Category: musings

Peg Loom Rag Rugs

Peg Loom Rag Rugs

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.

The Appeal

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!

Getting Going

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.

Peg Loom Rag Rug

The Fruits of Summer

The Fruits of Summer

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.

 

Discovering Rufus Porter

Discovering Rufus Porter

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’ve been dabbling with woodworking lately. This primitive little stool paired beautifully with my Rufus Porter inspired rug.
It took some trial and error to get the background colors just right for both mood and visibility, but I love how it came out.
The knot in the wood became the perfect little accent to the “legs” of the stool.

Dye Trying

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.

My first attempt at capturing my desired yellow tones for the sunflower pillows was a success!
I kept adding various wools to the dye pot over the course of an hour and ended up with a range of red tones that I am quite happy with.
Coastal Style Rug Hooking

Coastal Style Rug Hooking

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.

Hand Hooked Blue Crab Pillow
You may notice the error of my ways here–I promise that from here on out all carbs will be anatomically correct and have the proper number of legs!
Maine Lobster Boast Hand Hooked Pillow
The quintessential Maine lobster boat is among my favorite pieces of Coastal Style Rug Hooking in my portfolio. I can hear its gentle glue, glue and the call of the seagulls every time I look at it.
Hand Hooked Primitive Whale Pillow
Primitive whales are a favorite motif of mine, not to mention many other folk artists over the centuries. The oceanic simplicity of shape and majesty of power are hard to resist.
Maine Bicentennial 1820 Hand Hooked Lobster Pillow Coastal Style Rug Hooking
2020 is the Bicentennial Anniversary of the Statehood of Maine. When I first designed this pillow everyone asked, “What happened in 1820?” I’m hoping that 2020 will mark the year that everyone knows what 1820 is doing on a Maine Lobster’s tail.

 

Hand Hooked Lobster Buoy Pillow
This is my whimsical take on the serious business of Maine lobstering. It is practically a hooking doodle, but made with wool and cashmere. This generously sized pillow is currently available at Down East Gallery.
February Tease

February Tease

It was an unusual early February day yesterday. The temperature hit the 50s. It was sunny and beautiful. So much so that I left the oversized slider in my studio open so I could enjoy the balmy air. My dogs clustered on the threshold as one side or the other of it would show too much commitment on their part. I worked at my hooking bench– I hook standing up– barefoot with a mug of hot vanilla milk tucked nearby. And I finally figured how to handle the border of a loosely geometric design.

Primitive Trencher

Primitive Trencher

We are renovating an old farmhouse.  There is a lot of very cool stuff ending up in the dumpster.  So, yeah.  I’m the crazy lady dumpster diving in her own dumpster to salvage cool things.  I also needed a way to display a new yarn I’m designing with AND I was home alone with the workshop all to myself.  So I made a Primitive Trencher.  This is the first of several that ended up happening…

Doesn’t it look like I know what I’m doing??
Clamp-ons.

Wax on.
Complete. The perfect yarn trencher for Loch Lomond, a beautiful and very earth-friendly yarn by BC Garn. Both the Trencher and the Yarn are available at The Barn at Todd Farm in Rowley, Ma.

Red Work Embroidery

I’m not sure if these all should be considered embroidery samplers or embroidery doodles, but I do know I’m having fun.

I don’t plan or draw anything in advance. The Red Work Chics just evolve as I take needle and thread to antique flannel.
Each chick is weighted so it can easily make its own stand.
Swedish Fish! These are each filled with organic french lavender.
The Swedish Fish are designed to be hung or used as bowl fillers. Serve them up your way.
Must Love Kale

Must Love Kale

I kid you not.  We are something of kale junkies around here.  Veggie junkies, really, but we have our soft spots.  I haven’t had a garden for a few years now, but we are starting to feel settled in our new digs and decided to literally put down roots.  I have never attempted kale before, but took the plunge this year.  After a tiring but hugely successful weekend as vendors at The Vintage Bazaar of New England this past weekend, I’m now ensconced in Home.  A glass of wine, dogs at my feet, hubby contentedly sipping his cocktail while the thunder softly rumbles and the rain comes down.  Earlier today I tended to the garden that was abandoned over the weekend.  When you are doing an outdoor show, you pray for sunny and dry.  My garden was definitely dry.  But it made weeding easier and the generous soaking we are getting now is refreshing everything.  Two armfuls of kale were harvested.  I’m investigating kale recipes with a focus on slaws.  It is all remarkably wonderful.

Under the Apple Trees

Under the Apple Trees

Never has a photo session been so inspired. I threw open the doors and hauled a favorite chair out under the apple trees. My dogs padded behind me befuddled, but delighted with the diversion. And never was I happier to be taking care of the business end of business.