Who is Orange Sink?

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Rice Lake, WI, United States
My home town is Rice Lake, a small town in northern Wisconsin. I own Red House Wool Studio~ an in-home wool and rug hooking business. I enjoy collecting and decorating with antiques and primitives. Orange Sink Blog is a journal of my interests and ramblings about life. Cathy Greschner

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Monday, January 31, 2011


Spring chick gold.... one of the colors I came up with in my relentless dyeing escapades this past week.  I couldn't get that vision of a cute little fluffy, yellow gold, promise of Spring chicky out of my head.   I wondered how I could translate that thought since it persisted, onto paper then on to a scrap piece of burlap.  Since preparing to teach this class I've kept a small piece of white burlap stretched on a frame in my studio.  When something strikes me or the urge to see what a freshly dyed piece of wool looks like hooked I randomly hook goofy things on that burlap.  

Suddenly the colors and goofy hooking started taking shape and the practice burlap started to resemble the makings of a small rug!  I didn't mean for that to happen.  As you recall the wool I have been dyeing was meant for the students ( if any sign up) for the class I'm teaching to begin at the end of Feb.  Well, no mayam, I couldn't keep my hand out of the wool cookie jar!  The spring like colors and textures of all this newly dyed wool surrounding me overcame me like the sweet smell of freshly mowed grass in the meadow.  I dived right in!

Many of you have been experiencing a winter this year like we have here in Northern WI every year.  Long about Feb. and into March and heaven forbid into April we northerners are hanging on to our sanity by a thin thread.  In my case it's a #6 or #8 cut piece of wool.  The only thing that keeps us motivated is the promise of sunshine, green grass, baby chicks, and finally being able to walk outside without ten layers of clothing.  

Promise has been a nice word to dwell on these past few days.  It's a word that gives a cause or grounds for hope. And something that is promising is likely to turn out well or succeed.  Yes, promise indeed seemed like a good word to keep handy.

More to come....... I promise!

Cathy G

Monday, January 24, 2011

I Dye By Eye

Bet you thought I fell into the dye pots and would never return! The kettles have been steaming away and Dave says the house smells like Easter eggs!   I use vinegar as the mordant to set the dyes.  I dye by eye and by the seat of my pants most of the time.  However for this class I've tried to stay a little focused and stick to the more primitive colors.  Primitive can mean different things to different people. To me it means softer, subdued, not "in your face" colors. Secretly I have a love affair with 'in your face colors". But for this class I've decided to keep things a bit more subtle.  I'm using a softer spring like palette.

Some of the formula's I've dyed so far have names like Ashes of Rose, Buttermilk Paint Blue, and Old Rusty Apricot.  
I have never dyed wool to sell or for anyone else.  I dye for my own rugs and projects.  Now having all this freshly dyed wool around  and not being able to hook with it is like telling a kid to keep her hands out of the cookie jar!  
How does a hooker manage that?  Tempting myself even further I have been stripping the wool  to save time in class.  I want my students to concentrate on their hooking technique.  Although after a few thousand rounds of stripping with my little Bliss cutter I think the students will be learning to cut  a little more wool than I'd originally planned! 

I dye a lot of as found wools.  I love dyeing over textures and weird plaids.  I've had one ugly piece of wool in my stash (pictured above) that never seems to want to dye up decent. I've over dyed this particular wool at least six different colors  and it refuses to be pretty.  I threw a piece of it in with a pot of Bronzed Olive Green and finally, I think it turned into something fairly usable if not downright attractive!  I'm tempted to keep it for myself!  Sorry class!

So after this brief recess to blog a little, I'm returning to my studio to try and make some order out of chaos. I better hurry for I've ordered more wool and it should be here any day! I think I'm having fun!

If you live in my area  and would like to take my class, here is the link to the  WITC online catalog where you can get the information about the class.  There are lots of new classes being offered this Spring at the college in the continuing education division.  If I weren't teaching I may have taken the new artistic welding class.  I've always wanted to weld an artsy  creative trellis for my garden!

Cathy G

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dyeing the Blues

Somewhere along the line the blues in my wool stash disappeared.  Funny because I didn't think I used a lot of blues in my hooking.   Out came the dye pots today and some as found wools were set to boiling on the stove.   A straight blue dye over natural and white gave me the baby blues!  A couple of textured herringbones dyed up nicely to a robins egg blue.  I'm on a roll and I hope I can keep it up because I need lots of colors for my class.  So if you don't see me here for awhile..........  

It's 'cause the pedal's to the metal and the teacher's stirring pots!

Cathy G

Monday, January 17, 2011

Winter Reflections

Dave took this photo of the doors to my studio yesterday.  Needless to say we don't use these doors in the winter.  Dave banks snow up to cut down on drafts.  Does it look like a draft could get any where near the bottom of the door? 
I liked the way the trees were reflecting in the windows.

Well, I better get back to the taxes, class prep. and the zillion other things that I need to do!
Thank-you all for your sweet encouragement on becoming a teacher. Every comment is read and cherished.  Thank-you, Thank-you, Thank-you!   

Cathy G

Friday, January 14, 2011

Clean Mind and Crazy Heart!

I must have one of the cleanest minds on earth!  That's because I change it so often!  LOL

I changed my mind about using the crazy wool heart that I finished for a journal cover.  I decided to make it into a wool pillow instead!  I added a star button to the heart.  It's stuffed with wool snippets and linings from wool jackets.  I made an inner pillow from an old wool quilt and stuffed that.  Then enclosed that with the applique pillow. 

I still haven't got a rug on the frame.  I've been preparing paper work for becoming an instructor at the school.  It's been a long while since I've had an actual paying job.  And this one depends on having people sign up for the class.  I want to remain optimistic.  I tend to worry myself into a tizzy. 

The classes are due to start the end of February. I must get into a teaching mode. It's all so new and scary.

 Wouldn't it be grand to find a student who will embrace the love of rug hooking as I do?  Someone who will be as crazy about pulling wool and fiber through a backing as I have!  That's what pushes me to go beyond my comfort zone and actually pull this teaching gig together!

I'm hoping to find a crazy heart or two in this area to share my passion!  I can do this!  I know I can!

Cathy G

Monday, January 10, 2011


Did a little embellishing to the wool crazy heart today.  Practiced the blanket stitch,  french knots, the flower thingy stitch ( the proper name escapes me.... anyone?)  

I'm having too much fun with this wool applique and stitching!  I know I should be hooking and dyeing wool.   This is way too much fun though!

I am just happy to be creating.  I think it will lead me back to the hooking track sooner or later!  

Cathy G

Sunday, January 9, 2011

(Hey JoAnne... "Smokin' in the Boy's Room".....!

A few days ago my ancient CD player out in the studio died.   So until I have enough money to buy my dream Bose Wave  System, hubby hooked up the XM radio for me out there.  We like our music around here.  However what I like to listen to doesn't necessarily jive with the Mr.   While he gets turned on hearing Cash, Waylon, Willie,  and the old country stuff,  I like a variety from classical to my favorite 70's rock and roll.  Remember that song   "Smokin' in the Boy's Room"?  Crank it up baby.

( Joanne has been using titles of songs for her blog posts...... bet she's too young to remember that song LOL!) .... 

We are 'enjoying'(not)  a deep freeze outside here in our neck of the woods.  As a matter of fact it's colder outside than inside the deep freezer downstairs. ( 19 below 0 this morning).  A friend stopped yesterday to pick up some frozen venison from hunting season and we left it sit outside in the garage while we all ran downtown to catch a burger at a local hamburger joint.  Two hours later the venison is still frozen solid as a rock. 

I'm still preparing for teaching my rug hooking class.  The wool crazy heart I was practicing my feather stitch on is destined( I think) to be the cover of this journal.  I've collected photos of favorite hooked rugs through the years and saved them in this binder.  The cover folds in half and becomes a little easel. I thought it would work nice for class.  I have no idea yet how I'm going to attach it.  Glue seems like the only option at this point.  I may embellish the heart with a little more stitching or applique. 

A geranium waits for spring on a sunny windowsill in my studio. 

The Raspberries are rockin' to "Please Go All The Way"!  The woodpile is dang close to going all away!

Hope you are rockin' and hookin' these winter days away as well!  

Cathy G

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Show Must Go On!

( Once upon a time.  Me and Ed)

 Yesterday a half inch of newly fallen snow covered the winding ramp leading into Heritage Manor nursing home. Ahead of me a nurse in light cotton scrubs pushed my friend Dorothy in a wheel chair at a pace I had difficulty keeping up with. Earlier I had stopped at Dorothy's house, a three story painted pink old Victorian with a wrap around porch and a dozen icy steps, to pick her up and take her to visit her husband Ed at the nursing home.

The warm moist air licked my face as we entered the halls of Heritage Manor. A ride on the elevator to the second floor warmed my nose while melting the snow and clumps of mud off the wheels on the wheelchair. In the short wait while nurses scrambled to find lift equipment to get Ed from the bed to a wheel chair, my mind transferred to a time about fifteen or twenty years ago when Dorothy, Ed, myself and a company of friends waited in a hallway at the Mable Tainter Theatre in Menomonie, WI dressed in Victorian finery minutes before a performance.

My costume was a true Civil War gown complete with bustle and corset laced tight to reduce my waste to an unthinkable tiny measure! My wide brimmed hat was graced with plumes of feathers. Elbow length kid leather gloves completed an elegant look. Handsome as all get-out, Ed was outfitted in the finest wool Civil war Navy officer's uniform complete with spats and a long sword in sheath attached to his side. The performance was written and choreographed by Dorothy. Our little band of costumed thespians were known as Dorothy and Company. We had traveled around the state performing at numerous affairs for business groups, schools and local festivities. Dorothy's massive collection of vintage clothes and hats and genuine artifacts dating from the Civil War to recent vintage of the 1970's enabled us to dress in genuine clothing, not reproductions. A typical performance would begin with the Civil War outfits. While Dorothy spun tales and kept the audience on the edge of their seats, our little company of friends backstage would transform ourselves into flappers and gangsters from the 1920's. On down through the eras we would explode onto the stage dressed in period costume with no detail overlooked. Part of the act would be to parade through the audience letting them touch the costumes and see the actual workmanship in each outfit. Music that Dorothy had recorded blared from a boom box along with each act and enhanced the audience's appreciation for each time period.  Many times our act would close with me entering the stage in a long flowered hippie dress with flowers in my hair. The handsome devilish Ed would bring the house down following behind me in a long haired wig with leather fringed knee high moccasins and tie dyed t shirt. His floppy brimmed leather hat......

"Ed's in his chair now. You can come in." The nurses voice jarred me into the present. It's been over a year since Ed had a pretty bad stroke. Dorothy is recovering from stomach cancer and walks with a walker. She still lives at home and is a strong willed, colorful, wonderful charismatic woman. I am blessed to have them both in my life. As time marches on we keep making memories. Ed has decided he wants to wear the warm wool mittens that Dorothy was wearing today. They struggle and carry on while trying to get them over Ed's fingers left lifeless from the stroke. I see his eyes light up and a tiny smile emerge as Dorothy readies him for yet another performance.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Teaching a Teacher

It's a good thing I'm not going to be teaching embroidery.  Today I tried to teach myself the feather stitch. It took all day.   I have done a little embroidery in my distant past.  The feather stitch has always eluded me.
I really felt out of my element. Perhaps like a new student would feel learning rug hooking for the first time.  I felt I had to put myself in that position.  I had to feel the emotion of coming into a class room and learning a foreign skill.

The thing that really helped me today the most was going to the computer and finding a tutorial and watching the person actually doing the feather stitch. I had a book with a diagram.  That wasn't helping.

Mental note to self.... Students in my beginning rug hooking class are going to benefit from watching me doing a lot of hooking.  Maybe in slow motion.  

 After practicing all day on the blessed feather stitch, I felt I had somewhat accomplished learning it.  A little chocolate reward was in order.   Okay, a LOT of chocolate.  I consumed about twenty of those little miniature Milky Way and Snicker bars.  

I hope my students like chocolate.  

Judging by the looks of this feather stitching,  tomorrow I should get back to rug hooking.