An Unexpected Background

Colors to Dye For: Playing with Color

By: Wanda Kerr
Photography by Wanda Kerr

The Three Stages of Womanhood, 28" x 20", #12-cut wool on Micarelli linen. Designed, dyed, and hooked by Wanda Kerr, Wiarton, Ontario, 2016.

It is a fact of rug hooking: if you’ve hooked a rug, you’ve hooked some type of background.
It might seem as though we’ve talked about all we can with backgrounds. We’ve used geometrics in backgrounds, we’ve placed shapes in them (like leaves in a floral rug or paw prints in a pet rug). We’ve used filigrees and paisleys, Cs and Ss, swoops and swirls, bricks and bats. These are all shape and line inventions, from a design point of view. But there are other design elements we can think about, and one of those is color.

Looking carefully at nature taught me this color trick. I could see that the variety of colors behind what I was studying created a better background than I could ever imagine. Consider this: instead of dyeing one or two colors to pave the backstory of your main motif, why not deliberately analyze the background to express its power more intelligently?

This method of color planning will take no longer to hook, increases the star factor of your main player, and is all about color play. This way of looking engages your mind and your soul when it succeeds. This method of color planning will work with almost all types of rug backgrounds.

Wanda Kerr is grateful to live in such a colorful world where we can all embrace what speaks to us most. She raises her hook and dye spoon to you: long may you create. Go to to keep up on all her concerns including The Welcome Mat, (now free) and to try her wonderful compact color system, Majic Carpet Dyes.

This article is from the January/February 2017 issue. For more information on our issues, check out our issues page.


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Beautiful color merge. Flows well.

Wow. This rug is gorgeous!

Hi Wanda, Thanks for the comment and the clarification! We've categorized this article in the "Colors to Dye For" section of our site. You may have also have seen it featured in our free e-Newsletter, Rug Beat. To avoid confusion, we will alter the name of those sections to say "article" or "rug" of the day when no pattern is available. Thank you, Caitlin Eaton, editor

Hi, Thanks for featuring my article. Perhaps this is the wrong category as Pattern of The Day. This rug is one of a kind and not a pattern for sale, copying or available to anyone else for replication, thanks, Wanda


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