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.