Sunday, December 30, 2007

An Appropriate Christmas Gift . . .

I am -- quite obviously -- fond of antique paisleys. My sister Barb found a lovely piece of paisley on ebay just before Christmas and look what she made out of it -- for me!

I love his carefully needle felted face and his little lantern with real glass and his beard (fleece from her friend Martha's sheep) not to mention the exquisite piece of paisley. I may have to keep him out all year long . . . Now if only I can get my studio clean enough to find a spot for him . . .

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Archive -- December 2007

December 24th, 2007 / News / No comments
This will be the last post before Christmas and probably the last post on Wordpress. I’ll be moving this baby over to blogspot, where I have another blog with my sister. Hopefully consolidation will lead to more frequent posts. I’ll archive all the posts here.
So have a fabulous holiday season. I’m planning to.

Archive -- November 2007

November 6th, 2007 / News, Road Trips, Suppliers and Teachers / No comments
I didn’t have high hopes for this show, considering Hurricane Noel was supposed to pass over eastern Long Island midday on Saturday, but I was quite pleased with my sales by the end of the day! The church hall was on the small side, so space was tight for the vendors, but the rugs themselves didn’t take up too much space. They were hung on a wire grid system that made good use of the allotted area.
The show was dedicated to Helen Connelly Howe, whose stained glass rug graces the current issue of Rug Hooking Magazine. Helen is a fabulous colorist, and one of the sweetest, most gracious women I’ve ever met. Several of her rugs were on view.
I met a wonderful man named Vincent, a member of the guild that sponsored the show. He wanted to learn how to do punch needle, so I whipped out my supplies (I packed a project because I thought I’d be twiddling my thumbs all day because of the bad weather!) and showed him how t do it. He bought a needle, a pattern, some Medici wool and then proceeded to bring person after person over to watch me punch. I practically sold out of punch supplies! So, thank you, Vincent! And if you ever want to get rid of that beautiful wool suit coat, you know where to find me!

Archive --September 2007

The First Day of Fall
September 23rd, 2007 / News, Road Trips, Suppliers and Teachers, Peconic Ruggers / No comments
What a glorious day — crystalline blue skies, warm temperatures, ocean breeze. I spent the whole day in my studio! I’m getting ready for a bunch of shoes this fall, including the Hallockville Fall Festival, coming up on Saturday and Sunday, September 29 & 30, at the Hallockville Museum Farm, Sound Avenue, Riverhead, NY, 10 AM to 5 PM. I’ll be there with my rug hooking guild, the Peconic Ruggers. We’ll have a booth this year, so members can sell hooking supplies and finished work.
Also look for my sister Barbara of Thimblefolk. She’ll be there with her little woolen whimsies.
And lets hope we have weather liike this next weekend, too!

Tumbleweed Tuesday
September 4th, 2007 / News / No comments
It’s Tumbleweed Tuesday here in Greenport. That’s what my neighbor Seth calls it — the day after Labor Day when all the tourists go home. This is my favorite time of year here in Greenport. The water is still warm enough for swimming, the kids are back in school and there are parking spaces at the post office and grocery store. Time to get back to hooking rugs . . .

October 11, 2007

Happy 50th Birthday to Me!

When I was speaking to my friend Jean in Kentucky about my birthday yesterday, she said, “Uh, oh – you’re going to get black balloons and black icing on the cake, and all that gloom and doom stuff!” And, I said, “No, I don’t think so. I’m going to make it sparkle.” And I told her this story.

About ten years ago, when my mother was dying from emphysema and lung cancer (yes, she was a heavy smoker, and yes, you need to quit RIGHT NOW if you smoke!), I was traveling back and forth to Connecticut from Long Island by ferry on a weekly basis. On one particularly sad trip home, when I was facing the fact that my mother was indeed going to die, I parked my car next to a fire engine red Volvo station wagon. It was driven by a gray-haired woman of about 50, wearing jeans and a beautiful Pendelton wool shirt (which I would have loved to have used in a hooked rug), and a gorgeous diamond bracelet. She was playing with 2 dogs that she obviously adored, and who adored her right back. She looked completely at ease in her life, and she looked completely happy. I decided right then – sitting in my car feeling sorry for myself – that I was going to be like her when I turned 50. I wanted a trusty dog by my side, a red Volvo wagon, and a diamond bracelet to wear with jeans. Of course, what I really wanted was to reach middle age happy and at ease in my life.

When I arrived home, I told my husband Peter about my decision. He smiled and listened with half an ear and went back to work. I told my dear friend Paula about it too, and she got it immediately. Of course – why should I be surprised? Paula really listens, and she is gracious, generous, smart, kind, and she lives her life with more integrity than anyone I know. She has dealt with more loss and adversity in the past several years than any woman should have to, but every day she faces the world with warmth and curiosity and makes it shine. When people ask me what I want to be when I grow up (no, I haven’t quite grown up yet), I always say, “A writer.” When people ask me who I’d like to be when I grow up, I always say, “Paula.” So, I fused the image of the woman on the ferry with Paula’s fine qualities and filed the picture away in the part of my brain that wasn’t still refusing to face the fact that I would someday reach the half-century mark.

And here I am. Fifty years old. Have I become the fictional woman I created 10 years ago?

I have a wonderful little Jack Russell named Cairo who makes me smile everyday – even when he has to go out at 3 in the morning.
I have a red Volvo wagon – garnet red, not fire engine, but it’s close enough. It’s a dream to drive and is about as safe a car as there is.
And, yes, while on vacation last spring, I bought myself a diamond bracelet. I couldn’t bring myself to buy a big fancy shmancy one – you could feed a third world country on what a tennis bracelet costs, but I did get a little bit of bling.
But this is all just stuff. It’s not what really matters, is it? This is what matters: I have a wonderful family -- my slightly eccentric, artistic, and handsome husband Peter, who works hard and plays hard and let me get the Volvo, my absolutely gorgeous, smart, kind-hearted daughter Clara who has made the sun come up everyday since she was born 19 ½ years ago, and my talented sister, friend and business partner Barby (I’m the only one allowed to call her that – you have to call her Barb or Barbara or watch out!) who can turn a piece of wool and a strand of thread into a cunning little creature that probably comes alive when no one is looking. I’m pleased to say that Paula has moved back home to Greenport after an exciting and adventurous year in Manhattan, so I can follow her wonderful example first hand again. And I have many friends in the actual world and the cyber world who inform and energize my life on not just a daily or hourly basis, but minute by minute. That’s what matters.

I’m going to wear my sparkly bracelet everyday from now on – or until I lose it (I have a history of losing good jewelry in weird ways – I lost a watch Pete gave me for our 5th anniversary in a porto-potty, and on a boat ride last year, Clara’s friend Lea lost her balance and accidentally ripped a beautiful earring (another gift from Pete) out of my ear and sent it overboard. I still have dreams about sitting in a beachfront restaurant in the Caribbean, ordering a whole grilled grouper and finding my earring inside . . .). I'm going to wear it not to show off, but because it is a symbol of how life can sparkle.

When I finish here, I am going to make a donation in Paula's name to OPLC (One Laptop per Child, ( a group that provides laptops that only cost $100 to children in developing countries, enabling them to have access to a good education), to pay tribute to her, to the stranger on the ferry who inspired me, and to the many friends I have made online through my magical Macbook Pro (and to alleviate the guilt I feel for wearing diamonds that probably aren’t free trade). Then I am going to get back to work.

So what have I learned in 50 years? It’s not youth or jewelry that make life dazzling – it’s the way you choose to live it.

Archive --July 2007

The Quiet Corner Show
July 6th, 2007 / News, Road Trips / No comments

We had a great day at the Quiet Corner Show — which was much improved from the last time we did it. We were greeted by a Bob Payne (yes, a male rug hooker!) and his son Kevin who unloaded our cars for us. That alone is enough to get us to pledge to do every show they ever have . . . plus, the woman who ran it last time — the most overbearing, offensive person you can imagine with a bullhorn permanently affixed to her fist — was nowhere to be seen. We had a terrific spot, right in front of the door and right across from Jeannine of Two Old Crows, who had a beautiful booth.

My friends Barbara of Basket Garden Farm and Judy of 3 Bags Full were there, too, with beautiful baskets and lots of recycled wool.

The actual rugs in the show were varied, but they did that thing pinning big pieces of paper with the rug’s info onto the rug. It absolutely drives me crazy — it distracts from the rug and just looks cheesey. I’d seen many of the rugs befre, in other shows. The Quiet Corner Guild has decided to do the shw every other year, giving members time to hook up a storm.

Archive --June 2007

Quiet Corner Rug Show, Woodstock, CT, Saturday, June 23, 2007
June 21st, 2007 / News, Road Trips, Suppliers and Teachers / No comments
Quiet Corner Rug Hookers Rug Show
June 23, 2007
Woodstock Fairgrounds
Rte. 169
Woodstock, CT 06281
Current Weather
User Submitted 2007
Many wool hooked rugs will be on exhibit. Vendors, demonstrations, food and raffles. Linda Repasky, teacher of punch needle work, will be lecturing and demonstrating her work. 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.; $5. Parking on-site; free.
Barb and I will be there with bells on fingers, etc. We have lots of new patterns and newly hand-dyed wool for sale. So don’t miss it!

The Great Cover Up at the American Folk Art Museum
June 21st, 2007 / News / No comments
June 5–September 9, 2007
Lee Kogan, curator
Coordinated by Stacy C. Hollander, senior curator and director of exhibitions
The impulse to cover interior surfaces has historically been both utilitarian and decorative. Early American rugs were yarn sewn, shirred, appliquéd, and embroidered. As many surviving rugs attest, the best examples transcend function through the graphic power of their color and design. “The Great Cover-up: American Rugs on Beds, Tables, and Floors” will feature approximately 65 rugs that span the end of the 18th through the mid-20th centuries, including several monumental masterworks, such as the museum’s stunning 13-foot Appliquéd Carpet (c. 1860) and the magnificent Embroidered Carpet (1832–35) by Zeruah H. Guernsey Caswell from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Other treasures from the museum’s collection include the rare and striking Knitted Rug attributed to Elvira Hulett, a member of the Hancock Shaker community, whose design is a technical tour de force, and the graphic Pictorial Table Rug, which powerfully illustrates the strong link between church and home. Originally, hand-sewn and
-hooked rugs were enjoyed only within the intimate confines of the home. Today, their public appreciation provides a fascinating glimpse into the private spaces of American life.
Although the museum regularly includes rugs in its exhibitions, “The Great Cover-up” will be the first presentation devoted to a wide range of American rug traditions since 1974, when Kate and Joel Kopp organized the seminal show “American Hooked and Sewn Rugs: Folk Art Underfoot.”
Museum exhibitions are sponsored in part by the Gerard C. Wertkin Exhibition Fund and the Leir Charitable Foundations in memory of Henry J. & Erna D. Leir.

Archive -- March 2007

47th Annual Fairfield-Grace Rug Show
March 26th, 2007 / News, Road Trips, Suppliers and Teachers / No comments
It’s time!
The 47th Annual Fairfield-Grace Methodist Church is this Saturday — March 31, 2007!
My sister Barbara and I will be there as vendors, so come and visit. This is a great old show — the longest running one I know of. There are lots of vendors throughout the church, the display of rugs itself, and they serve food — a requirement at all rug hooking events, according to rug hooking teacher Gene Shepherd.
Here are the particulars:
Saturday, March 31, 2007
9 am to 3 pm
1089 Fairfield Woods Road
Fairfield, CT 06825
Admission IS $5 — Bring 5 pieces for display by 9:30 and receive free admission
Speaker: Michele Micarelli (who is always fun!)
Lots of great vendors and reeally great and bountiful door prizes
Don’t miss it! Come say hello.

Archive -- January 2007

January 22nd, 2007 / News / No comments
The Peconic Ruggers Hook In is this coming Saturday, January 27, 2007 at the Grange, Sound Avenue and Church Lane, Riverhead, NY, 10:30 AM until 3 PM. Bring a bag lunch and something to work on. The guild will provide refreshments and dessert.

Archive -- December 2006

Happy Holidays
December 24th, 2006 / News / No comments
No white Christmas in Greenport this year — it is 55 degrees and people are bike riding and running in shorts! No matter. I finally got the tree up and the presents wrapped and we have lots of friends & family coming to join us. Hope your holidays are grand.

Archive -- November 2006

Ornament Class with Barbara McNamara
November 29th, 2006 / News, Road Trips, Suppliers and Teachers / No comments
My sister Barbara, owner of Thimblefolk, will be teaching a class on making one of her signature snowmen ornaments this Sunday, December 3, 2006, at Now and Zen Fiber Arts, 15 Front Street, Greenport, NY 11944. (631) 477-2585,

Country Parlor Christmas Sale 2006
November 22nd, 2006 / News, Road Trips / No comments
This is the best handcraft sale on the east end of Long Island. You’ll find everything from hooked rugs to honey, pottery to Christmas ornaments, live amaryllis to antiqued artwork, crosstich to hand woven silk scarves to the most exquisite lavendar sachets made by Susan Borger. Barbara Blossey-Chuvalas not only makes all the baskets you’ll see for sale, she plans, organizes, and orchestrates the whole thing. People line up for an hour waiting for the doors to open of Friday morning. So, you should go. Here are the particulars.
Friday, November 24 9 am to 3 pm
Saturday, November 25 9 am to 3 pm
Sunday, November 26 10 am to 1 pm
The Grange
Sound Avenue at Church Lane (right across the street from First Parish Church)
Riverhead, New York

Contemporary Hooked Rugs: Themes and Memories
November 8th, 2006 / News, Book Reviews / No comments
Here’s another great Christmas gift idea for your favorite hooker: Linda Rae Coughlin’s new book entitled Contemporary Hooked Rugs, Themes and Memories and published by Schiffer books is due out momentarily. I saw Linda at the Newtown, CT rug show. She had expected to have the books available to sell, but they were not yet in — which happens when books are printed overseas. She expects to have them soon, and if you order one from her, you can get it autographed by the author herself. It is a handsome book, an oversized paperback, 16o pages with over 475 rugs created by 270 rug hookers.
You can order it from Linda by writing, calling, or emailing.
Linda Rae Coughlin/Art Rugs
PO Box 4616
Warren, NJ 07059
(908)647-8100 FAX (908)647-1372

Mary Sheppard Burton 2007 Wall Calendar
November 7th, 2006 / News / No comments
This calendar, featuring Mary Sheppard Burton’s Tell Me About series of hooked rugs, is currently on sale from Sign of the Hook Books, PO Box 27, Dickerson, MD 20842, or The cost is $14.95, plus $4.95 shipping & handling. These 12 rugs have recently been acquired by the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. This is currently the only 2007 calendar featuring hooked rugs that I know of. Might be a good gift for your favorite rug hooker …
New York Sheep and Wool Festival
November 2nd, 2006 / News, Road Trips, Suppliers and Teachers / 1 comment
Fiber heaven — that’s what this Festival is. I could not believe the number of wooly people at this place. Every building was filled to the roof with fleece and roving and alpaca and yarn and thread and rugs and scarves and baskets and looms and spindles and felting tools and more! We worked hard all weekend, my sister Barby and I, as did our friend Susan Borger, lavender sachet maker extraordinaire, with whom we shared our booth. We didn’t think we’d make a penny when we saw how many vendors were listed on the program, but the attendance numbers were astronomical, and we were proven wrong.
I met some other rug hookers — Lucille Festa of American Country Rugs (turns out my sister knows her cousin Wally) and a really nice woman whose name I don’t know, who was hooking the most wonderful runner: a panoramic view of a Maine harbor on commission. Heavens to Betsy was there, though I didn’t get to talk to her, as was Hooked on Ewe. I’d never heard of this company before, and her booth was filled with people when I stopped to look so I couldn’t talk to her, but her primitive, country style rugs were really cool. They were mostly farm landscapes with huge swathes of painted skies. I loved those skies. Wish I’d taken a pcture to post. Next time I’ll remember . . . .
I didn’t buy much — just some roving for needle felting and some felting supplies for my sister (whose birthday was the next day) — it was way too busy. I actually sold a small mat twice — a woman from Ohio who sells a specific kind of yarn for knitting socks gave me a commission to duplicate it for her. She and her partner worked hard — apparently the sock yarn is not available anywhere else on the east coast and it is currently the hot topic on knitting bulletain boards, so they had a line that stretched the length of the building all day — until they sold out!
We’ve already signed a contract to do the festival next year, that’s how good it was.

Can it Really Be November?
November 1st, 2006 / News / No comments
I am just back from my daily walk along the beach. Peconic Bay is as still and as clear as a sheet of glass. Every stone and snapper and bit of seaweed is magnified through the lens of the crystalline water. The sun is strong and the blue sky brilliant, as are the leaves on the trees. Fall comes late here on the temperate shores of Long Island. This is a great thing, since we have sweet corn by the first of July, vine-ripened tomatoes through October, and can still pick a rose or two on Thanksgiving. I am on my back porch, flanked by Cairo, my Jack Russell Terrier, and Simon Two-toes, my tuxedo cat, and I swear I am getting a sunburn! It must be 70 degress out! If my hammock was still up I’d get a book and plunk myself down in it without compunction. I deserve a rest — my sister Barbara and I spent the last two weekends shlepping our stuff to shows in New York and Connecticut. It was exhilirating and exhausting at the same time, and I am glad to be at home. Need to rest up — scallop season starts at daybreak on Monday morning. I love living here!

Archive -- October 2006

Newtown Rug Show
October 17th, 2006 / News, Road Trips, Suppliers and Teachers / No comments
The 5th Annual Newtown, CT Rug Show is coming up quickly — Saturday, October 28 at Reed Intermediate School, 3 Trades Lane, Newtown, CT. Come shop 35 vedors (including me and my sister Barbara), particiate in the rug show and a mini workshop with Michele Micarelli, and listen to a lecture, “Imagination without Limits,” by Linda Rae Coughlin. Call 203-270-8293 or email for more information.
Don’t forgot the NYS Sheep & Wool Festival this weekend in Rhinebeck, NY!

Fairfield Grace Rug Show 2006
October 9th, 2006 / News, Road Trips / No comments
This rug show, presented by the Fairfield-Grace Episcopal Church in Fairfield, Connecticut, is the very first rug show I ever attended. That was about 16 years ago — and I was thrilled with it. I had never seen so many hooked rugs in one room before, and Jule Marie Smith’s rugs were a real stand out. That was when I first realized a rug hooker could have a signature look, could be a real artist with wool. And the vendors! Room after room was filled with hand-dyed wool and dyes and hooks and books and rug hookers! I was overwhelmed and enthralled.
This year’s show was a disappointment. There were very few rugs on display, and some of them were in the show last year. And I’ve always disliked the way they are displayed — rough 2 x 4s nailed together to make a frame. That wasn’t a big issue for me in the past because they had enough rugs to cover the frame completely. This year it just looked bad and bare.
They also adhere to the practice of labeling the rugs with scraps of paper with the name of the hooker, designer and teacher and pinning that label to the corner of the rug. This drives me crazy. I believe the labels should be typed and printed out (and with the technology available today that’s not a difficult thing to do) and placed beside the rug, just like they do in a museum or gallery or at the show at the Shelburne. I was also taken aback by the label for a lovely hooked rendition of Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night. The label gave the name of the hooker and the woman who COPIED it onto backing for her, but Vincent Van Gogh’s name was nowhere to be seen! The rug was lovely, and well done, but credit should be given — ALWAYS– to the original artist.
There are still many vendors available — they may be what keep people coming despite the dearth of rugs. They have a featured speaker each year, but I never stay that long. (I like to get there, shop, look at the rugs, and then be on my way to visit family.) Their door prizes are quite popular. Each vendor donates a prize and each viewer is given a numbered ticket when they pay the entrance fee. The drawing is held in the afternoon, after the guest speaker.
I think, perhaps, the reason for this rug show’s decline is just temporary. Old rug hookers retire, new ones come along. So I’ll keep going to this venerable old show. You should, too.

New York Sheep and Wool Festival
October 3rd, 2006 / News, Road Trips / No comments
Come join my sister Barbara and I at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival at the Duchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, New York, on October 21 and 22, 2006. We’ll be selling hand-hooked rugs, hand-dyed wool and other rug hooking supplies, needle punch supplies and my sister’s whimsical woolen holiday ornaments. For directions and more info go to

Archive -- May 2006

Icons of America Again
May 21st, 2006 / News / No comments
This is something I posted on Padula, a rug hooking message board on Topica. A woman named Tracy posted a link to an article written about the winner of the contest ( that explained why she chose to hook a Colt .45. I thought it would generate a lot of discussion, so I threw my 2 cents in. I t barely made a blip in anyone’s conciousness, much to my disappointment.
Tracy: Thanks for posting the article about the winner of the Icons
of America contest winner. I must have missed it the first time.
I didn’t enter the contest, but I’ve been following the aftermath,
and I was at the Museum the day the winners were announced. That was
an exciting day for rug hooking. The people who attended could
hardly wait for the announcement to take place and the lecture hall
was standing room only. The three judges spoke about their process
and the difficulty of making a decision. Afterwards, there were
hushed conversations everywhere, and complaints that not a single
judge was a rug hooker.
It was fabulous! A real debate about rug hooking — a conversation
that went beyond “What cut is that?” and “What kind of dye do you
use?” The American Folk Art Museum, Lee Kogan, Marilyn Bottjer and
the three judges (Kristina Johnson, Stacy Hollander and Thomas
Woodard, who are highly qualified even though they are not rug
hookers) deserve a lot of credit for the huge effort they made to
elevate rug hooking and take it beyond guild meetings and church
halls. For a tiny museum with a tiny budget and a tiny staff to
present this contest was a major feat. At the same time, because
they are a nationally known museum, the contest was a major boost for
rug hooking and for those rug makers interested in making art, not
just floor coverings.
I’ve read a lot of negative posts about the contest on this and other
message boards. Is the Colt a “pretty” rug? Maybe not, but neither
is Munch’s painting “The Scream” or any other number of famous,
priceless pieces of art. Are they “bummers?” Maybe, but they make
the viewer think and discuss and participate and that is what art is
about. Someone on another list complained that the artist statements
the finalists had to submit were taken into consideration by the
judges. Hearing the ideas behind these rugs was the most amazing
part of the whole day! I hope Linda Rae Coughlin, who is including
photos of the winning rugs in a book she is working on, includes the
artists statements as well.
Was this a perfect contest? No — there could have been more
publicity, more participants, more specific guideliines and the rugs
could have been displayed better and longer — but it was a great
start and I, for one, hope the Museum sponsors another one soon.
Sarah McNamara
Greenport, NY

Archive -- April 2006

Icons of America, American Folk Art Museum
April 7th, 2006 / News / No comments
The Icons of America contest sponsored by the American Folk Art Museum created a lot of energy in the rug hooking world this year. People from all over the country — and Canada, too — planned and executed their ideas of what they thought was an appropriate symbol for America. Not many rug shows are juried, and not many rug shows award prizes for the top rugs. This was a big deal.
When the 15 finalists were chosen and the rejections sent out, the online rug hooking message boards were abuzz with questions about the winners and losers. The criteria the judges used were not clear and not one of the judges knew how to hook a rug!
Those of us lucky enough to attend rug day (I manned the table for the Peconic Ruggers along with Tracy Jamar and Denise Johnson) felt part of a great thing. The air was filled with excitement and energy as we waited for the noontime announcement of the winners.
The conference room was overflowing and people had to be turned away when it was time to announce the winners. Lee Kogan, the director of special events at the museum, offered to announce the winners a second time for those who couldn;t be present the first time. Unfortunately, the rugs were hung on coatracks, too close together and too low to get a good look at them. No lables identified the name of rug or the name of the artist, but Lee’s assistant did her best to point them out and make them visible.
I’ll write more on Monday when I return from the Shelburne Museum, where the Green Mountain guild is holding their annual show. All of the finalists in the Icons contest are there along with many that weren.t accepted. I hear there’ lots of talk about the contest at the show — so I will report back next week.

Deanne Fitzpatrick’s Creativity Class, Halifax 2005
April 7th, 2006 / News, Suppliers and Teachers / No comments
Magic happens when Deanne Fitzpatrick teaches a class. She has a way of looking at the world in general, and rugs in particular, that no one else has. Everything captures her attention — the fields along the paths she walks each day, an elderly woman in a restaurant. She finds beauty in just about everything and she turns just about everything into a subject for her hooked rugs.
Photographs don’t do her rugs justice. It’s impossible not to touch them — the pile is deep, the texture nubby and bold. I don’t know how she does it and I’ve never seen anybody get the same effect. Her subject matter is what surrounds her — the landscape of Nova Scotia, friends and family members.
Deanne’s classes are infused with the same energy as her rugs. She gave us all a creativity kit — a bag filled with pens, paper, burlap, note cards, templates, playdoh and her favorite — King Kole tea. She spoke about keeping a sketchbook — or several — to record ideas and the world surrounding us. We made templates and swapped them, we drew out patterns, we drew each other! And it didn’t matter if we were “artistic” or not. Half way through, she served us Scottish oatcakes — how many teachers serve you homemade cookies when you tyake a class? (The recipe is on her website: google her.) It was an amazing day, and I am sad I was so exhausted from lack of sleep, too much caffiene, and my class earlier in the week.
Deanne’s newest book from rug hooking encompasses what we did in her class, so you can get the info without her incredibly warm personality and electric energy, but I recommend you take a class from her if you can. Deanne is offering a rug hooking symposium near her home in Nova Scotia in October 2007. I hear it is filling fast, so call quick if you are interested.

Archive -- March 2006

Rug Day, American Folk Art Museum
March 7th, 2006 / News / No comments
Rug Day at the American Folk Art Museum is this Saturday, March 11, from 10 AM until 4 PM. Winners of the first hooked rug contest sponsored by the museum will be announced and on display. Demonstrations will be given by several guilds, and a class will be taught by Abby Vakay. FO more information, call the museum at 212 265 1040.

Archive -- February 2006

February 28th, 2006 / News / No comments
My sister just told me my photographs are way too big when viewed on Internet Explorer. I use Mozilla Firefox, which automatically resizes the pics, so I didn’t realize I had a problem. I thought I knew how to fix it, but I havn’t conquered it yet. So — my apologies to those of you viewing the site on IE. I’ll try to have the problem fixed soon. (Get Firefox, it is much smarter!)

February 26th, 2006 / News, Suppliers and Teachers, Peconic Ruggers / No comments
I have discovered scrumbling! When I began thinking about blogging, my neighbor Valerie (an accomplished crocheter whose husband Seth is my computer savior) sent me links to several knitting and crocheting blogs. I ended up on a site authored by an Australian woman named Prudence Mapstone — — and I’ve been captivated by it ever since. I love her use of color and the organic look her objects take on. Another site — Sylvia Cosh James Walter Crochet defines scrumbling as “making freeform random patchwork pieces to be joined into a continuos, textured fabric.” Why not apply this same idea to rug hooking? Who needs a pattern? Why not grab a handful of wool and start hooking and see where it goes? So last weekend I started a purse, just following my instincts and letting my hook ramble — I mean scrumble. (I love that word.) It’s too cold to go out to the studio and take a picture of it right now, but I’ll try to get to it tomorrow.
Today I realized I’d already scrumbled a purse. The Peconic Ruggers hired Abby Vakay to lead a workshop on hooking with unusual materials a few years ago. Abby showed us the basics of needlefelting and how to apply it to rug hooking, along with appliqueing, stuffing embellishing and probably a dozen other techniques. I only finished a 4 inch circle during the class, but I was so excited by the possibilities that I went home and finished the purse the next day. It makes me smile every time I look at it.

Now I’m thinking about scrumbling a rug . . .

Braiding Frustrations
February 3rd, 2006 / News, Suppliers and Teachers / No comments
So — I decided to finish a small rug with a single braid on the edge. Did great all the way to the end — got the corners right, didn’t sew it on too tight — then I get to the end and I can’t finish it off so that it looks good. I was cursing a blue streak, mad all over again that I had to spend 2 days hooking in Halifax so the teacher sould make money on wool and patterns when I could have been learning the tricks of braiding. I went to the fairly new book The Secrets of Finishing Hooked Rugs by Margaret Siano, which is a great book, but I couldn’t get her instructions to work for me. I just fudged it and it looks okay. But I am in the market for a class on braiding around hooked rugs that teaches every possible thing I could need to know: butting ends, two color braiding verses three colored and FINISHING so it looks seamless.
Here’s a photo of the finished mat. I think it is easy to spot the end, unfortunately.

Archive -- January 2006

Peconic Ruggers Hook In, February 4, 2006
January 29th, 2006 / News, Suppliers and Teachers, Peconic Ruggers / No comments
The Peconic Ruggers will host a hook in at the Grange, Sound Avenue, Riverhead, on Saturday, February 6 from 10 AM until 3 PM. Beverages and sweets will be served. Brown bag your lunch. Bring along some finished rugs to show off as well as your current project to work on. Barbara McNamara of Thimblefolk in Branford, Connecticut will be there selling her beautiful hand-dyed wool. All are welcome.

Halifax, Continued
January 15th, 2006 / News, Road Trips, Suppliers and Teachers / No comments
The third day of Sandy Cheverie’s class was devoted to braiding, what I wanted to focus on the entire time. Sandy’s father had invented Braid-Aids a long time ago, and they really make braiding easier. I had 2 different weights of wool, something I hadn’t considered when planning my braid, and that made it a little more difficult to keep the braid even. The tough part of braiding for finishing a rug is getting the corners right and ending the braid. We never quite got as far as finishing — which was really frustrating for me when I got home. I braided and rebraided the end at least 5 times and it still doesn’t look exactly right. To do this class right, it has to be at least 2 days long, and hooking should not be a part of it.
Here’s the my first attempt at a braided edge.

Peconic Ruggers: Next Meeting, Monday, January 16,2006
January 12th, 2006 / News, Peconic Ruggers / No comments
The Peconic Ruggers will meet at 7 PM on Monday, January 16 at the Grange, Sound Avenue, Riverhead, New York.

Sandy Cheverie’s Hooking and Braiding Class at the ATHA Biennial
January 12th, 2006 / News, Road Trips, Suppliers and Teachers / No comments
You can tell that Sandy Cheverie was a Phys Ed teacher in another incarnation. She’s enthusiastic, has a wry sense of humor and doesn’t suffer foolishness. She is also an incrediably accomplished rug hooker and braider. She brought several rugs to class, many of which hung on the walls of Braid-Aid, her family’s store in Pembroke, Massachussetts, for years. (It was a sad day when Braid-Aid closed!)
Students were required to purchase a pattern from Sandy, a 20″ octagon of flowers. She sent us a sketch of the pattern ahead of time so we could color plan our piece. She then brought along a large stash of wool for us to purchase should we need to fill in with colors we didn’t have. This was a problem for me. I didn’t want to hook — I only wanted to learn how to braid and use the braid for finishing a rug. (I was not the only one in the class to feel this way.) Also, I did not want to hook someone else’s pattern. I’ve been designing my own rugs for years. But, knowing it was only right to particpate in the entire class, I went ahead and color-planned the rug and hooked my heart out for 2 days. I had half of the rug finished by the end of day 2. And I was exhausted. I ended up mainlining coffee and Diet Coke and, of course, could not sleep a wink that night. To add to the after effects of the caffiene, our room faced the waterfront and a cute little Irish pub that featured live music til about 2 AM, Thursday through Sunday night. Both Barb and I ended up being exhausted the entire time we were there.

Archive -- November 2005

Archive for November, 2005
Peconic Ruggers: Next Meeting, Monday, November 14, 2005
November 11th, 2005 / News, Peconic Ruggers / No comments
The next meeting of the Peconic Ruggers will be Monday, November 14, 2005 at 7 PM at the Grange, SOund Avenue, Riverhead, NY> We’ll be drawing the winning ticket for our 2005 raffle rug, a really beautiful log cabin quilt design done in black and white with red chimneys.

A Celebration of American Craftsmanship, Wilton, CT
November 7th, 2005 / News, Road Trips / No comments
The Wilton, Connecticut Historical Society is once again sponsoring A Celebration of American Craftsman on Saturday and Sunday, November 12 & 13, 2005. Early buying on Saturday is from 8 to 10 AM and costs $25. General admission is $10 from 10 to 5 PM. Two or three rug hookers participate in this show, which is really incredible. Lots of great handmade stuff from furniture to miniature quilts. This year, for the first time, Tracy Jamar will be selling her fiber art at Wilton. Tracy not only hooks rugs, she owns Jamar Textile Restoration, repairing both rugs and quilts. This is a really fun, though expensive, show. Definitely worth the trip.

Archive -- October 2005

October 17th, 2005
We arrived at the CAT ferry in Bar Harbor at 6:45 on Wednesday, August 24. The CAT runs from Bar Harbor to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes. That’s a lot less time than the other ferry from Portland to Yarmouth, which is no longer operating and took 11 hours. The trade off is the price — the CAT is ENORMOUSLY expensive — I probably could have flown for what it cost the 2 of us! But it wouldn’t have been a road trip, then, would it? We ate a mediochre breakfast on board and settled in to listen to the 2 screaming kids next us. ( Luckily the parents toted them off to the tv room pretty quickly.) We were hoping to see some whales during the crossing, but it was so foggy we couldn’t even see the front of the ship. We could, however, hear the constant pinging and beeping of the on-board casino which starts operating 3 miles off shore.
We arrived around noon (it’s an hour later in Nova Scotia), piped in by a bag piper strolling the grounds of the Visitor’s Center. We hit the road quickly, wanting to get to Halifax in time for the official “Meet and Greet” at the Casino Nova Scotia hotel, our place of residence for the next 5 days. Unfortunately, we forgot it was nearly lunch time and we didn’t have any Canadian money. (Not really a problem, most Canadian businesses are happy to take American dollars. )
Not far outside of Yarmouth we spotted a helicopter circling above the road. Mind you, this is a 2-lane road with nothing but trees and skies on either side. (It’s lovely not to see a gas station or a McDonald’s for miles. . . ) As we neared the helicopter, we noticed several cars and trucks and men standing around. Barb spotted it first: a moose at the edge of the woods. We found out later that there aren’t too many moose (mooses?) in Nova Scotia, so they take good care of the ones they have. I guess they were trying to keep it off the road. Seeing the moose made up for not spotting any whales earlier in the day.
We stopped in a little town named Barrington to have lunch and to change our money. We loaded up on loonies and twonies (the Canadian $1 coin is called a loony because it has a loon on the front. So if that’s a loony, of course the $2 coin is a twony. I do not like to carry coins around — I have a big can full of them at home that I take to the bank periodically — but one has no choice in Canada. There just aren’t any dollar bills). After having a light lunch at a little restaurant who’s name I’ve forgotten, we headed north on Route 103, passing by the Barrington Woolen Mill Museum.
We made it to the hotel by 5:30 after making a few wrong turns despite our detailed Mapquest map. I found it a bit unnerving to drive in the city after all that open road with very few cars on it. I was exhausted to boot — two solid days of driving takes a lot out of me. We dropped our bags off in the room and headed for the Biennial Registration.
We were greeted by the charming women of ATHA Region 15, a chapter which encompasses all of the Atlantic Provinces. The volunteers all wore tartan swags, making them readily identifiable. We were given our class information, meal tickets, and small zippered bags to wear around our necks with our names and hometowns on them. We also received a tote bag full of all sorts of treats: pads of paper, pens, samples of wool, lapel pins, discount coupons for the vendors, and, best of all, a hand-hooked coaster of a lighthouse. We went right back to our room to paw through the bag of treats like kids on Halloween! Region 15 really did a terrific job — everything was very well organized.
At 7 PM we headed downstairs for the “Meet and Greet,” which we assumed would be wine and cheese before dinner. Turned out it was a chocolate fountain with fruit for dipping. We wanted hardier fare, so we headed out to the waterfront to look for a restaurant, but not before stopping to chat with Peg and Jim Irish. Peg, who is one of the most talented and innovative rug hookers around, was there to teach a 1 1/2 day class entitles “A Nova Scotia Impression.” On our way out the door we ran into Nola Heidbreder, who taught a fabulous class at the Shelburne Museum in April called Historic Rugs (which I’ll write about at a later date). Nola joined us and on her recommendation we had dinner at a wonderful restaurant called Sweet Basil, right across the street from the hotel. I enjoyed wonderfully sweet Digby scallops and Nola’s company. She is incredibly funny as well as remarkably creative with just a touch of flamboyance. Dinner was a treat.
We hit the sack early so we’d be ready for day 1 of Sandy Cheverie’s class “Rug Hooking and Rug Braiding.”
to be continued . . .

October 14th, 2005
Because I live on the very eastern end of Long Island, I have to add two hours onto every trip I take. That time is either spent driving west to New York City or on the Cross Sound ferry to New London, CT. So I was out the door at 6:15 AM on Tuesday, August 23, 2005 in order to catch the 7 o’clock ferry. By 9:45 I had picked up my sister Barbara (who has forbidden from calling her Barby ever again in these pages) and we were on our way to Maine, the first stop on our excursion to Halifax. We had a dull day of driving punctuated by yucky rest stops and bad fast food. We were on a mission: get to Searsport Rug Hooking in Searsport, Maine before closing time!
Thanks to my expert (and fast) driving, we made it to Maine in time. We were greeted by Searsport Rug Hooking co-owner Julie, one of her employees, and my calendar of vintage rugs hanging behind the check out counter! This place is a hooker’s dream! There are rooms of rug hooking supplies here. Finished rugs are on display everywhere, some for sale. Julie was in the dye kitchen, smiling through the steam while preparing wool for an upcoming class with Polly Minik. Barb and I were able to have our pick of freshly dyed wool, still warm from the dryer. The wool room walls are lined with bolts of fabric and cubbies of hand-dyed wool, all irresistable. I bought plenty of stuff, including a small frame with gripper strips for Russian punch needle, the newest craft fad in the rug hooking world. We ended our visit with a chat about the new Townsend frame — all $750 worth of it! They didn’t have a model there to test, unfortunately, but they do carry the Townsend cutter and just about everything else a hooker could desire.
There are no rug supply stores — or even fabric shops — anywhere near my home, so I was pleased to see a rug hooking shop doing so well in a small town in Maine. What a great place to vacation! Soak up the sun and salt air on the coast of Maine and on rainy days head to Searsport to shop for wool, take a class, or just sit and hook in one of their comfy armchairs. ( I threatened to take up residence in the room with the sleeper sofa.)
We headed to the Comfort Inn in Belfast, a run-of-the-mill hotel that actually allows pets. Our room was clean and had a small balcony overlooking Penobscot Bay. We went to the Chart House next door for dinner, which was a mistake — we should have asked Julie for a recommendation. We both ordered fried clams. (It’s a nostalgia thing — we used to go to Jimmy’s of Savan Rock for clams when we were kids. Even though I live in a place surrounded by salt water, I can’t get a decent deep-fried whole clam anywhere so I’m always on the lookout for the perfect clam when I travel.) We regretted our choice the next day. It was an omen — except for 2 meals, the food was horrible for the remainder of the trip. We turned in early so we could be on the road to Bar Harbor and the high speed ferry to Nova Scotia by 5:30 the next morning.
to be continued . . .
Want to visit Julie?
Searsport Rug Hooking
396 East Main Street
Searsport, ME 04974

October 13th, 2005
After I begin rug hooking in 1990, I started taking what I call Rug Hooking Road Trips. My husband Peter and daughter Clara were my constant companions until they both got bored with rugs. For awhile my good friend and rug-hooking fairy godmother Marie Brush travelled together. (I met Marie at my first rug class at the Long Island Rug School in Greenport, NY. Since then she has been extraordinarily generous with her knowledge, time, and hooking supplies.) We’ve been to the Dorr Mill Store, Green Mountain Rug School, the Fairfield, CT rug show, and to Rug Hooking Magazine’s first rug show in Ephrata, PA. Marie doesn’t travel much any more, so I’ve drafted my sister Barbara to take her place. Barby started hooking a couple of years ago and just finished her first rug in August. (She also makes a variety of wonderful and whimsical seasonal decorative items and reproduction sewing implements mostly from wool. Look for her website under the name Thimblefolk soon. She also hand dyes wool for rug hookers.) We’ve made a couple of great excursions centered around rug hooking, the most recent being our trip to Halifax, Nova Scotia for the ATHA (Association of Traditional Hooking Artists) Biennial in August 2005. Come back tomorrow to hear about stops at Searsport Rug Hooking, Maine State Museum, Peggy’s Cove, Frenchy’s Thrift Stores, the CAT Ferry, the classes we took with Sandy Cheverie and Deanne Fitzpatrick, and the very bad food we ate along the way.

October 5th, 2005
A few years ago I came up with the idea to start a publishing company devoted to rug hooking. What a great way to combine my desire to write and edit with my love for hooking rugs. And so Paisley Publications was born in the spring of 2004, it’s first products being a calendar and note cards featuring vintage hand hooked rugs. Well, after a year of doing EVERYTHING one has to do to create, print, and sell cards and calendars (except the photography) and ending up with a pile of calendars in the dumpster and no time to hook my own rugs anymore, I decided to change my focus.
“Forget about paper,” my computer whiz neighbor Seth told me. “Go digital.” He’s right, of course. The cost of printing on paper — especially beautiful four-color ph0tographs of hooked rugs — is astronomical. Working on the computer is an inexpensive alternative , and I don’t have to travel from rug show to rug show, carting heavy boxes of merchandise. I can sit at home in my cozy studio and publish anything I want to the web at next to no cost.
Now I’m the proprietor of The Paisley Studio, a web page that will feature not only my thoughts on various aspects of rug hookings — book reviews, rug shows, suppliers, etc. — but patterns on both backing and paper, templates for creating rugs, and original hand hooked rugs for purchase as well.
This is a work in progress — I’m still learning how to manipulate the computer (thank you, Seth), so expect changes and check in often to see what is new.