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A rug from the past

I am still getting over the flu – no energy at all – but starting to be able to do the normal things of life. I just have to do one at a time, with resting afterwards. My niece says I should stop thinking of it as taking naps, and to start thinking of it as “lying down and pursuing my dreams”. Since I am still not thinking very creatively, I thought I’d show you a rug (above) that I did several years ago, when I was living in England.

This is a view of our house in a small English village, designed from a photo taken from the road just above our house, so looking down at our stone house, and to the mountain, Ingleborough, that is just beyond the nearby fields.

It is not the best rug I’ve ever done, but I am quite fond of it, and it’s one of the two rugs hanging in my bedroom. Beyond my fondness for the scene itself, it is a favorite, because it captures some of the free-and-easy rughooking style that I learned from my English rughooking friends.

There are no Dorr Mill stores in England, where you can buy a wide variety of wool fabrics. You might find men’s suiting (black, brown, dark blue or gray only, and thin, non-fluffy wool) or else tartan wools – but all of these are way too expensive for cutting up – think $80-$100 a yard. So one buys wool clothing at thrift shops or jumble sales, and you use cut-up sweaters, or yarn, or polartec fleece, or thin blankets. You use what you can find. What a huge change this was for me!

The larger sheep was done with roving, and the lambs were hooked with wool yarn. The pink proddy flowers were from a cut-up sweater.

To use the roving, I just took a small hank of it, twisted it up a bit, and just hooked it nice and tightly.

And to catch the feeling of all the hedges between the fields, I added texture, by making the loops very high, and clipping them, and then added a row of colored flowers – think primroses and daffodils. The fringe of heather green, on the right side, was actually the fringe from a wool scarf. I just cut the fringe and the last 1/2″ of the knitted end, and hooked the fringe through the backing.

Getting the stone house right was just a matter of collecting the right colors, and there is a little yarn, some cut wool, and some polartec fleece mixed in.

You’ll notice, if you look, that I hooked the trees with much longer loops, to give them a little added texture, too. And of course, in the land of proddy, I used proddy flowers here and there, to add color.

Here is another close-up showing the trees in the far fields, accented by longer than usual loops:

I’m not sure if this is true for everyone, but for me, the lack of materials we take for granted here led to a different sort of creative energy, and a bit more playful “looseness” in making rugs. I am sure the people I was hooking with contributed greatly to doing things just a little differently than we do at home – start thinking less about “perfect” and more about “playful”. If you have ever taken a class from English rughookers Heather Ritchie, or Cilla Cameron, you will know what I mean.

Mix things up! Brighten your colors! Change the lengths of your loops! Add a little yarn, or sari silk, or fleece! Look for a man’s silk tie for 50ยข in a thrift shop, then cut it up and use it for just the right touch in a rug!

You go ahead and get started on hooking more playfully, and I will catch up to you once I am feeling better!


  • Theresa Jack says:

    Hi Mary Jane so sorry u still are not feeling up to par. Thank you for sharing a rug from when you lived in England. It looks wonderful. I loved hearing of the loops being hooked at different lengths to get depth dimensions and texture to your rug. I too experiment a little not a lot

    I pray your creative energy returns. Feeling Blaise is no fun! It’s a beautiful day out there the calm before the storm. Thinking of you. Hugs. T

  • Debbie says:

    Beautiful. So creative

  • Sheila says:

    that is a wonderful rug and especially meaningful because of all the memories. Really like your different textures and heights. Hope you are fully recuperated soon. Primroses are one of my favorite flowers – I remember walking through english fields in my youth appreciating them.

  • Heather says:

    I watched the video, “We are not doormats 2016”, and the bright colours used were the first thing I noticed…and then the originality of the mats. The women in this video are from the Cornwall (U.K.) W. I. (women’s institute) and their work is truly amazing. Like you say, definitely more playful and less of the “primitive” look. (I like bright colours….)

    • mjanep says:

      Yes I adored seeing that video! Very representative of English rughookers’ work. They were all amazed at how “tiny” my wool was – I use a #6 cut! That made me laugh. When I moved back to the States, I gave my cutter to my local rug group, and they still all share using it.
      But I can tell you, rughooking was a wonderful passport to making friends in the years I lived there!

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