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Turning an Idea into a Rug Hooking Pattern at Pastimes PEI

12 Oct
Millview Too Pattern by Pastimes PEI

“Millview  Too!” pattern by Pastimes PEI

It’s all about simple compositions and, classic PEI rug hooking style as we create our Pastimes PEI rug hooking patterns. We hook our pieces to see how they work before we offer them for sale as patterns or kits. We want the people who hook our designs to simply enjoy the process and, in turn, create a hooked piece of their own art that stands the test of time.

In the past, when we began making our our designs to hook for ourselves, we made simple designs that used minimum colors because we were using what we had on hand. The more we studied the old rugs from Prince Edward Island, the more we understood how ‘mats’ were hooked in the past before traditional rug hooking became a popular leisure hobby for many people and a business for those providing the materials, equipment and lessons for thousands of eager crafters.

We start with an idea, scratch it on a piece of paper, work out a rough draft of the composition, the size, the proportions, the border, the colors ….. and ‘voila’ a new rug is taking shape.  You will notice that all of our rugs have a name. We call them by name. We always have a reason for making each and every pattern, therefore, the name evolves.

P1120212

It takes planning to get patterns ready. The more planning you do up front, the easier it will be to hook your design. If you are planning your own pattern, here are a few simple rules:

  • Sketch your subject matter using the same proportions as the actual hooked piece
  • Take into consideration the size of motifs in the drawing; are they large enough to actually hook?
  • Use a piece of backing that is large enought to accomodate the entire work; you have to include the width of your border and you need room around the edges to attach to your frame for hooking;
  • Draw the outside edges on the grain of the backing for a rectangle or square rug; draw any straight edged motifs on grain as well, using the pattern lines as a guide
  • Use a permanent black marker to draw the pattern; you’d be surprised how pencil lines disappear as you hook on your project
  •  Keep a notebook of your original inspirations, ideas, sketches and dates along with the progress of the work so you can prove ownership and, therefore, copyright of your work.

    Display at Keleidoscope Festival, 2014

    A Display of Pastimes PEI Hooked Items

For us here at Pastimes PEI the most exciting aspect of rug hooking is seeing a new pattern hooked for the first time; we hook all our patterns ourselves before we sell a pattern, just to make sure it is suitable to hook at any skill level.  But when people start showing us their versions, it is simply a thrill. You can see what I mean by the following two examples hooked from our pattern, Evergreen. I have just listed the pattern on our Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/pastimespei.

kim Allen Mission BC Evergreen

Hooked by Kim Allen of British Columbia – reminds her of Emily Carr and cedars on West coast

pattern pics 003

Heather Tweedy’s Evergreen summery PEI version

Pastimes PEI Evergreen

Shirlee Hogan’s Blue Spruce version with a touch of autumn

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It’s All About the Wool at Pastimes PEI

5 Sep

"Happy Sheep" on PEI

Rug hooking is a rural tradition that continues to evolve and enrich the lives of rug makers on Prince Edward Island; since we are “all about the wool” here at Pastimes PEI, we often tell our visitors about the customs of the people who made PEI their home and made nearly everything they possessed by hand.

The counrty craft of rug hooking may have been brought here by the hardy Scottish settlers who landed in this area with their sturdy Highland sheep. Wool has properties that make it perfect for winter clothing, bedding and, of course, hooked rugs. Just down the road from here the local mill made rolls of wool; my father used to tell us how his mother sent the sheared wool from the farm to the mill in Millview (Pastimes PEI is located in the little community of Millview, P.E.I.) because it made the best “rolls”. Wool carding is the process of brushing the wool fibres to organize them. It creates a continuous web of fibres that can be layed out flat into batts, rolled into rovings, or split into spinning rolls. The natural fibers that we use in rughooking today include the burlap and linen backings through which the wool is hooked.

At Pastimes PEI we create our hooked items in wool, the fiber that they ‘grew’ on their own farms in the past; today we use local yarns from the small PEI and New Brunswick mills that still make yarn, and buy wool flannel fabric from USA. The popularity of rug hooking in North America and around the world, these days, keeps the factories producing wool fabric, yarn and fibers especially for rug hooking, felting, knitting, sewing and other wool crafts. We are glad that people today are raising the sheep and others are spinning and weaving it so we can enjoy our favorite pastime.

That is why it’s all about the sheep and their wool here at Pastimes PEI.

 

Pastimes PEI – thanks to our 2012 rug hooking customers and friends….

28 Dec
Pastimes PEI hooked art pieces

Rugs and wall hangings at Pastimes PEI

Demonstrating Rug Hooking at Orwell Corner Historic village

Demonstrating Rug Hooking at Orwell Corner Historic village

We’ve had a busy year here at Pastimes PEI and quite a change since summer because Heather retired from her real job and spent it at the rug hooking shop which is my (Shirlee) porch, actually. We do not have a big space but we ‘make do’.  The skill of “making due”  is part of our PEI heritage that we have re-invented in our rug hooking business. When you grow up making due, you never truly get away from it. Rug hooking began because people had to make do or not survive in PEI’s cold climate.

This fall we honored our culture by inviting people in to hook with us on out new mat. We designed a scrap mat just for the occasion.

we created a new pattern for a traditional scrap mat

we created a new pattern for a traditional scrap mat

We wanted our event for Culture PEI Days to be as authentic as possible so we did what they used to do in the olden days: they set a mat into the frames and called on their neighbors and friends to help them hook on it. When theirs was well underway, they went to their neighbor’s house and hooked on theirs; and so it went, a winter of hooking without actually staying home alone and hooking on one’s own mat. It was a social event mixed into the work.

You can see the slide show of our Culture PEI Days at on our Pastimes PEI facebook page under pictures. We have the finished mat hanging on our wall for all to see. It is made of almost all recycled clothing. We opted for new wool for the border so we would not run out.

Shirlee andJack getting the new mat in the frame

Shirlee andJack getting the new mat in the frame

Donald MacDonald was happy to meet and greet us

Donald MacDonald was happy to meet and greet us

Before Christmas we set up a display at the Belfast Mini Mills Christmas Fair with a very interesting group of fellow artisans. We were at the Belfast Historic Society’s Christmas Market the next Saturday.

Pastimes PEI Art Cards from out Hooked Pieces

Pastimes PEI Art Cards from out Hooked Pieces

We make Christmas cards as well as regular greeting cards from our hooked pieces. This year we had quite a few new cards to add to our collection. We have so many photographs from over the years…… many of our actual pieces are sold so it’s nice to remember them in cards and photos.

We had some time to actually hook this year, but not as much as we’d like. I’ve added a few pictures here of our work and, of course, nothing suits unless we add a few things from our yard…….

from our house to yours........

from our house to yours……..

Our Christmas Tree.... complete with chicken-little

May 2013 be just ducky for all of our family and rug hooking friends
wool and patterns and all things hooked at Pastimes PEI

wool and patterns and all things hooked at Pastimes PEI

Inspired to Hooked Rugs at Pastimes PEI

4 Aug

People often ask us how and where we get our patterns for rug hooking; there is a simple answer: we live on PEI. We simply take our cameras everywhere and voila ….. another bunch of ideas for rugs takes shape; they often remain ideas in our binders of “Ideas” for awhile.  Yesterday Barry and I made our way all the way up to the beautiful town of Souris, PEI. We stopped at the Lighthouse craft Shop and took this picture of the lighthouse that sits on top of the hill for all mariners to see. a light for mariners up east on PEI

one of the beacons of Souris PEI

If you spend any time in Souris, you will always find something to do; there were lots of people on the main beach on the way into the town. We chatted for awhile to Camella Cheverie at Naturally Yours Antiques and Collectables  just off Main Street.  We ate at Sheltered Harbour Restaurant overlooking the Magdalen Island Ferry and saw all the RVs coming to our Island.

Last Tuesday we demonstrated our hooking at the Artisan Day at nearby Orwell Corner Historic Village; some folks even tried their hand at hooking.

Demonstrating rug hooking at Orwell Corner

Bette shows a young girl how to hook

We had a chance to see the sights and sounds of the village ‘as it used to be’.

Historic Village has a water pump that works!

The old village pump is seldom idle when the kids arrive.

And back here at Pastimes PEI in my yard all the lilies are in bloom.PEI Lilieswe hook the flowers from our gardens

Our new pattern is called Waterside Tulips. It is named for the fields of Vanco Farms tulips that grow just down the road from here.  Yes, we are surrounded by the glorious beauty of PEI so all of our rug hooking creations are our way of “showing off” our home.

Pastimes PEI Rug Hooking Pattern Hooked by a New Rug Hooker

18 Jul
Pastimes PEI Geometric Pattern

Our friend, Bonnie is a new rug hooker and this is her progress ‘report’ to us…

It is  special day, indeed, when someone comes back into Pastimes PEI to show us their progress on one of our patterns.  Our pattern, Dragonflies in Formation, has never been hooked in such pretty colors.  Our new friend and new rug hooker, Bonnie is having us help her plan the last set of blocks.  It is her first big piece after wisely practicing on small ones.  She had bought some great nubby yarn in her travels and decided it could be her dragonflies; and you all know that once you pick the main color, the rug starts to take you on a path of it’s own.  There is no turning back, it seems: you can pick the next color out of your favorites but if that first color ‘screams’ “not quite right” – you’ll have to find a better match to the first color.

And from there you learn that choosing colors is dictated by the ones already there.  That’s why we tell you that every hooked rug is a journey into the unknown, no matter how experienced you are at choosing colors.  It is a little hard to tell in the picture, but the deep blue blocks/ turquoise blocks are all hooked but the grey-looking ones opposite them are not filled in yet.  If she chooses a light color for the rest of the blocks, her mat will have a high contrast look re the blocks; if she chooses a dark color with less contrast, she will have a rich-colored look.  You will have to wait for that…………

Dyeing a skirt at Pastimes PEI Rug Hooking Shop

16 May

Barry’s Aunt gave me a dozen high quality wool skirts the other day. You can see that the one I chose to make into a ‘flower bed’ is plain beige….making it perfect for dyeing. Most winter clothing is dark so great for overdyeing or using as-is but not this special one.

doesn’t look like much yet….

You can see that it starts out somewhat white. In the pot it goes for soaking in warm water and dish detergent for overnight. You should never rush dyeing. You can but the karma is not the same. Should be a fun process, not a harried one.

have a large pot to dye wool

Cover wool with warm water and let soak overnight.

I used a green and a ‘lilac’ acid dye to create my ‘garden’ colors. I wanted to be able to hook without shading so I splashed the green among the purple.  To create the green patches I poured spoonfuls of  the green dye solution between the darker purple parts of the skirt. By this time I put vinegar into the solution so that the colors would set into the wool. The more splotchy you want your finished product, the sooner you introduce the mordant, ie, the vinegar.

the skirt label

Please note that I usually take apart skirts before I dye them; I wanted to show you how I got from plain reused wool to hand-dyed wool. The label ‘pure wool’ does not mean the item will be a great hooking wool. A wool flannel is best but you will learn after trial and error how to pick wool that is h

Jack likes the ‘before’ colorookable.

the freshly dyed skirt drying on the porch

Prince Edward Island’s Historic Rug Hooking Connections to the New England States

21 Mar

 While I am not much of a traveller myself, I do know that this is a great tour for rug hookers of Prince Edward Island and the rest of the Maritimes.  People who went on last year’s tour tell me that they couldn’t believe how much rug hooking they saw in such a short time. http://www.targettours.ca/destination/72/New-England-Rug-Hookers-Tour

 This tour gves me the opportunity to talk about my interest in the rug hooking history of PEI.

Pastimes PEI gallery wall

My quest to fnd out more about the history of rug  hooking started a long time ago – when I started hooking n 1975.  If you are familiar with the history and culture of rug hooking, you will know that it seems to have ‘started’ in the Canadian Maritimes, Newfoundland and Labrador, eastern Quebec and the New England states. No one knows for sure because, like many things that women did in in the household, it did not make it into the history books. (That subject can be left for another wntery day.)  I can tell you that just as rug hooking culture runs deep here on the Island, so does it just south of the border, not far from here. 

 Much of the rich PEI rug hooking history has not been recorded.  Heather and I  interviewed just a few Island rug hookers way back in 1991 as part of an art class we were taking at University of Prince Edward Island. In 1999 we created a slide show about the people who hooked on PEI.  All of this was before technology – we used a plain old 1990s camera and took real ‘slides’ of the rugs and the women…. but at least we did that much way back then. I promise to keep you updated on our quest to gather up more Island rug hooking history.. if you are nterested.  We have presented our new version of the presentation to a couple of local rug hooking groups but it is still a work in progress.  The more people tell us about our history, the more we all will come to know and appreciate our past rug hookers.

Meanwhile, online, you can read Anne Nicholson’s detailed and very informative series of topics on the culture of PEI rug hooking with separate articles on some of  the people who hooked great rugs: http://www.gov.pe.ca/firsthand/index.php3?number=43723&lang=E

Jack and I have to get a move on today and finish a little rug for a new little beginner kit called 1-fish 2-fish using two new Dorr wool textures and plain Dorr blue – all while we watch the Canadian women’s curling team in the World Curling event:

Jack is supposed to be helping me hook the sample for the new beginners kit....

Hooking Rugs on Prince Edward Island

12 Aug

We have plenty of rugs and small pieces hanging on our walls this summer. We have been busy creating new patterns and kits as well.

we stop and help people learn the best way to hook..some just need a little tip or two

And while we are in the shop we very often have to cut the burlap and linen for each pattern. jack is never far from the action as you see.


the lap of luxury…every time…he’s always snoozing somewhere



Today we had one of our most interesting local hookers show us her lupin mat. She dyed the leaves with koolaid.  In the past rughookers had to be ingenious…. Cindy is one of the modern ingenious hookers..always trying new things as she hooks.

August on Prince Edward Island – the view from here at Pastimes PEI….

7 Aug

July and August bring out the best of PEI. The weather usually cooperates with all the events that take place outside but when it doesn’t, there is always a kitchen to sit in or a hall that is hosting a ceilidh, just a kitchen party with a few extras. Today Jack and I are home alone. I put out my new sign “OPEN” because Jack thinks it’s nice but not nice enough to pose with. He thinks it looks better from a distance. I’ll show it to you.. and Jack looking at it from a distance… we sit on the doorstep to contemplate life in general. And look at the gardens around us that include alot of Barry’s machinery, like the old plow down at he gate. Brenda Watts of Cattails and Brenda Watts Woodworking http://www.brendawattswoodwork.com/ made my ‘open’ sign to replace the tacky one we had. She does lovely woodworking and has a lot of really cool painted vintage-inspired signs to go with her acorns, cutting boards, rolling pins and and all manner of natural wooden products that she turns out in her shop.
Down here we have lots of birds to keep an eye on. Weare hoping formore ducklings before too long as only one baby survived this spring of the two that hatched alive.

Our Arts and Heritage sign finally has some lilies around it. Most of them are from http://www.redlanegardens.com/ just a few miles from here.

here’s Jack looking over his kingdom this morning.

And the window box that is finally getting some PEI sunshine.

These roosters are brothers that hatched last summer. Lets just say that they rool the roost even tho Jack thinks he does. have a great day, everyone.

Pastimes PEI and the Artifacts at Orwell Corner Historic Village

3 Aug

Because I sometimes work down the road at the Orwell Corner Historic Village, I meet a variety of people from all around the world. They come to see what PEI looked like in the olden daysand experience some of the things that would have gone on long ago. The blacksmithing shop is popular with people who realize the value of making implements and shoeing horses, for example. We had one in Vernon when I was growing up. We loved the place and Dinnie Docherty who could make anything for Dad while we waited and talked.

On Sunday at Orwell Corner, we joined a group of artisans who were showing people how to create many of the things that would have been made by hand in the olden days. They had lunch that was made from the garden vegetables with fresh biscuits from Anna’s Tea Room. Visitors got to try their hands at painting with Bette Wichers, bird-carving with Jim Jenkins, rug hooking with us and they learned how to make soap from ashes and lard from Cindy Rice as well as how flax is turned into linen by Brenda Whiteway. Bev Beaton and her family talked about her photography and the staff of Orwell Corner made candles and ice cream with help from visitors.

I am telling you all his to set the stage for showing you what we all look like in historic costumes because a friend who shall remain nameless, told my husband he saw an artifact – a beautiful artifact, he may have said, sitting on a bench at Orwell Corner.  I have been called many things in my life, but an artifact has not been mentioned before. Now I knpw why I fit in so well at the Village. I’m not a relic, I am an artifact, whick, I would say, would elevate me to a higher status, I should think. Anyway, here are a few artifacts and things from Orwell Corner’s “made in PEI” Day this past Sunday.


Ellen and Shirley filling the plates for folks…



The Beaton family enjoys lunch….

Heather shows how to hook a mat…

the cotton candy was great…. dessert….



Brenda Whiteway explaining how to work with flax…



wagon rides with Kevin drew a crowd…

Cindy and her soap artifacts….

the official artifact herself…

cotton candy ..did I say delicious?? ask Annie

Heather and I were relics with relics again on Monday..oops, artifacts….