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News from Green Mountain Hooked Rugs

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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Live Blog from Sauder Village - Shopping is always a good idea...

It is our second to last day here and we spent most of the day in and out of the exhibit, soaking as much of the art up as we can before we have to say goodbye.  The show is so incredible, you see something new every day.  In between learning, dissecting and just standing in general awe – we found some time to do some shopping.  The wool, ahh the wool.  Enough wool in a single place to hook a rug until the day you die (or dye) HAHA!

As we mentioned in an earlier post, there are a few vendors that return year after year.

The Dorr Mill Store – Dorr is one of three large bolt fabric manufacturers on the east coast.  They have an enormous selection of fabrics in every color and a good selection of equipment.  But arguably the best part of the Dorr Mill Store is the owner Terry Dorr.  He is a real gem in the rug hooking world - no one is more knowledgeable about the contents or make up of wool.  If you have any wool related question we are certain Terry has an answer.

Ali Strebel Designs – Ali sells a wide variety of fiber art supplies, you won’t be disappointed you stopped in here as you are sure to find something you are looking for.  You can find felting, applique and rug hooking items as well as books, dyed yarns, threads and even dyed velvet!  Our favorite part of this vendor booth is Ali and her always cheerful staff - we heart Melissa!

The Wool Studio – You will be greeted as you enter the exhibit hall by the friendly Erb family.  This family run business has more yardage then we have ever seen in one place, what seems like endless stacks of wool!  They carry an amazing selection of bolt fabric and primitive patterns and they are just so darn nice!  Vendor fun fact - at the end of the event when everyone is tired and wants to go home the Erb family will load their van and then help every other vendor load theirs until no one is left!

Let Nola Do It – This booth is full of beautiful dyed wool and patterns.  Nola will help you color plan or answer any rug hooking questions you may have.  Have a problem rug?  Nola will help you work through it! 

Rug Hooking Magazine – The entire exhibit is centered around Rug Hooking Magazines Celebrations!  They also have a booth and have all their books available for sale – like a mini library at your fingertips!

Bee Line Art Tools – The old “Townsend” cutter.  If you are in need of a new blade or looking to upgrade your current cutter, you can plan to do so here as they are a Sauder Rug Hooking Week staple.

In addition to the vendors above there were 7 others including:

  • HoneyBee Hive – they have all the PRIMCO AND CHARCO patterns – the House of Price. If you are looking for a new pattern, this is the place to do it!
  • Spruce Ridge Studios – has a great selection of dyed wool, patterns and kits. Kris Miller is also the writer of the book “Introduction to Rug Hooking” (and an upcoming teacher at Green Mountain Rug School in 2017!)
  • A Nimble Thimble – Recently bought Barb Carroll’s patterns - The Wooley Fox. Katie had the most interesting piece of dyed wool I have ever seen and I had to buy it.  I will share it with you when it goes into my next project!
  • Cushing Co. – Now owned by the fabulous Lisanne Miller, one of rug hooking’s finest – we sometimes call her our long lost Aunt!
  • The Old Tattered Flag – This booth was so packed with people every time I went by I could barely get in – what a hit! They sell all things rug hooking but what I thought was really special was their little hook bags.  I always lose my hook at the bottom of my bag, so clever!
  • Meeting House Hill Designs – Primarily an applique vendor, it was really interesting to see a different medium represented. So exciting!
  • The Sampling – Carol had some great suggestions for my latest project. She came all the way from Oklahoma too – what a trip!

You are likely drooling by now just thinking about all these great vendors.  The opportunity to see so much wool, kits and equipment is reason enough to attend Sauder Rug Hooking week.  In addition, every vendor is so knowledgeable, they can help you with any project you may be working on!

Tomorrow, at long last, we will share the amazing exhibit with you!  Here is one of the rugs below!  Enjoy!

"Maine Barn"
Roslyn Logsdon

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Live Blog from Sauder Village - "The Expert in Anything Was Once a Beginner"

Classes, workshops and gallery walks was today’s game.  Even our astute Green Mountain team has to stay current and learn new techniques from time to time. 

First up was the Quillie class taught be Annette Shaffer.  What a fun class and very exciting to learn a new technique!  In this class we created either a tree or a wreath by rolling 8.5 wool into little circles and hot gluing them on a base.  Lindsay was very pleased with the way her project turned out and can’t wait for Christmas to display her work of art!  Photos below.



Next up was an all day class with Susan Feller on the work of the McDonald sisters who lived in rural West Virginia during the mid 1900's. Their technique for rug making involved mixed-media, using scraps of fabric or whatever they could find that were sewn on a backing then stuffed to give a three dimensional effect, and their designs were always flowers or elements from the natural world around them. Stephanie also chose flowers for her project and spent the day sewing. She's looking forward to adding some hooking around her design when she gets home.  Photo of Stephanie's project below.


Mariah spent the afternoon and evening in the dye class playing with her dyes! She learned an entirely new method of dyeing and really tried to stretch herself out of her comfort zone. She dyed VERY light wool, incredibly dark wool (almost black!) and she used a ton of green, which is not her favorite color to dye. She has about four yards of wool to play with when she gets home now and couldn't be happier! Pictures of her class, the process, and some of the products below!


Last but certainly not least was a Gallery Walk with Susan Feller looking at some of the Celebration rugs, the Story Rug exhibit and then at the special exhibit of the McDonald Sister’s fabric work.  Amazing to see and understand the rugs more up close and personal through the Gallery Walk process.  Susan spent time with several of the Celebration pieces answering questions as to what it was about that rug that made it worthy of Celebration.  She explained the judges look primarily for three things - Technique, Material usage and Composition.  It was interesting to be aware of those elements and look at rugs from that perspective.  In the Story Rug exhibit we looked at the technique of two rug artists and their rug collections to be able to identify their work.  We also discussed the stories a few of the rugs were telling.  The last section of the walk was spent learning about the McDonald Sisters, two sisters who lived in West Virginia in the mid 1900’s.  They did not create hooked rugs, but created fabric rugs and hangings using the materials at hand.  It was how they used the materials and their compositions that were noteworthy.  Photos below.


Because we took a quillie class today we decided to share this piece from the exhibit with you.  Enjoy!  Tomorrow we will check out the vendors and do some shopping!

"Rainbow Runner"
Mary DeLano


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Live Blog from Sauder Village - A History Themed Day

Day three of Sauder Village Rug Hooking Week and it was a historical day for our Green Mountain team! We spent the morning hooking and talking about our upcoming classes (I'm taking the dye class with Wanda Kerr!) and then headed over to Old Sauder Village (which my sister Lindsay kept accidentally calling Old Sturbridge Village... where she lives full time.) The village radiates out from a beautiful green with old trees and includes shops (shoppes?) like a weaver, a basket maker, a glass blower, a pottery shop with someone throwing a vase at the wheel (pictured below), an ice cream parlor (highly recommended!) and an old timey doctor's office that Lindsay called spooky.

In true Green Mountain Hooked Rugs fashion, we commemorated the occasion with a fun and ridiculous photo! Needless to say we had a blast, but our wool was calling so we went back to hook shortly after that!

After hooking the day away I set off for the Founder's Hall with my mom and aunt for two gallery talks, one on Pearl McGown given by her granddaughter Jane McGown Flynn and the second on James and Mercedes Hutchinson given by Janet Conner and Kathy Wright. As a young(er) rug hooker these gallery talks are such an amazing opportunity for me to learn about and connect with the history of my fiber world. I'm well versed in my own family history, but this is only a slice of the history of rug hooking. There are so many powerful women that have helped build and sustain this art form and we owe them so much! While not much of a rug hooker herself, Pearl McGown was a completely self taught artist who not only designed patterns for a large part of her life, but also encouraged the spreading of ideas throughout the rug hooking world by educating rug hooking teachers from across the country! The second gallery talk was about the Hutchinson family's promotion of rug hooking through selling rugs at auction, designing patterns, and commissioning rugs from different artists to sell at auction. 

Jane McGown Flynn pictured above during her gallery talk

Pastel drawings of patterns down by Pearl McGown above

Janet Conner and Kathy Wright during their gallery talk on James and Mercedes Hutchinson above

We start our classes tomorrow morning and continue through to the evening. Stay tuned for our blog tomorrow with pictures from class!

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Live Blog from Sauder Village - PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT!

It does not matter what part of the country you are in right now or what you are doing – DROP IT and get to Archbold, Ohio immediately!  The hooked rug exhibit this year is inconceivable!  I am sure you are thinking to yourself “they say that every year…” and you are right (it is incredible every year) but this year in particular has knocked our socks off!  The Green Mountain Hooked Rugs team got a sneak preview tonight.  We only had two hours to take it all in and needless to say we ran around like kids in a candy story.  I will do a full blog on the exhibit later in the week with lots of photos, but until then, I will give you one photo a night.  Scroll to the bottom to see tonight’s photo.

Oh yeah, I completely skipped over the rest of our day…

The two hours of we spent at the preview of the exhibit completely overshadowed the rest of the day which was otherwise lovely!  We spent the entire day hooking, something we have not done together in a really long time.  We had a spacious, well lit, room to hook in.  There is plenty of space in the hotel and lots of little nooks and crannies where you can hook alone or in a larger group (like ours).  We all got a lot done on our projects, photos of our current projects below.

We are working so diligently.


Lindsay looks miserable, but she wasn't :)

Pam's current project - a Green Mountain Design, Morgan & Sulky

Stephanie's current project - 4 commissioned chair pads of the state seal of Vermont

Mariah's current project - Green Mountain Design, Heart & Home


Stephanie’s Teacher Tip for The Day: Highlights

A small highlight on any object can make all the difference in the world.  See the before and after of Lindsay's current project below.




Today's Exhibit Rug:

Nancy Thun
Hoboken, NJ

Stay tuned to tomorrow’s blog where we will provide more pictures from the exhibit!  Wish you were here! 

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