Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Exploring Patterns and Designers in Rug Hooking

      Our local rug hooking guild continues to grow much faster than we expected. A lot of this is thanks to our founder, Eleanor, who invites every woman she meets to become a hooker. Many come to visit our monthly guild meeting to see what it's all about and quite a few stay on and pick up the craft. Eleanor and I formed the group in 2019 with the thought that if twelve people showed up, we would deem it a success. We began with twenty and have more than double that number on our roster today. We call ourselves, "Blue Ridge Ruggers" and we are a happy, very creative bunch. 

     This year, we arranged our first teacher workshop. We brought in Cammie Bruce for a three day workshop and she was marvelous! Most teachers have to limit their class size so we used a lottery to choose which twenty members would to attend. Cammie is a dynamic, talented designer who works so well with students. She brought many of her patterns and a huge inventory of wool to stoke our creativity. I personally began working on one of Cammie's patterns called, "Grandma's Blue Pot". She helped me color plan the rug and it is my current work in progress. It is my first rug of Cammie's and in her primitive style of soft, medium value wools. The workshop was a great success. This was an encouragement for me to continue bringing more teachers to our group.

     Nearby, at Smith Mountain Lake, another local hooker has begun arranging teacher workshop retreats. Last fall she brought in Karen Whidden for a three day retreat at the 4H camp on the lake. I was happy to attend and brought a Trisha Travis pattern designed in the style of a vintage postcard. Tricia is also a new designer for me to hook and I enjoyed working on this pattern a lot. Our teacher, Karen, was very helpful with tips and comments although I had color planned this rug myself in keeping with the original design.

     Another new designer I met last year is named Katie Kriner. She published a book titled, "Rug Hooking With Wool Strips" that contains twenty patterns for enlarging. Her style is more contemporary and I find that her designs work well in my home. She has a brick and mortar shop in Pennsylvania called, "The Bee and the Bear" as well as an Etsy shop under the same name. I made her "Six Flowers" rug and an adorable pillow called, "Bird in Foliage". Both patterns were from her book. The wool used in both rugs were also from her shop and were all hand dyed by Katie and her team. I have them pictured in the room in which they were placed. I love antiques and old things, but I don't style my home in the primitive style. So, these rug styles have found a good place in my home. 

     I have a few more finished projects in rugs and cross stitch that I will post another time. Each one gives me much joy to create and some very lovely people to create with.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Still Learning About Everything


    Nothing much has changed around here. I am still hooking, stitching, sewing, gardening, reading, cooking, loving, fussing, etc., etc. There is still much to learn about everything. I took the time to be still last week and I learned some things and worked out some troubles. It was a wonderful thing and it felt really good to have benefited so greatly just by sitting idly on the porch, staring at the field. 
     This silent adventure started when I took out a piece of crewel work I began working on about thirty-eight years ago. The best that I can recall, I bought it around the time our first daughter was born. The piece was almost completely stitched except for a few bits here and there. I must have gotten too busy to finish it (ya think?!) and tucked it away. I decided I would finish it now for our granddaughter. I took it out to the screen porch and settled in for an afternoon of stitching. Steve was away so I had no need to cook dinner nor anywhere to go. Time was of no concern, the weather was perfectly mild and the only sounds I heard were the birds singing. A memory from childhood slowly came forward as I stitched and listened to the birds. I was nine years old, sitting on the back porch of my childhood home. Like today, I was listening to the birds singing while I stitched an embroidery onto a dresser scarf. The joy of summer vacation stretched before me like an eternity that day. I had no cares other than thoughts of swimming, playing, eating good summer time foods, and sleeping with the windows wide open to the sound of crickets at night. And, there would be no school for two and a half, whole months! In an effort to ward off any boredom that might occur during the long summer that year, my mother taught my sister and me how to embroider. She took us to the five-and-dime to choose a dresser scarf stamped with a design in blue ink and to pick out embroidery floss. I still recall the excitement of making those choices and the prospect that I would be creating something beautiful. Mom taught us the basic running stitch, the chain stitch, the lazy daisy, and the French knot. She told us that she had spent her childhood summers embroidering on her back porch with her sisters. I imagined my mother and my aunts as little girls doing the same thing as my sister and I, only a long time ago when the world was in black and white. We spent many days that long, hot summer stitching on the porch. I sat for hours on the floor with my back leaning against an old sofa, stitching away. I was so pleased when my first scarf was finished that I asked to buy another. We put those dresser scarves to good use, too. Once they were completed, they alternately graced our bedroom dresser throughout our childhood.
    It was a good memory; one that has stayed with me for days now. My thoughts while I was stitching were almost as carefree as my nine year old self's would have been way back during that summer in 1968. But this day, I paused from stitching and stared out into the field for a while. My mind was working something out. (Which, by the way, happens when you keep your hands idly busy like stitching, knitting, or pulling weeds.) It was something big and important between my mother and me and I slowly and gently realized that it didn't matter anymore. It should have never mattered. I took a moment to tell my mom in Heaven that it didn't matter anymore. She probably realized it herself already, being in Heaven with God and all. But I thought she should hear it from me. So, all is well and I am once again back on that summer filled porch in upstate New York stitching away the afternoon. I can imagine mom is singing in the kitchen and I'm pretty sure there will be something good for dinner. And for now, I have not a care in the world.
     I still have two of those dresser scarves I crudely embroidered some fifty-five years ago.They were well used and are still well loved.