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image Karen Cooper

I know I am very lucky to have a great weekly rug group close to home. And one of the best parts about being in a group that meets regularly is that we get to watch the week-by-week progress that members make on their projects.

I don’t know when I have enjoyed watching a rug develop as much as the one pictured above, titled All Things Bright and Beautiful. Karen Cooper, of New London, NH, designed and made it. She started it for one of our group’s challenges – to design a rug – any design, any size – that contained some “Words of Wisdom”.

The musical notes in the rug really are the notes of the first line of that beautiful hymn, All Things Bright and Beautiful. And the “words of wisdom” on the rug are from the 1955 poem, The Magic of Sound, by Reginald Vincent Holmes.

So I got to watch Karen start on the rug – the black notes, musical staff and lettering were her first steps. I couldn’t figure out how on earth she would work the background in around all those details. And then, when I realized what sort of rainbow background Karen was planning! Oh my!

Karen had Cyndy Duade help her paint long, long strips of wool in rainbow colors. And it took a while for Karen to figure out how to make the rainbow colors come out the way she wanted them – a gradual sunburst sort of change, rather than a fixed bullseye. One week she would be trying to hook the colored background in straight or diagonal rows, then the next week she would have torn that part out and be hooking them in a less linear pattern. And always, she was manipulating the long rainbow strips of wool to place the color exactly where she wanted it. She had the most colorful pile of snippets I’ve ever seen!

You can learn so much from watching someone encounter problems on a rug, and how they solve them, when you get to see a rug’s progress regularly. This rug came out so beautifully, and only those of us who got to watch Karen working on it will really understand the intensity of effort it took, guided by Karen’s clear creative vision of what she wanted.

And on the back of the rug (hurrah!) is a lovely big label:

image Karen Cooper

The label contains all the basic infomation about Karen, credit to her husband and her dyeing guide Cyndy, all the details of our group’s Words of Wisdom challenge, about the musical notes pictured, and the wonderful poem from whence the wording on the rug came.

The Magic of Sound
by Reginald Vincent Holmes

I’ve heard the soft whisper of wind in the pine trees,
The silvery ripple of brooklets at play;
I’ve heard the low voice of a sweet singing mother
As she sang to her child at the end of the day.

I’ve heard the faint rustle of sails in the sunset
And blue waves caressing the wild rockbound shore;
The whistle of trains as they cross the green prairie
And mountains re-echo the cataract’s roar.

The notes of the organs in ancient cathedrals,
Where hearts of the faithful are lifted in song;
I’ve heard the gay laughter as children were playing,
The chatter and buzz of a large, happy throng.

The earth has its music for those who will listen;
Its bright variations forever abound.
With all of the wonders that God has bequeathed us,
There’s nothing that thrills like the magic of sound.

Music is an important part of Karen’s life, and the concept of this piece was a challenge in itself – really, how to capture the beauty of sound in a rug. I watched Karen at points when she was frustrated with it, and moments of breakthrough. Watching her, I’ve come up with a new term for certain rughooking pieces, the ones where the concept, technical mastery and fruition of an idea, dear to one’s heart, come together. I will call them “spirit rugs”. Karen’s spirit comes through in every loop of this rug.

8 Comments

  • marie says:

    Oh, my, Karen did a fabulous job, and such a great idea and so fitting for the challenge. Especially for me, as a #4 cut is way too small. Karen deserves a “outstanding” blue ribbon
    Your blog always gives me a interesting read and lots of information. Please don’t ever stop blogging as some of us don’t have access to weekly rug groups.

  • Lynne Fowler says:

    How did Karen make the label? I have just finished a large ‘story’ rug of my childhood. I need to put a lot on the label so I am looking at ways to do it.

  • Karen Cooper says:

    Mary Jane – Thank you for your lovely words about the circuitous process that resulted in this rug. It was quite a challenge and worth the trouble, I think.

    About the label for Lynne: I created it on my computer with help from my husband who put the rainbow in the background. I printed it out onto “sew-in Computer Printer Fabric.” by June Tailor – 10 sheets for $6.49 at Jo-Ann Fabrics. It goes right into the printer just as regular paper does. Then remove the paper backing and press with a hot iron to set the ink. I hope we will see your story rug when you finish.

  • Lynne Fowler says:

    THANK YOU!

  • jeni says:

    Only someone who hooks can appreciate how hard your pattern was. It turned out beautiful. And it’s so nice to have a supportive husband. I’m lucky that way too. Mine doesn’t know how to make labels, however. Where do you live? Can I borrow yours for a short time?

  • Karen Cooper says:

    Cute. 🙂 I live in New London, NH and I do loan him out a lot to fix computer problems – he is a busy guy.

  • Beautiful work, lifts the spirit just looking at this piece, love your Blog also Mary Jane, it is food for the soul!

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