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News from Green Mountain Hooked Rugs

Take Time to Smell the Wool Dust

Life moves too fast. I turned 30 in March! I'm a full-time teacher, Board Member for GMHR, and a rug hooker on the side. I feel like each day is a sprint with every minute completely filled. Anyone who has worked in a school knows that the kids keep you busy. For those of you who have never worked in education just imagine you're trying to put out a fire while herding cats in a straight jacket. It's not easy... and it's incredibly exhausting! Add to this the short days and darkness of Maine winter, plus the snow that is still above my window sill even though it's April 6th and all I want to do when I get home is make a good, hot, filling meal, get into some warm jammies, and watch a movie. And lately that's what I've been doing! The problem with this is that it's not a very fulfilling life. I'm an artist! I need my outlet! 

So after months of not working on anything I recently forced myself to pull out my wool again and even though it felt like a job I started hooking. A little at first, and then for hours. I noticed that I was excited to get home to my wool and the small mess I had made in my living room (thank goodness for amazingly supportive and understanding roommates!) 

As the days and weeks went by I started to feel like I had accomplished something by the end of the day, which helped me sleep better, which gave me more energy in the morning! Adding rug hooking back into my daily routine had this cascade effect on the rest of my life... everything got better. I'm happier, healthier, more productive, have something to show for my days other than work, and feel recharged. So it's no surprise that the key to my mental health in the winter iiiiiiiiiis... making the wool dust fly! 

As a side note I'd estimate the Birth of Venus to be about half done now! I'm hoping to finish it by 2018! A project that took six years to complete is definitely a labor of LOVE!

Here is a sneak peak:


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For all the ugly rugs out there...

This is a true story as told to me by Lynn Soule, North Hero, Vermont.

There once was an ugly rug...  its owner had no interest in finishing it.  It sat in a closet untouched and sad - crying over its colorless holes.

Until one day - its owner got so fed up with all her UFO's (unfinished objects) that she decided it was time to finish the ugly rug.  She put neon colors in its holes and called it a day.

Fast forward several months to the rug show.  She brought her rug, hoping it would sell as she was unsure where to put it in her house.  Upon entering the exhibit hall, the curator spotted it from a far and said "Everyone STOP and look at this rug! This rug is amazing!  This rug will be the focal point for the entire exhibit!"

The ugly rug's owner thought, "hmm, this lady must have had a few glasses of wine before coming", but continued on.  Now what to title her rug - only one named seemed fitting, she decided to call it "The Ugly Rug" and marked the price down from $500 to $400.

The exhibit opened the next morning and much to the owners surprise the first buyer of the day wanted to purchase her rug!  The buyer said "I usually haggle over prices but I see you have marked it down already.  I tell you what, if you tell me why you called it the Ugly Rug and document the story, I will pay the full asking price".  The owner agreed, thinking this was the deal of the century.

The moral of the story is that one mans ugly rug is another mans treasured artwork.  Photos of the rug and buyer below.


The Ugly Rug - Lynn Soule, North Hero, Vermont

I am hoping this will be an inspiration to you to finish your ugly rug. But, if you need a break from your ugly rug (as I did), try one of our kits below! We can guarantee it will come out looking fab and give your brain a break from the hard work of a UFO!


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Set up your dye kitchen in 5 minutes or less...

You too can dye in the comfort of your own home without ruining your kitchen or taking up a ton of space. I built myself a portable dye kitchen.  I set it up in the morning and take it down at night when I am done!

In October last year we moved into our brand new house that we spent 2 years building.  I promptly began to dye in our new kitchen, everything was going swimmingly. Until one day - even though I was being extremely careful, I slipped.  In slow motion I watched some of the dye water jump out of the pot and hit the backsplash.  Thank goodness the backspalsh is brown and the red dye water didnt leave a mark.  I was lucky this time but might not be as lucky with our white granite counters next time.  So I set out to create a safe kitchen for myself and have shared the results (along with links of where to buy) below.



Here is what you need:

1. A burner (or two) -  When we hold dye classes in our shop, we use induction burners - they draw less power, you can plug two into the same outlet without blowing a fuse and they turn themselves off if there is no pan on it. TIP: you can't set them over medium heat or they will blow your fuse, but that will keep your water plenty warm. We use these:

2. A table to put your burners on.  We use these: They are plastic, lightweight and easy to clean.  They also fold away when you are ready to put your dye kitcken away.

3. Measuring cups  Pyrex is a good brand.  I was using a glass pitcher for a little while and it wasnt long before it cracked, I assume from the heat.  

4. Dye spoons - We sell these on our website.  Both a set of 3 and set of 4.  Which do you need?  Of course, it depends on what you are doing. You can get away with the set of 3, but you will find yourself doing a fair amount of extra math.  i.e. when you need a half t, you will have to use 2 1/4 t unless you have the set of 4.  Sounds simple, but it complicates an already fairly complicated process.

Link to the set of 3:

Link to the set of 4:

5. Dyes, Citric Acid and Synthrapol - we sell all these on our website as well.  Links below.  Things to consider - cushing dyes tend to have a more dulled color while prochem are very bright. You can use vinegar in place of citric acid, but it will give your wool a vinegar smell. Prosapol is an eco-frindly version of synthrapol.

Cushing Dyes -

ProChem Dyes -

Citric Acid -

Synthrapol -

6. Pots, Tongs and Aluminum Pans - I bought these items all from my local Ocean State Job Lots, but I think you could get them at Wal-Mart, Target, etc. I bought 30 gallon stock pots with lids, this holds about a yard of wool.  If you dont dye a yard at a time, you can use something smaller. The tongs I bought have plastic covers on them, I do not recommend these.  Dyes gets stuck under them sometimes. Pick ones that are just metal. The aluminum pans work well to put your wool in and bake so you can move on to the next piece of wool.

7. Dye books - You can of course just play, but if you want some formulas here are some good books to help guide you.

For Cushing dyes:

For ProChem dyes:

Some other things to think about: I put lots of newspaper down on the table and have a roll of paper towels handy.  It helps catch any water and keeps things from getting messy.  I also put an old towel down on the floor.  We have dark wood floors so I am not worried about them getting stained, but if you have light floors you might want a few extra towels. A sink is another thing to think about, we have a big painting sink in our laundry room which I use. You can use your kitchen one and not risk spills by putting the entire pot in the sink and filling it with water and slowly dumping it every so often.  You also dont want to dump boiling water down your drain as it may case the glue on pipes to melt and you will have leaks. Cool the hot water down by adding cold water to the pot before dumping.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below - I am happy to help answer!

If you still have questions or are really enjoying dyeing think about taking a dye class with Mariah this summer at Green Mountain Rug School in June!  Mariah has an interesting style and has developed her own ideas with input from her mom, Stephanie and grandmother Anne Ashworth.  For more information visit:

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Matt & Lindsay

The family is busy planning for... Green Mountain Rug School 2017 (but also a wedding!) Lindsay is the middle daughter in the fifth generation of fiber artists at Green Mountain Hooked Rugs. She has shared some of her engagement photos with you below.  In honor of the month of love, we are offering free shipping on orders over $65 on our website. Check out the new banner at the top of our website to help you track how far you are from getting free shipping! Enjoy!

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Let the Outdoors Influence Your Hooking

Let the Outdoors Influence Your Hooking

Our first ever guest blog written by Lori LaBerge! Lori is an incredible artist and a wonderful teacher. Read more about what motivates and inspires her and what her class will encompass below!

By: Lori  LaBerge

The world is full of sites we overlook and pass by without a second thought. What if we really looked at things? What if we not only viewed subjects outdoors, but experienced them and brought that experience to our work? Working outdoors, or en plein air (in the open air), opens our eyes. We learn to see in new ways and to fully experience our subject matter.

What do you see?  A broken down home or stone, steps, doorway, windows, weather-worn edges, collapsed stone, falling chimney, overgrown grass, moss and a feeling of isolation.

It was while sitting on the front deck overlooking the mountains that my thoughts turned to friends who paint. They learn, laugh and create some of their work outdoors. They meet in groups and share their knowledge of art while painting in the sun, wind, shade or even snow. I began to wonder why rug hookers could not have the same experience. What could we learn? How could we laugh? How could we create our work outdoors?

 Typical outdoor set-up with supplies

Through plein air study I have expanded my knowledge of elements such as line, shape, space, value, texture, form and color. Seeing these elements in life brings a broader knowledge of how they function. I have read how shadows change with light, but stepping outside and watching the shadow of a tree change position as the light changes throughout the day brings that knowledge to life.

Plein air artists are known for creating realistic portrayals of the outdoors. They capture a moment in time with attention to light, much as the Impressionists did.

The bare branches of a small tree underneath a bridge and the light on the water grabbed my attention, leading to a combination of realism and abstraction.

What if we are not realists? What if we choose to depict the outdoors abstractly or in any other style? There is no reason to limit yourself. Creating art is a process of discovering yourself, trying new directions and finding what you are drawn to.

Here I studied shapes and shadows to create a geometric work from an outdoor sketch

I laugh to myself, and occasionally out loud, as I work. Every piece I have completed outside has an experience attached to it. There was the day I hooked on the sand by the ocean and a dog ran in front of me to catch a Frisbee while families played on the beach. Another time a bird landed in my pile of wool and flew off with a strip of wool hanging from its beak. If I were working in the studio, would a family of turkeys have walked right in front of a scene I was hooking? These memories will be with me forever.

“The Art of Plein Air” class at Green Mountain Rug School will allow us to laugh and learn while expressing ourselves artistically.

For more information on The Art of Plein Air visit:  

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How Does One Go About Creating A Story Rug???

How Does One Go About Creating A Story Rug???

I loved the idea of “Story Rugs” when I first heard it  years ago – which I have no idea when or in exactly what context. But I wondered at the time what my story would be. Then, in typical “me” fashion, I filed it away in my brain and went on to some other hooking projects.  

I saw Paulette Hackman’s book Story Rugs when it came, grabbed a copy right away and dove in. When Green Mountain Rug School asked me to co-teach a “Story Rug” class based on Paulette’s book I was ecstatic! I was fortunate enough to have Paulette help in the planning stages and so she and I had some preliminary conversations about the class last summer. Have I mentioned how amazing she is and how excited I am for my class?!

In talking with Paulette I became so energized and inspired that I decided to create and hook a brand new story rug to use as a teaching tool for the class. So I started to ponder “my” story. What would it be? Did I really even have a story? The answer to that question is always “Yes, everyone has a story…” the trick is in finding the story. Little did I recognize “Work of Heart” my rug that I had designed with Bev Conway and given to my dad, was really a story rug. But then aren’t most rugs story rugs? As I began to really get comfortable with the idea of story rugs I realized that at least 90% of all rugs I’ve ever hooked can be classified as story rugs!

I settled on telling the story of Green Mountain Hooked Rugs and started a journal book making notes on ideas; what parts of the rug might look like; what ‘stories’ did I want to include? What did I want the over all pattern to look like? I love oriental rugs so it was kind of a no-brainer for me to pick an overall look of the Azeri rugs as they have such a strong oriental flavor to them. 

Okay. That was settled.  

I still did not know how big it would be, but I knew the center field area would contain five sections – one for each of the generations. How would I put them together? Should they be separate? Should I have the sections wind along a ‘path’? A path through the mountains? The center was tough to lock down and not having come up with anything concrete, I moved on to the borders. I wanted a wide border and two narrower ones – typical of oriental and Azeri patterns. After much more wondering, pondering and doodling in my journal I finally hit upon the idea for the large border! I would use the original logo of three mountains. But what for the smaller borders? And the overall color – green or buff – light or dark? And still that center field eluded me.

In fact it still eludes me! I’m not finished with my story rug just yet, but I’m still working toward how to incorporate all of my themes, hidden meanings, and mini-stories. You can see some of my ‘ideas’ as they progressed in the sketches below - I supposed I have the brain of an artist: moving too fast for my hand and somewhat disorganized! But I am loving this process nonetheless and I know I am getting closer to a ‘final’ design. I can see the different parts of the design, both the center field and borders, coming alive.

The process of creating this story rug has helped me define my own story, the story of my family, and immortalize it in the medium most appropriate for myself, my nieces, my sisters, my mother, and all of the important women who came before us and made Green Mountain Rug School possible. 

Creating a story rug helps us become a part of something bigger.

Pam is teaching a class on creating Story Rugs at Green Mountain Rug School this year.  For more information visit:


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It's a Fall Family Frak-off!

Now you might be asking yourself, what in the heck is a Frak-off?  Yes, it is a term concocted by youths (my sister and I to be exact)... And it means WAR!  If you are a sibling then you understand the undying need to beat your sibling at anything and everything. Hence the "Frak-off" was born.

We will begin with Susan Fellers design in a box. If you are unfamiliar with this product it is a tool to help those who are starting to venture into designing their own patterns. It is comprised of a design book which tells you all about the history of Frakturs, design tips, color techniques, composition and more!  The box also comes fully stocked with templates to aid in the design process. Perfect for a beginner, those interested in Frakturs or advanced rug hookers looking for a fun project!

So Mariah and I decided to turn this Frakturs in a box into a competition to see who could design and hook the best pattern. Or a "Frak-off" if you will.

Below is a photo of each of our designs. Tell us whose you like better. I did not include our names so there will be no retaliation against those of you who don't pick mine!  I will post more photos of our process as we go on Facebook. Make sure to "like" our page to get the updates!  Enjoy!

Our Facebook page:

Purchase Design in a box and join the fun!


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Plein Air: The Intersection Between Nature, Art, and Relaxing

Have you ever wished that you could mix relaxing on your porch during the summer with rug hooking? Well it turns out you can! Lori is planning a class that will involve observing and enjoying nature with no stress rug hooking. Lori focuses on capturing the emotions and feel of nature in her hooking and uses minimal or no patterns at all! Her plein air pieces develop on their own from start to finish and take the viewer through the inspiration of the season, the colors, and the shapes of nature. 

This is a concept that I have been so curious about since I first heard of it that I finally decided that it’s time to try it! I set myself up on my porch with my frame, a small blank square of backing, a stack of lovely wool, and a small glass of liquid inspiration! I spent a couple of minutes just observing and listening to my surroundings until something caught my eye. I noticed the inevitable proof of the changing of the seasons in a small tree near me and decided that I wanted to capture my bittersweet excitement at the beauty of fall, and sadness at the passing of summer. The way the light was coming through the trees made the golds and oranges glow and made the greens still evident slightly brighter with a yellow tint. Fall is my favorite season despite the fact that it means winter is approaching with its dark days and mounds of snow. I like the reminder of the slow and steady passing of time (even though I'll turn 30 in less than a year!) Most of all I like the fact that I can still feel the summery warmth from the sun with much cooler, crisper air. And I love sweaters with no need for a jacket! Anyway, pictures of my ode to fall coming soon!

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Live Blog from Sauder Village - Liz Marino Steals the Show!

At long last!  You have waited all week for this moment – the exhibit at Sauder Village Rug Hooking week.  800 rugs.  Over 4 days.  50 celebration rugs. 6 special exhibits.  Over 5000 exhibit attendees.  This is one of the largest exhibits in the country.  The artwork is truly amazing, the exhibit walls read like a who's who of the rug hooking world. 

“Martellotti Family Picnic Circa 1928”
Liz Marino

This is a family portrait of  the Martellotti  family done in a sepia swatch.  Her use of value in creating texture in this piece is unsurpassed.  Look closely at the techniques used in creating the texture in the trees vs. the skin and especially the little girls legs.  To see another monochomitic piece done by Liz, check out the Tarot Card project – she did “The Lovers” in the same style.  Liz will also be teaching on this topic at Green Mountain Rug School in 2017.



“The Guardian”
Dana Psoinas

This is a piece that we got a sneak peak of in June when she attended Green Mountain Rug School. Every time you see it is just like the first time – this rug is awe inspiring.  It certainly falls in the category of realism but her style is very unique – you know a Dana Psoinas rug when you see it.  She is able to capture the soul in the eyes of the wolf and the girl, its haunting, in a good way.  And if you have the good fortune to meet Dana in person she is one of the kindest, most humble fiber artist’s despite her incredible talent.



“Sod House Near Broken Bow”
Sharon Townsend

There were many other “Nebraska” rugs in this series but this one caught oue eye.  Sharon’s masterful use and fusion of technique, color and value brings this rug to life.  The more time you spend in front of it, the more detail that presents itself.  You just can’t look away!



“Memories of Oak Point”
Trish Johnson

This is our favorite story rug from Paulette Hackman’s new book and it is even better in person.  There were a few architectural pieces by Trish Johnson in the show – each one better than the last - but this one packs 4 buildings into one rug and tells a story toboot!  Her lines are so perfect that you actually feel like the buildings are in front of you and the background adds a level intrigue to the piece.



“Mary Deer”
Barbara Hoffman

Reindeers with knobby knees - this rug had us in stiches!  This purely primitive piece reminds us that rug hooking is fun and whimsical!  It also doesn’t hurt that Barbara’s technique is perfect.  ‘Tis not the season, but we can’t wait until it is! 



Donna Hrkman

Donna Hrkman does it again!  She achieves the texture of a beard and the structure of the building simultaneously without skipping a beat.  The added detail of the non-linear top boarder immediately makes this piece one of a kind.



“Progress in the Mountains”
Susan Feller

The amount of purposeful creativity that went into this piece raises it to the level of Art.   Susan’s compositional choices and exceptional use of color make her a master of this craft.  The piece starts at the bottom with incredible detail and takes the viewer on a journey through the West Virginia mountains.  Notice the break in the tiny white line where the road meets the boarder.  This helps draw in and guide the viewer through the piece – a minor detail with a major impact.  We would be remiss if we didn’t also acknowledge her use of linear hooking, these subtleties in the mountains  help differentiate layers.  Susan’s unique style always leaving you wanting more!  Susan is also teaching at Green Mountain Rug School on this topic in 2017!



“Room with a View: Sea Cave, San Josef Bay, Vancouver Island”
Maia Levine

First off, the photo does not do this piece justice.  The artist creates the feeling of looking out to the point you feel like you almost might be.  Flat black and texture in the water creates the ominous feeling of being enclosed.  One can only image what lies beyond the mouth of the cave and is despite to see more.  Due to the interactive nature of this piece – I began to wonder why I was in this cave and how I got here.  This was one of our favorite piece in the show.


There were so many other great rugs in the exhibit and we wish we could talk about each one!  We are sad to say goodbye to Sauder after such a great week!  Until next year Sauder Rug Hooking Week!

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