Meeting creative people is one of the best things about vending at fiber festivals. I met woodworker Dan Tracy at last year's Long Island Fleece and Fiber Fair (coming up on May 17 & 18 this year). Dan had a beautiful array of hand-turned wooden bowls, knitting needles, crochet hooks, and buttons. I was particularly taken with his hand made tools -- I loved the feel of the wood in my hands. How can wood feel so much like silk? I suggested he try his hand at rug hooks, and gave him one of mine to take home. (I am a collector of hooks, both old and new, so I have plenty to share.) It wasn't long before he sent me a rug hook of his own making -- he even wrought the actual hook from brass. The handle is made of spalted maple (spalting is the discoloration that occurs in wood from stress or fungus affecting a tree while it is alive). Isn't it a beauty? I love it. The brass hook is nice and deep which makes grabbing wool strips easy, and the handle fits my hand just right.
It wasn't long before Dan made more hooks . . . and started making proddy tools after he discovered that many rug hookers make prodded rugs too. He uses a variety of woods: buckthorn, curly maple, cherry, apple, spalted maple -- some natural, some dyed -- each one more beautiful than the last. He makes pencil hooks as well as regular hooks, and he offers a variation in the length and width of the shafts and the handles, so you are sure to find one you love. He signs each hook, too.
These are not just hooks to last your lifetime, they are heirlooms!
A rug hooker mentioned snippet bowls to Dan recently, so of course, he made some snippet bowls. He sent me pictures of them. They were all lovely, but I confessed that I am a slob, and my snippets all land on the floor until I force myself to get out the vacuum and suck them up. A few days later, my very own personalized snippet bowl arrived in the mail. Dan is not just a great woodworker, he's a really nice and thoughtful guy.
I will be selling Dan's hooks and proddy tools at the shows Barb and I do this year, so if you want to test one out, come by our booth. (Go to the Shows and Events tab in the navigation bar above to see where we'll be this year.) Of course, you can contact Dan yourself at his website: Dan Tracy Designs, where you can see a video of Dan in action and read about his process. He's also on etsy and Facebook. Dan will be here live and in person for the Long Island Fleece and Fiber Fair at Hallockville next month, so stop by and see him and his exquisitely made wood work.