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Confetti Border

Add A Little Extra Color

By: Nancy Jewett
Updated June 07, 2021
Infinity - hexad color plan which is three pairs of complements

In a hooked rug, a border fames the design, complements it, adds interest, and completes it. When I am designing a pattern, I consider what the border can do to elevate the piece.

A few years ago, I was working on a project with a three-tiered scalloped border for a McGown Teachers Workshop. This type of border is often done by choosing three values of the same color, hooking from dark to light, using colors complementary to the center motif, or colors from the motif itself. For this piece called William’s Antique, hooked in vibrant colors, I wanted something different. I searched for ideas and saw someone had taken colors from the center motif and outlined the top of the scallops, then used the background inside. This appealed to me for a few reasons: First, it would carry the main colors out to the border, and secondly, I could space my colors from dark to light for a bit of depth. After sorting my wool, I hooked a few scallops and found I still wanted more movement and color. I thought back to a rug I designed called Spring Mischief. (See the March/April/May 2016 issue of RHM.) The scene is of a goat munching tulips behind a fence. In the foreground are tulips on a dark brown ground. To break up the ground and carry more color around, I sprinkled colors from the motif. I thought that effect would work great for this border.

Because I had colors that already bordered the sides and top, I wanted a row of background color to offset the spots of color I would be using. I wanted each color to be distinct, so I hooked a few loops of background between the color loops. After playing with loops, I decided to use the same number of background loops and the same number of color loops consistently, as best I could, working within the space I was hooking. For this piece I hooked this sequence:

  • 1 end, 2 loops, 1 end in color, and 5 or 6 loops of background
  • In the next row I hooked a row of all background color
  • Then in the next row, I repeated my previous formula of 1 end, 2 loops, 1 end of color and 5 or 6 loops of background.
I scattered the colors so that no two colors were next to each other. I loved this look and although it was a bit fussy to switch colors frequently, it was a joy to watch develop.

  1. A student was working on Wooly Welcome, and I suggested this confetti look for her border. The border on this rug is quite wide, with no decoration to break it up. She was more sparing with the confetti and yet what she did helped break up the wide border and added some needed color.

    Wooly Welcome, 25" x 33", #4- to 6-cut wool on linen.
    Designed by John Leonard and hooked by Bonnie Roycewicz, Fort Ann, New York, 2016.

  2. Sunflower Pillow has a 1" plain border (which I widened to 1 1 /2 "). It was the perfect place to add confetti to add a bit of spark to the finished rug. I used a very dark border color, with high contrast to the light background. The dark border color accented the colors from the motif. I hooked 1 row of background around the entire border, then added the confetti using 1 end, 2 loops, 1 end, and then 1 end, 4 loops, 1 end of border color. This spacing of less color/more border color made a more subtle border. The last row of the border was just border color.

    Sunflower Pillow, 17" x 13", #4- to 6-cut wool on linen with silk charmeuse for the veins.
    Designed by Kim Nixon and hooked by Nancy Jewett, Brandon, Vermont, 2017. This is a split complementary color plan.


  3. Infinity was designed for a class on color planning. It has a narrow scallop-shape border from 1" at its narrowest to 2" at its widest. I used equal amounts of color and background (1 end, 3 loops, 1 end), in shot bursts because of the smaller space. 

  4. Balloon Flower II was hooked by Judith Hotchkiss specifically for this article. I added a border of ovals which would enhance the confetti. For the border, Judith outlined each oval with the background color and filled in between the ovals with same color. For the confetti, she first hooked one oval using equal amounts of color and background (1 end, 3 loops, 1 end) and sent me a picture. We thought it should have more color, so she hooked 1 end, 4 loops, 1 end of color, and 1 end, 3 loops, 1 end of background. Hooking the background with the confetti in this way created a riotous mix of color that seems unplanned—but it is planned.

    Balloon Flower II, 12" x 12", #4- to 6-cut wool on linen.
    Designed by Nancy Jewett and hooked by Judith Hotchkiss, Deer Isle, Maine 2020.This is a hexad color plan.

  5. William’s Antiques,, 32" x 21", #3- to 5-cut wool on linen. Designed by Kay Forbush and hooked by Nancy Jewett, Brandon, Vermont, 2017

  6. When I work on a design, I always think “what if.” I wondered what using this technique would be like in the background of a simple design. I designed Lily for this purpose. Using white for the lily would offer no competition for the background. I chose eight analogous colors in various values and a very dark color for the background. Since I wanted a fair amount of accent color, the ratio of color to background was this: 1 end, 5 loops, 1 end of color, and 1 end, 3 loops, 1 end of background. I laid my color worms in an order to help mix up similar colors. Because I was hooking around a motif, there were areas where I had to adjust the loop ratio and make adjustments to keep it mixed. I added a bit of beading for interest and more color. I experimented with equal beads of color and background and 2 background to 1 color bead, which I preferred because it was a bit more subtle. The confetti border is quite versatile and can be used in all types of styles, and is not restricted to bright colors. It would be wonderful to accent primitive-style rugs that are hooked with more subdued colors, using the same principles. RHM

    Lily (analogous with a complement color plan), 10" x 15", wool on linen. Designed and hooked by Nancy Jewett, Brandon, Vermont, 2017.

  7. Lily © Nancy Jewett, 2017. For a mat approximately 10" x 15", enlarge 155%.

Nancy Jewett is owner of Fluff & Peachy Bean Designs. She teaches beginners, and specialized workshops on color planning, borders, and dyeing. She writes frequently for Rug Hooking magazine and travels extensively throughout the country to hook-ins, workshops, and rug shows. Her contemporary folk-art style is a contrast to the widely-recognized primitive and fine rug hooking. She lives in rural Vermont with her partner, Bruce, and two adored cats


  1. Always have a row of background between every row of color confetti. This separates the colors so they are distinct and create the look. If you did not use the row of background, it would be called hit-or-miss and the colors would blend.

  2. More loops of color give you more sparks of color.

  3. For a more subtle look, use more background and fewer bits of color.

  4. Keep the number of colors to a maximum of 5 or 6.

  5. Experiment with this technique in the motif. Chose a simple, single motif and hook it in this confetti style, using analogous colors.

  6. Geometric shapes would also be fun to hook this way. For instance, if you chose squares, try confetti-hooking a square alternating with a square of non-confetti hooking. The possibilities are endless!


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