Stephanie Allen-Krauss of Montpelier, Vermont, was only six when she learned to hook from her mother, Anne Ashworth, a nationally recognized rug-hooking teacher. This family tradition began with Stephanie’s great–grandmother, Philena Moxley, who created and stamped embroidery and rug patterns at her shop in Lowell, Massachusetts from 1865 to1882. As a fourth generation rug hooker, Stephanie took happily to the craft, learning to dye wool fabric as a teenager and then to repair antique hooked rugs in her early twenties. In 2000 Stephanie opened a retail shop in Montpelier, Green Mountain Hooked Rugs, where she offers a wide variety of supplies for rug hookers, including bolts of wool, hand-dyed fabric, patterns, equipment, and books. Stephanie still repairs rugs and does custom dyeing, and over the past ten years has hooked more than 30 commissioned rugs. When time permits, she offers classes and occasionally travels around the country to teach. She earned two bachelors degrees in education, and has held several offices in local, national and international rug hooking guilds. In 2010, Stephanie received the Governor’s Heritage Award as best traditional artist in Vermont.
Some of Stephanie's rugs...
4'x6' #6 cut wool strips on linen
37"x50" #6 cut strips on linen
Persian Palm 70"x100" #3 cut strips on monks cloth
The Moxley Sampler 14"x17" #4 cut strips on warp.
Custom designed by Stephanie for a gentleman in Montpelier, VT.
Custom designed by Stephanie. Impressions of Montpelier city center.
Designed and hooked by Stephanie Allen-Krauss, 2010
'Ellen's Tulips', 2001
'My Spring' 1994
'Philena's Flowers' 1992
Floral Leaf Fantasy, 2013
The Way Home
The way home isn’t always an easy journey, and so it was with this hooked picture. Sometime around 1997 I sketched the basic design for a study I was beginning on hooked landscapes. When my husband became critically ill, I knew that this project had to be shelved for a time when I could focus more clearly. Life grew harder, but periodically I would look at my sketch and think, “when I’m able to work on this again, I’ll know I’m ‘on the way home.’” The years passed, my children grew, and my heart healed after my husband’s death. Then in 2005, while cleaning a closet, I found my sketch and felt inspired. I spent an entire weekend preparing the pattern, dyeing wool, and then finally hooking. For several months as the hooking progressed, I felt something happening as the picture took shape. Right around that time, a man in our community became widowed and within 6 months we started dating. I finished my hooked picture and a year later Ted and I bought a house together. I found my way to a new home and new chapter in my life.
This hooked picture was selected by The International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers (TIGHR) for their Collectors Card Series. 'The Way Home' is card number 35 and the story is published in the Fall, 2008 Newsletter. 20"x20" #3 & 4 cut strips on verel
During the first weeks, we tackled the tasks of organizing our life with great energy, love, support, and even a strange peace, but as the weeks wore on and the tasks were completed, we sagged into a kind of stupor. All the members of my family stopped doing what they usually do. Clint stopped reading and collecting books. The phone stopped ringing for our teenagers and I stopped hooking.
We reached one of our lowest moments one Sunday afternoon about six weeks after the diagnosis. We were standing in the kitchen, hugging, when I finally broke down and sobbed, “what am I going to do without you?” Quietly he said, “don’t worry, I’ll always be with you. I’ll be on the bottom star of the Big Dipper.” I clung to him, repeating, “Bottom star, Big Dipper, Bottom star, Big Dipper. I’ll never remember that.” Throughout the day, I kept repeating it like a mantra and later, I went to bed still worrying that I would forget Clint’s words. Sometime in the night I realized that I needed some kind of a touchstone to remind me. Then I dreamed of a rug. I woke up thinking, “I am a rug hooker. That is what I do.” My touchstone was clear.
The length of the words together would determine the size of my new rug. On a large piece of paper I placed the letters and started to sketch the beginnings of a picture. I worked at the dining room table, drawing the details of our house, the mountains, and the constellation. As the time passed, each one of my daughters wandered through the room and watched as I drew. My oldest daughter helped straighten the perspective of the house. With ruler and pencil, she added her suggestions. Next, my middle daughter explained that the Big Dipper is only visible during the winter months, so the mountains should be snow-covered. We discussed how that might look and decided that the green leafy things in the corner of the rug wouldn’t be appropriate, even if this is Vermont with all its peculiar weather. At just that moment my youngest daughter happened to pass by. She chimed in that evergreens were green all the time, so why not make them pine trees. My picture – our picture – was coming together. Some days later, when I was about to transfer the picture to the backing, Clint stood contemplating the design. “I think there needs to be a moon.” So I added a moon.
As the picture progressed through printing, color planning, dyeing and hooking, it became apparent that we were all starting to move again in our normal patterns. Clint read and again searched for books to add to his antiquarian book collection. Our teenagers were, again, constantly on the phone, and I was hooking. There is comfort in the routines of life.
Clint and I spent the summer and early fall mostly outside on the porch. The weather was glorious and the birds sang. Clint read and slept, and I kept hooking. We talked, planned, dreamed, remembered… and started to say goodbye. I finished the rug in September. Clint died October 15, 1998.
It is no surprise that this rug became the vehicle it did. Women have used hooked rugs to express their feelings for over a century. Marriages, births, places and favorite pets were commemorated in hooked rugs. Coffin rugs were a part of funeral services in the 1800’s. Women hooked their thoughts about religion, politics, and even family members. “Bottom Star Big Dipper” is a memorial to Clint and an incredible family journey filled with deep sadness and great joy of life.