Brenham Tree turns around

I had company for ten days.  Been trying to get ready for Sauder, both my own rugs and my kits for the Palette dyeing class (which has taken a ton of time given that we are talking about dyeing in swatches over 15 yards of 15 colors).  I have a big box that I'm putting together to ship up to my sister's in Michigan.  It is too much to try to take on the plane.  I plan to try to carry my Palette Constellation Rug on the plane, because I don't want to have to ship it.  It means I have to take the thing down off the wall, and it was a chore to get it up there in the first place.  But I promised I would display it at Sauder, so it has to come down in a few weeks.

Meanwhile, I pulled out the Brenham Tree Abstract I started with my scraps in May.  I am terrible with these hit and miss rugs.  I hate what I have done so far (only 1 day of hooking on it).  So a ripped out everything and started over with a new concept.  I divided areas of the rug into rough color patches.  I choose to go with a tri-color scheme: orange-red; green-yellow; purple.  I reorganized the scraps around these three colors instead of values (although I plan to use lights in green-yellow areas) and stripped up a few more scraps that I had hanging around in my baskets from previous projects. 

I figure that this abstract won't take as much concentration as my portrait rugs, so I can work it up easily in the car as we are driving to Wade's parents.  I hope it turns out.  Not so sure right now.

Palette Constellation Rug Finished

Patty is visiting from Illinois and she helped me finish sewing on the binding yesterday.  I lightly pressed it, attached a strip of foam board across the top, and mounted it on the wall behind my couch last night.  Wow does it ever bring warmth and color into our living room. 

This is a special rug because it charts the entire color palette that I have created for myself from my three primary dye recipes (red, yellow, blue).  The palette is displayed in color families that can be identified by the border.  There are twelve columns down and twelve rows across.  Each represents a color family on the color wheel: red, red-orange, orange, yellow, etc.  If you locate a color in the top border (say yellow) and another in the side border (say blue), and locate the intersection of these columns, you will find the color that results when I mix my yellow and blue dyes.  It should be green.

This constellation chart is going to be so helpful for me, allowing me to color plan my rugs instantly.  I am SO excited.


7 feet 6 inches by 3 feet 7 inches or 90" by 58"

67 colors plus black

536 different values

160 hours to hook

36 days to dye

38 yards of wool used


Hanging rugs with map pins

Sondra Ives just directed me to a video that Deanne Fitzpatrick posted on UTUBE about how she hangs her big rugs.  She uses map pins every 2 or 3 inches along the rug.  That is easy.  I think that this might be the solution to hanging my Palette Constellation Rug.  Well at least I am going to try it, and if it works great.  If it doesn't, I will have to think about another option.

Palette Constellation Rug

I am off to guild this morning and as I was packing up my rug, I snapped a shot of it to test out our new camera.  I think we finally bought one good enough to handle low light indoors shots.  I think it did a pretty good job.

The rug is coming along.  I have two more rows to go, and am loving the power of the blue as it enters the rug and comes down the final columns.  This rug is going to be really stunning on the wall behind my couch.  I might even get inspired to actually do some decorating with it as the centerpiece.

Oh, the rug looks small here, but at this point it is almost nine feet long.

My favorite color

Have been hooking more colors in the Palette Constellation rug.  Marguerite's big frame is allowing me to hook two rows at once.  This seems to be making a big difference. 

So I have also been dyeing, since I am coming along in my rows onto colors that I don't have in stock.  Pictured here is probably my absolute favorite of all my colors, Black Orchid 146, that I just hooked into the 10th row (Blue row).  It is a combination of my blue dye and my red-orange.  A lovely purple that I find myself wanting to use in everything I hook.  Maybe I will make it my signature color.  Hum...

New Starter Palette

As I have been dyeing colors to complete the Palette Constellation Rug, I have been also working on dyeing the new colors for the Starter Palette that I included recipes for in the revised version of The Wool Palette (see sidebar to order).  I created starter recipes to help people begin the palette process without needing to create their own colors if they don't want to.  The recipes I created allow the colors of the second palette to be integrated with my original palette.  This way I have extended my color palette to 134 colors instead of 67.  The second Starter Palette contains foundational dyes that I use in my original palette, so there should be a seamless integration when I use colors from both palettes in my rugs.  I am excited to extend my value options from 536 to 1076!

Pictured here is the red color wheel family: 201 (red), 202 (red-orange), 203 (orange), 204 (orange-red).  These are some of the wools that I will be putting into my kits for the Glorious Color Caddy we will be hooking at Sauder in August.

Bigger frame, and a question about transition dyeing

When I was at the Stash Sisters guild meeting a couple of weeks ago, one of the other women there noticed me struggling with my small frame now that my Palette Constellation rug has become so big and heavy.  So she kindly offered to lend me the frame that she uses for big rugs. 

I am so grateful to Marguerite Evans who has lent me her frame and Sondra Ives who dropped it by my home this afternoon. 

I have set it up and already started to hook the final 1/4 of the rug.  I have four more rows to complete and I will be finished with this rug. 

I need to dye three more colors before I can go on much farther with hooking this rug.  I hope to get to do some of the dyeing tomorrow afternoon after I pick up Alexander from school.  Since it takes me about four hours to complete the hands-on part of my dyeing process (then I let the material sit overnight in the dye bath), I have to be home for a good chunk of time to do it.  I should be able to get two of the colors done for the Constellation rug, and another one of the twelve new colors of my second Starter Palette that I am preparing for my Sauder class project.

QUESTION: Can anyone point me in the right direction for instructions on transition value dyeing?  I don't want instructions for dip-dyeing transition, but for creating gradated values that move from one color to a completely different color (like from yellow to purple).  I have been experimenting with this, but not with any real success yet. 


Turning down the next row

So my Palette Constellation is a BIG rug, although Alexander has grown taller than it is high.  At least it is the biggest rug I have ever tried to hook.  It is going to end up about 9 feet long and 4 feet wide. 

I am measuring my progress by the rows I finish and I am now working down the 8th row.  That means that I am almost 3/4ths finished. What holds up the show is when I come upon a color that I don't have dyed in my stash anymore.  So I dyed a couple of colors last night and will work on a few more in between other commitments this week. 

On the dyeing front, I have started to dye up a second palette which I am going to be using as my Starter Palette for my dye classes.  The recipes will integrate into my primary palette, so that means I am creating a subsidiary palette that will give me another full range of colors to complement the 67 I already have.  These are the basic Starter recipes that I included in the Revised Edition of my book, The Wool Palette.  I have quite a bit of yardage of the Starter Palette to prepare for my Sauder dye class this August, so I am starting on it already with a yard of 201, my Starter Red.  I liked how it turned out; just took it out of the pot so will post pictures another day.

Just for the record. It is fascinating hooking the Palette Constellation rug because I am getting to double check all my colors.  When I see something off in the progression of color, I am going back and redyeing to see if something was off the first time around.  What I am finding is that when the dry dyes go into solution, that blue dyes are unstable.  If they sit in solution much longer than a week (and then they need to be refrigerated) they turn gray.  When you go to use the old solution, the blue dye has turned into something else.  So this means that any recipe that uses a blue dye of any sort is vulnerable.  I have not found this to be the case with any other color which all seem to last quite a long time (not refrigerated) in stable solution. 

Merry Christmas from my house to yours!

It has been a very busy holiday here.  My sister's family and my inlaws are staying with us and we have been traveling around Houston, San Antonio and Austin.  Today we go down to Galveston Island for a nice dinner on the pier. 

Santa was good to all of us, but me especially.  Wade and Alexander gave me a Snap Dragon frame for my stand.  I declare it to be the Cadillac of frames now that I have been using it the last couple of days.  Here is a picture of me hooking my Palette Constellation Rug on the Snap Dragon frame.  It is getting BIG and finally I have a frame that can handle it!  My goal is to finish this rug by the end of February.

Back to my Palette Constellation Rug

Now that I have finished with the lion, I am returning to work on my Palette Constellation Rug, the nine foot long rug that displays my entire dye palette.  Each of the 67 colors in their 8 values is arranged by family in terms of how that particular color was created.  So it is a chart of 12 rows and 12 columns that reference the color wheel. 

I am half way done at this juncture.  I like hooking on this rug, except that every other panel I find that I have to get out my dye pots and dye up the color I need for it.  So it is slow going.

But when this rug is finished, I will have a visual color reference for each of the 67 colors that make up my wool palette.  This should make color planning, as well as dyeing, so much easier.  The trouble is going to be finding a place to hang a 9 foot long rug.