At first, we thought we would sit under a tree to eat a little lunch …



But, under this giant Sequoia, there were  just too many needles.  So, we changed plans and started looking for a rock.


This one looked good until we decided it was just too small to host our group.  


Then, we considered this one but the top was not too even.  Finally


We found a rock that was just right …  


However, we decided it might be a little too hard to get to.  So, we decided to just sit back and








We even found places to wash our hands when we were through!

y40Thanks to Tess (left), our Hooker Hill hostess, Gretchen and I got not only lunch, but a great tour of the magestic Yosemite National Park – just a half an hour away from Hooker Hill.  

After a great day in the park, Gretchen drove me and all my supplies back to Anaheim.  She, too, deserves a very big Thank You!

Even though I am back from Hooker Hill, I still will have a couple more posts to share about that camp.  

Now, for the winner of the wool yarn Giveaway  

Congratulations to jerilaskowski!  

Send me your address so I can send you your yarn.


Posted in Hooker Hill | 3 Comments

Wednesday was the last day of class at Hooker Hill.  


I had 13 great students in my open class. Since I wait until the last possible moment to take photos, I get the best possible shot of their camp project to share with you.  Here they are with a few comments about what we concentrated on for each piece. 


Although this project was started at Cambria, the artist and I did a major amount of design editing, at her request, which means we re-drew much of the pattern.  As you can probably tell, she is using dump dyes for the big tree sections.  We determined which ones she would use and where she would use them.


I also spent time reworking the raven motif, giving it a new shape and eventually making it about 33% bigger than originally planned.  The tail feathers will be tipped with gold, black and white.


We worked on this project to lighten up the vegetation in this design, find and define a section of “light” that is coming into the water, lighten the tail to make it more translucent and hook the face of the mermaid.  


As it has been a while since I worked with any one on this project, I enjoyed rethinking this pattern.  We did a total re-do.  When done, there will be 3 sunflowers 3 dahlias and 3 carnations, plus all the little hooked flowers.


Even though two students wanted to work on this Pierce pattern, they each came out completely different.  


Although we spent the first half day setting the tone of each piece by concentrating on the look of the doves, once set, we quickly got down to business getting all the flowers planned and prodded.  


As this student told me:  Now that we have the colors established for half of the piece, I will flip them over to the other side … unless I change my mind.  


 This student came with the goal of finding some “lights” to augment her stash of “medium valued” wool.  We found those lights and a few hotter colors, then planned where they would go.  She hooked nearly all of this at camp. 


These wonderful little faces showed up to camp with no hair.  To make matters worse, the girl had no neck and no clothes! Consequently, we worked on the hair, neck and clothes.  If we would have had one more day, I think she would have gotten these completely done.  This artist also worked on an abstract piece, usually at night, but I did not get a shot of that piece.   


When I had my original consultation with this artist, she asked for advice on improving her hooking technique and color choices for each of the 6 dogs in the piece.  The main advice I could give her on her technique was to put in an extra loop or two when hooking an arc or an important solitary line that will be noticable.  An extra loop here and there just makes for a smoother, fuller line.  We did discuss color nuances but this artist mainly needs to go with her intuitive senses.  


Sometimes you won’t make yourself work on certain projects unless you have a deadline!  This was just such a project and I think the artist will make her deadline after working on this at Hooker Hill.  


This is an original design that we tweaked … almost every day.  After moving design elements around, refining vegetation placement and figuring out the distant horizon, we got down to work picking wool and hooking elements.  This charming design is being hooked as a gift for a dog owner … with a golden Labradoodle.  We got a curly coat by hooking two strands of #3 cut for the body of the dog.


This is another piece that demands quite a lot of precision.  Therefore, we spent a lot of time working out a fine point process and other technique bits that will produce a very crisp line.  My poor camera skills don’t do the colors justice.  Of course, you can only see just a few pieces of the marvelous rainbow of wool she has picked out for this unusual color wheel.  


It is a little hard to know which side of this photo is the top and which is the bottom.  I finally just picked one that let our last hooked element – the rooster – sit upright.  I predict you will see a lot more of this piece as it is hooked in up coming first Saturdays.

Even I have shown you my class projects, there are still lots of things to  report from Hooker Hill.  

Posted in Hooker Hill | 10 Comments

Long before we even get to the hooking room at Hooker Hill, all attendees are inspired because of the morning Show and Tell.  On Tuesday, my class brought in some of their finished projects to show.   Here are most of them.  



























Posted in Hooker Hill, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

I am blogging all this week from the Hooker Hill Rug Retreat.

mon25Sponsored by the Wool Poppies, this yearly retreat is located not too far from Yosemite.  


Even though it is not in the park, the main view from my class room is this lovely little lake.  I find it very therapeutic  to teach and hook in the midst of this kind of scenery.  


There are even lots of wild life to look at on the camp grounds.  Some are on the tops of everyone’s list


Others are maybe not quite so popular.  Still, wildlife abounds all over the camp as evidenced by these photos.  



mon36One of the unusual things about this camp is that it starts, every morning, with a show and tell time.  


Campers show projects that they have made since the last Hooker Hill retreat.  (I think great grandma Jane Olson would be particularly proud of this young camper and his work.)  

Here are a few more shots of finsihed projects the campers brought to show and tell on Monday morning.  










And I thought I take a lot to rug camp –  Believe it or not, this camper brought her studio -


An early 1930′s camper.  One of only 4 known to exist.  


It has all the comforts of a great studio -


A hooking home for road trips.  


Posted in Hooker Hill | Comments Off

Saturday morning, bright and early, Gretchen, one of the local hooking pack, picked me up for a road trip to Clovis, CA – the first stop on our way to the Hooker Hill Rug Camp.


We went straight to the home of Carla Jensen (right) who lives in country outside of Clovis.  


In case you remember rug hookers by their rugs, you surely remember this Celebrations rug Carla made of her husband Jack.  I reported, some time ago, on a collaboration we had about this rug in my Anaheim studio – her ending up getting some of the hot blue, yellow and greens that she needed to finish it.  


She also got wool from me for this well known rug – most of the sky blues and all the reds.  (Which is amazing as her sister Trudy, another local, usually takes most of my good reds before anyone else can buy them!)  I forgot, until she reminded me, that  I had suggested she put in a red border to finish this rug.  


As luck would have it, we got to Clovis just as she was finishing up her newest rug.  Gretchen was particularly interested in seeing it as she is also hooking this rug.  


In fact, Carla was on the final stages of whipping it for the rug show at Hooker Hill. 


Besides being a great rug hooker, Carla is also a fabulous spinner.  As you might guess, she not only dyed the whipping wool she is using to finish the rug – she also spun it.  


I grabbed a selection of her yarns for this photo as I thought you would like to see them.  As we talked about her spinning, she did something else -


She sorted out these 5 twists and asked me if I could tell what they all had in common.  Although I studied them carefully, I could not tell the common link … until she told me - I used the bleeding method you taught me in your dye class!   In other words, she bleed out different colors of found wool, then dyed her new natural yarn (twists 2-5) with those “found” baths.  Even if the found wool is too thick or lousy to hook, if it is a good color and a bleeder, it can be used to dye up either fabric or yarn.  The first twist (yellow) was also a bleed out dye but one from the dye book that is a little different.  For this, she twisted a long piece of yellow wool (much as one would for a marbelized batch) with a hank of natural yarn.  The end result is a very mottled yellow yarn.  


Before our yarn discussion was over, Carla donated one of her lovely pumpkin colored twists for an IRgC Giveaway.  So, if you would like a chance to win this great wool, just make a comment.  I will pick a winner Thursday night when I return from Hooker Hill.  

Although it was tempting to spend all our time hanging out at Carla’s house


We did do a run to old town Clovis for a bit of antique shopping.  Although I did not buy anything, I did take photos of some things that I think will interest you.  


I always make a photographic record of any hooked rug I find in an antique store.  I don’t know who made it, or when, but I do appreciate all their hard work.  


I particularly liked this hand made Turkish rug because the artist changed both the border design and colors.  That “hot blue” in the geometric section really makes this rug pop.   


At one store, I found a treasure trove of beautiful hand made California tiles – all of which would do as inspiration for a hooked rug.  


Whether looking at colors or design, these tiles certainly inspired me.  

**Editors note: I wrote this post on Saturday night so it would be ready to put up on the IRgC late Sunday night.  Acutally, I would have written more but Jack was bringing the steak in from the grill and it just seemed like there were more important things to do than write.  


Please know, however, it was almost like you were with us  as we talked about you, enjoyed the food, the company and the beautiful Clovis area scenery.  

Posted in Hooker Hill | 42 Comments

***Anyone know where to get rug patterns by Bett McLean?  Specifically, bear patterns?  An IRgC member needs to know.  If you can help, comment in with the answer.  Thanks.  

***  Also – I just got this note about the 2015 ATHA Biennial in San Antonio, Texas and am passing it on to you.

Gene:  I am hoping you can help us get the word out about room accommodations for the 2015 Biennial.  The Westin has now been booked and the block has been increased to all the rooms that the Westin will allow us to have at $149 per night.  Both hotels are next door to the Westin and each hotel has greatly discounted the room rates for us. 

We have two overflow hotels for ATHA memebers to make reservation for the Biennial.  Hotel Contessa Luxury Suites on the Riverwalk, a 4-star hotel, located at 306 W. Market St., 866-435-0900 for a special rate of  $199.00 per night, and the Homewood Suites by Hilton San Antonio Riverwalk, a 3-star hotel located at 432 W. Market Street, 210-222-1515.  Reservations may be made beginning September 8, 2014 for the special rate of $149.00 per night at Homewood Suites.  Always mention ATHA Biennial for those special rates!  I will be getting out this information to the Region Representatives to send to their base.  We are looking forward to a wonderful Biennial! 

Thank you -Tricia


Since I am busy working on my Victoria Scroll - 


It only seems logical that I am on, what could be called, a Victorian roll.  Apparently, I am not the only one as some of my locals are doing the same thing.  


Gretchen just completed a one block version of the VS pattern.  She opted to keep her scroll fill simple, by using a single wool for that section.  


Jean also completed a single block version of the same design as a cover for her David Mikoryak foot stool.  Although equally simple – an outline and fill approach – it ended up looking a little more complicated because she filled with more colors of wool.


Barbara also made a footstool cover.  However, she used the sister Victorian Grill pattern.  Instead of a solid scroll design, as with the first pattern, this one utilizes the same basic shape of the scroll without bringing the design lines together  to form a single scroll unit.  When designing this, I figured many people would simply hook the scrolly line with a bold dark color, then fill in, as Barbara did.    


Beth has also chosen to do the grill design – this one a 15 block version the same size as mine.  She opted to do all the outlining with a graduated dump dye, the other wool I envisioned as being popular with this design.  This scrolly line, of course, changes color as it moves along.  While it does not form a single solid scroll, like the V Scroll pattern does, the lines end up forming additional spots that need backgroud fill.  Beth has chosen 3 backgrounds to use – raspberry, a collection of orange sherbet transitional pieces and a deep russet brown collection of antique black wool.  I think it has turned out very nice.  


It is going to be interesting to see how they will all turn out.  Since everyone was at the 3rd Thursday hook-in, I was able to get a photo of them all together.  I also got an update on some other patterns.  


This one, by Pam, is finally hooked and will soon be whipped.  


In the meantime, Pam has also started a Scotland themed rug.  


Shirley is still busy on her multi-fiber sea scape.  


Gretchen did not hook … but she did stay busy.

It has been a while since I reported on Maisy.  I am not sure if we are training her or if she is training us.  However, she goes every week to dog obedience class.  She can now sit up, lay down and wait … for a while. Still, she is a puppy and we don’t trust her very far.  We have learned to put up things that are too tempting for her to chew on and she is still banished from the studio, unless she comes in a on leash.  Fortunately, we have learned how to cope.  Actually, a lot of it is just learning how to put things that are off limits out of the way.  For example, yesterday morning, I bought a box of doughnuts for my grand daughter and the 3rd Thursday Hooking group.  All I had to do was put them out of reach, high up on the patio table, where Maisy can not get to them. 


I think this is the last time we will use this out of the way spot.  

Posted in Victorian Scroll/Grill | 12 Comments

Carol recently sent me a photo and a question.  This started a back and forth conversatioin.


Originally, she wanted to know if I thought the lime green would work for the background sky on this small rug she is making.  She liked the bold choice but wanted a second opinion.  As Van Gough used a similar family of colors for the sky in at least one of his paintings, I can’t see why it would not work fine for any of us.  Besides, even if I did not like it (although I do) the only really person Carol needs to worry about pleasing is herself.  Sure, it is bold.  But, it really makes the tree pop and, I think, gives the whole piece a lot of punch.  In fact, I think it kind of needed that punch as the rest of her colors are a little tame.  Even so, those tamer colors will ramp up in intensity when surrounded by the lime green.  

Once assured, she was ready to proceed but did not have enough lime green to do the rest of the sky. I asked for, and got, a tiny piece of the green, then went to work trying to figure out the recipe.  Nothing in my bag of tricks was completely right, so I had to do so experimentation.  I dyed 4 closely related batches with the hopes that one of them would match.  I was low on lime green in my stash so did not mind the session.  As she only needed a half a yard, each batch was for a half a yard.  This was a good thing as I ONLY HAD 2 YARDS OF NATURAL WOOL LEFT IN THE STUDIO.  That means, I used every bit I had for her test cases.  Do you know how often that happens?   Almost never.  (I still had 17 partial bolts of wool but they were all colors or textures,)

While I stirred each pot a little more than I usually do, each still came out a little mottled … but I think that is a good thing, especially since I think her sky can use a little variation.  When every thing was done, rinsed, dried and folded, I found 2 pieces that I thought were about as perfect a match as one could get.  That is when I got the other note from her suggesting that she might need a little more than 1/2  a yard and could I send a little more.  As a half a yard will only hook a space about 13″ by 16,” she is probably right.  That left me with a dilemma as I had no way to make more wool.  

From my perspective, this was not too big a dilemma.  Remember, I said that all 4 batches were related as I used the same dyes in varying amounts and combinations.     In fact, there were 2 batches where I could hardly tell the pieces a part – especially since  there was a little bit of mottling to help confuse the situation.  Mottling, of course, creates  light and dark variation within a single piece.  I picked out the 3 closest pieces and sent them along with the note that she did not have to take all the wool.  

Here is her response, along with another question.  

Gene:  Love the lime green background wool I received today.  Thanks so much!  I would love to know what you think about the piece.  I do have a question, however.   I was planning to do echo hooking around everything, but with the light to dark wool, would it cause a striped effect?   How is the best way to use the dark/medium/light wools?  Sad to say, I’ve always used just one color for backgrounds…some have been textured and plaids, but never varied much in color. I’m about to go to my frame and hook in as much background as I can.  If you have more, I’d be happy to have another ½ yard as I love this color! Carol

Dear Carol – I am glad you like the wool.  I think it will be perfect for your piece.  I am a bit surprised when you talk about light to dark variation because I did not think it had much variation.  I do remember one piece having a section that was a little darker than other spots but it was there as the natural result of not being overly moved in the later stages of the dye process.  Of course, I was basing my evaluation on a single cut strip of wool, so readily admit I don’t know what your original piece looked like in its entirity.  

From my perspective, the wool I sent you ought not create huge variations when hooked.   So,

1.) If you wanted to do echo hooking, I don’t see why that would not work.  You are correct that echo hooking can be distracting if the variations are too great.  However, I would not think that was the case with this wool.    In this case, I think “close” is better than exactly the same.  In fact, slight variations ought to be more interesting thana flat, solid color.   

However, if your “boots on the ground” assessment thinks it is not quite right, try seperating out the wool a bit to use in one of these ways:

2.)In places where you think there ought to be shadows in the piece – the space between the sheep and the house and the house and the cat or the underside of some dark leaves – use some of the darker lime pieces.  You don’t have to use an entire piece – just the darkest sections.  Use the lightest lime in places where you need a little extra light – background against the top of leaves or the bending arc of the tree or top of the roof where the sun might be hitting.  This segregation of values will give you a little extra dark in naturally dark spots and a little more light in places that need to be the lightest.  

3.)  Did you ever think about maybe doing a sky with some swirls or other such movement?  I would begin by outling everything, but after that I might put in the swirls or, using the lighter and darker pieces, some cumulus cloud shapes.   It would not have to be much – just a suggestion of a clouod or a swirl.

Again, Carol, you are the one with the boots (or hook) on the ground and you have to make the final choice.  I hope this helps.  

This has been my week to answer lots of these types of questions as I have had a private pay student (my grand daughter) in the studio.  I call her a “paying” student because this class was part of her birthday gift from me … and, for the record, I wanted her to know that it was no small gift.    


Right off the bat, because she came with absolutely nothing, she needed something to hold her supplies.  That means we started the lesson with a $25 bowl “sale.”


I explained to her that all my wool is hand dyed … by a well known dyer/author, I might add, which is code for “it doesn’t come cheap” particularly since everything she picked out was pre-cut.  I figured just the wool strips were worth a good $15.  (I did not charge anything for the advice offered on what were the best colors.)


Of course, she needed a hook ($40), silk, nylon and bulky yarn – another $5 easy.  As she wanted to use my personal scissors and Orbiter frame over a 5 day period, I had to work out a week-long leasing agreement for those – $15 per day, or $75 was a real bargain.  (If she had removed them from the studio, that would have required a substantial deposit.)


When it came to patterns, she chose a hand drawn one on primitive bleached linen – $40.


Actually, since this was a double pattern (one that also had another pattern on the backside), I thought 2 for the price of one ought to up the pattern value to $75 easy.  

Then, there was my teaching fee.  As this was no simple “group class,” it is only reasonable to expect her to pay a premium teacher fee. My undivided attention every day for 5 days + Dr. Peppers + ginger snaps + morning tea + mixed nuts + unlimited Netlflix, not to mention breakfast, lunch and dinner cooked by the elderly lady (by my grand daughter’s perspective, not mine) I live with.  At $500 total, most people would consider this a bargain … and I have not even included the benefits of cocker spaniel companionship for which other teachers, no doubt, would charge extra.  


As I explained it to her, she ought to figure that my birthday gift was worth at least $735 and that she was the luckiest 12 year old in CA.  

Although she politely smiled at this, I do not think she bought it.  

Maybe I should ask for the deposit after all?  



Posted in Q & A | 6 Comments

Today’s post is in response to two recent letters in from members of the IRgC.


Dear Gene,  I want you to see the end result of your posting of Kelly’s great floral rug.  I keep all of my schnitzen on 5 holders.  I hadn’t tidied up for a while and they began to look dull and drab.  The good stuff was there, just out of sight under boring stuff.  Eric Sandburg encouraged Kelly to organize her leftovers.  It is tedious and takes hours but the end result is what Eric calls “Gold”.  Thank you for reminding me!  

Also, thank you for “splainin” about the ordered pancake dye method.  This is such an easy method, it may entice me to do some dyeing.  It has been hot in Virginia and I am loathe to bake anything.  I do have a gas grill with a thermometer.  I think that idea needs testing.

Donna – Thanks for the feed back and thanks for the report.  Even if you don’t use those worms of gold, they certainly look better all organized.  I am pretty sure Kelly’s report has encouraged others to get organized in the same way.  


For what it is worth, particularly for those that don’t have a lot of worms laying around, I think transitional wool (and a lot of my Odd 8s) provide the same kind clusters of colors when cut.  In fact, lots of times I make pans of transitional dyed wool to produce interesting wool in family clusters.  There is. basically, a gold grouping here and a green grouping with some cross politnation going on between the two.


One can get a similar, same but different, cluster of colors by overdyeing multi-colored pieces with the same dye bath.  I did make these with multiple colors of dye but much of the variance comes from the different textures and colors of wool I used.  You can sort through your stash to group leftovers into such piles OR purposely make them.

Now, Donna, to the that other question you also sent in –  

Gene, I’m going to throw you a curve now, how is using aluminum foil different from using aluminum pans?  Dlb  

Aluminum pans fall in the category of “reactive metals” where stainless steel or enamel pans don’t.  (I will never forget what happened when I covered a steam table pan of Italian meatballs and red sauce with aluminum foil.  Next day, when I went to pop it into the oven before a big event, I discovered holes in the foil where the tomato sauce litterally ate through the foil, leaving a silvery trail on the sauce.)  Aluminum pans also tend to have miniscule pours where both food or color residue can hide.  Cast iron does the same thing.  If you cook fish in your cast iron one day, then fry donuts the next, you can get a rather fishy doughnut even though you started with what you thought was a clean pan.  Same could be true with dye color contamination, although the secondarly color would be slight.  (Same thing happens with stainless IF you don’t keep your pots and pans clean of the scum that can accumulate – that’s why I bleach them between use.)  I do not use reactive pans, in general, when dyeing.  

I do use aluminum foil on a limited basis, particularly in methods where limited amounts of dye are used and, like with ordered pancake, it is spooned directly on the spot where I want it to “take.”  Often, this use comes into play for temporary or “field” work:  a 60″ piece of Indian corn or a quickie or an “on the road” dye job at a camp.  The dye pretty much stays right on the wool instead of sloshing around in a big bath.  In yesterday’s case, it was just a barrier between colors.  

I could have done the same thing with sandwich paper and often do.  However, those pieces don’t come in big sheets, like the foil.  They have to be layered and overlapped to make the barier.  It works fine, particularly when keeping more gradual changes separated.  Since I was doing two vastly different colors, I prefered the full sheet of foil between the two to make sure there was no limited penetration of colors.  And, additionally, there was foil in the studio and  I had to walk in to the house to get the paper.  

I knew it would work for a one time session where dye was located right on the wool, I knew (by experience) that it would not react or break down with that one limited application and I did not save the foil for another use as I would not trust it again.  I believe in rules and follow them … unless there is a good and safe reason not to.  

Speaking of rules, Sue-Anne wrote in about another “rule breaking” comment I made in yesterday’s post.  

Gene, You mentioned in yesterday’s post using either side of the wool depending on the intensity of the color. I was shown once that the wool looks more textured on one side and smoother on the other. It has ruined me for using the “wrong” side of the wool in my attempt to have a smooth looking finish! I always look at my strip to find the “right” side now. I know it sounds fussy and I almost wish that it hadn’t been pointed out to me!

Dear Sue-Anne,

I am the same way, usually prefering to use the right side of the wool because I think it looks smoother.  However, I never noticed that until someone pointed it out to me. Many people totally ignore this topic and just hook away.  (In fact, they think the slight varriance catches the light differently, producing a better look.)  Consequently  now that I know about that look, I do pay attention, even to the point of laying my wool “right side up” (for casserole methods) in the pan before I dye it.  i.e. I want to make sure that right side gets the full blast of dye.  

HOWEVER, the “right side/wrong side” thing is a bit of a myth because it is not really about the correctness of one side over the other – it is really about how the threads of the weave look when cut.  There certainly is nothing structural about it.  When cut with the selvedge, the warp threads on one side look long ” lllllllll” where, on the other side, the warp threads look more “=====” or horizontal. Not exactly sure why that happens on a straight weaving “draw” but it does.  I think the longer look “lll” looks smoother and more polished than the “==” choppier back side.  However, should you decide that you want to cut the wool against the selvedge, the back side of that cut will produce a strip where the previously looking choppy strip, when cut across the grain, now produces a horizontal strip that looks like this  ========= in the one long strip.  i.e. The more noticable weft now looks more like the warp threads.  Instead of cutting through the =, you cut with them, lining them up … like they were, previously, on the other side.   That means the previous smooth look of the front looks completely opposite now, of how it looked when cut with the selvedge.  In other words, it is all kind of an optical illusion.  

So, if cutting with the selvedge, I use one side and if cutting against the selvedge, I use the other side and either one looks polished.  

Why would I ever cut against the selvedge?  Because I like longer pieces.  A quarter yard (cut at 18″ before dyeing) produces longer strips for hooking when cut against the selvedge, rather than with it.  For pot dyed methods where all the wool is immersed in a dye bath, the color on both sides usually looks the same.  Might as well get the longest strips possible, therefore, with one cut.  For cuts #5 and up it makes no difference which way you cut it.  (Probably doesn’t matter much either for smaller but I usually stick with the selvedge direction, particularly with textures, for #4 and #3 cuts.)  

Acutally, particularly for backgrounds, I often measure and cut quarter yards (9″ at the selvedge) and 8th yards (4.5″ at the selvedge) before dyeing with the exspress purpose of producing long strips that will be cut against the selvedge.  I will use the “backside” knowing that it will look fine.  

Since I have rocked your “right side” sensibilities, I will close with one other comment on this subject, as it really was the guiding factor behind the comment I made yesterday:  

Always use the side of the cut strip that has the best color.  

There is such a minuscule difference in the “finish” of the cut wool that I would always opt for the right color over the right “look.”  So, if a cut piece, no matter which way it was cut, has a better color one side over the other, I will use the best colored side.  That is why I said If the underneath side has a better or softer color, then use that.   

Bottom line – use what ever side makes you the  most comfortable.  

Posted in Q & A | 1 Comment

I needed to make some general ordered pancake pieces yesterday.


This is the kind of wool I like to use when prodding realistic daisy/sunflower type blossoms, like the blueish green one in this photo.  Since the pieces used to make flowers like this are cut in a regimented way, all I have to do to dye the wool is spot it in a regimented way.  


I cover this method in both “Prodded Hooking” and “Prepared to Dye.”  It calls for me to mark off the first piece being dyed so I will know exactly where to spot the wool, then follow that same plan multiple times, layer after layer, like a stack of pancakes.  Everything is dyed, spotted layer by layer as it stacks up in a cassarole pan. 


The nice thing about this plan is that I can vary both the colors and intensity of the dye from layer to layer and end up with a true variety of pieces coming out of the same dye session.  Pieces right to left show darkest spots > lighter spots.

Actualy, I can get a lot more variation than that.


While this photo seems to show me covering the pan with foil after spotting my last piece, what it really shows is me covering the last piece of blue wool with a large piece of foil, pressing it down on the wool into the pan.  As the foil was bigger than the pan, it created, in effect, a foil pan insert, into which I began a second stack of wool using very different colors.  


This is the batch I dyed in that foil liner.  None of the blue family of dyes could move up to contaminate this batch and none of the colors used for these pieces could bleed down into the blue because of the foil liner.  Once again, as I spotted this batch, I varied the colors being used and the strength of the dye.  Why?  I like variety in my flowers since real flowers have a lot of variety.  I also like to make each dye session as simple as I can make it and have as few pans to clean up as possible.  (The piece on the left shows the backside of that piece.)  Whether using front (with the stronger colors) or back (with lighter colors that have bled through) it simply provides the artist with color/value options.

Again, the odd spotting pattern is planned.


When each piece of wool is torn into strips, cut into small pieces and shaped, the strong spots will end up in the folded parts of the flower, creating depth and realism.  

You can  make multiple pieces in various color families in one pan as long as you seperate each group from the others with some sort of color barrier.  

FYI:  For this method I presoak my wool, add citric acid to each color of “spot” and pour extra liquid (clear vinegar) into each color layer before baking the whole pan at 300 degrees for 1 hour.

Posted in Pancake Dyeing | 4 Comments


Since last we met, I have been busy dyeing wool, organizing wool  


And tying it up in a bow!  Such organization is my new travel method – particularly when I am driving to a camp and taking along my metal shelving units.  Since there is just enough space between shelves to place a 3.5 yard stack of wool, I get everything ready and tied together in those increments.  It makes for easier traveling and set up once on site.  Additionally, when I know how many stacks of wool I have, I can tell quite easily how many shelves I need to take.  Of course, these stacks just represent the quarter yard pieces (I should say most of the quarter yard pieces) that I have dyed and ready to go.  It does not take into account several yard pieces (they hang) or any of the Odd 8s, which go on a different rack.  If this wool isn’t enough for the up coming road trip we are about to take next week, then I just won’t have enough as I don’t intend to dye much this week at all.  

With my dyeing all done, my week is off to a good start.  


Of course, I have also been dyeing whipping yarn.  


Big piles of that don’t shoot so well.  However, I do like a close up now and then.  


Over the weekend, I also recieved a mail order for several 12″ hoops.  Although, as a general rule, I am not a big fan of hoop hooking, I do find them convienient for beginner classes.  These hoops may be of particular interest to the IRgCamp because a reader (Donna) directed me to them after I put out an appeal for help.  Seems like the old hoop I had and had been looking for, is made by a different company now.  Donna got me on to the Edmunds 12″ Quilt Hoop as a proper replacement.  They are sturdy enough for a beginner’s class and cheap enough that I can have several on hand.  When having a small class in town or in my studio, I can easily scare up about 7 professional lap frames.  However, since I would prefer to loan out a $15 hoop instead of a $200 lap frame, I am glad to have a source for cheap hoops.  The other problem I am solving with this acquisition centers on the fact that my next big beginner’s class is for 14 in Normal, Illinois!  I think it will be more realistic to get there with 14 hoops instead of 14 borrowed lap frames.  

I do have one other tid bit to share about travel frames that are very easy to throw in a suitcase.  With all the mental emphasis I have recently places on hoops, because they are flat and easy to use on the road, I got to thinking about other options that might do the same thing … and this caused me to come up with a revelation.  I thought to myself:  Gee, I wish I could find a flat gripper strip frame that I could use instead of a hoop.  Then, it hit me.  


What about a broken top from a Pittsburgh Frame?  

In case you are not familiar with the Pittsburgh Frame, it is a folding gripper strip  frame on a plastic top and plastic bottom.  The bottom, which doubles as the base and storage protection container for the top when not in use, also provides grooves where the metal legs conected to the top can snap into the base.  This is a fine little frame.  However, with regular use, the plastic often seems to break or wear out making it difficult for the frame to stay rigid when being used for hooking.   In fact, I had two such useless Pittsburgh frames on the studio shelf awaiting for the day when I could figure out how to make replacement legs.  It suddenly dawned on me, when experiencing frustration with using a hoop for a bigger project, that if I just got rid of the useless legs, I would have the flat, gripper strip apparatus, that would function much better than a hoop.  


As the top is made to fit down in the bottom for protection, I continue to travel with it this way.  It does not take up any more room and it keeps the grippers in good shape.  

While I will never give up frame hooking, I suddenly find myself making a list of the occasions when it would be very convient (i.e. a cruise to name just one) to use just the top of my old Pittsburgh.  Maybe you can think of other occassions when you would like to hook but are very limited with avaialable space?


I did spend most of Sunday hooking on Victorian Scroll – but all of it was done on my 14″ Orbiter.  Nothing very ground breaking here other than the fact that I had a relaxing afternoon at my frame making progress on this piece.  


Daniella Brooks sent me a photo of her hooked rendition of my Big Birds pattern displayed at the California State Fair.  


Actually, I prefer this photo of her holding her second place ribbon.  Good job Daniella!



Posted in Frames, Reports | 4 Comments