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Thursday Had A Lot To Give

One element from the old IRgC that has not been installed and tested on our new site is the Giveaway feature.  Consequently, wouldn’t you agree with me that it is high time we give that feature a go?

Therefore, today’s post is our first Giveaway of 2019.

Actually, it’s 2 Giveaways – 1/2 yard of this dump dye, to two people who enter, by making a comment on today’s post.  You have until 8 PM Sunday evening to make your comment.  At that time, I will close the comment options and have the system choose 2 winners.  Their names will be announced in Monday’s post.  If you are having trouble thinking of what to comment, why note tell me how you are getting along with the new site?

Thursday found me hosting a 3rd Thursday hook-in at the studio.  In all candor, the CA weather was miserable – cold and rainy.  That is like 6” of snow for us.  Only 7 hearty fiber enthusiasts braved the wet streets to come.  Even so, we had a good time.

As one local had ordered some needle  punch yarn

I had her order ready and on display in one of my spare punch bowls.   I liked the look so much that I may have to make more of this yarn in the future.

By request, a tutorial on shaped proddy flowers was on Thursday’s schedule.

One student offered to do most of the prep work for the easiest flower in my repertory:

The Dahlia.  Of course, the hardest part of this flower is all that prep work.  Sixteen inch long strips of #10 cut wool have to be divided into 4 pieces each, then all those ends need to be trimmed to a gently curving point.

The first step of actual hooking requires the tails of 3 pieces be brought up on three holes.

The tails of the first piece go in holes 1 and 2.  The tails of the second piece go in oles 2 and 3.

The tails of piece three go in holes 3 and 1.  That puts 2 tails in each hole.

After that, a ring of tails is prodded around the center.  That really defines the “roundness” of the shape.  These yellow photos are from my out of print Proddy book.  They show up better than the dark purple wool we actually used on Thursday.  Even so, you can easily see that the center, with one surrounding row, quickly brings all spiky tails into a nice, round, Dahlia shape.  

I like 3 complete rows of tails around the center to make a full flower.

That is exactly what we got.

Besides proddy, everyone kept busy.

Each of us tried to get our project whipped into shape.

We also had a scissor fob show and tell from Gretchen, as we intend to have an interest center for making these at the big Hook-In in March.  Since all present voted “aye,” I guess we will be making scissor fobs in March!

How Little Is Too Little

**Site update:  Most aspects of our site update seem to be working very well with the exception of the fact that some of our members have been either kicked off because the site thought their membership had lapsed or because old site account information (or lack thereof) did not jive up precisely with the what the new site thought it should be.  (Some long time members are actually in our system more than once because of changed emails or because they have registered more than once.  The site has trouble sorting that kind of thing out.)  While many have been able to circumvent problems by following Bill’s Log In tutorial on the front page of the IRgC, others have contacted either Marsha or Bill directly – which is certainly fine to do.  You can write us any time.  Both Bill and Marsha have been burning the mid night oil to make sure any flagged accounts get sorted correctly in such a way as to mitigate this sort of thing in the furture.  The good thing about any problem is that it allows us to identify a problem and get it fixed.  So, should you find yourself locked out – don’t panic  just write  Marsha.  We will get it sorted as quickly as we can.  Thank you for being patient with us as we try to get everything set up.  Once all systems are completely go, it should make everyone’s lives easier!  That will also allow us to move on to other new developments that we have in store for the site.  

Once again, thank you!

Question for the day:

A fairly new rug hooker recently asked me to report on how small a strip can be and still be OK to hook.  My sense, from her question, is that she wants to know how little is too little to put in a rug.  In other words, if one hooks a strip so small it makes loop or two, will it be enough of a strip to stay in place once the rug is on the floor?

That’s a very good question and my answer often shocks my students.

1.  A single tail is never a good idea as it probably won’t stay in place – at least in a floor rug. Should someone slide their foot on a rug with a single tail sticking out, that slide could remove the tail.  Using a rug as a surf board on a slick wooden floor might even  create enough friction to pull out a tail from the underneath side.  Soooooo, never leave just a tail.

That said:

2.  I often DO leave two tails in one little spot.  Notice the center of the little cat’s paw?  That little spot of dark is just tail #1 in one hole, with the other end brought up from the back as tail #2 in the hole next to it.  The strip is in a “U” shape around one thread of the backing.  In this spot, a tail, a loop and a 2nd tail would be too much color – I just wanted a high (or low) light glint!  Hence, 2 tails – one in each of 2 holes.


If your are wondering about the need for such a small spot of color, I can prove my case.  Don’t you think the 2 tone spot (above) looks nicer or more interesting


Than this little single colored spot?  While this is fine, it might look better with a hint of another color or value.  Even as I would like it, I don’t put a 2-tone look in the middle of every little cat’s paw as that would look a little too expected.  Therefore, only put two tails in some.


While this shot shows another small cat’s paw with a second color, I am really showing it now to highlight the pink center section of the tear dropped shape center of the gold motif on the right.  That pink spot was created by a tail, 2 loops and a second tail.  That’s not a very big strip but it makes all the difference in the world as to the look of the teardrop.  The spot of pink makes it pop.


Why fill any little spot with just one color when you can fill it with a spot that creates a two-toned look.  As long as you put a small entry into a spot with enough hooked background support, those little bits will not only stay but call attention to the area.

Little bits of the right colors can make the difference in the world.

One of the things I like about the Problem Persian is that I am able to use all sorts of little bits.  You can change colors in a background in two ways:

1. Use a wool that is heavily spotted or

2. Use lots of different colors and values in small amounts. Besides creating highlights, lots of bits make an area shimmer.

I found a secondary use for my new drafting chair

It gives me a perch to sit on when working on the wall of wool.  I spent part of Wednesday sorting everything as, eventually, I have to dye up a lot more to fill it!  At least now, I know which colors I will need to make.

I also used the chair to sort the other wall of wool.  Wednesday’s effort centered on choosing and tying up wool I need to dye for projects (like the Biennial) later in the year.  If I don’t set it aside now, I would probably use it for something else and then have to order more.

When my legs are ready to dye, I can now do so with abandon.

It was a good feeling to get everything sorted out (after all my fall trips) and ready for the new year.  

Just So You Know

As can be expected, I have not been too happy about the 3 days of interruption we have had over the last 4 months. Consequently, to ward off other problems down the road, Buddy has been doing a complete site migration/upgrade which should move us to a new level of uninterrupted service. Although you won’t have to do anything to “make the switch,” we do anticipate that this will improve our site. At the same, we will also make some other changes.

As of today, I have the database built, the site has been migrated to the new server and the blog has been moved although you won’t actually be posting there until it goes live. This week, all the IRgC users are getting set up on the new system and I’m getting the new video player up and running. I am hoping to have it all be functional by next weekend. Buddy

Straight But Not Narrow

While borders are never as exciting as most other design elements in a rug, they are rather important.  In fact, the border on the Problem Persian is so important that I can’t proceed to the 4th corner until the border goes in.

There are two main reasons for that:

1.  Anytime you employ a background fill that has a lot of movement, like the anti-godlin style hooking I will use between the 4 corners and the central medallion, a strong border needs to go in first.  Think of busy hooking fill, which moves here and there, as being like a herd of unruly cows.  If there isn’t a strong border (i.e. fence) all that movement will push against the outer edge, causing the straight lines to wobble.  If the straight lines (and enough of them) go in first, they will hold all that other movement in check.  If the movement goes in first, it tends to push the straight edge around when it tries to come in after the fact.  So, before I get to corner #4, I want that straight edge border well in place and wide enough to keep everything in check.

2.  Given all the problems with re-drawn lines that this piece has, my last “check” on corner placement is an eye ball check.  I’ll judge the final accurateness of the drawn lines against how they stack up against the hooked border. This will require me to evaluate everything, by eye, based on how the other 3 hooked corners relate to their edges.  In other words, the rest of the rug is sitting pretty good.  I’ll hook the border, then make corner #4 sit “good” against it too.

For example, I can already tell the re-drawn red line on the left comes right next to the last dark red hooked border row.  If hooked  the way it is drawn, that line will be closer to the dark red than on the other 3 corners.  Hence, that red pattern line will have to be backed over to the right just enough to be hooked and then surrounded by one more row of dark red fill.

See what I mean?  That gold line (it’s drawn as the red line in the previous photo) never touches the straight hooked red border row.  In some sections there is just an outline row … others about 2 rows, up to 4 rows.

The re-draw for this corner is ALMOST right, but not exactly.  I will base all the hooking of those scrolling red lines (which will be hooked gold) against where it’s supposed to sit in relation to the straight dark red hooked row, as compared to the other rows.  It’s a bench mark for me.  I gave up, long ago, of having 4 perfect corners, opting instead for 4 very similar corners that are set, balanced, in each corner.  When the border is hooked, I will be ready to attack that last corner.

Here is a new addition to the studio – a drafting chair for my light box.

Since bone spurs on my heel just required me to spend one month with a leg in a cast, I am trying to find all sorts of ways to lessen the amount of time I have to stand on concrete.  Even though I have been pretty good about standing on rubber foot pads, that has not been good enough.  Hopefully, this new set up will allow me to do most of my pattern drawing while seated!

Five Point Star

Joanne asked me, some time ago, to do a tutorial on how to make a 5 point star.  She had seen me demonstrate this technique somewhere but couldn’t remember the particulars.  I would like to say that it is my original idea but, alas, that is not the case as I got it from Kris Miller.  Since crediting her during other demonstrations, I have been given the name of other teachers who may have come up with the idea.  Even though I can not state with certainty where it came from, it is a great little thing to put in your hooking bag of tricks.

I like using wide cuts for this technique – at least a 9 or more.  This demo is done with a #10 cut – 1/2 and inch wide.

If you need a visual, draw a little 5 point star on your backing.

Bring up the initial tail in the center of the star.

This is one of the few hooking moments when I prefer using a straight hook.  A straight hook helps set each of the 5 points/loops.

It is as easy and one loop, two loops

Three, four and five.

The final tail goes back to the middle with the first tail.

Working in a little background helps to straighten up and form the points of the star.  Once some background goes in, the straight shaft can be used to tweak the look of each point.

It is a great little technique for stars that are about one inch wide.

Moving Ahead

It’s been a busy weekend at the Internet Rug Camp.  If you are one of the special people who had trouble logging in, please know how much we appreciate your patience. Compared to other major IRgC updates, we actually had very few problems … unless you were one who had problems!  However, between webmaster Bill and Marsha, I think we got everyone sorted out.  

– To help people with log-in issues in the future, Bill has prepared a trouble shooting tutorial.  It’s located on the top banner of the Internet Rug Camp Home Page and is called:  

LOG IN ISSUES?  CLICK HERE.  While I can’t promise it will cover every issue that might come up, we think this tutorial will be a big help.  And, if it doesn’t work, contact Marsha.  

Also, once you get into the Internet Rug Camp (the page where there are buttons that say Blog, Videos, Patterns, etc.) there is a new button, on the bottom right of those green blocks, that says GENE’S RUGS.

It is a working button and you can click on Gene’s Rugs and see the images of some of my hooked rugs.  Eventually, I will get everything I have ever hooked on that section and try to keep it up to date.  However, the title is temporary as I want that section to be much more.  Eventually, I would like it to be a gallery of all the rugs I have hooked, every rug that anyone has made from one of my patterns, my wool, as well as rugs from other designers that my students have done in classes with me.  Obviously, this will be an optional gallery of rugs for those who want to participate.  However, I think it will be quite helpful, should someone want to hook Pickering Oak, Big Momma, Pomegrande or any of my patterns, to be able to see several versions of each pattern done by students in my classes.  While it is in the IRgC right now, I hope to eventually move it to my home page at geneshepherd.com so anyone can browse these rugs.  While you can go in and look now, it’s not ready as I have only added some rugs and not taken the time to identify them with particulars.  For now, take a look and let me know what you think about my idea to start voluntarily compiling a gallery of rugs we have worked on together.  

If that is not enough work for a one legged man, take a look at the hooking I did this weekend –

I got corner #3 of the Problem Persian hooked!  Although there is still quite a lot to do

Even I can tell that I am making progress.

If the Problem Persian is new to you, please know this is a rug that has given me problems for some time, hence the re-name.  There are even 3 videos about it on the IRgC.  Even though I refer to it as a “Problem,” I have always liked aspects about it.

#1.  I chose to hook it with, mostly, a #8 cut.  (The textured gold filigree lines are a #6.)  That’s an unusual approach for a Persian design.

#2. I love the colors I initially chose.

#3. I decided to basically hook it with all sorts of scraps.  While I do have some large pieces of wool I have saved back for this, it’s not just one color of green for the green sections – it’s several colors of green.  And, if I start running low on a specific piece, I just add in something else kind of close.

#3.  I am hooking most of it in an anti-godlin style.  i.e Higgledy piggly … or every which way.  That is pretty unusual for me, personally, yet that is the way I just started doing it, without forethought, 10 years ago when I started the rug.  Granted, I think some of my problems with the rug  have stemmed from this approach – I did it in the center and the corner medallions yet did not want to do it in the center background.  I have since determined that this style needs to be consistently used throughout the rug and have, therefore, taken out some of the other background fill I put in earlier but did not like.

#4.  The pattern is a hot mess.

Because the original pattern (a gift from Jane Olson) slipped when it was first drawn, I had to go back in and correct those errors in order for everything to turn out square.  (The black lines are original, the red ones are where they should have been.)  Although I carefuly made a good corner template from the original, all the original zigging and zagging was never a mirror image from one side of the design to the other.

That has caused me to

#5. Relax and just go with the flow.  I mollified myself by looking at lots of hand made woven Persians that are not perfectly symmetrical … convincing myself this feature will make mine look more authentic!

#6.  One way or another, I am going to get the rug hooked in 2019 and out of my studio!

Although I do use lots of different pieces of wool in each section, I basically ran out of any orangish red wool to keep the rug going.

Most people would find this orange-red wool to be an odd choice for a rug with so much deep magenta wool.  However, I like the mix, thinking the expeditious use of the orange is what makes the deeper red to pop and not be so monotonous.  (I think it makes the design shimmer.)  While I wasn’t concerned about perfectly matching the orange (multiple oranges have been used already) I did need something this weekend to dump into the mix.

So, based on a hunch (alas, there are no dye diary records on this) I dyed up several reds, hopeful that one or two would work.  (By the way, my Instagram posts are now featured at the bottom of the home page of the IRgC.  This is a photo I just used there.  Every so often I post something on both Instagram and Facebook as a way of making contact with new readers.  It’s just a peek into one photo of the kinds of things regular readers get on the IRgC.)

Happily, I found a couple of pieces that I think will work just fine.  Now, I have no excuse not to start on corner #4.

Don’t forget to look at the Log In tutorial, find the Instagram Feed and See the gallery called Gene’s Rugs … and let me know what you think.  i.e. How is Bill doing?

Approaching Normal

Thursday saw a couple of areas in my life approaching normal.

While I am still using my scooter for long hauls … and spent most of my day in a seated position with my foot in a raised position, I was able to wear a long pair of pants with both feet in a shoe today.  I even walked around a bit.  That is approaching normal!  Yes, I am being very careful and I am not going to overdo it BUT it is quite nice to feel like I am finally making progress in this area.

We also made some significant Internet Rug Camp progress on Thursday.  By “we,” I really mean new web master Bill.  Here is what Bill has done during the last few days:

1.  We have moved to a new server AND a new hosting system for the IRgC.  While that may not seem like a huge deal, moving everything to a new systems is, for something as complex as the IRgC.  Size matters, particularly when you are moving as much as we have to move.  Additionally, different systems don’t necessarily always jive up together with out some tweaking … and we have been doing a lot of tweaking this week to make every thing “fit.”  For example:  I have not done long blogs this week because we discovered, on Sunday night, that the site would only show one photo.  In fact, a couple of days, we were happy to even get up one photo … and nothing would go up on Wednesday night when I posted.  HOWEVER, systems are go now, and the complete (although short) blogs from this week have automatically loaded.  Please go back and read them so you don’t miss anything.

2. Although we started this last week, all IRgC videos are now hosted (played/run) by Vimeo.  We have already discovered that this new system works much better with computers, iPads and phones.

3. While some format changes to the site have already started taking place, many more are going to start happening now that the above mentioned foundational things have kicked in.  One such area is the free patterns section on the Internet Rug Camp.  Take a look at that and let me know what you think.

4.  We continue to expand the “Search” feature on the IRgC.

Thank you for your patience this past week.  Although we had hoped for no interrupted service on the IRgC during these changes, I have been doing this sort of thing long enough to know that changes are never as smooth as one wants.  That said, (while I knock on wood) this has been the least stressful  major update we have ever done.

For my part

I spent a chunk of time hooking on the Problem Persian.  This photo was taken in the early evening after spending much of the day at my frame.  This section is corner #3.  Corner #4 is to the right and has yet to be started.  I predict it will go easier than #3 since I had not worked on a PP corner motif in several years.  Now, work on the corner design is approaching normal.  I want to finish #3 and move straight on to #4 while everything is still fresh in my memory.  Once the four corners are done, that will only leave me with the central blank section between corners and the central medallion.

I also did a bit of dyeing on Thursday.

Dyeing is a stretch for me right now as my lame leg is not strong enough for me to lift big pots and pans of wool.  Nor can I stand very long fiddling with dye mixes and artistic applications to wool.  Consequently, I opted to test my sea legs on a couple of small pots of yarn.  It was a good start and I got through it.  However, I think I will wait a couple more days before I try again.

As a follow up to an earlier post from this week –

Vicki has already sent me an update on her Parrot Tulip rug.  I love the painterly way she is approaching this project.

Everything About Me Is Still Under Construction

Everything about me is still under construction.

While I guess a removable boot is better than a cast, I still can’t walk on my foot as my heel is still under construction!  

The Dr. says my foot is making progress BUT not ready to go.  And Bill says the web site is making progress BUT not completely ready to go!  However, I think Bill is making faster progress than my foot.  He thinks we have gotten over the hurdle today and that “normal” should soon be achieved.  

Let’s hope he is right.  

I worked on my patience factor, for both foot and IRgC, by sitting down to the Problem Persian.  Even I can see that I am finally making progress … and am capable of making progress.  At this point, while I work on the 2 blank corners

All I have to do is pay attention to the two corners that are done and end up with something close.  

Luckily, you can never have all 4 corners very close together!

Rolled Up

While I have been waiting on Bill to get some new changes to the Internet Rug Camp Rolled Up and installed, I too have been working on a box of cotton fabric that I set aside to rip, sew and roll during the month my foot has been in a cast.  On Monday, I pretty much got that project rolled up.  That is a good thing since I ANTICIPATE getting my cast off on Tuesday.  I also anticipate the Internet Rug Camp being upgraded and back to normal in the next day or so as well.  Anticipate is a good word since all site updates never go exactly as planned and most take more time than we expect.  Consequently, I’ll do just a short post each day until we get back to normal,  then come back with longer ones so we can make up time.  

Something To Crow About

**Bill is working on all aspects of the Internet Rug Camp – tweaking things, updating things and soon, migrating everything to a new server.  Should you have trouble accessing the site anytime in the next few days, just wait a while and try again.  We plan to keep down time to a minimum but, occasionally, might have some while we make these beneficial changes.  Thank you for your patience. 

I always enjoy a good report –

Hi Gene – I’ve got something to ‘crow’ about.

I finished the dump-dye rooster last week. I especially enjoyed rooting around in my wool stash to come up with fabric for the rooster. It was also fun to figure out how to use the large piece of dump-dye wool. Great project!

I’ve also moved on to the parrot tulips…more rooting around for fun color combinations.

Thanks for your help with the rooster!  Vicki Ray  

Dear Vicki – I love the way your rooster turned out.  You certainly do have something to crow about!   And, as for rooting around in your stash, that seems to be working quite well.  Of course, you do have a pretty nice stash of wool!

I am quite excited to see how you progress on the Parrot Tulips as it has always been my favorite Elizabeth Black design.  Of course, your version is bigger than Elizabeth’s original design as I would never want to hook this design that small and, therefore, increased the size when I started offering it.  You have hit on a “painterly approach” for this pattern and it is working quite well.  Using your stash, in a creative way, you can take this design almost anywhere.  We will need updates on this one!  

Well done – Gene

You would think, since I hosted a 1st Saturday Hook-In and ATHA meeting on Saturday, that I would have a lot of photos to post today.  However, with a studio full of people, i, along with my knee scooter, got boxed/trapped into a spot where I stayed the whole time.  You just can’t scoot when there is no free floor space!  Not that I needed to scoot as I was plied with croissants, scones, cookies and tea any time I wanted them.  It was actually a very nice way to spend a day.

Even so, I did manage to get a couple of shots.

Although she still has about 7 feet yet to hook, Sally is crowing about the way her big Barcelona runner is looking. I love her color choices.  Won’t this make a killer rug in her hallway?

Pam was also crowing about the bag she is holding, a recent gift from Shirley.  While several of our members had asked Pam for a digital photo of her hooked version of Dahlov Ipcar’s Leopard and Tiger for their files

Shirley used her copy to get a canvass bag made for Pam!  (I think I may send Shirley a few digital copies of rugs I have made.)  As most of us have seen regular reports on Pam’s progress as she hooked this rug, we really celebrate this new way to enjoy her work.

Trapped agains the wall, I kept my head down (when not conducting an ATHA meeting or answering hooking questions) and just hooked away on my Persian.

While it’s slow work, I’m still going to crow about any progress I can make.