HOOKING LEAVES

by Joan Moshimer

Leaves need not be difficult to hook. They can be among the most fascinating of things, because of their great variety of shape and color. Perhaps THE most important thing to remember is that leaves do not have to be green.

(Note: I try not to use the word “never” as there are no hard and fast rules - but the following are points that I hope you will find helpful no matter what leaf you are hooking.)

LEAVES SHOULD SHOW UP WELL AGAINST THE BACKGROUND... The exception to this is in shadowy areas near the center of a grouping, and leaves that are behind other leaves, when it is desirable that they blend a little into the background.

THE COLOR OF LEAVES SHOULD BE SELECTED AFTER THE FLOWER COLORS ARE CHOSEN...Hold the swatches together to see if they harmonize and look well together.

Blue-greens generally look well with reds and orangy-reds. Yellow-greens generally look well with purplish-reds and blue.

Some greens are neutral and look well with all colors. These greens can be combined successfully too, with blue-greens and yellow-greens. Examples that come to mind in dyes are SILVER GRAY-GREEN and RESEDA GREEN. In formulas I like Anne Ashworth’s #31 and #40 in her “Chrome Craft” book. In commercial swatches I can think of Potpourri’s “Leaf Green”.

Combine blue-greens with yellow-greens, but always in unequal proportions, say about 60/40% or 70/30%. An excellent swatch which combines blue-greens with yellow-greens is Anne Ashworth’s swatch #18. I used this successfully in “Birds of Bonclarken” and I combined it with Potpourri’s “Leaf Green”.

HOOK IN DIRECTIONAL LINES... This aids the “flow” of the leaf: generally the directional lines go from the vein to the edge in a diagonal manner.

DO NOT OUTLINE LEAVES... The exception is for certain primitive hooking styles.

HOOK LEAVES ONE AT A TIME...Leaves that appear one above the other should be hooked separately, the one on top being made first. To avoid having them “run together”, make the one on top in lighter values, then the underneath one. Also by hooking the underneath one (in the area near to the one above) in darker, duller values, it helps to further separate them.
HOOK LEAVES DARKER AT THEIR BASE.

DECIDE ON BACKGROUND COLOR FIRST... and hook a small patch of it near the leaves so that you can be sure that they will show properly against it Then with the leaf completed, hook a line or two of the background around it. This will immediately prove whether or not you are doing them properly. A reducing glass is a valuable aid for this purpose. (A reducing glass does the opposite job as a magnifying glass, making your work look further away than it is.) As a general rule, with a light background, make the edges dark, going from dark to light next to the vein. And conversely, with a dark background, make the edges light, hooking from dark next to the vein. Medium backgrounds are the most difficult to make things show up against.

HOOK DARKEST VALUES FlRST...Before commencing to hook a leaf, decide just how dark and how light you are going to use in that particular leaf, hook the dark in first, then hook the light, finally hook in the intermediate values.

AVOID A HARSH LINE OF VElNS...Veins give us the opportunity to carry touches of bright color into a leaf, especially the color of the flowers that accompany them. A solid line vein is to be avoided, and this is where spot-dyed pieces are very lovely. An easy way to get this fluctuating color is to gather some of your left-overs, such as reds, rusts, pinks, golds, yellows, tans and beiges: toss them into a pot of hot water with a tablespoon of Calgon or dish-washing liquid and simmer for 15 minutes, then add a tablespoon or two of salt and simmer for another thirty minutes. The addition of a few grains of more of dry RUST dye before the simmering will produce interesting results. Experiment with other dyes too, such as KHAKI DRAB, BRONZE GREEN, OLD GOLD or MAHOGANY. Or try adding a few handfuls of dry onion skins. Fun!

TRY TO COMBINE OTHER COLORS WITH GREENS...ln spot dyeing for instance, blend weak MAHOGANY or DARK BROWN with BRONZE GREEN and RESEDA GREEN.
or, BRONZE and OLD GOLD with SILVER GRAY-GREEN
or, weak NAVY BLUE with OLIVE GREEN
or, weak BRIGHT PURPLE with BRONZE or BRONZE GREEN
or, there are some interesting color combinations of greens in the Chroma Craft book. #25 goes from muted orange to bronzy-green (nice for fruit). #32 from a sea-green to a brown green. #30 from a yellow-green to a deep green, to name a few.

If you use commercial graded swatches, do combine them with some spot dye, especially at the base of the leaves, fingering in the spot dye with the darker values of the swatch.

Finally, I personally feel that a lifetime is too short to learn all there is to know about leaves. Enjoy them for what they are, miracles of marvelous machinery that are essential to our well being, as well as things of grace and beauty for our rugs.

Dye colors mentioned herein are Cushing’s PERFECTION Dyes, favorite of rug hookers for over 100 years.

Published by W. Cushing & Co.

Kennebunkport, ME 04046 copyright 2002 ~ all rights reserved

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