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News from Green Mountain Hooked Rugs

Fall Back into Hooking...

The change of the leaves brings a change in activities.  I go from sun bathing, boating and water skiing to taking walks with the dogs, finding my warm clothes and of course... hooking!  Though I am sad to see the summer go, I am happy to restart my rug that I put aside in June.  It is time to dust off those projects you put aside in the summer months and begin hooking again.  What better way to jump start your projects than with a hook-in this weekend!  Green Mountain Hooked Rugs is hosting a hook-in in the shop, this Saturday, October 3 from 10-5.  

We have been working hard to restock the shop after the busy summer we had.  I have locked Mom and Mari in the dye kitchen since September and Pam has done nothing but print patterns (we let her stop to eat once).  We have new swatches, patterns and dyed wool in stock.  Over 200 bolts, new books and hooks galore!

Mari and I will be working in the shop on Saturday while our fearless leader is in Canada for TIGHR to sit on a panel discussing "How to Work Through Problems to a Great Rug".   

Hope to see you Saturday!



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World's Smallest Hooked Rug Found!

After Sauder Village I spent a day wandering around the Art Institute of Chicago looking for inspiration in the form of great paintings and guess what I found? Tiny hooked rugs! In the Thorne Room are 12 inch tall, painstakingly detailed representations of rooms from different eras. It wasn't until I reached the American rooms that I noticed what was undoubtedly a braided rug, and then what looked shockingly like the world's smallest, most finely detailed hooked rug! These "hooked rugs" are done with threads. Literal threads. I finally found someone who hooks in a smaller cut than me! Below is a picture of the "Cape Cod Living Room: 1750-1850" Note the braided rug in the center and the hooked Welcome Mat in front of the door and keep in mind that this room is less than a foot tall, so that chair? Probably two inches tall. That painting of a boat over the fireplace? Less than an inch tall. Incredible right? But that hooked rug must have been done with something less than a #1 cut. Is there even such thing as a #1 cut? I've heard of people hooking with embroidery floss before, but this is even finer than that. 

Below is a picture of a "New England Bedroom: 1750-1850" Both the oval rug and the rug in front of the fireplace appear to be hooked, and is that a whip stitched edge I see?? If that person wasn't crazy before creating that, they are now.

After seeing proof of the existence of rug hookers as far back as the 17th century I'm amazed at how much had to come before me in order to allow me to do what I do. These tiny rugs represent the work of women who were pioneers. Women with very little money and few luxuries. They cut up old clothes and used burlap sacks to create rugs to help warm their homes. They created rugs that were not only useful, but also beautiful... beautiful enough to allow this artistic tradition to flourish into the burgeoning art form it is today. We're going through a rug hooking renaissance if you ask me and it's all thanks to these ladies! So this is my moment of thanks to all of the women who have come before me to keep this tradition alive. We should never forget where we come from and we should never stop singing the praises of the rug hookers who paved the way for us! Hooray for hooked rugs in museums!

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Work of Heart

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.

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Every Rug Has a Story

Sometimes it is what you remember happening around the time you were hooking it.  Sometimes the actual rug has a story.  And sometimes the rug acquires a story after you are finished hooking it.  This past weekend, Lynn Soule was kind enough to share some of the stories of her rugs with me.  It is amazing how, in just a few minutes, you can really feel like you get to know someone through their artwork.  I have to imagine it would take hours of conversation to go equally as deep.  To me, the most interesting rugs are the ones that appear not to have a story.

This is how I started my morning…  it’s not often you enjoy your ride to work, so I had to stop and take pictures. My ride to North Hero, Vermont

I was on my way to the Fiber Festival in North Hero, Vermont hosted by the local group, The Fiber Bees.  They held a very well attended hook in on August 8.  There were three other vendors there including, Deb Enis, Evelyn Gant, and Mary Lee O’Conner. 

The Fiber Bees put on a great event which included a small exhibit and even a Grenfell!

Thanks to Lynn and the Fiber Bees for inviting Green Mountain Hooked Rugs to attend!  We can’t wait for next year!



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Gone Hookin' in Greenville, South Carolina!

Well I didn't actually get any hooking done, but I had a great time meeting so many new rug hookers and seeing old friends Joanne D'Aquila and Susan Feller from Green Mountain Rug School! Sometimes I forget just how many of us there are out there...

I arrived on Friday and settled in, vended all day Saturday at the "Gone Hookin'!" hook-in, and flew out on Sunday, but it was well worth the trip! It's interesting to get out of my region and see other styles, new patterns, and hear some great accents. Does anyone else find that they start mirroring accents back to whomever they're speaking? I was practically southern by the time I left, y'all!

Also, my driver to the airport on Sunday told me that Greenville is the number one tourist destination in the world. In the world, y'all. He also said that Forbes Magazine ranked them in the top five cities for the U.S. so I feel like he may have had some of his facts mixed up, but you've got to love the enthusiastic city pride!

A huge shout out to Lisanne Miller for making it an easy and incredibly fun weekend! If you'd like to register for next year's "Gone Hookin'!" event follow this link and scroll down to find the registration form. See you there!

Here's a picture of half of the room from my booth.

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I save all my tails for the end…

Is that weird?  Does anyone else do that?  I don't cut any of my tails until the very end.  I think it bothers my mom, which probably makes me want to do it more :)

I have finished my second rug!  This one took a lot longer to finish because we had a little event in the middle called Rug School 2015!

Rug School 2015 was, in my humble opinion, a raging success!  This was the first year at our new venue and I think everyone really enjoyed it.  The beds were comfy, the walks were shorter and the air was more conditioned.  Our teacher line up this year couldn’t have been better.  I can’t say thank you enough to those who taught, Stephanie Allen-Krauss, Nancy Blood, Bea Brock, Jon Ciemiewicz, Bev Conway, Donna Hrkman, Rachelle LeBlanc, Lisanne Miller and Karen Schellinger. 

Every new endeavor has its kinks and Rug School 2015 was no different.  There are certainly things we need to work on for 2016, but rest assured, we are already on top of it and 2016 will be even better.  I am personally committed to that goal.  They say you can’t please all the people all the time… my response… challenge accepted!    

Anyhoo, back to my rug.  What a fun pattern!  I learned a lot about shading while hooking this one.  I started with a simple technique of hooking in the lightest and darkest colors and then filling the other colors in between.  I though this plan was going swimmingly until one night when Mariah was looking at my rug for the first time.  She was silently staring, for a long time, and then she finally asked “where is your light source?”  I had no idea what she was talking about.  She explained that when you shade you generally decide at the beginning where the light is coming from.  Well that makes a lot of sense and probably would have been helpful knowledge before I stared.  Oh well!  I decided not to break my number one rule – don’t pull anything out, and I forged on.

A special shout out to Sue Girouard on this rug.  I was having trouble deciding what to do with the boarder.  One night during Rug School, I was playing around with different colors.  Sue had the idea to do a single strand boarder and then finish with the navy.  Success!  I loved the idea and could finally finish my rug.  My completed “Paisley Posies” is below. 

Now, what to hook next…

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Capturing the Magician

I'm participating in the tarot card project with a number of other very talented artists including my mom and am finally in the home stretch of my piece. I chose the first card of the deck: The Magician and he has proven himself to be as elusive as I feared he would be. At first I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Here was the magician already fully formed... or so I thought. As it turned out, comprehending his appearance was like trying to look at the whole night sky at once. I could visualize his face, hands, and the background separately but imagining the picture as a whole was difficult. How did the pieces fit together? He wanted to be many things all at once and fought against being confined to one posture, one look, and one meaning. I decided to just tackle the things that I knew I wanted to include.  
I knew I wanted to use my grandfather as the inspiration for the face and I also knew I wanted him to be holding a crystal ball, which would act as the only source of light in the picture. So I traveled to his home in New Hampshire one afternoon to take some photos. Being the thoughtful granddaughter I am, I wanted the process to be as easy as possible for him (he is 91 after all) so I picked a comfortable chair in the dining room and asked him to sit with a flashlight while I took about 50 pictures in two minutes. 
When I got home I tried to find a picture I could use, but I realized that none of them gave me insight into the light and shadows created by the flashlight because all of the pictures were taken in full sunlight. I realized I would have to go back armed with the more militaristic attitude that I normally save for a select few Rug School students (Doris!) So back I went ready to force the old man to sit still in a dark room and do what I said! My Aunt Elizabeth and I looked around the house to find a place that was dark enough and wouldn't ya know it! The only room with no window was the bathroom. So I forced him in there, handed him a flashlight, told him to assume the position (not THAT position) and snapped another 50 or so pictures, him laughing all the way (or crying possibly. Who can tell?) But this time I knew I had it. He was both elusive and frank and I could imagine him holding a crystal ball and telling me my future: "I see... I see an old man hitting you with his cane!"
I couldn't be happier to have chosen him as my subject. As rug hookers we know how important it is to choose something you won't mind staring at for months on end and I have chosen well so far. My past few pieces have allowed me to get to know family members that I either didn't have the chance to know when they were alive, or with whom I have not spent as much time for one reason or another. I didn't want to miss my opportunity to form memories with him and get to know him better while I had the chance. Luckily for me there's an unbreakable bond that forms between two people when one shoves the other in a bathroom and photographs it. Also luckily for me my grandfather has enough magic in just one of his expressions to make my rug everything I hoped it could be, even from the seat of a toilet. And that is all I could have hoped for from my magician.
Sidenote for anyone who's interested: the story of the tarot card!

The story of the tarot cards (or at least one version of it) chronicles the travels of "the fool". The first person the fool meets in his travels is a powerful magician with an infinity sign floating above his head (who is more infinite than my 91 year old grandfather?) To the fool the magician seems to have all of the answers. When he hands the magician his pack, the magician calls on the powers by pointing to the earth and to the sky; magically the pack opens and reveals the Sword of Intellect, the Wand of Passions and Ambition, the Chalice of Love and Emotions, and the Pentacle of Work, Possessions, and Body. These are the tools and paths open to the fool throughout his travels. But which will he choose?

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February 15th - Happy 1st Anniversary Green Mountain Hooked Rugs Board of Directors

It is hard to believe that a year ago Valentine’s weekend, Anne Ashworth’s 3 daughters and 3 granddaughters met in New Gloucester,  Maine for the first board of directors meeting for Green Mountain Hooked Rugs.  That time Pam made it from FL to NE between snowstorms.    And here we are again, meeting in New Gloucester, Maine to begin our second year!  Again Pam made it in and out of NE between blizzards!  What are you girls thinking?   Elizabeth was not able to join the meeting this year since it was school break and Valentine’s weekend with a very full to overflowing ‘house’ for their dog care business.  On Saturday Pam and Lindsay drove up from Worceter, Mass and Stephanie came over from Montpelier gathering at Cecely’s for a fun family dinner - entertainment provided by 31 month old Emrys Coe, the love of Stephanie’s life!   The weather forecasters were predicting yet another major blizzard for Saturday night and all day Sunday.  Our meeting was scheduled for a conference room at Pineland Center on Sunday - would we have a meeting? would we be able to get there and if so, would the building/conference center be open?   We did make it there (only about 5 or so miles down the road from Cecely's and Mariah’s homes) and only a light snow falling with not much accumulation from the night before.  The conference room was not open, so we met at the Pineland Conference Center General Store in one of their dining rooms.  A perfect place to meet.  The store in itself is worth a visit, full of great foods, fresh vegetables and any manner of yummy things prepared for purchasing.   

It was amazing to sit around the table together again and review what we had accomplished over the year. "Yes, we HAVE come a long way, baby”!   There is a new accounting system and some back office programs in place now; a new venue and exciting teachers  for Green Mountain Rug School 2015 are all lined up; and a new website that will allow 24/7 browsing and shopping is well on the way to meet the projected May 1st launch.   The ‘divide and conquer” on tasks and work streams that Lindsay talked about has been very successful in reducing  the effort and focus that was solely Stephanie’s.   She has been freed up to spend more time vending; teaching and generally taking care of the things she loves about the business.  With Pam’s retirement from corporate life, she has taken over the production of patterns, the Newsletter and is taking on the photography for the website.  Cecely has been involved with the the business ads and is helping Pam with the product photography.  Mariah is busy scouting teachers for future Rug School classes; dyeing wool for the shop as well as working on her own amazing  hooking projects.  Lindsay’s business sense and training keeps this all on track and lights the way for our future.   Our meeting ended on just such a positive note for our future growth and the possibilities open for Green Mountain Hooked Rugs.  Our mother, grandmother (Anne Ashworth), great grandmother, great great grandmother (Philena Moxley) would be pleased and I hope excited to see the life and future of the legacy they left in our care.  Green Mountain Hooked Rugs' second year will be as exciting and as busy as our first and we are all looking forward to all it holds.  Oh, yes, next year’s winter board meeting will meet in Florida!!!

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My Very First Rug...

Pigs must be flying and hell must be frozen over because the Rug Hooking world has officially turned me into a hooker… and I love every minute of it!

It was about 2 years ago now that I began helping my mom, Stephanie Krauss, with Rug School.  I have always vowed that I was not interested in hooking.  Until this Christmas when my aunt, Pam Kirk, sent me a pattern.  I was strangely excited to start it.  I had it color planned the next morning by 5AM.  I never realized how great my moms shop was until I was color planning… SO MUCH WOOL! 

I then began hooking.  I took to it like a fish to water.  I told mom, “I had been watching her, my grandmother (Anne Ashworth) and my sister (Mariah Krauss) do it for 30 years, I likely picked something up in that time!”  My mom gave me pointers along the way.  Everyone had always said she is a great beginner teacher, now I see what they meant.  She has a way of guiding you and offering lots of ideas, while allowing you to go through the artistic process on your own. 

I learned a lot with this rug.  You can see how some of the bears look different.  The first bear I did I outlined and then I followed the outline all around.  The other bears I outlined and then hooked straight lines.  I also learned that pulling loops to make a straight line is difficult – which is why the pine cone tops look like a 5 year old drew them.  Lastly, I hooked the background in two different directions.  I hooked the top and the bottom – then I hooked the two sides.  I couldn’t really see the difference once the rug was completed and realized I could have hooked it all in the same direction.

I really enjoy my time hooking.  I have a pretty demanding job and I find it difficult to close my computer at the end of the night.  I also have trouble just sitting and watching TV – I always need to be multi-tasking.  Hooking has solved both of these problems for me.

Thanks hooking community for never giving up on me!

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Congratulations, Steph and Mariah!

We (as in the board members of Green Mountain Hooked Rugs) are so excited that both Stephanie’s and Mariah’s hooked pieces have been accepted for publication in the 2015 “Celebration.”   “Celebration” is the annual juried publication from Rug Hooking magazine. 

Stephanie submitted the large oriental “Persian Palm” which she had completed for Nancy Aldridge Beech.  The rug was less than 1/3 hooked and Stephanie needed to dye wool to match as well as duplicate Nancy’s hooking style.   The rug received the Peoples’ Choice Award at the Green Mountain Guild Exhibition “Hooked in the Mountains” in October 2014.   Mariah submitted a portrait she designed and hooked in black, white and grey tones of her grandmother, Anne Ashworth.  Mariah had completed it to have available for viewing by those attending the last Green Mountain Rug School to be  held at Vermont Technical College in June 2014.   All the pieces selected for the 2015 “Celebration” will be on exhibit at the 19th annual Sauder Village Hooking Week in August.

Stephanie is an accomplished rug hooker in all genres of hooking; producing gorgeously shaded floral, fruit and scrolls; wonderfully creative geometrics; handsomely colored orientals and inspiring landscapes. She is also a colorist and fabric dyer extraordinaire following in our mother’s footsteps.  Famous also for her ability to repair and finish rugs seamlessly in style of the original, that art of rug hooking keeps her busy.  Stephanie runs the Green Mountain Hooked Rug Shop where she also holds classes and hook-ins.  She is also in demand as a teacher.

Mariah’s bent in hooking seems to be toward her original portrait designs and using wool cut on #2 and #3. Her first project “Aries Woman” was also published in “Celebration”, so it seems natural that her other portrait piece should also find a place in “Celebration”.  Though Mariah has been hooking for only a few years, she is also becoming known for her original designs and her dyeing skills.  She is quite a master at using swatches made up of 28 and 32 values and moving from the lightest of one color through to the darkest of another.  She is also becoming quite skilled in spot and multi-dyed pieces which can be found in the Green Mountain Hooked Rug shop.

I think it is just wonderful that my sister and my niece (mother and daughter) will have pieces published in the same issue of “Celebration.”  A fantastic accomplishment; I know our mother Anne would be so proud of her daughter and granddaughter.

 'Ahmie' 10"x13" designed and hooked by Mariah Krauss


'Persian Palm' 70"x105" designed by Pearl McGown, hooked by Stephanie Allen-Krauss

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