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, November 21, 2013

For Cathy, your second project

Dear Cathy,  Your first little mat is wonderful!  I am so glad you have found joy in this, I totally loved it when I could do it for hours on end.  Now you are ready to move to the next step.  For a second project, it may be best to choose one of a modest size rather than a huge one. Just as a knitter finds a comfortable rhythm  after a time, so do rug hookers loosen up and achieve a more even style.  So your first pieces absorb all of that change and by the time you start a large one, it will all look even, instead of part of it being too tight and possibly lumpy. 

For a better hook,  I believe the right one is a Hartman medium Size 5 mm.  

You might also order 2 yds  of bleached linen rug backing.  It will be there ready when you are to draw a new rug.  Since you are an artist in your own right, You will soon be drawing your own rugs. 

 If you want to order one of my designs, look at Barb Carroll’s  woolley fox website.  A lot of time and wool and money go into a big one, hundreds of hours and hundreds of dollar’s if you buy high quality hooking wool to blend with your rummage wool  Choose something you really like. 

I know you are gathering rummage wool and plan to dye some. There is a big section in my book on easy dying. Do not use common household dye.  Dying enough colors to give you a complete palette takes a long time, but yields a ton of wool. You and Cindy can share.  Use only 100% wool as blends do not take the dye right.  When you are buying rummage wool, any light to medium color is great.  All of my reds are dyed over tan or medium beige, which is easy wool to find.
  Do not pass over gray wool because you don’t need any more gray! You can over dye gray or beige or light tan with blue to get nice greyed down blues. And also over gray, use green dye to get nice soft greens. You do not have to start with white wool, for anything but pastel yellows which I seldom need.   Light yellow and light pink or any pastel wool can be over dyed to get richer colors suitable for the rugs I like.

I look forward to seeing you start your second project!  Keep me posted. e

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dolling day with Jan Conwell

Yesterday Jan Conwell came for a visit. We do not live really close so I always appreciate it when she drives to see me.  It was a simply beautiful fall day.   Jan and I put up my two Christmas trees in the living room. I will straighten them out some and they will be ready for ornaments.  She also helped me put up some other stuff. I do not get on ladders or even step stools when I am alone here.   We ate downtown at my favorite sandwich shop.   
I enjoyed seeing all the dolls in progress she brought. Most do not have their body suits on yet. Some will have a bit more antiqueing or aging.  But the lovely little heads Jan has sculpted are dear.  One will live with me in a few weeks. 
Three that came are not Izannah types. Jan makes artist dolls of an amazing variety, some sweet like the lovely black child pictured and some off the wall like her doll "Good Bones" which can be found on Jan's blog. Jan not only thinks out of the box, I don't think she has ever been in a box to start with!.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Christmas Past

Our big house in Stoneridge decorated so nicely for Christmas.  Click on links to go look. I am thinking of Christmas things here now, and wondering how this will go for me. This little house has so much in it, more might make it visually too crowded if I put in a lot of greenery and fruit and such. . I will give it a try, starting with one small tree.




Monday, November 11, 2013

Cooler weather for the garden now


Yesterday I gardened till I can hardly move!  It will get better after a hot bath. Gardening is so good for my soul!  I have a hard time reaching the ground, so I purchased 3 large feeders for livestock to use as raised beds, and then Gary put holes in them for drainage. I have a layer of Styrofoam in the bottom then a fiberglass screen then garden soil.  As I take out summer pot plants I am putting the soil from them in the raised beds, then will add as needed.   These big raised beds are not pretty.  They will be a bit more pleasing with growing things to focus on. 

Most of the pot plants are being discarded, the remaining ones will be a significant batch to care for in the atrium and on the sun porch.  Five big pots of white geraniums are too large to bring in, they will have to shelter in place as the saying is.  

Our first killing frost is expected on Tues night and another on Wed night. I will plant on Thursday and hope to get seedlings up and going. I am a full 6 weeks too late for this.  I would not plant before my trip east because I did not want friends and family to have to take care of more here. Then I came home under par and not inclined to work outside at all.  Excuses do not placate mother nature. 
 Foods from the winter garden are so precious. Going in as seeds are beets, spinach, lettuce and snow peas. I set out a few broccoli plants. Still bearing are two large tomato plants full of little cherry tomatoes. I will cover them and try to save them from frost another week or so.   

 A sweet neighbor couple  brought me three gorgeous egg plants from their garden yesterday.  I think I will paint them before they get cooked. Beth will make eggplant parmesan  casserole next week for us all.  She feeds Cheryl and Linda and me as well as herself and Gary several nights a week. Linda is staying with them while she is in transition, moving here and doing over a little place to live in.  

I am starting to do the fall trimming of perennials.  My front yard planting, put in in May, has really done well.  It is a low water needs area, graveled and mulched and having a seating group in the center.  The phlox and blue salvia and many clumps of lantana have bloomed gloriously!  Almost too much going on visually.  A man who helps here with the yard will come next week and do a lot of the heavy trimming I hope.   He will be very welcome!  e


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

For Cathy, Striation in hooked rugs

Variation in a single color is more interesting than a solid passage. Variation, as I use it here, means the use of subtly different shades of the same color in one element. Variation gives eye appeal to every part of a rug. These slight variations do not show up as striation to the observer.

A more pronounced difference in colors within the same area, whether a background or a border or a figure, is striation. We respond to the stimulation of well-used striation, which leads our eyes to move around in a design. We feel jangled by striation that is too harsh or busy. A Simple design can generally use exuberant striation to advantage more readily than a busy design.

Strong variation of the same color can result in striation. The effect of this is muted , if desired, by not putting the darkest strands next to the lightest ones, but by using an intermediate value between them to lessen the contrast. An example would be  multicolored gays used for a background, some much lighter and some noticeably darker than average.

Bolder striation is achieved in the opposite way by placing values for the strongest contrast. Flame stitch bargello often makes use of this device.

Striation involving the use of different colors is called "Hit and Miss" by many of us. Again this type of striation may be bold or muted as it suits the rug maker. I start by selecting a group of colors that I like together, and place them very deliberately to take advantage of compliments and other pleasing combinations of color. I deliberately choose each strand as I work. The strand I pick up is intentional not random. There is nothing hit or miss about it. True "Hit and Miss" is for the very brave who wish to achieve a very na├»ve and primitive hooked rug.  

The Rooster rug, which I hooked in 1978, shows striation in the border and background.  This rug was hooked on burlap and lay on the floor for many years,  acquiring wear and fading.  I believe it could be mistaken now for an old rug of an earlier date.   e
Remember to always click on any picture in this blog to make it larger.

For Cathy, Mending Hooked Rugs

Many of us collect lovely old hooked rugs, with time softened colors and charming designs.  However they are often fragile or damaged. If you are handy with a needle and thread, as well as rug hooking, mending these old treasures is very possible.  My ideas on this are just one way of doing it. There are several approaches to mending them.  So I offer these ideas for your consideration.  

First I think it is important to choose something that is possible to work with. I avoid really dirty ones.  If the amount of soiling to an old rug is not acceptable to live with as is, I pass over that one, as I do not know how to do much cleaning of them.  Barb Carroll tells me to lay a dirty hooked rug face down on dry snow out side for a day, then brush it off and much of the dirt will go with the snow.  I have no snow so cannot say.  I have used a rug cleaning product called Johnson’s glory, a foam spray which dries in a few minutes and can be vacuumed away taking some of the soil with it.  But mostly I stay away from a dirty rug. Note, a rug hooked on monks cloth or modern rug linen can often be dry cleaned or washed by hand or gentle machine.  The old ones on burlap will usually not survive this.   

 I am quite brave about attacking a rug with lots of tears or missing parts. Be sure your cost in any fragmentary ones is so low as to be negligible, then what can you loose by trying?  Many truly antique rug fragments are worthy of considerable time and effort, and have a strong chance of being beautiful again.  Judge your project on this matter and be sure the project is worthy.   

One strong caution is this: Never use any adhesive of any kind on a hand hooked rug, not tape or glue or spray-on rubber backing. 

Having decided you will mend it, determine the backing of the rug. Is it still pretty sturdy for the most part, or would the rug be better off faced completely with a new backing?  If sewing or hooking through the old backing will cause it to break up, a whole new facing may be best. 

If on the other hand the problems are just a few holes in the middle of the rug, those are easy to deal with. Just make a patch of new rug linen at least an inch and a half larger all around that the hole to be mended.  Lay the new patch under the hole and using a large needle with strong thread, perhaps upholstery thread, sew the patch under the rug with a running stitch. I use a line of stitches about half an inch long close to the hole, and another line close to the edge of the patch. Think concentric circles here. When stitching, take care to stitch in between the loops of pile on the front of the rug, so the stitches do not show on the front side. You may want to widely whip around the edge of the hole on the top of the rug also before starting to re-hook.  Hook material into the missing area, considering the height of the needed loops. Most old rugs were clipped on the surface, so match this as appropriate.  This fill in material may be your familiar wool strips, or yarn (may be two strands at a time),  or cotton strips cut from an old faded tee shirt.  Many old rugs were made of cotton knit material.  The tans are often cotton lisle stockings.  Later rayon stockings and even silk ones were hooked into mats and rugs.  

A different approach is needed when part of the edge of the rug is missing or much damaged.   If a patch is needed for just a section of a straight edge,  use a long narrow piece of new rug linen, and fold it longwise to make a patch larger than the missing section of border.  Remove any old binding which is in your way.  Sew the long folded patch under the missing or damaged area, with the folded edge out so it is a finished edge for the rug.  Hook in the filling, then replace the binding or other edge finish.  

Last we come to the rug which is just a fragment or is severely damaged or has a backing which is rotten and threatening to disintegrate!  Form a new facing or backing for the rug using new rug linen. The size needed is about an inch and a half larger than the finished rug will be.   With your fingers, lightly crease the linen where the finished edge of the rug will be.  Do not get the backing too small or end up with the old rug bunched up and unable to lay flat.   Using a long running stitch sew this hem in place.

Note:  You might instead use a larger piece of new linen than will be needed, and turn in the hem only after you have secured the center and can closely judge the edge!

 Place the old rug on it’s new backing with the raw edged hem hidden between them.  Starting in the center, secure the two layers with pins or light basting here and there.   Then making parallel  lines of running stitches, secure the entire backing to the old rug, taking care to hide the sewing on the face of the rug, working down in the body of the hooking or in between the loops.    Lay the work flat and check it often to keep it flat. last sew around the rug half an inch or so from the edge all around.  On the face of the rug, whip down the edges of any holes or missing areas.  When you have re-backed the rug, you can fill in with hooking as needed.  You will find that the sewn in threads will get in the way somewhat of your re-hooking. This is why we use a long running stitch not a shorter prettier one. If that is a major problem, use a large needle with yarn to make high loops and replace some missing material that way.  As long as the color is very close and the height of the new hooking is correct, the fiber is not as important as you might think.

Now the rug is ready for new binding. Use cotton twill rug binding tape if you like, or use wool strips. Plaid is pretty. Keep the binding muted and do not attract attention to it at the expense of the older part of the rug. The binding may be planned to show on the front also, by having 5/8 of an inch or more of unhooked edge to the backing.

The mended old rugs are best used as a wall hanging  mounted on covered stretchers, or perhaps displayed on a table top.  Loving and collecting and restoring old textiles is a way of life for many of us.  Enjoy! 

This is a truly old rug which I successfully mended.  Edyth

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