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Category Archives: Rug Community

Green Mountain Good Times

By | Creativity, Making rugs, Rug Community | One Comment

image GMRHG fall mtg

I just spent a wonderful long weekend hooking at the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild’s fall hook-in. One of the benefits of going to a big gathering like this is to see the astounding range of projects people were working on, both at the hook-in and in the classes. Color and creativity surrounded us! I’ll show you some of the rugs under way in the next few days.

And the other benefit to these gatherings is seeing old friends, meeting new people, and getting to sit (and hook) and visit with people who you’d known a bit, but now feel much more like real friends.

Today I’ll just show you what I’ve been working on.

image MJ Thy Friend

It’s a large project for me – a yard square – and was designed by Marijo Taylor of Eugene, Oregon. I finished the entire inside, so now just have the border and lettering around the outside to do. I say “just”, but that’s a long (four yards around) border with a lot of lettering! I did fall in love with the Ralph Waldo Emerson saying: “Go often to the house of thy friend, for weeds choke the unused path.”

And this sentiment is true, I think, not only in our personal lives, but in our rughooking community, too. Rug groups, whether local or regional, shouldn’t be taken for granted. So a “well-done!” to Kathy Sweeten, our outgoing GMRHG President, and the outgoing Board – and three cheers to Jennifer Davey, our incoming President, and all our incoming Board! And thanks to all of you who help in some way to keep rug groups, wherever they are, thriving! Your work (and these events) make us a true community of rughookers, which we can all grow from and enjoy.

Marijo Taylor’s patterns are available on iloverughooking.com. Marijo has a great blog at northwestfolkdesign.blogspot.com. And the Green Mountain Guild is online at www.gmrhg.org. And if you want to hunt up a guild near you, you could start by checking the ATHA website, at www.atharugs.com.

Remembering Friends

By | Making rugs, Rug Community | 2 Comments

image Betsy Boltik

I thought I would share two wonderful replies I got to my “Saying Hello, Saying Goodbye” post from the other day.

Betsy Boltik, of Lake Wales, FL sent the photo of her rug, above, which is titled Walking The Dog. Betsy wrote, “My heart goes out to your friend Karen at the loss of her beloved pet. My “Walking The Dog” rug was of my Japanese Chin, Zuzu. The day I heard I had gotten Best of Show with this rug, was the day I had to put my little fur child down. She had been battling congestive heart failure for 3 years, and her little 7 pounds just couldn’t fight it any more. She was only 7 years old and I was beyond heart broken. But wanted to tell you I feel your pain, and we pet lovers grieve with you. Hope your friend finds comfort.”

I’m so glad Betsy wrote. The synchronicity of bidding Zuzu goodbye on the same day Betsy’s rug of her won Best In Show gave me goosebumps. And her rug design is really creative! Happily, Betsy has two new cuties in her life:


And then I got this great letter from Stephanie Rost, of Wallingford, VT and a photo of her rug, Zoe. I’ll let her tell you about it:

“Here is my special rug…”

image Stephanie Rost

“It’s actually my FIRST rug. I knew I was going to love hooking and saved my drawing of my first dog Zoe for it. I struggled a bit with what to do as a border and then one day found this poem, Things to Do After Your Dog Has Died by Catherine Young, and adapted it (with permission).

Zoe the Dalmatian and I were together when I lived in Montana and I love the idea of her running through canyons and mountains just as we did when she was alive. You know I could pick apart the design, my abilities, my photography skills (laugh – this rug actually has square corners!), all sorts of things about this rug but I don’t – I love it and am glad to have created something lasting and special to remember her by. We are so lucky we get these dogs (and cats, and horses and birds and all the companions we love), even if only for a too-short time. Wouldn’t trade it for the world!

If you can’t read it, it says, “She races across sleep meadows and into dream mountains and canyons.”

I just fell in love with Stephanie’s rug of Zoe. What a perfect image and sentiment to capture her friend! It does not look like a “first rug” to me, at all. And when I read the wording, I suddenly thought of Cubby running beside Zoe through the hills. Maybe Karen’s Simon is running along with them.

And as a rughooker, what I really appreciated is that Stephanie knows about not trying to “pick apart” her rug. Yes, we can all gain in skills, and we see all these masterpiece rugs online – especially of animals – but it really is important for us to love the rugs we do, at the level that we create them. They come from our hearts. That’s important.

Thanks to Betsy and Stephanie for sharing their rugs with us. They are both their own designs, so copyrighted and protected, and used here with their creators’ kind permission.

Rugs at the Fair

By | Contemporary rugmakers, Rug Community | 4 Comments

image deerfield fair1

Yesterday a few of us from our White Mountain Woolen Magic group (our NH ATHA group) went to the 139th Deerfield Fair to demonstrate rughooking in the Crafts Pavilion.

Amidst the quilts, knitted goods, needlepoint and braided rugs, there was a really large display of hooked rugs – over 100 of them. This is thanks to the hard work and dedication of Grace Collette, who organizes the rug display each year.

So we sat at the end of several rows of lovely rugs, and Grace, Mary Miller and I felt like we talked non-stop all morning. Not to each other, but to all the fairgoers who wanted to see what we were doing, the rug projects we were working on, and how we did it.

image Grace at the fair

And we heard many good stories. Quite a few women mentioned they had hooked one piece long ago, and maybe they would like to try doing it again. Several people had mothers, or grandmothers who left them some rugs, and were happy to know more about how they were made, and how do you clean them? Others wanted to know where to find a class near them. Everyone we talked to seemed truly interested, and I would say it was a day well spent in putting our craft on display.

image Mary at the fair

The Deerfield Fair goes through this Sunday, October 4th, and even if you are not interested in the antique tractors, the handsome draft horses, petting zoo and of course all the fried dough and cotton candy stands, the Crafts Pavilion is worth your time.

Jeni Nunnally of York, ME won a first prize for this rug:

image Jeni rug

and Lisa Chaloner, of Merrimack, NH won a special ribbon for “Best Teacher’s Rug” with this lovely piece:

image Lisa C rug

Mary Miller, of Elkins, NH won a Second Premium ribbon with her finely shaded Rose:
image Mary's rose

And Lynn Ashworth, of Hudson, NH won the well-deserved ribbon for “Best Hooked Rug” at the Fair with this beauty:image Lynns rug

My Lupine rug won a third prize, and even that delighted me, seeing one of my rugs in the middle of a great display with a ribbon hanging from it. I believe my prize will be $3. And a White Ribbon, from the 139th Derrfield Fair!

What a rughookers’ trip!

By | Antique rugs, Contemporary rugmakers, Museums, Rug Community | One Comment

image Nova Scotia group

It’s Day Four of our seven-day rughookers tour of Nova Scotia. I’ve taken a lot of photos, but with no wifi and international cellphone rates, it’s been hard to even have time to look at them, once back at the hotel where there’s wifi access, after long, busy days.

So today I will just have time to say this: The Hooked Rug Museum of North America is wonderful! This great group photo of our busload of rughookers, above, was taken by Susan Lord of the Museum’s staff.

There are many antique rugs, many contemporary rugs, tools, frames, old historic ads and displays related to rughooking history. I know that this is a relatively young museum, and it was wonderful to meet Suzanne Conrod, who, with her husband, founded the museum. It greatly exceeded my expectations. The mission is stated like this: ” Loop by loop, we are preserving rughooking’s history!”

Here’s one photo from the hundred or so I took there:

image Rug Museum  tools

There were many antique hooks, but this tray of them really caught my interest most of all. I am convinced these were all ground down from kitchen paring knives! The handles look exactly like all my grandmother’s paring knife handles, and the hooks have been made, I’m pretty sure, from the thin blades themselved – they have flat, not rounded shanks. Only one of the many fascinating displays we found.

And I must add that it was delightful to be in the company of other rughookers when touring the museum. It was so much fun to compare reactions and thoughts about the rugs and displays with other hookers! I realized, as we were driving away, how much more I got from the Museum, just from the interactions with other rughookers, compared to what it would have been like seeing it on my own!

After our visit, we’ve all informally talked about how we can do something to help “our museum” grow. We can donate money, or we could make small or large hooked items to donate for the museum to sell and benefit from the profits. But that aside, try to plan a trip to see it yourself, and if you can, take along a few rughooking friends!

The museum website is at www.hookedrugmuseumnovascotia.org. Take a look! Sorry it’s so hard for me to post while on the road, but I will try to write more about all the great places we’ve stopped, soon! And a tip of the hat to Lynn Soule, for dreaming up this trip, and then seeing to all the details to get us all on the bus!

See you at the Fair

By | Contemporary rugmakers, Making rugs, Rug Community | 2 Comments

image Pam Bartlett

Tomorrow, Saturday, Aug. 1st, is the day that the big League of NH Craftsmen Fair starts, at Mount Sunapee State Park. If you’ve been before, I don’t have to tell you. If you’ve never been, it’s the oldest and one of the best crafts fairs in the country, with over 350 juried craftspeople presenting their best work.

The hooked rugs, including the terrific one shown above by Pam Bartlett of Loudon, NH, will be in the Living With Crafts exhibit, upstairs in the lodge. It’s a perfect spot for rughookers to display and sell their rugs, since no rughooker I know could hook enough rugs in a year to have inventory for an independent booth. In Living with Crafts, many craftsmen combine their wares for sale in room tableaus – a handcarved bedstead from a woodworker, with a quilt from a quilter displayed on it, maybe a side table from another furniture maker with a handcrafted lamp on top from another craftsman, with a photograph, hooked rug or framed art hung on the wall. The exhibit is always well designed and attractive.

This year, as well as Pam Bartlett’s rug, I will have two hooked pieces and one proddy rug there. I got special permission to have this one accepted for the Living With Crafts exhibit but marked “Not For Sale”. I was really pleased that I could display it, but just don’t want to sell it. As long-time blog readers will remember, it’s what I worked on after I lost my sweet dog, Cubby. I called it “Hit or Miss Therapy”:

image Hit or Miss Therapy
And there are over 200 booths chock-a-block full of beautiful handcrafted items in every medium you can think of. And the craftsmen are right there, and are very happy to talk about their work with you. It’s inspiring, and will make you want to go home and be creative in your own way!

image LNHC poster

The Fair runs from Sat. Aug. 1st through Sun. Aug. 9th. And our NH ATHA group, White Mountain Woolen Magic, will be there demonstrating rughooking on the 1st, 2nd and 9th. So be sure to come by, say hello and visit. They’ll be in Tent W all three days. Thanks to all the WMWM members who put the time in to show all the thousands of fairgoers a little about our craft!

One of the nice things about the Fair is that your entry ticket is good for two full days. That’s good, because there is almost too much to take in in one visit! Tickets, directions and schedule of demos, kids’ programs, classes, music and other details can be found at www.nhcrafts.org. And if you’re a NH rughooker, there’s also info on the website about the process of becoming juried. Info on our White Mountain Woolen Magic ATHA group is on our FaceBook page, here. And Pam Bartlett’s webpage for both Red Horse Rugs and her lovely shop in Loudon, NH, The Woolen Pear, is here. And remember, no pets allowed on the fairground or left in vehicles!

10 Rules for Rug Camp Packing

By | Making rugs, Rug Community | 10 Comments

image packing

It doesn’t matter whether you’re going to rug camp for two days or a week. The packing tips are the same.

1. First, pack the true essentials. The rug you’re working on, your frame, favorite hook, scissors, wool cutter. The stuff you’d actually have to turn around and go home to get if you forgot them.

2. Next, pack all the wools you plan to use on your project.

3. Then go through your entire wool stash and pick out all the wool you think might be a possible alternative if you changed your color plan completely during the drive up to rug camp. You never know.

4. Better go back and pack all the other blades for your cutter. You never know.

5. Extra eyeglasses if needed. Extra wineglass. Some things, you do know.

6. Now go pack all of that into your car. Is there any room left in there? If yes, go back to your rug supplies and pack up that extra piece of linen with the design drawn out to work on “someday”. And all the wool possibilities it might call for. Maybe your two day rug camp will magically turn into a month of steady hooking. Who knows?

7. Pack a travel mug with a cover. No coffee spills accepted. We all know.

8. Remember the charger for your phone. Yes, calling home might interrupt that lovely cocoon that rug camp provides, but God only knows what the family and animals get up to when you are gone.

9. After everything important is packed, get out a fairly big suitcase and throw a lot of clean clothes in it. Who knows what you’ll feel like wearing? You can figure that out once you get there.

10. If you’re of the “rug camp as desert island” philosophy like me, fill any extra space in your car with little everyday things you might possibly need, like extra kleenex, bottles of water, popcorn, needle and thread, extra shoes, aspirin, a magazine, at least three books, and so on. It’s possible there are stores where you are going, but who wants to take time from rug camp to go to a store? I know I don’t!

And embrace the day – rug camp anticipation is a wonderful thing. You’re all packed? Go! Have fun! Do good work! And enjoy friends, new and old!

“I never thought I’d live to see the day…”

By | Antique rugs, History, Rug Community | 5 Comments

image Sadie's Winter Dream1

I just discovered a new book about rughooking, and a little-known part of our craft’s history. And I am just astonished by it!

The book is Sadie’s Winter Dream: Fishermen’s Wives & Maine Sea Coast Mission Hooked Rugs, 1923–1938, by Judith Burger-Gossart, and published by Maine Authors Publishing.

image Sadie's Winter Dream cover

Judith, of Salsbury Cove, Maine, loves hooked rugs. She heard about the rugs of the Maine Sea Coast Mission, which is a century-old mission organization serving isolated coastal and island Maine communities. And then she heard that the Sea Coast Mission had boxes and boxes of old rugs in its possession. Above, top, you see one of them, Sailboat and Hills of Mt. Desert Island.

The more intrigued Judith got, the more she looked, and the more information about the rugs and their history she found. At each step along the way, she found key people to guide her to more of the story of these rugs, from a retired archivist of the Mission, to a chance meeting with a grandson of one of the rughookers.

When I wrote to Judith, she replied, “I did not start out to write a book, I just became so curious about the fishermen’s wives; the more I discovered the more I wanted to know. It has been a labor of love.

The publisher describes the book thus:

Sadie’s Winter Dream recounts the early years of the mission and the work of the audacious Alice M. Peasley, who developed a hooked rug program so fishermen’s wives could make money. Even more importantly, she opened their eyes to beauty and creativity; their self-esteem improved and they found new joy in life.

Between 1923 and 1938, the women produced about 650 rugs under the auspices of the Maine Sea Coast Mission. And unlike similar mission programs at Chéticamp in Nova Scotia or the Grenfell Mission in Newfoundland, Peasley encouraged her Maine rughookers to use their imagination, and design their own rugs, in their own styles.

I never thought I would live to see the day when I could do something that somebody would really want and value,” one woman said at the time.

Here is a photo of one of the rughookers of the Mission:

image Sadie's Dream 2

This photo is of Henriette Ames of Matinicus, with two fishermen. As a way of making a living, Ames made hooked rugs, and also oilcloth clothing for fishermen (depicted in this photo), and bait bags. She never married. Judith writes, “Her hooked rug of her home on Matinicus radiates the domestic tranquility she so admired”:

image Sadie's Dream 3

Judith writes, “No one else in the Mission Hooked Rug Program made rugs the way Ames did. She used wide strips of wool that give her rugs a soft impressionistic style, as opposed to the clean, clear lines of a delineated image.

And here is a photo of Sadie Lunt of Frenchboro, another rughooker of the Maine Sea Coast Mission:

image Sadie"s Dream 4

This is one of Sadie’s rugs, Still Life, Tropical Marine:

image Sadie's Dream 5

Judith writes, “It is amazingly beautiful and sensitively done. Every time I see her photo, I am struck by the contrast between the reality of her hardscrabble life and her ability to produce such an amazing hooked rug. Despite poverty, isolation, and a difficult life, her eyes were opened to beauty by Alice Peasley and she produced this wonderful rug.

How many times have I looked at antique rugs, and wondered who made them, and what kind of lives they led, and how they started hooking rugs? I’ll tell you: as many times as I’ve seen anonymous, unlabelled, antique rugs, whether lovely or plain. Judith’s book is a story of discovery of one community of rughookers, about both their lives and history, and their wonderful rugs. It’s enough to make me want to cry.

I’ve ordered my copy of Sadie’s Winter Dream and can’t wait ’til it arrives. You can find Judith’s own webpage at www.judithburger-gossart.com. She’s on Facebook, too. And the Maine Authors Publishing website, with more information on the book and ordering information is here.

Judith took all the photos herself; some of them are her photos of archival photos. The photo of Sadie Lunt of Frenchboro, is an archival photo from the Maine Sea Coast Mission. The photo of Henriette Ames and two fishermen is from the Matinicus Island Historical Society. All are copyrighted and so protected. They are used here with the author’s kind permission.

Many thanks to Judith, mostly for writing the story of these women and their rugs, but also for being so generous with sharing information on her book and this chapter in the history of our craft with us here.

New rug, finished

By | Color, Making rugs, Rug Community | No Comments

image MJ Lupines

Here is my Lupines rug, finished! I started it for the Shared Wool Challenge that my NH ATHA group, White Mountain Woolen Magic, is doing. Eight people all brought in a yard of wool (without consulting with each other on colors), and that was then divided into eight pieces. So each of us went home to do a rug using all eight colors.

The rules were loose: any size rug from 12″ x 12″ up, don’t dye the “shared wool”, but add any other wools you need. And make a good faith effort to use each of the shared wool pieces enough for them to seen well. Here are the eight colors my group started with:

image WMWM shared wool

So we worked backwards – instead of doing a design and then choosing colors, we had to look at the given colors and plan some design to use them in. With all those greens and a brown, I figured some kind of foliage was needed. And the rose and dark purple suggested lupines to me – especially because the lupines in my garden had just started to bloom.

I know there are yellow lupines, but I’ve never seen any, so I decided to add the little yellow flowers at the bottom for the yellow wool, and for a little variety.

I had grave doubts about the lower part of the rug, around the lupine leaves. It just looked like they were floating in space. But I chose a dark plaid and more of the brown to fill in around them, and that turned out to be a good guess.

And since I hadn’t used much of that nice brown wool, I added a strip of that in the border, and then remembered to shove in my initials within the border, in the green that was my wool contribution to the challenge.

I can’t wait til our September WMWM meeting to see what the other rugs using the same shared wool are!

Photos and rug design by me, so copyrighted 2015. And many thanks to my friend Deb, who, at rug camp, happened to have just the right hand-dyed rose colored wool to add a little depth with my “shared” rose wool, and was willing to… share!
And White Mountain Woolen Magic has a great facebook page, with info about meeting times and places, on Facebook, at www.facebook.com/nhrughooker.

A rug camp sampling

By | Contemporary rugmakers, Rug Community | 3 Comments

image Sarah Jansen

I think everyone at Session 1 of Green Mountain Rug School had a terrific time in Montpelier – happy rughooker faces wherever you looked. I did very little for the blog – there were just too many terrific rugs, and I could have spent all day getting photos, finding their makers, getting permissions – but didn’t. I just happily hooked away and visited around, and hooked some more.

But I did take some photos of what was underway in our Retreat group. Above, you see Sarah Jansen’s wonderful rug she designed of family cottages on the ocean. Sarah, of Westport, MA, was doing beautifully hooking this intricate pictorial, and it’s a stunner. She is almost done!

image Sue Burton Kelly

This rug is also nearing completion by Sue Burton-Kelly, of North Hero, VT. After I took this photo, she added a lovely sunrise for the background around the tent. This rug needs a great Adirondack “cottage” to grace. The pattern is from Cabin Creek Designs.

Lynn Soule, also of North Hero, VT, was working on this rug:

image Lynn Soule

Lynn said, “The rug was purchased from Crow Hill Primitives and I adapted it. It was called Flowervine, but I took out the flowers!”. I loved the mottled purple vine on the even darker background, with the whimsical cats, birdies, dogs, dolls and hearts in bold relief. It reminded me of charms on an old-fashioned charm bracelet.

And here is what Debbie Palmer, of Hadley, MA, was working away at. Her great-niece Adrianna, three years old, wanted a “pink and purple butterfly”. I know pink-and-purple was way outside Deb’s comfort zone (mine, too), but she’s done a good job adding oranges and light greens to the mix, and this rug is looking great.

image Deb Palmer

And finally, here is what I spent four days working on:

image mjp lupines

My ATHA group in NH, White Mountain Woolen Magic, is doing a “shared wool challenge”, and when I got my pile of eight pieces of wool to be used in it, there were four greens, a brown, yellow, pink and dark purple. So I thought of lupines, and designed it just as lupines in my garden were coming in to bloom.

I had grave doubts about how it would come out, especially the lower leafy part. But the darker plaids I used to fill in around the leaves was a good guess, and I have come to like it quite a lot. Nice to go out onto an edge and have things work out ok! Just a little of the sky left to do.

Many thanks to everyone at Green Mountain Rug School for a happy, relaxed, busy and productive session with old and new rughooking friends.

Whether original designs or patterns, all these rugs are copyrighted, and so protected. Thanks to Sarah, Sue, Lynn and Deb for permission to show them here.

More rugs to see

By | Contemporary rugmakers, Making rugs, Rug Community | 2 Comments

image Gwenn Smith

I have a few more lovely rugs to show you, from the display at our Canaan, NH hook-in last weekend. This wonderful rug shown above was designed and hooked by Gwenn Smith, of Lebanon, NH. To me, it shows the best of rughooking. It tells a story through an inventive design, and comes from the heart, as well. It pictures Gwenn and a dear friend meeting for a visit, and it was made as a tribute to her close friend after she passed away.

Now take a look at this rug, artfully hooked by Mary Liston, of New London, NH. It is a pattern by Joan Moshimer. I watched Mary as she hooked this, and it was quite a project. Mary stuck to it, and the result is beautiful:

image Mary Liston

The perfect “small touch” in this rug, to me, was that faint patch of foliage showing through at the far end of the covered bridge. It just adds depth to the whole structure. Remember, if you touch or click on a photo in the blog, you’ll see it enlarged.

And one more rug on display really was quite fascinating. It is not finished yet, but it’s getting there:

image Jennifer Davey

This design, by Jennifer Davey of Post Mills, VT, is of a Common Merganser duck with her ducklings. What was so fascinating about Jennifer’s piece, to me, was that when I first saw it from more than 10 feet away, I wanted to see immediately how she had hooked the ducklings to get that soft, fuzzy, downy look. As I got closer, I kept trying to figure out how she had achieved the perfect soft look for the babies. Well, she had needlefelted them! Here is a closer look for you:

image Jennifer Davey

What an inventive combination of two quite different fiber techniques, and so perfect for this subject! I’ll be looking forward to seeing this project when it is all finished!

Thanks to all these rughookers – Gisele, Pappie, Kathie, Gwenn, Mary and Jennifer – for kindly giving permission to show their work here. All these designs are copyrighted and protected by their designers and makers – please respect this.