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News from Green Mountain Hooked Rugs

Italia con Mia Madre!

I think that title says "Italy with My Mom!" but Duolingo (the app I've been using to learn Italian) says that I'm only 11% fluent so who knows! We haven’t had much trouble with the language, however because we quickly learned the most necessary phrases:

Please - “Per favore”
Thank you - “Grazie”
Two Cappuccinos - “Due Cappuccino”
Pasta with tomatoes - “Pasta al pomodoro”
Caprese Salad - “Insalata caprese”
Cake - Torta
Tiramisu - “Tiramisu*” 
*The difficulty with this last one is not in the translation, but in my attempt to control the size of my eyeballs and the extent to which they pop out when I ask for this.

You can tell from this list of translations where our priorities lie, but we have also managed to fit in (and after all this pasta still fit into) a few amazing sites as well! 

We started our trip in Rome and stayed for three days. Our hotel was in the northeastern part of Rome near Termini Station and on day one we walked down to the southeast side of Rome. On the way we saw the Victor Emmanuel Monument and a few other things that we buzzed right past to get here:

The Basilica San Giovanni in Laterano! 

The inside was beautiful and we walked around in awed silence marveling at the gigantic statues, the ceilings, the floor tiles, the paintings and the mosaics. We were just getting ready to leave when they really knocked our socks off… from the back of the church echoed this eerily beautiful organ music. It started low and slow and then picked up the volume while my mom and I just stood there not even trying to pick our jaws up off the floor. We just shuffled forward slowly until we reached the rope that stopped us from getting any closer.

Out in front of the Basilica is this really beautiful piece of architecture and artwork. Below is the very first picture I took in Italy!

After exploring the southeast a bit more we headed west to the ancient city and walked all through the Palatine, which we expected to be incredibly beautiful and moving as well having just come from hearing the organ music. As we climbed the final stairs and looked over the railing, however, we saw this: 

See that? Right in the middle of a beautiful and ancient place are three foot high letters spelling out, "L O S E R". Douglas Adams himself couldn't have written it any better. Who knew Rome could be so juvenile? So I immediately whispered under my breath to my mom, “I know you are, but what am I?” and she laughed. Rome is surprising, artistic, and has a juvenile sense of humor. I think I was meant to live here. My favorite parts of the Palatine were the arches that remain in place. One can only imagine what the whole place looked like when it was still intact.

I forced Mom to pose for some pictures and she did the same to me and we headed out bound for the Colosseum. 

We saw the Arch of Constantine and the Colosseum, but were so wiped out by then that we just wandered around outside and then headed back to the hotel. Turns out we walked about nine miles that day! So we rewarded ourselves with gelato, then a big dinner of pasta al pomodoro, pizza margherita, cappuccinos, and tiramisu!

Our second day was spent mastering the underground and bus system to get ourselves to Saint Peter’s and the Vatican Museums. It was very hot that day and no one tells you this, but the Vatican Museums are like a river with a strong (and stinky) current of people. Once you wade in you can’t stop and you can’t turn. You just go with the flow and try not to step on anyone. We really enjoyed seeing the tapestries and the Raphael rooms (although I was shuffled right past one of my favorite paintings without even seeing it - The School of Athens) but what really stuck was the Sistine Chapel. I figured with all the hype it would feel a little underwhelming, but it wasn’t! The first things I noticed were the tapestries on the wall… wait… those aren’t tapestries… they’re paintings of tapestries! Talk about great use of light and shadow! It actually took me a full minute to figure out that they were painted and not fabric. Again, no one talks about the walls, only the ceiling, which, by the way, lives up to all of the hype. All said and done we walked just shy of nine miles that day so we rewarded ourselves with a pizza lunch, a shower at the hotel, and then headed off for the Trevi Fountain! 

As we approached the area with the Trevi Fountain we noticed that all of the streets were roped off and heavily guarded by police who were all holding giant automatic weapons, which is not something you ever see in America and we therefore panicked slightly. Terrorists??? NO! Fendi! A famous designer had taken over the entire area surrounding the Trevi Fountain to put on a fashion show with a certain Kardashian affiliated sister among the models. So we didn’t get to see the fountain or even get close to it, but we DID get to see a PETA representative dressed in full nun gear with a giant paper mache head protesting the event (there was fur involved.)

After Rome we went to Siena for a night where we stayed in an apartment with an incredible view of the Duomo:

That evening we walked to the Piazza del Campo, bought bread, cheese, tomatoes, wine, and limoncello and went home to relax! We spent the whole evening sipping, eating, chatting, and staring out the window while an incredible party went on just down the street. Karaoke, crowds, YMCA, dancing, screaming, drinking, you name it. It was straight out of a movie. The next day we visited the Duomo in the morning and then headed out for Tuscany! 

Not bad, eh?

Here there was a pool, an incredibly charming little town (Castellina in Chianti) and enough wine to keep us happy and rejuvenate us for our day trip to San Gimignano. It even inspired me to take out my charcoal pencil and paper and create this little view from the deck:

San Gimignano is a tiny, very old town FULL of artists! I bought two paintings for a friend, a new woven bag, and Mom bought a silk eco dyed scarf! We came, we saw, they conquered our wallets :) and we got some great pictures of incredible architecture.

Our apartment in Florence is literally in a tower on the Ponte Vecchio. Couldn’t ask for a better place or a better view.

Tomorrow we tackle the Ufizzi, more pasta, more pizza, possibly more gnocchi, definitely more cappuccinos, and maybe some more chapels! We plan on just getting lost in the city and enjoying everything around us.

I’ll be posting a ton more pictures to Facebook and we’ll blog again in a bit so you can join us as we explore the art and food world in Italy!



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Part One - My Long, Lost Love!

We're talking projects people!   

Nothing makes a fiber artist want to share her work more than compliments!  Since I got so many compliments at Green Mountain Rug School this year, I have decided to share it below.  I took some cool photos of it through out production.  Enjoy!


Photo 1 - Just Getting Started
This pattern is one of our Green Mountain Designs called Seth.  I started this project back in October of 2015.


Photo 2 - OK - this is fun!
I had picked out all the wool I needed and was off an running!  I loved the way my green leaves were looking. (yes, that is a glass of wine in the bottom corner).


Photo 3 - OK - this is HARD!
I had to hook the nuts and orange leaves in a size 4 cut... I was not pleased about that.  In addition, my orange leaf looked like a blob.  Mom suggested I change the vein to something closer to the orange and make sure I pack my loops together.



Photo 4 - Progress
Most of my green leaves were in.  Hooking objects in the foreground and background is really hard and I was way out of my comfort zone.  I had to find a way to make them look distinctive.  I did that mostly with the color of my wool, but also tried to shade a few parts.  That worked in most places except the leaf right in the middle, what a mess!  Oh well, my first rule of rug hooking... I am not allowed to pull anything out (hence blobby leaf stays). 


Photo 5 - My Long, Lost Love
I started to hook the background in... a Heaven's to Betsy wool called Cotton Eyed Joe.  This is literally the best wool I have ever hooked with and I am not just saying that because we sell it (though we do).  The loops pulled through the backing like butter and it added a lot of movement to my rug without overpowering it.  I loved it so much, I skipped the boarder and hooked it all the way to the edge!


Photo 6 - Production comes to a halt
I am finding my project difficult to finish thanks to our one year old Golden Retriever, Freddie.  Not helpful.


Photo 7 - C'est Fini!
My completed project below!  Again, look at how nice the background came out.  You may see Cotton Eyed Joe in future art work of mine... also notice how the crummy shaded leaf in the middle and blobby leaf stayed put - I do not pull out!  I am still very happy with how it turned out.  Its a learning process!


This blog post got too long, so I decided to split it into two.  Read about my new project in part two of this blog titled "Are you there wool?  It's me, Lindsay".  I will post part two on Friday morning, July 15th.  A preview of the pattern is below...


Green Mountain Design - Cat on a Fence

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LIVE BLOG: The Shop at Green Mountain Rug School

LIVE BLOG: The Shop at Green Mountain Rug School

If you're at Green Mountain Rug School, you already know that the Shop has just about everything a rug hooker could need (and want), from bolt wool, to hand-dyed swatches, to frames, hooks, backing, dyes and even patterns galore. It's Hookers' Heaven, if you will! 

For those of you not at Green Mountain Rug School this year, please visit our online store at to view our ample selection of materials and supplies. If you don't see what you need, please let us know and we'll do our best to assist you!


A Visitor to the Shop at Green Mountain Rug School


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LIVE BLOG: Second Session In Full Swing!

Greetings from the second session of Green Mountain Rug School! Students and teachers are busy on their projects, old and new. In addition to seasoned teachers Gene Shepherd, Michele Micarelli, Cheryl Bollenbach and Iris Simpson, we are so pleased to introduce first-time Green Mountain Rug School teachers Ellen Banker and Mariah Krauss!

A 16-Value Hand-Dyed Swatch by Mariah Krauss for a Student

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LIVE BLOG: An Auspicious Time for a New Logo!

LIVE BLOG: An Auspicious Time for a New Logo!

As the generations of women (and men) before us have helped to make Green Mountain Hooked Rugs what it has become, the current 5th generation team of sisters recently launched a new logo which incorporates the work of our forebears while moving with the present day necessities of online-friendly imagery. The three mountains have always been a central element of our design and, along with multiple shades of green, represent our creative home in Vermont and the physical location of the Shop and Green Mountain Rug School.

An exciting addition to our logo is the small sun (as we've been calling it) in the upper righthand corner but, as today, June 20th, ushers in the summer solstice and a full moon for the first time in 70 years, it occurs to us that our logo could very well represent both sun and moon. An auspicious sign for sure!

Our View:


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LIVE BLOG: To Dye For...

Things are heating up at Green Mountain Rug School as the temperature tops 90 degrees and the dye pots boil away! While spectacular works of wool art line-dry and the sun continues to shine on, we can feel the summer solstice coming just around the corner.

See the wondrous colors of Gene Shepherd's class below!

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LIVE BLOG: The Sun is Shining and the Weather is Sweet...

LIVE BLOG: The Sun is Shining and the Weather is Sweet...

What a glorious way to kick-off two sessions of Green Mountain Rug School. Today, we were bathed in glorious sunshine and the smiles of our rug hooking friends who made (very) long and (very) short trips to join us. After a lovely lunch at the Capitol Plaza, everyone got right to work in their classes and some of us (shh!) even popped out for a nice cold chocolate gelato made right here in Montpelier! If you weren't able to join us this year, we'll be sure to save some for you to try at Green Mountain Rug School 2017!

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Why it's important to wash your wool before it goes into a rug... and tips on washing.

To wash or not to wash, that is the question.  The answer is - always wash!  As a rule, we here at Green Mountain really never put anything into our rugs that hasn't been washed.  Here's why:

The biggest risk to not washing your wool is bleeding.  Most wool won't bleed but I ask you, do you want to take that chance?  Water gets spilled on the floor, the dog piddles or there is so much moisture in the air, your colors bleed... it could happen.  A simple way to prevent this from happening is to wash your wool.  In addition, washing the wool felts it which makes it stronger in the long run. 

Never washed wool?  Here are some tips.  The old style top load washers are better, they agitate the wool more than the new front load washers (though you can still use a front loader).  Set your washer to the rinse cycle, it will fill the washer with water and spin to drain.  If you put it through a full wash cycle it will agitate it too much.  I like to add a touch of fabric softener too (no laundry detergent)- it gives it a nice smell which makes me smile but provides no additional benefit.

Then it goes in the dryer.  I usually do a timed dry of 20-25 minutes on a medium heat.  You want the wool to be dry but it shouldn't over dry.  If you over dry it, it will continue to shrink and fluff.  

Last tip - wool shrinks when you wash and dry.  Keep that in mind when buying for your project.  For every yard you buy, you will usually lose 1-3 inches (meaning if it starts out as 36" it will be 33"-35" after you wash it).

Keep in mind - these are just guidelines.  All washers and dryers are different.  It is difficult to "ruin" the wool though when following these guidelines, but if you are worried, cut off a small piece and do a test run!

The question you are probably asking yourself - how do you know if wool has or has not been already washed when you buy it.  The easy answer is ask, but in general:

- Wool from the Bolt - unless specified otherwise, has not been washed

- Hand-Dyed Wool - by definition has been washed, its part of the dye process.  Hand-dyed fabrics for example include our 5 value swatches, any of our dyed wool, our packets and our remnants (once off the bolt, we throw everything in the wash).

Any other tips you have found from washing/drying wool?  Leave your ideas in the comments below.    

Hope this helps!

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Can you be too old to be a rug hooker?

That was a question I heard at my recent talk at the Gary Home, an assisted living residence in Montpelier, Vermont. The stately old Victorian house was a perfect setting to display hooked rugs and to share my family story of rug hooking which dates back to the late 1800's.

The audience of about 15 asked some wonderful questions and seemed genuinely interested. Needless to say, when the question of age came up, I responded with an emphatic, "you are never to old to learn to hook". I love teaching beginners, so, who knows, maybe I'll be invited back to start a group of senior hookers. 

We try to get out into the community as much as possible to tell people about the great art of rug hooking.  Have you taught someone to hook recently?  Please share your stories in the comments section below.


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Leo Goes Toe-to-Toe With Iris...

Well, as many of you know from our Facebook and instagram posts, I’m finally working on my very first wide cut piece! Leo the Lion has proved interesting, instantly gratifying, and occasionally mindless. I did, however, start to run into road blocks as I neared the end of the border. So I called for reinforcements in the form of our resident specialist in color this year: Iris Simpson. I’ve known Iris for quite some time… this is not her first rodeo for Green Mountain Rug School! What I remember about her from my childhood is that she has one of the most perfect English accents I’ve ever heard! It made me instantly like her and feel at ease, which is saying something because I was an immensely shy kid! As an adult I’ve added to my fun facts about her and really admire her work with color. Below is a doodle that she drew, hooked in monochrome, and she also recently finished it in color too! 

To see more pieces from Iris visit her teacher page here. (She has used every color palette there is! No seriously... go look!)

For this reason and her impeccable nature of knowing what the issue is with a frustrating rug, I reached out to her to help me complete the border of leaves for my newest piece, Leo the Lion. I began choosing colors for the leaves randomly, but as I neared the end of the border I realized that my leaves weren’t going to “match up,” or rather that I’d end up with two of the same color next to each other causing them to blend together into a blob. But I couldn’t just add another green that would be absent from the rest of the rug… that would stick out like a sore thumb! It just didn’t look right and I was at a loss. And so I stepped back to wait for the master of color herself to help me figure out what to do. 

From the moment we started working together I felt new life come into the piece. Iris reinvigorated my sense of excitement for Leo! Her style of teaching as she describes it is, “One of cooperation between teacher and student.” She values the thoughts and opinions, likes and dislikes of the student, which is evident in her questioning during the lesson. She tailors her teaching specifically to you, which requires a teacher who is also an incredibly versatile rug hooker. But it’s so relaxing to talk to her! Iris says that her goal is to, “Have a comfortable classroom of learning and laughter!” and she goes out of her way to make sure that everyone is comfortable, at ease, and learning a lot! 


She tailored her directions to my own sense of what I thought Leo should look like and came up with mini lessons in the short time that we talked. We talked about balancing color throughout the rug, overlapping shadows and shades of leaves, and how to use multiple pieces of differently colored wool to achieve a shaded effect with a #8 cut and no swatches. I love the result… Leo and I are back on track and in love again! Take a look below…

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