The year is 2020. I spend an inordinate amount of time making cloth masks on my 1930s Singer. I’m hooking a Pandemic rug. It’s snowing in May. My hair is purple. Life is different. Worse. Better. Changed. Evolving. To be determined.
I feel like we are living in a Snow Globe. Shake it to enhance the innocence, naïveté, denial. Hide behind glittery objects. Oh, so sparkly. I can’t explain what’s going on. Why is data (science) a four letter word?
Still, I find joy in the garlic–planted last fall during more hopeful times–persisting in pushing through its straw mulch. The seedlings that lay in wait to put down roots in the garden until this snow and minor league temperatures pass. The patio slowly taking shape as I lay it down stone by stone. We have a home, a garden, a patio. All of them riches, by any measure. We are still trying to decipher the world and determine how to help make it a better place for everyone. And, yes, I entirely acknowledge there’s not much in the way of grammar going on.
Like many of you, mask making has become a significant part of my daily tasks. When I finished yesterday’s allotment, I realized a low grade fury had been building as I worked over my sewing machine. I grabbed discolored and worn antique flannel and a scrap of quilting cotton from the late 1800s and made my Vote mask. Born of scraps and anger.
Stay safe. Be well.
There are so many things on mind, yet my head is blank at the same time. I’m a gifted worrier, which is usually a good thing because it keeps us prepared and ahead of the game. Now the only things I have control over are the little, frankly stupid things, and I feel myself getting edgy and raw. I miss my yoga classes, which generally help center me, among other things. And I’m grateful for the online resources that enable me to continue my somewhat hobbled practice at the edge of my dining room. I’ve always chanted, hummed easily and enjoyably in class, even tiny classes. But at home, I find I can’t Om alone.
I hope you are all safe, healthy, and well, though I know everyone isn’t whether you or a loved one is unwell or you or loved one is on the front lines of trying to save us all. My gratitude to everyone for doing their part. I look forward to the day that we can all take one big breath, chant one long OM, or do anything and everything else together again.
The news is overwhelming. I am not surprising any of you with that statement. Of course, I take solace in my hooking, my fabrics, my knitting. But I also find hope and inspiration in the newly popping seedlings lined by my windows preparing for garden season. I don’t usually attempt seedlings, preferring to defer that task to my wonderful neighbors at Morning Dew Farm. But there were a couple things I wanted for my garden this year that weren’t available, so I took the small task of starting a few thing on for myself. And immediately ran into problems. I’ve cataloged for you here a few of my little low to no budget garden tricks to keep this train on the rails.
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.
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.
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.