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Category Archives: Creativity

Hats Off To Stories Shared!

By | Art, Composition, Contemporary rugmakers, Creativity | 7 Comments

In late 2015, rughooker Kris Burnett was contemplating her retirement after 20 years as a librarian at the Howe Library in Hanover, NH. She got the idea to do some hooked wallhangings using the look of vintage postage stamps as a unifying design element. Above, you see her rug Hats Off to Howe, based on a 2010 Netherlands circus poster, and adapted to be a self-portrait.

But the first “stamp” wallhanging she did was this lovely piece, Golden Stag, of a large Czech dancing stag, based on a 1963 Czech folk image stamp (used with permission):

Kris writes, ”This first piece inspired me to consider making a small folk stamp wallhanging as a gift for each of my friends at Howe Library, a remembrance of our years together.

As you will see, Kris’s rugs, with all their fine detail, are impeccably crafted. She makes it look so easy to get all that fine lettering (in a foreign language, yet) looking perfect! And the composition of her designs is so good that you don’t even notice it – each rug just looks naturally balanced.

Here is The Wolf and the Seven Young Goats, an adaptation of a Bulgarian postage stamp from 1964, based on one of the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales, which I especially loved:

So she started planning. About thirty rugs, with the hope to be finished in three years time, to coincide with her retirement date in August, 2018. Yes, she did worry about the stamina it would take to produce more than thirty individualized rugs for her co-workers, but she did it. What a wonderful undertaking! Kris’s exhibit of these rugs is now on display at the Howe Library in Hanover (through October 3rd), and if you are at all close by, it’s well worth your time to go see these 35 rugs before they each go to their new homes with Kris’s workmate friends.

This rug is called Pot of Flowers, based on a 1963 Czechoslovakian postage stamp:

The thoughtfulness that Kris put in to finding an image that would speak to each separate coworker is obvious. She wrote to her co-workers, “From the wealth of stories we have shared over the years, an idea emerged that somehow spoke to each of you. Some of the designs are rooted in old stamps, folk tales, matchbook covers, posters, program covers, or medieval manuscripts…Some just formed in my imagination.”

As I looked at the variety of rugs Kris made for her friends, I couldn’t help wondering about each individual she had made this particular rug for. The collection of rugs really did seem like a collection of friends, of stories shared over the years. It is not for us, the viewers, to know the full story of each rug, but I could tell that each will be very meaningful to the person Kris has gifted it to. Here is Mixed Breed:

And I found the unifying theme of postage stamps really wonderful. It allowed Kris a wide latitude of images and art traditions – from Pennsylvania Fraktur designs and Pacific Northwest folk images to a tropical scene on St. Croix and a Russian Ballet program cover – while keeping a consistency that ties all the images together. This rug is White Tiger, based on a Vietnamese postage stamp:

When I walked into the library, I went up to the librarian who was at the front desk, and asked directions to the exhibit of Kris’s rugs. The friendly man gave me clear directions, and when I mentioned I was a rughooker, he was interested, and smiled at me. But when I asked, “And did Kris make a rug for you?”, his face absolutely lit up. It was wonderful to see his reaction! He told me a little about the rug Kris made for him, the significance of the tree, the prayer flags hanging on it, the stone wall, the mountains. Here is “his” rug, titled Sacred Places, and adapted from a postage stamp from the Republic of Korea:

Kris writes, “This project fired my creative life for three years… This show is a tribute to the good friends and colleagues with whom I have worked for 20 years. Just as sharing our stories over the years has given me great pleasure, so too has creating these little pieces.

Kris, I am so inspired by the creative vitality of your rugs, and so happy that they are – for the next six weeks – on display all together! And mostly I am moved by the wellspring of friendships that must have sustained you through making each of these pieces as your gifts of thanks!

The Howe Library website is here, with hours and directions. Try to get there before October 3rd! All images are used with the permission of Kris Burnett, and many thanks to her for letting me show them here!

A little experiment… in looking.

By | Composition, Creativity, Design | 2 Comments

I was thumbing through a notebook I have, with a lot of notes from past blog entries, and also programs about rughooking and design. Somebody (a speaker, I think – no idea who!) was saying that if you see a scene you like, but you do not have a camera with you, you can do this:

Stare at the scene, looking carefully. Then close your eyes for a few seconds. Then stare at the scene again, again looking closely, and then close your eyes again for a few seconds.
Repeat this five or six times, and you will have created a permanent image of the scene in your brain.

Do you suppose it works? Try it, and let me know! I tried it, and it worked pretty well, but I suppose there is a limit to how much detail in a scene you could capture. I tried it with the sunrise picture, above, which I look at frequently out my window anyhow.

One benefit of then drawing or sketching out the scene from your own memory is that it will now be your version of the scene. The details that were most meaningful to you will be the ones you remember most clearly.

And even if it does not work as well as trying to draw something while it is right in front of you (rather than from memory), it is still an interesting experiment in looking at things more thoroughly and carefully than we normally tend to do, going through our days.

Now that I am thinking about this, I do remember a childhood party game we used to play… a number of objects would be put on a tray, covered by a sheet of paper or a towel. Then, on “ready, set, go”, the tray of objects would be revealed for perhaps 20 or 30 seconds, then covered up again. And the winner was whoever was able to remember and write down the most objects correctly.

Yesterday I drove by the house my family lived in, from when I was born until about age 6. I was surprised by how close to my vague memory it looked. Yes, the trees around the house were all much bigger, but the house itself was pretty much how I remembered it. I remembered the steep driveway, but was surprised at how much up a hill it really was. But if I had drawn out, from memory, a picture of the house, it would have been pretty correct.

Looking carefully and remembering – they are so intertwined. This memory technique really is about “creating an impression”, isn’t it?

If you really want to do this experiment, take a photo of your scene first, (or in a pinch, use the sunrise photo I put in at the top), then grab a piece of paper, and after you use this technique to remember a scene, try drawing it out, or at least (“but I can’t draw!”) sketching out a design based on the scene you tried to remember. Send it to me at mjanep@yahoo.com. And we’ll see what happens!

Hope you are enjoying the spring weather. I know yesterday was National Naked Gardening Day, but here, it was a little too chilly, and the first of the black flies are out… so that was a no-go here! But I did do a little hooking – hope you did, too!

Adventures with a bit of rope…

By | Books, Creativity, History of Art | 5 Comments

Sometimes our creative instincts can catch us by surprise. A friend showed me her copy of this book, The Ashley Book of Knots, by Clifford W. Ashley, and I was enchanted!

But let’s back up a little. It is good to know that Clifford Ashley was a very skilled and famous maritime painter. Here is his work, A Whaleship on the Marine Railway at Fairhaven (ca. 1916):

Wow. I would be able to look at this painting for a long, long time, and still find things to discover. Many of his works were less impressionistic, but full of detail and accuracy, like this illustration from one of his books on the whaling ships at the end of the 19th century:

The carving at the bow of the ship, the basket holding the drill, the chain and ax – all are very precisely rendered. Ashley, born in New Bedford, MA in 1881, went off to sea for several years on a whaling ship, and then came home to study art in Boston. What a change of careers! But actually he used his knowledge and love of the sea throughout his artistic life.

Here is another painting of his, A Clipper Ship at Full Sail, which I thought any rughooker who has done a sailing ship design would appreciate:

That sky! And look at how the colors of his sky are reflected on the sails!

Ashley also spent years learning and collecting the details of knots, along with their uses and detailed instructions, culminating in his book of knots:

This definitive book on knots features his precise illustrations of over 3,600 knots and instructions for making them, with a history of when they appeared, and what functions they serve. And each chapter heading has funny, charming illustrations about each category of knots:

And he did not limit himself to the knots of seamanship. He studied knots used by butchers, steeplejacks, cobblers, electric linesmen, poachers, surgeons, and “elderly ladies who knit”… He includes decorative knots and rope buttons:

…and even the mats that a ship’s cat might curl up on:

I must say that his instructions are a lot more understandable when reading the descriptions that accompany his illustrations. Some knots are beyond confusing, and a few brought back memories of the macrame I did years ago:

And yes, the string game of ”cat’s cradle” we played as kids was included, along with how to tie a tie! And some of the knots are simply beautiful:

Does this have anything to do with rughooking? No, it doesn’t! But I just found this man, his paintings and his big book of knots fascinating, so I thought you might, too.

Hook on!

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!

A Christmas Song, and a wish for you

By | Creativity, Food for thought | 11 Comments

It started at my Tuesday rughooking group. I spontaneously asked everyone what their favorite Christmas carol was. The majority picked “Oh Holy Night”. One person picked “Oh Come All Ye Faithful”, and one picked “Silent Night”. After considering “The Holly and the Ivy”, and “I Saw Three Ships”, I finally chose “I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day”. I just have always loved it. When I got home from rug group, I looked it up and listened to it again. And then I read a little more about the song’s history.

It was Christmas morning, 1863. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was in Cambridge, Mass., and it had been a terrible, depressing period of his life. He was still grieving for his beloved wife, who had died in a household fire. Longfellow was scarred for life trying to save her, and was so badly burned he could not attend her funeral.

The Civil War was tearing apart the country, and this particular Christmas came only six months after the battle at Gettysburg, where 40,000 soldiers were killed. So many boys were far from their families, and very many would never return home. And Longfellow had just found out his own son had been wounded, serving in the Army of the Potomac.

So as he listened to the church bells ring on Christmas morning, this American poet sat down, suffering at the state of his heart, and of the world, struggling to find the hope of the Christmas message. That morning, he wrote Christmas Bells. About ten years later, the English composer John Calkin set Longfellow’s poem to music.

Though I have always loved this carol, it seems particularly meaningful to me this year:

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said:
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

So my small gift to you today is the message brought in this Christmas song, hope for the future. And I wish for you to hear your own Christmas bells, find a renewed creative spirit, and peace. Here is a link to my favorite version of “I Heard The Bells”, (on YouTube) sung beautifully by Suzy Bogguss. I hope you find a quiet moment to listen to it:

https://youtu.be/IFV5K5fm4_4

The painting at the top of this post is Winged Figure (The Angel) painted in 1918 by American artist Abbott Handerson Thayer, now in the Freer Gallery of Art.

A Merry Christmas to you!

The ups and downs of creative impulses

By | Creativity | 7 Comments

For those you have not already seen her on facebook, here is my new cat, Jenny. Already I have nicknamed her Jenny Tornado! I had thought about getting a cat to fill the void left by Ruby’s passing last July, browsed a few humane society websites, but had not done much about it. Then, by coincidence, a friend happened to be at the local vet’s just before I met her for coffee, and she told me they had one kitten left from a litter of three… I went down to see her, and 20 minutes later I happily brought her home. Serendipity! She is tiny – 9 weeks old, and can easily sit in the palm of my hand.

And yes, I admit when I walked into the vet’s office and first laid eyes on her, I thought, oh, she would be fun to hook! She has beautiful gray tiger stripes, areas of white, and a sweet black dot right on her nose.

But other than during my trip to Amsterdam, I have not posted much here, and have been a bit stuck. I really thought about this today, and I think a lot of the “stuck” feeling has to do with current events. I feel compelled to follow current events at this tumultuous time in our beloved nation’s history. While I try to limit my time reading the news (and watch only the evening news on tv), as a lover of history, as a citizen, and as a woman, I refuse to just look away or tune out. So I read several reputable newspapers in depth.

But what I read is so upsetting to me, I think it has really sapped my creative spirit these last several months.

So other than introducing you to Jenny, I would like to ask if anyone else out there in rughooking land is experiencing this, too?

The only other time my desire to hook and design rugs came grinding to a halt was after my sister died. For about three months, I just did nothing creative, and barely even picked up my hook. A friend whose husband had a stroke had the same thing happen – for several months afterwards, no hooking, and she reports she did not even miss it during that period. Slowly, in both our cases, the desire to hook and create gradually came back.

I still love going to my weekly rug group, and bring something to work on. I am looking forward to a four-day rug camp after the holidays. But on my own, my usual way of coming across potential designs almost everywhere I look, and hooking like a maniac just to see how things are going to come out is absent.

So here’s hoping Jenny’s high spirits and loud purrs will help me out of this period of feeling more dismayed and upset than creative. And I would indeed be interested if others have had something similar happen to them.

Sending you wishes of joy and happiness in this busy lead-up to Christmas, with a little serendipity when you least expect it. And maybe the national tide will turn again toward “liberty and justice for all”.

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.

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!

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.

First Rugs

By | Creativity, Making rugs | No Comments

When I meet someone who is just starting to hook rugs, I usually tell them to always keep their first rug. This one is mine. It was a kit I got from the Dorr Mill Store, and I have no idea who did the design – I didn’t know enough to write the designer’s name down or try to remember it back then!

The loops are a bit lumpy, and on the back, I just hemmed it around a piece of cotton for a backing. Hemmed it poorly, I might add, but I never claimed to be good at sewing:

But that’s ok. It still is a design I like, and I still use it as a chair mat. As first rugs go, it was a pretty good design – nice arching lines on the tree, needing to learn a little control to do the leaves and the little apples. Now as I look at it, the outside dark border is uneven – thicker on one side, thinner in other places.

I have always thought a beginner’s first project should be a kit, where the cut wool is provided. Unless they have a friend who sets them up with a cutter and wool, it is better for a beginner to focus on just pulling loops at first. And one of the reasons to always keep your first rug is that it helps you to remember what it was like to just start out hooking.

Then, I tell them, find a pattern you like, and emerge into the wonderful world of choosing your own colors, and learning how to cut your wool. Here is my second piece, a small pattern I got (again no designer recorded!) and also still like a lot:

When that second project is done, I encourage people to dive right in, and draw out a design of their own. Any rughooker can show a beginner how to run a pencil down the gully of their linen to get straight lines to then use a marker on, for the borders. Then, draw it out! It can be a little crooked house with a cat in the yard, it can be a group of stars, leaves, flowers or whatever. I just think it is empowering to see one’s own drawing come to hooked life. It may not be a ornate, fine-shading sort of design, but it will be all yours!

Even if you end up hooking mostly patterns, drawing out a few of your own will give you the confidence to adapt patterns if you want to, down the road. Here is the first rug design I drew out myself:

Of course, I did not realize how tricky all those little pine needles (and the background between them) would be to hook, but I figured it out. To my eyes now, the colors I chose left a lot of, uh, room for improvement, but not bad for a first design.

And I always remind beginners, nervous about facing that first blank piece of backing, to try out drawing your idea a time or two on newsprint, and then either cut out the design elements and trace them, or just start in once you feel you’ve got a design you like. If you make a line wrong in black marker, just correct it in a different color marker, so you remember which is which! And you can always turn the backing over and start again! And you can always change a line as you are hooking.

If you could draw a cat, a house, a lizard, a star, heart, or a tree in the fourth grade, you can still draw!

If anyone would like to share a photo of their first rug, what you remember about doing it, what was the hardest to learn, or what you think about it now, please do! Or if you have advice you tend to give a beginning hooker that really helps, or what you wish someone had told you early on, send it along. Just send photos and any accompanying comments to me at mjanep(at sign)yahoo.com. And keep on hooking!