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When I first designed my hand hooked Maine Bicentennial Lobster Pillow, people repeatedly asked what the story was with 1820. Now 2020, as Maine celebrates its 200th anniversary of statehood, I think the picture will be clearer. The year 1820 was the year that Maine was first incorporated as a state. This year marks its auspicious Bicentennial marker.
My Maine Bicentennial Lobster Pillow is chocked full of wit and charm. This fellow has a personality that will light up your rooms. He will remind you of all the happy memories of coastal Maine summers. You’ll practically hear the seagulls overhead and the quiet, distinctive glug glug of the lobster boats.
I hook each Maine Bicentennial Lobster Boat Pillow with a combination of new, recycled, and vintage wool and cashmere. I even dye some of it myself. All this is hooked on a high quality linen foundation fabric. Each lobster pillow is backed with my favorite antique European homespun hemp linen–which may vary from pillow to pillow. Two examples of backing material are shown in the photos.
As with all handmade items, each piece is a one of a kind. Therefore, each will vary a bit from one to the next. Please allow for this special nature of handmade and expect some slight variations from the photo.
The Maine Bicentennial Lobster Pillow is hooked to order just for you, so please allow time for creation prior to shipping. When I receive your order, I’ll email to let you know when to expect it. Typically, it is about a two week turn around time. This can vary some based on other orders and time of year.
Measures about 17″ x 12″.
I first came across peg looms at one fiber festival or another a few years back and was immediately enthralled. What I was seeing were gorgeous alpaca rugs and throws. My immediate thought, however, was that I might try my hand at peg loom rag rugs. The idea simmered for a time. And then a time too long.
I’m a tremendous fan of recycling and reusing. Much of my work involves the repurposing of old wools, cashmere sweaters, vintage and antique cloth and other materials. While my love affair with rug hooking is unequivocal, I’m always curious about other techniques, processes, and learning opportunities. New ways to use materials I may have collected, but aren’t necessarily my go to’s—cottons for example, are a constant tease. Weaving would seem an obvious destination for a girl with my fiber proclivities, but two things held me back: the space requirements of a number of styles of looms and the limitations of a shoulder injury. Here I circle back to my introduction to a peg loom and the possibility of it fulfilling my dream of creating rag rugs.
Unlike most looms I’d known, a peg loom is compact and requires very little space, is portable, and could work with the stash I already have. It is simply comprised of a wooden block base drilled to accept pegs. Each peg, in turn, has a hole drilled through the bottom diameter to accept your warp threads or yarns. That’s it. You can use as many or as few of the pegs as you like for a piece. The more you use, the wider your weaving will be. The length of your warp threads determines how long your weaving can go. When I divulged my plans to my hubby, thinking I could give this a go with a scrap of 2 x 4 and some dowels, he surprised me with a beautiful, well thought out finished maple piece. The pressure was on!
I had a few stops and starts with peg loom weaving. And I’m going to insert here a big thank you to Anne at Cape Newagen Alpaca Farm for the confidence building time she spent with me! The finished weave is a bit different than the more traditional under/over method. Fabric created on peg loom creates a weave that leaves only the weft visible. Rather than beating the weft into place as you go, the warp is cinched up at the end to create the density of the fabric.
My first few attempts found me experimenting with core spun alpaca, vintage flannel yardage, and recycled saris. The latter two were torn into strips that I joined as I went. I definitely have been bitten by the bug now and have more plans. I want to experiment with chunky warps and, alternatively, more delicate wefts. Visions of denim and antique silks are a tease. The possibilities are enticing. Rag rugs have always appealed to me, but different materials could make wonderful table runners or placements, window shades or pillows.
The Story of Unite, An American Hooked Rug has a querulous beginning. There are a wide range of thoughts and emotions lurking in the background of this rug. Unite was conceived and hooked while I was listening to and taking in the impeachment hearings and Senate trial. There is no doubt that it was a national event of wildly varied import and impact. This rug is how I captured this moment in history for me.
This rug has been an especially fulfilling project for me. I am not a gifted illustrator, but my doodles occasionally surprise even me. I’d been studying a variety of other rugs, both old and new, for angels, swimmers, flags. My wonky striped versions of the American flag, have always been a favorite motif to include, but I’m not quite sure how the mermaid element came in. When I was choosing my wools for her, I kept thinking of The Statue of Liberty. She must have been an unwitting influencer.
I dug deeper into the making of this rug than I usually do. Unimpressed with the color variety in my stash of wools and cashmere and committed to using as many recycled materials as possible, my long resisted dye pot was pressed into service. I learned so much and was so happy with the results of my efforts, that a little corner of our home is now being transformed into a dedicated dye studio.
As you know, Twenty Twenty (2020) is an election year, and my doodle session resulted in more than one successful rendering of a rug to be. While we march from one political fiasco to the next, I’ll continue to brandish my hook in search of patriotic harmony through my language of choice, fiber. The Story of Unite shall continue.
Hooked with new, vintage, and recycled wools and cashmere.
Measures about 36″ x 22″
Signed and dated in embroidery on the back.
Nothing may signal the height of summer more than a robust tomato harvest. Rich ruby reds, sunset golds, and greens that yellow around their shoulders while their bottoms blush pink as they ripen— so many varieties are in the garden this year, I couldn’t tell you them all. I’m a big fan of the variety pack, and love the surprise begotten by both a lack of knowledge and no memory of what I ordered way back in February. Each of the fifty tomato plants, plus the volunteers we let grow, is a surprise package. I never know what we’ll get. One thing for sure, though, is that we have bounty! My day falls into a a comfortable rhythm: tomatoes are quartered and slow roasted for hours while I hook or scribble out ideas for new designs. Packaged, frozen, and start again. We gather ponderous bulb trays full of these juicy beauties from the garden, and they even travel with us when we escape to camp for a few days of respite from everything but our tomato chores. In the roasting, the tomatoes’ flavors mingle, intensify, nearly caramelize. While we can enjoy the fresh flavorful fruits of summer right off the vine now, come fall then winter, these roasting days of tomato summer will sustain us.
A few years ago I did an image search for “primitive hit or miss rug hooking motifs”. A simple spiral that came up intrigued me and I immediately started experimenting with it. It was only some time later that I learned, to my embarrassment, that this was not a traditional motif but one born from the inspiration of Primitive Spirit Rugs. It’s a beautiful little shape that I became addicted to hooking for a time. I just kept playing with the motif in my head over and over when I found my self staring at the nautili we’ve had propped on a shelf for a very long time. I started seeing things in multiples. Everything just grew from there.
My recent design rabbit hole started with a desire to create a historic looking mural for our home. Somewhere in my search for folk art painting techniques I stumbled upon one Mr. Rufus Porter and the rug hooker in me took over. His motifs struck a chord. While I’ve yet to paint anything, I’ve been enjoying designing rugs inspired by his work. This little footstool is the first of many to come.
I swore I’d never dye. I have so many stashes and work stations and the rest, I just didn’t feel like taking on one more endeavor. But a dearth of sunny yellows and primitive reds for some of my post popular designs, in addition to a pile of unsuitably colored specimens culled from my cashmere box lots, pushed me over the edge. The days are barely warm enough to venture outside for more than a bit at a time, so I hunker in the workshop and hobble together tools and supplies. I barely follow the directions, but am feeling successful with my first efforts nonetheless.
Coastal style is my rug hooking inspiration. I’m busy hooking seaside textiles for your home and cottage. Coastal style pillows, rugs, and more.
I don’t live far from the coast and its majestic views and working waterfronts. What I take in on my daily jaunts to the seaside percolates in my mind’s eye until the perfect new rug hooking design comes into focus. From there, it’s just a matter of time before the right material, the right color, and the pattern itself come together into my textile version of the coastal scene.