How to rug hook a sunset sky and water using specially dyed wool

Written by Cindi Gay

How to hook a regular sky

I use an easy method with my specially dyed sky wool to hook a normal day time sky.


The method is described in detail in Pine Trees, Grass and Sky. This method does not work for our nighttime sky on this project.

How to rug hook a nightime sky

This sky does not have any shading, but the water does…

How to rug hook the water

I custom dyed the wool for this project. You can hook anything with the right wool. We’ll use the sky method I use in my book, Pine Trees, Grass and Sky to rug hook this water.

Break the water area on your pattern and the spot dyed wool into the same number of sections. Four is an easy number. Split it in half and then each section into half. For finer control split it further, into eight or even sixteen sections (a yard is easily split into 16 pieces). This is explained in more detail in the book.

rughooking wool dyed for night water
Dyed wool
Wool divided into sections for rug hooking night water
Wool divided into sections

Once you identify your sections, hook the water using only wool from section one in section one, only section two wool goes into section two, etc. You can find more information about this technique in my book, Pine Trees, Grass and Sky.

Use the fine cut shading method to number the wool, the lightest value is always number 1. Note that the water in the photo is lighter at the bottom and darker at the top. Arrange the wool in that manner to number your sections. This is different than the “standard” way I describe in the Pine Trees, Grass and Sky book but it is right for this project.

Unusual lighting or other conditions will often “break the rules.”

What cut size should I use to rug hook the water?

Because the distances are so vast in this photo, let’s use the cut size of the wool to our advantage. Start with a larger cut closer to the viewer (at the bottom of the rug) and decrease the cut size as you move away. Objects get smaller as they move into the distance and changing the cut size helps with that illusion.

Start with a size 8 and move in sections to as small as a 4, depending on the size of your pattern. The larger the pattern, the more vast the image, the greater the span of cut sizes. A small pictorial could move from just a six to a 4, for instance.

Using cut size to show distance in rug hooking
A gradual change in cut size helps the ground or water to “lay down” instead of looking like a green or blue wall.

It is more important in this particular pattern to change the cut size because the spot dyed wool will automatically create the waves. We want the waves or ripples to look smaller in the distance. Changing the cut size will do that automatically. Again, with the right wool you can hook anything!

How to rug hook a sunset sky

There is no need to use a special method for this nighttime sky. While it is still important to avoid bricks in the sky (see the section on how to hook sky in the book, Pictorial Basics: Pine Trees, Grass and Sky), there is no need to mark the sky into 4 sections. The color is consistent from top to bottom creating the illusion of darkness.

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