Tag Archives: rug hooking

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.

 

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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

Our Pastimes PEI Rug Hooking Patterns are Made Right Here in PEI

19 Apr

This post contains  my answer to Rug Hooking Daily‘s three questions below:

Heidi’s Questions:

Hello pattern designers, we have a few questions for you….

What goes into the making of a hooked rug pattern? Often we look at a well executed design and it looks as though someone simply put whimsy and sharpie to canvas et voila a pattern!

Her comment: of course, I know that’s not the way it works. Some of the very best patterns seem as though they were so simple to put together. Making it look easy seems to be an art in itself.

Tell us about your design making process, the work that lies behind creating a good pattern that can be sold to be hooked. What is it like to work at this as a source of income and how important is copy-write for all of us who love the craft?

My answer: 

Funny you should ask……..I can comment on all of the above – by the time we get out patterns on ‘printed’ on the backing for sale in the shop, we have put a lot of work and thought into the design, the placement of the motifs and thought about how it can be hooked successfully by our customers. It is quite funny, actually, when we hear people comment on how easy they could do it themselves. In the shop, it is mostly new or non hookers who make the casual comment while the experienced hooker is gladly shelling out the money for the pattern. We see it all the time – people with the main subject hooked but stuck on what to do next. Often there is not enough room around the outside to make the main motif(s) fit into a pleasing place in the mat. We take into consideration all that stuff when we create a pattern: we plan the size and proportion of the mat, the placement of the main subjects and the amount of background or ‘space’ other than the motifs, the best type of border, and lots of other little details. After we hook one sample, we get it figured out and look at size, shape, placement before committing the marker to burlap/linen. You have just got me started: we love to design patterns!! by we I am talking about my sister and I – she actually draws the patterns on the pieces for sale – I am far too messy.

Now what was the other question? Source of income? You bet; our Prince Edward Island patterns are of local subjects and based on traditional Island and Maritime patterns. We specialize in geometrics – vintage hooked geometrics never cease to amaze us here at Pastimes PEI. Bring in your vintage geometric and try not to be surprised that we ignore you and gloat over an old, well-used hooked mat from the past.  And we think that patterns should be simple – simple subjects, limited colors; plain, in fact, is most charming and actually harder to create successfully than hooking in too many colors;  our patterns reflect that: simple yet charming with that ageless look. That’s our style and it works well for newer hookers. they will not get overwhelmed with too much clutter and color in a project. When we first started making patterns to ‘pay for our hooking habits’ we thought they were pretty plain… they still are; we have come to recognize it is our style, after the style of our ancestor-hookers.

copyright you SAY? Most of the time people respect our work; it is something we tell people: we made this and we are proud to sell it to you; you can not find it anywhere else; please respect that. I am not sure how anyone can ‘love’ a piece if they know it was taken from someone else’s collection. Assert yourself and tell others that copyright applies to rug designs as it does to other works created for art. It is pretty easy to copy stuff from the internet these days and I see more and more people talking about the infringement issue. It is like buying fake brand name clothes – you get what you pay for.   My conscience would bother me. I love to get the high- feeling of seeing/making my own work. I have lots of other comments, actually, butshould get into action and actually hook something today. Cheers from Shirlee for today. And please comment,,,,,

just moved Pastimes PEI blog to Wordpress

28 Feb

crow waiting for a treat on a snowyThanks to Brenda Watts for getting me moved over to this wordpress space; when the snow is falling outside the door, it’s pretty easy to get lost online so this past couple of weeks I have been putting together a presentation on the history of hooked rugs on Prince Edward Island for a group of Charlottetown rug-hookers next month.