Here in my spot of Maine a switch has been pulled. Summer tomato salads have given way to a pot of simmering lamb stew(with tomatoes). Morning strolls to the garden are no longer barefeet and tank tops, but oversized sweaters and thick slippers. Rest assured, no matter the season, there is always a steaming cup of coffee involved. Almost to my horror at this point–not really, but really—the tomatoes keep coming, despite the blighted state of their affairs. I’ve frozen, canned, jammed, and sauced them in every way I can think of. The summer squashes are rife with powdery mildew even though we’ve had only scant rain and the garden well has run dry. Even still, they keep fruiting. There’s a basket of garlic in my studio that rivals my baskets of wools. There’s a tsunami of hot peppers coming in that my husband dutifully strings to dry, even though he is a little scared of them. But my studio feels festive and decorated for celebration with vegetal garlands hanging from my display rails along with drying herbs, my finished rugs and freshly dyed skeins of wool.
My garden always gives me solace. Maybe more so this year than usual, but in equal measure to my work—which has taken wild turns into unexpected territories. There is more to muse over on that topic, but for the moment I’m going to enjoy my hooking and the burbling of stew on the stove.
I hope you are all well in these tumultuous times. Not only are my thoughts with you, so are my actions.
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.
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.
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.
A simple sketch on a scrap of paper became the basic outline for numerous of my elephant pieces. From wall placards, to freestanding oversized pieces, to soft figurines, I’ve tackled the form in many different materials. This time, I took my hook to the image to create a colorful piece in cashmere, wool, and silk. The base is a wonderful bit of weathered barn board with a salvaged piece of rusty junk to balance everything out.
This piece is available at The Barn at Todd Farm.