Put a Twinkle in their Eye

Debra Walland

Ever wonder how some portraits of people or animals look so alive?  It's all in the eyes.  A little trick to engage your viewer is to put a little highlight in the eyes.  After all, eyes are rounded,and shiny, and reflect a little something in any light.

So how do you make that happened with yarn or wool strips....a dot of a light color.  I almost always use white.  Sometimes it is a tail, a loop, and a tail.  Smaller eyes may need just two tails. Leave both ends long, twist them together to make a single dot, then cut it.  Here are some examples. Hope this little tip helps!                                               


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Just use a Simple Photo Frame

Debra Walland1 comment
How to frame a small hooked piece sewing it over an acid free mat card and placing it in a photograph frame.

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How to Sell Your Work

Debra Walland
So, let me tell you how I have been successful (so far) selling my work for what I consider a fair price. I do not try to sell the big ticket items, but I make small pieces....

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Landscapes and Light

Laura Kenyon

I love to hook a great landscape.  To me it is as if I am painting with wool.  I was never a great painter and the use of wool that can be pulled out and changed is the perfect medium for me.  A landscape can be as easy or hard as you want to make it.  

The easiest way is just to hook the picture without much thought given to the issue of light.  This is a perfectly good way to hook a landscape. I have absolutely enjoyed hooking this way and a rug comes out beautiful. You do not need me to read any further if you like to hook this way just trust your instincts and hook away.

If you do want to delve a little deeper, I want to discuss the use of light to increase complexity into your  art. The things to consider are where are you standing if you were in the picture, what time of day is it, what time of year is it and finally where is the light coming from?  If you can take a few moments and ponder those questions. You will have a successful picture.

 Most patterns will make the decision of where you might find yourself standing easy, as that is the perception of the artist, who designed the pattern.  You see the landscape as from where the artist is standing. If you are designing our own pattern think about the light as you design.

Where is the light coming from?  Is it behind you? If the light is at your back the brightest images will be  all the front angles of the objects. Is the light hitting you in the face, in front of you?  The lighter images are more complicated now. Where would the light show through and where would images be in shadow? Coming over the back of the images?  Or is the light from the side? There is a shine from that side of all images. Once you decide the direction do not be afraid to draw lines on the pattern showing the origin of the light to remind yourself as you hook.

I am using the image of a covered bridge and will show you the different ways in which the light would impact the bridge. 

I am using the image of a covered bridge and will show you the different ways in which the light would impact the bridge. 

Light from the Front of the Bridge 

I am standing right in front of the bridge.  The light is behind me. So the light would not show on the back side of the roof.  Every other angle of the bridge would have some light. The front corner would have the most light and then it would scan out darker in both left and right.   The front of the trees will be lighter than the sides. Think everything being lighter from front to back. 

 In this photo the light is still coming from the front of the bridge,but I am standing to the left side.I am standing to the left of the bridge. This light would again reflect brightest on the front of the bridge with the archway.  The trees would be brightest on the left side and then scan darker left to right of the picture. Unless there is an image not shadowed by something in the picture. Say the top of the back tree.


Light from the Right Side

I am standing to the right of the bridge.  The light is coming from the right. This light would reflect against the side of the bridge with the front being in shadow.  The water would be brightest on the right and the images would again get darker from right to left.



 Here is the light source I used.  I am standing in front of the bridge however the light is coming from the back. The covered bridge is in the shadows.  The light would reflect behind the bridge not in front. The light scans from back to front. You have to think 3-D for this light source more than the other options given.  This is "Babb's Bridge" designed by Jackye Hansen.  It is in the Landscapes and Seascapes pattern collection. Or just search it on the website search.


Now it is your turn. Go back and look at your pattern. Go through the same process as I described but think in three dimensions; height, length, and width.  Draw in shadowing and make notes so you can go back and hook without  rethinking the process. 

The most important part of hooking a piece is to take the time to “see” the picture before you hook.  That is the hardest part.  You do not have to have the complete rug planned, but you do need to know where you are going with it. If there is a tree or path you can’t “see” do not worry it will come to you as you hook. Also remember that if you don’t like it you can always change it.  As I said at the beginning, I am no painter but with the versatility of wool I can be an artist.  You can too!

Laura Kenyon

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Hooking like a Post Impressionist Artist

Laura Kenyon3 comments


I thought it would be fun to explore some post-impressionism art, especially the use of color and the use of the brush strokes to capture the feeling of the artists of that period in wool.

The art Post-Impressionism era was in the late 1800 to early 1900’s.  Some of the most notable artists would include Cezanne, Van Gogh, and Seurat. These artists rejected the realistic use of color and small brush strokes of the impressionistic painters of Monet and Renoir. 

Post-Impressionists continued to use vivid colors and used a thick application of paint.  These artists distorted both the images and included an arbitrary use of color. The sunflowers below were painted by Van Gogh. Notice the wide brush strokes.

Van Gogh's sunflowers

This is my interpretation drawn by Janet Conner


How do we translate this artistic style to rug hooking? The areas to discuss are width of strip, use of color, and use of light.

First the easiest way to translate the wide brush strokes would be with the use of a wide cut of wool.  A wider cut is preferred for the translation of brush strokes but a smaller cut with be fine to translate the color use of post-impressionism.



This is the most challenging part of a piece.  You can basically use ALL COLORS or few colors in the overall completed rug. While you do not need to decide on everything pick one or two main colors.  I took each motif separately and hooked as if it were the only image on the canvas.  Flowers can be hooked in one base color natural colors but there is a variation and “poison” used in each image.  Use a lot of color.  Take your color wheel and go to an extreme analogous range of that base color.

As an example I have chosen the image of my rug Autumn Bloom rug, designed by Jane McGown Flynn, a Honey Bee Hive pattern. Note that each flower is different but linked.  This is by design in the use of varied colors and “poison”.


The colors used for the Echinacea went from red to just shy of green, basically halfway around a color wheel. Here is the helpful hint: use the concept; light, bright, dark and dull. Also use spots and solids.  You will use many colors and it is a great use of all the small pieces we have in our stash.  This gives a large image life.

The Chinese Lanterns use orange, yellows, and purple(veins). The large leaves belong to the Chinese Lanterns and are a yellow green with a few other colors added for effect.  The other leaves are intentionally hooked darker to recede into the background.

The bottom flower was completed last as a Mum type of flower.  As I had worked the purple side of the color wheel for the Echinacea I went with analogous purple to orange(peach) for the Mum.  Notice that this flower is not really defined but the color catches the eye not the light placement or detail.

The next step to consider is the light placement.  Use all your training from fine shading and incorporate it in these motifs.  The difference here is that you are not concerned with the color but the value.  If you want the light to show use a light value on the top pedal under it dark value.  The color does not matter. This is where you can have fun or go crazy.  Let your creative side flow.   Every once in awhile put a strange color in just for the fun of it.

As one last note on color.  Incorporate the colors in more than one motif so your eye will flow from one motif to another.  I used the dark red and orange in all the flowers.  You will also see the leaves have the same brown veins. 

The hardest part was to choose a background.  I went from a peach with a little wash of dark peach to this combination of blue. I found a Van Gogh painting that had a medium dark background against a medium dark painting.  It was perfect.  The image I wanted to convey was dappled shadows.  It took a true solid background to make the motifs stand out.  It also took larger “brush strokes” to calm down the movement.

My final piece ended up all color.  You could absolutely make it anything you want. Just be creative...

And have fun!





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USA50 - Would you like to contribute?

Debra Walland1 comment
The USA50 project is to send hooked a hooked pillow from every state up to a historic church in Canada for their hard wooden pews.  The church is being used as a performance venue and museum...long performances get uncomfortable, hence the pillows.  It is our gift to the church celebrating its 200th birthday.

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Vintage postcards - What is a pareel anyway?

Debra Walland

Laura and I went "Pickin'" a few months ago and  went into a used book shop near the University of Rhode Island. In the back was an old library card catalog (remember those) filled with old postcards.

We found one of the chapel where my brother and sister in-in-law were married in Watch Hill, RI.  That immediately was put in their anniversary card this year.

We found tons of old photos of Europe and faraway places as well as local ones of the area.

And then we found the holidays.  I guess it was common to send postcards the way we send or used to send greeting cards at holidays.  Now, it is often just a quick text message.  I still send cards.  Anyway...

We found some lovely art on these cards. This one a Christmas card  from Dayton, OH to a friend in Detroit.  Postmarked Dec 21,1916-- They must have had better mail service then.  The family wrote a lovely note about how they would love to see their friends' Christmas tree, but they were going to another family's house this year. They wrote how they hoped Santa would be good to them.  The sentiments haven't changed. And a pareel is an old word for parcel that comes from the Dutch.  That explains the little Dutch boy wrapping the gift.

I thought it would make a lovely piece of wall art, or pillow for the season.  If you have a porch at the front door so it doesn't get wet, how nice to hang it on gold braid instead of the usual wreath.Here is the pattern.  You'll find it in the Christmas section or the New Patterns.


I thought I would post a few more of the Christmas cards we found.  Maybe you will see those as patterns sometime as well.

Oh, If you are wondering about copyright rules.  Old cards like these are not copyrighted by the publisher and as long as you own the card, you may use it.

Hope you enjoyed this little preview of Christmas ---the Season is coming upon us quickly.  

But first,

Happy Thanksgiving from Laura and me,


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The Three Amigas Challenge

Debra Walland
Three punkinheads decided to do a challenge.  Three different ways to hook the Talavera Pumpkin, just in time for Halloween and the Day of the the Dead.

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How to talk about Color

Debra Walland
Defining the words we use to describe color

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Teachers for 2020 at the Eastwood School

Debra Walland

Here is a quick summary of our teachers.  Details are under the Eastwood School tab in the main menu.  Hope you can join us!

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