Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Heart Prayer Flags

When it comes to hooking, my guiding force has always been, "Hook what makes your heart sing!" Creating these Heart Prayer Flags does just that. Yet, perhaps you are wondering, just WHAT are Heart Prayer Flags? Let me explain...

Earlier this year, the idea came to me to create banners. We rug hookers are always thinking of new ways to use our rug hooking skills. We make all sizes of hooked rugs from very large to small. We make table mats, wall hangings, chair pads, stool covers, mug rugs, ornaments, tree skirts, standing hooked items and even little stuffed animals.

For me, the original concept of simply calling them banners, quickly evolved into calling them hooked Heart Prayer Flags, because the idea became much, much more than just a way to use up wool strips.

Hooking my Heart Prayer Flags, follows the custom of traditional prayer flags, that honor special events and to share blessings. The prayer flags send out a sort of prayer of peace, love, and kindness to spread out on the winds to the surrounding countryside. Instead of real winds blowing through my Heart Prayer Flags, the winds of creativity, flow through my hands to share, peace, hope, and love in a whimsical, happy sort of way, out into the universe.

I am offering two different sets of patterns at my ETSY shop, and you can order them two different ways. As an instant downloadable PDF and as PAPER patterns. The first pattern set is Heart Prayer Flags: St. Nicholas & Reindeer, with three designs. The second pattern set is the Heart Prayer Flags: Snowmen & Snowflake, also with three designs. There are several photos to aid in color selection, how to hook hints, and detailed instructions of how to assemble the Heart Prayer Flags.

Making these Heart Prayer Flags: St Nicholas & Reindeer is a fun, sweet way to herald in the holiday season!

I find it reassuring and cozy almost, to make these heart prayer flags to celebrate the homey feel of winter. Notice how in between the Heart Prayer Flags: Snowmen & Snowflake, the word S-N-O-W, is spelled out.

As an artist, I often use hearts as the main theme for a design. I love the idea that the heart symbol universally represent positive, encouraging and love-filled thoughts. Making these Heart Prayer Flags seems like a natural way to share love in a fun and playful way, all embedded with a heart, my favorite.

I plan to have many more Heart Prayer Flag pattern ideas to share in the new year. Stay tuned for Valentine's Day, Easter, Americana, encouraging words, nursery, baby animals, gardens, fall and Halloween,...Oh my, the list goes on and on. New designs will include this triangular shape, as well as squares and rectangles.

I cannot wait to see all the clever ideas you come up with in recreating these designs! These designs would be perfect for punch needle and wool appliqué too.

Please visit my ETSY shop today and get your Heart Prayer Flags, and start sending your creative, good vibes out into the universe too!

Happy Hooking Friends!


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Color Studies

Making a small hooked mat is a perfect way to experiment with color. Maybe you are in-between projects yet feel the need to have wool and hook between your fingers, so you grab a small design and commence with the hooking. Perhaps you have a large pattern and want to experiment with the colors on a smaller scale, before you commit to using them in a large rug.

These scenarios were just the case for me, earlier this summer, when I was finishing a rug. If you are like me, you most likely have another project vying for your attention, before you have even completed the current one! I had a big rug design/idea in my head and sketch book yet I had not quite settled on the lay-out of the elements. I also had a couple of color ideas, inspired by antique rugs that I was trying to decide upon. So, picking up a small design to hook seemed like a good way to take care of my desire to hook, and to experiment with the design and colors.

As I hook a small mat, I am experimenting with many aspects of the rug. There are several questions I try to answer when I first begin to hook. It's not a stringent strict test, but more like an eye-opening exploration of ideas. A flow of give and take, a journey, with a hopeful open-mindedness on the road of discovery. There is a feeling of anticipation and excitement as I begin.

What design elements "work"? Do I want part of the motif to fade into the background. Should I use a thin strip or beauty line to outline an area of the motif to make it stand out more than another area? What wools do I want to use. Do the textures I hook with "read" darker or lighter once hooked? If I use an as-is texture, is there a dyed-wool or one of my marbleized wools that will also work with it or could be substituted to add interest and depth to the piece? Do the values of the wools reflect the feeling I am trying to achieve. Do I want my neutrals to lean to a warmer or cooler tint? What hooking techniques will I use? How about using hit-and-miss (as a way to use up already cut strips). Will non-directional hooking for the background be a viable choice as a way to give a naive-sort of look to the piece, and as a way to move color, or will I use a blending technique. Do I need to dye wool, or will my stash be enough to complete my rug with the color choices I am hoping to use? Do I want to finish the rug with a crocheted edge or a different finishing technique?

Below are some photos that show how I hooked some of these ideas into my mats.

My large, yet unnamed rug, is 28" x 50". I am excited to get hooking on it. I really had high hopes to use my already cut wool worms, as a way to deplete that ever growing pile. Yet, I have to confess, I suffer from an affliction of wanting "just the right color", so the dye pots are never far away in case I need to augment my wool supply.

These little color studies are so fun to hook! They can be used as home decor, wall hangings, mug mats, or to use as gifts or donations.

Happy Hooking!


Monday, September 12, 2016

Forget Me Not

My latest design, Forget Me Not, was inspired by an antique rug. The original piece featured several flowers with a narrow border. I wanted to simplify the array of flowers, and add a geometric aspect to play off of the organic shape of those flowers. Above all, I wanted the design to look muted, time-worn, washed out, soft and faded. The large rose-like flower with the oversized leaf, surrounded by different flowers reminded me of a vintage-type postcard, which made me feel sentimental, hence the name, Forget Me Not.

Once I decided on offsetting the two large flower-filled squares, the diamond and triangle shapes surrounding those flowers followed! To add a geometric portion to border the flowing-flower shapes seemed so right. Maybe that is why we like fences with flowers planted alongside them, an arbor covered in roses, or a checkered pathway with a riot of flowers on either side. The uniformed with the unruly, the tame with the wild!

I knew I wanted the rug to look antique, instant OLD! This was achieved by using medium values for the background, flowers and diamonds, so that they blend into each other. I did use lighter and darker values with neutrals too, but I tried to use these sparingly. I found it interesting that the diamond/triangle shapes didn't need to be the same exact colors that were used in the flower portion, but rather, keeping them within a range of medium values was what mattered most to make the whole rug feel balanced.

The rug measures approx 20" X 40". The two squares of flower bouquets are similar but not exact replicas of each other. Drawing them slightly different and hooking them that way too was my way of knowingly adding some charm to the rug. The lines for the diamonds and triangles are also purposefully slanted or crooked in some spots to add a feeling of naïveté. The edges are drawn on the straight of the grain.

Forget Me Not, other patterns, and hooking related items are available at my ETSY shop

Step back in time with Forget Me Not!


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Gallery: Kids At Play

In the spring of 2014, three rug hookers, independent of one another, told me I should design a goat rug. And so I did! In this rug, Kids At Play, each goat represents them and their favorite flowers...trillium, hydrangea and the heavenly-scented sweet pea. I love how happy these goats are! It truly is a good day to be a kid!

For me, what is even better than designing a rug, is to get to see other rug hookers interpretation of my design. Below are photos of the beautiful rugs made by them. It is really inspiring to see how they make the design their own, whether through subtle color changes, or a totally different color plan. It is also interesting how some chose to make it more primitive or add more detail. One of the rugs, is an adaptation I made for a friend. Her sister had been gifted two goats to be companions for her lone horse. I love their names and this story! We adapted the rug's name too and called it, Boys At Play!

The rug hooking artists are in alphabetical order and the rug gallery that follows, reflects that order starting with Marie Beers, Kathy Burton, Joan Humen, Cathy Lanning, Maureen Lowrey, Lilly McIntyre, Patty Rogers (the adaptation) and Lois Sutton. Thank you Ladies! Beautiful Work! Seeing all of these cute goats makes me want to run out to a county fair to pet some kids! BTW, all three rug hookers who inspired this design, have a hooked rug included in this gallery.

Please visit my ETSY shop to see Kids At Play or other patterns and hooking related items.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Safe Haven

Finally, the story of the grey fox gets to be told.

As with all stories, a bit of folklore and mystery gets wrapped around the retelling.

Remember, I was raised on a small farm, where a small mountain top, rolls into forestland, which rolls into meadows, and finally the farm. I adore all things wild, roaming and free. I have been on a fox kick for a couple years now. In February of 2015, I blogged about an uncanny experience that I had while hooking my first fox pattern Cozy Fox, visit my blog post HERE to reread.

This grey fox pattern, Safe Haven, is an indirect result of that Blog Post. A dear friend of mine, who has lived out in the country for over 20 years, had a mystical encounter after reading my blog about the fox. She was traveling home, after in-town errands, in the late afternoon. She saw a pair of eyes bounce off her headlight beams. It was still late winter, so the sun was low in the sky, that time of year when dusk comes too early. As her car approached the animal that had been in the middle of the road, skirted off to the side. It had an elongated body shape and a big bushy tail. It's silhouette suggested fox, and then it did something unexpected. It climbed up into a nearby tree to hide. She thought her eyes were playing tricks on her! Isn't that crazy! Who knew foxes could climb trees? Apparently, grey foxes can!

It's true, they can! Grey Foxes, are a carnivorous mammal in the Canidae family, and the only American canid that has the ability to climb trees. At one online site, I read that they can climb branchless, vertical trunks to heights of 18 meters! They sometimes make their dens up in the tree canopy, within old snags, or on the ground in areas of heavy brush and undergrowth.

So I suppose you are still waiting for the punchline. Well, it isn't really all that exciting. I just thought it was so fascinating that in all the years that she had lived in the country, she had never seen a grey fox until after reading about my fox experiences, and now she had her own fox story to tell.

For me, it is a true blessing to be able to interpret my experiences through my art. When my friend told me of her grey fox encounter, I immediately imagined some version of this rug, Safe Haven. I wanted the background to be dark, to make it feel cozy and safe. The rug measures approx. 19"x 23". The narrow border has simple scrolls that are suppose to suggest ferns and the way the tips unfurl in early spring. A wreath of brambles and wildflowers protectively wrap around his hiding place.

I like that this fox looks content and peaceful. He doesn't have to worry about being secretive or scrambling up into a tree for safety. Rather, within his den he's found his own little piece of paradise, his Safe Haven.

Please visit my ETSY shop to see this pattern and other hooking related items.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Birds of a Feather

Spring seems like the perfect time to reflect on using bird motifs in your rugs.

After all, here in Oregon, the swallows and buzzards have returned quite awhile ago. Now, when you step outdoors the flurry of songbirds singing and flying about, certainly catch your attention!

I have hooked many birds into my rugs from swans and geese, roosters and chickens to ravens and crows. Along with quails, hummingbirds, swallows and songbirds and more. Heck, I have even hooked a peacock!

Above Photo: Sanctuary: Raven or Crow peering from tree

Above Photo: Intrepid Souls: Hummingbird searching for blossoms

I like how adding a bird to a rug can add interest and charm. It can be part of the composition or a focal point. Many of my rugs tell stories. In River & Raven's Roost, (topmost photo) it was the raspy call of the raven that inspired part of this rug. In Dove's Song, it was a mourning dove's meditative cooing that mesmerized me as I stood in my garden. In Rose Wreath, (photo below) the flowers are the focal point, but the birds hidden within the wreath add a lot of sweetness to the piece.

Whether you design your own rugs, or purchase rugs made by other designers, consider hooking a rug with a bird motif in it. I am sure you will enjoy the process and love the outcome!

Please visit my ETSY shop and view my patterns, there are more patterns of mine with birds, too many to post.

Administrative FYI:Beginning in May and thoughout the summer months, I will be blogging only once a month. With the onset of warmer weather I will be outside doing more gardening, trips to the coast, and family visits. I do hope to get some hooking done too. I will keep you posted! Thank you, marijo


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Flying Flying Fox

This design, Flying Flying Fox, was inspired by an antique hooked rug's background that I admired. I loved the way the background colors flowed using a tight range of values, in warm and cool colors. This is not a case where you put all the wool strips in a bag, to then pull out any ole color and use in any area you are working on. I was surprised at how much thinking and scrutinizing went into the placement of each strip to create this unique look. Again, it was a good reminder, that primitive hooking does NOT mean simpler hooking, far from it!

I'm currently reexploring, my fox phase! I hooked my first fox rug, Cozy Fox, in the spring of 2014. When I blogged about that rug in the spring of 2015, a friend then told me of an amazing experience that she had with a gray fox, (I will blog about that soon with a rug to match). As I was designing that more folk-art style gray fox rug, I asked myself, why don't I design a more traditional primitive rug also, since I adore that style too, and so primitive Flying Flying Fox design was born.

I love this happy little self-assured fox. There is just enough color and texture differentiation in him to add interest to his "black" silhouette. The antique blacks are in the blue-black, purple and brown range of color, which perfectly compliment the warm-orangey background colors!

The background is hooked in light to medium colors of warm peach, tan, tawny and camel tones. The interest is added with the usage of cooler similar value grays that lean toward blues and mellow soft purples. I had to use a lot of different wools, and different directional hooking techniques so it would be interesting and not just a "blob" of color. I definitely want to explore this technique further. I was humbled by how tricky it was to achieve this "aged" look.

The suggestion of the flowers, or dandelions gone-to-seed are intended to fade into the background. It was a fun experiment to use a neutral light wool for the flowers, whereas normally, I use all sorts of color and values to define a flower from the background. A narrow strip of a slightly brighter color, is randomly "tunneled" around the edge of the flowers to softly define them.

As you know, I usually bind my rugs with a crocheted edge. This time, I wanted the binding to look rustic. So,I bound this design with 1/2" torn strips wrapped around cotton cording.

This carefree, bounding fox is soaring through a field of dandelions gone-to-seed. As he passes, the little white "parachutes" are sure to go flying, flying in all directions! I like to think he is inviting you to happily join him, to make a wish, and blow!

Please visit my ETSY shop to see Flying Flying Fox and other hooking related items.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Travel Postcard: A Dove in Flight

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words!

A Dove in Flight was a rug I finished hooking this past January and blogged about in-length, in a post on January 27, 2016.

Earlier this month I was fortunate enough to see the "dove rug" in it's new home!

Currently it is on the floor, though it might be mounted later as a wall hanging.

Picture Perfect!


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

New Lease on Life

I am a consummate thrifter! I come from a long line of folks who value the idea of the reuse, recycle mentality. That can be anything from simply reusing your plastic lunch bags, to the finer art of veering off the beaten path to stop at garage sales and thrift shops to find and appreciate items from days gone by.

So, it should be of no surprise that when I saw this DiFranza Rug Hooking Kit at one of my local antique and collectible shops, I could not pass it by. It did not matter, that it had wool strips that were probably a very narrow cut (3) which I had no intention of using, though the wool was in excellent condition! It did not matter that the pattern was printed on burlap, which I personally would never hook on, due to longevity issues. It did not matter that the little hooks were so small, probably a "fine", that I could barely see the bend on the ends. What did matter, was that "someone" had bought this kit, with the full intention and dream of hooking it into a lovely mat, and that intention needed to be honored!

Within a month's time of purchasing the kit, I had a Hook-In, where I would attend as a vendor. Nobody there seemed interested in the kit, however, the Region 11 president of ATHA (Association of Traditional Rug Hooking Artists) was there, and suggested I might donate the kit to their scholarship program. That was an excellent suggestion! Everyone wins!

The kit would go to someone who wants to hook it and would value the whole kit and caboodle! The ATHA organization would benefit, and as I understand it, their scholarship for this particular camp was not on a need basis, but on a basis of someone applying because they want to further their rug hooking education and ability. Finally, I won because this kit assembled long ago and purchase by a hooker with a dream would finally be going to a good home!

I sure hope I get a chance to see this kit completed at some future Hook-In. Now that would be a dream come true!


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Spring Renewal

It is officially spring!

The days are getting longer, the wet spring days do give way to sunny ones. The beautiful flowering trees have chirping birds flying from branch to branch. The first wave of early spring bulbs like daffodils and crocus are giving way to tulips, hyacinths, muscari and iris.

I find myself wondering about all the new babies born or hatched in this season like, kittens, lambs, bunnies, and birds. Yay for Nature!

I hope you are feeling renewed, inspired and creative in this season of rebirth!

Happy Spring!


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Oval Squirrel

Maybe I AM still feeling a bit squirrelly! But I am in good company! (To follow, is a showcase of Oval Squirrel, hooked by three talented rug hookers.)

I hooked my Oval Squirrel mat two years ago. I had designed All Seasons Squirrel, the larger rug, but had not hooked it yet. I needed a small gift, so I used some of the elements from the larger design to make this one.

Oval Squirrel is approx 9" x 11" and now available as an instant download PDF pattern in my ETSY shop. I also provide a 6" version of this pattern for punch needle work. When you use a paper pattern, you get to be the co-designer, and choose to use elements as originally designed, or change elements to fit your needs.

This photo shows Oval Squirrel hooked by Patty Rogers.

Patty hooked this mat for her sweet niece, whose nickname is Squirrel. The muted gray, green, and soft blues in the main background work well as compliment colors, to make those orangey-red flowers pop! All the elements in the motif shapes show up nice and crisp because she has used the lighter value background within those shapes, rather than the medium value like I did. Binding with red wool strips completes the magic!

Marie Beers, had a clever idea to make the pattern into a circular chair pad.

When Marie traced the design elements onto linen, she made the oval, a circle, and spread the little mosaic shapes out so that they worked well within that round format. Using textured wool for a background is a great way to make all the elements of the design pull together, and here is why. The textured background that she used, when the light hits it, looks green with lighter flecks of blues or gold which helps pull all the other colors together. Those other colors that she used to outline the mosaics, the hooked line that encircles the mat, or the lighter values of the mosaic shape background all make a unified statement with the help of that textured background. Notice the crocheted edging also picks up the green and light blue colors used throughout the rug. By crocheting a border, she is a girl after my own heart! It looks great and will be very durable as a chair seat edge. A funny aside, her husband does NOT like squirrels, they cause havoc in his yard, so it will be his chair pad!

Maureen Lowrey hooked her Oval Squirrel mat in 8, 7, and 6 cut strips with her beautiful trademark primitive colors!

Maureen had recently moved from the country to the city, and wanted to celebrate the red squirrels that were busy in her yard. (Her squirrels are so bold that they even climbed up onto her front door to help themselves to the fake berries on a seasonal wreath.) Her use of twine and acorn that hang on the mat complete the primitive ambience emulating from this happy squirrel!

Thank you ladies for sharing your beautiful, unique and fun mats! As you can see, squirrels are not just for fall! Please consider joining us in the movement to have squirrels as part of your year round decor. This little mat hooked with other shades of squirrel colors such as, white, gray, or black would be cute. There are over 200 species of squirrels, so you have lots of color choices!

Here is the quick link to my ETSY shop.

Happy Hooking!