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!

Rug of the Month: March 2018

For March’s Rug of the Month, Ania has decided to showcase another paisley themed rug. “Paisley Hex” was designed by Jane McGown Flynn, and it was hooked in #4 strip wool. The rug is 29″ x 14″. This rug also has a 3″ fringe on each end.

To see images of the completed “Paisley Hex” rug, and to read about how Ania hooked it, take a look below:

Here is the completed “Paisley Hex” rug.

Why did you decide to take on this project?

I like the pattern very much, and it gave me an opportunity to work outside of my usual color palette. I also wanted to learn how to do a fringe, and that was one of the options on this rug. We have oriental rugs at home, and one of them has a fringe that’s getting pretty worn out. I’ve always thought I could fix the fringe on that rug by myself, and this rug was an opportunity to learn how to do that.

How did you color plan this project?

This project was color planned by the teacher who taught the class (the class was at McGown’s Teacher Workshop). All of the wool was dyed by the teacher, Patti Stone. The colors were so far from what I normally gravitate towards, that I had to do it. I like the challenge of going outside of my comfort zone, to learn more.

What was the biggest challenge you encountered with this project?

Accepting the muted palette. Some people really love working with muted colors, but to me it was so new and felt very exploratory. It gave me a nice appreciation for subtlety. The longer I have this rug, the more I like it, and the more it has helped me see muted colors in a delightful sense. It also feels very serene.

I also ran out of the dark wool used in the border of this rug, and so I had to dye it myself. It was definitely a challenge matching the color that I had to dye to the original wool.

Is there anything else of interest about this project?

The roping was also very fun, because I was tasked with making it look three dimensional. It’s hooked with an eight-value swatch. The “secret” to hooking the roping is to start hooking as close to the central motif as you can with the darkest color in the swatch, and progress as you hook to the lightest color in the swatch. At that point you start the pattern over again with the darkest color.

I also like the very simple reflection symmetry in the pattern. If you draw a line down the center of the rug, the pattern and colors used are identical on each side of it.

Here is an image of the rug, with a line superimposed to show where the line of symmetry lays. The rug is identical on each side of the white line.

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

Tips and Tricks: Tracking Over-dyed Wool

This month, Ania is sharing a tip on how to keep organized while dyeing wool. For Ania, it used to be a hassle to keep track of which wool was being over-dyed during marathon dye days. Then, she discovered Tyvek envelopes were a great solution to that problem!

To read about how Ania uses Tyvek envelopes while dyeing, take a look at the post below.

Here is a Tyvek envelope – note the box: “Tear and water resistant”!

How did keeping track of your wool while dyeing emerge as an issue for you?

I often dye in batch mode, where I spend an entire day getting as much dyeing done as I can. There have been a number of projects where I had to, or wanted to, use one color to dye a lot of different pieces of colored wool. However, if you’re dyeing five to ten different pieces of wool one color, it can be very difficult to keep track of which base wool resulted in which end result.

Here are a wide variety of different colored pieces of wool that you might want to over-dye.

Can you go through, step-by-step, how you solved this issue?  

What you will need are Tyvek envelopes (either new or used), scissors, safety pins (or a needle and thread), and a Sharpie. Tyvek envelopes are waterproof and tear proof, which makes them perfect for dyeing in the pot, or in jars.

Everything you need in one picture: safety pins, scissors, a Sharpie, and small Tyvek labels.

Take a Tyvek envelope, cut it up into small squares (I use 1″ x 2″ pieces). They just need to be large enough to write on them legibly. With a safety pin (if you need to dye in the microwave, use a needle and thread instead), attach a piece of Tyvek to each piece of wool you are planning on over-dyeing. Label each piece of wool appropriately, with the Sharpie. Dye as you usually would. The labels are safe to use throughout the entire process (including drying the wool in the dryer). If you dye frequently, you can save your labels and reuse them!

Here is a series of wool, labeled, and ready to be over-dyed.

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


Rug of the Month: January 2018

Happy New Year! For January’s rug of the month, Ania has chosen to highlight an older project. This project is “Paisley Boteh.” The pattern was designed by Anita White. The rug is 12″ by 23″ and it was hooked with #4 strip wool.

Check out images of the completed project below, and read on to learn about how Ania made her creative decisions for this project.

Here is Ania’s completed “Paisley Boteh” rug.

Why did you decide to take on this project?

I was assigned this project as a “Show and Tell” rug, as a part of my McGown Certification. I like paisley very much though, and so I was very excited to take on this project.

As this project was my “Show and Tell” rug, I also completed a write-up on it, which included research into the history and origins of the boteh, and how the boteh motif eventually became known as the paisley motif. It was very interesting to learn about the traditions around how paisley motifs are portrayed in rugs.

How did you color plan for this project?

As part of my research, I learned the traditional colors used in rugs containing the paisley or boteh motif include reds, blues, gold, creams, browns, and greens. This is a very broad set of colors, and some of them are incorporated in my rug.

When I began color planning I started with the primary colors (red, blue, and yellow), in the outer border of the pattern. I also continued this theme in the whipping by using red and blue yarn to whip the rug.

For the central panel, which includes the two paisleys and the background, I used secondary colors (orange, green, and purple). The secondary colors are created from the primary colors, and so I thought they would complement each other well.

In this close-up, you can see the variety of colors used in the rug and the whipping.

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

If you try to imagine a rug with this much color in it, it might seem like it’s too much. However, if you consider color theory, it can work. This rug starts with the primary colors on the outer edges of the rug, and graduates inwards to the secondary colors. By framing the rug in this manner, you create a way in which the eye can keep moving across the rug without any abrupt disruption.

As a more general note, this rug appealed to me for two reasons: 1) I like paisleys, and 2) I like symmetry. I’m a big fan of symmetry, and breaking something down to the simplest components. This particular rug is a great example of point symmetry. Point symmetry is when each part of the pattern has a matching part the same distance from the central point but in the opposite direction.

The next time you buy a pattern to hook, look for the pattern of symmetry in it! You will be amazed at how it simplifies the pattern.

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



Rug of the Month: December 2017

Happy Holidays! In celebration of the current holiday season, Ania has chosen a festive rug for December’s rug of the month. This project is called “Raphael’s Angel” and the pattern is by Pam Smith for Honey Bee Hive Patterns. It was hooked in #6 strip wool.

Take a look below to see the rug in detail, and to read more about the project!

Here is the completed “Raphael’s Angel” Rug.

Why did you decide to hook this project?

I’ve always loved Raphael’s Angels. In the late eighties, I had Christmas cards that I sent out with Raphael’s Angels on them. I was delighted this summer, when I was at teacher’s workshop, to see that this rug was part of the offerings for classes.

The class was taught by Margaret O’Connor, and it was a wide cut class. I knew the project would fly by, and I’d be able to complete it by Christmas!


A close-up of the Angel’s face.

How did you approach color planning for this project?

The wool for the flesh and the face was provided in the class, and so I started with that. From there, I decided that I wanted to mostly avoid dyeing wool for this project. I knew it was going to be a Christmas themed rug, inspired by my cards from many years ago, and so I looked at reds and greens from my stash. In the original pattern, the angel’s arms were in mid-air. I decided to add a wall for her to rest on. I chose some reds for the wall and the whipping, and a variety of greens for the background.

For the wings, I used a series of shades of grey (which were kindly provided to me by a friend). I also decided the angel would have hazel eyes, inspired by my youngest daughter.

I used to dye my hair red, and when I was hooking this project, I had just decided to let myself go grey. I gave my angel red hair in memory of my old look! The wool for the hair is the only wool that I dyed specifically for this project. I dyed a six value swatch of ProChem’s Mahogany dye. Her hair also includes textures, an orange spot dye, and golds.



Details in the background and the wall.

What are you most proud of in this rug?

I like her celestial eyes. I think they look calm and serene, and they add just the right air to this rug! I was also very excited when I came up with an idea that would give the angel a little bit of an impression of a halo around her hair. This halo impression was created by outlining her hair with a lighter color, which I took from a highlight I used in the background.

In this shot, you can see the colors that went into the angel’s hair, and in the background you can see a star, as described below!

Do you have any other comments about this rug?

I wanted to add something special to the background, and so I hid some stars in there! I hooked five lines to make a star, and then I echoed those lines by hooking around them repeatedly. I also added little swirls of a lighter green as a highlight, to help offset the stars.

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

Rug of the Month: November 2017

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, we can really embrace the winter months. With that in mind, November’s rug of the month is “Winter Birds,” which is a winter-focused project. The pattern is a Digo pattern, and it is hooked in #6 strip wools.

To see images of this month’s Rug of the Month and to read about Ania’s creative process, take a look below:

Here is Ania’s completed “Winter Birds” rug.

Why did you decide to take on this project?

It was part of a guild project, and I wanted to do a winter themed rug so that I could have a rug for the winter season. I had done sculpting on rugs in the past and had enjoyed it, and this was going to be a quick project that involved sculpting in a wide cut.

Detail on one of the birds.

How did you decide on a color plan for this project?

Well, the winter birds in question are cardinals. All of the wool was supplied, except for the background. I thought it was great to have a Christmas theme with the red and the green.

Since the background wasn’t supplied, I decided I wanted to have a snowy sky, and not a blue sky. I wanted to give the appearance that the birds are in a snowy environment. I also decided that I only wanted to use textures for the background, and not dye anything. And because I love dyeing, it was a challenge not to!

To make it look like there was snow blowing in the background I drew in wavy lines throughout the background, and hooked along those lines. I selected two colors: a light grey plaid and a multi-colored strip, with cream, tan, and light green lines in it. Together, the two colors really look like snow!

Here are the two wools used in the background.

What are you most proud of in this rug?

There are a couple of things. I like how the birds look like they’re fluffing up their feathers to try to stay warm, and I like the simplicity. There are only five colors in the whole rug. There’s a dark green in the pine needles, a brown in the branches, a red in the birds and the berries, a yellow beak, and the black faces. And there are the two additional texture wools for the snow.

What was the most difficult part of this project?

The most difficult part was to make the background look like snow by constricting myself to using wool that I already had in my stash instead of dyeing something new. It took some experimenting with how to hook the wool, and what wool to use to make it look realistic. I also had to make sure I didn’t have too many blocks of one texture in the background.

Details on the sculpting on the wings.

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

I like how the puffiness of the wings show up even though only one color is used to create the wings and the bodies of the birds.

If you have any thoughts you’d like to share with Ania on this project, feel free to leave a comment below!

Horrors in Home Dyeing (Oh no!)

Many of us play in the dye pot for fun, out of necessity, or for some combination of the two. A lot of people find dyeing scary, but eventually pick up the basics and think “hey, this isn’t too bad.” But there always lurks the possibility of something inexplicable gone wrong. Maybe the color you want, isn’t the color you get. Maybe you get the dreaded white core. Or maybe, worst of all, you’ve experienced the horror of all horrors……flocculent percipitate.

The cloudy substance in the dye solution are flocculent percipitate.

It goes like this: you’ve soaked your wool, your dye pots are out, your measuring cups are out, the water’s been boiled, the dye has been measured, and you’re expecting smooth sailing to your final product. You add hot water to your dye paste and you stir, stir, stir, waiting for it to dissolve into a smooth solution. But you notice something odd: the dye solution isn’t clear.

Dun, dun, dun……the dye solution has the dreaded crud. Or, if you prefer, the correct scientific term for it is a flocculent percipitate. What’s that, you ask? It’s when the solution has a billowy cloud-like substance in it. This scary happening occurs most frequently with red dyes. In my dyeing experiences, I’ve noticed cloudy solutions most often with ProChem’s Bright Red 351.

The guilty culprit.

What do you do after discovering a cloudy dye solution? Maybe you decide to pour it into the dye pot anyways, with the optimistic hope that a lot of stirring will help dissolve it. But be warned, in my experience, that never works. Instead, the flocculent participate won’t dissolve, and smudges of dye will appear on your wool undissolved. My tip to you is: don’t torture yourself with this. What I did to find a solution, was I turned to my scientific side.

I don’t know the exact chemical equation that leads to flocculent participate appearing in dye solutions. What I do know is that it is effected by the pH. Under very acidic conditions, cloudiness can appear, and you can help dissolve it by making the solution more basic. How do you do that?

Our Savior!

In your pantry, you will likely find a box of baking soda. Add small amounts of that baking soda to your dye cup, mixing very well. You’ll notice there will be less and less of the cloudiness in the solution. If you wait about five minutes, and the solution remains clear, then you can move onto the next step of dyeing your wool. If the solution is still cloudy, then that’s okay too. Just add a little bit more baking soda, and it will dissolve.

Take note, when it comes to adding your vinegar: add it very slowly, in small amounts, and stir it well. Baking soda is a base (sodium bicarbonate to be exact), and vinegar is an acid, so there might be some bubbling. The bubbling isn’t something to worry about (all that is happening is the release of carbon dioxide), but it’s good to know to expect it!

Bubbles in the dye solution after vinegar is added to the solution.

If you have a question or comment, feel free to leave it below in the comments for Ania. And have a happy Halloween!  

Rug of the Month: September 2017

Welcome to our first blog post of the autumn season! To mark the beginning of fall, Ania has chosen a project full of autumnal colors, a rug aptly named “Oh Joyful Color.” The pattern is a Honey Beehive Pattern, and was created by Jane McGown Flynn. It is 16″ by 20″, and was hooked with #4 strips of wool.

Take a look below to see images of this month’s Rug of the Month, and read Ania’s comments on creating it:

Here is the completed “Oh Joyful Color.”

Why did you decide to take on this project?

This pattern was created for the 60th anniversary of the Northern McGown Teacher’s Workshop. I received it at that workshop, as a part of a class I took, for color planning.

How did you decide on a color plan for this project?

The color planning class was interesting – the teacher was Dorothy Huse, and she focused on the harmonies of color and color theory. This started with the basics of a color wheel, and moved forward with primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, and how these colors all work together.

Many times when I hook a rug, there’s a game I play with myself. For example, in this rug, there is a bird and plants, so there is fauna and flora. There is a color scheme for the fauna and a color scheme for the flora. The fauna is warm colors and the flora is cool colors. Cool colors recede, and warm colors come forward, which helps make the bird come forward as the focal point.

For the border of the rug, I intentionally hooked it in red, yellow, and blue, which are primary colors – those are the three colors that every other color is made of.

A close-up of the fauna portion of the rug.

What are you most proud of in this rug?

I really like how the bird turned out with the really warm colors, and the super fluorescent green placed throughout the rug allows the viewers eye to travel across the rug. This rug also only uses colors from my stash, and there was no dyeing done for it at all.

The very basic premise of the rug was flora is cool, fauna is warm. When I hold up this rug and ask if there is a visible pattern, people see that premise: the bird is all warm colors and the plants are all cool colors.

What was the most difficult part of this project?

I don’t think there was anything too challenging in this rug, which is great.

A close-up of some of the flora in the rug.

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

The pattern is very folk art like, which I don’t usually gravitate towards. However, the simplicity of the pattern was fun to work with. The sense of whimsy in the rug really made it fun.

Feel free to comment below if you have any thoughts you’d like to share with Ania on this project or post!