I think I saw a segment on the old Martha Stewart Living show (does anyone else miss that show, too?), and was immediately entranced by the art of traditional rug hooking. It looked so simple, repetitive, just one movement, really, yet the possibilities are endless. Like hand piecing, quilting, cross stitch, all things I already loved. You could go primitive, do fancy florals, bold geometrics, with intricate shading or bright solid colors. So I went online, did a search for local teachers, and found Gini. She was 70-something when we met, and I was lucky enough to be her friend and student for four or five years before she passed away.
I'd make the forty-minute drive to her place once a week, every Tuesday, and a group of us would sit, hook, dye, chat and eat in her little one room home that was located in her daughter's backyard. The numbers would change, sometimes there would be five or six of us, barely able to squeeze in on the couch and two chairs, and sometimes it was just me.
But her place, with the hardwood floors and picture windows all around, always exuded warmth and you always left reluctantly. Gini didn't teach because she needed or wanted the money. At $5 a week, for at least a 4 hour session, she was hardly getting rich off of us. Rather, she taught because she wanted to keep the craft alive, because rug hooking was her passion, and she wanted us all to know everything she knew. I was a relative newlywed when I first started the craft (lots of disposable income back then, *sigh*), and I was immediately hooked. Pun intended. For my first project I chose a leaf rug, using a #3 cut of wool (3/32" wide) and I hand-dyed all the wool myself, with Gini's guidance. Such fun, I loved the smell, the mad scientist feel of the dye powders and pot boiling on the stove, the sheets of colors drying on a rack in the sun. From choosing the pattern, to cutting up the strips, to whipping on the binding, I loved every single step.
I hooked through a miscarriage, I hooked through 9/11/2001, and I hooked through my pregnancy until my stomach got too big to keep the frame on my lap. I designed and finished this rug just in time for Rebecca's room (patterned after an old Pottery Barn sheer curtain panel I loved), but after she was born, I quickly realized this craft would have to be put away, on hold.
The frame is absolutely lethal, with rows and rows of pointed needles used to stabilize and stretch the rug backing. I'd already gashed myself more than a half a dozen times, and just the thought of that in the same room as my daughter gave me the heebie jeebies. And the large, heavy monk's cloth and dozens of baggies of multi-colored
tempting spaghetti wool strips just aren't very kid-friendly. Didn't take a brain surgeon to figure that one out.
So one hook was exchanged for another, and I picked up crocheting again. One ball of yarn, one hook. And crochet led to knitting, and the rest, as they say, is history.
But rug hooking is just waiting for the right time, when I have more control over my surroundings, my children have more control over their impulses, and when our budget is a little looser. Wool ain't exactly cheap. Then again, neither is yarn...