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Category Archives: Contemporary rugmakers

Sue’s Tree of Life

By | Color, Contemporary rugmakers, Making rugs | 6 Comments

On the left is the rug that my good rughooking friend Sue Hammond, of New London, NH, designed and hooked. As soon as I saw her design, I loved it. It’s not a hit or miss rug, but the multi-color leaves, and the birds perched on the tree dazzled me. And so I asked if she would draw out the same design for me.

It’s not every rug designer that would agree to a request to copy out a rug they have just started making. So I felt completely honored that she agreed to draw out the same design onto linen for me to make. My version is on the right.

The designs are slightly different – she did not trace this design, she just re-drew it for me from scratch. She made the birds on “my” version slightly bigger, and placed one bird right at the center top of the tree. In the version she drew for me, the tree is slightly larger, and I made a few of the branches a bit thicker. And while she really liked her leaves to be not actually touching the branches, I hooked my leaves to be touching their branches.

Sue is one of the founders of the Green Mountain Rughooking Guild, and one of its past presidents. She is the emotional anchor of our local Tuesday Morning Rug Group. So I mean it when I say it was an honor to do a version of her rug.

And we both took great pleasure in seeing each of our rugs take shape, week to week – hers with her light background, mine with its dark background. We both edited the colors of the wool we chose for the leaves against our backgrounds – her leaves could not be too light, mine could not be too dark.

Yesterday, for the first time, we looked at both rugs, finished, side by side.

I will be putting my rug into the Green Mountain Guild’s next Hooked In The Mountains show, and the title of my rug will be Sue’s Tree of Life.

So here is a salute to Sue, to good rughooking friends everywhere, and to all those people like Sue who are relaxed in manner, creative in energy, and generous in spirit. They light up our lives…

Three projects…

By | Contemporary rugmakers, Design | 3 Comments

Thanks to Jeni for reminding me I had not posted my finished rug of the René Lalique jewelry design. Yes, it is all done, and I like the way it came out. Here is a close-up where you can see a few of the five “pearls” I did in the sculpted Waldoboro technique:

In person, the sculpted pearls do add something special to the rug. Doing Waldoboro is challenging and fun, but I do not see myself doing a project with lots of it! And starting with such a lovely, graceful design by Lalique, I did not have to worry about the design or the composition itself – just focussed on the colors and the hooking!

And my Tuesday morning rug group was invited to do an exhibit over the summer, on the theme of “Red, White and Blue”. I have my flag rug that I finished this spring, but not much else where those colors are dominant. So I pulled out a small oval pattern I was given, “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree” and used the oval linen and bunting border to design my own pot of red and white flowers instead of the spindley tree. It was fun because, once I decided I would use a background of hit or miss blues, I really could make it up as I went along. Here it is, just finished this weekend:

It only took me about two weeks to do this, and I found it very relaxing. And it did help to get me through two of our recent snowstorms…

So now on to my next project! My good friend Sue Hammond (one of the original founders of the Green Mountain Rughooking Guild, and one of the real emotional and creative anchors of our Tuesday morning group) had drawn out a tree, with birds and leaves of many colors. I loved it, and Sue kindly agreed to draw it out again on linen for me to make. So I am working on a Sue Hammond original!

It will be fun to do, and I will mostly delve into my basket (ok, baskets, baggies, and plastic boxes) of cut wool strips for making the leaves. Here it is, with only the tree, one of the ten birds, and two leaves done:

I’ve decided to take Sue’s advice and add background to each hooked element as I go along, so there is not quite so much background later on! And both Sue and I are already enjoying how our hooking strategies are different. I definitely wanted to do the entire tree first. She did one small section – tree, birds, and leaves – all at once, then went on to the next small section. And her background is a very pale blue, while mine is a medium-dark green. It will be so interesting to see them, side by side, when they are both done!

Hope you have a good project or three to be working on, during this last cold spell (please make it be the last one!) before real spring arrives.

Upside down, right-side up

By | Contemporary rugmakers, Design, Rug Community | 7 Comments

I was lucky enough to spend four days at Jackye Hansen’s rug camp in Kennebunk, Maine last week. This is, I think, my favorite camp – a fairly small and very talented group, and a great setting. And the timing, just after the holidays are over, in the middle of winter, makes me really look forward to it, and relish every moment.

Have you ever noticed that at a hook-in or camp, there is usually one rug that people gather around to study and marvel over?

There were many gorgeous rugs being worked on, but on this particular day, at this camp, a large rug by Kathy Hutchins, of Cambridge, VT, was what everyone was gathered around to examine.

Kathy is designing it as she goes, and it will be for her living room:

Because it will be in the center of the room, she is putting a lot of thought into making some elements facing one way, and some facing the other way, so it will never be “upside down”. So the central figures, the bear and the wild turkey, are both oriented with their heads toward the center of the rug. This is a very tricky undertaking, and right now she is planning to have what is the sky, looking from one side, turn into the water of a river, looking from the other side. Amazing design problem that she is solving!

And in the details of each animal, her drawing skills shine:

The rug will be chock-full of creatures and plants, and even the smaller ones, like the fox, turtle, irises and jack-in-the-pulpits shown here, are delightful.

Take a look at the detail in these ferns, half-unfurled, and the deep red trillium to the right:

Ah, I wish I could draw like Kathy! I would love to see this rug when every inch of it is finished. But it is one of those rugs that I know you will have to see in person, and in this case, walk all the way around, to appreciate.

Kathy, keep going! Your rug will be a one of a kind treasure! Thanks for letting me share your progress here.

In the “return to the real world”, coming home at the end of camp, I lost my notes about the other beautiful and challenging rugs that were being worked on. How typical of me, to leave for camp with everything neat and organized, and return home with everything in a jumble! But it was a treat to spend some days with many talented rughookers. Rose, Theresa, Jane, Kris, Linda, and everyone there were producing beautiful pieces in a wide range of styles that were truly inspiring!

And a tip of the hat to Nancy Taylor, who did so much to help Jackye organize another wonderful rug retreat!

A “Welcome to 2018” New Year’s Day Tour

By | Contemporary rugmakers, Creativity | 6 Comments

How to welcome a new year on this rughooking blog? I decided it would be fun and interesting to contact some of our fellow blog readers to see what sorts of projects are currently “on their hook”. So let’s take a little tour! First, two projects from Sylvia Doiron, of Barnstable, MA.

Sylvia writes, “I chose these patterns because both struck me when I saw them. The sunflowers (shown above) were drawn for me by Angela Foote as a gift. The recipients are fond of yellows, golds and blues. I started it at her class in October 2017. It was to be a 2017 gift. It will be a 2018 gift.” Sylvia adds it is done in three’s and four’s with background in a 5 cut.

Her other just-finished project is this beautiful Christmas scene:

She wrote “I finished “Away in the Manger” Christmas Eve. None too soon. It is a Christine Little, Encompassing Design pattern. As you can see, the finishing needs to be done. I am debating having it stretched on a frame or making a pillow. I began the piece in September 2016 with Betty McClentic. My first attempt at fine shading with three’s and four’s. A challenge for sure but it was fun.

Cathy Dupuis, of Holderness, NH, is working on this sweet pictorial:

Cathy writes, “This was a free gift from Cushings this Christmas at her open house. It is just a little something to get me though the holidays… I have a lot I want to accomplish this coming year!

Makes me want to go to more open houses!

Lynn Soule, of North Hero, VT can’t show us what she is working on right now because it is a surprise for someone, but sent in a gorgeous rug she finished this year. It is Alex’s Lucy (Pattern by Michael Vistia and drawn by The Bee Skep):

Talk about setting the usual color schemes on their head! It is terrific, Lynn!

Jeni Nunnally, of Cape Neddick, Maine, sent along this photo of her current project:

and she wrote, “I bought this pattern about 10 years ago. Pulled it out when I was asked to demonstrate rug Hooking this fall at the York Harvest fest. I thought it would be an easy pattern if someone wanted to try Hooking. Then I took it to demo at the Cumberland Fair. You can see I haven’t done much Hooking this fall as the rug still isn’t done. If it isn’t finished by the January hookin I’m going to in Kennebunkport, I’ll finish it there!

Jeni, you are almost done! Keep it up and I will look forward to seeing what project comes after this nice one when I see you at rug camp!

Laura Salamy wrote from Albuquerque, NM with this photo of what she is working on, despite a cast on her arm:

Laura writes, “I’m laughing because I’m just so happy I’m even working on something at the moment. And hunting and picking on my phone. My right hand/wrist has been in a cast for over a week. Ice skating incident. But just the other day I tried hooking. Very slow going but possible! Actually, it’s between my own projects. Nine of us in the Adobe Wool Arts guild here in Albuquerque are participating in a friendship rug project. This is one of them. My contribution to it is the pink and orange feather in process. When all nine rugs are done, we’ll be writing an article on them, so consider this a little taste of what’s to come. Personally, I’m hoping my wrist isn’t broken and that I’ll be out of the cast Friday. Otherwise it’ll be two to three months and I have too many rugs in me dying to get out.

I love the idea of the friendship rugs! But nine of them is quite an undertaking, and they look pretty good-sized! By the way, Laura is a fellow rughooking blogger (see it at www.highonhooking.com) and is already becoming an active vendor at fiber arts events in New Mexico, after relocating there from New England not long ago.

And now let’s head back north on our New Year’s Day tour, up to Tenants Harbor, Maine, to see what Anne Cox is working on:

Anne writes, “So this is what I’m working on. It’s based on the monarchs which we watched this summer, from adults to eggs to caterpillars to chrysalises to adults ready to head to Mexico. Needless to say, it is all abstraction, but trying to capture the patterns and energy of the monarchs. It’s an evolving rug. Fortunately with the siege of sub-zero temperatures I have plenty of time to work on it.

Wow! Somehow, looking at this piece just warms me up, and makes me feel the summer sun. It’s beautiful and inspiring, Anne!

And finally, here in frigid Wilmot, NH, I am just starting to work on an art nouveau design for a brooch by French jewelry designer Renè Lalique (1860-1945) that I saw (and took this photo of) at a museum in Amsterdam:

I am hoping that my enlarging and tracing does not distort his graceful design too much! There are a few lines I will smooth out as I hook them. And I am thinking of doing the larger “pearls” with the Waldoboro sculpted technique.

Yes, that is our new kitten, Jenny Tornado, checking it out as soon as I put it down to take a photo!

I sent an email to about six blog readers, mostly at random (well, from those who have left comments recently, so I had emails for) and was so delighted to get all these replies in response! Many thanks to Sylvia, Cathy, Lynn, Jeni, Laura and Anne for sharing! And I bet virtually everyone reading this blog could have sent a fascinating photo of their current project! Seeing the range of work is part of what makes rughooking so continuously fascinating!

Thanks so much for taking a New Year’s Day tour with me, and for reading the blog! Wishing you all a very happy 2018!

Last Call for a Great Rug Exhibit

By | Contemporary rugmakers, Creativity, Rug Community | 6 Comments

This weekend I finally got to go to the hooked rug exhibit at the Pompanoosuc Mills showroom in East Thetford, VT, and I sure was glad I did not miss it. If you want to see it, the end date is coming up fast – the show will be up through Mon., November 27th. The showroom is open all days except Thanksgiving, even Sunday (11-5).

The wonderful rug shown above is River Dream, by Ed O’Keeffe. Just so you can see the great color and amazing detail, here is a close-up:

I was surprised at how large an exhibit it was. Just one stunning rug after another, and with a great variety of styles. Here is Jennifer Davey’s Guardian:

Kris McDermet had her (braided and hooked) rug Women of Hope on display:

And I especially liked Kathi Barbour’s pictorial, Megan, Emily and Matthew on the Gile Brook Trail:

Kathi Barbour’s beautiful rug Valley of Mexico was there, too, and I apologize for not getting a close-up of the delicate detail in her work, but it is a magnificent rug:

Sue Gault had two of these charming 3-D cats, called Brothers, to add a whimsical note to the show:

…and Judith Kushner had First Rug – Joey on display:

Could that have really been Judith’s first rug? Yikes! As someone who tried to hook my long-haired cat many times, I am impressed, whether it was her first rug or her hundredth!

And Liz Guth had this stunning hooked composition, Long Island City, on display:

I had to stop and just look at this rug for a long time, just trying to understand its quiet yet vibrant look. And let’s end with one more from Liz Guth, this one called Untitled 1:

Here is a close-up of the detail in the layer-on-layer borders:

So congratulations to Pompanoosuc Mills for opening their furniture showroom to such a wonderful and large exhibit. And congratulations to all the rughookers represented in the show – many more than I have shown here – and to the organizers, too. It is a terrific display of rughooking talent.

So if you want to go for a ride, pre- or post-turkey, head up to East Thetford, VT. It’s a pretty ride, and you will be well rewarded in sheer talent. Hours and directions can be found online at www.pompy.com.

All rugs shown are copyrighted and so protected, and used here with the very kind permission of their makers.

Amsterdam style!

By | Contemporary rugmakers, Food for thought, History of Art | 2 Comments

I thought you blog readers would get a kick out of this…about 12 rughooking friends got together for the weekend at a great B&B, as we have a few times before. So as we usually do, we stopped at one point to take a group photo. Came out pretty good, and at least everyone’s eyes were open.

Then someone (who clearly read my recent blog entries) suggested we take one more photo, but “Amsterdam style” – meaning only one or two people looking directly at the camera/viewer, and the rest looking at each other, or at least not looking directly out. So we took one more picture – as in the style of the Dutch “golden age” group portraits from the mid-1600s. Here is the group photo, Amsterdam style:

I got an enormous kick out of this. First, that someone thought of it after reading my last blog entry (well done, Lynda!) and second, that it came out as such an interesting group photo – just a little bit different!

So if you are having family get-togethers for Thanksgiving and start taking photos of the group, maybe give this a try and let me know how it goes!

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” – Ecclesiastes 1:9

A balance of two passions

By | Composition, Contemporary rugmakers, Creativity | 3 Comments

Last week our White Mountain Woolen Magic guild speaker was Kris McDermet, of Dummerston, VT. I told our members ahead of time that if they had ever seen one of her rugs, they would remember it.

Kris has blended braiding and hooking, to take both to a new level. Above, you can see her rug Leaves of Grace, based on a Shaker Tree of Life design. Notice how, even in the rug’s center, the “fruits” of the tree are small braided pieces:

And the outer border features hooked and braided leaves with empty space between them:

Kris works on smaller sections of her rugs, and then pieces them together into the larger whole. Here is another of her rugs, called Passion:

In this beautiful work, Kris even encorporated some wet-felting, to do the hearts in her design:

Kris finished each piece of hooking separately, using wool rug padding and a back lining to bring each hooked area up to the same level as the thicker braided areas. Here is a close-up of one hooked piece, almost finished, with the hooked layer, the linen backing, rug padding and finally the red lining, ready to turn in and finish the stitching on:

And here is a hooked piece, all padded and lined, and about to have a line of braiding added:

Kris explained that, as much as she tries to get a precise fit between the hooked and braided pieces, sometimes, it does not come out right, and she has to figure out a way to “make it work” – her sharing these moments with us made her process much more accessible to the rest of us!

Here is a close-up of another of Kris’s rugs (too large for me to photograph well) that was based on a contemplative labrynth:

And this piece is called Peaceful and Quiet Offerings, with the design
based on the idea of a string of lanterns around a koi pond with the birds and bugs surrounding the pond:

Kris says that when one of her designs really works, neither the braiding nor the hooking is more important than the other. There is a balance.

Many thanks to Kris for sharing the story of her rugs with our group, and allowing me to show them to you here. Her website is online at www.krismcdermetrugs.com, where you can find her schedule of classes, too. Kris’s book “Combining Rughooking and Braiding” is available from Shiffer Books online here, and has a lot of detailed instructions for anyone wanting to know more of her techniques!

Old rug, new rug

By | Color, Contemporary rugmakers, Making rugs | 4 Comments

This is the first proddy rug I ever made. I was living in the northwest of England, and saw a notice for a one-day class in making rag rugs in the parish newsletter, signed up, went, and had a wonderful time, and met some very nice women in the nearby market town of Kirkby Lonsdale in the process.

I’ve never liked the design very much – concentric circles are just not that interesting, but have always been fond of it anyhow, and it has laid in front of our stove for years. It’s a bit grimy and flattened from so many feet finding cushion and comfort from standing on it for hours and hours while cooking.

But this summer, I (finally!) got a new kitchen counter, and as I approach the end of my “Flag on the Porch” rug, I have decided to make a new proddy to go in front of our stove. Here is a close-up of our new counter:

It is so beautiful! Especially since I’ve lived with a black, 1970s leather-look (ie, uneven and hard to clean) counter for many years! It’s called Blue Sahara, by Silestone, by the way…

So this morning, after a very stressful week (5 hr. trip to the ER with my husband, doing credit freezes and changing passwords, nuclear war seeming imminent, minor but upsetting dog fight, and so on) I finally had enough creative juices running in my veins to go into my wool room and started pulling wool for my next project:

Making a proddy rug takes a lot of wool. How much? Way more than you anticipate. For me, this is good – my wool is overflowing it’s shelves. I still want to look through again to add more rust-colored wool. And maybe a piece or two of gray.

I am planning to make a “confetti” rug – where all the colors are mixed together somewhat randomly, like in this proddy I made for my bathroom:

English rugmakers also call confetti rugs “mizzy-mazzy” rugs – don’t even bother to ask me why, but it is a great name, isn’t it? The secret of having enough wool in different colors for a confetti rug is to use a lot of different blues, for example, so that as you run out of one blue plaid or solid, you can just add another one in. Some people cut a lot of wool and divide up each color into four piles or bags, so that most of the colors are evenly distributed for each quarter of the rug.

And proddy means a lot of cutting. I will start now, first cutting long 1″-wide strips, and then taking two or three long strips and cutting them into small 2 1/2″ or 3″ pieces. A good task while watching a movie or four… I can usually cut two or three thicknesses of wool at once into long strips, which helps. At least for proddy, your cutting does not have to be all that precise. If one long strip is slightly wider at one point, and thinner at another, it really does not matter, it will still be fine.

And during stressful days, “It will still be fine” sounds like just the kind of feeling I need.

Out at sea…

By | Contemporary rugmakers, Creativity, Design | 5 Comments

It’s one thing to go to a great rug camp, but when you are six miles out to sea on a small island, the problem is that every direction you look in, there is a rug design just waiting to happen. This is a photo of early morning, just after sunrise, on the Isles of Shoals, where I spent four days at Pam Bartlett’s Star Island Rug Retreat. And yes, though I got a lot of hooking done, this time I did take photos of at least some of the projects people were working on to show you.

Last year, Pam set aside the project she had brought to spontaneously make this rug during the retreat:

And she challenged us to come back to Star with a rug reflecting our memories of the island. Three people brought beautiful pieces. First, Cathy Dupuis, of Holderness, NH, made this small piece, capturing the rowboats that anchor in the harbor:

Donna Rousseau, of Wells, Maine, finished her challenge rug this week on the island. She decided to call it Cornerstone:

And Dayle Young Wheeler, of Rutland, VT, brought back her wonderful view of the chapel steeple, with the words that capture the essence of a retreat on Star Island – just beautiful:

And while we were there, two rugs were completed. Biffie Gallant, of Randolph, VT, finished this lovely rug that she had been working on for more than a year. The pattern is Chinese Roundel, by Jane McGown Flynn:

And Bonnie Roycewicz, of Fort Ann, NY, finished this charming rug during our time on Star. The pattern is Love Birds, by Cushing, and adapted by Bonnie as a wedding gift:

And in our four days, I got a lot done on my rug, based on the photo I’ve shown you of my porch with our flag flying:

Each day, Pam spent a few moments talking with us about being creative, being in the moment, being mindful, and noticing the beauty of your surroundings. And of course, this, we can each do wherever we are.

Pam Bartlett does such a wonderful job organizing this retreat, as well as running a great rug shop, The Woolen Pear, in Loudon, NH, online at www.redhorserugs.com. It’s not that easy, when every single thing has to be anticipated and transported out to the island on the ferry. Thank you, Pam.

All photos of these rugs are shown here with the permission of their makers, and many thanks to each of them. And thank you, Star Island. More info on day trips, retreats, and conferences on Star, and the fascinating history of the island, can be found at www.starisland.org.

Breaking boundaries

By | Art, Contemporary rugmakers, Creativity | 3 Comments

Alexandra Kahayoglou’s family runs a carpet factory in Buenos Aires. She takes scraps of leftover thread from the factory, and uses a hand-tufting process to create wool rugs that are inspired by nature’s surfaces – moss, water, grass, trees, meadows. Some, like the one shown above, break the boundary between wall and floor, between inside and outside.

And sometimes, she breaks the definition between furniture and rug:

Part tapestry and part rug, Kehayoglou has managed to take the leftovers of more standard carpetmaking, and go in her own direction.

Many of her creations remind me of looking down, from an airplane, to see the colors and forms of the earth-bound landscape:

To me, Kahayoglou’s work displays real creativity. Using cast-off material, useless for the purpose it had served, she sees something, and puts it together in a new way. In doing so, she gives us a new perspective of viewing what is all around us. She sees her rugs (“her grasslands”) as a statement of concern for our fragile environment, “like I’m flying the flag for mother earth”.

I have few details about the tufting method she uses – she calls it weaving or hand-tufting, using a “weaving gun” – but I love her work and her creativity. Here is a photo of her in the process of making a rug:

She writes, “I like pieces that can be used, that lie between design and art.” She’s had numerous shows, and coverage in international fashion and interior design magazines, and has her own website at alexkeha.com. May your own rugs fly the flag of your own creative spirit!