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. ~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.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Jan Conwell's pretty little doll

This newest addition to my doll family is thinking about a dress of the old double pink fabric.  It is easy to see why it was used so much for a child's dress in the 19th century. It really set a little girl off,  and even the scraps brightened many a quilt top.  e

For Cathy, Hooked Rug Binding

Just as it is oversimplification to say that weaving is just putting a shuttle over one thread and under the next, so it is oversimplification to feel that hooking a rug is only a matter of hooking a loop repeatedly.
  There are so many topics about the craft that we have not touched on yet. 

I know that you will be binding your first small project soon.  First and foremost we hem the edges of a rug so that the backing cannot ravel away and take our rug with it! 

The reason for applying a binding to the edge is not only for esthetic reasons, but to protect this edge from wear. On a floor rug the first place to show wear is almost always the outer edge. By binding this vulnerable spot, we protect the linen backing from wear, as when the applied binding needs to be replaced it can be.  On a tiny piece that will have little or no wear, a simple unbound hem is excusable.  A prettier solution is that shown on the half round here, backing with a single piece of wool the full size of the project.

 Old fashioned rug binding tape, sturdy twill sold for this purpose is another solution. The larger floor rug in these pictures is bound in twill tape, heavy and 1 1/4 inches wide. It should be dabbed out in hot water before use, so it will not later shrink if wet.    See how the tape has been stitched to make a wider piece, making a casing on the top back of the rug, it was hung on a wall this way for a while.  A casing with a rod or a stick is always a good way to hang a rug.  Never use tacks in the body of a rug!  A dozen reasons no. 

The binding I use most often is a strip of pretty wool plaid coordinated with the rug itself.  This is torn on the straight of the wool fabric, 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. It is shown gathered at the corners of one mat, and mitered at the corners of the little doll sized chicken rug.

What ever binding you use, remember to cover the edge of the linen backing well.      Happy hooking!  e

Monday, October 21, 2013

For Every thing there is a season

Turn, turn, turn, I see over and over how my art interests circle back and pick up again, each time enlivened or made fuller by experience gained since the last time I worked in a given medium.  It seems to me that each thing I learn benefits everything else I do in some way. The study of color and contrasts and complements and design apply to portraits or samplers or quilts or gardening, all though my life.  From talking to friends I know that many of you find the same in your endeavors.
   I have been enjoying rug hooking a little  lately, that is enjoying a lot and hooking a little.  My hands do not tolerate very long sessions, but I like looking at what is happening on a project each time I pass by it through out my day.
  In my rug hooking basket there is a little duplicate of the doll size chicken rug I left in Rockport for one of my hostesses there.  My own dolls felt greatly slighted not to have one here too.  And under it is a great runner, copy of an antique one which Barb Carroll prints. I started this one years back and gave up on it. Now I am accepting the fact that I cannot do much at a time, but that little can add up!  Wish me courage on this one,

it is big!  If I can complete it I will use it as a table rug on our 8 ft table or over a window in the dining area.  I love nautical things.  E

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Revolutionary rifles on view

Today I parted with Jackie’s Bunker Hill rifle.  It was hard to take it from the  wall of the room that was his, remembering how much pleasure he had in that amazing discovery years ago in a big northern antique market. But it has gone now to the care of a serious collector of Revolutionary guns with proven history of ownership. On this gun, the patch box contained the names of the owner and the maker of this worn and humble relic.  See Jack’s post on it at  http://www.edythoneill.blogspot.com/2012/07/american-revolutionary-war-gun-bunker.html     

It is good to have the old rifle in the hands of a collector who will document it’s history as he goes even to the town in Maine where the revolutionary owner lived.  The gun is identified, kept safe and will be restored by one of the most outstanding craftsmen in this field.  I wanted to be sure it did not get lost from its identity and wind up in a yard sale or dump. 

In addition, Al, the purchaser, brought a silver mounted long gun which belonged to John Glen Jr, a  close friend of GW who had fought right beside him many times, and no doubt GW handled this beautiful weapon. Several friends and family members were here to see this remarkable revolutionary gun.   This was a day unlike any other for me. 

Included in the transaction was another gun of similar age but lacking provenance.    This can hang on the wall where I am accustomed to having one.  e                                                                                       

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Doll clothes

My friend Elizabeth used to say change a doll's clothes and it is as if you have a new doll.  She was very right I think.  Here is a light brown quilted silk bonnet I found on RL, modeled by one of the two large Greiner heads I need to make bodies for.  It is always a trade off to put a bonnet on a doll, I like to see the hair too.

If you go to this link you will see my post on three more of these.

The rough little blond Greiner with a sweet home made body is just right in the indigo dress I brought back from my trip. She is a simple doll needing a simple dress.  Now that is one more dressed.   e 


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fabric folk art doll

Good morning, Look what a great rag doll was in my email this morning from Skinner's. She is coming up at auction with an estimate of 4 to 6 thousand.  At 18 inches she is billed as a possible Izannah Walker doll which she clearly is not. My Izzanahs would love to have a dress that good!  Click the picture to see it larger, like all the rest on this blog. E

Monday, October 7, 2013

My friend Peggy has a new blog.

Her wonderful house is a backdrop that shows off the dolls made by my talented friend.  I invite you to visit. http://peggyflavin.blogspot.com/  .     Edyth 

If you really love old Houses

I invite you to enjoy the new blog of my friend Prudence Fish, author of "Antique Houses of Gloucester".  Pru is a friend of Peggy Flavin, whom I know as a doll person, but whose real passion and greatest expertise lie in the study of early New England Houses. Being with them a good bit on this trip has been a privilege. 

Pru's blog address is 


Dixie Redmond deserves credit for getting it up and going, while Peggy and I pushed from behind, but Pru herself is the real treasure. I have her book and hope to have another!

She is covering the subject right up to the minute, citing the one that just was raised last night under cover of darkness.  Go see !  Edyth

Good bye to Cape Ann

Sometimes in our travels we find that rare sweet spot where our spirit wants to settle and stay. It was so for me in this place. I have taken over 600 photos  to try to store up the memories.   My camera stopped downloading them to my little dell tablet at about the 500 point.  Clover the beautiful golden dog is pictured here.  Peggy with her first Izannah type doll,  Cathy her sister, now my warm friend, all of my pictures from this trip are precious to me. 

 This last afternoon Peggy drove me on a final tour of the cape, and we stopped to watch the sea in a slightly storm tinged mood. The remnants of a gulf storm have made their way this far north making a higher tide and more waves than usual,  but  strong sunlight colored all this blowing and going, not a gray sky at all. A special day to remember, like they all have been.  E


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Cape Cod

On Saturday Peggy and I were invited to a doll study club meeting. This was a pleasant experience in every way. The people, the dolls, the food, all the way from lobster to peach cobbler.  Even so the drive on the cape itself, with fall decorations everywhere, pumpkins and mums and red gold trees against the backdrop of the little towns, surely among the most  lovely in our country, just takes my breath away. Those of you who know the cape with the rose filled yards, and iconic architecture understand exactly. Crossing the bridge here at Cape Ann brought us back to home, and lovely as the big cape is to see and visit, if I could live on one or the other there is no contest. Cape Ann has my heart.

Sunday has been the first damp day, and I have gathered my things to pack all of it back home. I want to fit in so much more than will go in the luggage, a whole beach for example.

. Sunday evening is family dinner time with my hosts.  The food is incomparable. The young man I sat next to won  his native Italy's highest chef's award three years in a row before coming to this country. Very simple, very beautiful dishes,  one of the pretty salads was fresh spinach leaves, red beets cooked and chilled in a vinaigrette with walnuts and feta cheese, and slivers of something else crisp. The colors were deep and vivid.  The foods come from several family kitchens as all bring a few dishes.

After dinner I helped Cathy with her rug hooking. She is taking right off with it.

  I am going home but I think I will always be different because of this trip. My heart is so filled with gratitude for what I have received from this great family.  e

Friday, October 4, 2013

Days packed full of beautiful experiences

Thursday morning Cathy and I went back to Rockport to sketch and paint, When we arrived a group of painters were watching an instructor paint a really nice harbor scene with fall foliage showing  above on the surrounding hills.  His name is Jonathan McPhillips and maybe he will come to Fredericksburg. He knows about our town as we have several good galleries there.  After lunch Peggy took me on a tour of older streets and pointed out many old houses. We stopped in her bank as it has a nice collection of paintings in the lobby.  Every where we are reminded of Rockport being the oldest continuous art colony in the country.  We had dinner with Dennis at home.

Friday morning, Cathy finally had decided she does want to learn rug hooking, So We worked together a couple of hours as I showed her a bit about how to select wool, wash and tear and cut it. Then we went to three thrift stores for an almost fruitless search for rummage wool. Nearly nada. But stay tuned for what happened next!   I had lunch with Cathy. And went to Peggy's house for the afternoon. The sisters divide my time many days, as Peggy makes all the deserts for the restaurant each day before she is free. Cathy is free in the mornings till her family starts getting home from school a bit after two pm.

Paula Walton, a doll maker from CT, came with an arm load of dolls old and new, plus bags of gifts for Peggy and me all hand made. Quince Jelly, soaps, silhouettes in frames she grained, and in my bag a beautiful stash of hand dyed rug wool!  Just what was needed here!  I thanked her sincerely for these beautiful wool swatches and asked if I might pass them on to Cathy. All agreed it was meant to be.

  We played with the dolls Paula had brought as well as Jane, a great doll made by Peggy, and had a fine time examining little old clothing also.  One of Paula's dolls is going home to Texas with me, I am thrilled with her.  We finished off the evening at the restaurant/pub Halibut Point, owned 31 years now by Dennis and Peggy. We sat long at dinner with wine and laughter and tales.  When the girls brought me home Cathy had put a row of pumpkins by the guest house door. She met Paula and was delighted with the wool as well as with my doll. In photos, my doll is wearing a red bead recklace  and a green print dress. In one shot she is shown with an old doll in white which was the model for the new one. She also has a brown dress.

Tomorrow Peggy and I are off to Orleans on the other cape, a challenging drive from here for a doll study club meeting.   E


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wednesday is for wonderful

Dixie Redmond and I worked hard for several hours this morning to get a blog up and blooming for Prudence Fish. It is up now and lovely. Pru is a talented writer and tireless researcher whose genre is old houses.

 I will post links next week for this one and also for  Peggy's new blog showing the dolls she makes. I am encouraging Peggy to share some of her cooking art on her blog, She is truly gifted.  She makes the deserts for the restaurant she and Dennis own, and I get to taste a bit sometimes. Her linzer tart is a marvel,  I credit it with my survival earlier this week, having had three slices!

This morning at eleven Cathy and I left in her car to paint and sketch in Rockport. We took lots of pictures, painted a bit, and had a picnic overlooking back beach. I am beginning to learn some of where I am now, goose cove or plum cove or granite pier or such  Cathy has laid aside her earlier interest in drawing and painting while she and Ken rear 5 fine young people. Cathy is also a productive weaver with a  sunlit workroom in the large house. Now she is enthusiastic about working in more fine art time also. Just two days in a row experiencing the creative zone that comes with loosing yourself in art has renewed this in her. Family demands change and the seasons of a woman's life change.

Then Peggy picked me up for a tour around Gloucester again, this time we drove on Rocky Neck, considered an artist's area. It is suitably shabby and old hippie like to merit the term "arty." We then visited an upscale gallery downtown where Dennis's painting is featured right inside the entry. This painting was on the front of the local paper last week.

Next stop was a bookstore for my own heart. It is Dogtown Bookstore with many old books and a few of the right new ones. The proprietor  found both books I asked for and will mail them to Texas for me to keep them out of the luggage. The name Dogtown has historical significance here, as an early settlement later inhabited by wild dogs was so named. I fell in love with Bob Ritchey on the spot, a Santa Clause type with obvious need of friendly elves to keep up with all those books. Anything can be in there, with a dozen nooks and crannies. I saw most of the basic old books on antiques that have formed the background of our library for over 35years, but also books on ship models and pond boats and light houses and local history. All tempted me.   Peggy came out with two fine children's books which delighted two of her grandchildren a bit later.

This was followed by a large family gathering for supper at Cathy and Ken's home. They do this every week on market day to celebrate the great fresh foods. We had salads and melons and swordfish and haddock and mounds of fried chicken and pork loin and venison steak with potatoes and crusty bread with local pasture butter. A great many young people were at the table, three sons and a daughter 16 with two of her friends who came in just after the meal had started, braiding back their pretty long hair as they came in from a swim in one of the deep cool quarry ponds here on the property. It was like having three beautiful mermaids at the table  Small children of the next generation were also present.. The warmth of this great family and the way they share it with me is heart warming. 

I have finished a little doll size hooked rug for Cathy. Shown it is not yet pressed. I have not lacked for doll company on this trip. Pru has a lovely small collection, and Peggy also. Paula Walton plans to drive up from CT on Friday to play dolls with us. Then Peggy and I will be guests at a very special doll club meeting on Saturday. There was that wonderful trip to the Wenham museum with dolls our focus there and the visit with Cyndi Burk who shares my interest in the pressed linen head dolls.

Dennis' big stieff bear stays with me, as faithful as the beautiful family dog, a Golden named Clover.  If I am given the time and strength to do so I will surely come back to Cape Ann. My dreams are in this place. Cape Ann was the name Jackie picked for one of my nicest rug designs, though we only saw this spot once together. The beauty of it stayed with us.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

monday a lost day tuesday better

Staying in to fight this cold, I lost myself in a novel of this eastern shore set on the late 1600's. A good way to spend my chicken soup days.. 

Today, Tuesday, Cathy took me to the harbor  to paint and I sat inside the car happily dabbing paint , as Cathy made a beautiful pencil sketch.  In the larger harbor at Gloucester we saw the gorgeous new boat Ardelle under sail,

Peggy has a new blog, soon it will be visible. Today we worked to make a blog for Pru Fish. She will post about antique houses of Gloucester and  beyond. Friend Dixie Redmond is the real power behind all of this. I have not suddenly become a real techie. Ttomorrow will be another beautiful day.  e

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