Thursday, December 31, 2015

Thanks for the PINspiration

I enjoy Pinterest.  I am fascinated by the seemingly infinite quantity of images related to every possible subject imaginable.

Every once in awhile one of those images gets in my head and stays there until I act upon it in some way.   My most recent hooked rug is an example of that phenomenon:

It measures 20" by almost 33".

Here is the Pinterest image that inspired my rug:

It is a "modern" Navajo rug.  As you can see, I changed up the colors a bit, and of course my rug is hooked not woven.  You can see this weaving and other gorgeous contemporary Navajo works of art here on this website.

I wish you a Very Happy New Year!  
I am looking forward to more PINspirations in 2016!


Monday, July 20, 2015

Jack, Hernando, Mike and Me

When we sold our house and moved to our "temporary" apartment home, I had to make decisions about what to bring in the "decor" category.  The decision to bring this big blue bird was EASY because I LOVE it.  It is by Jack Black, a navajo potter.  

In our "temporary" apartment home, space for non-necessities is limited.  But with determination, I have managed to find little spaces here and there for shelves or bookcases to hold a combination of pretties and functional things we use all the time.  The bird is perched on the top of a small metal shelving unit I ordered from Home Decorators Collection.  When it arrived I filled it right up with books, games, baskets, a tiny lamp, a Woodwick candle, and the bird.  For some reason, it did not feel right to set the bird directly on the metal (can't explain it - just felt wrong).

So I made this little hooked mat to fit on the top shelf.  I wanted a very simple design - something with a southwest feel.  I decided on simple rows of offset Santa Fe crosses with a hit or miss look.  The background is a mix of darks.  In real life, the background mix is more subtle than it looks here.

The shelf unit sits directly below this large photograph by my husband Mike.  The bird and this photo were my color inspirations for the little mat.   Yes, it is an old Desoto automobile, and yes, that is Hernando de Soto's face in the hood ornament.  (Wikipedia:  Hernando de Soto was a Spanish explorer and conquistador who led the first European expedition deep into the territory of the modern-day United States, and the first documented European to have crossed the Mississippi River.)

So my little mat turned out to be a collaboration between Jack Black, Hernando de Soto, my hubby Mike and Me!

My little camera is incapable of getting a picture of the whole deal, but this is close (can't see the bottom shelf). 

By the way, if you have never had a Woodwick candle you are really missing out!  They have a special wick that makes a crackling sound when burning!  Just like a tiny fireplace!  We have tried "Timber" and "Redwood" scents and love them both.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Aunt Maudie's Quilt

Another "rescue" project.  At least this time the item being rescued has a special place in my heart.  My Mom's Aunt Maudie is the maker of this vintage quilt.  Mom turns 90 this coming Friday.

I must admit that this quilt DID NOT have a special place in my heart at first.  I had been urging my Mom to toss the thing in the trash for quite awhile.  It was in shambles.  A mess.  I didn't even think I could wash it (and boy did it NEED it).  I envisioned opening the lid of the washer and removing 500 tiny pieces of shredded fabric and a big fat wad of batting.  In all honesty, I didn't think it was a very cute quilt.

The quilt resided on Mom's couch and she used it every day.  I was a little grossed out.

When she moved to be closer to me, I gingerly put the thing in a bag and brought it to my house.  I struck a deal with Mom - it had to be washed.  If it didn't survive, I would give it a proper burial.  If it did survive, I would attempt to repair it.  She agreed.

Aunt Maudie smiled down on this agreement. 

Three times through the washing machine did not kill the quilt.  Then the dryer did not kill the quilt.  I was amazed.  Thank you Aunt Maudie.

It was not until the thing was clean and dry that I started to examine it close up.  I got kind of interested.  About 20% of the pieces making up the blocks were in shreds.  Batting was exposed in lots of places.  The edges were poorly bound to begin with (sorry Maudie!) and they were in terrible shape.  But some of the fabrics were really cool (some not).   I picked out three new fabrics that I thought would mix in well with the existing fabrics and got busy.  What worked best was to simply cut a new piece to fit right over the top of the damaged piece and applique it on there.  I used a rounded-looking zig-zag stitch on my machine to sew the pieces on (with 1/4" turned under).  

Here's a shot to give you an idea of the quilt design.  The blocks are diagonal multi-width stripes.  This is an "after" picture.  I had so little faith in the survival instincts of the quilt that I didn't even take "before" pictures.

 The backing fabric is cute, but very loosely woven.  I had to patch it in a few places.  The striped binding is new.  I completely cut off the old edges with my rotary cutter, squared things up a bit, and put on this new binding.

This photo shows bits of the new fabrics I used.  The birds on white background on the left, the white dots on green background right below the birds, and the cherries on the right.

Sometimes there was just a minor hole or tear in a piece of the old fabric, so I got creative and made little patches like this with the bird fabric.

Just for fun, here are some of the original fabrics I thought were so cute...

 This is a big patch I had to put on the back.  My plan is to make a label with Maudie's name, Mom's name, and my name.  I'll put it in the middle of this area.

Mom was thrilled to get the quilt back all clean and fixed up, but I was sad!  I went through quilt repair withdrawal.  I loved the challenge and came to appreciate the fabrics and the fun Maudie must have had making the quilt.   

I might be ready for another challenge soon...

Friday, June 19, 2015

Three Little Words

Three Little Words usually brings to mind the lovely sentiment "I love you".  I am all in favor of that.  But there are other combinations of three little words that also pack a punch.

I found myself with a long skinny piece of linen left over from a past rug hooking project - roughly 13" by 60".  I rolled it out on the floor and stared at it.  Too skinny for a floor runner.  I contemplated.  "It should say something!"  Almost instantly I knew what it should say - these three little words...

I've been doing mostly scrappy/hit or miss rugs lately in an effort to use up leftover wool, but for this rug I wanted something else.  I remembered this beautiful eggplant textured wool I purchased awhile back on speculation (because I loved it!).......  this would be the words!  I also used it to bind the edge of the rug. 

Next I chose a font on my computer for the letters.  After choosing the font, I printed out each letter in the size I wanted it to be on the rug.  I cut out the letters and traced them directly onto the linen.  To keep things level, I had already drawn a straight line on the linen where the bottom of each letter would be.

When choosing the font, I had to keep in mind how difficult it would be to hook the shape of the letter.  I liked this font because it was overall pretty straight, with just a few curvy flourishes to add interest.  (I just spent an hour trying to find the Word document I used to make the letters so that I could tell you the name of the font.  I have noticed that the ONLY files that EVER get lost on my computer are those I MIGHT want to look at again someday.  Sorry.) 

For the background, Anita (my rug hooking teacher Anita White) helped me choose one of her beautiful overdyed wools.  I think it does a great job of backing up the eggplant letters without overpowering them.  Here is a piece of you can see, it is a plaid with very large squares (4"x4").  In real life, it is more subdued than it appears here.

The rug hangs on the wall centered above two side-by-side doors in our living room.  It looks great and everyone notices it up there.

I have started a new rug, and in fact it is almost finished!  I'll be back soon...

Enjoy your particular version of summer.  Our particular version can only be described as...HUMID!!!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Crow Couple

  I hooked this rug as a Christmas gift for my Mom.
The crow on the right - that's Mom.
Crow on the left - that's Dad.
My two brothers and I are up there in the nest.
All five of us were born and raised in Kansas, with lots of sunflowers all around.
Mom's antiques business was called Double Tree Antiques.

The best part was when Mom opened the gift, 
and she immediately understood all the connections.
She loves it.

This pattern is available from Honey Bee Hive (website is which has over 2,300 rug hooking patterns!  (This is what they say - I have not counted.)  The pattern is "Crow's Nest", designed by Ramona Orihill.  The only modification I made was to add a border - which is actually inside the outer edge of her original design.  As you can see, the design elements go out into the border a little bit, which I think is an interesting look.

Just for fun, here's a few of my sunflower shots from last summer.  We are lucky to have a wonderful sunflower grower just a few miles out of town.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Forever Stamps

I recently finished this little rug.  It has found a home right next to my side of the bed, which makes it the first thing my feet touch every morning.  I love the feel of a hooked wool rug on my bare feet!  The rug is 21" by 41" and is made mostly of leftover strips from other rug projects.  The little colorful squares reminded me of postage stamps, so I named it Forever Stamps.  My husband named it The DNA of a Perfect Child.  I like that too, but I'm sticking with Forever Stamps.

The rug below inspired my design.  I found it on Pinterest.  It was described as "Early American Hooked Rug".  It had been pinned from a fancy New York antiques website offering furniture and other goodies. It was described as "Ingenious in its style, color and composition, this spectacular antique American hooked rug features a splendid all-over pattern that creates an illusion of depth and texture. The beautiful basket-weave pattern with its polychromatic stripes follows a strict under-over form that sets it apart from the monochromatic and subtly variegated squares featured in the background. Like a patchwork quilt that incorporates innumerable colors and prints, this stunning antique hooked rug is a joy to behold. The varied earth-tone hues are juxtaposed beautifully against the vivid pink, vermillion and turquoise accent colors that are set between the basket-weave stripes. This outstanding antique American hooked rug illustrates the amazing versatility of a simple geometric repeating pattern, which is executed in a way that is full of color, texture and visual appeal."  

And it is 8' by 12'.  Huge!  Asking price: $24,000!

I wonder if my Forever Stamps rug will ever be for sale on a fancy New York antiques website?  Probably not.  Maybe a garage sale somewhere.  In the meantime, and I hope for a long time, I'm looking forward to feeling that soft warm wool on my tootsies every morning.

Happy Spring everyone!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Wonky Wabbit

Hmmm...  haven't posted since last August!  Somewhere between then and now this rabbit rug was finally completed!  Also between then and now we went to Ireland and Paris, then to Mexico for our son's wedding.  Then we moved my Mom to our town.  Actually, it feels kind of good to have the time again to do a blog post...

Wonky Wabbit has a long history.  Here is a concise version:  My husband's cousin decided she wanted to learn rug hooking.  She found a teacher, chose a pattern (this pattern), chose wool (not this wool), received some instruction and got started.  I have noticed that new rug hooking students either "click" or don't.  I certainly understand that.  I have tried different creative things over the years that didn't click with me or were simply beyond my capabilities.  After hooking a small part of the rug, she rolled it all up and stored it away.  It was just not for her.

Some number of years after that, I convinced her to send the rug to me to let me take a look.  Some number of years after that, she did.  I thought the pattern was pretty cute, so I decided to finish it.   (All it says on the pattern is "Stephanie").  Initially I made an effort to use her wool, but there were issues.  First, I was unhappy with the wool she sent.  (I admit that I am happily and completely and totally spoiled by the beautifully prepared wool I buy from my rug hooking teacher Anita White.)  Cousin's wool was very loose, possibly not felted, and already cut into strips.  When I tried to hook with it, the strip would often just disintegrate in my hand.  So, new wool needed!  (Oh darn!)  Cousin had chosen more primitive colors (all greens for the ground, light blue for the sky, black and white for the rabbit).  For this simple pattern, I thought it would be fun to make the ground a patchwork of bright colors, keep the black and white scheme for the rabbit, and make a more dramatic sky in keeping with the bright patchwork ground.

So I did.

I think it turned out pretty cute!  At one point I tried adding a black and white checked border around the rug.  For some reason, I could not get it to look right, so I used a black and white textured wool to bind the rug.

Now the wonky part:  The foundation material is monks cloth.  I have made rugs on monks cloth before, although I much prefer linen.  As you can see, for the patchwork sections on the ground, I mixed up the direction of the hooking.  Even though I was very careful to get the outer row of hooking in there very straight, the edges of this rug are not straight, especially over on the right.  I have worked and worked with blocking, steaming, even a bit of swearing.  I am blaming it on the stretchiness of the monks cloth, some level of abuse caused by unhooking/rehooking, and the radical change of direction in the patchwork sections.

But I like it and it makes me smile every time I look at it - wonkiness and all!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Where there's a will…

Although dealing with doctors can sometimes be frustrating, here's a case to restore all faith in the medical profession.

This little guy…  well, let's just say he has started life here on Earth on his own terms.  The latest installment of those "terms" was to arrive a bit early… 9 weeks early!  He weighed about 3.5 lbs.  He is the newest member of our family - my husband's cousin's grandson.  I think that makes him our third cousin!

I'm always happy to have a baby on the horizon so I can make a blanket.  I had this one all timed out to be finished in July.  Oops!  The little guy arrived in May, so I got into high gear and finished it up.  This is Lucy's Neat Ripple pattern from Attic 24.  I used a Martha Stewart Crafts yarn.  It says "extra soft wool blend", with the blend being 65% acrylic and 35% wool.  I loved working with it, and the result was very soft and cuddly.  It washed and dried beautifully.

After spending 6 weeks under the watchful eye of his nurses and doctors and parents in the hospital, he is now home and growing and thriving.  His Mom and Dad sent this cute picture of him enjoying his stroller and his new blankie.

Last I heard, he is closing in on 11 pounds.  All is good.  I'm thankful to live in a time and place where stories like this can have a happy ending.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Courthouse Steps - Climbed!!!


I really enjoyed working on this rug, which is a variation of Log Cabin Courthouse Steps, but I must admit it was a tad more difficult to pull off than I anticipated!  For one thing, I needed more colors than I thought.  As it turns out, you need to separate the colors from each other carefully.  Obviously, you don't want to place the same color in two sections that touch each other.  Even two different wools that are "similar" in color should never touch.  There is still one place in this rug where that happens - where two "grays" run into each other, but I left it as a reminder to myself not to do that next time.  And I think there will be a next time!
The finished rug measures about 30"x42".  It's hard to see in the picture, but I hooked four rows of the reddish brown around the border and then bound the edge with that same wool.  The little squares in the middle of each block are that same wool. Originally I had random colors in those little squares, but I like this much better.  Using the dark color in those little squares made the "steps" really pop out!

I also recently finished this little hit or miss mat.  It measures 13"x27".  This was to be an experiment with making a small rug to sell.  Now I don't think I can part with it!  I bound this one with turquoise yarn I had on hand.  Normally I would not use a contrasting color for the binding, but I think it works here.  (I do love my turquoise.)

On our recent trip to Arizona, I made a discovery about my iPhone.  Did you know an iPhone camera could do this?  This is very close-up.  I had no idea it could focus this close and take a sharp picture.  

We live in Lawrence, KS, which is very near Overland Park in Kansas City, the site of the shootings at the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom.  The word community is so appropriate here.  My husband played basketball on the outdoor courts there for many years.  One of our dear friends tuned the piano there just a few days before the shootings.  Other friends recently bought their home from a couple who then moved into a residence in Village Shalom (where the third person was shot).  Another friend goes to the same church as two of the victims.  It amazes me how interconnected we all are.

Mother Nature was not happy with us that day.  Here's what we saw in the sky from our balcony and kitchen windows.  (Photos by my husband Mike McPheeters)

Thanks for stopping by.  Happy Spring to you and yours.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Catching Up

After my long absence… Hello!

We are finally settled in our temporary home in beautiful downtown Lawrence, KS.  For us, 2013 was the year of selling our house and downsizing our possessions.  I give us a B+ on the downsizing effort!  Even so, our storage unit is…  hmmm… scary full.

I'm posting one picture from our old house, because it has in it one of my favorite rugs that I have hooked.  On the back wall, see Floral Sampler, framed.  The pattern may be found on Nola Heidbreder's website:  It comes in two sizes - the one I hooked is the larger one, 29"x39".  I have framed a few rugs over the years, and I love the way they look.  I think some "rugs" are meant to be seen vertically.  And of course, no one is going to walk all over a rug on the wall!

Here's a closer look at Floral Sampler.  It really is a lovely design.  I love the animals.

Rug hooking here in our new digs has been a bit of a challenge! I do miss my little room in the old house that was dedicated to all my messy endeavors!  But I'm doing the best I can now here in the apartment, which involves a lot of vacuuming. 

Here are my WIP rugs:

This rabbit is a "rescue rug".  My husband's cousin started it as a first rug many years ago.  Hooking was not her thing, so I offered to take over the project.  All of her wool was BAD.  I can see why she didn't like working on it.  It was so loosely woven and weak, it just fell apart when I tried to hook with it.  So I pulled out all she had done and started over with new wool.  This gave me opportunity to choose new colors - so I went "bright".   I also added a checkerboard border, which I must admit is harder than it looks!  My current idea is to add one more row of hooking around the outside of checkerboard (maybe the lime green) and then whip the edge in that same color.  Those checkerboard pieces need an established edge on both sides (the rug background being one edge, and my new edge (lime???) being the other).  I'll let you know how that goes.

This next rug is based on an idea I've had for a long time.  Years ago, I cut the picture below from a catalog.  It is a rug, but I'm not sure of the technique used to make it.  You may recognize it as a form of the Log Cabin quilt design called Courthouse Steps.  In this case, there is no repetition of a color palette like you would typically see in a Courthouse Steps quilt.  Instead, it is "scrappy".

Below is my version (so far).  (Yes, I drew all those lines on there.  It is easy - just drag a Sharpie along the linen - in the ditch.  It will stay right in there and make a straight line.)  This rug has been fascinating to work on.  I thought it would be easy, but not so.  I started out with a color palette of about 7 colors then had to add more in order to get the right amount of separation between colors.  I see some things I want to change, but I'll not do that until everything is hooked and I can see the big picture.  To my eye, that light, bright turquoise (near the center) is too bright - it will probably get changed to the more subtle turquoise (there is some on the bottom row, just right of center).

I have one more WIP, but it is SO CLOSE to being done I'll save it for another post.

We got home a few weeks ago from our annual trek to Arizona.  It was warm and sunny and beautiful.  After the rough winter we've had here in Kansas, it was truly wonderful to be out there.  In Tucson, we visited the Tucson Botanical Gardens.  The butterfly house was my favorite part.  Here are a few pics of these gorgeous creatures and a couple of very creative frogs!

And a few "flora" from the gardens...

There were quite a few of these wonderful mosaic benches around the gardens.  This was my favorite - with the bunny and the sleeping javelina.  Betsey Livingston, you have a very cute bench.

OK - caught up!  Just a few more days until Spring arrives!  Around here that is no guarantee of good weather, but it means there is at least HOPE!