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Three Stars, Three Ways

Values set the stage

By: Elinor Barrett, Black Sheep Wool Designs/Photography by Impact Xpozures

Summer Stars, Variation 1: 9½" x 29½". Hooked by Elinor Barrett, Columbus, Missouri, 2014.

When I discovered the wonderful designs by Emma Lou Lais and Rhonda Manley, I knew I had to learn how to hook this style of rug. The designs were primitive in their simplicity and created with wide-cut, textured wools. I am especially drawn to rugs that look old and scrappy. 

Little did I know how much I would learn about color in this process: its properties, how colors interact, and the all-important use of contrast, known to rug hookers as value. A color’s value refers to whether it is light, dark, or medium, and the value varies depending on the colors next to it. As the saying goes in rug hooking circles, “Color gets the credit, but value does all the work.” Understanding value and color is the foundation for color planning a rug and a skill every rug hooker needs.


This article is from the June/July/August 2015 issue. For more information on our issues, check out our issues page.

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