Halloween has arrived at my house

Matilda 2011  Faces of the Seasons Series

Matilda 2011

Faces of the Seasons Series

Today is cloudy and rainy and very very humid here in Houston.  With nothing else to do (okay besides grocery shopping and the never-ending laundry) Alexander and I decided to get out the Halloween decorations and put them up.  We decorated out front in the patio yard.  And also took down Lady Red Jack and put up Matilda.  It was nice to get Matilda out again.  I haven't seen her in a year.  So it was fun to greet an old friend and pin the mat in my shadow box.

Have been working a new photo mini for my hooked album, but hate the way it is turning out.  So I don't know if it is a keeper or not. 

Fall in a frame

I pinned Lady Red Jack in my shadow box for the month of September.  I love the color in this piece.  It has really brought autumn into my home, even though it is still in the 90s outside here in Houston.  We won't see turning leaves until November and December when they flame yellow, especially in San Antonio along the Riverwalk.  But I will always be a Michigander at heart missing when the trees in the swamps began turning red in August.  So this little mat is my way of being in the leaves in Houston's September.

My new blog has some neat features I have been playing with, along with a SHARE button which links to Facebook and other social networks.  There is also a LIKE button and a COMMENT balloon if you want to interact with me.

Lady Red Jack in situ

Lady Red Jack in situ

Happy Belated Independence Day!

I hurriedly hooked a small mat for my shadow box this week, to celebrate Independence Day.  Started it Sunday and finished it on the Fourth.  Still have to bind it, but thought I'd show her to you in celebration of Independence Day.

Lady Liberty.  Original.  12" by 17".  #6 cut.  Designed, dyed and hooked by April D. DeConick.  Red Jack Palette Wools used: 155 Nymph Green, 123 Shades of Dusk, 131 Gossamer Grey, 109 Alexander Blue (8-value packs); 101 McIntosh Million (Texture Pack, value 5); 2 strips of 164 Fiddlehead Green value 5.

Squanto finished

Except for binding, Squanto is finished.  I will work on binding the mat tonight.  It will be around 12" by 13" when all is said and done.  I had planned a larger piece with more of his shirt and ornaments exposed. But once I hooked it, the focus of the picture changed to his ornamentation, rather than his face.  So I ripped out about 5" of hooking at the bottom, pulled out the dream-catcher circle in his hair, and worked to edit out all the details so that only his face, with all its gratitude, was left.

Hooking this piece again reminded me that less is better.  Period.
Rip out what I don't like.  Because just adding more hooking to what I already don't like isn't going to make me like it any better.
It is tough to hook a "monochromic" picture.  Now this really wasn't monochromic because I didn't use a single swatch of wool in one hue.  I used five different, yet closely related swatches to give the impression of a monochromic picture, while allowing me some freedom to cluster certain colors against others.
I also want to say that the background was really fun to do.  I just used up my scraps from the rest of the piece, trying to cluster color and values to get a soft out-of-focus landscape background effect.


Well it is after Halloween, and Matilda is still hanging above my fireplace in that wonderful shadowbox I bought a month ago.  So this can't continue.  Matilda has to come down. Her month is over. The problem is that I do not have a mat hooked to fill the space between now and Christmas when St. Nicholas will be pinned up.

What to do?  Guess I have to stop hooking the big Palette Constellation rug for a few days and get a Thanksgiving mat done.  I browsed the web and located an antique photo circa 1900 that I fell in love with.  Very soulful.  And thankful.

So I have started to work on it.  I have a photo to the left of the colors of wools I am using: Wilde Wood 117; Faune Brown 114; Hubbard Fig 119; Sea Shells 142; Red Oak 144; Toadstool 121.  All are 8-value packs.

I have no idea who the man is in the picture, but I am calling him Squanto in memory of one of the Wampangao who was known to help the Pilgrims.  Governor William Bradford wrote that Squanto was "a special instrument sent of God."  He appeared in Plymouth in the Spring of 1621 and helped the few Pilgrims who survived the winter of 1620 after landing. Bradford wrote about him, “Squanto was a native of these parts…one of the few survivors of the plague… He was carried away with others by one Hunt, a captain of a ship, who intended to sell them for slaves in Spain; but he got away for England, and was received by a merchant in London, employed in Newfoundland… and lastly brought into these parts by a Captain Dermer. Squanto stayed with them and was their interpreter…He showed them how to plant corn, where to take fish and other commodities, and guided them to unknown places… Nor was there a man among them who had ever seen a beaver skin till they were instructed by Squanto.”

Matilda the Witch: Day 5

Except for binding, Matilda is finished.  I am very pleased with the mat.  It will be a perfect portrait for my mantel this Halloween!

13" by 16", #6.  Designed, dyed and hooked by April D. DeConick

8-value packs of mossy and grey greens

Fincastle Brown 141

Lady Willow 128

Fingorn Forest 149

Spanish Moss 140

8-value packs of strong purples and oranges

Black Orchid 146

Highland Lilac 133

Red Oak 144

DISCLAIMER    I saw a photo of a witch on the web a year ago, and felt drawn to adapt her to a hooked mat.  The photo circulates without attribution on the web, currently in 88 places when I do a goggle image search. Over the last year, I have made every reasonable effort to trace and contact the copyright holder of the original photo in a diligent search.  If an omission is brought to my notice, I will be pleased to correct the situation.


Matilda the Witch: Day 4

Went to Austin this weekend and on top of that we all have some kind of stomach and intestinal virus that won't go away.  So haven't worked too much on this mat.  One more day's progress to report though.  Hooked in the forehead and then worked a bit on the neck.

The next two weeks look like they are going to be crazy around here.  I have so much to get done before we head up north for our family vacation in Illinois and Michigan.  In that time, I have a number of things at work I have to get accomplished since school starts up a couple of days after we get home.  I have to get my rugs ready and packed for Sauder, and I am back in the dye pots getting materials ready for my Old World Santa class that I am going to be teaching when I go to Michigan.  I have three or four more days of dyeing, and also need to get a few patterns drawn for some of the people signed up for the workshop.  Yeah for my new serger which will make the pattern making a lot easier.  I also have converted to use fiberglass screening instead of red dot to transfer my patterns.  Wow what a time saver that is! 

Matilda the Witch: Day 3

I worked on the shadows and hair in the lower right corner after I finished her cheeks.  Then I went on to the right part of the hood.

I had to work out the values in the shadows where her hair emerges under the hood near her chin.  This took some reverse hooking, but I think it works at least for now.  I may go back when Matilda is done and make some adjustments. 

I also am not sure that the hood will remain as is.  I am trying to show the light hitting the folds with the Red Oak color, and the shadows in the hood with the purples.

What amazes me about VIP rug hooking is how real the face looks when it is shrunk into a photo or when you stand far away from it and gaze.  The eye of the onlooker is mixing the colors.  It is the opposite of fine shading where the artist makes the color blend on the canvas or foundation.

Matilda the Witch: Day 1

I've started a new project.  A spooky one for Halloween.  Spent one afternoon designing and transfering the witch face onto my linen foundation.  Then I picked out my colors and started hooking.  This is how far I got by the time I went to bed.  I am proceeding with further application and development of my VIP rug hooking technique.  I use a number of closely related colors, as well as a few complimentary colors, all in 8 values.  I hook by value, and don't worry about the color, except that I am clustering them.  I hook directionally, but by pebbling rather than straight line hooking.

8-value packs of mossy and grey greens

Fincastle Brown 141

Lady Willow 128

Fingorn Forest 149

Spanish Moss 140

8-value packs of strong purples and oranges

Black Orchid 146

Highland Lilac 133

Red Oak 144

Peter Cottontail Doll is finished

I am pleased with the way that Peter Cottontail turned out.  I made him as part of my whimsical doll series: tall and thin.  It is a little tricky to balance these dolls.  You have to stuff the top 2/3rds with light batting and then the bottom 1/3 with heavy stuffing beads.  This doll I backed with a quilt-like backing that I sewed from 3-inch squares of wool I had overdyed with the same colors in the hooked part of the doll.  I still need to find the right eggs or tiny basket for his hands.  But other than that, he is finished just in time for my Easter decorating. 

Wools I used:

8-Value packs: Milkweed 115; Violet Twilight 132; Crab Apple 135; Rosehip 145

Texture packs for coat: Jack Horner Plum 111; Rowan Raspberry 112

Peter Cottontail Doll

I needed a quick project to hook for a few days while I rest from the big rug, All in the Family.  So I'm working on creating a new doll, this time one for Easter.  I hooked the front in two nights, and sewed quilt squares of wool together for the back and base.  I am going to whip the back onto the hooked front tonight, so I should have a doll to post tomorrow.  For now, here is a preview: the hooked front and the quilted back.

Or, I didn't have any course wool yarn or roving left to do his chest, so I spotted my selvage balls that I have sitting in a basket in my living room.  Would it work?  I tore up a few strips of the selvage to give them fluffy edges, then I dipped them in some tea I brewed, and threw them in the dryer.  The result?  When hooked it looks like bunny fur!  Who knew I was saving those selvages for Peter Cottontail.

I hooked a chain stitch on the edge of his coat to give it some extra texture.

I haven't had any luck finding an egg ornament for his hands.  Still working on that.

Wools I used:

8-Value packs: Milkweed 115; Violet Twilight 132; Crab Apple 135; Rosehip 145

Texture packs for coat: Jack Horner Plum 111; Rowan Raspberry 112

When I get the pattern put together, I'll post a note that it is available.  Also I know a promised a couple of you that I would get a pattern put together for Lady Sunset, so I will do that too! 


My surprise, a Father Christmas doll

I finished hooking and sewing together a new Father Christmas doll.  He is rather tall and slim, about 7" across and 21" tall.  I hooked him using Hubbard Fig 119, Pink Iris 134, and Violet Twilight 132 (all 8-Value packs).  His beard is created by hooking in sheep wool and letting the ends dangle on top.  The hair and coat trim are hooked with natural yarn roving.  I bound a black piece of wool on as the back, stuffed him, and sewed on an oval bottom.  I added a silver snowflake for some sparkle.

New Christmas Project

I am turning to work on my Santa 2010, Kriss Kringle. I have sketched him on the linen foundation and selected my wools. I am going to be using my Norfolk Family of wools, those created from my blue-purple dye (wool pack on the top of this pile). I think I am going to use a 4-cut for this one because I want to get some detail in the eyes and in the fir. It could easily be hooked in a 6-cut too. It will measure 13 1/2 inches by 16 1/2 inches.

I am going to keep track of how I hook this piece step-by-step, and if I can arrange it, I am considering offering this pattern and instructions as an online VIP rug hooking course in September or October. So watch for that.

Here is a list of the wools I will be selecting from:

Norfolk Lavender 110
Fincastle Brown 141
Wilde Wood 117
Jack Horner Plum 111
Rosehip 45
Midnight Heath 66
Pink Iris 34
Chesterfield 52
Twinkle Periwinkle 56
Gray Lichen 50
Shades of Dusk 23
Gossamer Gray 31

Carrie Martin and a needle felting lesson

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending a class that Carrie Martin conducted for the Stash Sisters here in Houston. She is a very creative person, and taught us how to make bags using needle felting and other embellishments. So I learned to needle felt, something I have been wanting to do since last year. I loved it! I will try to create a "basic how-to needle felt" post this week, but I wanted to share with you the little rug I finished from the class last night (I have not sewn the bag yet).

Carrie gave each of us a little starter kit which included some roving and ribbon and yarn embellishments. I choose a red kit, and had all the intentions to go "abstract" since this is the direction that Carrie teaches the class and I am part of the 2010 abstract challenge. But as soon as I got the little red roving out and started to needle felt all I could think of was hearts and Valentine's day and chocolates. So my piece went in the representational direction instead of abstract, and in the end I hooked "Bon Bons Valentine".

Saint Nicholas 2009: Third Eve

Here is the progress I made last night...mainly worked the beard. I hooked my #1 values plus dorr white and natural and one off white grey texture in the top of his beard. About 2/3rds of the way down the beard I switched to #2 values. What hues did I use? My two neutrals created by mixing half and half of my recipes for 11=PURPLE and 5=YELLOW; and half and half of my recipes for 1=RED and 6=Green. My 9=BLUE; 10=BLUE-PURPLE; 11=PURPLE; 12=PURPLE-RED; 1=RED.

Tonight my plan is to work his coat. Then all I have is the background to go. Now that I see a photo of the beard, I think I will replace a couple of the darker strips with a lighter value.

Saint Nicholas 2009

I am starting Saint Nicholas 2009. My intent is to make a pocket pack out of it. Its outside measurements will be 10" by 15", so a little bigger than those 10" by 10" pocket packs I hooked this summer. I need a bit more room for all the stuff I carry around with me!

Here is the picture that inspired me and the sketch I made of it on my linen backing. Since I will be hooking by value, I made a black and white copy of the color picture so I can watch my lights and darks, hooking lighter values in the light areas and darker values in the darker areas. This will allow me to not worry so much about what colors I am hooking, but concentrate on values which will cause the face to emerge more creatively.

I probably won't hook the same colors because I'm a purple person and Christmas is purple and white for me. So I have to use some shades of purple. I am using the wool palette I dyed this season as I have been teaching the Palette Dyeing rug camp on Rug Hooking Daily (join the group for details). So first the neutrals. These are the two neutrals I am going to use. In lefthand photo: the wool on the left I created by mixing half and half of my recipes for 11=PURPLE and 5=YELLOW; the wool on the right I created by mixing half and half of my recipes for 1=RED and 6=Green. In the righthand photo, these are the other hues I will use (from left to right): my 6=GREEN; my 11=PURPLE; my 12=PURPLE-RED.

Week 11: Ten-Minute Roundup

We have some cute holiday projects finished this week and posted on Rug Hooking Daily. Lurie McAdow posted her stuffed Hagatha (Among Friends design): what a great tooth! Cynthia Bell posted a darling stuffed snowman and fir trees (Fish Eye Rugs design): love the use of proddy for the needles! Jenny Anderson posted a big original rug she has been working on since July called Wade the Green Man. It is a portrait of her husband as a Green Man in winter. Great use of verse combined with portrait! I finished my block of the Stash Sisters raffle rug: Pan the green (wo)man in November.

Congratulations to all of you who finished projects this week. Please post your pictures and information about your rugs on our Rug Hooking Daily group forum where we are centrally collecting our accomplishments every month! Every project finished counts!

Mr. Bonz revealed

Now that the challenge is over, I can post pictures of Mr. Bonz. I created the skull for my son who wanted me to hook a skeleton for the challenge. Since an entire skeleton was too much for my 10-by-10 inch mat, we settled on a skull.

I have been wanting to try to hook by using values instead of colors, so that is what I did with Mr. Bonz. It was not easy. I took pictures of him a couple of times while I was hooking the skull and converted them to black and white in iphoto so I could see the values better. When I saw a value too dark or too light in the black and white photo, I pulled it out and tried something different until the photo looked correct. I especially worked on the areas around his eyes and his cheeks where many strips appeared too dark.

This is what he looks like now, in color and in black and white.

To finish Mr. Bonz, I prodded mummy gauze on the bottom, and used off-white wool to bind it. I bought a plastic skeleton and sawed off the skull. I hung the skeleton on my wall and Mr. Bonz over the top. Here he is in my living room. Alexander is pleased as punch who picked out a skeleton costume for himself for Halloween. Here he is modeling it.