Stephanie took over Green Mountain Rug School from our mom in 1999 and asked if I would come and help her run it in June. Of course I said “yes”.
So the first of every June I would fly into Burlington, Vermont from Orlando. My dad and his cherished newfoundland dog, Tarby, would pick me up and we’d drive to Randolph Center for Rug School. I loved those trips. Dad and I would chatter about the latest distant relative he was “chasing” on his genealogy “digs”; or the most recent findings he’d encountered in his books on Scotland; or whatever came to our minds. As we tooled along the highway, the road shoulders, adjoining median and fields would be in various stages of blossoming lupines. Wonderful shades of blues, purples, and pinks formed a background to our conversations in my memory.
For a number of years I have wanted to create a rug that would honor my dad, his beloved dog, and our times together in June. I contacted Bev Conway to see if she would adapt a design of a man in a kilt out for a walk with his newfoundland dog in front of a field of lupines. I loved the design Bev sent me; a big wooly slightly whimsical dog beside a man in a kilt, knee socks and ‘golf’ shoes. After a visit to my Dad’s, I realized it was important that the dog in the rug look like his newf - not just an impression of one. After trying to hook what looked like a Newfoundland dog’s face several times with dismal results, I hunted up a photo I had taken of Tarby and blew it up on my computer so I could really see her face. Because I had hooked and “reverse hooked” the linen so many times, there was no way to even put on some lines to guide me. Much to Steph’s chagrin at my method, I proceeded and prayed it would turn out all right. I took another small piece of linen and drew the head of Tarby from the photograph; pinned that on the backing where it would logically go; glued along the very edge of the piece and used quilting pins to push it down to the backing. I did have quite a moment of panic when I went to pull out some of the pins and found they were glued in place! However with a little tug from some pliers the pins came free. I worked the dog’s face hooking through a double layer of the backing, which surprisingly was not too difficult, but the glued edges did prove to require me to hook right up to the glued edge and then right on the other side. On the edges of the head I could use a #6 and #7 cut, so the loops sit quite close together and the glued edge is not at all visible. Until now, I was the only one who knew there was a ”patch” there! I also had to re-proportion the dog’s body as the original body was much longer and taller.
I chose the Crieff tartan, one of our family ancestor tartans, for the rug as Dad had given me his Crieff kilt. Steph wanted to dip dye the material for the lupines for me and I was thrilled with the results, but I did have to figure out how to use the pieces to get the effect of a field of lupines and to give the impression of those that were in the foreground and those that were out at the back of the field. There was some “reverse hooking” going on there too.
The rug is hooked mostly with a #7 cut, but a few places required #’s 3, 4 and 5 like the dog’s face, the kilt plaid, shoes, sweater and hands as well as the lettering in the border.
I brought the finished rug with me when I went to spend a week with Dad the first of August. Dad was so pleased with it. He said he couldn’t be happier and the dog looked just like his Tarby, which warmed my heart. Dad and I worked together to hang it in his front room, which was a special memory I will always treasure.
It is truly a work of my heart to honor my dad as a reflection of those precious times we spent driving between the airport and Green Mountain Rug School and all the times in between with my visits to Vermont and his to Florida.