Want to learn to hook? Already hook and want to learn more? Or maybe you’d like to learn some other heritage skill?
I recently had a student call the studio and say, “I want to learn to hook, but I want to make my own pattern. Can you teach me to do that all in one lesson?” The answer was, “Of course!”
We will be listing some new regularly scheduled courses for 2019, but maybe you’d like a custom experience too, scheduled at your convenience. At the Parris House in the National Historic District of Paris Hill, Maine, we teach rug hooking (beginner and specialty topics), wool dyeing, needle felted sachet making, cold process soap making, beginner rug hooking design and pattern making, and more. If there’s something you’d like to learn, get in touch with us and we’ll make it happen.
Art, craft, and homesteading classes make great:
friends & family activities
bridal party or groomsmen gathering activities
experiences for college and school students of all ages
special self care treats
inter-generational learning opportunities
We can create a custom experience at the two century old historic Parris House just for you or your group where you can leave with a memento of the occasion, be it hand crafted soap, a beautiful sachet pillow, a hooked mug rug, plus a new shared pastime.
To arrange a Parris House learning experience, contact us to get the process started. We look forward to introducing you to something new!
We’ve been fielding a lot of questions about when this year’s Belfast Hook In would be and about how to sign up. Here are the answers!
This year’s event will take place on Saturday, April 28th, 2018 from 9 am to 3 pm. We will be gathering again at the First Church of Belfast, 8 Court Street, Belfast, Maine.
We are so pleased to announce that this year’s guest speaker is Doreen Frost of Vermont Harvest Folk Art! She will be speaking on The Art of Punch Needle Embroidery.
Doreen’s full bio can be found here, but she is an accomplished folk artist and author from Pawlet, VT who creates marvelous designs and finished pieces in punch needle embroidery. This is a different art than punch needle rug hooking, instead using fine fiber threads and very fine punch needles. We are looking forward to hearing her speak about her inspirations, her art, and her techniques. She will also be available for questions and have materials for sale if you are already a maker in this craft or would like to become one! Please visit her site at http://www.vermontharvestfolkart.com for more information and a look at her beautiful and original artwork.
As before, we will have an informal rug show and our breakfast and lunch will once more be provided by the friendly chefs of For the Love of Food and Drink. We will have vendors and door prizes, and of course, lots of wonderful camaraderie as we gather again to celebrate our heritage craft.
Ready to sign up? You can find and print the registration form here, or, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or, call Beth Miller at 207-890-8490. Need a flyer to rally your friends? Click here. In response to feedback from last year’s event we are capping attendance at 96 this year, so please register soon! Registration is $38 before March 1st, $40 thereafter. Registration deadline is April 21st.
Here at the Parris House we are almost-empty-nesters. All of our sons are grown, but our second son, James, is temporarily home teaching biology and environmental science at a nearby private school before he makes a big and permanent move to Canada. Our oldest son, Robert, is getting married in September and has been living in the Philadelphia area for years now. Our two undergrads, Peter and Paul, are always doing co-ops, internships, and research with profs during the summers and no longer come home except for holidays and short visits. Upon graduation from college, they will have permanently flown the nest also.
As it has for many empty nesters living in old houses like ours, it has occurred to my husband, Bill, and I, that a five bedroom, four bath, approximately 5000 square foot, 200 year old house and barn – no matter how well loved and historic – is an awful lot for two people to wander around in. The options become many. Downsize? Make the addition in to an apartment for visiting family and Airbnb guests? Or something else?
There is a lot to be said for keeping the Parris House. We like our neighborhood (most of the time…), we love the history of the house and we feel responsible for stewarding that. We raised a pretty happy family here and would like to give our future grandchildren the benefit of visits to “where Dad grew up.” It is a significant but not insurmountable thing that Parris House Wool Works is named for this location. Both my public and private studios are in this complex of buildings, the former in the main house and the latter over the garage. My husband’s pottery studio (Sunset Haven Pottery) is established in a finished, heated section of the barn, with the kilns conveniently next door in the garage. We have very good locations for our chickens, bees, and organic garden. We have enough apple trees to produce an abundant crop without so many that they are another big job to do. We are not down a long driveway, nor are we secluded, which, for me at this stage of life are drawbacks, but perhaps when I am 80 or 90 could be beneficial.
Perhaps the biggest factor in favor of keeping it is that my husband is a very change averse human being by nature. While I am always up for a move, an adventure, a big change, a “let’s chuck this all in and…,” he is decidedly not. The move from his home state of NJ to Maine was a very big deal for him, and moving from our home now of eighteen years to another, even if smaller, easier to manage, much cheaper to heat, and closer to work for him (but probably not newer – just not a big fan of non-antique homes), does not seem to appeal.
We have had a great deal of success with Airbnb for our Little Sebago Lake cottage, Sunset Haven. Several years ago I put together a small, exclusive hooking retreat there over a September weekend and I do believe a good time was had by all. We had a guest teacher, we went on a nature walk, we hooked, we ate lobster, and we laughed a lot. As Airbnb Superhosts, we get a lot of email from Airbnb. Recently we learned that some hosts do Airbnb Experiences, which are value added stays at some of the destinations. Hosts provide a class, an activity, a tour of the area, or something similar as part of the stay. It’s an intriguing idea and not unlike ideas that have occurred to me in the past for both Sunset Haven and the Parris House.
When we first purchased the Parris House the most common exclamation from our friends back home was, “You could have a B&B!,” to which our most common answer was, “Hell, NO!” But there’s a compromise solution in there somewhere between a full time B&B and a set of lovely rooms and bathrooms sitting empty and gathering dust.
Currently the upstairs at the Parris House looks like it houses four young men, because that’s what it’s been doing for the past eighteen years. But with the application of fresh paint, some careful vintage furniture shopping (I’m looking at you, My Sister’s Garage), and a program of wonderful weekend activities along with home cooked meals (thank you, Parris House hens, bees, and gardens), a retreat center could easily take shape. Bill and I are both Registered Maine Guides and beekeepers, he is a Reiki Master, soap maker, chicken keeper, and a potter (when he’s not at his professional job as the Controller for a Lewiston firm), and, obviously, I am a fiber artist, gardener, and hopefully by then, a published author. Together we have a skill set that could keep guests entertained and relaxed for a weekend away, and it would also be imperative to bring in guest teachers for additional class offerings. During non-class or activity hours, guests could assist with the daily tasks of gathering eggs and picking vegetables, take a turn in the beehives, pick apples, light the wood stoves, or, alternatively, they could do none of these things and simply knit, hook, read, or go out and sight see. Click through the slideshow below to see some scenes from the Parris House and Paris Hill Village.
At most, the Parris House will sleep seven. There are three available bedrooms that will take two-person beds for couples (or singles to have more space!) and one, my favorite, that is a beautiful, vintage refuge for one. There are two baths that would be shared between the four bedrooms, one with laundry facilities. The fifth bedroom and bath would be for us and is with my work studio. So full retreat weekends would be somewhat exclusive because of that space limitation, although there are possible options for lodging elsewhere in the village as well. We are thinking these retreats could run, at first, once a quarter, and if they are well attended and in demand, perhaps more often, but that would be a lot to commit to from this time distance.
This is where you come in. Give us your feedback. Do you like the idea? Is this something that you could realistically see yourself doing? What classes and activities would you like to see offered? What seasons would be your favorites for a retreat? How far would you travel for a weekend away at the Parris House? Would you also like to see us run another retreat at Sunset Haven?
These retreats could not be offered before 2019, possibly even 2020, so this is some long range planning, but we were just interested to see what kind of response the idea brought.
In other news, I think there’s a football game or something on today. If you are a football fan, enjoy the day, and happy hooking! – Beth
On Saturday, November 4th, we had our Fifth Annual Paris Hill Hook In and I would say it was a great success. We changed things up quite a bit this year. Responding to feedback from hook ins that I’ve been an organizer and/or a vendor for, we reduced the number of guests from 62 to 50 this year in an effort to give everyone more space. We also went from three vendors to four. These are, to be honest, risky steps to take from the business side of conducting a hook-in, however, I would say that a good day was had by all and we plan to continue with these changes in coming years.
I would like to extend a bunch of “thank-yous” to the many people who made the day a success.
Firstly, I’d like to thank our guests for once again supporting this event, supporting our vendors, and being the reason the Paris Hill Hook In exists at all. Thank you, all!
My husband, Bill, and 24 year old son, James, gave a herculean amount of assistance in setting up and then breaking down the hall. They did lots of hauling, moving, and configuring on both ends of the event and I am very grateful for the help.
I’d like to thank the First Baptist Church of Paris and its Pastor Mary Beth Caffey for once again welcoming our event to their beautiful venue. Given the choice between getting a larger venue to make space or scaling down, I chose scaling down because I believe traditional hooking events, in venues with history, character, and grace are becoming rare. Our hooking heritage includes gathering in small, community spaces and supporting our home towns and villages. Because First Baptist Church is willing to have us every year, we can continue that tradition.
For the Love of Food & Drink, our caterers, knocked it out of the park again with an outstandingly delicious breakfast and lunch. Their kindness, conscientiousness, skill, and culinary excellence are a major part of what makes this event successful.
Our vendors are amazing! A huge thank you to Connie Fletcher of Seven Gables Rug Hooking, Ellen Marshall of Two Cats and Dog Hooking, and Cherylyn Brubaker of Hooked Treasures. And, of course, I was vending there too, and am very appreciative of everyone who shopped at my table yesterday. Did you miss the event this year? Click on all of our shop or web pages and shop the wonderful wares, just in time for the holiday season!
I am never able to get really great pictures at an event I’m personally running, so please excuse the lack of precision here. However, you will get a feel for how the event unfolded and hopefully see some faces you are familiar with. (To advance the slideshows, click on the arrows to the sides.)
Here are the pictures from setting up the day before. The church was so silent, in contrast to the busyness that characterizes the actual event.
And here are the pictures from the day, complete with beautiful sunrise over Paris Hill.
Finally, here are the rug show pictures. I was concerned that by scaling this event down the rug show would suffer, but no. Our guests delivered with a great number and variety of rugs. It goes without saying here that any design you see may not be copied without the artist’s/designer’s permission, so if there’s one you just love and want to track down ownership of, send me a message and I can try to get that information. Some of them I know right off because they are either my design and/or hooked by one of the Parris House Hookers/Tuesday Group members, but others I’d need to make a few contacts on.
Were you there at the Fifth Annual Paris Hill Hook In? We’d love to see your pics and hear your comments too. Remember, if you are using social media to post about the event, include the hashtag #parishillhookin so that we can all find one another’s posts.
Thanks to all, again, and keep an eye on the website’s Paris Hill Hook In tab for information about next year’s event.
I haven’t posted anything on the blog since May of this year, after being reasonably consistent about popping something new up for you at least a couple of times a month. May was around the time small and a few big things started to go wrong around here, starting with my Corgi Tru being diagnosed with terminal liver disease and cancer. Tru was my steadfast companion for the past eleven years and the dog our four sons were raised with. To watch her sicken, with one capability after another taken from her by the cancer, was both heartbreaking and demoralizing. On June 13th, it was clear that prolonging her life was not in her best interest, and I had promised, from the day she arrived to our home, that she would know nothing but love and care for all of her days. Our amazing friend and veterinarian came over that evening, and Tru passed away very peacefully outside on the grass with many of her loved ones holding and surrounding her. I didn’t really get off the sofa for about three days – not for any length of time anyway – and from there it’s been a summer of more minor mishaps, from the annoying to the comical. I will spare you most of those, but if you’ve been following the Facebook page you know that it’s included one of my bee hives swarming, having a lot of my inventory damaged in a microburst at a show in Portland, and then coming home that same night to find my favorite witness-tree birch on fire from a lightning strike, necessitating its felling. A friend of mine said, “Girlfriend, burn some sage at your house!”
I feel like I’m starting to recover now. Things are going a bit better and my spirits are always lifted as fall approaches. It’s my favorite season here in Maine by far. For a variety of reasons, summer is my least favorite season, plus, for me, fall is like my new year. Instead of spring, or January, my new beginnings often happen in the fall. This year especially, I am feeling the need to get back to learning, growing, changing, and moving forward.
So, let’s do a little catching up first.
One good thing that happened this summer was that we bottled our first batch of Tovookan’s honey from the Parris House beehives. We had about sixty pounds altogether and while I have sold quite a lot of it, I do still have some jars left. If anyone is interested in a one pound jar, they are $10 and available at the Maine studio, OR they can be shipped. Be aware, however, that shipping is running around $7 – $9, so I leave it to your discretion as to whether or not you’d like a jar from a distance.
I have also had the privilege of working with three publishers who I have long admired. Down East Magazine currently has some of my rug hooking kits and finished pillows in their Summer Pop Up Shop at their headquarters in Rockport, Maine. If you are traveling along the beautiful Maine Midcoast for the remainder of this summer and in to September, please stop in to the shop right on Route 1 to peruse not only my things, but a great selection of Maine Made products.
The holiday issue of Rug Hooking Magazine will also feature my pattern and project article as the centerfold pull out. I remember when I first started hooking thinking it was a really big deal to have that role in an RHM issue, and now here I am. As always, linen patterns and kits will be available for purchase through RHM when the magazine comes out.
Finally, I have a really lovely and fun project coming out in the fall issue of Making Magazine, assembled and edited by the talented and hard working Carrie Hoge, a fellow Mainer. I don’t want to put any spoilers here, but the theme of the magazine this fall is “Lines” and my project was designed accordingly. I loved making it and loved working the Carrie, whose outstanding photography truly captures the beauty of any project she’s shooting.
My work is also on display in the Maine Made kiosk at Bangor International Airport. It’s so fun to know that busy travelers going in and out of the airport can take a moment to see my bee pillow in the kiosk. It’s my hope that it brightens someone’s day.
I also just launched two new hooked pillows for Beekman 1802, a bee and a pink pig, continuing with the theme of animals you might find on the farm. My Instagram post of the bee is the most liked post ever in the history of my IG account, so I’m expecting it to do well in the Mercantile. It was also “liked” by one of my hooking heroines, who I will not name here. 🙂
So, let’s look forward to what’s coming up the last few weeks of the summer and in to the fall…
I have a beginner rug hooking class coming up at The Stitchery in Portsmouth, RI, this Sunday, August 27th that you can still sign up for! We will be doing a double heart scented buckwheat pillow; this is the prototype, to the left. For more information and to sign up, click HERE.
On September 2nd we will have another of our SUPER FUN beginner dye classes here at the Parris House. To sign up, click HERE.
Once again, I will be participating in the Sharon Springs Harvest Festival on September 9th and 10th in beautiful Sharon Springs, NY! I will not be down in the vendor area this year, but rather I will be at Beekman Farm demonstrating and teaching rug hooking for our Beekman Neighbors who come to the farm tours. I hope to have some of my exclusive-to-Beekman 1802 pillows for sale in the Mercantile, however, for any neighbors who want to shop for them on the spot at Harvest Festival. Normally they are made to order and purchased online with a 2 week completion time.
I will also be having a beginner class at Scarborough Adult Ed (Maine) starting at the end of September. Follow the website and FB page for more information on that as it becomes available. We will be doing Maine forest/camp themed projects, so this is not to be missed!
On October 7th, we will have a soap making class again here at the Parris House. To sign up for that, click HERE.
The Hampden Hook-In, sponsored by The Keeping Room, will take place on October 21st this year and I will be there again vending. Hope to see many of you there!
Last, but not least, for events, the Fifth Annual Paris Hill HookIn is set to take place on Saturday, November 4th. If you have not signed up already, please do soon. I have reduced the number of participants this year to fifty. That’s a reduction of about a dozen spots because I am hearing so very many complaints at hook-ins about inadequate space. If the majority of hookers feel that more space is needed at these events but still want to enjoy the more down-home and charming venues, then the sacrifice has to be made in the number of attendees. Therefore, I only have a limited number of spaces left. For all of the information on this event, click HERE.
The Parris House gardens were not their best this season. In speaking to a friend of mine who is literally a professional farmer about how relatively poorly I think my tomatoes are doing, she said right away that the nights have been too cold and the days of high heat too few. I will say, though, that the Parris House apple trees are absolutely loaded, so let’s keep our fingers crossed for those!
And so we move forward. Not every year is our best year, but in looking back over just what I’ve written here, I realize that some very good things have happened. And just about two weeks ago, one other very good thing happened…
Meet Wyeth, our new five month old Rough Collie. (Yes, he’s named for NC, Andrew, and Jamie Wyeth – I’m an art geek.) My husband grew up with Collies and loves them, and since we have had the good fortune to live with my favorite breed for the past eleven years, I thought it was his turn to live with his. Wyeth was born in Georgia right around the time his breeder family (Morris Oaks Farm) was making a move to Maine, and that’s why he came to us so relatively late for a puppy. But this is perfect for me as he is already so well trained and socialized and best of all, housebroken! He already loves the attention of our Tuesday group hookers, although I do my best to keep him both out of their hooking bags and away from their lunches. Dog lovers everywhere will know the complexity of my feelings as I fall in love with this new puppy. I still shed tears for Tru, and at the same time find joy in getting to know Wyeth.
I will be getting back on the regular-blogging wagon. Tell me in the comment thread any topics you would like to see covered on the blog (can be fiber art, travel, gardening, beekeeping, whatever!), and if I choose yours I will give you an online or in person coupon for $5 off any purchase of $25 or more. Also, don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, which I will also be getting back to, by using the sign up box at the bottom of the web page.
After much preparation and anticipation, the first Belfast Hook In sponsored by 207 Creatives went off on Saturday, April 22nd at the First Church of Belfast, Belfast, Maine. We’d like to thank everyone who came out to this first 207 Creatives event and everyone who assisted in what turned out to be a very nice day. I took what photos I could of the day, but since I was an organizer and a vendor, I have to admit the photos I got are limited. (Note to self: assign photography to a helper next time.) I did, however, get quite a few rug show photos by taking a quick block of time to record the amazing work of our attendees.
For those who were not in attendance, 207 Creatives is the collaborative effort of Connie Fletcher of Seven Gables Designs, Ellen Marshall of Two Cats and Dog Hooking, and myself. Here they are at their respective tables at the hook in! (To my knowledge, there is no picture of me from the day…which is ok.)
First and foremost, we want to thank our 120 guests who made the day a success, provided us with useful feedback via their comment cards, provided rugs for truly one of the most impressive hook in rug shows I have ever seen, and who came from as far away as Canada to join us for this special event! The tradition of the hook in is so important to our craft, and our attendees came out to support this new event with enthusiasm, creativity, and good ideas for future events. Thank you, thank you!
Our special guest speaker was artist and teacher Rose Ann Hunter, who was accompanied by her daughter Kristin who helped immensely with the projector for Rose Ann’s presentation. Rose Ann’s table was continually visited by inquisitive guests looking at her work, asking questions, seeking demonstrations, and learning new techniques. We are so thankful and happy that Rose Ann agreed to join us and share her expertise with all.
As an extra service we invited Neill Peterson, a knife and scissors sharpener, to provide sharpening for our well used scissors. I did not get a chance to take mine over to him, but it seems as though he was busy during the entire event helping to keep everyone’s tools in tip top shape.
Our outstanding food was provided by For the Love of Food and Drink, just as it is at the Paris Hill Hook In. These folks prepare the food fresh right there in the venue kitchen and they do it with smiles on the entire time. I’m not this cheerful in my own kitchen when I’m not serving 120 guests.
More helpers included Mike Fletcher and Michelle Silveira, Connie’s husband and daughter respectively, who did anything and everything to help, as well as Roberta McCusker, friend and hooker extraordinaire who came over from New Hampshire. I do not have a picture of Mike, but I do have Michelle and Roberta here.
Very special thanks also to Edna Olmstead, who goes above and beyond in service to everything she commits to. Edna ran our rug show and is also an extremely prolific and accomplished hooker in her own right. Also, those gorgeous fluffy frame covers you buy from Parris House Wool Works and other lovely shops/vendors in the area? Edna makes those. I personally have three or four now, because I can’t stop myself from collecting them.
As I said, the rug show was absolutely stunning. I can not remember the last time I saw a hook in rug show of this quality and again, I thank our attendees for bringing in their beautiful rugs. The variety of styles, techniques, and subject matter was mind boggling. I have assembled my rug show pictures in to a click through gallery below. It goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: these rugs are the property of their makers, the designs are the property of their designers. No image here may be copied for a “new” design without the express permission of the designer. Time constraints did not permit me to record the makers and designers of each of these rugs, however, IF there is a design that you see and would like to have the pattern for, I will do whatever I can to research the rug to determine its rightful owner and designer for you.
At 207 Creatives we are already brainstorming future events, so stay tuned for more news on those. Additionally, there is still space left at the Fifth Annual Paris Hill Hook In sponsored by Parris House Wool Works, scheduled for November 4th, 2017, but it’s about half full already. If that is an event you are interested in, click HERE for more information and to sign up. If you’d like to stay on top of everything happening here at Parris House Wool Works, by all means also sign up for our newsletter, The Street Corner, using the sign up box at the bottom of this page.
Thank you, happy hooking, and we hope to see you at future celebrations of our craft!
Not everyone can join us in the Maine studio to hook together on Tuesdays. In thinking about how we could create an online community to bring people from all over the country (and possibly the world) together in a common project, I came up with the Parris House Hookers Circle.
As some of you may know, we shipped the first pattern for the Parris House Hookers Circle in March of this year. If you’re not aware of it, here’s how it works. Every quarter (March, June, September, December) I will send out a new surprise pattern or kit (you choose!). You can pay all at once up front and receive a 5% discount on your subscription, or you can pay in installments. The details are explained on the shop listing HERE.
So far, we have had three brave hookers sign up, and two of them, Pam Congdon Springer and Carolyn Cooke, have been participating regularly on our Hookers Circle closed Facebook group. They signed up without having any sneak peek at all at what they might receive, but lucky you, you’re about to get a look at the first pattern we shipped in March and what two of these lovely women did with it. Keep in mind that they chose the pattern-only option, not a kit with cut or uncut wool, so the color planning was all theirs.
When I set about designing a pattern for the March shipment, we were in the midst of some serious winter storms with spring nowhere in sight. I thought it might be nice to do a pattern inspired by some of the woodland plants we see here in Maine in spring and then in to the summer, so I chose lady slippers and trillium. On any hike in the woods of Maine you are pretty sure to see trillium, but the lady slippers are rarer, so much so that it is literally illegal to pick them. I’m not sure why anyone would, but the state actually protects them as a relatively rare plant.
So here’s what my hookers circle members got in the mail…
Each member received an image of the original sketch as a jumping off point for their own color planning and hooking.
Each member also received a pattern drawn on the grain on high quality linen with 4″ edges all around.
They also received a special little extra in their packages, which for March was a bar of our handcrafted soap.
It took Pam and Carolyn no time at all to get started on their projects, but they posted progress pics throughout their hooking that were fun to see. We were able to bat ideas around as the projects developed and offer constructive opinions and kudos on the work. Another benefit of joining Hookers Circle is that mutual support as the projects unfold.
So, what did the finished projects look like? Of the three members, I have finished pics of two, and permission to post so…without further ado…
This is Carolyn’s finished rug. She chose unconventional colors and a beautiful whip stitched binding that coordinates with the primary background. Her use of purple on the stems of the flowers, and then echoing it in the corners of the design, I thought was brilliant. I think she achieved a really beautiful result here, thinking outside the box.
This is Pam’s finished wall hanging. I absolutely loved the way she incorporated a natural object that you would absolutely find on a walk in the woods as part of the hanging apparatus. She used a coordinating button flaps to attach to the twig and then set the whole thing off with the proddy fringe along the bottom. I think her color choices are lovely. This is another spectacular result I would never have imagined when I was sketching the pattern.
So, this is our fledgling start to the Hookers Circle, a group I hope to grow to at least one hundred members. No, I’m not kidding. I really want to get Hookers Circle to at least one hundred members. I know that that would require employing several people for about a week or so a quarter to draw, assemble, and ship the kits, but I think it would create a big version of the camaraderie that is already developing on our Hookers Circle Facebook group.
If you like this pattern, it will be available for general purchase one year from when it was released, so March 2018. Hookers Circle members enjoy exclusive access to every pattern for at least one year. Members can join at any point in the year and subscriptions will run on a rolling basis. Want to join us in time for the June shipment? Join here.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this sneak peek at what’s been happening in the Parris House Hookers Circle. I think spring is finally arriving here in Maine. There’s still snow on the ground, but I think its time is short, and I will have to start thinking about warmer days and summer sun to inspire the June pattern and kit.
Last Friday I left Maine early in the morning to head out to Rochester, NY for the weekend. It’s not a trip unfamiliar to me because my third son, Peter, is an engineering student at RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology), but I wasn’t visiting Peter. In fact, I could not visit Peter this trip because he is on co-op semester working for a company in North Carolina right now and through the summer. No, I was visiting the RIT Hooks & Needles Club to teach them rug hooking.
Saturday at lunch time I was greeted at the local Macaroni Grill by Mirjam, Felix, Elizabeth, Theresa, and Cathryne, the executive board of the club. We had a wonderful Italian lunch and got to know a little bit about one another. One thing that was completely clear was that these young women, from different parts of the country (even the world), studying different college majors, and with a variety of interests were all avid fiber artists. Between them they knit, crochet, cross stitch, needle felt, and engage in other creative pursuits. They talked about their oversized yarn stashes (some things are universal) and about what fiber art meant to them in their lives. By the time lunch was over, I knew I was going to have an interesting and good day with them.
They had reserved a great classroom space for us on campus and they helped me set up the room. It was Accepted Students Day at RIT, so there were a lot of visitors on campus, and some of the students we were expecting for hooking had gotten commandeered to serve as volunteers for the day. As a result, our class size was smaller than anticipated, but I did not mind. The mission of getting rug hooking in to the hands of the next generation is worth the trip, whether there are five students or twenty five students.
I felt that having these young women create their own designs would accomplish two things. One, it would give them a chance to learn how to get a pattern on linen, on the grain, correctly. Two, it would guarantee that their patterns were things that they could relate to and be excited about. Their design efforts did not disappoint.
My students immediately realized that the Beeline cutter was essentially like a pasta making machine for wool. They were somewhat disappointed by the price of such a cutter, but I explained that used cutters are very find-able and that I’d keep an eye out for one for the club.
We only had a single afternoon to try to get in a lot of information and the fundamentals of hooking. Naturally, the projects were not finished by the end of the day, but we did go over finishing techniques on some example pieces and I have promised them that I will start making videos (which people have been asking me to do forever now) on steaming and on each finishing technique we talked about.
It’s absolutely critical to pass rug hooking on to the next generation, and we have to pass it on in a way that honors and respects the fact – the glorious fact – that they will want to make it their own by bringing their own aesthetics, experimental techniques, and unexpected styles to it. There is no question that every generation also works to preserve the heritage of any art, but if we encouraged them to do only that and not grow and adapt the art to the modern world, we would be contributing to the stagnation and death of the form. I believe in teaching good fundamentals so that the craft moves down generations intact in terms of the overall quality of the work, but I do not believe in restricting students (of any age) to one genre, one color palette, or any one anything. At RIT the students are innovators by nature, and it was exciting to talk to these young women about how they might innovate in their fiber art lives as well.
Toward the end of class, one of the students asked me how I got in to rug hooking. As many of you know, I took up hooking after my mother passed away and I desperately needed a grounding, zen, creative activity as a mode of healing. This story opened the door for the students to share what their art had meant to them, and the aspect of healing came up in their stories as well. What a beautiful thing we have here. It turns out that art transcends age, especially if we allow and encourage the young to make it their own.
As I was starting to pack up my things, I was presented with an absolutely gorgeous pink crocheted throw that the women had made for me as a thank you gift. I will treasure this forever. I put it to use as soon as I got home, wrapping it around my shoulders as I worked at my desk.
It was truly a privilege for me to teach these young women. I want to give a heartfelt thanks to Mirjam, Felix, Elizabeth, Theresa, and Cathryne for spending their Saturday with me and I can’t wait to see their finished projects. When I have pics of those, I’ll share them as well.
Who can you pass hooking on to? Make a list of at least five young people to approach. Rug hooking can survive for centuries more. It’s up to us.
207 Creatives is a collaboration formed by Connie Fletcher of Seven Gables Designs, Ellen Marshall of Two Cats and Dog Hooking, and me, Beth Miller of Parris House Wool Works. It is our aim together to bring you the very best of fiber art and creative events, rug hooking patterns, supplies, & finished hooked pieces, and more. Together we have three times as many ideas, resources, and experiences to pool than we would have alone, and we plan to use that to help make your creative experiences even better.
Tell us more about the featured speaker…
We are so excited to present accomplished fiber artist Rose Ann Hunter! She will be doing a presentation called, “Enhancing Your Hooking with Historical Techniques.” In her presentation, Rose Ann will share with us how she mixes and incorporates historical techniques in her rug hooking. Her imagination knows no bounds and you, too, will soon be talking about standing wool, quillies, shirring, tambor, and more. Rose Ann’s bio on her webpage reads as follows: “Rose Ann Hunter has been a textile structuralist for the last thirty years. She was chosen in 2005 as craftperson-in-residence at Old Sturbridge Village in traditional rugmaking 1790 to 1850 and lectures at various museums, conferences and guilds throughout New England and the US. She has adapted and developed over 30 techniques of rug making by recycling fabrics that are sewn, knitted or crocheted into folk art.”
Will there be great food?
YES! There will be wonderful food at this hook in, provided by For the Love of Food & Drink. If you have attended the Paris Hill Hook In for the past two years, you will be familiar with this wonderful catering company. A fresh and delicious breakfast, lunch, and dessert, served by the friendliest people in catering, will be provided.
Will there be vendors?
Indeed. There will be vendors, to be announced, who will have everything you need for the craft. Yes, we know you already have stashes bursting down your doors, but hey, we’re hookers. You know how it is.
What is the venue like?
People have been worshiping in this beautiful church in seaside Belfast for over two centuries. The church hall where we will be hooking is spacious and light filled, and we are sure it will become a favorite hook in space.
Is this hook in replacing the Paris Hill Hook In in November?
NO! The Fifth Annual Paris Hill Hook In sponsored by Parris House Wool Works will still be there this fall with bells on (or a bell in the church tower, that some of you have actually rung…). I will be selecting a date for it soon and will get that information out to everyone.
How do we sign up???
We will be providing sign up information very soon, so please watch this page, our Facebook pages, and all of our social media for that. In addition, we will be sending post cards for those whose addresses we have, and I will be putting the info in The Street Corner email newsletter. If you are not sure we have your contact information and you would like a post card or email, please email me at email@example.com and we’ll put you on the list!
And there’s more…
We are still working on more fun details for this great new event, and will share more as we finalize those. We hope you are as excited as we are and will come out and spend some time in one of the prettiest towns in midcoast Maine. For more information about Belfast, please visit Our Town Belfast.
Thanks for reading, happy hooking, and we hope to see you in April! – Beth
The Fourth Annual Paris Hill Hook In is not yet filled! Join us on November 5th for a hook in that past participants describe as one of the best (and sometimes they say “the best) hook ins they have ever attended. I chalk this up to our warm, welcoming, and historic venue, our amazing locally catered fresh food, and, of course, the good company of over 60 hookers coming together for a wonderful fall day. We also have an informal rug show, the ringing (by you!) of the historic Revere Foundry church bell, and this year only we will pull the winning ticket for our Maine Medical Center raffle rug. Don’t have a ticket for that yet? No problem. You can buy them now by clicking here or you can even buy them in person the morning of the hook in. Once again we will be welcoming Kim Dubay of Primitive Pastimes and Cherylyn Brubaker of Hooked Treasures as our vendors, along with, of course, Parris House Wool Works. There will be door prizes as well (it’s not a hook in without door prizes).
You can get a hook in registration form HERE, but there’s a doubly fun way to sign up. You can join us this coming weekend for Maine Craft Weekend! We will be participating by having the Maine studio open both days, Saturday and Sunday, October 1st and 2nd, from 10 AM to 4 PM. Here is what you can expect: Parris House Wool Works is located in the beautiful Paris Hill National Historic District of the Western Lakes & Mountains Region of Maine. You can find us at the 200 year old historic Parris House at 546 Paris Hill Road, Paris and we will be open both days to introduce you to the heritage craft of North American wool-on-linen rug hooking! Join us for refreshments, demonstrations, lessons in rug hooking, and a studio filled with everything you need for the craft, including hooks, frames, original patterns, and wool, as well as assorted finished decor pieces to purchase. You will also be able to buy a raffle chance on a 3’x5′ hooked rug to benefit the Maine Medical Center Kidney Transplant Program; drawing November 5th. Feel free to walk the historic village while you’re here! Walking tour maps will be available.
We have recently added a variety of classes and events to our new calendar, and you may notice that the website is completely, beautifully re-imagined. This creative work was done by Jacks McNamara of Root & Blossom Design. Her services were extremely professional, but also warmly collaborative so that the site ended up looking like Parris House Wool Works, not a cookie cutter version of other sites. I highly recommend her!
So, hopefully you will join us for Maine Craft Weekend, the Paris Hill Hook In, or any of the other fun classes and events we have scheduled for the fall and beginning of winter.