August 12, 2010

A New Rug Hooking Project: Five Plus Five

For my next rug hooking project I am going back to geometry, using a thumbnail sketch I'd made some months ago of two long rectangles filled with circles and squares. I played around with the number of elements in each piece and settled on five, which gave the composition enough length––I wanted it to have an element of repetition––without seeming to run on needlessly. I toyed with having a thin line of color for a border, as you can see in the sketch above, but abandoned the idea because I thought it would constrain the image.

Above you can see the designs drawn out on the linen backing; each panel will be 6 by 27 inches. I have shown them vertically, with the horizontal sketch, because I envisage this pair as flexible in their hanging; I also see them as architectural, as fitting above windows or alongside a doorway.

The background color for this diptych is a pale yellow color, and the squares and circles have graduated values. I dyed the blue and the green by mixing up a dye color and then adding it to a small pot: first 1 teaspoon of color for the lightest value, 2 for the second, on up to five for the darkest value. I also added a touch of the background yellow to the lightest value, a bit of red to the darkest (and a touch of blue to the darkest green). I put the dye in the pot, added the small piece of wool to be dyed, and left it in the couple of minutes it took to take up the color. Then I put the dyed piece to boil in another pot, which had vinegar in it, to set the dye. When I'm dyeing larger pieces I dye and set the color in the same pot.

Last night, as I was working on the green squares with their background, I realized that I wouldn't have enough of the pale yellow wool; it rarely happens that I miscalculate this way. So, this morning I will dye another piece of wool, trying to get it as close in color as possible. I don't use any formulas when I dye wool, as many rug hookers do, preferring to just add a bit of this and that as I see the color evolve, so getting the exact color will not be easy; I will soak a piece of the dyed wool in water so I can better compare the newly dyed fabric. The main challenge is to keep it light at first: you can always add more dye, but once it's too dark, that's it, you have to start over. It's all part of the uncertainties and surprises of the art making process.


  1. Altoon: I feel your posts about the ruglets are special gifts. The process from concept to the hands-on dyeing of the wool, the textures, the colors, the weave of the cloth...just fascinating. You bring your facility for minute observation expressed with clarity and artistic passion to this as all else in your blog. Not to mention: wonderful photos. Thanks.

  2. wow, Julie, thanks. It's really good to know that my blogging, while I'm alone here in my house on a hill, is touching someone.