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Style… in a while.

By February 9, 2018 Color, Design, Making rugs 5 Comments

A rughooking friend wrote this to me recently:

One more question, with sooo many different ways/methods/techniques of hooking, how does a hooker go about honing in on what their style is? I guess I am feeling kind of unfocused and just hook whatever, but it seems like everything I read about, the artist/craftsman has a “specialty” they do–kind of their signature look for lack of a better description. Thoughts?

Hmmm. I can only speak for myself. First thought is that I don’t want to have one style. If I’ve just done a pictorial or one of my “fussy rugs”, like this one above, I am likely to want to work on a geometric or hit or miss next – something that doesn’t need you to make a decision for practically every loop, like pictorials often require. I want my next project to be “something different”!

I can look back on rugs I’ve done, and see threads of what might be a style – my doodle rugs are a category of rugs I like working on, and variations of hit or miss rugs will always be a favorite sort of rug for me. And I like to experiment. One morning, I woke up wondering if you could do “a hit or miss landscape”, and ended up with this:

There is a drawing style.
Part of one’s “style” is how you draw, with whatever drawing abilities you may or may not possess. Anything I design with a cat, a dog, a house – you’ll be able to tell it’s one of Mary Jane’s, because I only know one way to draw a cat or dog, like in this rug:

I think I love rughooking because its primitive tradition allows room for people like me, who still draw stuff like they did in fourth grade. And there are people who can really draw, whether it is architecture or faces, or a field of corn – and their way of drawing leads them to have rugs with a distinctive style.

There is a color style.
Even people who don’t design their own rugs have their own sense of color, or a palette of colors they gravitate to regularly. I like most colors but you’ll probably never see a rug of mine with a lot of olive green, or pink in it. And I have to swallow hard to make myself use much aqua.

But I think to develop a style, you need to draw out your own rugs. Even if they are simple. Keep your projects a nice challenge, a little bit of a stretch! If you find a new technique, whether waldoboro, fine shading, a bit of proddy or using fancy stitches, find a way to work them into a project as your next interesting experiment. You’ll be adding a new tool to your rughooking toolbox.

And wait a minute. I don’t want all my rugs to look the same, do I?

Maybe when thinking about “your style”, it’s worth it to think about music as a model. If you love jazz, you can also love opera. If you like symphonies, you can also truly enjoy good country and western.

So in the end, my answer is: don’t worry about it. Just keep doing what attracts you and interests you. After a while, if you do this, your own taste – attraction – to certain projects may create a “style thread” that you can see in retrospect. But I think the more you “try for a style”, the more elusive it will be. You just have to go the long way around on this one.

If you ask other hookers, you might get different answers, but to me, your “style” as a hooker is something you can find when you look back on your completed works. Don’t worry about whether you have a style or not. Hook what projects interest you, and challenge you, or that you most enjoy working on.


  • jeni says:

    Interesting post. I think basically what your saying is that if we see an animal with a tail going to the left it’s a Mary Jane cat and if we see an animal with the tail going to the right, it’s a Mary Jane dog. I agree with you with some rugs you can identify the artist immediately. I’m thinking rug artists like Rachelle Leblanc, Jen Lavoie , Ann Cox, Jule Marie. Then there are people like you and me who hook whatever. I’m always trying to stretch, but when I just want to have fun, I start a geometric and sigh with pleasure. My favorite rugs usually have a combination of teal, brown, gold, green and always always orange. I’m so predictable. People tell me they can pick out my rugs from the colors I use.

  • Cathy says:

    I have not stretched much. I have very little confidence in my rug hooking so I always feel that each rug has a struggle in it. But I enjoy the process so I keep on keeping on. When I look at my finished rugs I a sometimes like them and sometimes focus on what I should have done differently.

  • Jeni says:

    Cathy, I never go back and correct what “I should have done.” Ive been hooking fior 15 yrs. and for me it’s all about the doing, not the done. I think human beings have a need to create. Some of us are better than others, but do what makes you happy.

  • tom mcnerney says:

    *****I’m late in responding…but I love all of them. a few years ago someone told me that I have a very definitive style to my designs. another person
    approached me at the woolen memories gathering last fall and told me that I always have a lot of deep and rich colors in my rugs. funny what others
    see that we don’t see ourselves. I never thought about “style” although I can tell various individuals by their hooking style and color. the Canadian antique
    rugs are another group that I love for their simplicity and definitive style. keep hooking these great primitives…love the one with the cat and dog. I remember when you started working on it…love the end results. hope you are well…perhaps I will venture to Lucille festa’s event this spring. good to see you and mary last fall. say hello to deb for me. tom

  • Janine says:

    The whole “style” idea has been interesting to me. Lately people have been mentioning MY style and I keep thinking that I am just doing whatever I feel like and I think each of my pieces have been quite different. Somehow others have noticed a similarity though. Enjoyed this post!

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