When is a rug finished?

Laura Kenyon
How to index and organize your finished rugs.

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Color Planning Basics

Laura Kenyon

How do you color plan your rugs? This is a question that I am often asked. I have a couple of guidelines I consider when I start thinking about a new rug. I usually do not plan a landscape too much as it is what I see in nature and I tend to just paint with my wool. Here are my guidelines for other rugs.

Think about the overall mood of your rug. Is it going to be vibrant or subdued?

What value of color do you want for the background? Light, medium or dark. You do not need to think about a specific color just the value. If you consider this first in your rug, you are less likely to hit a road block when hooking and picking colors for your rug.

Now let us talk about COLOR!

The color wheel is a great place to start. If you have a basic understanding of what colors work together you can feel comfortable that you will love your rug when you are done.

There are three “primary” colors: Red, Blue, and Yellow.

Then think about mixing the two colors together to get “secondary” colors. Violet, Green, and Orange.

Then think about mixing those colors together to get “tertiary” colors. Red orange, yellow orange, yellow green, blue green, blue violet, or red violet.

Now with this information we can build our color plan. What colors go together?

Complimentary – Two colors opposite the wheel. Red green, blue violet, yellow orange, etc.

Triad – Three colors that are three spaces apart. Red-yellow-blue, orange-green-violet, etc.

Tetrad – Four colors together. Just keep the distance as a rectangle or square within the circle. Red-violet, orange, yellow-green and blue, for example.

Need more combinations?

Analogous – a series of color along the same side of the wheel. Blue-green, blue, blue-violet, violet or yellow-orange, yellow, yellow-green, green.

Now back to your rug. A couple of other items to consider. A rug should contain the following phrase ‘light, bright, dark, dull”. Make sure you have each of these conditions in the rug. Some teachers will refer to a “poison” in your rug. That is the bright or light in the rug. Another suggestion is to move the colors around the rug. Place the colors in more than one place to let the eye move from place to place.

I hope this alleviates some of your color planning anxiety. This is only the basics and you will develop and grow. This information is only to get you started. You will get more and more comfortable with your decisions and develop your eye for color.

Happy hooking!





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Back to school - Time to share

Laura Kenyon
As everyone heads back to school we are reminded of the opportunities the world has to offer. For some it is the chance to share the love of Rughooking with new students and for others it is the chance to learn how to rughook. I had the amazing opportunity of sharing Rughooking with a small group of ladies at our first Guild meeting a couple of weeks ago. They picked up the basic skill within an hour and some will quickly become experts. I challenge everyone to share and explore their talents with the world. 

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How to Get the Most out of a Class or Workshop

Debra Walland1 comment
Going to a camp or school is intimidating if it is your first time.  Even if you have hooked for years, you really don't know what to expect.  Here are a few tips and feel free to contact your teacher before you go if she hasn't contacted you first.

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A Great Summer Read

Laura Kenyon


Designed by You book

Too hot to hook?  Definitely not too hot to think about your next rug, though.

If you can't get inspired by Tamara Pavich's new book published by Rug Hooking Magazine (Ambry) you must have fallen asleep right after you opened it.

Tamara Pavich writes regularly in rug hooking magazine. Now, I am not prejudiced at all just because I happen have a rug included, I have to say that she has written a terrific book.
There is plenty of meaty text to go along with the photos to explain her point. It has something for everyone who hooks in every style. She has contributions from the most contemporary artists like Roslyn Logsdon and Diane Cox, primitive specialists like Cathy Stephan, and lots of other talents whose works can't be categorized.
At first it is a little confusing how she has it organized, but once you get started, it makes sense the way the book is laid out. The chapters begin with an idea of how to get started.  Then she goes on with ideas to get you there.  She has chosen great examples and throws in little hints to help you along.
It was a very roundabout way that Tamara  and I connected.  She wrote an article for RHM about Van Gogh's works as inspiration for rugs.  Janet Conner teaches a fabulous class on the subject, She even draws the patterns - which is no easy feat to duplicate Van Gogh. Needless to say, when Tamara was looking for source material she went to Janet.
My sister, Laura, and I took one of Janet's classes during the week of the  Green Mountain Guild show several years ago.  Janet reached out to her students for rugs for Tamara's article which lead to my texting back and forth to Tamara.  Next thing I know, she asked if I had any rugs that I had designed. Well, what she meant was a rug that I didn't design for a commercial pattern.
  I sent a photo of Praise House. For those not familiar with the Southeastern coast's history of the Gullah/Geechee culture, these folks are a community that continue today, descendants of the first freed slaves.  They lived on the coast and on the barrier islands from South Carolina to Florida, and the first town, Mitchellville, is on Hilton Head Island.
Their spirituality started as a combination of their African roots, including voodoo, and Christianity from the missions mostly from the Methodist Church.  The Praise house was a rudimentary building where slaves and freedmen met to worship. Sometimes it was actually on a plantation.  Unlike the rug, there was no steeple or cross, it was usually just four walls with benches. The worship was enthusiastic and full of music and shouting. That feeling was what I was trying to convey with the rug.
Praise house sketch
This was the original sketch to show inclusiveness by the open double doors and the energy coming from inside.  The tree was to a live oak covered with Spanish moss to give a sense of place, but I decided that it didn't add to the message and left it out.
      This is the final piece.  I decided that the energy would blow the roof off and the outstretched hands extended the movement from inside to out.  The background is a batik print instead of the tree.  It still accomplished the sense of place by bringing a sense of the African ethnicity.
So, now you know the rest of the story about my piece.  I hope it will entice you to pick up Tamara's book and take it to the beach with you this summer.




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The Last Talavera Tutorial

Laura Kenyon5 comments

Here is a rug in progress hooked by Brenda Neafsey.  I love how she has added purple to the mix.  Nicely Done!!




So when we last met, we were painting clouds.  How are they coming along?  Before you get to close to the bottom, be sure to hook in the curved line over the corner motif.

Otherwise that will be a very bumpy line.

Let's go over to the opposite corner at the top, the squares...

Before we get started on the checkerboard, we need to fill in the primitive scrolls, or parentheses or whatever you call them.  They are the fence that will keep the two motif fields separated.  I used the bright blue, and echoed it at the bottom, surrounding the big flower.

 I used the lightest pink for the background and the darker for the grid lines. Where the lines intersect, I hooked brown.  This mimics where the artist would paint with glaze and there would be two layers as the lines meet, making the corners a little darker.

There is nothing tricky about the checkerboard.  It is much easier that the diamonds. Hook the dark lines and interrupt them with the brown, two rows of each.  Then hook a row of the lighter pink next to the darker line all the way around the periphery of each square. Then fill in.  Trying to turn too many corners may warp the straight lines, so don't be afraid to cut each strip as you get to the end of a row.

The way I hooked it is very subtle.  You can dress it up by hooking the background in white, giving it more contrast.  Or here is a sample from pottery where extra dots and lines are added.

Let's talk about dots and circles a bit.  Beginners have a hard time with the concept of working on a square grid and hooking curves and circles.  It is not so much about putting a round peg in a square hole as it seems.

How do you make a small dot?  A really small dot..like a accent of light in an eye, or a tiny spot on an animals fur.  Use a narrow strip and hook just the two ends, leaving them a little long.


Then twist them together and cut them to the length you want.

How about a little bigger dot....


We want to hook a triangle around the center hole of the circle.  Think of it as a clock face with the center left open. 


 Start at 4 o'clock, turn and hook a loop at 8 o'clock and at 12 o,clock and finish by bringing the end out at 4 o'clock again. Remember to turn your work or your hand so that the hook is pointing into the center like the hands of the clock.  This makes a little bigger dot as it is or it can be the beginning of a circle like the center of the flower.

To continue to make the circle larger, hook another row around it.  I am using another color just to better demonstrate the second row.

Hook this row close to the center to kind of nudge everythinginto place.  There is no formula, just try to make it as round as possible and be sure that your hook is turning around the circle to keep the loops running around the center.

So, that is how we hook a circle...from the inside out with as many rows as it takes to fill the area.  Now go ahead and hook the center of the flower.

The remainder of this rug is easy-peasy.  I used white as the background for the whole bottom.  The flower is simple outline in the 4-cut blue and fill.  I used turquoise to even out the patch of clouds on the other side.  The leaves just touch the edges of the blue around the flower.  If you want to use another color as the background around the flower, you certainly can.

Moving to the right, I kept with the beautiful blue on the white field.  The six little brushmarks are hooked just the same was as the paisley forms on the pumpkin's cheek.

The little grouping under his chin can be anything you want.  I did stay away from the dark orange in any of the background since I think of it as the pumpkin skin.  But, you see I did use a drop of the lighter orange.

The last motif in the bottom corner lets you show off how round you can hook a circle now. 

So looks like you are done!


   That one little initial that makes this rug yours, only yours!

I have had a great time doing this rug.  Hope you are enjoying it as well.  

Happy Halloween!

Hasta la Vista!




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Talavera Tutorial 4

Laura Kenyon


So how is everyone doing?  I have had comments from a few who is way ahead of the group and are anxious to move on..you know there is always a couple overachievers in the group.  So, let's see what you have done.  Please email a photo to seasiderug@gmail.com and I will post it for the world to see!

I guess we are ready to start on the background.  I hesitate to say background, maybe we will just talk about the designs around the pumpkin, since there isn't a solid block anywhere to be found.

In case you haven't noticed, the pumpkin has a lot going on..all kinds of action and color. We have to take it down a notch and calm down the periphery to keep the emphasis on Senor Pumpkin.  If we keep the same action in the area around the pumpkin, it confuses the eye of the viewer as to where to look first. To avoid that there are several things we can do. Two are in the design itself. First, make the motifs around the pumpkin simpler.  For instance, the diamond design is repeated but in a larger scale.  The same scale is used for the checked field. The two lower corners have simple bold designs, no fussy details.  Secondly, the fields themselves are larger.  Around three of the four sides there are only four design fields.  Compare that to how many different patterns are in the pumpkin.  The third way to emphasize the pumpkin is in the color planning.  We have to make the contrast a little more subtle in the design fields. I will use  the lightest rose, the light turquoise, white as the background in some of the fields.  The periphery  of the rug is the perfect spot to use some of the beautiful blue and white design elements seen in the pottery.  

So let's start with blue and white at the top...what are those curved lines supposed to be?


Do these photos help them make sense?  They are brush strokes, and deep blue on a white background is definitely the way to go.

Let's start.The idea is to make them look like commas with one rounded and fatter end where the brush is put down then tapering, like a flick of a paintbrush.  Here is the how it will look.


Now how to get there...


For each brushstroke we will start at the fat end.  For the small short strokes,the fat end is actually just the end and the first loop side by side then turn to make the curve for two or three loops.  Then end the comma point by turning the end 90 degrees from the loops.To make the fat end more pronounced bunch up a couple loops then turn to make the curve as shown in the second photo.

Go ahead and hook the next comma in front of it.  It will look a little crowded, but when you put just one row of white between them, magic happens.



Let's move over to the right corner, the diamonds.  Diagonal lines a little tricky, just keep reminding yourself to turn your hand so the hook is perpendicular to the line you are hooking.  I chose the soft lightest rose for both of the top corners for the backgrounds.  The diamond grid is in the darker,softer green.

Start with the diagonal lines.Diagonals can be a little tricky.  Just be sure that your hook is perpendicular to the direction you are hooking.They are always going to be a little bumpy until you can smooth them in with rows next to them.


Now, go ahead and hook one row of the light rose against the pumpkin.  Then go ahead and hook a row on either side of the green. Depending on how thick your wool is,the sharp points at the top and bottom of the diamonds are a little tight to fit in a loop.  To avoid pushing the diamonds out of shape, I started and stopped a strip in those corners. The two ends fit in there just perfectly.


Then, just go ahead and fill in the diamonds.  Not too tight...just keep that diagonal theme going.

Here is an option if you want to do a little improvising.  Often the diamonds will have little dots inside them.  You might want to add them to your work.


 Are you up for one more design field?  How about the clouds under the diamonds?  As I was designing the piece I had in my mind what I expected it to look like.  The clouds had to be done in the two shades of turquoise.  So, just grab the darker shade and hook the outlines...


and fill them in.  


To avoid getting carried away, hook the arch below the field.  I used the brown in two rows.  Then hook the light turquoise following the curve of the arch, interrupting it only for the dark as it abuts the arch.  Same thing with a line on the edge of the rug.  Hook one straight line to keep the edge even, then fill up to that line.  As you fill each cloud try to keep the motion of the curves and angles.

 Well, that should keep you busy for a little while.  

I am off to the Green Mountain Guild's Hooked in the Mountains show in Burlington, VT next week.  Stop by and meet Laura and me in the Seaside booth.  I'll be the one frantically trying to stay ahead of you all and finishing my Senor Pumpkin.


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Talavera Tutorial 3

Laura Kenyon3 comments

Say the title three times fast.....A little tongue twithter.

Welcome back!

What do you want to do first?  Start easy or get the harder part over first?  If you said the harder part follow me, if you want to start a little slower today, scroll down to the chin flowers…

The scallops, or shingles, or whatever you’d like to call them.... This motif is seen on the pottery often, but monochromatic. That’s just a tidbit that you can use as you choose your colors. I obviously didn’t keep it traditional.

Look at the section for a second. The area under the eye is a fairly regular pattern, but the scallops drawn on the curve of the top of the pumpkin make you think. Don’t overthink it, I’ll tell you why in a minute. Start at the top by the stem. Hook the small patch, being sure to hook up to but not on the line. Now use the 4-cut to outline the bottom of the patch. Then hook the patches under your outline, and again, outline them. In the same way, work down to complete the area over the eye. Fill in around your patches with the outline, you might need a few extra loops here and there to fill them in like cobblestones.

So why did I say, don’t overthink it? The viewer’s eye will take over and see the same scallops in this area as the area we are about to hook more carefully. Really. Now that you know that secret, it’s not fair to go back and look at my hooked piece because you know what you are looking for. But I bet when you looked at it the first time you never thought, ”What sloppy hooking in that top area!”

Working below the eye we are going to start at the bottom of the section and we are going to hook scallops. Start on the bottom row of complete scallops, not the bits and pieces just above the lip. Hook a nice round bottom and straight sides, turning your hand or your work to keep the loops turned the way you want them. And be sure to hook in a loop or two ends into a point at the top of the scallop between the two scallops above it. After that line of scallops is done, you can go back in and fill the little pieces under it.

Finish your scallops working your way up. By going up, the top row of scallops will be a little more prominent that the row below it and the points won’t stick up. At least that is the theory. I still haven’t said anything about outlining and here is here you can really tweak your work. With the 4 cut, you can really get your scallop edges in line and fill in little spots that need it. Tweak a little and you are done.

Not so much? OK, if all else fails I’ll give you a way out. No one is going to measure the with of your loops to be sure they are all exactly 8-cut, that is 8/32 of an inch. If you are having a hard time and just can’t get the perfection you are aiming for, trim a little off the width and you will have more flexibility to get the loops where you want them to go. But don’t tell anyone I said that.

Chin flowers- ready to end on an easy spot.   Outline and fill. I used the lighter and darker shades of turquoise and rose with the one yellow green flower in the middle. That gives me the requisite 3 areas using the yellow green on the pumpkin.

There are 5 flowers but notice that 4 of the five are right next to each other so it isn’t as easy as just hooking every other flower a different color. Of course, you can make them all the same color.

  I filled in the patch on the right with pumpkin orange again. The curved stripes can be left until you see where you need to add color or go ahead and hook them in.

Done. Your pumpkin is done! Have you named him /her? Drop a comment to tell us how it’s going. We can learn from each other.

Keep on hookin’



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Talavera Tutorial 2

Laura Kenyon1 comment

Welcome back. Either you are a procrastinator and would rather read about hooking than getting your frame out, or you are looking for more punishment trying to follow my directions…  :)

So far, we have the face hooked in and the two sides of the pumpkin.  Let’s start into the middle sections.  If we were to number them 1 to 6 from left to right, I mean section 4, the wavy line.

 Hook two rows for the wavy line.  Notice how I turned the loops to make a sharp tip to the wave.


And choose your colors to surround the wave. Hook  a line next to the dark rib  outline to keep the blue line straight then fill in around the wavy line.  I chose the oranges and turquoise to bring the colors of the outside of the pumpkin into the interior of the rug.

  One of the "rules" in color planning is to spread a color around by using it  in at least 3 places on a rug.  So now we have used the oranges in 3 patches in Sections 1, 4, and 6  which is pleasing to the eye. 

Now how about starting that fancy pink stuff in Section 5. I used the three shades of rose.  I wanted a quieter area for the eye to rest. If I were to hook it again I would  use a stronger contrast in values.  The values I had were too close.

Here we go starting with the diamond pattern.  Hook a short strip in the corners of the diamond  to elongate and accent the points. I used the darkest shade.

pink diamonds     pink diamonds

   Then using the lightest shade, hook the diamond.  Try to keep it symmetric with the same number of loops on all four sides.  As you can see the loops are not tight.  The next step shapes the diamond by hooking around it.  Again, the trick is to hook that first row close to the lighter pink to give it a sharp edge.  Notice how that strip curves to cinch the sides of the diamond. 

.  Notice how that strip curves to cinch the sides of the diamond.  Go ahead and finish all the diamonds and one row around each.  Then fill in the rest of the background. 


 Take care not to try to pack too many loops into the spots left.  The diamonds and even the rib lines will be distorted.  The diamond pattern can easily get a little tight. This is why we hooked the two sections next to this section first.  The hooking around it helps to corral in this section. 

How does it look? The photo shows the contrast in values better than the rug itself.  As, I got farther into the sections around it, that area did not look quiet like I had planned.  It looked flat out dead. The values were too close, so I had to go  back and lightly outlined the diamonds.


  You won’t have to do that if your color choices were better than mine.

That section was a toughie.  Let’s go back to a little easier area and it’s time to introduce a new color, the bright yellow green.  Let’s use that to hook the big curvy line in Section 3.  Hook two rows.  Slip in a few loops of color to suggest little flowers and leaves  in the smaller motifs, outline around them if you like and pick a color for the background. I choose the dark rose because it is the same value as the pumpkin so it does indeed recede into a background and doesn’t fight with the bright line.

Let’s continue to use that yellow green.  Go up to the shoulder patch.  That looks like a good place to put in a patch of light.  The motif in that patch and again in the lower right corner is seen over and over in the pottery, and it is usually in blue.  So, I used the yellow green as background and the brighter blue for the motif.

  Hook what you like in the stripes near the stem, or even better, leave them open to see where you might need a certain color as more of the rug is finished.


Enough for today?  We will tackle that tricky last section and the flowers on the chin next time.

Chin up!


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Talavera Tutorial

Laura Kenyon1 comment

Did you see the new Halloween pattern called Talavera pumpkin?  The pattern is inspired by the colorful Mexican pottery.  I couldn’t wait to hook it myself so I thought it would be fun to do a tutorial.


I’ll go through it over the next few weeks and you can join me to hook as we go, or just read along.  If you are new to hooking, this might give you a little comfort that you can ask questions as we go. Maybe pick up a hint you might want to try. Or chime in if you know a better way. That is what the comments section is for.

OK, first things first.  I am hooking in an 8 cut for most of it.  I  used a 6 cut for the dark blue outline of the pumpkin and the ribs  Some of the fine outlines are in a 4 cut in dark blue, but don’t panic, not that much.  If you don’t have a number 4 cutter wheel, you could cut the number 8 strips in half by hand. You may decide that you don’t even need the fine outlines.   I’m using colors and the outline technique to mimic  the pottery.

talavera dishmexican talavera pot

Here are the colors:  Bright blue, dark blue, yellow orange, orange, green yellow, yellow green, medium green, very light, light and medium rose, light and medium turquoise, medium warm brown, black, and white (or natural).

I dyed the pieces that I didn’t already have in my stash.  If you would like to know a dye recipe, leave a comment. Now, I didn’t sit down and color plan the whole rug. I don’t usually work that way.  I just picked a palette and started hooking. I just hope I don’t hook myself into a corner as I go.

So let’s get started…

The rule for hooking portraits is to do the eyes first. I don’t follow the rules but it’s nice to know them.  Anyway, this is so not a portrait but it is fun to see him smiling back at you as you hook. So we’ll start with black to “Cut out” the jack-o-lantern eyes and nose with sharp straight edges.

Hooking the eyes


  For beginners, remember to start the outline inside and  not directly on the drawn line, then fill in the area.  If you hook on the line, it will actually make the eyes half a strip width bigger.

Then “paint” around them with white. The best way to get a sharp edge is to hook the first white strip very close to the black so the loops hold each other tight.  Then onto the mouth.  Because of the teeth,  I found it easier to hook the white first and then fill the black.


I hooked the stem and the leaf next, just because it is simple outline and fill.  To outline the pumpkin and the ribs, I used the dark blue in a 6 cut I think an 8 cut strip might have been to prominent especially hooking the ribs.  Notice that I didn’t hook a border around the white. I don’t have a good reason except that I think there is enough contrast without it. 


So, like I said, I didn’t color plan ahead, but I sort of knew where some colors were going.  Because I saw the scroll needing to be the lighter orange color,I started on the farthest rib on the left.  I know everyone else in the world would start at the right since we read from right to left.  Maybe because I’m left handed, I started on the left. Hook the scroll in the lighter orange. Two strips fit perfectly.  Then outline the scroll in 4 cut, setting it close. I hooked the leaf in the yellow green with a dark green stem. The flower half is dark rose with the yellow green center.  Then outline in the blue.  I know, now I am really backward, filling then outlining.  But the outline is so flimsy in the 4 cut that the outline got pushed all around when I tried to hook inside it. 

The exception is before filling in the pumpkin in that rib, I hooked the outline of the shoulder motif. Now to fill in around the motifs and finish that rib.  Hook  one row all the way around the inside of the 6 cut borders to keep them nice and straight, then fill at will.

  Now let's go to the section on the opposite edge of the pumpkin. Turquoise was chosen for the “flags” above because I planned to use turquoise on the big field to the left of the pumpkin.  That design reminds me of clouds.

flags on left edge

To balance the two shades of orange in the first section, hook the big zigzag in the light orange as well, and use the pumpkin color for background. 

zig zag     contour of paisley tip

I accented with a little more turquoise on the paisley designs.  One word for beginners. To hook a tight curve, either turn your hand or your frame so the hook is perfectly perpendicular to the direction you are hooking.   To contour at the tip of the paisley, or to fill a skinny space, turn your loop 90 degrees to the direction of your hooking.

Finished paisley

That is enough for now.  We’ll tackle some of the trickier ribs next time.  I’ll give you a few days to catch up.


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