The Kinetic Water Series: Part 3

This month, we’re finishing up our posts about Ania’s Kinetic Water Series, with one about Ania’s “Koi Pond with Water Lilies” project. If you missed the previous posts about this series, you can read about Ania’s “Water Lilies in Summer Bloom” project here, and about Ania’s “Koi Below the Surface” project here.

This final piece continues the themes discussed in those two previous posts. To see the project, and to read about Ania’s approach to it, read on below:

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The full “Koi Pond with Water Lilies” project.

How does this project tie together the previous two projects in this series? 

It puts together the flora and the fauna of the pond. For me, this project is the closest I’ve come to creating the reality of what goes on in a pond. This is what I could include from a pond without going into a larger scale production.

The lily pads in this piece are much larger than the ones in the first piece. That’s because I had to adjust them in relation to the size of the fish and what you would find in a pond. Similarly, the roots are much longer here, and that was an attempt to create a more immersive experience for the viewer.

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The lily pads in this project were adjusted in size to closer match the fish.


I’ve thought about creating this type of project on a much larger scale, but that would require a gallery to install it. Technically, that type of project would require a more industrial level. “Koi Pond with Water Lilies” is the limits of what I could do within my own home. Who knows though, maybe I have a bigger version of this project on my horizon!

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The roots were lengthened to add greater scale to the project.

This project continues the themes that were present in the first two pieces in the series, but how is this piece different from those first two? 

In the first piece, “Water Lilies in Summer Bloom,” the lily pads are placed at heights in relation to each other. In this final piece, the water lilies are evenly placed. That was deliberate, because I wanted to take the idea of perspective further in this project. The placement of the lily pads evenly at the top of the piece gives the impression that the lily pads are floating on water, with a couple of koi swimming among the roots of the lily pads. The placement of each of the pieces in this project is deliberately creating a more full image of a pond.

When you look at “Koi Below the Surface,” the fish could be anywhere in the water. They could be at the very surface, or at the deepest depths of the pond. The lily pads are always at the surface though, so the combination of the lily pads and the koi in one piece really creates a full image of the scene I wanted to create.

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All of the lily pads are positioned at the same height.

 How did you make color planning choices for this project?

That was interesting. I came across a photograph of the underside of water lilies and they were different shades of gold and similar colors. I used that image as inspiration for the underside of these water lilies. I included some lavender and fuchsia shimmer wool to mimic air bubbles caught underneath the leaves and water. For the tops, I used a variety of blues, greens, golds, and violets.

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The lily pads are vibrantly colored underneath, including some fuchsias and lavenders.

The rest of the piece incorporated colors that I had used on the previous projects in this series. The roots in this piece are from the same yarn that I had hand dyed for the roots in “Water Lilies in Summer Bloom,” and my approach to the koi was very similar to how I hooked the fish in “Koi Below the Surface.” I used different shades of orange wool, metallic and shimmer wool to get the effect that I wanted.

If you have any final questions for Ania on her Kinetic Water Series, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below!


Tips and Tricks: Strip Sorters

I’ve had to come up with some creative ways to sort my wool, depending on the demands of my projects and the spaces that I needed to work in. I’ve used a variety of sorters for that task, and I’ve found that I really like one particular style of sorter: one piece Sally sorters.

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Darlene’s one piece Sally sorter.

I really like Darlene Pezza’s Sally sorters in particular. These sorters are a really great tool. They are very well made and well designed. Each sorter can fit 8 values. They can fit a large number of strips and a wide variety of cut sizes. Another benefit to these sorters is they don’t require elastic bands, which have a tendency to get brittle and break over time, as some other strip sorters require. 

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Typically, hookers will use one sorter for one color, like above.

These sorters are also uniquely well suited to one of my favorite tricks when it comes to using sorters: storing two separate colors for one project on one sorter.

The first time I did this, it was because I had limited space where I was working and it was simply easier to have one sorter with me instead of two. I like to run one color along one side of the sorter, from the lightest value to the darkest, and then flip the sorter over and run the other color along the opposite side, so that the lightest value from the second color shares the same space as the darkest value from the first color.

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Looking at the first side of the sorter allows you to focus on your first color.

I quickly realized that this method of storing wool has the added value of showing you what the relative value of each wool you’re working with is. When you line up the values of two colors this way, it becomes much easier to see what the middle tones of each wool is, and how they compare with each other.

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…by flipping the sorter over, you can focus on your second color.

I bought my sorters from Pam Bartlett. If you’re interested in these sorters for yourself, they’re available from her at the Woolen Pear (located at 563 Rte. 106 N., Louden, New Hampshire), or online at Red Horse Rugs. If you’re interested in carrying these sorters in your own store you can contact Darlene for wholesale inquiries at, and let her know where you found out about her sorters!


The Kinetic Water Series: Part 2

A few months ago, we introduced Ania’s Kinetic Water Series, with a post about “Water Lilies in Summer Bloom.” In that first post, Ania spoke about her inspiration for the series and the significance of making kinetic art. If you missed it, you can find the post here.

This month, Ania is featuring the second project in that series, titled “Koi Below the Surface.” This project also follows a water theme and is kinetic in nature.

Scroll on to see images of the second installment in this series, and to read further about the unique considerations Ania had to make while hooking this series:

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Ania’s completed “Koi Below the Surface” project.

Perspective is very central to this series. How did you think about perspective with this series and this project specifically? 

Perspective is almost always a big consideration for me with rug hooking. For example, I’ve played with unusual perspectives in my “Forsythia” rug and in my “Monte Casino Poppies” rug.

You’re right that perspective is really central to this series though. When I decided to hook “Water Lilies in Summer Bloom,” a primary inspiration for the project was the desire for the viewer to be able to see the lily pad from different perspectives, and especially from under water. Traditionally, lily pads are shown from above. The idea of showing the bottom of a lily pad, as you would see it through water, was really key to sparking my interest in this project.

With “Koi Below the Surface,” I incorporated a specific perspective into the design of the fish. When I first imagined the project, I really wanted to have at least one fish swimming upwards, and so when I designed the patterns I made one that showed a fish twisting, as if it were struggling upwards towards the water surface. This perspective was central to establishing the dimensions and space of the project. The fish aren’t just three dimensional, they’re positioned in relation to each other in a very specific way, to mimic actual fish swimming in a pond and the space around them.


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Ania gave a lot of thought as to how to place the koi in relation to each other.

How did you design the patterns for the fish? 


I made a lot of mock ups! I went through many, many iterations of shapes and sizes to make sure I could get the fish exactly like I wanted them to look. I ultimately settled on two patterns for the fish, and both were hand drawn. The shape of the fish is much more complicated than that of lily pads, so it really took some time to get it right.

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Ania incorporated her metallic wool, shimmer wool, and beads into the fish. 

The lily pads are relatively flat, but these fish need to have a definitive shape. How did you achieve that effect? 

When I hand drew the patterns, I added in darts to give them more shape. This project involved a lot of sewing. Once I finished hooking each piece of the pattern, I had to cut them out and sew them together. This also involved stuffing the fish to help them hold their 3D shape.

I sewed fins onto each of the fish to give them a distinctive look. All of these fins were unique shapes. The fins also had sequins and beads incorporated on them. I used sequins and beads for the eyes as well. The lily pads had beaded elements too, and I thought it was nice to continue that connection with this second piece in the series.

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Each of the fish was given a touch to make them more individual, such as unique colors and varied beaded patterns on their fins. 

How did you approach color planning the fish? 

Koi can come in a wide variety of colors, which made color planning really fun. I wanted to have some variety in the oranges that were used, and I also wanted one of the fish to be white. I was inspired by the children’s book, the Rainbow Fish, to incorporate bits of metallic and shimmer wool so that the fish would have shiny scales here and there to reflect the light similarly to live koi.

The combination of the metallic wool and the beading on the fins helps the fish catch the light really beautifully as they swim around. I find koi to be very serene relaxing fish to watch and I think this piece conveys that feeling well.

Do you have any questions for Ania on this second installment in the Kinetic Water Series? Leave them in the comments below! 


Tips & Tricks: Filling in Holes in Your Hooking (aka Holidays)

Many of us spend a lot of time hooking our motifs with great care, only to find after completing a section that we left holes in our hooking. These holes are called holidays – they are areas in your rug that should have been hooked in loops but weren’t. I’ve noticed holidays in my hooking most frequently when I work on projects that require a lot of wandering, tight curving loops, often referred to as higgly piggly hooking. Since holidays are hard to spot from the front of your work, finding them to fill them in can be a source of annoyance for us.

My friend, Sandra Porter, suggested a really great tip on how to find holidays, and I’ll share that tip with you now:

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It’s hard to tell from the front, but this petal has a holiday in it.

First things first, maybe some of you are asking “are holidays so important to fill in? What harm can it do it ignore a few?”

The best way to prevent uneven and unnecessary wear and tear in your project is to ensure all of the hooks in your rug are uniformly distributed and equal in supporting weight on the rug. If you don’t fill in holidays, that introduces weak spots to your project that will wear down earlier than other areas of your rug.

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From the back, the holiday can be clearly seen.

Holidays are often tricky to find though, because they aren’t obvious from the front of your project. The best way to check for them is looking at the back of your rug. Some of us struggle to keep track of which areas of our rugs we need to fill in when we flip our work back over to start hooking.

This is where Sandra’s tip comes in: tooth picks!

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Push a tooth pick through the backing…

Grab a tooth pick, and poke it through the backing where the holidays are. When you flip your work over and place it back on the frame, you still know exactly where all of your holidays are, and you can happily hook away.

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…and when you flip the work over, you can still clearly tell where you need to hook!

Do you have any tricks you use for finding holidays? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

The Kinetic Water Series: Part 1

In January, this blog featured Ania’s “H2O Lily Pad” project. That project and its themes continued to inspire Ania even after she finished it, and it ultimately served as the genesis for an idea on a new way to approach rug hooking. From that idea, Ania created a series made up of three projects all connected by a common theme and technique.

Over the course of the next several months, we’ll be featuring a blog post for each of the three projects that makes up Ania’s “Kinetic Water Series.” This month, we’ll be focusing on the first, a project titled “Water Lilies in Summer Bloom”:

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The full “Water Lilies in Summer Bloom” mobile.

All three projects in this series are focused around water. Can you talk more about the inspiration for this theme? 

The inspirations I spoke about in January’s blog post also applied to this series. I was still thinking about the lily pads I saw last summer at Harold Parker, a local state park in Massachusetts. I was also still thinking about Monet’s lily pads, which I’ve loved since I bought a Monet water lily poster my freshman year of college.

In fact, I’ve always been intrigued and inspired by aquatic life. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be an oceanographer.

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Ania created lily pads with flowers and without.

How did the “H2O Lily Pad” project inspire “Water Lilies in Summer Bloom”? 

When I was hooking the “H2O Lily Pad” project, I thought a lot about the 3-D element on top of the rug. The beaded flower gives the rug added dimension, but it also made me realize that you never really consider the perspective of what’s underneath the lily pad. At one point, I even thought about attaching roots to the bottom of the rug, as a nod to that perspective.

This sparked a broader thought though: what would the lily pad look like from the other side? I started to think about the implications of the rug as a 3-D object. How could I morph it into a closer representation of the actual object?

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The underside of a lily pad, with the roots.

Besides the theme of water, all of the projects in this series are kinetic art. What is the significance of kinetic art in rug hooking? 

Most rugs are static art. If there is movement in a rug, it has to be implied through the hooking. There is no actual movement in or of the piece. The majority of rugs remain as flat pieces similar to a painting.

I settled on the idea of hooking a lily pad as a three dimensional object, so that it could be fully realized for the viewer. This brought up the question of what is the best way to present a three dimensional rug? I realized it had to be kinetic to fully appreciate that it was 3-D. The movement of the piece could draw the viewer in to experience the water and lily pads interaction. defines kinetic art in part as “art, as sculptural constructions, having movable parts activated by motor, wind, hand pressure, or other direct means.” To suspend a 3-D piece in the air meant that the viewer could appreciate every side of it without effort. The kinetic nature of the piece also means that viewers are able to experience the lily pads as they would in nature. The lily pads have dynamic movement as they would in nature, either due to the wind, or water currents, or movement from animals.

If you are interested in where the kinetic art movement started read more about Alexander Calder, it’s founder.

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A close up of one of the lily pads with a beaded flower.

How did the three dimensional element of this project influence your creative decisions while hooking? 

I made a lot of very specific decisions while color planning. Some of the lily pads have flowers and some don’t. The tops of the lily pads are one color if they have a beaded flower, and they are another if they don’t have a beaded flower. I made this decision because I was thinking about how the light would reflect differently off of the petals and onto the pads. The bottoms of the lily pads are also a different color from the tops. This was taking into account seeing the bottoms of the pads through water, with no direct light shining on them. I hand dyed all of the wool used in this project, and hooked in a #3 cut.

The beaded flowers are all white. I used fresh water keshi pearls for the petals. They’re very similar to the size and shape of the petals that I wanted to create. The centers of the flowers are beaded with 2 mm Swarovski crystals and Czech cut glass beads. These beads catch the light beautifully, and provide a wonderful reflection of the light with movement.

I dyed the yarn for the roots specifically for this project. I used three varieties of boucle mohair yarn, because the nature texture was very similar to the look of lily pad roots. The varieties of brown that I dyed the yarn was inspired by photographs of lily pad roots as seen through water.

Do you have any questions or comments for Ania about this project? Feel free to leave them in the comments section below!

Tips and Tricks: Print Your Own Rug Labels

Most rug hookers like to label their rugs, for good reason. There’s great benefit to keeping track of the name of the pattern, when it was hooked, the name of the teacher who helped them, and a wide variety of other information.

I like labels for one other important reason: they create a digital record of my rug as it looked when I hooked it. This is because, in addition to all the normal information people like to include on their labels, I include a picture of my rug from when I hooked it.

A label Ania created for her “Monte Cassino Poppies” rug. 

Why is an image of your completed rug important?

It creates a record of your rug and the colors in it when it was finished. One of the heartbreaking parts of rug hooking is when the colors fade or even change to entirely different colors due to sun exposure or other damage. An image provides a reference point to that change. You’ll know which of your wool are the least light stable, and which you might want to avoid going forward.

Similarly, having an image of the original rug makes it much easier to restore damaged rugs.

For identification purposes, you always have a picture of your rug on hand. I’ve found this useful on many occasions, whether it was sending out an email to notify someone of which of my rugs I was missing, or showing someone a project that I didn’t have immediately on hand because it was on display someplace.

It also creates an image diary of your own work, and how you improve and change in your hooking as time goes by. It’s almost like taking pictures of your children as they’re growing up!

A label Ania created for her “Lima” rug.

How do you create these labels? 

I have a standard template in word, with the picture on the left, and the typed out information on the right. I file my images in a folder on my computer so that I have a central location where I can find all of my rugs.

I print my labels on fabric sheets on my ink jet printer. You can find fabric sheets at fabric or quilt stores. You load them like regular paper, and create a label . The sheets are paper backed, so after you print off your label you can peal off the paper and apply it to the back of your rug.

Do you have any questions for Ania about her labels? Feel free to leave them in the comments section below!

Rug of the Month: January 2020

Happy New Year! One of Ania’s goals for the new year is to find new and artistic ways to approach her rug hooking. The project she chose for this month’s blog post helped inspire that goal. This month’s rug is from a pattern designed by Ania, called “H2O Lily Pad.” It was hooked in #3 cut strips with a 3-D beaded flower. The dimensions are 10 in. x 10 in.

Take a look below to see the finished project, and to read about how Ania approached hooking it:

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Ania’s completed “H2O Lily Pad”

What inspired this pattern?

In August of 2019, my daughters and I took a walk in a Massachusetts state park not far from where we live, called Harold Parker. On our hike through the woods, we walked by multiple ponds that had water lilies blooming on them. They reminded me of Monet’s paintings, which I’ve always loved, of the lily ponds in Giverny.

I was immediately inspired to create a water lily pattern.

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The lily pads that served as inspiration.

How did you decide to make a 3-D beaded flower, instead of a hooked or proddy flower?  

In a previous life, I made and sold beaded jewelry. As part of that, I made a lot of flowers and ornaments, and I still have a lot of the materials on hand. I decided I would use that experience to design a beaded flower to be a part of my rug.

I wanted to use stick pearls as the basis for my flower because of their warm color and their luminescence in how they reflect light. I made the flower separately from the rug, and then attached it by sewing it on.

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The beaded flower was created with stick pearls.

How did you approach color planning this rug?

I decided I wasn’t going to dye any wool for this project, and that I would instead only use wool from my stash of materials left over from other projects. I also knew I wanted the water to be dark, to create maximum contrast for the lily pad, similar to what the water looked like on that August day.

I wanted it to look impressionistic, inspired by Monet again. I did that by concentrating more on the value than on the colors. For example, there is orange and fuchsia in the water. There’s also lavender in the leaf. You don’t see that when you look at the finished rug as a whole. Instead, the color choices create a dappled look that I really liked.

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In this detail photo you can see the wide variety of colors that were used in the leaf and water.

Is there anything else you would like to say about this project?

I finished this by mounting it on a canvas. I wanted it to be a project that could be displayed on a mantle or hung on a wall. I hooked it so that I could sew the sides of it to the frame, and staple it in the back.

I also like that because it’s a square pattern and an aerial view, there’s no “right” way to look at it. You can shift how the rug is placed with the seasons!

This project inspired me, so much so that I decided water is going to play a big role in my rug hooking themes this year. I look forward to sharing with you where this inspiration takes me, on my rug hooking adventures this year.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below! 


Happy Holidays!

To continue the new tradition that Ania started last holiday season, this month’s blog post is dedicated to showcasing another beaded ornament that she made several years ago. This is part of Ania’s project to create a beaded ornament for each of her daughters first 25 years of life.

To accompany the ornament, Ania wrote a message about her rug hooking wishes for the new year: 

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Ania’s beaded Santa ornament.

We are about to enter a new year, and a new decade. This feels like a time to look back, with ‘2020’ vision, and to contemplate the paths we wish to take going forward. I have spent a lot of time pondering this, especially with respect to my rug hooking journey.

For years, my goal in rug hooking has been to try to find new, unique, and artistic approachs to espressing myself through my hooking projects; and I look forward to opportunities to share these discoveries and insights with others through workshops, presentations, hook-ins and this blog. Sometimes, I find it is quite challenging and time consuming to find the right inspiration for a paticular project. One of my hopes in writing this blog is that it provides some inspiration to my fellow rug hookers in their own projects!

I’m looking forward to new and exciting adventures in rug hooking in the years to come, and I’m excited to continue to meet and work with others in the rug hooking community. And, I look forward to helping, teaching, and working with you to explore your new directions in our journey, together.

Wishing you all Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Are there any topics you’d like to see covered on the blog in 2020? Let Ania know below, in the comment section! 


Rug of the Month: November 2019

For November’s rug of the month, Ania is reflecting back on her favorite June flowers, with her Monte Casino Poppies rug. The pattern is an original design by Ania, and it’s dimensions are 18 in. by 22 in. She completed it with half inch torn strips.

Images of the completed rug are included in the post below, along with explanations of Ania’s process for completing this project:

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Ania’s completed “Monte Casino Poppies” project.

You designed this pattern – what inspired you to create it and to embark on this project? 

In presenting my rug hooking journey at a guild meeting, one of the rugs that I showed was my Painterly Poppies rug, from a class with Wanda Kerr. That class had been all about fine shading, and I had been the only one from the class who decided to use torn strips – I loved the effect! Members of the guild really loved the effect too, and asked that I teach a class on fine shading with torn strips.

I created this pattern for that class. Single oriental poppies are my favorite flower, and I designed the pattern so that there are full blooms, buds, and unfolding flowers that all need to be hooked.

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A detail shot of one of the poppies.

What appeals to you about hooking fine detail with torn strips? 

Usually, hookers use torn strips for more primitive patterns. Betsy Reed is well known for using torn strips in her projects. She has her own website, where you can see images of a lot of her projects that she completed using torn strips.

To use torn strips for fine detail shading is unusual. There’s a real challenge to getting the appropriate depth perception, and there’s a certain texture from half inch torn strips. The closer you hook the loops together, the more wavy and curved the loops become, instead of the more uniform appearance of smaller cuts.

How did you approach color planning for this project?

My favorite color is orange, and that is also the most common color you’ll see in oriental poppies. I also wanted a very clear, bright blue day. The combination of blue and orange worked out perfectly, because they’re complementary colors. That made color planning very easy.

When hooking the leaves and stems, I used mostly green wool, but I also used a little bit of purple wool. I chose a purple that matched the value I needed for the leaves. Value is  more important than color. If you have the right value, the eye doesn’t realize if it’s an unexpected color!

The only thing I dyed for in this rug was the background and the whipping yarn. I wanted to maintain the blue sky from the background when I finished my rug, so I dyed the yarn the same color that I used for the background wool. The yarn is a darker shade than the sky, and because they’re the same color, they really work well together.

All the other wool in the project was either leftover from past projects or a texture. If you have a lot of wool in your stash, this project is a nice way to use it up quickly, because using torn strips in this pattern requires a lot of wool.

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The whipping yarn was dyed the same color as the background wool. The yarn is a darker shade, and works well with the background.

What’s your favorite part of this rug?

I really loved hooking the buds and the leaves, and especially the unfurling flower. If you see a poppy bud that is just beginning to open in real life, they are so crinkled and there is so much dimension in a small space. Trying to get that depth in this one flower was a real challenge, but I think I met it pretty well.

I also liked hooking the bright sky. The way I hooked it, it’s like it’s from the perspective of a rabbit in a garden, looking at the poppies and seeing the sky. I thought that perspective was fun.

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Here is a close up of the unfurling poppy. This detail shot also shows the purple wool used in the stems.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about this project?

The great benefit to torn strips is that they’re really quick to hook with – I finished this project in a weekend!

I’ve taught this pattern in a couple of different classes, and my students seem to really enjoy the pattern and the class. I did color planning one on one with each of my students, so there was a really wide variety of types of poppies that were hooked, which was really great to see. If any readers are interested in the class or the pattern, feel free to send me a message! I’m happy to travel if there’s a group of hookers who are interested in the class.

If you have any questions or comments on Ania’s Monte Casino Poppies project, please feel free to leave them in the comments below! 


I recently saw a fabulous version of this pattern completed by Sue Viall. She gave me permission to post an image of her rug and a short write up on her project. Take a look below!

Sue Viall’s “Monte Casino Poppies” project.

Here is Sue’s write-up on her project: “Poppies are one of my favorite flowers and Ania did such a great pattern. The background was hooked vertically, the first one I’ve ever seen and attempted.  I had fun hooking this pattern. The colors of red, orange and yellow really pop. I can’t wait to show my fellow hookers how much I loved and enjoyed this pattern.  Thanks to Ania.”

Thank you, Sue!

Techniques: Quick and Easy Fringe Finish

Have you ever wished you had a quick and easy way to finish a rug? If you’re pressed for time, working with beginners, or you just want to try something different, Ania has a solution for you: a quick fringe finish!

Read on below for instructions on how to create your own fringe finish in a few easy steps. All you will need is your iron, aluminum foil, flexible fabric glue, a knife or chopstick, scissors, and a ruler.

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Ania used her quick fringe finish on this plaid rug.

Step 1: While hooking your rug, ensure you keep the ends of your wool strips long on the edges of your project. You don’t want to trim your strips, because these will be the basis for your fringe. For example, if you want a one inch fringe, the ends of your strips will need to be at least one inch in length.

Step 2: After you’ve finished hooking your rug, press your mat as usual from the back. Then, flip your rug right side up. Press the iron directly against the foundation of your rug, so that the strip ends stand up straight, as shown in the image below.  When you’re done with this step, the ends of your strips should stand straight up on their own.


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Press your iron against the base of your rug, so that the ends stand up straight.

Step 3: Place your rug on a sheet of aluminum foil. Spread a generous ribbon of flexible fabric glue all around the edges of your rug where you plan to have a fringe. Work the glue into your backing with a knife or chopstick.


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After you have applied a line of glue, spread it out on your backing along the edge of your rug.

Step 4: Allow the glue to sit until it dries completely. It should be clear when it’s dried.

Step 5: Trim your backing. Leave approximately 1/3 – 1/2 inch of backing visible where there will be a fringe. This is to ensure no loops from the rug are inadvertently pulled out.

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When trimming your backing, leave some of the backing visible from the edge of your rug.

Step 6: Take your ends and lay them down over the trimmed glued backing, and cut the ends to the desired length of your fringe.

Step 7: Sit back and admire your rug, because you’re done!

If you have any questions for Ania, feel free to leave them in the comments below!