owl visiting our neighborhood.

What a beautiful bird. He watched us as we snapped photos, almost posing, and acting as if we presented no danger to him. What a privilege to see such a magnificent bird up close.

I got thinking about hooking this owl. Here are some of the colors I came up with:

Canyon Gold

Deep Gold

Desert Caravan

Dreary Day

Dreary Morning


Ginger Beer

Gray Squirrel



Toasted Grain
I admit, I got a little carried away with colors, but what fun to hook something with all that pattern.