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News from Green Mountain Hooked Rugs

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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We’re not in Kansas Anymore…

Auntie Em, a twister, a twister!  That right folks, we were caught smack dead in the eye of the storm.  But not to worry, we all made it and more importantly all the wool made it!  Other than some heavy rain and a tornado alarm going off, it was actually fairly uneventful.  Definitely a good day to be inside hooking.

We were in Punta Gorda vending and teaching at the Harbor Hook-In sponsored by Searsport Rug Hooking.  This is our second year attending and this event was even better than last year.  There is tons of space, great lighting, a small exhibit, a raffle and over 12 vendors – this event has it all!  Plus, let’s not forget it’s in sunny Florida during the winter!  If you are looking to escape the cold next year, this is a must attend event, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

While at the event, I was asked by numerous people if I knew where all the Florida guilds/groups were.  I decided to do some research and have attached my findings below.  Here it is all in one spot – the Florida Rug Hooking Groups.  If I missed anything or any information below needs to be updated, please reply to this post.


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A Wealth of Creativity

I’m surrounded by a wealth of creativity!
Recently, two of my long-time employees brought in several projects that were quite different from our usual rug hooking. Vicki read about ‘Quillies’ in a recent issue of Rug Hooking Magazine and was so inspired she just had to try this new way of using leftover wool strips. Here’s her beautiful holiday tree topped with a gold bird.

And Evelyn, whose special talents include bobbin lace and tatting, gave me a lovely birthday present. Evelyn knows I love pansies so using her skill of tatting colored threads, she created a very sweet pansy pin for me to wear.   

My step-daughter, Maggie also showed me some very unusual ways to use the colored dryer lint that accumulates from my batches of dyed wool.
She calls it Fuzz Craft…


I feel so grateful to be surrounded by such creative people who share, teach and inspire!

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Remembering Jackie Hoke

Jackie Hoke

We received an email from Mary Ellen Moir about the passing of her mother, Jackie Hoke.  Mary Ellen writes,

"My mother, Jackie Hoke, a long time rug hooker, passed away on December 4, 2015, at the age of 93 and a half.  Rug hooking was a very important part of her life.  She designed and created many beautiful hooked items that her family will enjoy for generations.  She particularly enjoyed her many trips to the Green Mountain Rug School with her friends, to learn new techniques and make new friends."

Jackie will be missed by the Green Mountain community.  

Jackie's full obituary is below:

Jacquelyn Rusen Hoke
April 22, 1922 – December 4, 2015

Jacquelyn (“Jackie”) Hoke, nee Mary Jacquelyn Rusen, 93, died Friday, December 4, of congestive heart failure after a four month illness.

Born in 1922, Jackie was raised in Moundsville, WV.  She majored in music at The Carnegie Tech College of Fine Arts (now Carnegie Mellon University) from which she graduated in 1944.  She concentrated in voice and spent a summer at the Julliard School of Music.  She moved to the Washington, DC area after receiving her degree and taught Music and English at Leland Jr. High School in Bethesda, MD until her marriage to Julius Unverzagt Hoke in 1946 in Arlington, VA.  They were married for 60 years, until his death in 2006.  They designed and built their house in Silver Spring, MD, where they raised four children.  They established their own small orchard and vegetable garden which supplied a wide variety of fruits and vegetables for themselves and for their family farm stand.

Jackie and her husband were active in the Montgomery County Civic Federation and the Metropolitan Area Council of Civic Federations.  She was a member of the Montgomery County Committee for Fair Representation (of which Julius was President) which belonged to the Maryland Committee for Fair Representation, the lead plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court case Maryland Committee for Fair Representation v. Tawes, 377 U.S. 656, 84 S.Ct. 1429, 12 L.Ed.2d 595 (1964).  This decision changed the way the Maryland legislature was apportioned so that all Maryland citizens were fairly represented and it affected the make-up of state legislatures nationwide.  This case will remain relevant as long as Americans vote.  It was most recently been cited in the redistricting cases currently pending before the US Supreme Court.

During the 1960s, Julius and Jackie Hoke also were founding members of the Nonpartisans for a Better Montgomery County, an organization whose purpose was to elect nonpartisan members to the Montgomery County Council.  This movement strongly affected the election and subsequent decisions of the Council.

Jackie Hoke was a 56 year member of the League of Women Voters of Montgomery County, starting in 1959.  She was a loyal, dedicated, and active member of the Patuxent Unit, serving in several official positions.  At various times, she was Montgomery County Membership Chair, Treasurer, and Chair of the Fair Housing Committee.  She progressed to the Maryland State League, serving as Treasurer and Chair of the Fair Housing Committee.  She monitored the MD Real Estate Commission, which at that time had only realtors as members, and was instrumental in the League’s successful efforts to pass legislation changing the makeup of the Real Estate Commission.  She became a lobbyist before the State Legislature on fair housing standards, safety, and health issues.  She also monitored and fostered new Leagues in the state.  She was pivotal in starting and developing the Allegany County League in Frostburg.

When Idamae Garrott ran for state senate, Jackie resigned her League offices and became Mrs. Garrott’s volunteer campaign manager.  With Jackie’s tireless help, Mrs. Garrott won two terms as a state senator.

Jackie was an active fund raiser for the League, participating in annual calendar and flower bulb sales, and in a volunteer catering group that raised thousands of dollars for the League over twenty years.

In addition to these civic activities, Jackie and Julius also delivered meals on wheels in Montgomery County from 1977 to 2005.

After moving to Howard County in 1988, Jackie and Julius joined the Howard County Citizens Association.  Together they worked on rezoning issues to protect rural areas and prevent the overdevelopment of Clarksville.

Jackie was a member of the Association of Traditional Hooking Artists, and, subsequently, of the Potomac Thrummers, a local rug hooking group, since its inception in 1984.  She designed and executed complicated and colorful rugs which were both decorative and practical.  Her designs were based upon American Indian and oriental motifs as well as local scenes.  She traveled to local and national workshops to learn new rug hooking techniques and expand her knowledge of wool cutting and dying.  She designed and hooked several ornaments which hung on the Christmas tree at the Smithsonian, and are now in the permanent collection there.  Her rugs were displayed locally in libraries, churches, and other venues.

Jackie and Julius traveled extensively, visiting every state in the US and every province of Canada.  They also traveled throughout Mexico, Central and South America, Europe, Northern Africa, the Middle East, China, and Japan.

She was an avid environmentalist and delighted in gardening, caring especially for her many varieties of daffodils and iris.  Her gardens produced thousands of flowers, many of which she gave to friends and donated to local churches.  In her later years, she joined the iris society and participated in their program to develop new varieties.

She supported many cultural, civic, and environmental organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, Sierra Club, Amnesty International, ACLU, American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian Institution, The Enoch Pratt Library, Habitat for Humanity, The Salvation Army, The Foundation for Fighting Blindness, the American Heart Association, Clarksville Volunteer Fire Department, Sandy Spring Slave Museum, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Washington National Opera, and she was an early and faithful contributor to public television and radio.

Attending performances by the Washington National Opera and the Baltimore Opera Company gave her great pleasure.  She also enjoyed opera broadcasts until her death.

Jacquelyn Hoke was predeceased by her husband, Julius Hoke, and her two sisters, Bettyanne Rusen and Joan Earley.  She is survived by her four children: Richard Hoke of Cooksville, MD, Donald Hoke of Dallas, TX, Anne Hoke of Clarksville, MD, and Mary Ellen Moir of Boston, MA, two granddaughters, and a nephew, Steve Earley of Leesburg, VA.

Donations in her memory may be made to the Montgomery County League of Women Voters, 12216 Parklawn Drive, Suite 105, Rockville, MD 20852-1710,, or Colesville Meals on Wheels, 13100 Andrew Drive, Silver Spring, MD 20904,

Jackie's Rugs:

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Who Needs Insulation When You Have Wool?

Well the weatherman is finally calling for our first big snowfall here in Maine tomorrow and I find myself crossing my fingers in the hope that he's right! All autumn I complained about the severity of last year's winter and mentally prepared myself for the onslaught of a similar winter, but Nature in all her glory demands to be loved unconditionally apparently. She has been holding out on me and here I am, three days after a muddy and mild Christmas hoping she snows me in! In preparation for this barrage of snow, this instantaneous, sparkly winter wonderland I'm rediscovering all of my wool and past projects.

I've pulled out two projects and with the cold winter light finally on them, I've realized that in one of them I am hooking with the fabric equivalent of a highlighter. Interesting choice, self I said after taking it to the window. It's a piece that is hooked in all grays and yellows, but the yellow is all wrong! Amazing how a change from warm, red fall light to cold, blue winter light can shed, well... light on an issue. I've been feeling less than pleased with the piece for a few months now, but wasn't sure what the problem was. I set it aside and haven't looked at it since September, but now that I've pulled it out into the light again, it hit me. So I'll be snowed in with some soup, a baguette, and my dye pots tomorrow! Hoping for the right yellow... a mustard perhaps. Regardless, I encourage you all to take out your frustrating endeavors from the spring, summer, and fall and examine them in the new light! It's how I solved my color confusion!

Or maybe it's just an excuse to get into the dye pots :)

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How much wool do I need? Teach me to Fish!

There is nothing more frustrating for a textile artist then getting half way through your project, realizing you ran out of wool and to add insult to injury, you can't get any more of that particular wool.  I have been rug hooking for about a year now and a question I am constantly asking my mom, sister and aunt is, "how much wool do I need to hook this...?"  

Finally, I asked them all for their guidance so I can make my own decision going forward - teach me to fish!  

They all started out with a similar approach.  If you are hooking with a 2, 3 or 4 cut you need 4 times the size of the object.  A 5, 6 or 7 cut use about 6 times the size of the object and an 8 cut and higher 8 times.  In order to figure this out you can just fold the wool and lay it over your object.

Beyond that, they each had a few tips based on their experience.

Pam Kirk:  When hooking a background it is sometimes difficult to take the wool folding approach - so try to gauge how much the background takes up on your rug.  For example, in the rug below (Lindsay latest project "Green Mountain Design - Moxley Seth") you might estimate that the backgrounds takes up about 1/3 of the rug - so you could fold your wool over 1/3 of the rug.

If you run out of wool - say for a background, and you only have a small part of the rug left (a 6"x6" square) you can find something that matches pretty closely.  Then pull out small strands all through out the rug and put the new fabric in its place.  Then you can use the strips you pulled to fill in the 6"x6" square.

Stephanie Allen-Krauss:  When there are multiple objects all over the rug it is also difficult to use the folding wool method.  For example, how do you decide how much green you need for all the leaves in the rug above.  In this instance, you can actually measure the object and multiply by how many objects there are to get the total square inches you will need.  For example, each leaf is about 5"x3" and there are 16 total leaves.  So you would need 240 total square inches of fabric.

When using a dip dyed piece for shading you will want to make sure the dip dye piece is at least 4 times the length of the object you are hooking otherwise you will not have enough wool to make it from the bottom to the top.  

Mariah Krauss:  When using a swatch you can fold the swatch into 4 and see if it will cover the object.  When you are hooking in a 2 or 3 cut, you need to add a bit because the wool frays and becomes unusable when its that small.  Swatches you want to be a little more liberal because it is harder to match an exact value.  Even swatches that are off the bolt, you need to be careful of different dye lots – there is no guarantee that you will be able to match the color and that is a difficult problem to solve. 

How do you decide how much wool you need?  Do you have a different approach then the ones above?  Click on the title of the blog post and enter your thoughts in the comments section.  Look forward to hearing from the community!

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Seasons Changing

Seasons Changing

My grandfather, Winthrop “Wink” Ashworth, has been on my mind a lot this week. With the changing of the seasons in my little village of New Gloucester, Maine, I have reflected on all of the transitions we make in life as we are birthed into this world fresh and new and, later (depending upon how you see things), as we prepare for a quiet hibernation to rest or renew or retire our bodies, minds and spirits.

When I was born, my grandmother Anne Ashworth, founder of Green Mountain Rug School, hooked me a beautiful little scene that could be straight from Norman Rockwell’s sketchbooks. To me, this little fiber village looks like New England in its radiant summer glory full of hope and abundance and possibility; much like the life ahead for a newly born granddaughter. As the years passed, both Anne and Wink brought me to many similar villages from Saratoga Springs, New York where we showed the majestic horse Rob, to Tunbridge, Vermont where we stacked wood and celebrated holidays, to Wenham, Massachusetts where we paid homage to our forebears and the beginning of many journeys.

It is with particular fondness that I remember the years when I traveled to an empty home in the town of Rockport, jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean just north of Boston, where I received support from an unexpected place. My heart was heavy with loss and those around me seemed inextricably bound to the comings-and-goings of their own lives so I began a lonely journey of cleaning out until I happened upon another couple of solo travelers. My grandfather Wink, now a widower, and his trusty companion, the gentle Newfoundland “Tarby,” suddenly shared quite a lot with my 24 year-old self: we had time, spirits of wanderlust, and really no one else with whom to travel. As luck would have it, to get to Rockport from Vermont, we snaked through many of my grandfather’s old “haunts:” beautiful villages scattered in the heart of New England. I heard the stories of my grandmother, a strong-willed woman who played polo when it was unheard of for a lady to do so; of their courtship; of the war; of family feuds; of regrets and of triumphs. We ate fresh fish sandwiches and did the work of remembrance and mourning and healing together. Although I’m sure she hadn’t quite foreseen it, my grandmother had given me a talisman of sorts in this rug. Sometimes it takes not only a village, but a family…

Much love to my grandfather, Wink Ashworth, as the seasons change.

Wink Ashworth, Emrys Conrad Coe, and Cecely Conrad


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Are you having trouble deciding what size cut to hook in?

Almost every rug hooker has a preferred cut they use, but not every pattern calls for the same cut. So how do you decide what cut to use and when to use it? There's not always a simple or obvious answer, but it's a question we get all the time! Here are a few ideas and tips to help you get the creative juices flowing.

 If you're new to rug hooking you might be wondering, "What in the world is a cut?" A cut refers to the width of the strip of fabric you're using when hooking. Cuts for rug hooking can range from a #2 cut (2/32nds of an inch) to a #10 cut (10/32nds of an inch) and beyond! Some people even hand cut their strips in order to get the widest cuts.

 When thinking about what cut to hook in, I keep a few things in mind. 

First and foremost, I think about the pattern I am working on. If there are small objects with a defined shape I know I need to hook those in a smaller cut or risk them looking like blobs. If there are objects with lots of very particular detail like a face then I know that I want to hook those in a smaller cut in order to have more control over the effect. If there are objects that are close together, you are going to want to think about using a smaller cut and hooking inside the line (instead of right on the line) to keep the detail.

Think about the wool you want to use.  Many plaids, tweeds, and herringbones fray when cut in a #3 or #4 cut, but are beautiful on a #5, #6 cut or anything larger.  If you are hooking in a small cut solids tend to be better (dyed wool counts as a solid because it started out as a white or natural).  If you are in doubt, test a little out on your cutter to see how it will actually work.  (there are exceptions to every rule, so don’t take this as gospel).

Think about the time you want to invest.  The bears border pattern below can support a size 8 cut or a size 3 if you prefer, but the size 3 will take you three times as long to hook.   How much time do you want to put into it and how much time do you have?  For some people, like my sister Lindsay, it is very important to finish rugs, if she had hooked this bear rug in a 3 she may have never finished it and been discouraged and may have never hooked again!  I am hooking a rug right now that’s about 3’x4’ and I am hooking the whole thing in a 2 – I have been working on it for a year and am only a third of the way done.  It takes longer to hook in a small cut… keep that in mind when deciding what cut to hook in.

Think about the effect you want. Sometimes I want every detail of a portrait captured in which case I use a small cut with a finely shaded swatch, but sometimes I want a more primitive, folk inspired look and so I use a larger cut. Often times I mix cuts in my piece so that I can achieve different effects in different places.

Don’t be afraid to mix sizes in a rug!   Don’t think you have to hook your entire rug in the same cut. The one thing to remember when mixing cuts is that smaller cut loops need to be pulled a bit higher or larger cut loops may need to be a bit shorter so that they all reach the same height.

Does anyone else have tips they use for decided what size to hook in?  Please share your thoughts by clicking on the title of the blog post and entering your thoughts in the comments section.  Look forward to hearing from the community!

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An Explosion of Colors - on the Move

Last Thursday I loaded my two cocker spaniels, some winter-type clothing and myself into my SUV and headed north to visit my dad in New Hampshire.  We left Central Florida in the upper 80’s.  As we passed further north into Georgia and then South Carolina, I began to notice some leaves were changing color.  In my preparations for the trip, I had completely forgotten I would be moving north into a range of fall colors.  

The southern color changes were just sprinklings in the trees of pale yellows, some light mustards and dullish coppers.   By the time we got to Columbia, South Carolina, the sky was overcast and the drizzle and rain had started. We spent the first night in Statesville, North Carolina. There were more patches of color showing up along with additional colors; some dull reds, light burgundies and some brighter golds.   We headed off the next morning in foggy overcast skies with more rain than drizzle.  The trees with colored leaves became more abundant, but still none of the bright reds and yellows I had remembered from my youthful New England falls and had hoped to see as we moved north into Virginia and West Virginia. Perhaps the lack was due to the drizzle or too early in the month. 

By early afternoon we were in Maryland and then into Western Pennsylvania. Though the drizzle and rain persisted, the trees and fields became more cloaked in colors.  I passed cornfields half harvested with Van Gogh-like rows of corn stalks in amazing colors of browns, red browns and dull reds to almost pinks.  The harvested fields, rows of dark chocolate earth, were covered with shreds of red tans, burgundy tans and shades of tans strewn along where the corn had grown. Skies were blue grays and shades of grays in the over cast clouds swirling above the chocolate earth and burgundy tans corn stalks.   There was a cornfield full of corn stalks not yet harvested; rows of brighter greens to a dull green almost tan.

Progressing into Western Pennsylvania, among the dull colors of the beginning stages of color, were some brighter reds and yellows.  At one point, I could see further down the highway, a tall full tree right at the edge of the road.  A steel blue gray sky rose behind it, dull grasses encircled its base, the bark a dark brown wet from the rain.  Several large patches of leaves were a bright yellow green, but the majority of the tree was flaming red; orange reds mixed with yellow reds and red reds.  I had been enjoying its stunning flash of color as I approached along the highway, and felt I must be passing “A Burning Bush.”  Hill sides and mountain areas in Western Pennsylvania were spotted with patches of varying fall colors.  Still not the large masses of brilliant colors I was expecting.  A teasing of what I hoped was to come.

We made it to Allentown, Pennsylvania that night.  Cold, rainy, raw and windy. The next morning we headed off towards the north, then northeast and on to the north again.  The coloring remained pretty much the same - dull golds, dull coppers, burgundies and duller yellows. The drizzle became a steady heavy rain until I was just south of Poughkeepsie, New York. I got off the New York Thruway to get gas.  “Marge” (aka Googlemaps App) let me know there was a quicker route, so we followed it.  Traveling along some back roads, I wondered if I had made the wrong decision, but the roadsides and front yards were dotted with fall flowers and colored bushes in burgundies, reds, mustards, golden browns, coppers and sprinkles of orange. The rain had switched back to drizzle and I wondered what it all would have looked like if the sun had been shining.  I was directed to the Taconic State Parkway.  What a delightful route; two lanes in my direction for 70 miles and barely another vehicle on the road!   The drizzle had pretty much stopped, though the sky was cloudy and overcast.  At one spot on the Parkway, I drove by a long cluster of trees along the roadway edge. Passing by I noticed the colors appeared to the eye to be in stripes.  A whole tall tree from bottom to top in pale yellows; next to it the whole tree in pale reds; next to that a whole tree still in its greens; then followed by another whole tree in pale reds. This coloring continued for quite a distance.  The effect was a “wall” of multi-colored stripes along the road as I passed.

 Once on I-91 heading north through Vermont, the colors became more vibrant; more trees with larger areas turning to those wonderful yellow-reds, oranges,  bright yellows and stunning golds. With temperatures in the upper 40’s, the sun came out as I drew closer to my New Hampshire exit and I enjoyed the last hour of my drive in bright sun that illuminated those glorious New England colors I had hoped to see.

My three day trip overflowed with a feast of Nature’s inspiration from the southern duller colors to the New England brilliance of color as I moved north.  Many images from the journey are firmly in my mind.  I’m looking forward to trying my hand at replicating all those colors with dye and wool. Scenes from along the way - the corn fields of Maryland; a “burning bush” tree; the “wall” of multi- colored stripes - will find their way into my hooking projects.   Who knew that this trip to spend time with my dad would fill my creative buckets to overflowing!


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