Sunday, July 26, 2009

Casserole Dyeing and Hooking without a Pattern

I ripped out my second attempt at hooking with really wide strips and decided to just play. I found myself hooking a person, who turned into a teacher of rug hooking. Then I had to hook her students. So far, I have two of them hooked.
I'm not sure if this will become a round chair pad or what, but I'm certainly having fun with it - lots more fun than those hit or miss round mats.

I've changed the shape of the "teacher" several times, but she still is pretty strange - sort of a tough task master I guess.

The first student is a round, fluffy one - sort of a common type of hooker.

The second one is the thin, maybe nervous, very precise hooker - probably hooking a room-size rug with size 2 strips. I haven't come up with the third hooker yet, I'm waiting for her to show herself.

I put some stainless steel pans up for sale yesterday, on Rughookers Bulletin Board and on Wool Snippets Marketplace. I acquired them, sort of accidentally, yesterday at an auction. The auction was put on by Braun and Helmer, my favorite auctioneers - well, actually, the sons of my favorite auctioneers. It was mainly an auction for farm equipment, so I went with the idea in the back of my head that I might be able to pick up some replacements for my antique haying equipment.

There were some other things besides the farm equipment filling out the auction - there was a huge bear rug, and I turned around once while looking at the display of goods and almost put my head in that boar's mouth. Ugh!

I enjoy watching the men at farm auctions - they always take some time to tinker with the engines. This 1970 truck was a favorite gathering place. I enjoyed seeing the truck - it used to belong to the Dexter Fire Department - it came to my farm when a neighbor called them and said it looked like I had a grass fire that was getting away from me. I was a bit irked when the firemen showed up because I was sure I had the fire under control - but it was nice to know they were available if I was wrong. That was the last time I cleared up the roadside weeds with fire. Anyway, I think the truck probably found a good home and it won't surprise me to see it in one of our local parades sometime soon.
There was a long table full of restaurant equipment - turns out the man who was selling his haying equipment is an executive chef. There was a great big huge stainless steel pot and I was picturing filling it was ten yards of wool for dyeing when I realized some other people were also admiring it. I chatted with them a little and learned they had some kind of organic non-profit and were contemplating getting the pot to feed the poor - kind of kicked me away from my plan. I was still thinking about them when the auctioneer started the bidding on the stainless steel pans that would be perfect for casserole dyeing. I figured I could use a couple, so I jumped into the bidding but was distracted by thinking about those non-profit people - well, anyway, somehow, instead of a couple, I ended up with 23 stainless steel pans - quite a few more than I can use. So, I put together my thoughts about how the pans could be used and offered the pans for sale with an instruction sheet - 13 of them were spoken for before lunch today. whew! maybe it wasn't such a big mistake.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Some Wash Up, Up

I explained on Yahoo Rughookers what happened to this sad little rug after I posted on this blog that I had finished the hooking. I steamed it, dried it, then put it on the floor under the card table I was using as a work table. My dear dog George used it like a puppy pad. I discovered what had been done when I saw some discoloration of the monk's cloth that I hadn't cut off for binding yet. Later the same day, I had to take George for a visit to his doctor and it turned out that the rug became diagnostic - George has a bladder problem, possibly very serious - so, I couldn't be upset with him, but I was afraid the little rug was ruined. I poured carpet soap full strength on it, then washed it off with cold water, then used a special pet cleaning soap and soaked the rug all over again. I took it outside, put it on a mesh table and rinsed the soap off with the garden hose - talk about mistreatment! Then I left the rug out in the sun for several days. Some color bled out, but the rug dried and the smell disappeared - at least to human noses. I tested the smell factor by placing the rug on the dining room floor again and Patches immediately stepped up to smell exactly the bad spot. So, this little mat will never again go on the floor and will probably never be a table mat either, but it did help diagnose a health problem for George and it also answered the question about how to wash a hooked rug. I think I should be pleased that it was hooked on monk's cloth and not burlap.

This circular mat is hooked with strips one inch wide. After reading the 1930 book by Mary Perkins Taylor, I thought I'd play around with some very wide strips. For some unknown reason, other than it was very late at night, the strips became twice as wide as Ms Taylor suggested. It wasn't easy to pull the strips through the primitive linen, I had to resort to the largest Hartman hook and still had to fold the strips in half.

The loops became pretty thick lumps that would make a very stiff and thick mat, maybe useful as a hotpad, but not particularly appealing. I am planning to pull these strips out of the backing, tear them in half, and try again.

In an earlier post, I showed a photo of my mother with her grandaughter - here she is again with her great-grandchildren. Max, who spent his early years in Kenya, and Zoe who has lived her three years in Guatamala. We were very pleased to have their annual visit home coincide with Grandma's 98th birthday party.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Some "New" Books

For quite some time now, I have been enjoying the very old books about rughooking: the books that precede rughooking becoming an art, the books that were written for the hobbyist or the homemaker - back in the 1930s and 1940s - before Pearl McGown had become a known doyenne of hooking. This past week, I have enjoyed two such books. One of them, by Stella Hay Rex, Practical Hooked Rugs, was written in 1949 - I've kept my eye open for a copy of that book for about ten years and finally found one on the internet. The other one is a book I had never heard about, it's titled How to Hook Rugs by Mary Perkins Taylor and published in 1930. The Perkins book has one color picture and the rest are black and white, the Rex book is all black and white. The lack of color might seem like a handicap in this day and age, but somehow, it's like back when we watched black and white television, we get to create the colors in our imagination and the black and white illustrations then become very colorful.

Perkins teaches about using wide strips - the kind we would call nines or tens today, and shows mostly how to use them in geometric designs. The discussions about creating designs are just marvelously down to earth and homey - use a plate and saucer for one design, geometric lines and drawings for others. Perkins says, "Hooking is the simplest sort of manual work. There is nothing difficult or complicated in the use of the hook."

In her preface, Rex says, "...I have tried to give the individual hooker, whether beginner or advanced, some standard of instruction to follow to produce an inexpensive, substantial, and artistic floor covering. inspire the hooking craftsman to achieve originality and individuality of expression.".

There is something gentle and relaxed about both of these books, about the attitude of both authors toward hooking - there is no instructional intensity like we find in more modern books.
There is mention in the earlier book that well-made rugs will be part of a heritage, but the more modern attitude that we are making something for future generations to venerate is pleasantly lacking - I enjoyed spending some time with the old-fashioned idea of making rugs for the sake of having rugs.

Both of these books are well worth reading, but definitely not easy to find. If anyone reading this blog has a source for any other old hooking books, please let me know at

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Rug Finished and New Frame

I finally finished the little kit designed by Sharon Perry. I still have to bind it.I finished it on my new octagonal frame from BeeCreek. I really enjoyed using the extra space available on this frame and I enjoyed being able to just turn the frame without having to turn the stand. I hooked the last row, the black one, all the way around the rug without taking it off of the frame more than once.

The frame sits on a ball that lets it be rotated and tilted in all directions.
There's a ball under the frame at the end of the steel stand.

The stand has a steel plate that has just the right balance so the frame is extremely sturdy, but it's not very heavy. The stand is very adjustable height-wise.

The wooden frame around the ball is removable so the frame can be disattached and used as a lap frame - the stand can be taken apart so it would fit nicely in a suitcase. The whole thing arrived in a comparatively small box - that might fit into a large suitcase.

This photo has nothing to do with hooking - but it's one I love - of two of my favorite people - my mother, one week shy of 98 years old, and my amazing niece who lives with her husband and two children in Guatamala - working for the US Center for Disease Control on epidemics like the H1N1 virus.