Welcome to My Red Cape. Long ago in another time my husband Jack and I lived in a little old red house. It was the stuff of dreams to us for the few years that we were there. I live there still a number of hours every day in imagination, with old dolls and paintings and fabrics and feather trees. I draw inspiration and happiness from the memories of that space in time and share some of it here with friends who remember how to step with Alice through the looking glass and take delight in whimsies and antiquities.

For more than sixty years I have studied, collected, repaired, and bought and sold antique dolls. They have been back ground music in my life at every stage, sometimes louder, sometimes subdued, but always there with me. To see only the posts about dolls on this blog, click the banner on the right titled Dolls for My Red Cape. Keep clicking “Older Posts” to see more. Some of the posts featuring rug hooking are gathered under the banner For Cathy. From time to time items are offered for sale under the banner “O’Neill’s Antiques” which was our shop name for many years. ~Edyth O’Neill

Thursday, October 31, 2013

For Cathy, Variation in Hooked rug color

Beginning rug hookers will find this difficult to follow, as they will not have as wide a range of wools to choose from as someone who has years of wool collected, but I never hook any significant area as one solid color.

Nor do I outline a large motif in one single wool choice, see the whale's tail on the rug I am working here. several different colored strands have been used to make this outline. The blue of the sea has uncounted blues and blue greens and orchids  Left over strands from countless rugs over 36 years of rug hooking make a rich palette for the present.  In this way, each rug you make contributes to the ones that will follow it. Over time, you will come to have the perfect yellow for a flower's center or a bird's eye.  As I work on this whaling rug, I am cutting fresh blues and browns right along, but I am also drawing strands from a stash of already cut wool left from other projects.

A little about my color use... I stay away from pure white entirely. Other than the eye of a figure like this whale, I stay away from pure black.  If you want an antique look to a rug, the nearer you stay to medium values, the older the rug will seem. This is because very dark colors would have faded with time, and very light colors would have darkened with soiling so it all goes closer to a soft  mid range of value.

My variation of color is not at all hit and miss. It is intentional thoughtful placement one strand at a time. For instance, the dark whale has mostly light blues around him.  He is the center of interest and I want him to be seen. As I work I am thinking about contrasts and compliments.  In the sea itself with so many slightly different blues, I can avoid placing the darkest next to the lightest, where I do not want a hard line for some reason.  Mostly I work from medium to light then back to medium and then to darker blues.  Here are examples of variation as I enjoy it.  The small ship was lost in our house fire. I wonder if I will ever work it again? It was done with a fine cut and much pulling out and putting in again.   E 

Note, I will cover several subjects to help a friend I am coaching from a distance. If a beginning rug hooker prints this "For Cathy" series, it will make a folder of these topics.


  1. that is a wonderful post!
    so good of you to help her.

  2. Thank you for this informative post!
    Your rugs are all so beautiful!

  3. I've been tempted to try my hand at folk art painting...your lesson in color seems to be something I might apply to that as well. Paint doesn't age or soil as wool does, but I like the idea of blending dark to light and back again in certain areas.

  4. I echo a wonderful post! I'm not a rug hooker but a puncher. The knowledge you've shared is invaluable ... thank you so much!

  5. My mother shared your blog with me today. So glad she did! Your talent and eye for color is inspiring. Thanks!

  6. Good morning Edyth,
    I have to train myself to reference your blog daily! It is so encouraging , you are a true teacher at heart. As I move along at a much slower pace than I'd like, I am learning. I continue to be in awe of your talent for color and design and the beauty of the evenness of the loops. Your rugs look more like paintings to me, so beautiful. I have had so many compliments on the hens and today I am going to attach a dowel on the back to hang it properly, thanks for the instructions on proper hanging. I did a little wool shopping yesterday at the second hand store,(fun,fun,fun) and found a nice wool skirt in blue ad green- my collection is slowly growing. Thanks so much Edyth for all your help, missing you, Cathy

    P.S. Penny's blanket is beautiful!!!!!

  7. Thank you, Edyth, for your interesting and helpful information on rug hooking. I will print this and save. Look forward to the next post. ~Christine

  8. thank you so much for the lesson...your work is beyond beautiful..

  9. Hi Edyth,
    Where can I find your book "For Cathy, thoughts on rug hooking". Would love to purchase one...

  10. Dear Lynne, Thank you for your interest, "For Kathy" is not a book but a few posts for a beginning rug hooker friend that are tagged. If you click on the banner in the right hand column that says for Kathy, it will show you all of those posts. My rug hooking book "Rugs For My Red Cape" is available as a PDF download see banner in the right hand column again.


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