A Sneak Peek at the First Hookers Circle Project and How You Can Join Us!

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.

Happy hooking! – Beth

Why We Hook the Animals We Love

This is my Welsh Corgi, Tru.  (If you really want to get to know her, she has her own Facebook page here.)  As you can see, she was sunbathing this morning while I was putting the finishing touches on the first pattern for the Parris House Hookers’ Circle subscription service, shipping this week.   As I posted on our Facebook page this morning, I am painfully aware that Tru is now about twelve years old, and that most of my time with her is behind us.   I never thought I could love a dog this fiercely until she came in to our lives, but here I am, pondering a post-Tru world even though as of right now, she is still happy, active, and healthy.

For this reason, I have been thinking lately that I need to gather up all the photos I have of her (there are many!), and also sit quietly with her, make a sketch of her sweet face, and hook it.    Now, I have never hooked an animal in a detailed way, the way I want to hook Tru’s image.   I want to capture the glint in her eye that still exists even though I see the encroaching cloudiness of cataracts.  I want to hook the pretty combination of “red” and white and maybe now a little gray that defines her face.  I want to add the teeny tiny white eyelashes and delicate fur in her ears.  I think this project is going to have to be refined and textural and multimedia, but since I can see it, I know I can make it a reality.

Prior to this I have not hooked many animals.  One of the most popular patterns in the shop is “Tesla’s First Snow,” which, rather than a late-in-life portrait, is a depiction of our big orange tabby, Tesla, as a four month old kitten seeing his first snowfall out the window.  After being initially perplexed, he wanted to “catch” the snowflakes as they cascaded down.   I snapped a picture of the scene and the result was this:

As you can see, this is a very primitive rendering of Tesla.  His back is turned to us so that, frankly, I didn’t need to deal with the detail of his face, although that is still true to the photograph.  This was done in 2012.  I learned to hook in 2011.  I was simply not ready to take on the complexities of Tesla’s face!   (In case anyone is wondering, he is named for Nikola Tesla, the scientist/inventor.  This happens when you have four sons who dig science.)

I also hook animals for Beekman 1802, and it is absolutely true that I love these animals I’m depicting.   I actually met Polka Spot back in 2014 on the day Jen and I first presented our work to Josh and Brent.  They kindly sent us on a farm tour with Megan, who was then their artisan coordinator, and we were thrilled to see the baby goats, Bubby the cat, Onder the dog, and, as they say, “every living thing at Beekman farm.”   Bubby passed away since then, and Polka has also “gone to Paris,” but both of them had distinct personalities.  Polka was one of the most regal animals I’ve ever encountered, and it was clear that she took her watch over the goats seriously.  Bubby was just one giant furball of love, demanding our attention while Onder ran in and out of the barn playfully.  Here is the menagerie I hook for Beekman 1802.

Last year I had a major commission for a customer’s beloved Pharaoh Hound.  The story on that is here, and the result is below.

Why are we willing to put so much time and effort in to these portraits of our favorite pets or animals?  Or, if we aren’t artisans ourselves, willing to commission someone else to create them?   I think it’s about the innocence, unconditional love, and nobility of character we so often find in our pets.  I don’t say that to anthropomorphize animals.  As my biologist/ecologist son, James, likes to remind me, “They don’t think the way we do.”   And, of course, he’s right.  They don’t think the way we do.   In fact, it’s impossible for us, really, to get inside their heads.  They are coming from an entirely different reality, biology, instinct than we are.  And yet…it is so easy to make important connections with them, and they with us.  We want to immortalize them in art because we know – we are so painfully aware – that their lifespans are much shorter than we’d like and that our own lives are so much better with them by our sides.

Sometimes they’re exasperating.  Tesla wants to kill my knitting if I don’t put it up and out of the way.  Tru wants to be directly under my feet if I’m preparing chicken for dinner.   Tesla is incapable of having a hairball in any location except on a carpet.  Tru occasionally gets so excited over visitors she pees at their feet.  Yeah.   And the fur.  It’s everywhere.  No vacuum on this planet is its equal.

Yesterday, my oldest son, Robert, shared this picture of his and his girlfriend’s, Tracy’s, cats peering out their apartment window in much the same way Tesla peered out at his first snow about five or six years ago.   They are Valentine and Playdough, respectively, and both are well under a year old.   Just the beginning of another generation’s connection with animals.

I hope you will share pictures of your animals and also pictures of artwork you’ve done inspired by them.  Feel free to tell their stories and what they mean to you.  I look forward to learning all about them.

Happy hooking! – Beth

Tesla one-upping Tru and snagging the sunny spot.

 

We’re Gonna Let Love Rule…and Other News

 

Since I’m going to be blogging at least once a week, you’re going to learn random facts about me.   Here’s one now:  I’m a major Lenny Kravitz fan.  I fell hard for Lenny Kravitz’s music in 1999 not long after “Fly Away” came out.  At that time in my life my husband and I were figuring out how to make a major life change by leaving urban/suburban NJ to start a new life for ourselves and our four young sons in rural Maine.   “Fly Away” was on the radio all the time back then.  I’d hear it at home, at the gym, in the supermarket, and it kind of became my anthem for leaving a life that wasn’t right for me or for my young family.  It’s still near the top of my list of favorite songs in that genre.

After “Fly Away,” I think the song that comes back to me most from Kravitz’s catalog is “Let Love Rule.”  It seems particularly appropriate as we go in to the Valentine’s Day holiday in a few weeks to take apart that title:  “Let Love Rule.”  What does that mean?  Is that some kind of hippy dippy nonsense completely impossible in the modern world, and in a nation that’s more stressed than I ever recall in my lifetime?  (I’m 51, for the record.)

I’m not going to expound too much here.  Were this my personal blog, I might, but at the same time, I don’t think I need to.  I did write on this topic a little more extensively almost a year ago and you can read that here.  We all know what it means, though.  “Let Love Rule” means that every decision we make, every word we say, every action we take, every position we support, has to be run through that filter, that criteria.  Is what I’m about to decide, say, do, letting love rule?  Or is something else at work here?  I fail at this on a regular basis, but maybe just this month, as a celebration of Valentine’s Day, I’ll give it an especially conscious try.  That’s my intention for the month, anyway.  Feel free to share your thoughts on the subject in the comment thread.

All right.  On to the other news…

Have you hooked anything for Valentine’s Day?  It’s not too late, and our shop is filled with hearts of one kind of another.   Some are patterns, all can be kitted, some are pillows, some are sachets.  Some are even finished – no hooking necessary – just have me ship it to you in time for Valentine’s Day.   Take a peek at the shop, navigating using the section clicks on the left sidebar, HERE.

Not specifically related to Valentine’s Day, but new to the shop this past week is a new digital download section for patterns.  I’ve been asked to provide this for a long time and you can see the first seven of them HERE.  They are designed for you to download, print in sections, put together, and transfer on to your own foundation.  They come with a full instruction sheet on how to properly draw a pattern on the grain with helpful hints for making the process as easy as possible.  An example is below.  In this case, “Tesla’s First Snow” will download in four sheets so that the pattern is actual size upon assembly.

 

Finally, this week I’m going to be introducing all of the particulars and sign up instructions for our new pattern/kit subscription service.  Last year I did an online survey and those of you who responded told me that a quarterly service would most interest you, with a mix of genres (seasonal, primitive, contemporary, etc).  You were pretty evenly split on patterns vs. kits, so I’m going to offer an option for each.   These will ship in March, June, September, and December of this year.  We’ll evaluate the program at the end of the year for popularity, participation, and any tweaking it needs in response to your feedback.   Patterns available through the subscription service will *only* be available to subscribers – not to any other customers – in the year they are shipped.

For those of you who have read the blog all the way to this point, here’s a special coupon code good through Valentine’s Day in the Etsy shop:  LETLOVERULE2017.   Use this coupon code for 10% off on any purchase of $25 or more in the Etsy shop.  I’ve just noticed that I’ve listed my 200th item in the shop, so hopefully you’ll find something  just right for you.

Happy hooking and let love rule.

 

 

Save the Date! New Hook In Event in Belfast, Maine – April 22nd, 2017!

Beautiful downtown Belfast, Maine.

Looking for a new event to ring in the arrival of spring this year?  Get your calendar or digital device out and save this info!

When:  Saturday, April 22nd, 2017, 9 am to 3 pm

Where: The First Church in Belfast, UCC, 8 Court Street, Belfast, Maine

Featured Speaker: Rose Ann Hunter!

Sponsored by:  207 Creatives

OK, so you probably have questions…

Who is/are 207 Creatives?

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 parrishousewoolworks@gmail.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

 

 

 

 

 

Maine Craft Weekend & Registration for the 2016 Paris Hill Hook In Happening Now!

exterior1 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.  

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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.

Happy hooking, and see you soon! – Beth

We're Trying Again! The Martha Stewart American Made Awards Contest

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Last year we were Wildcard Finalists in the Fiber Art category of this contest, and we were over the moon excited to have made it that far on our first try.  This year we’d really, REALLY like to win!

Every year, the American Made Awards celebrate American makers in the areas of crafts, design, food, and style.  This year we are again nominees in the category Fiber Crafts.

Here’s how it works.  Martha’s staff chooses some finalists, and others are chosen by virtue of how much support they have. When you click on our Nominee Page, you have the opportunity to also click to share on Facebook or Twitter.  That helps spread awareness of our work and shows support for our nomination.  Then, if we are one of 500 entries chosen as finalists, voting begins on September 21st.   Winners of the contest are awarded $10,000 in capital for their businesses, but more importantly, are given national exposure for what they do.  Since we are committed to bringing a renaissance to rug hooking, much like as has taken place in knitting, we would very much appreciate your support.

To see our nominee page, and share it, please click here or on the American Made Nominee badge at the top of this post.

Thank you so very much and happy hooking! – Beth & Jen

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The Parris House Garden, Like a Tortoise. A Pictorial Trip Through.

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A moth takes a rest on one of our green bean blossoms.

One of our Parris House hookers, Edna Olmstead, is already harvesting and pressure canning green beans for the fall and winter.  Another said yesterday at Tuesday group that her tomatoes were in.  And, of course, the local farm stands, run by professional growers and farmers, are overflowing with produce.

Here at the Parris House our garden more resembles the tortoise, from the fable, The Tortoise and the Hare.  I’m not at all saying that my tortoise is going to win the gardening race.  It’s not.  But it will, save for some unforeseen early withering frost, come through in the end.

This was my first year teaching at the Squam Art Workshops in June.  I was in a bit of a tizzy preparing for it and I could not face putting the garden in before I got back, which was the second week of June.  Additionally, I had really wanted raised beds this year, and my husband and sons had not yet built them.  When I returned from Squam, like magic, the beds were in place.  The menfolk had built them in my absence.  We took a trip to Shaker Hill Landscape & Nursery in Poland Spring, Maine for a bit more soil and compost and I was ready to roll.  Very late, even by Maine standards, but ready.

The following pictures were taken on Monday, August 3rd.  I think what they show is promise.  Itty bitty beans on the vine, harvestable salad greens (we’ve had some; they’re delicious), modestly sized basil, pumpkin and squash blossoms, and more.  I think the biggest race against time out there is the corn, which is only past knee high at this juncture, but we all need a little suspense in our gardening, don’t we?

I will be teaching at Squam again next year, but will probably be more relaxed in my preparations.  The garden will go in earlier.  Five years ago I would have been beside myself with this year’s tortoise garden.  I know better now.  A lesson learned at Squam and in a million different ways in the steady growth of Parris House Wool Works:  it’s the process that matters most, one day at a time, doing everything you know how to do with heart and commitment and as much love as you can muster.  Those are the conditions for growth, even if you’re starting late in your season.

And now, some pictures…hope you all like green!

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The Parris House garden. That thing that looks like a bomb from the Roadrunner cartoon series is actually a composter, courtesy of my friend Renee Krajci. What the Parris House hens don’t get in vegetable and kitchen scraps, goes in there.
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I can not wait for these to ripen. Organic tomatoes given to me by my friend Eric Davis.
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More tomatoes – these look more Roma style – given me by Eric Davis.
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Pinetree Garden Seeds fantabulous salad green mix.
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Beets. These will get pickled and canned.
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Peas. Yes, that’s how late this garden is.
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Fresh beans and shell beans. We have green beans and purple beans (although they turn green when you cook them), Jacob’s Cattle Beans and Vermont Cranberry Beans.
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The purple ones are my favorite.
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More tomatoes, kale, and purple cabbage. The kale and purple cabbage were rescued from Smedberg’s Crystal Spring Farm late in the season, the last of their vegetable plants still for sale. I think they’ll be just fine. The corn is our suspense builder.
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Pumpkins. Or possibly a winter squash. I’m actually not sure.
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Purple cabbage.
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Kale.
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Garden owl keeps watch. He has a little help from the electric fence.
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Basil.
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The Parris House apple trees operate on their own schedule, so they’re not behind at all. They are utterly loaded this season. There will be many days spent canning and freezing apples this fall. A million thanks to Post Carbon Designs for trimming them so beautifully last winter.
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More apples.
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The day lilies have “gone by.”
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The giant hostas, which are always a delight for the bees, have also “gone by.”

Just yesterday in the Maine studio a relatively new hooker was lamenting on how slow she is in finishing projects (actually, she isn’t…but…you know…).  Another hooker immediately came to her defense, telling her to be patient, that this was normal in the beginning, and praising the work that she had done.  I also assured her that her future work would start to go more quickly.  Sometimes, we just have to be ok with the pace of things.  So it is with our late blooming garden.

I will post another story in about six weeks on how the harvest has gone, taking pics as we pull things in.  By then my favorite time of year will be in full swing!

Happy gardening, don’t worry if you’re a tortoise, and happy hooking! – Beth

New Silhouette Pillows Exclusively Available Through Beekman 1802!

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Have you ever been in an antique home and seen an 18th or 19th century silhouette portrait?  Or maybe when you were growing up your parents had one made of you?  Well here’s a modern twist on a classic idea, and it’s a whole lot cozier than the paper variety silhouettes you may have on your walls!

You may recognize the handsome silhouettes above as those of Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell, the Fabulous Beekman Boys and founders of Beekman 1802.  Jen and I feel very honored to be making these pillows in celebration of Josh and Brent’s second wedding anniversary, which, by tradition, is the cotton anniversary.  These pillows are available in your image or images with a variety of colors of wool backs or backed with 100% organic cotton fabric.  Additionally, the pillows are stuffed with 100% organic cotton batting in a cotton muslin case.

The process of making these is extremely personalized.  Once your order is placed, Beth will be in touch to arrange for you to provide the photographs that will be the basis of your design artwork, and to talk about the colors you would like for your hooked background and pillow backing.  Once your artwork is sketched out, you will have the opportunity to approve it before the hooking begins.  Once approved, Beth or Jen will hand hook and sew your pillow.

This is what the artwork looks like when submitted for customer approval.

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These would make wonderful wedding or anniversary gifts, or keepsakes of growing children.

You may order exclusively through Beekman 1802 by clicking HERE.

We’d love to work on your modern heirloom!

Hooking in to the Future: It’s Up to Us.

I’m turning 50 in three days.  Yippeeee!  No, seriously, I’m really yippeeee about it.  I am so happy to be in the place in life where 50 finds me that I’m just all about continued adventures and self improvement.  To use an overused phrase, fifty is fabulous.  In fact, here I am with confetti on my head.

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With that out of the way…

I also realize that I am squarely in middle age, headed on toward what is politely called “the later stages of life.”  This is something I have in common with most other rug hookers I know.  And therein lies a problem.

Think about the last hook-in you attended.  How many people there were my age or older?  75%?  More? On the one hand, this is magnificent.  As someone who has been hooking a relatively short time, I have observed that our middle aged plus hookers are just filled with knowledge and talent in our craft.  They are like the Library of Congress of hooking knowledge, and their enthusiasm for this heritage art form knows no bounds.  We need them and what they know and what they can do.  I personally need them.  I learn from them on a continual basis.  So, before we go any further, middle aged and beyond hookers, I love, value, and look up to you!!!

But…we also need the under 50 crowd if this craft is going to survive in to the next century.  Heck, we need the under 40, 30, 20, 10 crowds.  Truly.  When I demonstrate rug hooking at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village here in Maine, I often get very young children, dragging their parents over to my area, wanting to try hooking.  And these children are amazing at pulling loops.  They have not yet learned the common mantras of adulthood:  “I’m not creative,” “I don’t think I’ll be good at this,” “That looks hard.”  Nope.  They often start pulling the most beautiful loops within about two minutes of my showing them the basic technique, and they are delighted with themselves as they do.

My recent classes at the Squam Art Workshops covered every adult age range, and that was really exciting for me.   Here is a subset of the twenty talented women I had the privilege to teach at Squam.   Note the owl being hooked in the foreground.  That particular student, one of the younger in the room, wanted to do her own thing and I thought, “Ok, why not?”

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What if a twenty-something isn’t interested in Waldoboro florals or traditional primitives?  What if a ten year old wants to hook his favorite superhero?  In hooking, this is not a problem!  There is so much exciting contemporary work being done in rug hooking to inspire a younger person whose tastes are less traditional.  In fact, I like to encourage younger students to draw their own patterns, to their own tastes, or even hook an abstract with no pattern at all if that is what they’d enjoy.

There are still perceived barriers for younger people with hooking.  Often in the midst of attending high school or college, raising children, working full time, possibly caring for other family members, or just not having a lot of disposable income, younger people may feel that hooking is not something they can do right now.   I think it’s important for them to know, however, that projects can be small and manageable and that they can be picked up and put down easily.  In hooking, we don’t have to worry about losing count in a pattern, or having a complicated process to fix a mistake.  We don’t need an entire workshop or craft room or too many specialized tools.  We can use many recycled and repurposed materials if we choose to.  Hooking is a craft that lends itself to simplicity.

We actually have role models in crafting renaissances to look to.  One super example:  knitting.  Knitting is back, with a popularity my own very skilled knitter mother would not have believed.  Knitting is hip.  Young men and women both are doing it.  Ravelry has been instrumental in this knitting revolution, providing an on line forum for knitters all over the world to build and strengthen community.  I had the pleasure of meeting, and teaching hooking to, Ravelry’s founder Jessica Forbes at Squam.  Her talent and energy are immediately evident.  She is passionate about what she does.  We need to be too.

Or how about cross stitching?  A quick perusal of Etsy or Googling will show you that cross stitching is making a comeback.  Some of the contemporary cross stitch patterns feature the occasional impolite word or characters from film and video gaming, but this just reflects its vitality with a younger crowd.  Some of those younger people are also stitching traditional samplers and heritage designs, but what cross stitching is offering now is choice.

At the beginning of every class I teach I ask my students how they came to be there. The most common answer I receive is, “My mother…” or “My grandmother…”  or sometimes, “My grandfather” hooked.  Or, “I have a rug my (insert ancestor here) made and I want to make one too.”  We have such a strong heritage here that is so important to preserve.  For my readers in New England or the Canadian Maritimes, you may think, “This craft is thriving!  Look at all the hooking studios in our region.”  I would counter this:  1) Step outside of our region and then see how many studios there are.  Jen and I have Etsy customers from all over the United States because hooking supplies are so scarce in other regions.  2) What is the average age of your customers?

If you are my age or older, we need you – all of you – to pass this craft along to someone younger.  You don’t have to be a born teacher.  Let’s face it, the basic technique is not rocket science.  I have taught scores of people now and I can tell you, they’re pulling quality  loops in very short order.  Is there more to teach them after that initial lesson?  Oh yes, of course.  In fact, more than I currently know because I’m not sure you can ever know all there is to know.  I’m still learning myself.  But with that initial lesson a new hooker will often realize – in an “aha” moment – the zen quality of the motion, the unlimited creativity they can bring to their art, and an awareness that their rug can look like them and their world without in any way detracting from their appreciation of rugs by previous generations.  By doing so, they are honoring those previous generations and preserving our hooking heritage.  That’s a pretty big deal.  Let’s get to making that happen.

Happy teaching and happy hooking.  – Beth

Jen (who is not anywhere near 50…) looking over the lovely work of Patty Rumsey.

Headed to Squam – Maine Studio Closed June 3rd through June 7th

Well, the time is almost here!  I’m headed to teach my class, Modern Heirloom, at the Squam Art Workshops on Wednesday morning, and as a result, the Maine studio will need to closed from Wednesday, June 3rd through Sunday, June 7th.  I will be open regular hours on Monday and Tuesday, June 1st and 2nd.

While class registration for the spring retreat has been closed for quite some time, it’s not too late to plan to come to the Squam Art Fair and Ravelry  on Saturday evening, June 6th, from 7:30 to 10 PM!  Come see me there!  I will be there with THIS amazing list of other vendors.

If you would like to follow my social media posts and those of other attendees just look for these hashtags:

‪#‎squamartworkshops‬
‪#‎squamlove‬
‪#‎squamwardbound‬
‪#‎squam2015‬

FMI about Squam, should you want to join in for a future retreat, click HERE.

Have a great week, and happy hooking! – Beth