Rookie Hooker Blog

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Hello fellow rug hookers!Julie Stamper here, and it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Lots of changes have happened at Bee Line Art Tools, so here’s a quick recap of what the busy bees have been up to!In August, I left Bee Line Art Tools for another job opportunity in our community, but I continue to hook in my free time. Shari Soltow, who has been in charge of customer service and helping me with everything for the past few years, took over as Customer Service Supervisor for Bee Line Art Tools and is now hooking! Yay! Isn’t she adorable!? Look at the rug she started!Since Shari and I started together when Bee Line took over Townsend Industries’ rug hooking business, she’s been involved from the beginning, and knows the equipment inside and out. She has spoken to many of you on the phone and through e-mail, and she attended the XXX Hook-in in Minnesota a couple of years ago and met a number of people in the Minnesota rug hooking community. She is very familiar with the ins and outs of both the cutting equipment and the frames, and can help you with any questions you may have about your Bee Line Art Tools Equipment.While I’m busy with my new position and my family, I still keep in touch with my friends at Bee Line, so you may occasionally see a blog post or something on facebook or twitter or pinterest from me on behalf of Bee Line, but Shari is your go-to gal on all things cutter.I’m still working on my Grannie’s Flower Garden rug – at Sauder I basically pulled all the wool out and started over, so hopefully over holiday break I’ll get a chance to do some hooking and can post progress pictures with my new colors!Hopefully you’ve all had a terrific year, and from the Bee Line family to yours, Happy Holidays!Julie

Getting in the Green

Friday, June 28th, 2013

I finally dove in to my green wool purchased from Janice Lee at The Rug Hooking Store, and I have to say that I’ve been pleasantly surprised.  When I walked into Janice’s shop to talk about background wools, I thought I would be going with a darker background.  The original Grannies Flower Garden photo has a dark background:

So I had this in my head. After I started talking to Janice, she took me down a lighter path, with the idea that my flowers are dark enough that they would be lost in a background that dark.  Janice pulled a lot of wool off of the shelves, but eventually I settled on my variety of greens.

As always, it was fun cutting.

I favor the #7 cassette in the Bee Line Art Tools Cutter.  This much wool got a TON of lint in my cassette, on my cutter, on my tote table, and all over my desk.

I sometimes wonder if I should be wearing a surgical mask to cut wool, since I’m sure my sinuses are packed with lint by the time I’m done!  As always, I cleaned out my cassettes with some canned air.  I know there are some people who are very against this, because they feel that canned air gets moisture on the cassettes, but as long as it isn’t the bottom of the can when actual liquid spits out, I think it’s fine.  I’d rather get my cassettes very clean, because having them packed with wool will make them stop working faster than a little moisture!

I started hooking in the background, and I was a little dubious, but the more of the wool I hooked in, the more I loved it.

Janice suggested that with my lighter flowers, I do an outline in a smaller cut wool. I did the green flower outline in a #4 cut, and I think it worked out nicely.

Now? I’m eager to get the rug finished and see how it looks!  Maybe by Sauder Village….

Green Acres...Of Wool

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

I’ve been at a bit of a stopping point with my Grannie’s Flower Garden rug because I didn’t know what to use as my background color.  I thought I could just happily hook along with the flowers and the background would come in a flash of inspiration.  It didn’t turn out that way.

So there I sat. Looking and not hooking.

In a stroke of good fortune, my parents traveled north from Texas to stay at their cabin in Nebraska, which is conveniently located just a couple of miles away from Janice Lee at Black Horse Antiques and The Rug Hooking Store.  Janice not only has a terrific store and is a Bee Line Art Tools Distributor, but she is also a fantastic color planner! Score!

Janice’s shop in Valley – darling place!
I popped in to see Janice last Saturday, and she immediately started pulling bundles of wool off of her shelves.

She tried some blues and some grays and some rose colored wool. Nothing was really “selling” me.

Until she started pulling greens off of the shelf.  It made sense to me that a garden would be on a green background.  However, it was a little tricky in that I had already hooked a number of the flowers, so if the background wool is too dark, the dark flowers disappear; too light, and the light flowers go away.  I ended up going with four different light-ish colors, and I cut them all up in my trusty Bee Line cutter with a #7.

I’m now ready to go through green acres of wool to get a background in my garden.

Thanks Janice!

Spring Has Sprung

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

It’s funny that after my post the other day, where I mentioned my lack of skills in color planning, I visited the Bee Line Facebook page and saw an article posted by another rug hooker about color planning.  I read the article, which was terrific, but didn’t save it.  I just went to Facebook to look it up, but after scrolling through my timeline for about 10 minutes, I gave up. However, a shout-out to the universe to whomever posted that wonderful color planning article, because it made me stop and think about my Grannie’s Flower Garden rug.

I actually dug through the wool I have and planned some color!  From the article I read, and from looking at the picture of a completed Grannie’s Flower Garden, I’m doing some triangular formations of color.

I’m sort of winging it, but I noticed in Nola Heidbreder’s hooked picture of this rug that there are definitive triangles of color… variations of blue/green, red/pink, red/orange…and they actually make the rug rather geometric.  My life seems to have so little order, it’s nice to feel like maybe there is some order in my rugs!

I do notice the centers of all of these flowers are the same, which lends some consistency.  I’m rather inconsistent, so my centers don’t match.  Here is what I have so far:

I have taped little bits of the wool I want to use for flowers, an idea I took from seeing other hookers do it.  It’s a great way to remind myself what I planned to go together, since my memory isn’t exactly the most reliable form of record!

I haven’t selected a background color for the rug yet. I know it won’t be light or creamy, and I like the brownish color Nola has on the photo of the hooked rug, particularly since I won’t be hooking any brown flowers.  I like navy blue too, but that might blend too well with some of the colors I’m planning to use.

What methods do you use when color planning your rugs?

Tickled Pink

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

After a long hooking drought, I’m happy to say that I’ve had the opportunity to be busy hooking again in the past week, so I’ve been able to make a little bit of progress on Grannie’s Flower Garden.  So far, I have three lovely flowers on one side:

And two new ones have bloomed on the other side:

I’m loving picking the colors for the flowers and the centers, and it’s a nice Springy rug, which we will need around these parts because on Friday we’re getting a cold front and maybe scattered snow showers.  WHAT!!?!?!

I did something a little different in the centers of the two new flowers – I used pinking shears to cut the wool to see if it would give it a little more texture.

I couldn’t really tell on the navy blue center, but on the orange center I could tell a difference, however subtle. It created a sort of “ruffled” effect in the center of the flower. It was interesting to hook with the wool this way, because pulling it through the linen had sort of a “thunk-thunk-thunk” feel, and it was a little more resistant, but I like the final look:

And after the entire flower was done:

It made me wonder how that would have looked in my Iowa Postcard rug on the trees – in Grant Wood’s painting “Stone City”, some of the trees are round and puffy, and some of them are jagged.  It would have been fun to hook the postcard rug the same way, with some of the trees being rounded and some having points sticking out of them.

I looked through some of my issues of Rug Hooking Magazine, ATHA, and The Wool Street Journal, and didn’t see any articles about hooking with wool strips that have the edges textured.  Have you hooked with edged wool, or seen any rugs that have been?  Would you hook with wool that has a textured edge?  I’d love to hear some thoughts from other rug hookers.

Two Flowers Blooming

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

I FINALLY made some progress hooking this week!  Yay!  I’ve slowly but surely managed to get two flowers done in my Grannie’s Flower Garden, purchased from Nola Heidbreder.  I hooked them at work and hardly anyone said, “Man, I wish I had YOUR job” when they walked by and saw me hooking.  My normal response to that is, “Yeah, I’m pretty lucky, aren’t I?”

My last progress picture, which was taken MONTHS ago.  This poor rug just sat fodder in my cubicle, giving me sad faces and sighing. A LOT.

Yesterday I was determined to get moving on it and get this garden growing! It is springtime in Iowa, after all.  I grabbed my hook, and next thing you know, two flowers bloomed on my frame.

I’m still in love with this pomegranate wool I received from LeAnn Hodgson at Camp Wool – this is the last of that wool, which is beautiful!

Both of the flower centers are overdyed plaid wool, and I still love seeing how patterned wool looks when it’s hooked.

Once again, I haven’t color planned this and am flying by the seat of my pants. One of these days I’ll actually sit down and plan out my rugs, because every beautiful rug I’ve ever laid eyes on has been color planned, hence the gorgeous results.  For now, I’m still enjoying my Rookie status and having some fun just throwing things together and seeing how it ends.

A Little Showtime

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Rug hooking isn’t as prevalent in my area of the country, so the opportunity to attend rug hooking events are few and far between. When I had the opportunity to attend a local event last week, I jumped at the chance!

Beth Anne Smiley, owner and operator of one of our Bee Line Art Tools Distributors, Wheaten Woolens, had a rug hooking event in her store last Friday and needed a cassette, so got to leave the office and make a delivery.  When I arrived, not only were there rug hookers in Wheaten Woolens, but also Fran Riley, a reporter for our local Channel 6 station.  Fran was doing a story on rug hooking, and had Beth Anne show him the tricks of the trade.

Beth Anne Smiley, showing a pattern and explaining
what types of backing are used in rug hooking.

Some of Beth Anne’s beautiful wool she sells from her shop.
The cameraman getting footage of rug hooking.
Beth Anne’s personal assistant and public relations guru,
and the namesakes for the shop.

The outside of Wheaten Woolens – we just had a fresh
snowfall the night before. Isn’t it pretty?

The segment aired on TV last night, and assuredly informed more people in our area about rug hooking, so thanks for spreading the good word, Beth Anne!

Happy New Year!

Monday, January 21st, 2013

A very belated Happy New Year to everyone out there!It’s been a while since I posted on The Rookie Hooker, mainly because I haven’t had much time for hooking!  We installed the rug hooking exhibit in the Quad Cities Airport in December, which was wonderful:

We filled many holiday orders for the Bee Line Townsend Cutting Machine and/or cassettes:

We shipped a number of our 14″ Orbiting Floor Frames:

We announced our new prices for 2013, which brought a whole lot of orders in at the end of 2012, and we started implementing a name change.  Why are we changing our name, you might ask?  When we bought the rug hooking equipment line from Townsend Industries, we understood that rug hookers everywhere knew the product as “the Townsend Cutter”.  Part of our long-term plan is to make the rug hooking part of the business fully integrated with the Bee Line Company, and to become a Bee Line product.

You’ll start seeing us making the change to Bee Line Art Tools. It’s the same product, different name, but it gives us the opportunity to perhaps start thinking about how we can serve other artists in the future.  Here is the new logo you’ll see on our products and materials:

Now that the business stuff is getting caught up, it’s time to hook! I have a date with my latest rug, “Grandma’s Flower Garden”, for the Oscars.  Hopefully that night will give me lots of hooking time, and I can kick start my new rug to keep the ball rolling.

Hope you are all finding time to work on your winter projects, and Happy New Year and Happy Hooking to you!


Price Increase in 2013

Friday, December 7th, 2012

Hello Fiber Arts Friends!
As we all know, the cost of materials and production continues to climb, and therefore the cost of making our product has increased.  I’m posting this message to inform you of a price increase on our product starting January 1, 2013. 
The new prices will take effect starting January 1, 2013.  Any order placed before Dec. 31, 2012, will be charged current prices.  We are experiencing increased sales volume due to the holiday season, which means there will be times when we are temporarily out of stock on some items.  Complete orders will ship as we get product, and current prices will be honored on any orders placed before Dec. 31, 2012, regardless of ship date.  Check with yourlocal Bee Line distributor first, as many of our distributors have product on hand for shipping.
Below are the 2013 Prices.  Please let us know if you have any questions, and thank you for your continued support.Cutter Body with one standard cassette will be $540
Cutter Body with one long cassette will be $609
Standard Cassettes will be $156
Long Cassettes will be $225
Tote Tables will be $190
Cutter Caddy will be $60
Dye Spoons will stay at $79
14” Orbiting Frame will stay at $795
Cassette Case will stay at $30
We’re approaching our second year in the rug hooking equipment business.  Part of our plan with Townsend Industries was to eventually drop the Townsend name, so you will start to see some changes in our materials to reflect our new name, Bee Line Art Tools.  This will be a gradual conversion, but we anticipate being fully switched over to Bee Line Art Tools in 2013.
Thanks, and Happy Holidays to you and yours!
Bee Line Art Tools
2700 62nd St. Ct., P.O. Box 130 – Bettendorf, IA  52722 – (866)218-1590 – Fax (563)322-6517 – 

Rug Hooking Exhibit at the Airport

Monday, November 12th, 2012

For the past month, I’ve been working with regional rug hookers and the Quad City Arts to put together an exhibit of rug hooking and wood turning.  We’re fortunate in the Quad Cities to have a public space, at the Quad City Airport, that is managed by an art organization, Quad City Arts. A few months ago, I started collaborating with Dawn from QC Arts to discuss having a fiber arts show in the airport space. Dawn had also been in contact with the local organization of wood turners, and a partnership was born.

I was able to get some amazing rugs from regional rug hookers, including Sharon Townsend, Nola Heidbreder, Jan Pierce, Annette Boland, Lori Rokusek, Julia Bohl, Beth Anne Smiley, Ella Davison, and the lovely Katie Lane. 

Wool Kaleidoscope from Nola Heidbreder, hooked by Nola and designed by Cactus Needle.

Angel, hooked by Lori Rokusek, designed by DiFranza. Note the halo on the angel is repeated in the wood vessels.

Side view inside the glass enclosure, includes Beth Anne Smiley’s “1885 Horses” at the top left, Julia Bohl’s “Woodland Deer” in the middle, and Julia’s “Ligonier Duo” on the floor.  All three of these rugs were designed by Barbara Carroll of the Woolley Fox.

Here is Jan Pierce’s “Frog” pillow, designed by Cathy Morton Mulvaine – this photo doesn’t do it any justice at all. The frog is bumpy, and multi-colored and multi-dimensional.  The wool in the dragonfly wings is metallic and gives the impression of iridescence. 

Sharon Townsend’s “Joy: A Puzzle in 15 Pieces” – too much window glare from the glass again, but this is truly a rug hooked in 15 pieces, and jigsawed together.  The colors are fantastic.

Ella Davison’s “Birds and Berries”, designed by Bea Brock, along with a piece I received as a gift from a customer in Canada.

“Santa Fe Crossing”, hooked by Beth Anne Smiley of Wheaten Woolens, designed by Barb Carroll of the Woolley Fox.  This rug is HUGE, and is serving as a focal point of sorts for the show.

Here is a table by the wood turners, with a Bee Line cutter on it.  There is a tiny sheep by Lori Rokusek, designed by Diane Kelly, on the table, and my Iowa rug is on the wall (designed by Cactus Needle), and then Lori Rokusek has another piece, “Down on the Farm”, designed by Sue Hamer of House of Price, on the floor. Jan Pierce kindly let us use her work-in-progess, which is a gorgeous fox, designed by Jon Ciemiewicz.  It’s nice for people who are unfamiliar with hooking to see the pattern drawn on the linen, and then the actual fox popping off of the piece.  The eyes are fantastic.

Another piece by Jan Pierce, called “Starry Harvest”, hooked and designed by Jan.  This piece is full of stories – my favorite is about a third of the way up on the left side, only half of Little Miss Muffet shows, with her tuffet and her curds and whey spilled and a big spider hanging out of the tree.  Such a fun rug, and this one is big too.

Katie Lane’s “Trout”, designed by Keith Kemmer. He looks like he’s fresh from the stream!  I was at a couple of shows with Katie while she was hooking this guy, and am so thrilled her husband Ralph gave it up for a couple of months for the show.

On Wednesday, I’ll post more photos from the show, including more wood turned pieces.  They dovetailed with the rugs beautifully.


A Corny Experiment

Friday, October 12th, 2012

I finally steamed my Iowa Vintage Postcard Rug, and was all set to start my Grannie’s Flower Garden, and then….distraction.

I love how my letters in the Iowa rug look like corn kernels. They are a little uneven, with different hues, but in rows.  I thought a little bit more about that corn, and decided to try an experiment.

(Sorry for the darkness of this photo, my phone doesn’t have a flash.)
I have a wool that is a maize color with a light charcoal gray box print in it, so it’s a nearly perfect corn color, and the gray gives it that little bit of texture. My plan is to hook a rectangle of this in a Bee Line #4 or #5 width strip, and then turn it into an ear of corn to make an ornament for all of my Iowa friends.  I bought a nice dark green piece of velvet and some pipe cleaners, and I’m going to try to make some corn husks peeling back from the ear, and put a loop in the top from some small gold cord.

This is my first hooking experiment without using a pattern, so I’m freestyling here.  I figure if it doesn’t end well, at least I haven’t used much wool or linen. We’ll see how it goes!

New Rug: Grannie's Flower Garden

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

What a busy crazy month it’s been at Bee Line – Townsend!  We’ve shipped out EIGHT Trunk Shows in the past three weeks, chock full of wool cutters, cassettes, tote tables, and our new frames, so things are really hopping out there in the hooking world!  That said, it has left me no time to hook. Boo!

Since my Iowa Vintage Postcard rug is done (yay!) and is awaiting steaming, I bought a new pattern from Nola Heidbreder at Sauder Village Rug Hooking Week to start.  It’s called Grannie’s Flower Garden, a Cactus Needle pattern, and is 19 1/2 x 27.  It’s just a charming little pattern, full of bright colors and happy shapes, that is do-able in a shortish period of time so I can feel an enormous sense of accomplishment. 

Once again,  I wish I had a color planner in the office!  The background in the picture seems to be some variations on a dark brown/tobacco color.  I used a beautiful chocolate wool on my Magdelena purse, which I would love to use again, but ran out and I can’t remember where I bought it.

Having a blank, unhooked pattern is a bit like having a new crayon box at the beginning of the school year – it’s a blank sheet of paper, full of possibilities. 

I looked at the colors on the photo above, and then looked in my wool basket, and started pulling a few things out to see what works.  I’m trying to mime what I see….a punchy color in the  middle to center the piece.  Like colors somewhat equidistant from each other, or anchoring either side.  The same wool in the center of every flower for some consistency.

Hmm.  I like how this has started, but I think I want it to be a little more fun.  Maybe a bright red pomegranate background? I think I’ll start hooking the middles in that lovely Dorr green plaid, and the non-red flowers, and see where it takes me.

Sauder Village, Part 2

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Here is the rest of my belated photos from Rug Hooking Week at Sauder Village last month.  I wish I had pictures of all of the rugs, they were so diverse and interesting.

Since Bee Line is located in the Quad Cities, home of John Deere Corporate Headquarters, I had to get a picture of this lovely rug. I also enjoyed the description of the rug, hooked by Elizabeth Marino.

There was a definite animal presence at Sauder this year, with Eye See You, and rugs like this majestic “Jonathan the Lion”, designed and hooked by April deConick:

Even though I got a terrible picture of it, this rug made me laugh.  Sadly, I didn’t get the name of the designer or hooker:

This was a really interesting piece – it was a face hooked on a tree trunk.  Here is the whole piece:

And here is a close-up of the face:

Another piece that I enjoyed the accompanying card:

This was really interesting, and the photo does not do the colors justice at all.  It’s another piece by April deConick, called “Palette Constellation Rug”.

Here is a close-up of a few of the blocks:

 Here are two very different woman – “Geisha With Lantern”, designed by Marty Noble and hooked by Betty Stanley:

And the “Victorian Girl”, a freestanding piece, designed and hooked by Barbara Branch:

I’m a big fan of Marimekko fabrics and prints, which usually have large patterns in big colors, so all of these rugs appealed to me on that level – the first three are by Maddy Fraioli:

And this last one is called “Spring Has Sprung”, hooked by Elizabeth Costa and designed by Bea Brock.

Last, but not least, is “Lady Liberty Takes Gold” by April deConick:

Lots of variety, lots of color, and loads of inspiration!  This is what makes Rug Hooking Week at Sauder so great!

Sauder Village Recap

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

I’m finally caught up with the paperwork from Sauder Village, so now it’s time to post pictures of the rugs.  And Oh, were there a lot of terrific rugs!  Let’s get to it!

First, let me say that the amazing Katie Lane from Townsend was unable to make it to Sauder this year, there were some family commitments she had to meet.  I missed you Katie!  Ruth, our Purchasing Manager at Bee Line, came with me instead.  Of course, she left as a hooker.  Ruth bought a kit from Tomorrow’s Heirlooms and started hooking.  I warned her it would happen.

Hi Ruth!
I always love being able to meet customers at Sauder – it’s great to be able to put a face with a name, and I have a LOT of names.  Shari and I talk to all kinds of people during the year, so when I meet people at the show it’s usually a hug-fest.

Aww!  It’s Linda Keller from Grant Street Woolworks!  One of our terrific distributors.
And then, there were rugs.  Lots and lots of rugs.

Sometimes I just love the cards with the stories behind the rug on them, like the one for this fox:

Here’s another favorite, hooked by Susan Feller of Ruckman Mill Farm – another one of our distributors.

This dog. “Buddy” was hooked by Leslie Cuthbertson and designed by Jon Ciemiwicz from a picture Leslie gave him.

I loved the colors of this beautiful sampler-style piece. called “Heartland Samper”.  It was designed by Cactus Needle and hooked by Susan Rand.

This whimsical fortune teller, called “Future Not in the Stars”, was designed and hooked by Kathleen R. Helland-Carini.

A whole series of Hippos throughout the year, here is the information:

And of course, the amazing “Eye See You 2”, The Big ‘Un.  This is from the original rug designed and hooked by Judy Carter, and drawn by the amazing artist, Lenny Feenan (, but then each square was individually hooked by different instructors to make it four times the size of the original.  Love the whole thing, from the concept to the hooking.  What an accomplishment for everyone involved!

My photo feature won’t let me download any more pictures, so I’ll put the rest of them up this week.

Happy Hooking!

Getting Ready for Sauder!

Friday, August 10th, 2012

I was hoping to get the Iowa Postcard Rug done by Rug Hooking Week at Sauder Village, but it isn’t looking good time-wise.  So much to do before the Big Week!  But what better place to be to finish a rug?  Here is the shipment of Bee Line – Townsend product going to Sauder Village:

Over 1000 pounds of wool cutting equipment and frames in these two pallets.

Pretty excited to go.  If you’re going to be at Rug Hooking Week, be sure to stop by the Bee Line table, see our new 14″ Orbiting Floor Frames, and grab a Tootsie Roll!

I used my new navy blue wool from Wheaten Woolens on the outline of my letters, and I love how that turned out.  The navy really pops, but it coordinates well with the blue in the sky background.

Plus, I stopped by The Woolen Needle in Williamsburg (one of our fantastic BLT distributors) and Carla helped me pick out some black for the bird wings and some darker gold for the spots on the bird.  Then I stopped in at The Rug Hooking Store to see Janice Lee.  You can maybe see some lines in the sky above the barn – once again, I underestimated how much wool I would need for the sky.  The part under the Iowa is in a pretty marbled light blue, but then I ran out.  Janice found the blue I’m using above the Iowa, and told me to pull some worms out of the lower sky and incorporate them into the upper sky, and vice versa, so they’ll blend.  I’m working on that now.

Here it is with worms out….

Here it is with worms in.

I can’t believe how close the two blues are, and how well they blend.  Janice was helpful in not only helping me with my sky issue, but also with my “double wool twists” on the back of the rug.  But that is a topic for another post!

Hope everyone is enjoying cooler weather and maybe some RAIN!  The crops are certainly sad around here.  Have a great week!

Gimme An "A"!

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

I’m getting close on finishing the A, and in what is exciting news for me, I finally got an outline color for the letters!  Yay!  No more indecision!  This means I finally have all of the wool I’m using for this rug.  Oh wait…except the bird.  Dang.

Here is the rug so far – I’m loving how it’s turning out:

Just a bit more of that Gene Shepherd Roman Sun and I’m done with the letters!  There is a small shadow outside of the letters and on the inside of the O and the A.  The picture that came with the pattern from Nola Heidbreder shows a light brown or burgundy outline for the letters, but I wasn’t a big fan of that color.  I thought about taking the ruby red color from the side of the barn and bringing that in, but alas – not only do I not have enough wool to do it, but as much as I love that ruby it seems like it would be a little harsh against the letters and the sky.  Someone suggested the green, but I love the trees and don’t want to detract from them.  What do you do when you can’t make a decision?  Make someone else do it!

There aren’t many rug hookers in the Quad Cities – if there are, I have yet to meet more than four.  So imagine my delight in discovering a new studio opening in Davenport – Wheaton Woolens, by Beth Anne Smiley!

This is a picture of Beth Anne from her website, – here she is actually at The Wooley Fox, enjoying a camp.  Beth is opening her studio in this adorable 1860 stone barn on her property.  The other hooker I know in town, Julie Bohl, was at the studio as well, and she and Beth Anne took a look at my rug and made a number of suggestions as to what color would go well with the rest of the rug.  We finally settled on a beautiful navy blue – I’m hooking it in now, and it is really giving the letters the “pop” they need without overpowering the whole thing.

Beth Anne is holding rug hooking classes in her barn, so be sure to check out her website for more information.  The more the merrier!  I’m going to the Omaha area to see my mom for her birthday, and fortunately I’ll be within 10 minutes of Janice Lee’s shop, The Rug Hooking Store and Black Horse Antiques, so I think I’m going to finally get some “closure” on that Magdelena Eby purse I hooked last fall.

Only two weeks until Sauder!  Be sure to go to their page on Facebook, “Rug Hooking Week at Sauder Village” to stay up-to-date on what’s going on!

The Trouble With W

Monday, July 16th, 2012

I’ve been working on my Iowa Postcard rug in hopes that I can get most of it done by Sauder Village, but let me tell you, hooking these letters has been a challenge.  Here is the rug so far:

So maybe….MAYBE…I’m getting toward being 50% done, but these letters?  They just might kill me.  Things that I can hook in a swirl, or a line, or an outline – no problem.  But hooking in a diagonal line on a somewhat horizontal stripe???  Yikes.

It may not look SO bad from this picture.  In pictures of my face from a distance you can’t see the wrinkles either! 🙂  So let’s zoom in a bit:

Here is the W a little bit closer.  NOW you can start to see the caddywhompus rows and loops.  I notice the right side looks a little better than the left side.  I think that’s because on the right side, I hooked in straight rows, and then filled in later.  On the left side, I just tried to hook row next to row, moving loops over as needed to fill the space.  Overall, I like the look of the right side better, and may end up unhooking some of the left side of the W.  I’ll need to get away from the letters for a bit and then re-visit it.  Now for the REALLY honest picture:

Oy.  Here is that left side of the W, warts and moles and all.  I’m using Gene Shepherd’s Roman Sun wool, so there are four different shades of this lovely yellow-orange color. 

I’m hooking them in stripes on the letters.  The color is fantastic, but my rows can certainly use some help.

If anyone has any great tips or methods for hooking on a diagonal, I’d love to hear about it!  In the interim, the next section is waiting to be hooked on my Bee Line 14″ Orbiting Frame (which I love, and will have at Sauder Village).  I hope I get an “A” on it!

In The Clouds

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

June is flying by here at Bee Line – Townsend!  We finished our 14″ Orbiting Floor Frame, now available on our website at, or from one of our fantastic distributors.  I’ve been so busy getting that on the market that I haven’t had time to actually hook on it lately!  My poor Iowa rug has been sitting in my cubicle, lonely, waiting for me to pick up my hook.  This week, that all changed.

I finally got some hooking done!  I wanted to finish the letters first, but in yet another rookie error, I let my worms get mixed up.  You can see on the right side of the “O”, the wool looks a little lighter.  I think I accidentally hooked the lighter wool for the bottom in that layer, so I’ll probably need to pull it out.  I got frustrated about it, so I thought I would hook a nice, calming cloud before I moved on.

I used Nola Heidbreder’s “Snow” wool for the cloud, and I like the bits of blue/gray in it that brings just a tiny bit of dimension into the cloud.  I was trying to hook in a way that brought a little bit of “cloud-like motion” into it, not sure about my level of success on that front! 

Once again, I’m going to rely on steaming to save the day!

Now that my head is out of the clouds, I’m going to go reverse hook that poor “O”.  I’d like to have this rug done by Sauder Village, because then?  I can buy new stuff!  Yay!

Dreaming of Cambria...

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

The good news around Bee Line – Townsend is that we’ve been really busy in the past month.  The bad news is that it leaves me absolutely no time to hook, so my Vintage Iowa Postcard rug is at a standstill.  I look at it every day, next to my desk, and think “Maybe today….” and then the phone rings or something comes up that needs attention.  It’s a good problem to have, but I’m missing the hooking.  I like progress!

Something else I try to do every day is check Gene Shepherd’s blog.  I’m subscribed to his Internet Rug Camp, which I love, and get the extended version of the blog.  There is always something interesting going on there.  Maybe not every project is something I’m going to tackle, but I’m interested in the process.  Dyeing, proddy, punch needle….I need to get the basics down first, but I like seeing what the possibilities are down the road, and sometimes looking at these things can give one an idea about how to do a current project a bit differently.

So this week is Gene’s Cambria Pines Rug Hooking Camp, and I’m sooooo jealous I can’t be there!  First, it’s in sunny California, so really, how bad can it be?  The resort looks beautiful, and Gene had pictures on the blog of the wools and patterns he has available at camp.  Pris Butler was there with her Klimdt rugs, which look amazing.  Doesn’t it seem like this should be a work trip for me?  Isn’t it imperative that I get out to Cambria Pines Camp as a public relations tool for my company, to hook all day and into the night?

It’s a sacrifice I would be willing to make.  Maybe after ATHA Biennial next year I can get Cambria on my schedule…

Bee Line 14" Orbiting Floor Frame Setup

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Visitors at The Bee Hive

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Things have really been buzzing at the Bee Line – Townsend Bee Hive!  We’ve been shipping to shows and visiting shows, and have hosted visitors!  One of the visitors at the Bee Hive was none other than Jan Pierce, one of our BLT Fairy Godmothers and the person who originally connected the dots between the Townsend products and Bee Line Company.

Jan not only visited to pick up her brand new Bee Line 14″ Orbiting Stand Frame (available at distributors and on our website this week), but to show me some of her work as well.  Lucky me!

Jan’s new frame – happy hooking!
I’m hosting a Rug Hooking Exhibit at the Quad Cities International Airport this fall, and asked Jan if she would be so kind as to lend us a few pieces of her work.  The biggest problem is that there is so much from which to choose!

Me and Jan with her first piece, a frog pillow which won an award.  Her husband Bud was obviously so distracted by his lovely wife that he didn’t get the whole pillow in the picture, so here is the whole piece:

Pretty, no?  Here are the other terrific rugs I had the pleasure of viewing:

Viking Ship

The turkey in this rug is made entirely from recycled and repurposed wool – amazing work with the color scale on this one.
Santa Rug

This beautiful Storybook Rug – this picture does NOT do it justice.

A paisley rug, which is a work in progress.
A close up of the paisley – love the colors here!

This beautiful woman, who had just been framed.
A little closer on the woman – I believe this was hooked in #3’s, #4’s and #5’s.  Lovely.

Since I’m a bona fide newbie, this was a great day for me.  It’s so fun to see the work of others, and to hear the stories behind each rug.  We’re lucky to have Jan’s input and influence, and love to have hookers stop by the shop.  If you’re ever in the Quad Cities, call me!  I’d love to see your work and show you around!

Hooking at Hopkins Hook-In

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Unfortunately, I haven’t been hooking much in the last two weeks because we’ve been getting ready for the five, count ’em, FIVE shows we shipped this week.  If you’re interested in seeing any Bee Line – Townsend equipment in the next couple of week, here is where we’ll be:

1.  Nola Heidbreder’s booth at the Hook In at the Kirkwood Community Center this Saturday in St. Louis
2.  Cottage House Primitive’s Booth at the Cream City Hook In in Milwaukee today!
3.  Sheep Thrills booth at the Hook In in Saline, Michigan on Saturday
4.  River Gallery’s booth at the Nova Scotia Spring School in early May
5.  Hopkins Hook In at Calvary Lutheran Church in Golden Valley, MN in the Going Gray booth this Saturday!

Shari and I, the two people who answer the phones and handle all orders at Bee Line, will be traveling up to the show to see Martha Reeder at Going Gray, and hanging out at the Hook In for the afternoon.  We get to make a stop at Ewe and Eye in Osage, Iowa, on the way up north, so it will be a hooking extravaganza packed into about 26 hours.

I’m bringing my Iowa Postcard Rug and one of our new 14″ Orbiter Frames to hook on, and I’m hoping to find some white wool.  Everything I’ve found thus far is cream, but I’d really like some white for my clouds and letter outlines.  It’s always fun to look around at the booths and be tempted by the wares…sometimes seeing all of the wool available, after not being able to buy any locally for months, is a little overwhelming.  I get panicky, thinking, “This is my last chance until the next show, what do I need?”

What I NEED is to make the liner for this:

The Magdelena Purse for my sister.  Unfinished projects make me crazy.  But sometimes it’s more FUN to start a new project with new wool.  But oh, the guilt on that purse…

Hope to see you this Saturday!

The "I"s Have It!

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

I posted last week that I opened my wonderful packages of wool from Nola Heidbreder and Gene Shepherd, and even though it was so lovely I was almost loathe to cut it, I still did.  Cut it.  With my Bee Line – Townsend Cutter, of course, with a #7 cassette.

Worms!  Worms!  Worms!
I started hooking the letters to see how the colors worked together.  The reason I purchased this Roman Sun collection of wool from Gene Shepherd is because I wanted the letters in the rug to have a variation in the color without having definitive layers of color.  I wanted it to look less “candy corn” and more like an Iowa sunset.  I started at the beginning – the I in Iowa.

While I can still see some color layering, it isn’t as obvious as the photo that came with the pattern.  I wanted the orange, but I wanted the colors to blend a little bit more.  The color in this wool is so vibrant and fun, it brings a lot of energy to the rug.

The other thing I like about this wool is that it looks a bit like some Iowa corn.  Obviously I don’t have the straightest rows or most even loops – that’s for a few years down the road, when I can look back on some of these early rugs and chuckle to myself and say, “Oh, I remember when I really struggled with uniformity!”  …That does happen, right?… but for now I’m enjoying the actual hooking and seeing where it takes me. 

I’ll be back when I have a full set of four Iowa letters!  Have a great week!

Under The Roman Sun

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Buying wool online is a little bit like Christmas – you know what it looked like on the website, and you THINK it’s going to work in your project.  The box arrives, and there is a moment where you get to open it and it’s so exciting because you get to see the wool and touch it.  Non-hookers will think this is a creepy sentiment, but y’all know what I’m talking about.

Last week I got TWO boxes of wool!  Lucky lucky lucky.

The one on the upper left is called “Snow” and the beautiful marbled one is “Turquoise Jade Spot” and both are available from Nola Heidbreder on her website:  The turquoise particularly is so intense and deep, it’s just spectacular.  I don’t know what I’m using it in, but I’m saving it for something special.

The next box I opened came from Gene Shepherd.  I’m still hooking my vintage Iowa Postcard pattern, also purchased from Nola, and I’ve been looking for a multi-hued orange wool to do the Iowa letters.  On Gene’s website, I found the perfect wool – his set called “Roman Sun”.  It was pretty on his website, so I went ahead and took the plunge since I’m an impatient person by nature, and the nearest shop where I can buy wool is nearly two hours away.

Oh. My. Gosh.
I opened this box and it was like opening a box of sunshine.  Really beautiful wool, the colors were just spectacular.  It just makes me happy to look at it.  As an added bonus, it’s incredibly luscious wool, and ran so beautifully through my cutter. 

This piece looked like flames were literally jumping off of the wool.  It was just lovely.  I almost didn’t want to cut it….ALMOST.

I tend to use a #7 cassette.  I can’t really explain why.  I started with the #7 on my first rug because our top sellers are the #6 and #8 cassettes, and I always cheer for the underdog.  I really like the #7, so I’ve stuck with it.

And now I have THIS on my desk!  Do you know how hard it is to work with these piles of beautiful worms staring at you, saying, “Julie….you should be hooking….”  I’ve been working on my letters for about a 15-30 minutes in the morning and 15-30 minutes at the end of the day.  I’m almost done with the “I”, and I’m liking the effect of the varying shades of orange in it so far.

Shari, my cohort at Bee Line Townsend, and I will be going to the Hopkins hook-in up in Minnesota in a few weeks to join Martha Reeder from GoingGray.  I’m hoping to be done with my letters so I can buy an accent wool to hook around the shaded parts of the letters.  Of course, I will need to buy too much wool.  It’s part of my job description, right?


Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

I’m going to reveal a little part of my psyche here – I can’t outline a box and not fill it in.  There is something about incompleteness that nags at me.  Which is really funny if you’ve ever seen my desk or house, because those entire spaces are studies in incompleteness.

On some days?  This is clean.
When I started my Vintage Iowa Postcard rug, I wanted to outline the entire thing first, because I’ve heard other hookers say that’s how to start your rug.  But I can’t do it.  I can’t have that big outline and not have it filled in right away.  I find myself MEANING to outline the entire border, but then I’ll start the trees and next thing you know, that small part is outlined and then filled in.  I start the cornfield, and then it’s outlined and filled in.  Then the barn.  You get the drill.

It’s a little tougher with the sky, because it’s so big.  I can’t really outline the entire sky, nor do I want to, so I’m outlining chunks of it and then filling in with swirls and wavy lines.  It’s interesting, because as much as I want to think I’m consistent, each “chunk” turns out different.

Once again, I’m packing, and once again, I’m counting on the magic of steaming to work out some of my issues.  I just bought some wool from Nola Heidbreder to use on the clouds (you can see it on my desk – there is this fantastic turquoise/jade color, and the “Snow” wool is underneath it), and am waiting on some orange wool from Gene Shepherd to fill in my letters.