A Lesson on Poppies
If you've ever had the chance to visit Deanne's Studio here in the quaint town of Amherst, Nova Scotia, you understand that poppies are an ever present element of Deanne's rugs. Whether they're the focal point of the mat, or you see them lazily poking out in a faraway field, they add a pop of colour and interest and have evolved into a signature component of her mats. Seeing as poppies are so common to Deanne's rugs, kits and patterns, I thought a post with tips and tricks on how to hook them would be a valuable lesson!
First of all, you want to look have a look at a natural poppy, if you can that is. If it's the middle of winter or you're stuck up North, then Google Images might have to do. Looking at the flower in real life will give you an idea of what kinds of materials will best represent the poppies softness, beauty and uniqueness when you're hooking it into your rug.
For colour scheme you can make your poppies a variety of bold reds, corals, magentas or a magenta and red mix, or an unrealistic colour scheme that gives your rug whimsical character. Make sure when picking your material that you pick at least 3 shades of the colour you've chosen for your poppies, make sure to include warmer and cooler tones. Adding yarns or sari silks in with your wool can add pops of colour and texture. The larger your poppies are the more varieties of colours you can use when hooking them. Deanne also suggests that you hook your poppies using different widths of wool to add some personality.
As for your poppy centres, they are typically dark but not quite black. If your poppies are in the background or not detailed you can get away with black centres but typically you should use a nice mix of navy and purple. Don't hook your centres in perfect circles and remember to use a mix of fabrics and maybe throw in a bit of a dark plaid. If you really want your poppy to stand out, also outline your petals in a dark fabric.
Hook your poppies loosely, in irregular shapes to avoid them ending up as red, unrecognizable blobs on your mat. Start hooking each petal from the inside out, not in straight lines, and work on one poppy at a time. This ensures that each is unique and it's own individual flower ready to stand out and make your rug even more beautiful.
When hooking a stormy ocean you want to first think about where this ocean is in the world. Is it the Atlantic? Pacific? A brewing hurricane in a tropical place? The location of your storm will help you determine what sort of colours you're going to utilize in your colour scheme. A "mucky" colour scheme, using some greys, dark blues, maybe some dark murky greens and aquas could be used in a topsy-turvy ocean you'd see here in Atlantic Canada. Disturbances in the seas in tropical places would have a variety of aqua-toned blues. Whites, creams, pale pinks and pale yellows can be used as the tops of rough waves in any kind of stormy sea.
Go on the hunt for some interesting tweeds or fine plaids to hook in various spots throughout your ocean. When doing a sea with lots of movement you can use many different fabrics and colours because you want to show that flow happening in the waves. However, any fabrics or materials you use must "go" with the colour scheme you have chosen, you don't want to use any plaids of tweeds with too much of one colour in them that will end up throwing off the appearance of your sea. These different fabrics are great to use as ocean spray.
You will want to hook your stormy sea in jagged lines, all going in the same direction as if the wind is blowing it. You don't want it to look as if it's all neatly organized in a straight line, but keep your hooking loose and a little unorganized to give that mumble-jumbled effect. If you're doing more of a whimsical stormy sea, make the peaks of your waves rather high and going in all different directions. This will give you a fun and eccentric appearance to your ocean.
Roadblocks to Your Creativity
The following are some habits that may be keeping you from accessing your full creativity without you even being aware of it! Keep an eye out for these routines that could be hindering your hooking:
-Keeping the same books on your shelves for years, try switching up your books about every year or so, or when you're done scouring them, donate them.
-Watching TV and Netflix a lot, screens keep you from experiencing the world around you.
-Pinterest: it has a way of pulling you into it's DIY vortex of doom but beware, things don't always look the same on a screen as they do printed out in a book or once you actually create them. An in-person visual is always your best option.
-Relying on your old tricks every time you take on a new project, without tweaking them a little bit or modifying them to suit the new things. Take advice from your friends and fellow hookers every now and then, you may discover your new favourite technique.
-Not using new fabrics and materials in your work. Using the same old stash repeatedly can eventually give your rugs a dreary appearance and make them unintentionally all look the same. Explore new materials you don't usually play with, and frequently buy new pieces of stuff that catches your eye, it doesn't need to be excessive, just don't use the same cut up sweater for the next 3 years.
-Asking the same people for their opinions over and over again. You get the opinions for others to get an outlook that isn't yours, by asking the same people for theirs all the time, you're defeating the purpose.
-Sticking to your favourite artists for inspiration in your rugs. Artists are always evolving and there's always new people on the scene, look for new motivation and creativity in other people from time to time.
-Not keeping a notebook is a big no-no. Your brain is like an endless abyss up there, not jotting down your thoughts, ideas and doodles means there's less of a chance you'll ever retrieve them again once they slip from the front of your mind. Even keeping a list on your Notes app in your smartphone can work.
Working on Small Rugs
-Keep it simple, too many details will get muddied when hooked in a small rug
-Use burlap for small pieces you're hooking that are going to be hung on the wall. If it's for the floor use linen, it's more expensive but more durable than burlap.
-Picking your materials is just as important in small rugs as it is big ones!
-Don't use too many textured materials in a small piece, it will make it hard to distinguish the design.
-Use more narrow widths of wool in your smaller rugs, use different sizes deliberately.
-Be aware of the direction you're hooking in as it makes a bigger impact in a small rug.
-Small rugs are great for creating series with, they're quick to complete and look nice when placed next to each other.
-Save leftover pieces of wool and yarn from big projects to use in your smaller rugs.
-If the wool you're using isn't working you can rip it and redo it easier and without wasting much time.
The following are a few tips on how to keep your rugs simple and to make sure rug hooking doesn't become a stressful part of your life.
Try keeping to a small palette of colours when working on a rug, about 3 or 4 works well. You don't want to try to utilize an abundance of colours and force them into working together, as this can become a bit of a nuisance if there's any hiccups that occur while hooking your rug.
Use simple shapes for design inspiration in your rug. Cirlces, squares, rectangles, triangles, stars, all look nice in a rug but aren't too overpowering or difficult to create. Other shapes can sometimes end up looking wonky, or if the shape doesn't work out the way you were expecting, it may add unneeded frustration into a time that should be overall relaxing.
If you're a beginner at rug hooking, you'll want to start out with a manageable project. If you take on an overwhelming challenge right in the beginning, you may become discouraged and give up the craft all together. Completing small projects and getting used to hooking will give you the satisfaction to continue on making rugs in the future. Bigger is not always better!
Don't worry about any rules you've created for yourself or what anyone else told you. You make the rules when you're rug hooking, you're creating the rug for you, and it needs to please you. Taking rules out of the equation will give you the freedom to express yourself and take any expectations off of your shoulders.
Try not to overthink about your rug while you're hooking it, just continue to work towards finishing the mat. You'll feel much better with a completed project in front of you than a half finished rug that you keep unravelling and rehooking! You may not always end up loving the finished result but you'll eventually learn what your likes and dislikes are in the rugs you're creating.
Making your rug complicated is an active choice, keeping the art simple all depends on your mindset about it. Keep it simple and relaxed, leave it as a hobby that you enjoy and whatever you end up creating is fine. Have an open mind and don't be afraid to experiment with different elements of rug hooking!
Tips for Hooking Big Rugs
-Make sure you start out with enough wool to complete your large rug.
-You don't have to use every colour throughout the entire rug, using a similar shade in different areas works well and will keep the design light.
-Have the rug set up on a frame in a visible place so that you get into the habit of hooking a little bit every day. This is a good habit to get into.
-If you're getting bored make a design or colour change instead of putting the whole thing away.
-Try not to get held up by not knowing what colour to use in an area, you can remove a small area of colour at any point without affecting the rest of your rug.
-Borders are a good way to tie together a large rug.
-Big rugs are hard to complete sometimes so stay focused on just getting it done and not necessarily making it perfect in every way.
-Be patient, you won't know how it's going to look until it's done and you can step back from it and see it for what it is.
-You can create a big rug out of small patterns that you've repeated over the whole rug.