Look at this great photo, taken by my friend Karen Cooper, of three members of my Tues. morning rug group consulting about a rug. I love this photo! To me, it captures the best part of being in a rug group. Marion, Sue and Mary are deep in conversation, considering Mary’s current rug project. The pattern is Lilac Time, designed by Jane McGown Flynn. The focus of the rug is a bouquet of tulips and lilacs, in a glass vase.
Mary first saw this design at the Hooked Rug Museum of North America, and fell in love with it. She worked on all that fine shading of the flowers with no problem, with guidance from teacher Betty McClentic at rug camp. Here is a close-up of Mary’s project, with just the rest of the maroon background left to hook:
What Mary had problems with was the glass vase. The vase is not the focus of the rug, but it did have to look right. She got the darker maroon of the vase interior, and the flower stems just fine. But that one row of loops, defining the edges of the vase, and the bottom base of the vase… well, let’s say there was more than one consultation with rughooking friends, as in Karen’s photo, above.
Mary tried a number of different wools to hook that base, and the one row of the outside edges of the vase. She tried a light blue, and that stood out too much. She tried light brown. Nope, tear it out and start again. She tried a pale gray and that was better, but…it still did not look quite right.
At one point, she was ready to entirely sacrifice the “glass-ness” of the vase, and the view of the stems inside it, and almost decided to tear it all out and just make the vase a solid color. But with the encouragement of our group members and with her own persistence, she stuck with it.
Fast-forward several weeks and many consultations. One day after rug group, I went into my wool room, and looked around just in case I could see anything to suggest. And there was that one piece of wool I had dyed several years ago, which I thought of as the ugliest piece of hand-dyed wool ever. Every time I saw it on my shelf, its ugliness would make me sigh:
Ugly, yes, but there it still sat on my shelf. It was halfway between a dirty beige and gray, with darker blue/gray blobs. Well, you never know. I brought it down to Mary to try.
The first thing she said was “Oh, it looks like my husband’s dirty oil rag, out in the garage!”. I had to agree – a very good description! But here’s the thing – Mary gave it a try, and it worked! The one-line edge of the vase is defined, without being too dominant, and the base of the vase fits in, and seems to even reflect the colors in the table below it and the flowers above.
The moral of the story: You never know!
That one piece of ugly wool, at least in this case, was just the thing to solve a tricky problem. And, more important, it’s wonderful to have rughooking friends to help you step back, look at your work, listen to what you like and don’t like, make a suggestion, and encourage you to not give up on what you want for your rug. And the rest of us, who watch and listen, week by week, as each rughooking problem is encountered, grappled with and finally is solved, all learn together.
Many thanks to Karen Cooper for the lovely photo, and to Mary Miller, for permission to share her work here.