Sun Rise and My Great-Great Grandmother
A personal story from Gretchen, a recent addition to Vermont's rug hooking family.Continue reading
A personal story from Gretchen, a recent addition to Vermont's rug hooking family.Continue reading
by Stephanie Allen-Krauss, 2019
For the past ten years I’ve been designing and hooking geometric rugs… and loving them! I’ve learned a few things along the way and incorporated some new techniques taught to me by others.
My geometrics are pretty big so before starting a large project, I experiment with a small sample. In this way I can play with the size of the shapes and the color plan. Sample: 18" x 24"
I started my latest project about 4 months ago by determining the size that would fit well in the long hall being redecorated. The finished runner needed to be 28 inches wide by 9 feet long. I measured the linen carefully and cut 36 by 116 inches because I like to have at least 4 to 6 inches extra on each side beyond the hooking. Linen is dear so I “measure twice; cut once”.
My next step was to draw a grid on the linen which is how I start all my geometrics. This insures that the design will lay straight when hooked. I dragged a pencil along the straight of the grain or “in the ditch” as some people say. I had already worked out the size of the diamonds I wanted in my sample piece, 4 by 6 inches, and then I used a yard stick to draw a diagonal line intersecting each cross of the grid. I darkened the diamond lines with a permanent marker so as not to get confused when hooking.
Before I start the hooking, I sometimes machine stitch the binding onto the pattern which makes the finishing step go along much quicker, but I need to make certain of my color plan first so I don’t choose the wrong color binding. For this rug I found a hand-woven binding in reds that added a small but elegant touch to the edge. Of course this is only one way to finish a rug, and we know there are many different ways.
Now for the fun part… playing with wool and hooking! I sorted my wool into 4 piles; reds, blues, neutral light colors and brown-golds. I wasn’t exactly going for a patriotic theme, so I included many different colors of blue, from turquoise to Navy and reds that included rusts to bright cherry. I love mixing in textured wool too. This allowed me the freedom of a ‘hit-or-miss’ theme while still having a planned sequence of color for each diamond. I hooked 2 rows of red, 1 row of neutral, 2 rows of blue, and filled with a gold or brown. The alternating diamonds were 2 rows of blue, 1 neutral, then 2 of red with gold or brown in the center which is what I used for the line separating the diamonds. I wanted something a little different for those dividing lines separating the diamonds so instead of using one solid color, I decided to vary the color from deep brown-gold to bright gold or yellow. I wondered if this might give the lines a kind of shimmer. Look closely at Photo 4 and you’ll notice the different browns, golds and yellows.
The next step in my color planning evolved as I started hooking the center diamonds. You may notice in my sample piece that the color pattern of the diamonds comes right to the edge. It almost looked like the rug was cut off rather than having a definite plan for the edge design. To my eye, the rug really needed some kind of a border, but I didn’t want to introduce a straight line around the edge so I decided on an ‘implied border’. The 1/2 diamond shapes were perfect for the implied border and alternating the solid red and blue colors added just the right touch.
Almost the last thing I do to any rug I create is to hook the “Secret Message”. Thanks go to Beverly Conway of Middlebury, Vermont, for this wonderful way of adding text without having it show on the front of the rug. Now I sign all my rugs this way so that in the future if the label is worn off, there is still some clue as to who hooked the rug and in what year.
This technique was a little tricky at first. I drew the letters and numbers a legible size of about two inches then I used a light table to trace my initials and the date onto the backing. The text needs to be reversed so that it’s backwards on the front but is readable on the back. I used a dark-colored #3-cut strip and hooked the backwards letters and numbers very low. Using #8-cut strips or larger, I hooked the design around these low loops, pulling the loops a little higher than normal. I hooked right up to the #3 loops packing my larger loops within one hole of the smaller ones, but not crossing over in the back. This way the shape of the number or letter on the back is not covered. The #8 loops should ‘umbrella’ over the smaller loops.
I love my geometric rugs and look forward to starting another one!
Let’s face it, finding time to craft is something that haunts us all no matter the season. But it can be especially difficult in those summer months.
Here are 10 things you can do to make time to craft.
10. Pick one time every week. Things are easier to accomplish when they are habits. My mom spends 1-2 hours every morning hooking. She has done this for as long as I can remember. Of the family members she is the only one that consistently finishes projects. There is a lesson here.
9. Find a buddy. Projects are more fun to do when you do them together! I can go for months without hooking and suddenly when my mom or sister visit I find I like doing it better.
8. Get inspired. Take a class. Find a blog. Read a magazine. Inspiration helps to motivate. Every year I leave Rug school filled with ideas and motivation.
7. Start small. I find I don’t have big chunks of time in my day. But I do have 15 mins here and there. You don’t have to set aside hours at a time, just do a little here and there.
6. Start smaller. Once a week isn’t working try once a month. The more you do it the more you will find you want to do it.
5. Set goals. Make it manageable. Nothing brings greater satisfaction than accomplishing a goal.
4. Book it. If timing isn’t working book it to force you. A hook in, Rug School, Guild meetings - these are great ways to ensure you set aside the time.
3. Figure out what the barrier is and kick it down. What is truly holding you back? You can use any answer but time. Really think about why you aren’t crafting.
2. Find ”you” time. Remember that taking time for yourself makes you the best you. Kids, work, school, pets. They are all things that require our attention, but setting aside time for ourselves makes the nagging, barking, phone calls much easier to manage.
1. Combine your loves. Like wine drinking and crafting. My mom and I were recently talking about how multi-tasking has become a necessity. It no longer feels good to accomplish 1 thing at a time. Now we must do 2 or 3 at a time. Like driving and talking on the phone, watching TV and surfing the internet, or writing a blog post while you throw the ball for your dogs (ahem).
Find what works for you and make time! If it is important to you, you find the time! No excuses, play like a champion!Continue reading
Last Spring I fell in love… again, but this time was extra special. I knew I was falling hard for this one as I stepped onto the porch on that warm, sunny day in May. Oh, the delight when I saw the colors overflowing from the totes, and the delicious smell of the linen furled out over the entire length of the deck! The blank canvas ready for my hands.
How enamored we rug hookers can be with a new project! Actually any rug on which I’m currently working is generally my favorite, but this rug in particular holds a special place in my heart.
For the past 4 years I’ve had the privilege of restoring a large collection of nineteenth century rugs that have become a major source of inspiration for me, and have renewed my love for designing and hooking. The genesis of this particular design was a late1800’s rug that was just too far gone to repair. I took the general diamond shape and added two different types of leaves. After some measuring and consulting about the design, I drew a small sample so that I could play with the color palette. I wanted softer, more muted colors to add to the antique look. A variety of Reds on a gray background, blues on tan background, some diamonds outlined, some plain. I also enjoyed mixing lighter values and different textures between the diamonds. The gold-colored crosses completed the pattern and were the grid lines.
With my small sample done, I was satisfied with the size of the blocks, the color scheme and the general layout of the rug so I moved on to tackle the big, blank piece of linen. Using a pencil, I drew a grid of lines so that I would get my diamond shapes straight. Being a true hooker, I couldn’t wait to actually start pulling loops so I made templates that I could lay on the grid, trace, and then hook one at a time. I didn’t draw the entire design first. I knew the rug would get heavier the more I hooked so I started in the center of the rug and worked toward each corner.
I can’t say exactly how many hours or days this project took to complete as I was away for several weeks in June and July, and the fall months were pretty busy too, with classes and other work-related events. But I can say that when I’m home, most days I hook one to two hours every morning.
I finished my big project after Christmas and just had to take a photo to commemorate the event.
This is the final place for my special love. An antique house with antique furniture and a (new) antique hooked rug.
My hooking buddy, Suzi Prather, and I live less than 15 miles apart, so we get together regularly to hook, talk hooking, dip into dye pots, and imagine and plan future projects. During a recent cold snap here in Orlando, I showed up at Suzi’s house with the happy thought of my latest hooking project bundled under my arm. I'm working on Green Mountain Design’s Vermont Cow. I am working on this piece as an example for my 2018 Green Mountain Rug School class on Whimsical Animals!
Suzi met me at the door announcing, “Isn't this the perfect day to get into the dye pots?" And so we did! Suzi taught me her beautiful formulas and great dyeing methods, and showed me how to get specific colors. I had so much fun learning her techniques and hearing stories of her dyeing experiences; Maryanne Lincoln was Suzi’s dyeing mentor in the early days of Suzi’s dyeing. With Marianne’s encouragement and welcoming heart, Suzi often went to help Maryanne dye for the large orders for her classes or just to experiment and play together in the pots. Suzi is so fortunate to have had a master dyer for a mentor and for such a great friend!
After a wonderful day of steam, chatter, and skill building (on my part) check out what we did! They're so beautiful that I don't want to unbundle them or use them! It just makes me happy to look at these lovely pieces. Aren't these just gorgeous?
Suzi Prather will be teaching “Strategies for Dyeing at Home,” June 16-19, 2018 at Green Mountain Rug School.
Pam Kirk will be teaching “Whimsical Animals,” June 20-23, 2018 at Green Mountain Rug School.
I am excited about my upcoming class at Green Mountain Rug School in June, 2018. The class is essentially about developing designs for ourselves from our photos, using the camera as an important tool, and exploring our own creativity. One of my favorite quotes which is on my studio wall is one by Henry Ward Beecher.
"Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures."
One of the lessons I have learned from traveling around the world with photography workshops is that we all have an individual perspective on the world we see around us and our creative spirit and individuality comes out not only in what we choose to capture in a photo but how we see it and photograph it. For example, I love pictures of tree bark and roots, but others may choose to photograph the entire tree or just the leaves. In any case, we have our photos as a basis of original designs which capture what we select and lets us play with unlimited possibilities in our art. Whether you like wide cut, fine cut, primitive, abstract, realism, impressionism, vivid colors, subdued tones, architecture, nature, geometric, etc. photography will be your best friend for ideas and your camera will be a very important tool for you to use.
I will introduce participants to basic photography guidelines and ways to "think outside the box" with some fun field work taking some photos (ok, more like a scavanger hunt!) We will share photos and ideas. We will look at different ways to convert photos to a style of your choice and then to the canvas via software and/or drawing. Other topics include copyright laws and design basics. Our only limits will be time and our own imagination! Come play and learn! Beware however that photography can be addictive....like wool painting!
Yup! That's right. This article is going to teach you to dye like a pro in 5 mins! More likely an amateur, but hey, at least you are doing it... and I am going to kill the first 2 minutes of my time with the silly story below. Therefore, I am really teaching you to dye in 3 minutes. Begin time now.
I have a short attention span and am therefore quickly on to the... hey, look a squirrel. I also learn best by doing. These two things make it incredibly difficult to teach me anything. I often say to people "tell me everything you know in 5 mins or less". Many look at me like I have 5 heads - but the fact is, they can typically tell me 80% of what they know in that 5 mins and listening to them drone-on for an additional 2 hours just to get that extra 20% isn't worth it to me.
I was ready to learn to dye and said to my mom (who has been dying for 40+ years), "tell me everything you know in 5 mins". First, she looked at me like I have 5 heads (she does that a lot), then she said the following:
Viola! Your Done! Here is what came out of my pot the first time I dyed. I used 4 colors and 1/4 yard pieces of white wool.
Obviously, there is much more to dyeing than this. How do you get the color you want? Dip dyes, spot dyes, swatches. There are also best practices in dyeing and things you shouldn't do. How to keep you and your equipment safe, etc. But use the above notes to get started and play. See if you even like the process.
Not sure how to build your at home dye kitchen? I wrote a blog on that too! Read "Set up your dye kitchen in 5 mins or less..."
If you decide you do like dyeing and want to learn more, take Suzi's dye class at Green Mountain Rug School this June! Suzi is a protege of the famous dyer, Maryanne Lincoln. For more information and to register visit: Strategies for Dyeing at Home
It's been a bad week. Even us big retailers have bad weeks where the business seems hopeless, we feel like we aren't making progress, we get a bad email or we are fighting internally (this happens a lot in a family business)... and in a really crappy week all of these things happen at once. Oh yeah, and I am getting married in a month. (insert swear word here).
When life's stresses pile up and I become unbearable to myself and those around me, my glorious sister (who has a way with words) tells me to "go sit by myself in my poopy diaper by myself". And so the first half of this week, that is what I did. None of my family members would play with me, no one wanted to talk to me and there I sat. So I decided to pick up my rug hooking.
A question we are often asked in the rug hooking world is what do I make with this? It's not large enough to be an area rug and not small enough to be a coaster. But after this week I realized, that maybe you do not need to make anything with it... maybe it is the process of creating that is, in fact, the gift. In this utilitarian day and age we are constantly needing to create a purpose for everything and needing to know what we have accomplished. But why, the Yogi asks? After an hour of meditation, would you want to know what you accomplished during that hour? Would you be wondering which item from your daily to-do list you checked off? No, because that is not the purpose.
"One conscious loop - pulled up and then the next - is a meditation. -Lindsay Krauss
Rug hooking has long been known for its meditative powers. The act of pulling each loop could be compared to breathing in meditation. As you pull each loop you let go of your worries and fears and focus on clearing your mind. Do not underestimate the healing powers of rug hooking. Maybe the process of clearing your mind and relaxing IS what you are creating. You are working on yourself, your health and letting go.
We could all spend more time on our health and well-being. I, of all people, am the biggest culprit of putting aside myself for seemingly higher priorities. But I find that if I do that for too long, somehow it rears its ugly head and forces me to take a break. I like the quote above. It reminds me that we make time for the things that are important to us. And rug hooking is not just about creating art, but also about working on ourselves and making time to reflect inward.
And so, during weeks like this, I turn to meditation in the form of rug hooking. One loop and the next. One loop and the next.Continue reading