Rug of the Month: March 2019

March’s Rug of the Month is an older project – Ania finished it 6 years ago, in March 2013. Jane McGown Flynn created the pattern, and it’s named “Fruit.” The rug’s dimensions are 11″ by 13.5″, and Ania hooked it in #3 strip wool.

Read on below to learn more about Ania’s finished “Fruit” project, and to see images of the completed rug:

Ania’s finished “Fruit” rug.

Why did you decide to take on this project? 

This was a piece required for the McGown teacher certification. It was taught by Stacey van Dyne at Northern McGown Teachers Workshop. The class was focused on learning fine shading and contour shading techniques to hook 3-D objects.

How did you approach color planning this project?

Stacey had swatches to chose from for the different pieces of fruit. I decided on a red apple, a bosc pear, and purple grapes. I chose to make purple plums instead of yellow-orange apricots.

I also chose to incorporate the color of the fruits elsewhere in the rug. The veins of the leaves are taken from the colors used for the plums and the pear. The low lights in the apple are adapted from the darkest value of the grapes.

I knew I wanted to have a light background for this piece. I chose a textured wool, a strip, and cut it against the strips so that you can’t tell that’s what it is when it was hooked into the rug. The end result reminds me of oatmeal, which goes well with the fruit!

The red from the apple is reflected in the plums and grapes, and the purple from the grapes is incorporated into the leaves.

What did you most enjoy about this project?

This project is the first time I really payed attention to the reflection of light. I learned how to hook high lights, low lights, and reflected light. This is a lesson that I carried over to all of my projects after this one.

When you look at this rug, you can see the highlights very clearly in the apple. you can also see a little bit of a highlight in the plums. In terms of reflected light, you can see the red of the apple is reflected in the plums, the grapes, and the pear. The grapes are reflected in the pear. Next time you’re looking at something that you might hook as a still life, take note of how the lights and colors are reflected in other objects. Keep that in mind in your future rug hooking projects!

The key colors used for the fruit (purple, gold, and red) are reflected throughout the pattern, and so you provide the eye a path to move along the entire rug without getting stuck in any one part. That is what you want to achieve in any still life, landscape, or floral rug. The eye should not be fixated on any one part of the rug.

In this pattern, the apple is right in the middle, but the eye doesn’t focus solely on the apple, it travels throughout the rug.

The purple from the grapes and the red from the apple are both reflected in the pear, and the darkest value from the grapes is used for the low lights in the apple.

Is there anything else of note about this project? 

I used different techniques while hooking the leaves. One was purely contour shaded, one was only fine shaded. I incorporated the fruit colors into the leaves, and played around with vein colors. It was a lot of fun!

May your rug hooking be fruitful! 😉

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


Tips and Tricks: Dyeing With Dye Spoon Salt

A lot of people who dye clean their spoons in a jar containing salt. Overtime that salt container gets very dirty. Many people probably periodically throw that salt away and refill that jar with new salt. However, that jar of dirty salt contains all kinds of dyes that you’ve previously used, and so it occurred to Ania: why not dye with it?

Ania experimented with dyeing with her dye spool salt, and the results were beautiful. You can dye using natural wool, or over other colors. Read on below for a step by step guide on the process, and to see images of Ania’s end results:

Ania experimented with dyeing over yellow wool (pictured on the left), and the end results (pictured on the right) were beautiful.


Step 1: Choose your wool. You can use natural wool or any other colored or textured wool. I chose to use yellow wool in this specific example. Have fun with it! Experiment and explore.

Step 2: Soak your chosen wool overnight with either a small amount of Synthrapol, Wetter Than Wet, or Finish/Jet Dry.

Step 3: The next day squeeze out your wool and arrange it in your rectangular dye can, like you would for a spot dye, with multiple peaks and valleys.

Step 4: Pour a very small amount of water along the edges of your wool so that the bottom of the pan has about half an inch to three quarters of an inch of water in it. The peaks in your wool should be dry, and most of the wool should look dry.

Step 5: Sprinkle or pour your dirty salt over your wool in a random pattern. Sprinkle citric acid over the wool. Don’t stir or touch your wool after adding the salt!

Ania’s wool included subtle variations in color, such as hints of red and blue, that created a beautiful effect. This was achieved by not disturbing the wool once the salt was added to it. 

Step 6: Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil.

Step 7: Place the pan in a preheated oven (it should be preheated to 275), and bake it. Check the level of the water every 15 minutes so that all the water doesn’t evaporate. If you see the water is evaporating, add more to the pan (along the edges and not on top of the wool). As the wool bakes in the oven, the water collects in steam under the foil, and as the steam drips back down on the wool it dissolves the salt and spreads the dye.

Step 8: When the water is clear at the bottom of the pan, you’re done. This should be about an hour after you’ve put the pan in the oven. Take your wool out, and admire your beautiful creation!

 Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions!


Rug of the Month: January 2019

In the spirit of the New Year (and new beginnings), Ania has decided to feature a project that she originally created to teach for a beginners rug hooking class. When she was tasked with finding a fun and easy project for beginners, Ania decided to teach them mug rugs!

Take a look at some of the mug rugs Ania has created below, and read the rest of the post if you’re interested in learning more about this project.

Examples of Ania’s recently completed mug rugs.

Why did you decide to create these rugs? 

At first it was for fun. It’s a simple easy thing to do. It’s an ideal project for a beginner class of any age. I decided they would be great for a beginner class I was teaching at my local library.

Is this project different from normal rug hooking projects? Did you modify the project to make it easier for beginners? 

The finishing is extremely easy. You completely bypass whipping. Instead, you finish it with a raw edge that doesn’t unravel and a felt backing glued on.

Otherwise, it’s ideal for beginners because it’s small and involves very simple hooking. All you need to do is pull loops through the backing. It enables beginners to get a feel for the process.

The felt backing is simply glued on.

What are the benefits to making mug rugs? Why might a more advanced hooker want to create mug rugs as well?

Outside of teaching beginners, mug rugs are a great way to quickly use up excess wool. For the mug rugs pictured here I just used left over noodles from my stash.

These also make great quick gifts!

Ania picked noodles at random to hook these mug rugs.

Is there anything else of note about this project? 

You can adapt this project to make it more advanced as well –  you can adjust the pattern so that it’s more intricate. You can make seasonal mug rugs for easy decorations – hearts for Valentine’s Day, pumpkins for fall or Halloween, etc. You could hook a mug rug for every day of the year!

As always, if you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them below!

Seasons Greetings!

As an old year fades and a new year approaches, here is something a little bit different. This ornament was beaded by Ania several years ago, and is part of a project to create one ornament for every year that has passed since the birth of her two daughters. With two daughters in their twenties, that is a lot of ornaments.

Read on below for a holiday season message from Ania: 

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2018 has felt like it has flown by so quickly. In this year, I’ve done a lot of exploratory rug hooking projects and research. I really reached outside of my established rug hooking comfort zone. I’ve explored ways of expanding my artistic approaches in rug hooking. This process has involved bringing my science background and my various creative passions, like beading, into my rugs.

In 2019, I hope these experiences and experiments will become even more fruitful for myself and for others. I want to further use this research in my rug hooking teaching and workshops. I’m looking forward to where the new year takes us, individually and as a community of rug hookers.

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and all the best in the new year!

Is there anything you are interested in reading about on the blog in 2019? If there is, let Ania know in the comments below. 

Rug of the Month: November 2018

November’s Rug of the Month is a fun project that Ania completed recently. The pattern is called “Lima,” and it was made by Jane McGown Flynn. The rug’s dimensions are 30″ by 54″, and Ania hooked it mostly in #5 strip wool (with a few #4 strips thrown in).

An image of the finished project is included below, along with feedback from Ania on how she approached this project:

Ania’s completed “Lima” rug.

Why did you decide to hook this pattern? 

I started this project years ago, in a class taught by Martha Beals. I wanted to take a class with Martha, and I chose this pattern because I wanted to hook a larger rug. Most of the pieces I had hooked up until that point had been smaller in size.

How did you color plan for this project? 

I wanted to dye my own wool for this project. This was the first time I dyed wool, ever. I spoke with Martha about what I needed to do to prepare for the class, and she advised me to choose a color I was interested in using in this project and then over dye three different colored pieces of wool with that color.

What I ultimately ended up doing was dyeing natural wool three different colors that I thought would be interesting in the rug. Then I over dyed each of the three colors with the primary colors, so that I had nine different colors to work with. I like using primary colors to connect differing colors.

I also used green wool from my stash for the turtles.

The Lima pattern incorporates elements of nature like turtles and waves.

What was the biggest challenge with this project?

The entire rug has its motifs on the diagonal. I would hook a section at a time. After I had hooked about half of the motifs, the rug pattern changed from a rectangle shape to a rhombus shape. It was difficult to work on the pattern when it’s shape had shifted. I needed to bring the rug back into a rectangle shape, and the way to do that is to hook the outer border.

I had initially avoided hooking the border because I wasn’t sure of what my color placement would be. I wanted to see how the different reds, blues, and golds went together and I wanted to ensure I could tie them together symmetrically before deciding on the border.

Ania used a lot of reds and golds in hooking this pattern.

What’s your favorite part of this project?

Having it finished! It took a number of years to finish, and it grew with me. I started it in 2012, and I finished it earlier this year. This project has been a timeline of my hooking career thus far.

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

I always look to identify the simplest points of symmetry when I start a rug, and this pattern has a symmetry down the center diagonal line. I created a pattern with color using this line of symmetry. I used the same pattern in the bird and scroll panels. On one side of the symmetry line I used color A for the background and color B for the bird/scroll, and on the other side of the symmetry line I used color B for the background and color A for the bird/scroll.

I also dyed the yarn to do the whipping for this project by eye using completely different dyes than I normally use. We did another blog post about that process.

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The white line in this image shows the line of symmetry.


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

Rug of the Month: October 2018

October’s Rug of the Month is a seasonal project. Ania designed this pattern at the end of August – it’s called “3D Pumpkin.” The pattern actually includes two different pumpkins, one bigger than the other. The bigger pumpkin was hooked with half inch torn strips, and the smaller pumpkin was hooked with #8 cut strips.

Read on below to learn about what inspired this project, and to see images of the completed pumpkins:

The two completed 3D pumpkins, complete with a leaf, curly tendrils, and real pumpkin stems.

Why did you decide to create this pattern? 

People had created 3D pumpkins before, and so I knew this wasn’t anything new, but I wanted to try it out. I wanted to create a Fall/Halloween decoration for the upcoming season. I also thought hooked pumpkins would go well with a Fall themed table topper I had created a couple of years ago.

A close-up of the bigger pumpkin’s leaf, with Ania’s table topper in the background.

What inspired you to create a 3D project?

I’d never hooked a 3D project before. I liked the idea of hooking a 3D pumpkin in which I challenged myself to do some fine shading.

Although you designed both pumpkins at the same time, and hooked them one right after the other, you approached them very differently. How did you decide to color plan each pumpkin? Why did you decide to use different sized strips for each pumpkin? 

The smaller pumpkin I hooked using scraps from my wool stash. I cut up a bunch of orange wool into #8 cut strips, put all the strips into a bag, and then plucked them out of the bag at random, and hooked away.

The bigger pumpkin I hooked using the same torn strips that I had prepared for a Poppy rug class that I’d taught this past summer. One of my students from this class had wanted to hook a pumpkin rug with torn strips, and I thought a 3D pumpkin might be a good visual aid for her. A 3D pumpkin would allow her to see how you can highlight a pumpkin with a strip of that size. She’s using my pumpkin as a reference for her rug!

The bigger pumpkin was made with six segments, and the smaller pumpkin was made with five segments. Two such segments are shown above. Also pictured are a couple of pumpkin stems.

What was the biggest challenge about this project?

Not knowing how it was going to turn out! I had no clue what the segments would look like when they were put together. It was a total shot in the dark. The torn strip pumpkin was harder to sew together because of the bulkiness of the strips. Once each segment was hooked, the outer edges would curl inwards, which also made it more difficult to sew each segment together.

The flip side of the bigger pumpkin’s leaf.

Is there anything else that is special about this project? 

Yes! The leaf on the bigger pumpkin is reversible. I was inspired to create a reversible pumpkin leaf by a project I’d admired from a fellow teacher: a reversible black and white sheep mat hooked by Ingrid Hieronimus (you can take a look at her website here, and Ingrid provided images of her reversible sheep mat which you can see below).

I also wanted to include tendrils on my pumpkins. I made them using left over strips of wool in green and plaid. I soaked the strips in a mixture of water and white glue. I then wrapped them around a pencil to dry.

I sewed these tendrils and the leaf into the top of my pumpkin when I finished them. I also used real pumpkin stems to finish off these projects, which was fun.

As always, if you have any questions or comments for Ania, you can leave them in the comments below!

Rug of the Month: September 2018

For this month’s Rug of the Month, Ania has decided to showcase a recent favorite project of hers. The pattern is called “Jack in the Green,” and it was designed by Lora Irish. Ania completed it in #4 and #6 strip wool, #4 strip velvet, and half inch torn silk strips. The dimensions are 16.5″ x 18″.

Take a look below to see an image of the completed project, and read on to learn about Ania’s approach to finishing the project.

Ania’s completed “Green Man” rug.

Why did you decide to take on this project?

I’ve always loved this pattern! I call it the “Green Man.” I think it’s interesting how broad the interpretations of this pattern are from other rug hookers. Everyone approaches it very differently. Before I saw this pattern, I’d seen images of the Green Man throughout my life, in books, paintings, and illustrations.

A Close-up of the leaves in the rug.

Why did you decide to use materials besides wool? 

This is the first time I’ve used velvet and silk fabrics. I really liked that about this project. I used them primarily in the face. This project was part of a class at Teacher’s Workshop, and the teacher had unusual materials available for us to use. It was a wonderful opportunity to play around with something new.

Silk strips were used in the cheeks and eyes, and velvet strips were used in the nose.


How did you color plan this project?

I knew my Green Man would be green. I used three 8-value swatches that I had dyed about eight years ago. They were the very first 8-value swatches I had ever dyed, and those are the greens in the leaves and face. I also used left over wool from old projects, mainly in the veins, and a little bit in the leaves. These left-over strips of wool were mainly colors you wouldn’t expect in leaves – lavenders and golds.

I chose red for the background because it’s the complement of green. The other thing I wanted to do was continue utilizing leaves in the background. If you look closely there are outlines of Oak leaves in the background radiating outward to continue the pattern from the face. I went out and collected actual Oak leaves, and I traced them to continue the pattern.

I used left-over noodles from other projects I had hooked in red to outline the new leaves I added. Then I filled in each leaf with two different red spot dyed wool. I whipped the rug with a spot dyed whipping yarn, to tie in with the background.

A note about color planning with different fabrics: when you hook with velvet, the color looks lighter in the pattern than in the flat fabric. So that is something to keep in mind when you try velvet in rug hooking.

Another close-up of leaves.

What was the biggest challenge you encountered with this project?

It was important to be able to triangulate where each of my three green swatches would show up in the leaves. I didn’t want the colors to look too lopsided. I also added touches of red in the gaps of the leaves, to try to make it look less thick. Sort of like the sky showing through when the wind blowing through your hair!

Is there anything else of interest about this project?

I always tell people to touch his nose for good luck – it’s made of velvet and so it’s incredibly soft!

I really like him. This is one I’m proud of.

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

Tips and Tricks: Measuring Custom Dyed Whipping Yarn

For most of my rug hooking career, when it came to whipping rugs, I’d buy a skein of yarn and run with it. Recently, I’ve taken a different approach by hand dyeing my whipping yarn. With the new approach is a new conundrum: how much yarn do I need to dye? I want to ensure I have enough yarn for the project, without dyeing so much that I need to invent a reason to use it.

After a little bit of experimenting, I’ve come up with a method to help determine just that. Read on below for steps on how to estimate how much yarn you’ll need to dye to finish your project:

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Here are some of the materials that will be needed for this project – a hand dyed mini skein of yarn, a yard stick, a variety of needles, and your rug!

Step 1: After you’ve finished hooking your pattern, pressed it, and trimmed the backing, turn it over so that you have a half inch edge. I use a simple running stitch to keep the folded edge in place.

NOTE: The wider or narrower your edge is, the more or less yarn you’ll need to whip your rug.

Here is my turned edge, with a running stitch through the middle of it to keep it in place.

Step 2: When you hand dye your whipping yarn, you often work from a very large skein of yarn. To help determine which color I want to dye my yarn, I make a mini skein from my larger skein of whipping yarn, and use that to play around in the dye pot. I use this hand dyed mini skein to help determine how much yarn I’ll need to finish my entire project.

NOTE: When you’re dyeing your own yarn, you will need to account for shrinkage in your measurements. In my experience, I’ve noted a 2% shrinkage when dyeing a three ply 100% worsted wool yarn.

Here is my hand dyed mini skein, resting on top of my much larger skein of whipping yarn.

Step 3: Measure out four feet of yarn from your mini skein. I suggest marking the measurement with a knot, instead of cutting the yarn, to help avoid wasting your materials. Whip stitch along your rug as you normally would, leaving a six inch tail at the start. Continue your whip stitch until you have a six inch tail left. You should have two six inch tails, one at the start and one at the end of your whipping.

I used four feet of yarn from my mini skein (marked with a knot!) to whip my edge.

Step 4: Measure how much whipping resulted from your four feet of yarn. For this project, one yard of yarn (i.e. four feet minus two six inch tails) resulted in three inches of whipping. That made the math easy!

I could count on approximately one foot of yarn resulting in one inch of whipping. If the edge on your rug is narrower or wider than half an inch, your mileage may vary on how far you get with four feet of yarn.

Three inches of whipping!

Step 5: Measure the outer edge of your rug, so that you know the exact length that you will need to whip. My rug was 162 inches around.

Step 6: Do the math! For my project, one foot of yarn resulted in one inch of whipping, and so I’ll need at least 162 feet of yarn.

We also need to take into account the shrinkage from dyeing the yarn, that corners require more yarn, and that I also like to have a little bit of extra yarn put away just in case I need to complete repairs. So, I decided to dye an additional 10% of my yarn, resulting in a final total of 180 feet of yarn for this project.

Step 5: Measure out your yarn, dye it, and whip away!

If you have any questions on this process, feel free to comment below!


Tips and Tricks: Fringe Work

On a recent “Rug of the Month” post, Ania featured a rug with a fringe border. If you’ve never attempted fringe before, it can be intimidating. Ania pulled together a step by step guide on how to master the process, which you can read below:

In this image, the edge is folded backwards, allowing for half an inch of backing to show.

Step 1: Once you’ve pressed your finished rug, prepare your edge by zigzagging about 1.5 inches away from your hooking and cut the excess backing away. Then, fold over the backing about .5 an inch away from your last hooked row.  You can either fold it forward or backwards – if you fold it backwards you’ll need to use binding tape to cover the raw edge.


Step 2: You insert your hook through the layers of your folded backing, immediately adjacent to the last row that you hooked. With your hook, pull a loop of yarn through the backing, and do a single crotchet against the folded edge of your rug, leaving a tail of 6-9 inches in the back. You will hide this tail within the crocheted edge (it will lay flat). The yarn I chose to use in this instance is Paton’s Bamboo Silk Yarn (70% Viscose / 30% Silk). You can use 100% cotton yarn if you prefer (this is the yarn usually found on Oriental rugs).




Step 3: Single crotchet along the entire edge of the rug where you will attach the fringe. In the first image above, you’ll see what the edge should look like looking down at the flat rug. In the second image above, you’ll see what the chain stitch should look like. This is the part of the edge to which you will attach the fringe (as shown in step 5 below).


Step 4: Wrap your yarn around a 3 inch X 5 inch index card. With scissors, cut the wrapped yarn along one edge of the index card to create a series of strands of yarn. Using the index card to measure out the yarn helps create a uniform looking fringe.

DSC_1018DSC_1019Step 5: Fold three strands of yarn in half. Take your hook and enter from the back of the rug towards the front. Pull the loop end of the strands through the yarn that you have previously crocheted.


Step 6: Take the cut ends of the strands, and pull them through the loop that resulted in step 5, and tighten as shown above. Continue in this manner along the entire edge of the rug, and then repeat on the opposite edge of the rug.

Here is a completed project, with a fringe along the left and right borders of the rug.

Let Ania know in the comments below if you have any questions about any of the steps or techniques shown above!

Rug of the Month: April 2018

This month’s Rug of the Month is a project from a few years ago. This project emerged from Ania’s desire to create a sampler of her shimmer wool. The pattern is designed by Ania, and inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright. It is called the “Frank Lloyd Wright Stained Glass.” It is hooked in #4 strip wool, and it’s dimensions are 10″ x 10″.

Read the rest of the post below to learn more about this project, and be sure to take a close look at the images to see the shimmer wool in action!

The completed “Frank Lloyd Wright Stained Glass” rug.

What inspired you to create this pattern and take it on as a project?  

I’m a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright. One of the things that appeals to me most about his designs is his use of simple lines and symmetry. I designed this small pieces with that in mind. You can draw a line down the middle of this pattern, and everything on the left is a mirror image of the right. There are no curves, only straight lines.

I also knew that his architectural designs often included stained glass windows. I decided to use my shimmer wool in this pattern, to mimic the effect of light shinning through a real stained glass window. I wanted to have a project that really showcased how my shimmer wool can be used in a rug, and this pattern was perfect for that.

The other reason why I like this pattern, is because it looks a little bit like an “M,” which is the first letter of my eldest daughters name. It makes me think of her!

How did you color plan this project?

The background was going to be white, like glass. Then, I decided I would use three colors: yellow, blue, and green. Two primary colors (yellow and blue) and the secondary color (green) that is equal parts the two primary colors.

I tried to create dimension through my hooking wherever I could. For example, in the diamond section directly above the green, I hooked the top and bottom diamonds from left to right, and the left and right diamonds from right to left.

I like to play games with colors within my rugs. In this rug, there is a pattern with the greens and yellows through the middle of the piece. On the left side of the rug I hooked color 1, color 2, and then color 3. On right side I used the same colors but started with color 2, color 3, and then color 1.

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In this image you can see numbers highlighting the pattern in the yellow and green wool.


What are you most proud of about this project? 

The majority of it is made with shimmer wool. There are only four colors that are not shimmer (two of the greens, one of the yellows, and the black wool). The iridescence it presents and the visual simplicity it offers are so lovely, I think. Despite all of the bling, it’s very simple.

The shimmer wool in this project really catch the light.

Is there anything else of interest about this project?

Whenever I create something, I do so through numerical sequences and symmetry. I try to break everything down to the smallest symmetrical unit. That’s something that goes back to my chemistry training around molecular structures.

If you have any questions about this rug or Ania’s shimmer wool, feel free to leave them in the comments below!