Previous Featured Hookers

May 2017
Meet Featured Member – Anne Penkal

Anne Penkal was born with a rug hook in her hand! Well, that is almost true. She was born into a rug hooking family. Anne’s grandmother, Mary Gilbert, and her mother, Marjorie Anderson, were McGown certified instructors. She recalls “having a hook in my hand at age four or five and hooking with my grandmother when we summered in Woodstock, Vermont.” Her mother held classes in her home so she was exposed to rug hooking her entire life. She also helped when her mother exhibited at rugs shows.

A foot stool completed when Anne was 18 was her first real project. It was not until she was in her early 30s that Anne started hooking in a serious way. However, her work and family responsibilities kept her from hooking on a consistent basis until about three years ago when she lost her job in a downsizing. About that time Guild member Jane Anderson, Anne’s sister-in-law, retired and now they both had more time to hook which they did at family get-togethers.

When growing up with family and friends who were McGown instructors, it was natural for the idea of becoming certified to come up but Anne had no interest in teaching rug hooking. While she learned to hook with narrow cuts, Anne prefers to hook with #7 and #8 cuts. Anne notes “there is a tendency to identify those who hook with wider cuts as ‘primitive’ rug hookers. To many that means country and folksy patterns. That is not what I like to do. Many of my rugs have floral designs.”

There was no need for Anne to take formal lessons or attend workshops since she grew up in a family of rug hooking teachers, so it was a new experience for her when she attended her first rug school last summer. Her mother encouraged her to sign up for Nancy Jewett’s workshop and come to the HCRAG Rug School along with Jane Anderson. “Rug hooking is so different today. There are no rules anymore and all sorts of materials and embellishments are used.”

There are certainly a lot of advantages to having a hooking expert as a mother but as Anne notes “there are some disadvantages too. My mother color planned most of my rugs and often provided the wool. I am now trying to design and plan more of my patterns.” When it comes to dying her wool, Anne says that she “was spoiled but is slowing learning.” Her mother has all the colors and is a great instructor. “She is very particular with her colors!” Some of Anne’s rug patterns are ones she has designed. The balance are commercially available or from her mother.

Anne describes herself as “a burst hooker.” There are times when she is excited about her current project and works on it every day. That can be followed by “a slump” and she may not hook for a month. A big motivator for her is driving to Bethlehem on Tuesdays to hook with her mother’s group of six or seven rug hooking friends. She also gains inspiration from HCRAG meetings.

Rug hooking (right side of her brain) complements Anne’s professional training as a chemical engineer (left side of her brain). She graduated from Lehigh University and had a career in the field of water treatment both industrial and municipal. Her husband, Paul, who she met at Lehigh, is an electrical engineer specializing in microelectronics. Anne and Paul have two children – Paul and Julia. Both of them are engineers too! Paul lives in Pensacola, Florida and recently joined the Navy. Their daughter Julia is a chemical engineer who lives in Chicago. Anne and Paul Sr. live in Harleysville, PA.

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April 2017
Meet Featured Member – Linda Ehly

Linda has been a quilter for many years and has always been attracted to “primitive looking stuff.” In 1996 she signed up along with two friends for a rug hooking workshop with Vickie Calu at the Highlands in Fort Washington, PA. They stayed overnight and had a fun weekend learning something that Linda always wanted to do. Before the weekend, Linda went to Vickie’s home studio to select wool and the pattern for the workshop. Her first project was hooked with #4 cuts but Linda quickly learned that working with wide cuts was more in line with the primitive style she admired. She bought a basic wool cutter jointly with her two friends but as it turned out the demands of her work and a long commute prevented Linda from doing much rug hooking. Even though she was not actively hooking, Linda’s interest was still there.

In 2013 she learned of our Guild’s 300th Hunterdon County Birthday celebration while attending the Sheep & Fiber Festival and signed up for the Beginner’s Workshop taught by Cherry Halliday. Soon thereafter, Linda joined the Guild with Cherry as her mentor. Work still prevented her from attending meetings until she retired in 2014. Linda now has the time to fully participate in Guild meetings and programs. Michele Micarelli’s Guild meeting program on creating a small purse introduced Linda to what could be achieved with embellishments and color. Nancy Jewett made a big impression when Linda met her at our 2015 Hooked Rug Festival – “she is a color wheel on steroids!” Linda found a kit that she used when working with Nancy at last year’s rug school. “With my preference for muted colors, working with Nancy Jewett was an experience!”

Looking back, Linda notes that she “has learned much from the formal instruction with Vicki, Cherry, Michele and Nancy.” However, she also credits Guild members for “being awesome and openly sharing ideas and techniques.” As an example, Linda recalls at the January Retreat sitting across from Ellen DiClemente who provided suggestions on how to hook the cat’s eye in her latest project. “I had been struggling to get it right. Members are so open with tips and help.”

Linda works with both new and recycled wool. Friends who know of her rug hooking provide wool clothing they purge from their closets. One friend gave her several beautiful highland kilts which she “hated to take apart.” Linda loves to “find great wools and mute them. I am attracted to dyeing wool, in part because I like to make a mess!” To get started Linda visited thrift shops to find enamel pots. “Right now I am not dyeing in a major way, just experimenting with little things” she notes. She is attracted to dyeing with natural ingredients and even grew indigo in her garden. “The indigo plants were so attractive that I hated to cut them down,” she recalls.

When Linda was working, spending time with hobbies and other interests was limited to evenings. That routine has carried over into retirement. “I am a late night person so I tend to do my hooking at night although light can be a drawback,” she notes. Linda is a “fiber arts person.” In addition to rug hooking, she enjoys knitting, quilting, crocheting, and decorative painting (still life oils). “Color theory carries through all of these interests,” she observes. Yarn from Linda’s knitting projects has found its way into her rug hooking.

Linda and her husband, Lee, live in Beverly, NJ along with four cats (three of which belong to family members). Before retiring, Lee was an engraver for a small signage company. He is currently recovering from recent surgery. Their son, Scott, lives nearby in New Jersey with his wife, Melissa and two daughters – Zen and Mia. Linda worked for Educational Testing Service in Princeton, NJ for 43 years before retiring in 2014.

There are several elements of rug hooking that Linda attributes to her “falling hook, line and sinker” with her new adventure. “I like folk art, especially the primitive end of it and value the recycling opportunities. It is a relatively easy craft to learn and it allows me to be around people with similar interests. I was excited to find a rug hooking group in Hunterdon County.”

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March 2017
Meet Featured Member – Lucy Walsh

Our Featured Member for this month provided us with a fascinating article on her journey as an accomplished rug hooking artisan.

Beginnings -- “It was a lucky thing that two situations early in my rug hooking career did not deter me from hooking ever again!

“The first time was when I was 17 or so and my mother fixed me up with a large piece of burlap, pinned to an inverted picture frame, and three hanks of wool, orange, beige and green. I vividly recall the pre-printed pattern of a dozen random maple leaves. I worked on it for a short time days before we drove to Miami Beach for a family vacation. A week later, there I was on the beach poking a piece of burlap with my hook while other teenagers ran past me having a good old time.

“A good number of years later I thought I would try hooking again. I purchased a rather large pattern, again on burlap, of a Grandma Moses type scene. I toiled along using a #6 cut on a pattern meant for a #3, and decided this wasn't going to work for me either.

“I flipped the backing over and created my first original design on this nice blank backing, a simple rectangle geometric using all the colors in my limited stash. How little I knew about rug hooking at that time but something nagged at me to try again. Surprisingly, I finished it and hooked the year 1990 into the rug, and I still have it to this day.

“Perhaps I would have saved myself a lot of time with do-overs if I took more classes and read more magazines about hooking during those early years. However, time and resources were limited and I didn't know if there was even a hooking community out there somewhere to learn and get support from your fellow artisans. I was determined to stay true to my early appreciation of developing my own style of hooking so I kept on without any formal training. All of my many rugs are either reflections of my experiences or things that I want to know more about. In my own way and in my own time I still sit down to develop a new rug in wool from an image in my mind. This is my preferred style, then and now.

“Recently when another hooker heard that I do not draw my designs on linen in advance, I thought I must be missing out on a better way to create an original design. So, I cut out five shapes for a new rug and transferred them to the linen. Let me tell you, I am a better artist in my head than I am on paper. The design on linen did not translate at all. I scrapped that idea and went to work in my usual way, hooking what I see in my mind's eye directly onto my backing.

“I love to do story rugs because they incorporate many small details that add interest to the total picture and cause you to linger over the subtle nuances. However, they may have too personal a meaning to me and may not be relatable. One of my favorites is called ‘Can You Hear Me.’ Two personal recollections are included: my sister and I trying to devise a string telephone as kids, and me learning to ride a bicycle by rolling down a hill. Even though both are my own experiences, many people who saw this rug at shows commented that they also recall doing such crazy things.

“In 1997 I hooked my interpretation of a Crayola crayon box. In a Warhol-like moment I decided to hook it. Now 20 years later it hangs in the bedroom of my little grandson. I image that with the coming of a second grandson recently that there will be another rug soon suitable for him, too.

“I am fortunate to have two hooking accomplices, my sister and sister-in-law. Since 2009 we have challenged each other to hook a rug from a theme selected by one of us in turn. We are on our 12th Challenge, and this is in addition to our own other projects. We do not share our design ideas until we reveal the finished work to each other some months later. ‘Mystery’ was a theme a few years ago and my entry was ‘Amelia Earhart – Everyone Has Oceans to Fly.’

Tools I Use -- “In addition to the usual hook, cutter and frame, there are two other valuable tools I use often. A simple 12-inch wooden school ruler is used to tap along the length of a finished straight row to get the little soldiers to stand up evenly. The short end of the ruler is good to tap around the curved lines. Loops line up in well-defined rows, allowing the next row to be hooked right up close.

“The other tool that is really helpful is a wooden skewer. I use this often after a row is completed to lift a loop sitting just lower than its neighbor. The nice pointy end is finer than my hook and allows me to slip in the loop to give it a nice tug to even out the row.

Dyeing -- “I never got heavily into dyeing wool, although I've tried microwave spot dyeing and marrying recycled wool on the stovetop with moderate success. The richly colored mottled wools that I see in craft shows and hook-ins are just too hard to resist and that's when I pick up some unusual color combinations with no particular project in mind. I know I'll use them somewhere.

“However, there was a dyeing project that happened quite by accident. I had an accumulation of solid camel-colored wool, pretty to look at but very dull and not at all lively in a rug. I got my mad scientist face on and mixed a little of this, a little of that, and a combination I call ‘Dirty Dog’ was born. Don't ask me for the recipe, it was a one and done. But it does live on in several of my recent rugs. Love it!

Rug Hooking Has Its Funny Moments -- “While there is value in following a pattern and color planning a project, in my free-range hooking I'm empowered to make changes as I hook original designs. Once, while hooking a galloping horse design, I thought I would add circular hooking below his feet to show motion and perhaps rising dust. When I finished I realized that it looked as though he was pedaling a bicycle. I like quirkiness in a design but this came off a little weird. I had to do my least favorite thing in hooking and that’s 'taking out.' Brrrrpppp.

“Depending on the season, natural light and the weather, I move my hooking chair from room to room, front porch to back porch. As a result wool worms could be found anywhere, and they are. They show up clinging to my slippers and t'shirts, even in the refrigerator and bathroom. Don't ask me how that happens but it always makes me laugh when I find one in an unexpected place. I even found a 'worm' woven into a bird nest near my seat on the back porch. On my website I have cartoons of the ‘Wayward Worm’ which only another hooker can appreciate.

Display Ideas -- “Preparing for a recent exhibit, I was challenged to hang a number of small rugs. The display room was in a fine 18th-century building with wonderful deep set windows. Curtain tension rods were passed through the pockets in the back of the rugs and securely set within the window walls. Nifty.

“I've also got terrific results using a tri-fold poster board, using T-pins to easily poke through the rugs and into the poster board. It stands up well and is a nice way to display rugs vertically.

“Oh yes, by the way. That maple leaf design on burlap never did get completed. I think I gave up on it soon after we returned home from Florida. During the next 20 years, I began to appreciate folk art, antiques, quilts and other early art forms as I decorated my newlywed home and actually purchased two vintage hooked rugs. It would be another 10 years before I actually picked up a hook again, dedicating myself to this passion that I was pursuing for so many years.

“The best advice I ever received when I had a hooking block or was contemplating changing a color choice, was to 'keep going.' My best advice is, always to end the day's hooking on the upbeat, with the next loop ready to be pulled through the very next time you sit down to hook. Sometimes I even leave my hook right in the next loop, ready to pull through.

“I can't stop hooking!”

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February 2017
Meet Featured Member – Cherry Halliday

Cherry Halliday was first featured in May 2010. Her story has been updated and is being shared anew.

Featured members have been introduced to rug hooking by their mothers, sisters, friends and other relatives. Cherry Halliday is the first to acknowledge that her real estate broker was the one responsible for her getting involved with rug hooking. Cherry and her husband, Kevin, purchased a small farm in upstate Pennsylvania through Sullivan County realtor, Janet Schleeter. A few years later Janet told Cherry about finding a new interest in rug hooking. At the time Cherry had a young son and simply did not have the time to take on another activity. Cherry grew up keeping busy with various fabric related activities, including cross stitch, crocheting, knitting and sewing. If it had to do with fabric, she was attracted, but rug hooking would have to wait.

Later, Janet formed the Old Barn Rug Hooking Guild with other rug hookers in the Sullivan County area. Conversations with Janet would always return to rug hooking. After being diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2004 and undergoing surgery and chemotherapy Cherry decided it was time to try rug hooking. By the summer of 2005, she was ready to get started and Janet suggested Vicki Calu as a local Bucks County instructor. Cherry started attending Vicki’s open studio sessions where she learned rug hooking basics and “has not put it down.” Cherry had the opportunity to attend a meeting of the Old Barn Rug Hooking Guild and joined the dedicated hookers.

After being launched by Vicki Calu, Cherry attended workshops that were available within a reasonable driving distance. A weekend workshop at The Highlands was a favorite where she worked with Jon Ciemiewicz. (It was at the Highlands that she learned about our Guild.) During the summer, she combined trips to her upstate farm and attended workshops sponsored by the Old Barn Guild that gave her the opportunity to work with Susan Feller and Trish Becker. Cherry attended the 2009 HCRAG Spring Fling with Michele Micarelli. With Jon, Cherry learned how to achieve detail in rugs by using narrow cuts. Trish Becker exposed her to wide cut hooking. She has learned from all her instructors and always looks forward to being exposed to others.

As you can tell by the instructors with whom she has worked, Cherry is not wedded to a particular rug hooking style. She likes to try and do it all. Her first rug used cuts ranging from #2 to #6 and was featured in Rug Hooking Magazine (Mar/Apr/May 2007 issue) in the First Rug article. Since then she finds herself hooking mostly with #3 to # 9 cuts. The project determines the cuts to be used. Cherry is especially attracted to hooking with plaids either new or recycled.

Cherry soon decided to learn the process of dyeing her own wool. Initially she was afraid of ruining a piece of wool by dyeing it. As she gained experience, her confidence increased and she reports that “I am beyond that now.” Her goal was to reach a point where she color plans the entire rug and dyes all the wool in advance of hooking. That goal has been achieved. Cherry also dyes wool for her students.

When it comes to rug patterns, Cherry uses both those commercially available and ones she designs herself. Patterns from Honey Bee Hive (formerly House of Price) are her favorites since they are used extensively in the McGown Teacher Workshops. Cherry has a very practical approach in developing her own patterns. For one of her early rugs, she took a photo of her dog to Staples to have it enlarged in a black and white copy. The copy was tacked up on a window and traced on tissue paper. The tissue paper was pinned to the backing and Cherry went over the design with a Sharpie. Enough of the Sharpie bled through on the backing so that she could go over it to make the outline darker. Today she uses Tulle netting (petticoat weight) to transfer the pattern to the backing.

Cherry finds that designing her rugs also allows her to more fully use her creativity. One of her favorite rugs is of a Luna Moth that she discovered at her upstate farm. Her rug depicts the moth growing up to become a fairy. While she has worked with commercial patterns, Cherry finds it more fulfilling to be involved in the entire process from designing the pattern to dyeing the wool to pulling the loops.

“I try to hook whenever I can steal the time” says Cherry. Her schedule normally allows time to hook a few hours two to three days a week. She notes that “Much of my hooking is done on weekends when we are at our upstate farm.”

In 2010 Vicki Calu graciously offered to sponsor Cherry for training as a McGown Certified teacher. She applied herself diligently and received her certification by July 2013. Cherry is committed to supporting and enhancing the professional growth of rug hooking instructors. In that respect, she was elected to the Board of Directors of the Northern McGown Teachers Workshop and now serves as its Vice President. She is also the Second Vice President of the National Guild of Pearl K. McGown.

After earning her McGown Certification, Cherry immediately began to apply her expertise to teaching various beginner workshops. Her first workshop was offered at our 2013 Rug School. Cherry continues to teach most of the HCRAG Beginner Workshops which consistently receive rave reviews. She currently teaches a weekly class at her home.

Cherry worked with Patty Mahaffey to establish the Wool Whisperers ATHA Chapter in May 2012 and continues to serve as co-secretary. The popular chapter meets a need for rugs hookers in the Montgomery County area of Pennsylvania. Cherry finds her three guild memberships (HCRAG, Old Barn Guild and Wool Whisperers) as a special opportunity to connect with other rug hookers, to share ideas and to see what others are doing. The supportive environment reinforces and stimulates her passion for hooking rugs.

Cherry and Kevin live in Hatboro, PA with their brother and sister Shelties, Rory and Spencer. Kevin sells parking and security equipment such as card access systems. Their son, Christopher is a service technician with the same company.

When asked what it was about rug hooking that has aroused such a committed interest, Cherry notes that “Rug hooking pulls together all of my previous craft experience. I can create a piece that is entirely my own. All I have done in the past was just practice to get to this. Working with wool is addictive. I love how it feels in my hands.”

Cherry believes that it is important to put identifying labels on all of our rugs. Each of her rugs includes an identifying number for the order it was finished. She has a separate label for rugs completed in conjunction with the McGown Teacher Workshops that includes information on the workshop.

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January 2017
Meet Featured Member – Aggie Harris

Aggie Harris is relatively new to rug hooking but those who know her attest that she is a true artisan who more than makes up for lack of experience with her enthusiasm and desire to learn all aspects of rug hooking. She grew up in a Pennsylvania German home where she developed a keen interest in Bucks County and its history. Her family may have had handmade rugs although Aggie is not sure where she first saw hooked rugs. Learning to work with fabric and to appreciate the feel of wool was an early experience. Her mother taught her to sew and both of them made clothing for the family. Aggie wanted to do traditional rug hooking for years but working and caring for the family prevented her from getting started.

While attending the 2013 Hooked Rug Festival at Prallsville Mills, Aggie pulled her first loops and was hooked. “This is what I want to do,” she recalls saying. Her interest was reinforced shortly thereafter when she visited Shelburne Museum and saw their collection of rugs. Her interest grew as Aggie continued to observe hooked rugs during other museum visits. In 2015 she bought a hooking book by Kris Miller and found a YouTube video by Gene Sheppard. During a trip to Middletown, Maryland with her mother and sister, she bought a Hartman hook at a local shop.

Aggie was attracted to a proddy sheep project she found in Kris Miller’s book. Using her Hartman hook, she started her first hooking project not realizing that a special proddy hook was needed. Aggie brought her proddy sheep project and Hartman hook to the 2015 Hooked Rug Festival and someone told her “You cannot do that.” “But I did!” she beams!” At the Festival Aggie learned about the Wool Whisperers ATHA Chapter and attended their November meeting where she met Deb Lesher and Sue Schultz. “Everyone was so helpful,” she recalls. Her experience confirmed that “This is what I wanted to do.”

When Aggie first learned about the Hunterdon Guild, she thought that Flemington was too far to go for meetings, but was encouraged by Deb and Sue to go to a meeting. Her experience was similar to that at the Wool Whisperers. “The hooking community is so welcoming, encouraging and sharing,” she notes. “There are many different styles and color palettes in this art form. Each is as good as the other. No one is better than another.”

Aggie continued to develop her technique by reading several “how to books” but learns best by hands on experience. Hooking at meetings and the informal tutelage she found there was most helpful. Formal programs such as the HCRAG presentation by Jan and Fred Cole on blending wool colors added to her knowledge base. She now attends Cherry Halliday’s classes on alternate Thursdays. In addition, she took a program by Betsy Reed on wide cut hooking. Last August Aggie worked with Norman Batastini at the HCRAG Rug School where she found “everyone there to be helpful.” She also attends the hooking retreats offered by the Wool Whisperers and our Guild. An art class on the color wheel that was sponsored by the Michener Museum in Doylestown was enormously helpful in giving her grounding on color theory. Susan Feller’s presentation to the Guild at our trip to the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center last May added to her foundation of knowledge. These various workshops and presentations confirmed Aggie’s appreciation that “rug hooking is an art form.”

By experimenting, Aggie has found that she is most comfortable hooking with #4 and #6 cuts. She loves what she calls “primitive motifs” but does not like to hook with wide cuts. While Aggie is moving toward more detail in her work, she does not see herself doing traditional McGown style hooking. Pennsylvania fraktur and subjects reflecting local history are especially appealing when Aggie looks for images for her rugs. She also prefers muted colors when doing the color planning.

Recycled wool from garments that she finds at local thrift stores and deconstructs provide most of the wool in Aggie’s rugs, although she does take advantage of the beautiful wool available from Jan and Fred Cole. Aggie is experienced in using natural dyeing materials such as various teas, beets, inkberry, and onion skins. She recalls that when her son, John, participated in the reenactment of the Battle of Yorktown at Colonial Williamsburg, she sewed all his clothing and dyed the fabric using natural dyes. That know-how is now applied to the wool used in her hooked rugs. “I love to over-dye old clothing,” she notes.

Aggie prefers to take a pattern and modify or adapt it for her rugs. Her first project came from a small proddy sheep mat in a book by Kris Miller. The pattern was enlarged four times to give her the size she wanted. “I prefer rug size projects to smaller mats.” Her next project was a rug with two cats that she modified by adding a border and adding stars using yarn. Ribbon embellishment was also included. A Pennsylvania Dutch motif of two birds inspired the pattern that she designed for her third rug. A Bucks County fraktur found in a museum collection was the source for the latest rug. “There are a lot of ideas in my head that want to get out,” she says with a grin. In the planning stage is a rug featuring an eagle that will be gift for a friend.

The best time for Aggie to hook depends on what she is working on. “I get easily distracted so if close attention is required, hooking at a retreat works best for me. If it is straight hooking, I can do that watching TV. I hook whenever there is an opportunity.”

Aggie learned many of the needle arts at an early age. “My grandparents lost everything during the Depression, so my mother grew up in a household where the women made their own clothing.” Those skills were passed on to Aggie. In addition to sewing, Aggie has done quilting, crocheting, knitting, counted cross stitch and crewel work. She found making cross stitch museum reproductions very satisfying.

Aggie and her husband, John, live in Doylestown, PA with their English Pointer, Iris, and 15 year old Tuxedo cat, Porcia, Both are rescue animals. Their son, John III, is a retired Marine Major who is working on a master’s degree in history in preparation for teaching in college. John and his wife, Leann, live in North Carolina with their two daughters – Shannon and Brigit. Shannon is working on her certificate in music production. Brigit attends the University of South Carolina, Charleston majoring in music therapy. Before retiring John II was a Program Manager for a major defense contractor. His work required relocating multiple times; he and Aggie moved 17 times in 25 years! During this time Aggie had numerous administrative jobs also in the defense industry. John is a major supporter of the National Park Service and devotes two or three months a year serving as a volunteer “Camp Host.” He sees it as “a way of giving back.”

Our Guild has already benefited from Aggie’s membership. In addition to adding to our meetings, she has joined our faithful group of demonstration volunteers and contributed items for the newsletter. Aggie participated in our Mentoring Program and acknowledges the helpful role that Laura Robinson played in helping her become integrated into the Guild.

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December 2016
Meet Featured Member – Robin Nissenfeld

Robin Nissenfeld is “an avid knitter” and it was through her knitting that she was introduced to rug hooking. Her husband, Mark, traveled a lot with his work while she was home raising their son. However, in 2006 Robin and her friend had a four day “get-away” and took a rug hooking class at the New York State Sheep & Fiber Festival in Rhinebeck, NY. She returned home with a kit for a pumpkin pillow and supplies from Heavens-to-Betsy. A customer at Pins & Needles in Princeton where Robin worked gave her a hooking frame so she was able to continue working on the pillow. Robin did not do much more for a while but returned to Rhinebeck two years later and took a more advanced class. She returned home and invested in additional supplies and equipment.

Shortly thereafter, Robin and Mark moved from Princeton to New Hope and she started working in the J. Jill Apparel store in Flemington where she met Dee Rosebrock who frequently shopped at the store following HCRAG meetings. Robin continued to hear more about rug hooking from Dee. A friend living in Tucson, Arizona who knew of Robin’s nascent interest in hooking told her “she must come out” for a wonderful local hook-in. Robin flew to Tucson and came back hooked! She bought a cutter, contacted Dee, met Weezie, and joined the Guild. Robin’s rug hooking journey was now fully underway.

Prior to attending our Rug School last summer, Robin always bought kits (mostly of sheep) since she did not want to buy a lot of costly wool that might end up unused. She was attracted to Nancy Jewett’s workshop because of Nancy’s use of color and whimsy. Weezie advised Robin that if she was going to spend the money to come to rug school, she should consider designing her own pattern and doing the color planning “Talk about being intimidated!” Robin exclaimed. However, she decided to design a rug of her dog, Fido, and with Weezie’s help put it on the backing. The rug is fairly large and Robin recognized that it would be a long term project lasting into the winter, so she selected bright colors to help liven up the dark winter days ahead. She recalls her reaction to seeing “the wall of wool and color” when entering Nancy’s classroom. “I was blown away!” Robin bought all the wool required for her project including favorite purples and turquoises. “My rug school experience was so rewarding. It captivated me and gave me a feeling of accomplishment as a fiber artist,” Robin notes.

Robin prefers to hook during the day when the lighting is better and when she is more alert and can better concentrate on her hooking. In contrast, Robin does her knitting at night while watching TV. “I have been knitting for so long, it is like breathing. I do not have to think about it, like I have to with hooking.” In addition to the hooking she can do at home, Robin hooks with friends on Thursdays and with the “Mercer Hookers” at the Mercer County Library each month. There are times that her schedule limits her hooking to when she is with friends.

Before learning of our Guild, Robin relied on Rug Hooking Magazine and the ATHA Magazine for rug hooking information. “Rug hooking is a somewhat underground activity. There are no brick and mortar stores close-by so I relied on the magazines for supplies.” She credits Dee Rosebrock for “getting me into the local network of rug hookers.”

Robin and Mark live in New Hope, Pennsylvania with their son, Sam, who is a junior at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts and their dog, Fido, and two cats –“Tumny” (short for “Autumn”) and “Gumpert.” Fido is a Bernese Mountain Dog. Tumny is a 25 pound Maine Coon cat. “She is bigger than many dogs,” Robin says with a smile. On the other end of the spectrum, “Gumpert” is a rescue cat that barely weighs five pounds. Mark owns a market research company specializing in the pharmaceutical industry. Both Mark and Robin have advance degrees. He has a PHD from Penn and Robin has two Master Degrees – social work and public administration. Robin had a long career in health care marketing with a major nursing home company. After taking a break when starting her family, Robin went back to hospital social work with major emphasis in trauma counseling. The final six year phase of her career was in retail sales as Assistant Store Manager for J. Jill Apparel in Flemington.

As previously noted Robin is an avid knitter and often knits two to three hours a day. She also enjoys doing needlepoint that she learned from her days with Pins & Needles. “I needed to know needle-point so that I could better serve our customers,” she notes. Gardening is another favorite pastime. “I do less now that we live in a townhouse, but I still can garden in the three sides of our unit.” “I also get satisfaction from homemaking.”

Now that she has retired, Robin can devote more time to her creative pursuits. She has become an active Guild member by participating in our hooking retreats, rug school and demonstrations. Robin marvels at the “invaluable help and support” she has received from Guild members. “The Guild is open and so inclusive, not ‘clickish.’ I have been made to feel included and accomplished. It all keeps me motivated!”

Robin is looking forward to meeting Guild member Barbie Beck-Wilczek who will be traveling from New Hampshire for our January retreat. Barbie, our Featured Member for November 2014, is known for beautiful hooked rugs featuring her Burnese Mountain Dogs. “Barbie’s rugs are exquisitely hooked and capture the individual expressions of each of her dogs. Her rugs influenced my Fido pattern but I realized that I could not replicate Barbie’s wonderful work."

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November 2016
Meet Featured Member – Alma Coia

Alma Coia is the consummate rug hooking artisan. She does it all – teaches, dyes, designs, mentors and hooks exquisitely! On top of that Alma is a pilot! (More on that later.) She has also served as the director of several rug camps/schools. Her introduction to rug hooking came in 1970 when a new staff member at the school where she worked as the Director of Guidance and taught needle arts to adults told her about rug hooking and said “You will love it.” This led to taking a class in Moorestown, NJ with Lillian Isaakson and where she worked on her first hooked piece.

Shortly thereafter, Alma and her friend attended a week long rug school held at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. The instructor was McGown certified Leona Cook who introduced Alma to Pearl McGown’s patterns and techniques. That experience inspired Alma’s interest in fine cut rug hooking. Leona Cook was impressed with Alma’s work and recommended that she consider teaching and becoming McGown certified. Alma submitted her patterns to Pearl who was sufficiently impressed to start her at the 2nd level of certification training. By her second year, Alma was teaching and went on to be certified three times. Her teaching background was an asset as Alma helped develop the curriculum for McGown teacher workshops. She went on to serve as a McGown certified instructor.

In the 47 years that Alma has been involved with rug hooking, she has attended most rug hooking schools and McGown Teacher Workshops on the east coast. “You name it and I have been there,” she notes. From 1976 to 1990 Alma attended the Country Inn Rug School in New Hampshire. Alma’s interest in teaching eventually led to establishing and directing rug hooking schools. She was the Co-Director of the Maryland Shores Rug School that she started with Janice Russell who lived in Maryland. Alma discontinued that role when she and her husband, Robert, started to spend six months of the year in Florida. While in Florida, Alma taught at the “Scrub Hooking School” in Sebring, Florida. “The name of the school came from the scrub lands in the area.” When Alma was back in Pennsylvania, she was a frequent instructor at the popular Highlands workshops before they were discontinued.

Alma had the benefit of learning from the “old timers” such as Betty McClentic, Vivily Powers and Ethel Bruce. Norma Batastini is a current favorite teacher.

She prefers to hook flowers and pictorials using mostly #3 cuts of wool. Alma has hooked with cuts as wide as #8 strips but clearly prefers to work with #3, 4, 5 and 6 cuts. She hooks at “every opportunity I have at home and with others.” Alma often sits in when Cherry Halliday teaches a class and hooks “in the corner.”

Alma “loves to dye, especially spot dyeing.” She says “name a dyeing method and I have tried it.” Nine years ago Alma moved into a retirement community and decided to stop dyeing wool fearing that the vinegar odor might offend her neighbors.

Over the years, Alma belonged to several guilds including the Bux-Mont Guild where she served as secretary for 10 years as well as a guild in Burlington County, NJ that started as an embroidery guild. Neither guild is active today. Alma hooks on Friday afternoon with friends from her Highland days. She is also a member of the Wool Whisperers ATHA Chapter. Alma learned about the Hunterdon Guild from Gail Dufresne at a McGown Northern Teachers Workshop.

Alma is a graduate of West Chester and Rutgers. She retired after 30 years as a Director of Guidance. Both Robert and Alma shared an interest in flying. While Robert was working on getting his commercial pilot’s license, Alma decided to learn too. “If I was going up in the air, I felt that I better know how to fly the plane so that I could get back down on the ground,” Alma says with a grin. She surprised Robert when she bought him a two seater Cessna 150. She notes that the plane was sold for a profit after Robert’s passing. “Planes appreciate in value unlike cars!”

In addition to rug hooking, Alma’s other interests include quilting, knitting and tatting. She also has a collection of Civil War era doll quilts and antique dolls. Fabric from the 1930s is another area of interest. As Alma reflects on her 47 years of rug hooking, she credits the creativity, learning and rewarding results flowing from rug hooking for her ongoing enthusiasm. She has never had interest in selling her rugs. Most of them are given to friends with the others used to decorate her home. “I do have 37 pillows and have now stopped making them!” She notes that she has “only sold one rug over the years.”

We are privileged to have Alma Coia as a HCRAG member!

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September 2016
Meet Featured Member – Barbara Lugg

Barbara Lugg was first featured in January 2007. Her story has been updated and is being shared anew.

The rugs hooked by Barbara Lugg have an ageless look that reflect the skills of someone who has been hooking for many years. She was attracted to hooked rugs when she first saw an old rug in an antique shop. While she was fascinated by the rug, it was not until 1997 that she began hooking. It was shortly after her husband passed away and Barbara felt the need to get involved with something that would be outside the house. She saw an ESC School flyer that mentioned an upcoming meeting of the Hunterdon County Rug Artisans Guild. She went to the meeting and was befriended by Helen Buchanan. The meeting was the last one before the summer break, so Helen invited Barbara to meet with the Everittstown Group. She soon learned the basics from Helen Buchanan and Hildegaard Von Tenspold who was also a Guild member.

Barbara “loves pictorials” and “prefers to hook things she knows about.” She works mainly with a #6 cut and uses both new and recycled wool. Her wool comes from local vendors and from the occasional class that she takes. Barbara has been involved with fiber arts most of her life. She “tried all the crafts at one time or another” and took art lessons when she was 12. That background equipped her to design her own rug patterns. Barbara rarely works with someone else’s patterns. While Barbara was not attracted to painting as such, she sees herself “painting with wool.” Her rug creations confirm that assessment.

Dyeing wool is something that Barbara does less than in the past. “There is so much wonderful new wool available that I am less inclined to dye today. What I know about dyeing wool, I learned along the way.” One year Helen Wolfel who was a perennial HCRAG rug school instructor conducted a class with the Everittstown Group. Bev Conway has been an influence too. Barbara studied with Bev for three years at Cape May. She looks forward to our Guild’s rug schools and has only missed one since becoming a member. Barbara’s rug school teachers have included Norma Batastini (multiple times), Jayne Hester, Kris Miller, and Cynthia Norwood. “I have learned from all of them,” she notes.

Many of Barbara’s rugs have a personal connection, so she has trouble giving them up. However, she has sold rugs that do not have the personal or family attachment. At one time Barbara hooked and sold flower pins and wonderful purses. In 2006 someone gave her a purse kit and she found it addictive. Her purses were knitted with various yarns, lined with silk and trimmed with beads. Barbara has hooked “memory rugs” for her family. She has a son (Rick who lives in Pennsylvania), two daughters (Kathy who lives in Maine and Suzanne in Flemington), eight grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Her memory rugs have a series of blocks, like a friendship rug, and are designed with the family. Each block relates to something special. For example, Barbara’s husband enjoyed watching red tail hawks fly over their home in Frenchtown. The block of a red tail hawk reminds them of him. The grandchildren have birth rugs and footstools hooked by their grandmother.

Barbara is proud to be one of the “Tiger Ladies” whose rugs were exhibited at The Nassau Club in Princeton, NJ in 2004. Her rug titled “Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright” was inspired by a poem by William Blake. It, along with the other rugs by the Tiger Ladies, appears in Jessie Turbayne’s book, Hooked on Rugs – Outstanding Contemporary Designs. Three of her rugs are featured in Modern Hooked Rugs by Linda Rae Coughlin. Barbara always submits rugs for the Guild’s display at the Hunterdon County 4-H & Agricultural Fair. They attract much attention and praise! Of all of the recognition Barbara has received, she is most proud of having her rug, “To Everything There is a Season,” selected in 2011 as one of two hooked rugs exhibited at the Baron Art Center’s show “In Memorium: A Creative Response to 9/11.”

Barbara has been a steady member of HCRAG from the time she joined in 1997 and is a member of the Hospitality Committee. She enjoys meeting the different members and talking about rug hooking. “There is a strong social element of being with people who have the same interests.” Barbara also draws inspiration from the work of the other members. The Guild is richer for having Barbara Lugg as a member.

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June 2016
Featured Member – Meet Our Secretary – Jane Anderson

Jane Anderson’s introduction to rug hooking started 30 years ago and was influenced by her husband’s family. She learned hooking from her mother-in-law, Marjorie “Marge” Anderson, who is a McGown certified instructor. Marge, in turn, learned from her mother, Mary Gilbert, who was also McGown certified. Interestingly, Marge who lives in Bethlehem, PA was an early HCRAG member around 1978-1980 at the invitation of Penny Waring Hayes who at the time was a Guild member and teacher instructing Marge on primitive style hooking. To complete the family story, Jane’s sister-in-law and Marge’s daughter, Anne Penkal, is also a hooker and just joined our Guild.

In 1987, Jane completed the beginner’s project given to her by her mother-in-law. She was then given a Patsy Becker floral design from Marge for her next project but job demands and starting a family prevented her from doing it. In fact rug hooking was put on the back burner until Jane retired in 2013. Not long after, Marge encouraged Jane to start hooking again. “I needed a break for a bit and was not ready to start any new activities,” Jane recalls. By September 2014, Jane responded to Marge’s encouragement and pulled out the Patsy Becker pattern that had been put away many years ago. The color planning had already been done with bags of wool strips neatly organized by Marge. After a few refresher lessons Jane was hooking again, though somewhat unenthusiastically taking at least five month to complete that piece.

All that changed with her next project – a mermaid pattern also given to her by her mother-in-law. This time Jane was more involved in the color planning and finding some of the wool herself. That seemed to make the process more engaging, plus Jane found the pattern to be truly delightful to work on, and as a result she finished that piece in little more than a month. Also with that rug her mother-in-law taught her marbling dye methods and Jane was surprised that she really enjoyed it. Jane has continued to learn many other dyeing techniques from Marge. “Dyeing is now one of my favorite aspects of hooking!”

Jane initially learned to hook with #6 cuts but quickly started incorporating #4 cuts too. “I prefer #4 cuts for specific design elements, combined with #6 cuts for background hooking.” When it comes to patterns, Jane really likes colorful, whimsical, pictorial patterns. “I find them the most fun to work on and when I am enjoying the pattern and color, I spend more time hooking.” Jane prefers to design her own patterns or to modify commercial ones. Her current pattern features a fairy and frog adapted from vintage illustrations.

With a McGown certified teacher in the family, Jane did not find it necessary to seek out other instructors initially. However, she did find Michele Micarelli’s recent Guild program to be an eye opener. “I was enthralled with her use of embellishments and have since worked something into each rug.” She also found Guild member demonstrations on various finishing techniques at the April meeting to be enlightening and is planning to try those methods on future rugs. Jane is looking forward to attending her first HCRAG Rug School in August and will be working with Nancy Jewett. “Learning new techniques helps keep hooking fresh and exciting.”

Initially, Jane started hooking with recycled clothing she found at thrift shops and wool from her mother-in-law’s stash. She increasingly hooks with new wool from Dorr Mills, Rebecca Erb and Jan Cole and is building a stash of her own, the expansion of which has led her to turning their guest bedroom into a hooking studio. “Keeping the wool organized and handy is a challenge!” She still enjoys visiting thrift shops looking for favorite colors.

“I find hooking to be relaxing and try to work on my rug every day. Otherwise I get cranky.” Jane jokes. “Early in the morning between 7:00 and 8:00 is my favorite time and again around late afternoon if I can fit it in.” If the weather is bad, or Jane has started a new exciting project, she sometimes will devote a large part of the day to hooking. She prefers to hook with natural light and with music in the background.

Jane started to look for rug hooking resources in the area when her mother-in-law mentioned that “There is a very active guild in Hunterdon County.” Jane found the HCRAG website and got in touch with Weezie and Therese who encouraged her to come to our September meeting. She recalls that “I walked in and had a very lost look on my face, I am sure. Barb Perry came right over and welcomed me to sit with her and Linda Reitz.” The warm welcome resulted in Jane joining the Guild and volunteering to serve as the Guild’s Secretary. She also hooks with the group that meets weekly at the Tewksbury Township Library in Oldwick, NJ.

Like many of our members, Jane grew up learning to sew from her mother, as well as embroidery, needle point and crocheting. She went on to “dabble” with other textile related activities such as quilting. Gardening, cooking and reading have always been other primary hobbies. Jane now devotes a lot of time on her rug hooking. “It is more than pulling loops. The process allows you to do so much more, if you want to – dyeing, designing, planning, and creating.”

Jane and her husband, Dave, live in Clinton Township, NJ with their two sons, Erik and Adam, and their rescue cat, Marbles. “Marbles loves to sit and watch me hook,” Jane notes. Dave is a chemical engineer with a major chemical manufacturer. Erik is a biomedical engineer at a medical device company. Adam is preparing for a career in restaurant management. Before retiring in 2013, Jane was a Marketing Director at Alcatel-Lucent, where she devoted 30 full-time years as it transformed from AT&T to Alcatel-Lucent working in various marketing and strategic planning roles.

When looking at how rug hooking now plays an important part in her daily life, Jane says: “I have my mother-in-law to thank and I am grateful to have her continued hooking instruction and advice. Our house was already filled with gorgeous rugs that she and her mother hooked, which my husband, Dave, and I have always cherished. I am thrilled that I can add to that family collection with my own hooked pieces now!”

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May 2016
Featured Member – Linda Reitz

In 1998 Linda along with a friend went to an exhibit of McAdoo hooked rugs that was held in Oldwick, NJ. She was so taken by the art form that she returned to the show for another look at the pictorial and animal rugs that really appealed to her. Her interest grew when she discovered many older hooked rugs in antique shops while on vacation in the Berkshires. That interest led Linda to sign up for a beginner’s workshop at a wool store in Pennington, NJ.

The workshop provided Linda with the basic know-how to begin her rug hooking journey. She bought several patterns but was soon creating her own rug designs. Other than the initial workshop, Linda is basically a self-taught hooking artisan. With the aid of books from her library, she continued to learn and refine her technique. Her only other formal instruction has been from Cyndy Duade at the Guild’s 2015 Rug School. Informally Linda benefits from the group of rug hookers who meet weekly at the Everittstown, NJ church. She has been part of the group for about six years. “I have learned a lot from them,” she notes. “If you have a problem, they help by remedying it.”

Linda prefers to hook mostly with #6 cuts and notes that she is a “high hooker.” “For some reason, I started pulling high loops right from the beginning.” She does not select projects based on a particular hooking style such as primitive or fine cut. For her, it is all about the pattern. Whimsical and pictorial patterns attract her, especially those by Nancy Jewett.

New and recycled wool are used. “I like to work with recycled wool, but it is harder and harder to find. I buy it when I see it,” Linda says. “I take advantage of being close to Dorr Mills and buy new wool during visits to my granddaughter who attends nearby Coby Sawyer College.” The recent dyeing program by Jan Cole motivated Linda to start dyeing some of her wool. She did some overdyeing of Door Mills wool before but is “now getting into it” and trying to match colors.

Linda is not intimidated by the prospect of designing her own rug patterns. In fact, she prefers to create her own designs or modify commercial patterns. She has completed three of her own designs in addition to modifying patterns from Sharon Smith. Linen is her preferred rug backing. Linda likes to hook each morning for at least an hour. She enjoys her morning cup of coffee while watching the news and pulling loops. Sunday afternoons are another favorite time to hook.

Our Guild was brought to Linda’s attention by an article in the local newspaper. She became good friends with deceased member Irene Pasternak who also introduced her to the Everittstown group. Two years ago Linda formed the Woolkeepers, a community hooking group that meets at the Tewksbury Township Library every Tuesday. (See article above on Informal Rug Hooking Groups.) Those attending include experienced as well as those new to rug hooking.

Linda was “a big quilter until rug hooking took over.” She finds rug hooking more relaxing and more forgiving than quilting. “It is easy to fix mistakes and I like what I can create with color,” she notes.

Linda and her husband, Ken, who is a retired home builder, live in Whitehouse Station, NJ along with their cat, Lola. Their daughters Leslie and Patti live in Ludlow, Vermont. Linda and Ken are avid gardeners and take care of a large organic garden. For many years they lived in a big house on a property known as Hollandbrook Farm. The 200 year old bank house on the property was rented to a couple on a long term basis. When the couple retired and moved away, Linda and Ken decided to sell the farm and move into the smaller house. Linda will soon be retiring from her part-time job at Rutgers University and looks forward to devoting more time to rug hooking and to skiing in Vermont with her family.

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April 2016
Featured Member – Sally Jagoe

Sally credits Barbara Boyko for introducing her to rug hooking in 2013. At the time they lived on the same road in Solebury Township, Bucks County. Sally noticed Barb’s name in an announcement about the new officers for the Lamb Yankees ATHA Chapter in the Bucks County Herald. When she congratulated her, Barb invited Sally “to come down and see what I am doing” and encouraged her to give it a try. Shortly thereafter, Sally registered for the Beginners’ Workshop held at the 2013 Hooked Rug Festival at Prallsville Mills. While waiting in line at the Mill, Sally met a woman from Canada and was impressed that someone would come all that distance to attend a hooked rug event. “I was all thumbs at the workshop,” she recalls “but Barb insisted that I find a pattern that I liked and work on that.” The next step was to join our Guild. Sally thought that she would have to pass a proficiency test first; Barb quickly removed that concern.

Attending the HCRAG Spring Fling in 2014, Sally added to her early rug hooking experiences by working with Betsy Reed (Heavens to Betsy). She continued to learn with Diane Stoffel who stayed with her during our 2015 Rug Hooking School. “I have benefited from the wonderful instructors who teach at our workshops. Of course, Barbara Boyko continues as my mentor and has been so influential in my progress.”

Sally likes the naive qualities of primitive rug patterns. “Many people think that primitive means easy, but that is not the case” she observes. “I look for patterns that ‘talk to me’ and always have a place in mind for the completed work.” Her current project is “Mrs. Rabbit,” a Sharon Smith pattern that is being hooked for the headboard in a guest bedroom.

When it comes to wool, Sally has gravitated to new wool. She tried recycled wool when she started but found that she was buying worsted wool that was too thin and did not hook well. “I then became focused on the rugs and now buy wool specifically for each project.” Sally buys most of her wool from workshop instructors and from Jan Cole.

Sally’s husband, Harvey, was a Naval Academy graduate (Jimmy Carter was a classmate!) who worked with companies that manufactured military equipment after he retired from the Navy. When he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Sally needed to spend time at home with him. She found that she could hook and be with him at home. After Harvey passed away in December 2013, Sally sold her home in Bucks County and moved to Stockton, NJ just across the road from Prallsville Mills. “I like being in a small town and being able to walk to the post office with Cole, my black standard poodle.”

In 1794 a general store was located in one of the front rooms of her new home. “We still refer to it as the general store instead of the living room,” Sally notes. A corner of the general store is where the hooking is done. “I like to keep the frame set up so that I can sit and hook when the mood sets in or I get inspired to try something.” Sally’s favorite frame was custom made by Joyce Combs’ husband, Skip.

Sally comes “from a family of knitters” and “loves living with old things.” Among her various collections are architectural artifacts such as transit windows that are creatively displayed. She also has a collection of samplers that are on display in one room. “I think they look better when hung all together rather than one here and one there. That way someone may be attracted to a piece and can walk over to look at it more closely.” Old oil lamps are another favorite collection. “We use them all the time,” she notes. There is new paraffin oil that burns without giving off smoke and fumes. “The lamps give such a warm glow to the room.” When she lived in Bucks County, Sally had a shop where she sold garden antiques, shade plants and a highly effective deer repellant that was in demand in Solebury Township. Over the years, Sally was active in community affairs, serving on the Solebury School Board, Planning Commission and the Historical Society. Her work outside the home always involved sales.

“What you can do with strips of wool when hooking is sheer magic and such a creative process; it is like painting with wool. I am fascinated to see how things happen,” Sally observes. She recalls that Harvey used to say that “it was important to associate with people who raise your horizons.” Sally has found that to be the case with members of our Guild. “They are so helpful; not competitive. It is like a sisterhood.” Sally has quickly become immersed with the Guild by attending workshops and demonstrating at local community events such as the Mercer County 4-H Fair at Howell Living Farm.

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March 2016
Featured Member - Brenda Smith

Brenda Smith has had a lifelong interest in fiber related, handcrafted work. Her mother taught her to sew when she was three and Brenda has quilted for years as well as knit, crocheted and done counted cross stitch. Her introduction to rug hooking came about in 2011 through supporting a teacher colleague who needed help. Brenda’s friend, who was an art teacher in the same school at which Brenda taught, wanted information on rug hooking for one of her classes and asked Brenda if she could attend “a Saturday thing” at Jeannine Happe’s Two Old Crows Studio to get information. Brenda went and left with a kit, hook and supplies.

Shortly after that brief introduction, Benda saw a press release on the 2011 ATHA Biennial in Lancaster and “went to check it out.”She recalls walking into the exhibit area and “being blown away!” To go from sitting with eight people working in Jeannine’s studio to the Biennial was “so cool.” The Biennial experience motivated Brenda to return to Jeannine’s open studio sessions where she befriended Eileen Koch, Donna Kolznak and Therese Shick. Naturally they all encouraged her “to check out our Guild.” However, Brenda was unable to attend our monthly meetings due to her work schedule.

Brenda loves color and was especially impressed by Cindy Irwin’s rugs with her embellishments that were exhibited at the Biennial. She likes to combine the simplicity of primitive patterns to which she was exposed at Two Old Crows with the bright colors she found in Cindy Irwin’s work. “I need color,” she exclaims. “Using what you have” was learned from her mother and applied to her rug hooking. “I like the make do end of it,” Brenda says.

Norma Batastini’s workshop on the color wheel at the Guild’s 2014 Spring Fling was an opportunity for Brenda to gain a more formal grounding in the use of color in rug hooking. It also provided an opportunity for her to be formally introduced to our Guild (She joined the Guild that weekend.). She left being highly motivated to take what she learned and apply it to her rug projects. A Michele Micarelli workshop at Historic Longstreet Farm in 2015 continued Brenda’s exposure to the exciting possibilities of what can be achieved with colored wool in her hooked rugs. The workshops with Norma and Michele have helped Brenda think about how best to use color in her rug design planning.

Brenda’s early projects were hooked with #4 and some #6 cuts. While she likes the detail that can be achieved with narrow cuts, she “wants to get things done” and now prefers to hook with larger cuts. Brenda “likes the recycled aspect” and is attracted to hooking with wool from garments she finds at local thrift stores. Brenda is always on the lookout for old clothing made with plaid and textured wool. “I like the challenge of working with what you have,” she notes. At the same time, she says “I am a sucker for dyed wool and use both old and new wool.”

Dyeing wool is something that Brenda has “played with.” Her fascination with color led to trying to dye with Kool Aid, but is finding that the colors are now fading. She recently found a dye kit at the Sheep and Wool Festival in Rheinbeck, NY and is checking to see if the results will be better. “I like to fool around and experiment, but it is nice to be able to go back to a vendor to get more of the same wool if you need it.”

Moving forward, Brenda wants to design more of her own rug patterns. She has already designed two “sentimental pieces” for her father and husband. “It is nice to give a hooked rug to someone who appreciates the handwork.” Brenda likes rugs with stories behind them and says “they are more than just decorative.” She hopes to find a workshop on drawing patterns with meaning.

Brenda tries to “do a little hooking every day.” Her frame is always up! She even has a hooking frame in her “retirement home” in Virginia where there is a basic project ready to work on. Brenda “likes making stuff.” She often thinks about the difference between an artist and a craftsperson. She does not consider herself an artist but does see “meaning” in the rugs she creates. The rugs that she gives to friends “add something.” She is proud that a rug she gave to her father hangs in his workshop.

Brenda and her husband, Glenn, live in Oak Ridge, NJ along with their dog Smitty, a Rat Terrier, and their cat, Pierce. Glenn is a professional firefighter in Teaneck, NJ and looks forward to retiring this year. Their son, Benjamin, lives in Virginia with his finance Sahra. Brenda retired from teaching last September. Her last teaching position was at Montville High School. Her teaching certification is for Family and Consumer Science.

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February 2016
Featured Member - Helen Trammell

For Helen Trammell her introduction to rug hooking came at a low point in her life in mid-2015. She had recently lost her husband, Bob, to cancer and was recovering from breast cancer herself. Without any advance planning Helen was drawn to an exhibit of hooked rugs at the Art Center in her hometown of Daphne, Alabama. As she viewed the exhibit, Helen “felt a flutter of happiness and a feeling of coming back to life.” “I was entranced, stunned, enthralled, and amazed,” she recalls.

Stepping back in time, Helen and Bob met late in life after each of them had an unpleasant previous marriage. Helen is convinced that “the hand of God brought them together.” They knew each other for five years, but Helen was reluctant to remarry until a medical emergency changed everything. In early August, 2008 Bob was taken to the emergency room at Emory University Hospital with what at first appeared to be stress related issues. However, by mid-month Bob was diagnosed with dual lobe cancer. On August 14, 2008 Helen and Bob were married! “We honeymooned in the hospital,” Helen jokes. Fourteen rounds of one week hospital stay chemo-therapies followed with one year to recover. Bob was an artist and musician and soon was painting and playing the piano at nursing homes and other places around town. “He was an amazing example for me to live my life,” Helen says proudly. Bob passed away January 10, 2015. Three months later Helen underwent cancer surgery. Shortly thereafter, Helen walked into the Daphne Art Center and was introduced to the world of rug hooking.

Following her surgery, Helen traveled to Annandale, NJ to be with her daughter, Rebecca, while she was recovering from surgery and radiation treatments. She returned to Alabama for a brief period and returned to New Jersey in October 2015 where she continued to slowly recover and regain her strength. The 2015 Hooked Rug Festival took place before Helen was resituated, but knowing of it motivated her to go on line to learn of rug hooking resources in the area. She found our Guild’s website and contacted Weezie who invited Helen to attend our December meeting. Helen was unable to drive so she took a cab from Annandale to Flemington! “I was excited and delighted to find rug hookers and was nervous too,” she remembers. In addition to our traditional holiday luncheon, the December meeting also featured a mini auction of wool that had been donated to the Guild. Helen jumped right in and began to build her stash by actively bidding for the wool that Weezie had washed and organized in appealing bundles.

Separately, Weezie invited Helen to an informal day of hooking with several Guild members in the area. “I am still learning the names of Guild members, but I remember Cindy Boults and Sharon Ballard and how welcoming they were. I felt wrapped in a warm blanket of friendship and I needed it.

Weezie has been so gracious and got me started with my first project – a Hunterdon Heart.”

Even though Helen is still working on her very first hooking project, she is already being attracted to pictorial rugs. “I love the ones that tell stories,” she says. “Michele Micarelli’s rugs are stunning and traditional rugs are beautiful. I like the ones that are childlike with joy and laughter.” Helen’s sisters are artistically inclined, so Helen says “It’s in me.” She is already planning in her head future rug designs that will be abstract and incorporate images to remind her of Bob such as piano keys and artist’s brushes.

Attending the Guild’s January Hooking Retreat had special significance for Helen. The date of the retreat fell on the one year anniversary of Bob’s passing. It helped being with new friends “who have been so gracious and supportive.”

Helen’s plans are to return to Alabama to sell or lease her home and then come back to New Jersey to live with Rebecca and her granddaughter, Kara. Rebecca is purchasing a new home that will provide more room for everyone including space for Helen’s hooking activities.

Helen’s mother owned a hotel and restaurant in Fort Morgan, Alabama where Helen was introduced to the world of hard work before becoming, later in life, a Realtor for 30 years. She now looks forward to enjoying time with Rebecca and Kara and her rug hooking friends. “I feel more centered and grounded with a sense of wellbeing than I have in a long time.”

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Janurary 2016
Featured Member - Kathy Kane

Kathy has always liked to work with her hands and is attracted to textiles in general. She made baskets for a while but was not familiar with rug hooking until she attended the 2013 Hooked Rug Festival at Prallsville Mills. She was taking a local tour and went into the Mill where she met Weezie Huntington. Weezie enthusiastically showed her how to pull loops. Kathy went home thinking she knew what to do but soon realized that she “could not do it.”

Shortly thereafter Kathy saw an announcement in the paper about the Guild’s workshop for beginners that was offered at our 2014 Rug Hooking School. The newspaper failed to include information about the need to register for the workshop. When Kathy arrived for the workshop, she learned that it was full and that preregistration was needed. However, she was invited to observe the activities of the regular rug hooking school workshops taking place. Kathy spent considerable time observing the three workshops and found everyone very helpful and welcoming. She was able to attend the Guild’s next workshop that was conducted by Cheryl Halliday. “Hooking got to me and I wanted to continue,” Kathy recalls. At that point she still lacked the basic tools and knowledge as to where to buy them. Joining the Guild solved that problem!

Kathy is still developing her hooking style but clearly says that “I am not a color in the lines hooker. I always work outside the box.” She is drawn to including three dimensional elements into her projects. “You can say I am a 3-D primitive hooker,” she jokes. Kathy currently hooks with recycled wool but will buy bright colored wool when a spark of color is needed. She has not yet tackled wool dyeing. “It intimidates me. I need to see it done first.”

Kathy had the opportunity to attend the Guild’s 2015 Rug Hooking School where she studied with Michele Micarelli. “It was a wonderful experience. Michele is my kind of person,” she exclaims. Kathy credits Guild members as well as the teachers she has had for helping her learn the fundamentals of rug hooking. “I am open to and learn from constructive criticism,” she notes.

When it comes to a preferred hooking style, Cyndy “loves it all.” Her natural tendency is being a “realist” but has “fun exploring many styles.” She always has multiple hooking projects underway with various motifs and styles. She needs to keep a balance between the hooking she does for personal enjoyment and the hooking needed for teaching and her classes. “There are tons of things I want to hook, but often need the time to prepare for class.” Cyndy develops her own patterns and enjoys helping her students design their own too. “It starts with helping them ascertain what they are trying to do with a pattern or color plan.”

Kathy lives in Asbury, NJ with her son, Shawn. She unexpectedly lost her husband last June while at the Jersey Shore. Her older son, Joseph, lives in Easton, PA. Kathy has three dogs – Buster (Boxer), Callee (Shar Pei Mix), Henny (Boston Terrier Mix) – and a three legged Siamese cat named Kittles. They are all rescue animals. Kathy retired after 14 years working in patient care with state psychiatric hospitals. A workplace injury resulted in taking early retirement.

Kathy attributes the Guild with “saving me from the ordeal of losing my husband.” She points out that “A Guild member generously and anonymously paid for me to attend rug school. Everyone is tightlipped about it. I cannot find out who paid. The Guild is awesome. I feel comfortable and feel that I fit.”

Our Guild has benefited by Kathy’s involvement. She is giving back by joining our members who demonstrate rug hooking at local festivals and 4-H Fairs. Kathy has a natural flair and warmth that comes out when she is interacting with the public.

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December 2015
Featured Member – Cyndy Duade

Cyndy Duade is an admired rug hooking instructor especially by those who have an interest in learning the nuances of dyeing wool. Her journey from being a novice to a respected professional began in the 1990s when Cyndy returned to a town in Massachusetts where she had lived 25 years before and where she had maintained friendships. A friend invited her to her home where Cyndy saw others hooking rugs and “fell in love” with hooked rugs. She went home and immediately designed a pattern, even though she did not have any equipment or supplies needed. Cyndy was not deterred when she learned that the group was “not taking new members.” “I don’t care. I can learn this!” she declared and along with her friend, Sandy, found a store (one and a half hours away) where they bought dyeing equipment and the other supplies needed to begin hooking. “I was determined to learn,” Cyndy recalls. A year later she received a list of the hooking group’s members and saw her name on it. “I guess I am in,” she chuckled to herself. A few years later she was invited by the group to teach a workshop!

Cyndy started to hook with her friend, Sandy, and is basically self-taught. At that time, Rug Hooking Magazine had instructional pages at the end of each issue. With the magazine and a dye book she purchased, Cyndy had all she needed to begin the process of becoming an accomplished rug hooker and instructor. Her desire to make color was there from the beginning. Cyndy recalls that she and Sandy would have wool dyeing days focused on a specific color. On “green day,” they would see what could be achieved with dyeing wool in various shades of green.

Cyndy moved a lot in her life due to the job requirements of her father and then her husband, Russ. At one point she moved back to Cincinnati and remembers going to an exercise class where she saw a partially completed rug in a woman’s bag and learned that the woman was going to a guild meeting above the gym. She followed her to find 30 people hooking rugs! She still maintains friendships with some of those rug hookers.

The desire to improve and to know more compelled Cyndy to seek out other instructors. Since there were no teachers in the Cincinnati area, she attended rug schools in New York State. It was there she met Helen Connelly on Long island. “She was just brilliant and we became good friends,” Cyndy notes. “She taught me a lot about dyeing wool, often during long phone conversations and occasional visits. Helen was truly my mentor.” Sally Ballinger and Betty McClintic were also early teachers. The need to learn more led her to attend her first McGowan Teachers’ Workshop with Helen’s sponsorship. Attendance at other workshops and schools continued Cyndy’s pattern of ongoing learning. Today as an instructor, she notes that “I learn from my students.”

When it comes to a preferred hooking style, Cyndy “loves it all.” Her natural tendency is being a “realist” but has “fun exploring many styles.” She always has multiple hooking projects underway with various motifs and styles. She needs to keep a balance between the hooking she does for personal enjoyment and the hooking needed for teaching and her classes. “There are tons of things I want to hook, but often need the time to prepare for class.” Cyndy develops her own patterns and enjoys helping her students design their own too. “It starts with helping them ascertain what they are trying to do with a pattern or color plan.”

Our Guild was brought to Cyndy’s attention through a family connection – Cindy Boults and her husband, George, who is Cyndy’s first cousin. When Cindy lived on Long Island, Cyndy taught her to hook during frequent visits. Then George and Cindy moved to New Jersey. After a visit which included a HCRAG Guild meeting, Cyndy decided that Cindy had found “rug hooking heaven.” She subsequently joined Cindy, Sharon Ballard and Margaret Lutz in informal hooking gatherings when she was visiting in New Jersey. Cyndy has shared her expertise with us as an instructor for a Spring Fling Weekend and for our 2015 Hooking School.

It is Cyndy’s nature to be a teacher. “Teaching comes naturally to me,” she observes and points to her experience as a YMCA Program Director, health fitness instructor at Springfield College and hospital wellness programs. After attending her first McGowan Teachers’ Workshop in 2003, Cyndy continued and became McGowan certified. Her early rug hooking teaching experience started while she was living in Ohio and developed a dye workshop for the local guild and workshops for the Dayton ATHA Chapter. Cyndy now conducts open studio sessions on Monday afternoon and Tuesday night (for those who work during the day). She has a pot of soup on the stove so students can come straight from work. The ages of her students range from 23 to 86! Cyndy credits Claire de Roos who developed the early Prism Dye books for giving her “my first break.” Claire arranged for Cyndy to teach a winter Teachers’ Workshop. She returned to conduct a hooking retreat. Invitations to teach at guilds and other workshops soon followed. “I love the teaching challenge,” she beams.

Gardening and flower arranging have always been among Cyndy’s avocations. She worked for the Horticulture Society while living in Cincinnati which she discovered stimulated her artistically. She also enjoys cross country skiing and looks forward to an annual skiing and rug hooking week in Waterville Valley, NH. Cyndy and Russ live in New London, New Hampshire. Russ is a retired regional sales vice president for a large insurance company and is a beekeeper. Their daughter, Cheryl, lives in East Granby while her son, Jeremy, lives with Cyndy and Russ while he is a student at Colby Sawyer. They all proudly note that he is an “A” student.

As Cyndy reflects on her rug hooking journey, she recognizes that part of the attraction has been the “opportunity to paint with fabric” more so than she found in her earlier embroidery and crewel yarn work. The ability to create and design with fabric and to help others has been a major driving force in her professional development. “I love being a student too,” Cyndy notes. “I tell my students you never stop learning. Take lots of teachers and try as many things as possible.”

Today rug hooking is increasingly seen as an art form and some rug hookers refer to themselves as fiber artists to reinforce the distinction between art and craft. Cyndy points out that “the word craft comes from the 18th Century when craftsmen were highly respected artisans in the community and the Guild system produced the finest craftsmen.”

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November 2015
Featured Member – Susan Johnson

Sue Johnson has had a longtime interest in antiques and all things old. She was the co-owner of an antiques shop and it was there she learned about hooked rugs. One day in 2006 the subject came up in a conversation with one of her customers. Sue mentioned that “I would love to learn how to do that.” Her customer, Beverly Karcher, was a local rug hooking instructor who said “If you are serious, I can teach you.” Sue went to her studio in Watchung and was able to get three lessons in before Beverly left for the New Jersey shore for the summer.

With the basics under her belt, Sue started to work on her initial projects. Shortly after returning from the shore, Beverly introduced Susan to the Alice Beatty ATHA Chapter (ABC). Sue recalls, “I had lots of questions and they all took me under their wing. Everything I learned was from my ATHA friends.” Alice Beatty had already passed away at the time Sue became involved with the Chapter,so she did not have an opportunity to learn from her.

The next step in developing her hooking techniques involved going to local and regional camps. Sue’s first camp was Cape May where she worked with Judy Quintman. McGowan and HCRAG camps followed. This summer Sue went to New Hampshire for Arline Bechtoldt-Apgar’s McGowan’s workshop and also worked with Diane Stoffel at our school. Susan feels fortunate to have had the chance to work with many of today’s most admired teachers including Betty McClintic, Sarah Guiliani, Norma Batastini, Jayne Hester, Diane Stoffel, and Judy Quintman. “I learned from them all.” Judy was her first formal teacher and most influential. “I was so green and had a zillion questions. Judy answered them all. She helped so much.”

Sue prefers to hook primitive style rugs. “I like rugs to look as old as possible,” she notes. She recalls seeing old rugs at an antiques show and immediately being able to “see them in my home.” Sue hooks primarily with new wool, but does occasionally pick up recycled clothing at rummage sales. “I go nuts over Rebecca Erb’s wool and love the wool from Jan Cole and Betsy Reed. I did a lot of damage with Kris Miller’s wool at camp this summer.”

At this point Sue relies on commercially available patterns that she finds at hook-ins, workshops, and “wherever I happen to be.” However, she is collecting ideas for when she is ready to design her own patterns. Kathy Donovan did help Sue design a pattern for a wedding present rug for her daughter.

Hooking in the evening works best for Sue. She likes to settle in her finished basement and wind down by hooking for a couple of hours. The hooking she does at home is augmented by hooking with a group that meets at Midland Park on the second Saturday and the “Monday Group” that meets at the Berkeley Heights Library on the first and third Monday. Hooking is available after her monthly Alice Beatty Chapter meetings.

Kathy Donovan and Janet Santaniello introduced Susan to our Guild and encouraged her to join. She looks forward to getting more involved after her term as President of ABC concludes.

In addition to rug hooking, Sue “has a passion for antiquing” and loves going to estate sales looking for treasures. Her collections include redware, yellow ware, pewter, baskets, and butter molds. This past summer Sue and a friend from Chicago decided to fulfill a long term wish and an item on her “bucket list.” They met in Austin, Texas and rented a car to drive to Round Top, Texas for what is advertised as the largest flea market in the county. The market started in the 1940s and now runs 28 miles along the highway! “Old furniture is my all-time favorite and we saw lots of it but could not get it back home easily.”

Sue was born and raised in Altoona, PA. She joined United Airlines as a stewardess in the mid-1960s and flew from the New York City area airports. “The New York Jets were on my first flight and I met Joe Namath,” Sue recalls with a grin. She now lives in Berkley Heights, NJ with her husband, Alex, who is a retired stockbroker and their two dogs –Lilly (a Jack Russell) and Daisy (a Border Collie/Chow mix). They have two daughters – Britt and Michele. Britt lives in Warwick, N.Y. with her husband, Adam, and their four children – Drew, Charlotte, Emmerson and Abel. Adam is a chef, but the couple also own several small and diverse businesses including a restaurant, pool hall, old fashion candy store and a Philly Cheese Steak food truck! Michele and her husband Brad live in Warwick, NJ also. Michele manages a Spa at Mountain Creek, N.J., while Brad works for a large media company in New York.

Sue just retired from being a Dental Assistant after 25 years, and now has more time to hook and have fun

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October 2015
Featured Member – Carmen Mebus

Carmen Mebus grew up on a Nebraska farm in a small town of 400 people where she learned the importance of family and the value of handwork. Years later after she had relocated to the east coast those values continued to be important to her. Interestingly, it was at an annual family gathering on Long Island about 14 years ago where she was exposed to rug hooking for the first time. Her aunt, Eleanor Dunker, came to the “family feast with all her rug hooking stuff” and showed Carmen how to pull loops.

When she returned home Carmen relied on Eleanor for continuing advice. “We communicate well with each other,” Carmen observes “and use the phone and email all the time when I need rug hooking help.” Since there are few rug hooking resources close by, Carmen went on line and bought kits and wool. She found a woman in Nebraska who sold wool and also cut it into strips for her for $1.00! “She cut piles and piles of wool for me,” Carmen says with a smile. She also cuts wool when visiting Gail Dufresne’s Studio during trips to the area. “Gail allowed me to use one of her mega cutters. After 14 years, I finally bought a cutter last year,” Carmen jokes.

With limited instructors in her area, Carmen has taken very few lessons. She relied on Rug Hooking Magazine and the ATHA Newsletter which she “read from cover to cover and kept them for future reference.” Carmen attended her first rug school when she came to the HCRAG camp last year and worked with Carrie Martin. She subsequently journeyed to a Barb Carroll workshop in Ligonier, PA with Eleanor. “I loved it and learned so much. I signed up for next year.” This year Carmen returned to the HCRAG August Rug Hooking School and worked with Kris Miller. She also attended a “mini class” on shading with Cyndy Duade in Vermont last fall. “I always have a goal in mind when attending workshops,” Carmen observes. “I wanted to learn how to hook with roving from Kris Miller and how to hook letters when I worked with Carrie Martin.”

Carmen hooks with new wool; most of it used “as is.” While some of her wool is over- dyed, she has limited interest in dyeing her own wool. “Perhaps, this is something I will do in the future, but not now,” Carmen says. Gail Dufresne is a favorite source for her wool. “I buy hordes of it when I am in New Jersey.” She continues to buy wool from her Nebraska source when she is home.

“I prefer to work on commercially available rug patterns and rely on several sources for them,” Carmen says. “I always seem to second guess my wool selection in color planning my rugs and like to rely on the suggestions made by the instructors with whom I have worked. Kris Miller was a big help to me this last summer and Barb Carroll helped me work out the color plan for a Deanna Fitzpatrick pattern. Of course, Gail Dufresne is always so helpful.”

When it comes to her hooking style, Carmen is clear – “absolutely primitive, anything colonial, especially chickens!” She prefers to hook with #8 cuts, although she says “I am starting to look at patterns calling for narrower cuts.”

The amount of time Carmen can devote to hooking ebbs and flows. “For a while it was a fall and winter sport for me,” she notes. Hooking camps tends to rejuvenate her and she returns home and hooks a lot more regularly. Carmen has a large upstairs room that is a combination study room for her daughter and a place where she can retreat to work on her current rug. “The lighting is poor in our TV room, so I prefer to go to the Study. I can close the door and relax; it is like meditation.” Carmen often puts dinner in the oven and retreats to the Study and hooks for 45 minutes or so. She puts the phone on speaker mode and talks with an elderly aunt back in Nebraska while she hooks. Darby, her Cocker Spaniel, sits by her side.

Doing handwork was something Carmen has done all her life. She has always liked to do crafts. Here too, Eleanor has been an influence. Knitting, cross-stitch and decorating place cards were activities that were done when the family gathered for Thanksgiving. Her grandmother always crocheted and sewed. “We have her samplers all over the house. To me, it all means family,” Carmen reflects.

Carmen and her husband, Chuck, live in East Lyme, Connecticut along with their youngest daughter, Paige, and their dog, Darby. Chuck works for a major pharmaceutical company and prepares the material submitted with drugs for FDA approval. In addition to Paige, who is in graduate school preparing to be a radiologist, Carmen and Chuck have two other daughters – Alissa and Rachael. Alissa lives in Milford, CT and is a marketing specialist for a wealth management company. Rachael lives in West Hartford, CT and is a neuro-trauma nurse practitioner.

Hooking rugs provides Carmen with a link to her past. “I don’t live on a farm any more, but my heart is in family and my home. Rug hooking keeps me close to my roots. It is fun to share hooking experiences with Eleanor and to create objects that can be used in my home. I also enjoy the social element of being with other rug hookers.”

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September 2015
Featured Member — Chris Coslet

The New York State Sheep & Fiber Festival held at Rhinebeck, NY attracted Chris Coslet for many years. Betsy Reed (Heavens to Betsy) was one of her favorite demonstrators. Chirs CosletChris would always stop to admire Betsy’s hooked rugs but always claimed that she “did not need another hobby” when the suggestion of learning how to hook rugs came up. Chris was an avid knitter and was not looking for another activity. When Chris’ mother died in August, 2013, she started to think of finding a hobby that she and her sisters, Janet and Linda, could do together.

The next time they saw Betsy at Rhinebeck, she showed Chris how to pull loops. Chris bought a basic kit. Linda and Chris started to learn rug hooking, but Janet never got into it. Chris continued to learn more about rug hooking by watching YouTube videos. She shortly heard of Jeannine Happe and her Two Old Crows rug hooking studio and became a regular at her Saturday open studio sessions where she honed her skills. Jeannine became her mentor and most influential to Chris’ development as a rug hooking artisan.

Chris prefers to hook with #6 cuts. She tried to hook with #8 cuts of wool but found it painful on her hand when pulling the wider strips. Fred Cole did suggest another way to hold her hook that reduced the stress; however, her preferred width remains a #6 cut. Chris does not have a fixed hooking style; she enjoys hooking with various techniques.

When it comes to finding her wool, Chris goes back to those who helped her get started – Betsy Reed and Jeannine Happe. Chirs CosletThe internet is another source for her. Chris tends to work with commercially available patterns although Jeannine was helpful in taking a rug idea from Chris and designing rug patterns for her.

Not long ago Chris and Linda ventured into the world of wool dyeing. They had been collecting and reading books on the subject and picking up assorted pots and dyes. They spent a day dyeing wool for a project. Chris notes that “The results were ok. Not exactly what we wanted, but ok. We will try it again.”

When Chris “is into a project,” she will hook for hours at a time. Chirs CosletShe is normally up at 5:30 a.m. and will hook for an hour or two before leaving for work. It is not unusual for her to go back to her rug after dinner for three hours or more. Lately she has been spending more time spinning wool which is another of her avocations. Chris tries to attend the Guild’s annual hooking retreat in January. She also hooks with the group that meets at the Midland Park Library each month.

Our Guild came to Chris’ attention one day when she was on line looking for local sources for rug patterns. She found our website and was sufficiently impressed to take a vacation day so that she could attend our next meeting. While she is not able to attend many meetings because of her work, Chris believes “the cost of membership is worth it just to keep the art form alive.” She currently serves as the Guild’s Special Events Chair.

Like other Guild members, Chris is attracted to fiber arts and has “always been making things.” Knitting and crocheting are long time interests of hers. More recently, Chris has taken up spinning wool – first drop spindle and more recently wheel spinning. The wool she spins is used in her knitting. When it comes to rug hooking, Chris finds its primitive northern New England origins appealing. Chirs CosletShe likes how rug hooking got started. “It’s an old art form and I am pleased to play a role in keeping it going.”

Chris and her husband, Chuck, live in Ringwood, NJ with their four dogs (Gotti – Italian Greyhound, Johnnie -- Greyhound, Mack -- Bulldog, and Odie – Mini Pinscher) and three birds (Cockatoo, Amazon Parrot and Lovebird). Chris and Chuck owned and operated a pet supply store for 10 years until he became ill last March. He is undergoing dialysis and on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. Chris is currently working for a medical device company in human resources. Previously she worked in finance.

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June 2015
Featured Member — Sara Gerding

Sarah recalls inheriting hooked rugs from her grandmother. She thinks that they were made in the 1930s or 40s or possibly earlier. The rugs were dark and appear to have included silk stockings that were hooked along with other fabrics. Sarah liked the idea of recycling old clothing, an interest that continued when she started hooking herself in early 2000.

At the time, Sarah lived in West Chester and a friend introduced her to the Brandywine Rug Hooking Guild. She was impressed with the beauty of the rugs she saw and soon purchased a kit. Sarah GerdingMembers of the guild showed Sarah how to pull loops. Her mother discovered the hook used by Sarah’s grandmother, but Sarah found it too bulky to use. Sarah’s work and other responsibilities restricted the time she could devote to hooking. When her mother needed to move to an assisted living facility, Sarah returned to Bucks County to live in the old farmhouse where she grew up. This was before the first Hooked Rug Festival at Prallsville Mills which she attended. The Festival sparked a renewed interest in rug hooking! While at the Festival, Sarah met Cindy Boults and Therese Shick who provided additional information, instruction and encouragement.

Sarah is attracted to primitive style rugs. “I do not have the patience needed for narrow cut hooking,” she notes. She also prefers to hook with recycled “as is” wool. “I have a closet full of wool clothing from my college days and from my mother that I can’t wait to use. I have not yet tackled dyeing my wool. That will come in time.” After completing two small kits, Sarah decided to design a geometric pattern on a piece of burlap backing that she had. She jokingly confesses that “I decided to do a geometric log cabin pattern because hooking straight lines is easier than curves. I am working my way up to hooking curves!” Her favorite colors are vibrant. “I am attracted to bright colors,” she observes.

At one of our meetings Sarah won a basket of wool as a raffle prize. The wool was an incentive for her to do more hooking during the winter evenings. She has difficulty hooking on a regular basis during the summer. Sarah has several ideas for her next rug. One idea is to develop a pattern representing paper cutouts of “A-line skirts” like she wore in college. She also has a collection of flower pictures that will make their way into a rug pattern at some point.

After attending the 2013 Hooked Rug Festival, Sarah investigated whether there were any hooking guilds in the Doylestown area and learned that our Guild was the nearest one to her. She attended our meeting that followed the Festival. The Festival debriefing helped her appreciate the organization and work involved in putting on such an event. Sarah was also impressed by the show and tell rugs brought by members. She joined the Guild and soon found support that a new rug hooker needs. Sarah notes “My mentor, Lydia Lewis, has been very helpful to me answering questions, critiquing my work, recommending a frame and providing books to inspire me.”

Sarah has always had a strong interest in foreign languages. She studied Latin, French, and Russian in high school and majored in Russian at the University of Pittsburgh. After graduation, Sarah received a scholarship to study in St. Petersburg, Russia. She subsequently received a master’s degree in elementary education from Emory University and was certified for teaching gifted children in Georgia. She set up and ran a gifted program for grades 2-8 in a district in New Jersey and eventually started teaching in Upper Dublin, PA. “My passion was taking kids beyond the class room experience,” Sarah reflects. She retired from teaching in 2012.

She loves reading, swimming, gardening, sewing, restoring old houses, and observing the many animals that live on the land and is an advocate for animal rights. Sarah and her three rescue cats – Fancy, Harry and Beau – live in Chalfont, Bucks County in the farm house in which she was raised.

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May 2015
Featured Member — Eileen Koch

Eileen who lives in the Poconos Region of Pennsylvania has always been fascinated with people who make things. In early 2008 she spotted a postcard showing bolts of colorful wool in her favorite autumn colors at a local yarn shop. The postcard was an advertising piece for Jeannine Happe’s Two Eileen KochOld Crows rug hooking shop/studio. It was not long after a call to Jeannine that Eileen was a regular attendee at the open studio sessions held at Two Old Crows. Guild members Kathleen Murray-Boyda, Donna Kolzak, Patty Mahaffey, Nancy Sears and Therese Shick also attended the open studio sessions. Eileen found the gatherings inspiring, stimulating and relaxing. Participants brought food to share and projects to work on. She was exposed to a variety of hooking styles, which continues to influence her evolving rug hooking style.

“I am eclectic in everything I do. To me it is all a learning experience,” she notes. Eileen started hooking in the primitive style but her exposure to the work done by others helped her see and appreciate other styles. Attending local hook-ins allowed her to see the work others were doing which in turn inspired and motivated Eileen to expand her technique.

The next phase in her development was to attend local and regional workshops and camps. “We are lucky to be in an area that attracts some of the best instructors around and I have been able to take advantage of those opportunities.” Eileen’s instructors have included Nancy Blood – fine cut (Cape Cod), Jen Lavoie (Rugs by the Sea), Kris Miller (Lamb Yankees Workshop), Betsy Reed (HCRAG Spring Fling), and Margaret Wanger (Rugs by the Sea). She will be attending Rugs by the Sea again this year and working with Diane Stoffel. The HCRAG Camp with Michele Micarelli is also on the calendar. “It is difficult to pick one instructor who has been most influential. I have learned from all of them. They have helped open my eyes. I see more color than before,” Eileen observes. “However, I will say that Therese Shick has been extremely influential. Watching her work and seeing the wonderful rugs she creates is amazing. And she is so humble about it.”Eileen Koch

“Initially I found signing up for workshops to be nerve wracking and feared that I was getting in over my head, but approached them as a growing experience,” Eileen recalls, “Knowing that friends would also attending made it easier the first time she travelled to Cape May for Rugs by the Sea. “It was a nice change of atmosphere and a great old B & B.”
Eileen has taken a wool dyeing class with Jeannine Happe and participated in Jen Lavoie’s “painted wool” exercise. She also had a fun day at Nancy Sears’ home dyeing wool. However, for now she prefers to buy the wool she needs for her rugs and to devote her time to hooking. “I am not ready to get into a lot of dyeing.”

Developing her own patterns is something that is beginning to attract her attention. In the past, Eileen has purchased her patterns and has accumulated quite a few along with a growing wool stash. Most of the wool was bought without a specific pattern in mind. As Eileen sees herself growing as a rug hooking artisan, designing her own patterns is something she wants to do in the future.

Finding time to hook on a regular basis is a challenge for Eileen considering family obligations (a new grandchild is expected any time) and her busy schedule. She does hook with Guild friends and has attempted to hook at least an hour each night. “I need to get back to that,” she exclaims.
“I am a seasonal hooker. By that I mean, I hook Easter Bunnies at Easter time and Santas in the winter.”

With all the HCRAG members Eileen met at the Two Old Crows, it did not take long for her to attend HCRAG meeting and to become a member. She does have a long trip from her home in Stroudsburg, PA to Flemington, but that has not kept Eileen from attending most Guild meetings. She participates at our local demonstrations and was at the Hooked Rug Festival for three days.

When Eileen is not hooking, she knits with a group of “professional knitters” who complete projects and test patterns for yarn companies. She was also a quilter in the past. “I am very visual and attracted to patterns and colors.”

Eileen retired in 2010 after 35 years as a physical education teacher at East Stroudsburg High School. She also served as assistant field hockey coach and head coach for gymnastics and track & field. Eileen taught girls to knit items for charities as part of the “Craft for Kindness” program at the high school. Eileen’s son, James, lives in a historic house in Salem, Massachusetts with his wife, Sarah, and their daughter Eloise, age 2. Another baby girl is due any day!

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April 2015
Featured Member — Roberta Smith

Roberta Smith relocated to Vermont several years ago but still retains ties with HCRAG friends and returns to the area for hooking events including recent Guild summer camps. She had been exposed to R Smithhooked rugs at home because her mother had owned several hooked rugs and completed one herself. However, Roberta’s real interest in rug hooking was triggered in 1996 when she attended an art show at the Medical Center at Princeton with Guild member Peggie Cunningham. (Peggie now lives in Gore, VA but also retains her Guild membership.) Rugs hooked by Margaret Lutz were featured at the show and caught Roberta’s attention.

After the show Peggie took Roberta to Margaret’s home/studio where she was introduced to the basics of rug hooking. They left with a pattern, backing and a supply of wool. Peggie helped Roberta get started and brought her along to a group of hookers who met at the Pennington Library each month. Some of that group of rug hookers also met weekly in the homes of its members. At the time it was simply known as “The Thursday Group.” After learning of the group and the dynamics of their gatherings, Roberta’s husband, Steve, jokingly suggested that they name themselves “Hooksome & Chatmore” saying that the name sounded like an upscale law firm. The name stuck and the group continues to meet weekly.

R SmithWhen it comes to hooking widths, Roberta hooks with anything from a #3 cut to selvage edges; her preference is hooking in the primitive style with # 6 -#8 cuts. She hooks primarily with recycled wool but does buy new wool on occasion. Roberta continues to learn by attending a camp or workshop each year and by actively participating in local rug hooking events. Living in Vermont, Roberta is in the middle of “rug hooking country” with many opportunities to be involved with gatherings of groups associated with the Northeast Kingdom Rug Hooking Guild. Over the years Roberta has been exposed to some of the best instructors such as Gail Dufresne, Helen Wolfel, Elizabeth Black and Jayne Hester. Helen Wolfel was a favorite HCRAG camp instructor before she retired from the “camp circuit.” Interestingly, Helen is also a member of the NEKRHG and GMRHG, the groups with which Roberta hooks.

“Dyeing wool is not one of my primary interests,” notes Roberta. “If I have time, I want to hook!” She likes the fun of dyeing wool but has “little interest in the chemistry of it all.” However, when it comes to rug patterns, Roberta likes to do her own. “I am not an artist, but I do enjoy creating my own rug designs.” Roberta tries to hook each day for a couple of hours. Sometimes it is in the morning, other times at night. It all depends on her schedule.

Roberta has retained her ties with her New Jersey rug hooking friends. Over the years Hooksome and Chatmore have had weeklong hooking reunions in Vermont, Virginia, and upstate New York at the homes of relocated members in addition to a local New Jersey church.

While we often hear people complaining about the cold winters in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Roberta and Steve “love cold weather!” The move to Vermont in 2009 was part of a long term plan. R SmithThey both wanted to be close to the White Mountains. They found a place to rent during black fly season as well as for a time in the winter so that they “could get a feel for what it would be like.” At first, they looked in New Hampshire but then found and bought a house on four acres in Lower Waterford, Vermont that met their needs. Roberta and Steve are members of the local historical society and the Audubon Society. They also enjoy hiking in the White Mountains and snow shoeing.

It did not take long for Roberta to meet local rug hookers. She is now a member of a small group that meets once a week in someone’s home. Roberta is past secretary of the Northeast Kingdom Rug Hooking Guild and continues to be involved with the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild. The move to Vermont allowed Roberta to be reunited with Guild member Barbie Beck-Wilczek who relocated several years ago to Littleton, New Hampshire. Roberta helps Barbie with her beginner’s rug hooking workshop offered during Women’s September Weekends at Camp Ouareau in Canada.

Roberta and Steve have two daughters – Pamela and Katherine. Pamela and her husband, Chris, live outside of Albany, NY with their daughter, Caragh. Katherine and her husband, Stefan, live in Austin, Texas with their daughter, Astrid.

As she looks back, Roberta recalls that she was attracted to rug hooking because of “the finished product and the color.” She subsequently found it “relaxing to pull loops.” Now her goal is to “finish my UFOs!”

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February 2015
Featured Member — Marian Hall

Marian Hall has had a longstanding interest in needlework and the fiber arts. Her first experience with hooked rugs took place in 1995 during a Christmas house tour in New Hampshire. One of the houses had “wall to wall rugs everywhere you looked,” she recalls. “There were at least five room sized Marian Hallhooked rugs!” The owner of the house sat in front of a large fireplace hooking a rug during the house tour. All the rugs in the house were hooked by her, her mother, and grandmother. “I was so new, it did not occur to me to ask her name or about the rugs,” Marian laments. After seeing the rugs Marian “went on the hunt” for more information. “This was before Google existed” and she had difficulty finding information.

Eventually Marian learned of Joan Moshimer’s Studio in Kennebunkport, Maine and drove up one weekend from her home in Connecticut. Marian was disappointed to learn that the shop was only open during the week. “I guess they were definitely not oriented to those who worked during the week,” Marian muses. She then learned of Mary Klotz’s Forestheart Studio in Maryland. It was there that Marian found the supplies and equipment she needed. She returned home with a Puritan Frame, cutter, linen backing, a basic “how to” book, tools, dye, and wool. Marian eagerly delved into the book from which she learned the fundamentals of hooking rugs.

In 1998 Marian moved to Pennsylvania and soon joined the Brandywine ATHA Chapter after attending an exhibit of their members’ rugs. “Guild members helped me get over the snags I was experiencing Marian Hallin my hooking,” she recalls. Marian continued to learn of the resources available in the area and took some classes to help develop her technique. She continues to attend select camps based on the teachers. Marian has a preference for teachers who were artists first and then became rug hookers. Elizabeth Black, Pris Butler, and Trish Johnson are among her favorite teachers. “I have learned something from them all.”

Marian recalls that Elizabeth Black, who passed away last year, helped her look at “every nuance of color and hints of color here and there in the photo or visual aid. Attending a few camps each year is still part of her rug hooking journey. “I select the camps based on teachers I have heard of or know. I also want a comfortable setting and lodging.” One of her favorites is The Shaker Retreat at the Pleasant Hill Shaker Museum in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. She also likes the programs offered at Sauder Village in Ohio. Hooking retreats are increasingly a favorite venue; Marian enjoys hooking with others from whom she can learn and share ideas.

Marian tends to hook with “finer cuts.” While she hooks mainly with #3 to #5 strips, Marian does some Marian Hallshading but not what would be considered McGown shading. “I guess you can say that I do fine cut primitive hooking.” Marian designs most of her rug patterns. However, she will buy a commercial pattern if she finds one she likes. Three of Marian’s rugs have been recognized in Celebrations. In 2007 her rug, “Three Skyes,” featuring three Skye Terrier dogs won Third Prize for Original Design. In the 2008 she had a Pennsylvania Fraktur rug, “1821 Fraktur,” in the Honorable Mention section. She also won a place for “One Wild Flower” in the 2010 Celebrations in the Commercial Designs section.

Processing recycled clothing was too time-consuming for Marian, especially while she was working, so she tends to use new wool. Having done some weaving starting in college introduced her to dyeing wool so she was comfortable dyeing her hooking wool right from the beginning. Marian prefers a darker palette and tries to achieve a “blotchy” look with her dyed wool. Bright colors have a limited appeal. Marian has shared her knowledge with two Dye Pot articles for The Loop.

Marian HallHer extensive dyeing experience led Marian to the decision to establish her new business, Wooly Dye Works. She devoted extensive time dyeing color swatches for the Prisims 1Dye Book as the books are readily available but there are no color swatches available to accompany them. There are a limited number of sets of the swatches for Prisms 1, each with 167 swatches, and she is currently selling them, but it is limited to this one time effort. When they are all sold it is done.

While Marian likes to hook at home, she often finds that there are too many distractions. She prefers to hook at guild meetings and at retreats where she can get more done. Marian retired last June and “went crazy. I attended hook-ins, workshops, and retreats nonstop for four months going to Canada, Vermont, Maine, Kentucky, New York, and Ohio.” She now looks forward to being able to settle into a hooking routine at home. Becoming active in rug hooking guilds is part of her retirement plan. Marian has a niece that lives close by so she hopes to combine visits with attending HCRAG meetings and events. She also looks forward to attending meetings of the Mason Dixon ATHA Chapter on a regular basis. “Guilds allow me to meet other hookers and learn what is going on,” she notes.

Marian lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania with her “spoiled” cat, Larry. She retired in June 2014 after working as an occupational therapist in retirement communities for the last 25 years, and in research programs 20 years prior to that.. Her other avocations include cross stitch, but has done needlepoint, spinning, and weaving. She also enjoys travelling especially on the canals in England, with two canal trips scheduled this year.

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January 2015
Featured Member — Barbara Perry
Barbara Perry

In the summer of 2011 Barbara Perry was a volunteer for Friends of Suzanne, a cancer patient support group, where she met Guild member Irene Pasternak. She admired a hooked wall piece displayed in Irene’s kitchen. Irene responded by saying “I can teach you rug hooking.” She proceeded to design a small pattern, provided the wool and taught her the basics. Irene also introduced Barbara to the hooking group that meets at the Everettstown Church on Thursdays where Guild member Linda Reitz took her under her wing. Members of the group “gave me wool and I took off!” Barbara recalls. “Rug hookers are so generous and so willing to help. I have never seen anything like it.”

Barbara has not taken formal instruction but developed her technique with the help of Guild members and the Everettstown Group. She also participated in our 2014 Spring Fling and was in Betsy Reed’s (Heavens to Betsy) workshop. The workshop reinforced her preference for hooking with wide cuts. She tends to hook with cuts ranging from #6 to #11. Barbara is looking forward to coming to our January Retreat and is planning to attend her first HCRAG Camp in August with Cyndy Duade.

Hooking with recycled wool that she obtains at Guild meetings and from local thrift stores is Barbara’s preference. “I have not bought new wool yet, although friends have generously given me some. So far I have hooked with ‘as is’ wool. Dyeing wool is something I want to try, but not right now. It is on my to-do list.” Barbara says.

Barbara Perry First ProjectCommercially available patterns have been the easiest way for Barbara to get started, some of which were given to her by hooking friends. Irene Pasternak designed her first project that Barbara hooked after making a few modifications. Linda Reitz gave her a pattern that she had purchased but never got to it. Barbara found a Santa Claus pattern at one of Margaret Lutz’ sales. Her friend and Guild member, Ann Gagnon, gave her a pattern that she bought at one of our January auctions. Barbara again points out the generous support she has received from Guild members.

Irene Pasternak was also responsible for introducing Barbara to our Guild at our auction in 2011 where she purchased a large pattern of a horse for $4.00 and successfully bid on a large hooking frame. She has been intimidated by the size of the horse pattern but plans to start hooking it in 2015. Linda Reitz and Helen Buchanan have given her some of the wool for the project.

Rug hooking has become Barbara’s passion. “It makes me feel good. There is no stress when I am hooking.” She looks forward to hooking with her friends at the Everettstown Church each Thursday and with the group that meets at the Oldwick Library on Tuesdays. (The library group came about when Barbara Perry Mildewmanthe Church was closed for renovations and an alternate site was needed. It continued to meet after the church repairs were made and is open to other rug hookers.) Barbara has recently taken up knitting again after a 30 year pause. “It is like riding a bike. Once you learn, it stays with you.” Barbara notes. She found all her supplies in a large carpet bag she recalls buying with money earned by babysitting. In addition to rug hooking, Barbara also exercises, plays mahjong and watches her grandkids on Wednesdays and Fridays.

Barbara and her husband, Ray, live in Hampton, NJ with Raven, their two year old Lab. Ray and Barbara celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary last year. Ray is a retired social studies teacher who likes to hunt and fish and is also a chainsaw carver. They have a very large vegetable garden on their two acres and do a lot of canning and freezing. Barbara retired in 2008 after working as an administrative assistant at Merck for 25 years. She earned the CPS (Certified Professional Secretary) and CAP (Certified Administrative Professional) designations.

The Perrys have three children – Colleen, Brian and Russ. Colleen and her husband, Mike Ewing, live in Franklin Township (Hunterdon County) with their three children – Rachel, Ben and Teddy. Brian and his wife, Deb, live in Finesville, NJ with their three children – Owen, Shaylin, and Griffin. Russ and his wife, Emily, live in Boston with their two children – Chase and Maeve. A third child is due in May.

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December 2014
Featured Member — Cindy Lott
Cindy Lott

In 1993 Cindy Lott saw a small hooked rug in a Peddlers Village shop in Lahaska, Pennsylvania. She “fell in love with it” and wanted to buy a kit. Unfortunately there was no kit and the shopkeeper was not aware of anyone who gave lessons. Cindy kept searching for information on rug hooking and by chance tuned in to a local Berks County TV show that had a brief program on rugs hooked by Rebecca Erb. Cindy was eventually able to reach Rebecca who at that time had made the transition to selling rug hooking wool. However, she was able to give Cindy what she needed – leads on rug hooking instructors.

One of those leads was Annie Harlin who lived in Leesport, PA which was not too far from Cindy’s home in Reading. Annie was a locally established artisan known for her handmade teddy bears but she gave up the teddy bears for rug hooking! Cindy went to Annie’s home for basic lessons on traditional rug hooking. She learned of Cushing & Company from which she then purchased what she needed to get started. Cindy “dabbled on and off” while she learned on her own. Limited information on hooking resources still held her back. That all changed when she purchased her first computer. Suddenly the world of rug hooking was open to her.

Cindy LottCindy travelled to Maine in 2005 for her first rug hooking camp – Searsport Rug Hooking – where she worked with Jon Ciemiewicz. Jon is known for his narrow cut rugs featuring animals. Cindy worked from a photograph of her three pets. “I keep trying to develop my narrow cut skills, but am always drawn back to wide cut primitive folk art rugs,” Cindy shares. She deserves an “A” for effort as Cindy has attended HCRAG camps with two of the best narrow cut instructors – Judy Carter and Liz Marino. “I just like what can be achieved with wide cut textured wool. That’s where my heart is.” Cindy is a member of several area guilds (Brandywine, Hunterdon, and Woolwrights) which allows her to be exposed to some of the best contemporary rug hooking instructors such as Norma Batastini, Susan Feller, Michele Micarelli, and Cynthia Norwood.

“I have learned from all of these wonderful teachers. Cynthia pushed me to hook wider and to use more textured wools with a touch of paisley here and there. I have little faith in my color planning, but Cynthia insisted that I was better than I thought!” Cindy notes.

Cindy does a little wool dyeing using recipes from dye books. She has limited interest in developing dye recipes and doing a lot of dyeing. Her wool dyeing has included spot, mottled and dip dyeing. “I find dyeing ok, but it is not compelling.”

“There are so many great patterns out there that I tend to work mostly with commercially available ones,” Cindy says. Spruce Ridge Studio is one of her favorite sources for “Not Forgotten Farm” Cindy Lott Santapatterns by Lori Brechlin which have been adapted for rug hooking by Kris Miller. Cindy also loves fraktur and Pennsylvania Dutch type patterns that recall her Pennsylvania Dutch roots. Jon Ciemiewicz and Lenny Feenan have been called upon to draw patterns from photographs of her pets.

Cindy tries to hook every day even if it may only be for 10 minutes. She enjoys hooking in her living room with her husband, Greg. She is best at night and may hook until 3:00 AM if she has trouble sleeping. Working on her current project at night is especially relaxing when the house is quiet.

Our Guild came to Cindy’s attention by Joanne McIllmurray who met HCRAG members at the Green Mountain Guild’s exhibit and workshops held at Shelburne Museum, Vermont in 2006. Shortly thereafter, the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center, Pennsburg, PA, hosted a Guild sponsored hooked rug exhibit and day of hooking. Cindy hooked with the group and soon joined the Guild. Living in Reading, PA makes it difficult for her to come to monthly meetings; however, Cindy has attended our summer camps for the last two years. She stays in one of the Flemington motels to avoid the long drive each day. “I love the HCRAG camps! Members are all so friendly. It’s a really nice group and I’ve met and made some nice friends.”

Cindy and Greg live in Reading, PA with “Bruno” their adopted English Chocolate Lab. “He’s the love of our life” Cindy shares. Greg is a graphic artist who works in Reading with Enersys — the largest battery company in the world. Cindy says that “It is not a name that most people have heard, but it is a huge company that does a lot of work with the military, NASA, and telecommunications and medical industries.” Cindy Lott Flower Rug

Cindy was the office manager for two doctors in Reading before she retired. She suffered a brain bleed in 2002. During brain surgery she had a stroke and was clinically dead for three days on life support. Miraculously Cindy recovered! She remembers how much her life changed with this event but it also taught her so much. “It has made me so much stronger in my faith. I have learned to be thankful. A big lesson for all to learn, ‘Health is Wealth’.”

When she was very young, Cindy’s grandmother taught her embroidery and was responsible for her life-long interest in anything to do with fabric arts – except buttons. “I don’t do buttons!” Cindy exclaims. In addition to hooking rugs, Cindy’s artistic efforts include punch-needle, knitting, crocheting, wool applique, and cross-stitch. She is also an “avid reader of novels and dabbles in painting. “I want to do everything. There is not enough time in the day.” Cindy “loves the feel of wool and the look of rich muted primitive colors.”

Looking forward Cindy wants to “relax more and not be too picky about my work. I need to be realistic. Not everything has to be perfect.”

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November 2014
Featured Member — Barbie Beck-Wilczek

Barbie and her husband, Bill Wilczek, live in a timber frame and log house on 14 acres in Littleton, NH. She was born and raised in New Jersey until her family moved to southern New Hampshire when she Barbiewas a teenager. About 12 years ago, Barbie and Bill who lived in Clinton, Township, NJ werevacationing and exploring in northern New Hampshire when on a whim they stopped into a real-estate office and described their ideal home to the agent on duty. The real estate agent went on line and came up with the property where they now live. The process started at Christmas and was over by New Year’s Day! Barbie and Bill love living in the “North Country.”

In 2000 Barbie took a beginner’s rug hooking workshop with Gail Dufresne that was sponsored by Hunterdon County Adult Education. She had seen hooked rugs in the past and was always interested in them. Having taken early retirement, Barbie now had the time to pursue her interests. Gail introduced her to our Guild and Barbie came to her first camp with Helen Wolfel, who was one of HCRAG’s favorite camp instructors. Interestingly, Barbie now lives relatively close to Helen and they meet on occasion to dye wool and talk rug hooking.

Other than a class or two with Gail and HCRAG camps, Barbie is basically self-taught. Her second Barbie's Dogscamp was with Elizabeth Black where she started to hook with #3 and #4 cuts. Barbie subsequently took a wide cut class with Jayne Hester. She admires what can be done with wide cuts, but realized “It was not for me.” Subsequent HCRAG camps exposed Barbie to some of the best instructors including Jen Lavoie, Norma Batastini and Judy Carter.

Elizabeth was responsible for introducing Barbie to the world of narrow cut hooking and the wonderful results that can be achieved. The workshop with Judy Carter, who is nationally recognized as one of the best for hooking realistic animal rugs, introduced Barbie to using textured wool with narrow cuts. “It results in a different look,” Barbie notes. “I really clicked with Judy. She opened up a whole new world of challenges.”

Barbie is known for the rugs she creates of her Bernese Mountain Dogs. For the last 15 years, the “Berners” have played an important role in Barbie’s and Bill’s lives. They breed, show and train the dogs and are active in regional and national dog clubs. Their specialized training includes draft, agility, Barbie Mooseobedience, and therapy training. Their biggest commitment is training and working with therapy dogs that are registered to visit hospitals and nursing homes to provide emotional support to the patients, staff and residents. “A therapy dog’s job is to put a smile on people’s faces,” Barbie notes.

After completing a moose rug that she started with Elizabeth Black, Barbie has gone back to creating rugs of her dogs. The patterns are adapted from photographs taken by Bill and meticulously hooked by Barbie. “It takes me two to three years to finish a rug. There is a lot concentration required,” Barbie says when discussing her approach. “I need the proper light and must be in right frame of mind.” Her rug, Tennescott Four Dog Rug, was recognized in Rug Hooking Magazine’s Celebrations XXIV issue. Barbie’s work was also featured in two recent issues of the ATHA Newsletter.

Barbie buys the wool she needs from her camp instructors, a local small rug school and at regional shows such as the Green Mountain Guild’s annual exhibit. Stephanie Krauss, Gail Dufresne and Helen Wolfel are also favorite resources for her. “I have a small house and with four dogs, I do not want a large stash,” Barbie observes.

In addition to her HCRAG membership, Barbie belongs to the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild and the Northeast Kingdom Guild in Vermont. She also hooks with a group of friends who meet Wednesday mornings in each other’s houses. Guild member Roberta Smith who relocated to Lower Waterford, Vermont several years ago participates in this group as well.

Before retiring Barbie worked in the utility industry, first in Reading, Pennsylvania and then for Public Service Gas & Electric Company in New Jersey. Bill took early retirement from Fed Ex and established his own woodworking business. He initially made Adirondack furniture and toys, but as their Barbieinvolvement with the dogs grew he recognized a market for carts and wagons for dogs. His business requires his full time responding to a worldwide client base. (Go to for more information.) Barbie and Bill are active “birders” and belong to the local Audubon Society. Barbie is a hospice volunteer and often her work includes her therapy dogs.

Looking back, Barbie realizes that rug hooking has become an important part of her life. “I am constantly inspired and challenged to do better. I am not an artist, but have a knack for hooking and do it well according to what others tell me. I am a logical person, more like an engineer than an artist.” Anyone who has seen Barbie’s rugs will differ with her assessment. She paints with wool!

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October 2014
Featured Member – Sandy Denarski

Sandy had an interest in art from the time she was very young. Her mother and grandmother sewed clothing and other relatives did embroidery and needlepoint. Sandy recalls learning to sew buttons when she was three! In college she was an art history major and developed a strong interest in Sandy Denarskiantiques and American folk art. In time she taught herself how to do scherenschnitte (paper cutting) and faux graining.

Those interests led her to take a rug hooking class in 1988. It turned out to be a disaster! Her teacher had rigid rules and kept having Sandy pull out what she had hooked. She made limited progress with her project which was a black cow on a white background. In frustration, Sandy threw it all – backing, wool, hook, hoop -- in the trash exclaiming “hate it, hate it!” She turned her attention to embroidery and quilting joining guilds for both art forms.

In 2013 one of Sandy’s friends attended our first Hooked Rug Festival at Prallsville Mills and dragged her there saying “This is a great show. You must see it.” Afterwards Sandy “reluctantly came to the Guild’s next meeting. I did not want to like it.” However, she was intrigued with what she saw and heard and ended up buying a small kit. Sandy met Therese Shick who encouraged her and taught her the basics. A positive and encouraging approach made all the difference. Rug hooking has now become Sandy’s preferred fiber art form.

Sandy Denarski TableSandy is still developing her technique, but is gravitating towards primitive hooking. “I love the freedom and the feel,” she says. Primitive rugs are a natural extension of her love of folk art and antiques. The vitality and color of it appeals to her. Sandy admires fine cut hooking because it reminds her of needlepoint which she has done for many years. “I like it all” she beams.

After learning informally from Therese, Sandy had an opportunity to take a formal workshop with Kris Miller that was sponsored by the Lamb Yankees ATHA Chapter where she learned more about color. Sandy is mostly self-taught and has learned other crafts by experimenting and studying completed projects. In the case of rug hooking, she bought a rug hooked by Betty Dekat (Americas, Kansas) that she examined often and compared her work to the rug.

Sandy currently works primarily with new wool that is over dyed. She has a few pieces of recycled clothing that she plans to introduce into her rugs. Sandy is comfortable taking a garment apart because of her sewing experience. She is slowing building her stash but notes that “sticker shock” keeps a limit on how much she buys. Sandy Denarski

Each hooking project is a building and learning process. Sandy completed two kits purchased over the internet and then bought a Karen Worthington pattern of a redware pot which introduced her to working with different cuts of wool. Her project from Kris Miller’s workshop introduced her to hooking with “women’s tights.” Sandy did most of the color planning. At the Guild’s January auction she found the movement in a pattern of a house appealing and was able to pick it up at a very reasonable price. A large whale tavern sign rug will be her next project. Sandy tries to heed the advice of finishing one project before starting another. She learned from an article by Deanne Fitzpatrick “The job is to finish it.” Kathleen Murray-Boyda stressed that “Your hooking will change. If you put the rug aside, the quality of your hooking will change and look different. You will not be happy with the two styles in the same project.”

Sandy is still trying to establish a hooking routine. She does some form of needle work every day. The afternoons when she is fresh are best when she needs to use her sewing machine. After dinner she will hook or do embroidery generally sitting with her husband who enjoys watching TV at night.

Sandy’s creative interests include embroidery, folk art, quilting, sewing, scherenschnitte, and needle felting. However, her passion is hooking rugs. “I love the look and its utility. Rugs can go on the floor, the wall and on chairs and tables. There is nothing like a hand hooked rug. I like the visual impact of a hooked rug. Rugs are so versatile.” As she looks to the future, Sandy wants to learn to incorporate wool yarn and roving in her rugs. She also wants to design her own patterns based on antique rugs.

Sandy and her husband, Tony, who is a retired software engineer, live in the old town of Crosswicks, NJ with “Pompom,” their 17 year old cat, “Sparky”, a Welsh Corgi, and “Nitro,” an American Paint horse. “Nitro and I are developing arthritis together,” Sandy jokes. Their daughter, Alison, is a dialysis social worker who lives in Hamilton, NJ. Sandy retired after 37 years with J & J where she worked in finance with a variety of operations both domestic and international. She was graduated from Douglas College where she majored in Art History.

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September 2014
Featured Member – Mary Passerello Passerello Hooking

Mary has “always loved hooked rugs, especially those done by my friend Diane Liberto’s grandmother.”  Finally about two years ago Mary and Diane took a beginners class with Margaret Lutz.  After the class she “was hooked!” Her interest in rug hooking intensified in 2013 after observing Therese Shick being interviewed about rug hooking on the Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce radio show. The interview was part of the PR efforts for the first Hooked Rug Festival at the Mill. Mary was volunteering at the Chamber at the time and was able to talk to Therese about the Guild and rug hooking. 

After learning more about the Guild and our meetings, Mary decided to come to a meeting to learn more. At her first meeting, she heard about the classes available at summer camp.  Mary and Diane took the beginner's class and in January 2014 they both attended the annual retreat at the Hampton Inn in Flemington.  “Since that beginner's workshop I've been having lots of fun making rugs and new friends,” Mary notes.

Diane and Mary both decided rug hooking was for them. Diane has joined the Guild and hopes to be more active when she retires. Mary has already jumped in with both feet. She joined the Guild in spring of 2013 and immediately immersed herself in Guild activities. Mary currently assists with our newsletter and is implementing her idea of having classified ads that will begin to appear in The Loop this month. She is also compiling a notebook that will incorporate all our past Featured Member articles. Mary has also joined our Guild volunteers who demonstrate rug hooking at local events such as the Hunterdon County 4-H & Agricultural Fair.
Mary has been drawn to primitive style rugs and has completed three smaller projects; however, she is now working on a large rug.  It is a pattern called "Cowardly Lion and Cocky Lamb” that she bought at the 2013 Hooked Rug Festival.  “Working on this large rug is a little overwhelming,” she reports, “but I love it!”

Passerello pillows baskets

Hooking in the early morning when the light is good works best for her. Mary’s goal is to “get a little done every day.  I love deciding which colors to use and hunting for just the right piece of wool.”

Thanks to help from Joyce Combs, Mary has already dyed some of her own wool. “I love dyeing the wool and seeing the end results,” she beams.  “With the dyes available the colors are endless.   I'm even starting to plan and design some of my own patterns.”

Mary grew up in Hunterdon County and now lives on a farm with her husband, Jim, and their three dogs – Raina, Riley and Miley. Their daughter, Teresa, lives nearby with her husband, Chet, and two dogs.  “Living here with family and pets provides me with lots of images to use as rug patterns,” Mary observes.
After a long working career in the telecommunications industry, Mary retired two years ago and “loves that I now have more time to do the fun things.” She has been quilting and weaving baskets for years but claims that “rug hooking is definitely my priority.  I'm looking forward to learning new techniques, maybe hooking fine cuts and wide cuts.  I know I'll be taking more classes and trying to learn as much as I can from our experienced Guild members.”

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June 2014
Featured Member — Deb Lesher

Deb Lesher and her good friend, Leslie Scroble, started their rug hooking journey in 1998 that continues today as they jointly travel to workshops to experience new hooking instructors. Deb had Deb Lesherseen a rug hooking kit that intrigued her, but really was not aware of what rug hooking was all about. In 1998 Leslie learned of a workshop at The Summer House in Oley, PA and suggested that they attend. The workshop was held one day a week and ran for four weeks. They both “fell in love” with rug hooking.

The next step was tackling several small kits which produced leftover wool strips. Deb used those strips for three small mats that she designed. Shortly thereafter, Deb’s husband, “Fletch”, discovered Rug Hooking Magazine and brought it to her attention. There she found information on a hooked rug exhibit held in conjunction with hooking workshops at The Highlands in Fort Washington, PA. Visitors were permitted to walk through the workshops to see what was going on. Deb experienced Michele Micarelli for the first time and “was blown away with all the color!”Deb Lesher Peacock

Deb and Leslie attended their first formal workshop at the Laurel Mountain Rug Hooking School where they worked with Harriet Brown. They both returned to the Highlands and became regulars at the spring and fall workshops. Before the Highlands workshops were discontinued, Deb had the opportunity to work with many of the most admired rug hooking instructors including Norma Batastini, Gail Dufresne, Lucille Festa, Betty McClintock, Michele Micarelli, and Marie Sugar.

Deb chooses teachers “not for what they do, but for what I can learn from them.” She notes that “I have learned from them all, but Michele has been especially influential because of her use of color. I am color challenged; Michele is not!” On the other end of the spectrum, Jayne Hester’s use of monochromatic wools is very appealing.

Hooking in the primitive style with wide cuts and dulled colors was Deb’s “first love.” However, she always wants to learn something new and soon started to incorporate more color into her rugs. Leslie suggested that they take a workshop with Peggy Hannum, the Lancaster teacher known for her narrow cut rugs. “This was really out of the box for me” Deb notes, “but Peggy is a talented instructor and we learned a great deal from her. I continue to use what we learned in that workshop.”Deb Lesher Niece Rug

Rug hooking has allowed Deb to develop her artistic talents. She is drawn to “original work” and prefers to design her own patterns “that can take you anywhere when it comes to hooking styles. It is the rug pattern that determines my hooking style and the techniques used.” For example, one of her projects was a wedding rug for which she went to Facebook to gather information about the wedding couple. Deb took that information and traveled to Pittsburgh with two friends to take a class with Sandra Brown who helped design the rug. Because of the design, the rug was hooked in more narrow cuts than Deb typically uses and with more detail.

Deb has taken classes on dyeing wool but is not set up to do it on a regular basis. “There is so much great wool available” that she tends to buy the wool needed when attending workshops. Jan and Fred Cole, who live close by, are also a favorite source. Deb met Jan at the Highlands where she was selling her over-dyed wool and they have become good friends.

“Hooking is so much fun that I often put a guilt trip on myself when I take time to hook because there are always things that need to be done. I need natural light when hooking, so most of my work is done Deb Lesher Owlduring the day,” Deb observes. The fact that you can hook “anyway you want” is one of the things that appeals to Deb. While there are certain guidelines, rug hooking allows freedom to pull out loops if you are not happy with what you have done. “I love the feel of wool. I enjoy looking at it. I don’t even have to hook to appreciate it,” she notes.

Deb and Leslie attended their first HCRAG event in 2008 when they came to our Spring Fling featuring two of their favorite instructors – Jayne Hester and Michele Micarelli. They also attended our hook-in that was held in Pipersville, PA where they renewed friendships made at the Spring Fling. Deb joined the Guild last year and travels to our meetings with Jan and Fred Cole. She is also a member of the Wool Whisperers ATHA Chapter and the Conestoga McGown Guild in Lancaster, PA.

Deb and her husband, “Fletch”, live in Boyertown, PA. Fletch is an attorney in Reading, PA. They have two children – Jake and Molly – both of whom went to art school. Jake, age 29, lives in Brooklyn, NY where he works as a metal sculptor. Molly, age 27, lives in Maine and is a dog walker. Deb spent 15 years teaching sign language at a Pennsylvania state facility and then 10 years working in a greenhouse before retiring. Gardening and drawing are other favorite activities. Deb has drawn and sketched ever since her childhood. She credits her parents in getting her started.

This year Deb will continue her rug hooking journey by going to Cape May for the first time for Norma Batastini’s Rugs by the Sea Camp. Deb will be working with Michele Micarelli, but is unsure what she will do. “I may just take a blank piece of backing and start from there,” she says with a smile.

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May 2014
Featured Member — Bernadette Andrejco

Bernadette was exposed to rug hooking as a child growing up in St. John’s Newfoundland. Hooking “mats” (as rugs are called in the Maritime Providences) was more commonly done outside of the cities in the rural areas. While Bernadette lived in the city, she developed a strong interest in what was being done. One year a former teacher took her to see a young woman working on a story rug much in the tradition of Deanne Fitzpatrick. Bernadette immediately decided that she wanted to learn how to do it.

In early 2011, Bernadette met Therese Shick at a quilting group that met at St. John Neumann Church in Califon, NJ. Members of the group shared other interests in the arts and Bernadette soon learned of Therese’s involvement with rug hooking. “Therese took me under her wing, gave me wool for my first rug and became my mentor,” Bernadotte recalls. True to her roots, her first rug was a Deanne Fitzpatrick pattern.

Bernadette met Margaret Lutz at Therese’s home and since she lived in Flemington Fields where Bernadette lives, they became friends. Although she never took a class with Margaret, Bernadette often visited her at her home and asked her advice. She continues to visit Margaret at the Hunterdon Care Center. Margaret would give her wool when needed, but Bernadette also purchased wool and supplies. Bernadette continued to develop her hooking skills with the help of Therese and from Deanne Fitzpatrick’s online instructional material. She also learned from a collection of hooking books given to her by a man whose deceased wife was a rug hooker.

Bernadette AndrejcoBernadette started hooking with #8 cuts, but has recently started to use #6 cuts of wool which she likes. Recycled wool was used as a necessity by the early Newfoundland rug hookers; the next stop for their “turned clothing” was in their mats. Bernadette “wants to do it the old way” but recycled wool is not always available. As a result, she hooks with both new and old wool. However, she wants to avoid having a basement full of wool, so she is careful not to buy too much.

The desire to “do things the old way” carries over to Bernadette’s approach to developing rug patterns. Deanne Fitzpatrick’s books are a rich source of inspiration. She adapts and combines pictures and sketches by holding them up to a window and tracing them. Her desire to follow old paths, however, does not prevent her from taking advantage of modern resources as Staples’s photocopy and enlarging services!

“Developing a more structured hooking routine is something I need.” While Bernadette hooks several times a week, issues with her back make it difficult for her to sit and hook for long periods. It is actually easier for her to hook standing up. For a while Bernadette hooked with Therese at her home until the demands of Rug Festival preparation made that difficult.Bernadette Andrejco

Bernadette is a skilled seamstress and has used her skills in a variety of different venues. Years ago she owned a craft business where she sold many of her creations such as custom pocketbooks and old fashion dolls. Creating costumes for theatrical shows, doll costumes, and wedding dresses were other applications of her creative and sewing skills. When her son, Paul, was with the Boston Ballet she made costumes for the dolls that matched those of the Nutcracker performers. Bernadette has also done counted cross-stitch and hand quilting. For 20 years she helped make quilts for her church’s fundraising auctions. “It’s all about the creative process that attracts me,” she says.

Bernadette and her husband, Matt, live in Flemington, NJ. Matt is a retired engineer who is “passionate about golf.” Their son, Paul, and his wife, Shari, live in South Orange, NJ with their three children – Jane (age 15), Owen (age 13) and Daisy (age 10). Paul owns the Puppet Heap located in Hoboken, NJ, which is recognized as one of the leading studios for puppet production in the United States. Shari is a children’s book illustrator with many books to her credit. Daughter Megan, a writer, and her husband, Richard, live in Milford, NJ with their two sons – Freddy (age 9) and Collin (age 7). Richard is the Shop Manager for his brother-in-law’s Bernadette Andrejcobusiness. Before retiring, Bernadette devoted 27 years in child assault prevention. Her work entailed giving school presentations/workshops for grades K through 8 using skits as a way to deliver this safety program.

In late 2011, Therese Shick brought Bernadette to her first Guild meeting after which she became a member. It was at that meeting that she met Nina Seaman who spends part of the year in Nova Scotia. Their common love for the history and mats of the Maritime Providences was an unexpected blessing. The support provided by the Guild has been responsible for Bernadette’s ongoing participation in Guild programs. Hooking allows her to connect with her cultural heritage; hooked rugs, especially those made with recycled wool, provide a link to her culture. Bernadette’s rugs allow her to share her Newfoundland heritage with her grandchildren.

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April 2014
Featured Member — Laura Robinson

Laura Robinson likes to constantly learn and try new things. Her natural curiosity and interest in learning led her to join a knitting friend in 2012 when they visited Margaret Lutz’s Studio in Flemington for a lesson on Laura Robinsonrug hooking. The friend found rug hooking too difficult and preferred to stay with knitting. Laura enjoyed the experience, bought wool and backing and was “off and running.”

Shortly thereafter, Laura spotted an article in The Bucks County Herald on our Guild’s Retreat at the Hampton Inn in Flemington. She followed the trail to our website and then came to our next monthly meeting. It was there she learned that the friends and students of deceased teacher Vicki Calu were organizing a yard sale of Vicki’s supplies. She could not attend the sale, but called Cheryl Halliday who met her at Vicki’s studio.  Laura bought a cutter, wool and a frame. Cheryl told Laura about her open classes and became her teacher. Laura is now a regular at the weekly sessions where she continues to learn more about the art of hooking rugs. 

Laura takes advantage of HCRAG workshops. She worked with Lucille Festa at our Spring Fling in 2013 and with Judy Carter at camp last year. Laura acknowledges that working with narrow cuts most often used in Judy’s work is not natural for her. Instead of #4 cuts, she hooked her dog’s face with #6 cuts and plans to finish the background with #8 cuts. Laura has also worked with Norma Batastini at a Wool Whisperers workshop where she designed a Rufus Porter style pattern of her parents’ home on Cape Cod. She is set to work with Betsy Reed at this year’s Spring Fling. Betsy’s hand-torn wool will be more simpatico with Laura’s natural preferences. Laura attended our 2013 and 2014 retreats and appreciates the time they allow her to devote to current projects.  She fondly recalls the animated antics of the retreaters as they cheered and jeered the 2013 Miss America finalists. She knew “these are my kind of people!”

L_ROBINSONMost of Laura’s hooking is done with #8 cuts on patterns she has designed. Having attended art classes at Bucks County Community College for some time, Laura is not intimidated by the creative process of rug design. Her first rug was actually designed by her three and a half year old daughter. The drawing made an ideal pattern for what will be a family heirloom. “Since each hooking project takes a long time to complete, I prefer to hook rugs that are personal in nature,” she notes. Laura’s curiosity leads her in the direction of learning more about dyeing wool although she acknowledges that she does not see herself “as a prolific wool dyer.” Laura observes that her schedule prevents her “from having more of a hooking routine.” However, she does hook several evenings a week while watching TV and at Guild meetings.

Laura’s interest in art started when she was “three years old and spent time with Aunt Mary who encouraged me to draw and paint.” She now takes one drawing/painting class a semester at the Community College. “Designing rugs is a natural thing for me. I’m fine with it,” Laura notes.L_robinson

She sees rug hooking as “more of an art than craft.  It is like painting.” She also participants in two book clubs in Doylestown — one focuses on regular fiction and the other science fiction. “We meet at a bookstore in Doylestown and then go out for something to eat.  The members are serious readers and have become friends,” Laura says.  Tennis is also a big part of her life. She plays tennis several times a week, takes weekly lessons and teaches children three times a week. Laura continues to knit, quilt and makes costumes for her youngest daughter for school and “Anime Conventions.”

L_robinsonLaura and her husband, Dave, have three daughters – Kasey (age 24) who lives in California , Mary Jane (age 21) who graduates from Oberlin College in May and Samantha (age 17) who graduates from high school in May. They live in Doylestown, PA along with their dog, Fern, and rabbit, Cynonym, formerly known Cinnamon. Dave manages investments and is the board chairman of a privately held local company. They enjoy attending local auctions looking to add to their collection of paintings by Bucks County artists. Laura graduated from Dartmouth College and spent six years as a research chemist before raising her family. ”Being a chemist is like cooking – a thinking person’s cooking,” she jokes.

Laura is also a member of the Wool Whisperers ATHA Chapter. She finds that “rug hookers are positive people who are inventive and have a can do attitude.” She likes spending time with her new rug hooking friends.

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March 2014
Featured Member — Kathleen Murray-Boyda

Kathleen Murray-Boyda’s journey as a rug hooker has led to her becoming a prolific and skilled artisan, a leader within the rug hooking community and has allowed her to make many new and lasting friendships. The journey started in 2003 when she saw an announcement in a local adult education brochure for a beginner’s rug hooking workshop conducted by Guild member Janet Williams. Janet, at the time, was teaching the class to fulfill a requirement for her McGown certification.


After learning the basics, Kathleen soon finished her first project and continued to work with Janet at her home along with two other new rug hookers. Janet was very generous with introductions to other rug hooking resources including the open studio sessions offered by Gail Dufresne in Lambertville, NJ. It was there that Kathleen met and became good friends with Patty Mahaffey and Eleanor Dunker. She also renewed a friendship with Cathy Heilferty with whom she attended nursing school but had not seen for many years. Kathleen attended the open studio sessions for two years during which time Gail established the Goat Hill ATHA Chapter (now the Lamb Yankees Chapter). Kathleen was a charter member.

In 2004 Janet invited Kathleen to assist her with a beginner’s workshop at the RugFest in Richmond, Virginia. It was there that she met Mary Henck, a former HCRAG member and RugFest organizer. Mary invited Janet and Kathleen to stay at her home for the weekend; that was the beginning of a long standing friendship. A few years later, Kathleen returned to RugFest to teach a beginner’s workshop.

Vintage Dog by K, Murray BoydaKathleen’s work schedule makes it difficult for her to attend many rug hooking workshops and camps. However, she is a regular attendee at area weekend hook-ins such as the ones sponsored by the Brandywine and Woolwrights ATHA Chapters. One year she was able to go to Cape May where she worked with Stephanie Krauss. Kathleen recalls the inspiring opportunity she had in meeting Patsy Becker who sat next to her at Cape May. She is also a regular attendee at our annual Rug Hooking Retreat, although Kathleen admits “I spend more time talking and visiting with those there than hooking since I do not get as much of a chance to see my rug hooking friends as I would like.”

“I have learned from all my teachers,” Kathleen observes but Janet Williams has been the constant throughout. Norma Batastini has also been very influential especially on color and style. “She is laid back, very knowledgeable and listens to her students.” Attending camps and hooking classes offered during the work week are not normally an option for Kathleen. She selects the workshops she can attend based on what techniques she can learn; she looks for something she does not know how to do.

Kathleen likes antiques and old things in general. Therefore, it is not surprising that she is drawn to primitive style rug patterns. She also finds primitive style hooking “to be more forgiving”. Kathleen states “I don’t need a hobby that makes me anxious. My job does that!”

“Good old wool is hard to find, so I tend to work with new wool that I buy at hook-ins and from local suppliers.” Kathleen has taken classes on dyeing wool, so she knows what to do, but “prefers to have others do the dyeing. I am afraid it would take over and I would not hook.  It’s just my personality,” she observes. She especially likes spot dyed wool and “always has the use of wool in mind when I buy it.” Kathleen recalls buying a blazer from Margaret Lutz that was “fantastic wool. I was able to use it all until just recently.”Proddy Spring Wreath

Kathleen would prefer to design her own patterns, but with her time restrictions and the fact that she is “hard on myself”, she does rely on commercial patterns. Norma Batastini (Heart & Hand Studio), Lori Brechlin (Notforgotten Farm), Patsy Becker, Karen Kahle (Primitive Spirit), Laurie Larson (Wooly Red Rug), and Kris Miller (Spruce Ridge Studios) are among her favorite sources.

The relationship between heart and hand that exists in hooking rugs is something that Kathleen finds to be therapeutic. Hooking for just 20 minutes makes her feels better after a stressful day. As a result, Kathleen tries to hook every day, especially in the evening often while watching TV. She is a fan of the Masterpiece Theater series on PBS and especially enjoys hooking while watching the shows. Kathleen once heard Martha Adams at RugFest say that if you hook the size of the palm of your hand each day, you can complete a room sized rug in a year. Kathleen takes a bag with her hooking project to work and hooks at lunchtime. “I sit in my cubicle facing inside and people know what I am doing and not to interrupt me,” Kathleen jokes. That discipline has resulted in her completing over 60 rugs!

Kathleen’s mentor, Janet Williams, was also responsible for introducing her to our Guild of which she has been a member for 10 years. Our weekend activities such as the Retreat, hook-ins and Spring Fling workshops are especially appealing since they allow Kathleen to be with her hooking friends without interfering with work. In addition to our Guild, Kathleen is heavily involved with the Lamb Yankees ATHA Chapter and assumed the role of President a few years also.  She recently took on a two year commitment on the ATHA Editorial Board. Kathleen anticipates being active in supporting the 2015 Hooked Rug Festival at the Mill and looks forward to working with others to help make it another success.

In addition to being an accomplished rug hooker, Kathleen is a history buff and enjoys reading historical books. She is an avid “flea marketer” and is always looking for old furniture that she can rehab. Her collection includes refinished furniture inherited from her grandparents. Kathleen also likes to travel and fondly recalls a favorite trip to Italy last year.

Kathleen and her husband, David, live in Hillsborough, NJ along with their two sons – James (age 20) and Jack (age 15), their dog, Molly, (a 14 year old Brittany who is blind and deaf), and their two cats, Sweetums and BooBoo. Following graduation from nursing school, Kathleen spent 30 years in various nursing capacities including being a Navy Nurse, psychiatric nurse, visiting nurse, and a hospice nurse. For the last eight years, she has done medical malpractice analysis for a local insurance company. David is a Federal Agent with the Department of Defense. James attends Neumann University as a Criminal Justice major; Jack is a high school freshman. Kathleen has hooked duplicate rugs for her sons since both admire her work. The family recently bought a “fixer-upper” 1940s era weekend home in Brick, NJ that is two blocks from the Metedeconk River. It has become a sanctuary for Kathleen who tries to stay overnight at Kathleen Murray Boyda Granddadleast once a week.

Little did Kathleen know when she started her rug hooking journey 11 years ago how important an element it would become in her life. The learning, the friendships and the opportunities to share have added an important dimension to her life. “It is an ongoing education,” she notes. “Rug hooking is something where I am always learning from people and it is something I can do in solitude or with others.  I am so grateful to those I have met along the way.”

On the right you can see an old department store advertisement for her Great, Great, Great Grandfather, P. C. Murray, who was from Ireland and owned a department store in Danville, PA. The text alongside his picture lists types of rugs that were popular at the time. “I think he’d approve of my hooking. He also bears an uncanny resemblance to my older brother who is a priest,” Kathleen observes.


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At her core Annie Edwards is an artist which influences how she approaches her work as a photo stylist and garden designer and how she approaches rug hooking. As a freelance photo stylist, Annie is Annie Edwardsresponsible for obtaining all that is needed and creates a product display ready for the photographer’s camera. Her goal is to make the product beautiful and appealing. Her clients include national and international consumer product companies. We have seen Annie work her magic when she sets up our exhibits at local libraries, our demonstration set-ups and, of course, at the Hooked Rug Festival where she created the Boutique display.

Annie first learned about rug hooking in late 2009 when she discovered a copy of Rug Hooking Magazine at the Doylestown Library. (Interestingly, our Guild provided the magazine subscription.) She went online to look for the guilds in the area and found HCRAG to be the closest to her home in Bucks County. From there, Annie contacted Weezie Huntington who was the Guild’s President at the time. Weezie invited her to attend the January meeting and encouraged her to also attend our retreat. Before coming to the retreat, Annie learned of Gail Dufresne and attended one of her open studio sessions to learn how to hook a few loops and get supplies.  After hooking a few rows, Gail declared “Ok, you’ve got it, you can do it now!” With that brief orientation to rug hooking, Annie went to the retreat.

When it comes to her hooking, Annie likes to challenge herself. She does not think of hooking styles although she is open to any style or technique. She likes to work with thin cuts because of the detail that can be achieved and “to put in a small piece here and there for a bit of color”. 

Annie is basically self-taught; she is not one to attend classes or workshops.  She has gone to two open sCrossing The Creektudio sessions, but they were not for her.  Annie admits that she has “an aversion to being told what to do when it comes to her artwork. I prefer to watch others, listen and ask questions. Not knowing how to do something is better for me because it makes me think it through to find the answer.”

Annie does not hook at home noting that “At this point of life, I do not have the time and would feel guilty. My hooking is done only when I am around other people.” Annie is a member of the Wool Whisperers, has been a regular at the annual HCRAG retreat, and the Old Rock Hooking Retreat. She worked feverously to complete her first rug in time to have it exhibited at the Hooked Rug Festival.

New and recycled wool are used in Annie’s hooking. Her wool comes from local thrift stores and local suppliers. Presently, she has no interest in dyeing wool because “it would take me too long to get it right”. In addition, Annie’s busy schedule does not allow the time. Wools from her mother’s and mother-in law’s skirts were used in her rug. Annie also buys wool from Judith Dallegret who is a rug hooking teacher and painter living in Montreal. Whenever Annie goes home to see her father, she stops to chat and buy wool from Judith.

The pattern for Annie’s first rug was inspired by a photo of her chickens. Basic lines were drawn on the rug backing with enough detail in the small spots. Hooking the chicken heads were especially challenging. Annie notes “I hooked and rehooked them multiple times until I finally got it right. I am very picky and will not let it not be right in my eyes. Members of the Guild pushed me to do it right.” Annie’s next rug will be another challenge for her. She will be hooking the face for a working clock.  The design for the face of the clock is adapted from an old compass. Work on this project started at the Guild’s last retreat.

When her work schedule permits, Annie attends most HCRAG meetings. She notes that “I like being around the people. They motivate me and my discipline is stronger as a result.”  Annie observed how members who have been very ill continued to come to meetings because they wanted to be there. There is “lots of love.”

In addition to her work as a photo stylist, Annie designs and maintains gardens in Bucks County, Philadelphia, New York City, Brooklyn and New Jersey. She continues to develop her artistic skills with classes at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts. She is currently taking classes on drawing portraits using charcoal and pencil.  Annie has also worked on printmaking and etching. Her work has been exhibited at a local art show.

Annie was born in Montreal, Canada and at the age of 19 went out on her own as a window display artist. After a year and a half, she came to the conclusion that she needed a larger venue for her profession and moved to New York City “in seek of adventure”.  In 2011, Annie became a US citizen. She and her husband, Justin, live in Carversville, PA along with their two sons, Jasper and Ian, their dog, Kylie, and a flock of heirloom chickens.  Justin is a builder who is currently the building manager of a project in Philadelphia to convert a church into a home. Jasper, age 21, is an engineering student at Bucks County Community College. Ian, age 17, is in high school and has a strong interest in geology. Annie jokes that her husband and sons are smart, and strong in the sciences and mathematics while she is the creative one in the family.

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We Remember PattyPATTI M COLLAGE

Patty Mahaffey touched the lives of many Guild members. We share below some of our special remembrances.

I will always remember Patty’s infectious smile and her loving demeanor – always very supportive and approaching everything with a positive attitude!   I miss her deeply." ~ Jan Cole

I met Patty pretty soon after I started rug hooking.  She was always very sweet to me.  If I went to an event, very often she would save me a seat knowing that I didn’t know too many people.  I always appreciated that and will remember her for her kindness.  Also, any time I go by a Pretzel Factory I think of Patty because she ALWAYS remembered to bring soft pretzels.  Just a very thoughtful and lovely person who will be terribly missed. ~ Therese Shick

Party Mahaffey was a lady of integrity and quiet good humor. She went out of her way to be kind to me and make me feel comfortable and welcomed when I was a newcomer. She was a fabulous hooker and I enjoyed her company and artistic sensibility. I am sad and will miss her lovely gentle smile. ~ Barbara Kimbrough

I will always remember her bright blue eyes, her beautiful smile, and her warm welcoming heart. ~ Eileen Koch

Patty was such a sweetheart!  She was ALWAYS doing something creative.  If she wasn't hooking, she was making jewelry or something else.  I admire her for completing her McGown training.  When asked why she did it and if she was going to start teaching, her answer was she did it just to learn everything there was about rug hooking.  Good for her….she was an expert!  If you needed an extra worm, you got it.  If you needed her to critique your work, you got it.  She had a good eye and we will all miss her talent and expertise.  Farewell to a wonderful woman.  ~ Barbara Boyko

Though I only knew Patty for a few years...I never saw her without a smile and a happy word for everyone. Patty was always inclusive to everyone...and was an inspiration in her kindness, and happy view of the world. I will miss her. ~ Katie Simonson

I was fortunate to room with Patty at McGown Northern Teacher's Workshop for many years.  It was pleasure to get to know her and spend this extended time with her.  Patty was a wonderful teacher (Watermelon/Fruit), student (Mother's Comfort), and team member (Eye See You II - Red Fox). But more importantly, she was a wonderful friend.  Patty was always supportive, positive, friendly, and offering to do something for others.  I always looked forward to seeing her at hook- ins or classes and hearing from her via email.  Patty is missed already and I will think of her often. I'm very thankful for the time I had with her. ~Judy Carter

I always looked forward to seeing Patty and will miss her company.  ~Lydia Brenner

When I think of Patty, I am reminded of her cheerfulness.  She always noticed the good in people and the beauty in their rugs. Her own rugs symbolized the happiness she shared with others.  The bright colors and lively designs made you smile when viewing her rugs.  They gave you joy! Knowing Patty enriched my life with friendship and joy. And I will try to remember that joy as I deal with the grief of losing a dear friend. ~Janet Williams

I had the privilege and pleasure to become better acquainted with Patty at our 2013 Camp. She sat near me but in the other class.  She had taught the Beginners’ Workshop and my niece, Melissa, had taken the class.  I stopped to thank her and was awed by her fine rug hooking.  I have seldom met a more gracious and lovely person. A great loss to all of us in many ways.  I am truly moved by her passing.  ~ Barbara Lugg

I will miss her smiling face and the happiness we all felt when we were with her! ~Joyce Combs

I just had this thought this morning. It is nice that since Patty's birthday, Dec. 8th, it has been bright and cherry with the sparkling snow.  Just like Patty.  My husband, who only met Patty a couple of times, called her Patty McHappy this morning.  It is a good and fitting name and her happy personality shined through even to people who only met her briefly. ~ Juliana Kapusta 

Rug hooking and Patty seemed synonymous for me.  When I was just learning, my small group didn't meet during the summer.  I found Gail Dufresne that summer and met Patty at those Saturday classes. An immediate friendship began and we all shared learning and lots of laughter.   It was evident that she had a remarkable talent and an eye for color.  I started out doing primitives, but Patty's magnificent choice of colors has had a strong influence on me.  She was a good friend to so many of us and she was always ready to help.  Her future impact on hooking is a sad loss for all of us. In us, her friends, she will live on. Eleanor Dunker

I have many wonderful memories of Patty in my rug hooking experiences and they always involved a lot of laughs and smiles.  Her smile comes to me whenever I sit down at my frame.  Rest peacefully good friend.  ~ Cheryl Halliday

I've thought of Patty a lot over the past several months and wished that there was some way that I could have comforted her during this difficult period. During the time that I knew her, she was always kind and generous with her support to everyone around her. She always had a wonderful smile when she greeted you and a sparkle in her eyes that made you feel warm and special. Patty is one of the people that I feel fortunate to have met and so very sorry to have lost.  ~ Dee Rosebrock

Featured Member – In Memory of Patty Mahaffey — Patty will be sorely missed by the Guild and others in the rug hooking community. In Patty’s memory, we are reposting her Featured Member article from the February 2010 below.

Meet Our Member – Patty Mahaffey

In 2003 Patty was watching a show on the Home & Garden TV channel when a segment on rug hooking caught her attention.  She was intrigued and went on line to learn more. It was there that she first learned about Vicki Calu, the well-known and admired rug hooking instructor from Bucks County.  Patty MahaffeyPatty lived only 15 minutes from Vicki and started attending her Saturday classes.  At the time, Vicki was also the director of the Highlands Rug Hooking School, so attending Highlands workshops came next. It was there that Patty met Gail Dufresne. She liked Gail’s wool and creative rug hooking technique. Patty has attended Gail’s open studio sessions on Saturdays for the last six years.

Geometric and pictorial patterns using bright colors are what Patty tends to hook.  She likes to mix cuts depending on the rug.  Most of her latest projects have been done in a #6 cut although Patty is comfortable hooking in anything from a #3 to #8 cut. She will buy a commercial pattern if it is something that she likes, but enjoys designing her own rugs.

Right from the beginning Patty was committed to learning as much as she could. She is serious about improving her technique and knowledge about all aspects of rug hooking. Patty finds that the leavesworkshops sponsored by local instructors such as Norma Batastini and Gail Dufresne to be invaluable in her development as a rug hooking artisan. Local classes are augmented by regular attendance at Rugs by the Sea in Cape May where she has gone for the last five years and the HCRAG camp which she attended last year for the first time. She was also “a regular” at the Highlands. Norma Batastini sponsored Patty’s participation in the McGown Certification Program where she has completed the first segment. The list of instructors with whom Patty has worked resembles the “Who’s Who” of the rug hooking world. The list currently includes 21 names!  Patty states that she “has gained from every teacher and has learned from them all”. Since Patty has attended Gail Dufresne’s classes for so long, she credits Gail with being the most influential on her development and style.

Patty tries to hook after dinner every day, but when her schedule gets busy days or even a week can go by before she can sit down at her hooking frame. Weekends are the time when she can count on getting some serious hooking done. It is typical for Patty to have a couple of rugs that she alternates working on. She has about eight unfinished rugs, which is not that many considering the number of workshops she attends. Interestingly all of Patty’s completed pieces are wall hangings.  None are done for the floor.

When it comes to wool, Patty takes advantage of the wool she finds at her classes and from local vendors.  “There is so much beautiful wool available” says Patty “that I prefer to work with it rather than recycled wool. It can be as is or overdyed.” Finding time to do more dyeing is something she wants to do.

Patty was first introduced to our Guild when she participated in the hook-in held at the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center in conjunction with our rug exhibit in 2006. She met several members at the Highlands.  Patty is also active with the Goat Hill ATHA Chapter where she serves as secretary.She saysI enjoy coming to the meetings for both guilds because it's an opportunity to see people who I may not have a chance to see on a regular basis plus, it's always fun to see what everyone is hooking and catch up on anything new that is going on in the world of rug hooking.”flowers

In addition to rug hooking, Patty is an avid reader and enjoys knitting.  She is also proficient in miniature punch needle. Patty lives in Perkasie, PA with her husband Dave, who is a police officer in Hilltown Township (PA) along with their 14 year old Bichon Frise named Muffin. They have two children, Matthew and Colleen.  Matthew, age 24, followed his father into law enforcement and is a police officer in Towamencin Township (PA). Colleen, age 21, is a student at Millersville University.  Patty is an administrative assistant and has worked for an electronics company in Lansdale, PA for the past 25 years.

Patty Mahaffey was clearly “hooked” when she first learned about rug hooking.  When asked what it was that grabbed  her, she said: “I love the fact that rug hooking can be tailored to whatever style you want whether it is primitive, traditional, whimsical, large, small, etc. and that you can either design your own rug or choose from the hundreds of patterns that are available. You can choose not only the beautiful colors and textures of wool, but also any kind of embellishment (i.e., felting, yarn, buttons, etc.)  to make the rug your own.  I remember being so amazed when I first started rug hooking by the whole network of teachers, workshops, and classes that are out there and, especially, the fellow rug hookers with whom I have become friends.  I find it so inspiring to see other people's work and I have met so many interesting people whom I never would have met if it wasn't for rug hooking.” 

— February 2010

Addendum to original article

Patty continued to grow and develop as a rug hooking artisan. In July 2009, she began the process of becoming a McGown certified teacher at Northern McGown Teacher Workshop under the sponsorship of Norma Batastini. By July 2013 Patty completed all her requirements and received certification as a McGown Teacher.  During the winter of 2012 Patty helped in the establishment of a new ATHA chapter called Wool Whisperers, Chapter 131, in Pennsylvania.  She contributed her Red Fox Eye to the nationally acclaimed Eye See You II exhibit organized by Judy Carter.  The exhibit was the special feature at Sauder Village in 2012 and the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen in Lancaster.

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December 2013
Featured Member — Cathy Heilferty

Cathy Heilferty and her husband, John, were on vacation in 2000 when they visited a small town in heilferty_3Nova Scotia named Cheticamp.  Her introduction to rug hooking occurred when they went to the local hooking museum named after Elizabeth LaForte. The museum had lots of old hooked pieces and a card table that had been modified by removing the top and rug backing fastened to the base with carpet tacks.  “It was the coolest thing I have ever seen”, Cathy recalls. Many of the shops in Cheticamp had items for sale that were hooked by local artisans.

Shortly after returning home, Cathy found an old issue of Rug Hooking Magazine.  At that point in time, the magazine still had several pages in the back each month that described rug hooking techniques.  “I used those pages to figure out the basics and hooked several chair pads as my first project”, Cathy notes.

The magazine also provided a way for Cathy to learn of other resources. One was a workshop in Vermont which focused on hooking with a punch- needle. At the time her father-in-law, who lived in New England, was ill, so Cathy was able to visit him and go to the workshop on the same trip north.  She was impressed by the beautiful yarn available at the workshop and began to seriously work using the punch- needle technique.  “I did a lot of punch-needle in those days.”

Gail Dufresne’s studio in Lambertville, NJ was another resource Cathy discovered from RHM.  In 2004 she started to attend the open studio sessions that Gail held on Saturdays. She attended for several years and got to know other local rug hookers.  The Goat Hill ATHA Chapter (now Lamb Yankees Chapter) formed from the friendships established at those Saturday open studio sessions.

heilferty_3Cathy had a preference for hooking with wide cuts (mostly #6 & #8) right from the beginning.  She did experience hooking with narrow cuts of wool in a Highlands’ workshop with Norma Batastini where they worked on hooking purses.  “I was determined to learn, but do not have the eye for narrow cut hooking”, Cathy observes.

When it comes to rug patterns, Cathy prefers to design her own.  Most of her rugs are given to family members and friends, so the patterns often reflect some life event such as graduations, weddings and birthdays. “My patterns depend on the occasion. It is easier for me to create a pattern with someone in mind.  The rugs help me feel connected with family members who live far away.” Her design process starts on paper where she records what she sees in her head.  Cathy normally draws freehand or uses a ruler for geometric patterns. Drawing directly on the linen backing first does not work for her. Cathy has a hooking notebook/ journal where she keeps her sketches.  The “Grounds for Sculpture” in Hamilton, NJ is “a real treasure” according to Cathy and a place she goes for inspiration. She records the date and location of her sketches for future reference. 

Rug hooking camps often conflict with Cathy’s work schedule so she is not able to attend as many as she would like. Hook-ins like the one sponsored by the Brandywine Guild and the HCRAG Retreat work better for her.  Cathy likes the feeling of togetherness and being connected that are found at hooking camps, hook-ins and retreats.  “You learn from the others too”, she notes.

Even though Cathy has not be able to attend many camps, she has been exposed to some of the best heilferty_2local talent — Gail Dufresne (open studio session), Norma Batastini (Highlands workshop),  Janet Williams (Lamb Yankees program), and Sandra Brown (HCRAG Camp).  In addition,  Patty Mahaffey kept her appraised of what she was learning at her McGown certification training. “Patty is generous with her time and shares so much.”  In the past Cathy did counted cross stitch and knitting but found rug hooking to be so much more refreshing. She recalls that Gail “Gave me freedom, not a lot of rules, no ‘must does’. Cross stitch and knitting are nothing but rules! Norma and Sandra gave me structure and guidance when needed.”

Cathy hooks with both new and recycled wool.  She attributes Guild members for introducing her to the benefits of working with recycled wool. Janet Williams was instrumental in encouraging her to try dyeing light and natural colored wool, which she now enjoys doing. If a lot of one color is needed for a project, Cathy will dye it herself and mix it with recycled wool.

Hooking every night, whenever possible, is important to Cathy.  “I am like a big baby and act crabby and angry if I cannot hook at night”, she jokes. “It allows me to relax and chill out from work.  I find hooking to have a meditation quality that appeals to my Quaker upbringing.”

Being active in the local guilds is also an important part of Cathy’s rug hooking regimen. She is a founding member of the Lamb Yankees (formerly Goat Hill) ATHA Chapter.  Cathy learned about the Hunterdon Guild from members who also attended the Saturday sessions at Gail Dufresne’s Studio. She likes the camaraderie and being with people “who talk rug hooking; we speak the same language”.  She finds rug hooking guilds to be welcoming communities who eagerly share. 

Cathy and her husband, John, live in Yardley, PA with their three children – Brian, Sean and Lydia – their two dogs, Rocket and Percy, and an assortment of turtles and salamanders.  Brian who is the oldest (age 21) attends Gannon University, Sean (age 19) is a sophomore at Penn State, and Lydia is in 8th Grade. John is a biologist and herpetologist (“You need to check the dictionary”, Cathy teases.) for the State of New Jersey. For 19 years Cathy was a nurse working at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. In 2007 she decided to teach nursing and returned to Villanova University to earn a master’s degree and PHD in nursing.  She now teaches undergraduate and graduate nursing students at Holy Family University in northeast Philadelphia. “I love teaching and the students”, Cathybeams.

As Cathy reflects on her journey as a developing rug hooking artisan, she observes that “Rug hooking is like singing.  I never felt like an artist when I did counted cross stitch and knitting. I followed the rules and made useful things, but it was not art.  Hooking makes me feel like an artist.  I am creating a rug that no one else has done before.”  Looking ahead, she wants “to be more goal oriented and have two or three rugs lined up in my mind. I tend to go from project to project and almost always finish a rug before another one is started.”

Cathy was a member of the Hooked Rug Festival Planning Committee and was responsible for creating the beautiful decorations at the Mill.  Her experience working on the Festival cemented the warm feelings she shares with the local rug hooking community. “The Festival was a lot of work, but it was done with no hassle, no nastiness.  It felt wonderful to be part of it.”

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November 2013
Featured Member – Anndee Byers

Anndee Byers has collected primitive antiques for years and has decorated her home with them. Textiles such as quilts and samplers have a special appeal. “I like to live withAnndee Byers the things I collect”, she notes. Her collections include old hooked rugs that she bought from a dealer friend and displayed throughout her home. As the old rugs started to wear on the edges, Anndee put them away but missed the decorating touch they provided.

She started to think about learning to hook rugs herself when a friend brought to her attention a flyer for Norma Batastini’s popular “Rugs by the Sea” camp held each September in Cape May, NJ. Anndee signed up for Lucille Festa and headed to Cape May thinking that the camp was intended to teach beginners how to hook rugs.  She soon learned that Rugs by the Sea was not a beginner’s workshop!  Fortunately, Anndee sat next to Judy Quintman’s mother who took her under her wing. “She was great!” Anndee recalls.  “She patiently taught me the basics that week.” That was in 2004 after which Anndee continued to hook along with knitting which was her passion at the time. Lucille and Anndee both worked at AT&T at one point in their careers; that common thread was the beginning of a friendship.

Anndee was looking for ways to continue improving her technique when a friend introduced her to a monthly hook-in held at a quilt shop in Delaware. Even though the gathering was an hour away, Anndee was drawn to the “fabulous women” in the group. Those who came together each month included bankers, insurance executives and other professional women. Anndee continues to drive to Delaware each month to hook with her friends.

With her interest in primitive antiques, hooking in the primitive style was a natural extension of Anndee’s love of things old. She appreciates the skill and results that can be achieved by fine cut hooking. “It blows me away!” she says.  However, for Anndee hooking with wide cuts is more compatible with her personal interests. She prefers to hook with #8 cuts of wool. Anndee Byers

Anndee likes to hook with recycled wool “if I can find it”. At the same time, she wants to support her workshop instructors and local suppliers. “It is not easy to earn a living by teaching rug hooking and I feel an obligation to support the women who work hard to perpetuate the art form we all love.” Anndee does not currently have the time to get into dyeing her wool which is another reason she likes to buy her wool from her teachers and vendors at events. “I am finally getting a stash of wool to draw upon.  In the past, I would panic about not having the right wool before going home after each workshop.” 

When it comes to her rug patterns, Anndee is slowing getting more comfortable designing her patterns. Gail Ferdinando, Judy Quintman and Debbie Walsh have been instrumental in encouraging Anndee to increase her confidence in this regard. Of course, Anndee sees buying patterns at workshops as another way to support her instructors.

When Anndee first travelled to Cape May in 2004 she was a novice.  She has returned every year since then and continues to grow as a rug hooking artisan. Attending camp and workshops is an important part of her plan to learn and improve her technique. In addition to Cape May, she attends HCRAG workshops and went to Punderson, Ohio to work with Cynthia Norwood.  Her instructors have included many of the most recognized in the rug hooking world today including Norma Batastini, Lucille Festa, Carrie Martin, Kris Miller, and Judy Quintman.  “I have learned from all of them,” she says. Here are a few recollections:

Norma – “Hook a fist size portion of your rug each day”
Lucille – How to hook “muddy old primitives”
Carrie – “Do something fun!”
Kris – Learned many, many techniques!
Cynthia – “Color affects color”
Judy – “Bring nature into your rugs.”

Being active in the local rug hooking guilds is another way Anndee stays involved. She attends meetings of the Wool Whispers and Pinelands ATHA Chapters as well as HCRAG. Anndee is one of the co-directors of our 2014 rug hooking camp.

One reason Anndee is attracted to rug hooking is because she sees it “like painting with wool”. She likes the effect you can achieve by putting textured wool together. “It is pretty wonderful to pick fabrics and see them work together.”  She has also observed that rug hooking “brings good people together”.  Anndee believes that it is important “to make connections” and finds that “the guilds give you an opportunity to make friendships while you are hooking”. She would like to see more hooking done at our meetings since many members have full schedules and our monthly meetings could provide precious hooking time.

Anndee ByersAnndee’s other interests include antiquing, knitting, walking, gardening, reading and American history.  “I love a good mystery and anything to do with history”, she observes. Anndee is a trained colonial reenactor and portrays a middle class woman who lived in Philadelphia in 1770. She does historical interpretation of the colonial period for an organization known as Centipede (“1000 feet on the street”) and has organized quilting and historical tours in the Delaware Valley.

Anndee has combined her interest in history and rug hooking to launch her own business called “Hooking, Hoofing and History”.  According to Anndee “the business is designed for people who love to hook, love to eat well and love history”.  The first offering was in Philadelphia where participants enjoyed touring historic colonial sites, hooking with Lucille Festa and eating colonial fare at local taverns and restaurants. (The “Yankee Doodle Rugs” worked on during this trip were displayed at the Hooked Rug Festival.)  Anndee has had to put her business on hold while she deals with serious damage to her home as a result of Hurricane Sandy.  However, future plans being explored include trips to New England and Colonial Williamsburg.

Anndee’s “day job” is consulting and training on human resources issues. Many of her clients are in the healthcare industry. She has been a self-employed consultant in “human dynamics” for 22 years.  Anndee lives in Riverton, NJ with her husband, Walt, and their two cats – Maximus and Quincy.

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October 2013
Featured Member – Paula Patti

Paula Patti and her husband Tony share a deep interest in crafts and handmade objects. Tony is an experienced glass blower and continues to develop his skill by attending workshops whenever he can.  Paula’s interest in crafting goes back to Arcardia University, where she majored in Fine Arts. Before Paula touched a rug, she tried her hand at making quilts.  She started with piecing “blocks of the month” to learn the many quilt squares. Since then she has made several beautiful quilts including some with buttons.  In 2011, she won third place in the Viewer’s Choice for the Newtown Quilters’ Guild Show. 

In 2007, Tony and Paula drove to Williamstown, West Virginia to see the Fenton Glass Company that has been in Williamstown for over 100 years. While there, Tony had the opportunity to purchase antique glassblowing molds and Paula discovered the Woolen Willow which was down the street from their hotel.  The store had quilting and rug hooking supplies.  After taking a good look around the store, Paula left with a lap frame and beginner’s kit with wool already in #8 cuts.  Paula recalls that she was “afraid to take up another fabric medium, but thought there may just be enough room in the house for another adventure.”

You know what happened after that.  She got a subscription to Rug Hooking Magazine and soon learned about the Hunterdon Guild and our summer camp.  In 2009, Paula attended the HCRAG camp for the first time and has not missed one since.  Our annual hooking retreats have also been a favorite.  Judy Quintman was Paula’s first camp teacher from whom she learned the basics. This past summer Judy Carter was her teacher.  They worked together on hooking a deer design. “My designs get larger and more colorful.  What fun!” she beams.

It is hard to say what Paula enjoys most about rug hooking.  She thinks “it may be the opportunity to use a full palette of colors with the variety of hues available with tweed, plaid, or dyed woolens.”  Today Paula is studying rug color planning and style.  She is “stimulated by patterns that require more than one cut of wool and images with more complexity and color.”   Paula observes that “over the past five years I have gone from working mostly with a # 8 cut to hooking with #6 and #4 cuts. Rug hooking is like painting but with fabric!” 
In 2011, Paula and Tony traveled to Lancaster for the ATHA Biennial where she purchased Susan Feller’s “Quilt Show” pattern.  It gave Paula a chance to combine her interests in quilting and rug hooking.

Paula finds that “hooking is a great escape in the evening”.  Tony built a carousel for her wool strips with vintage lamp parts plus modern parts from Home Depot.  The carousel allows Paula to set up a palette of wools by color and cut size.  She takes it to all hooking events and is ready to hook, socialize and relax with the Guild.  At home, the carousel sits next to the TV and window where Paula sits to hook. At night deer come within a few feet of that window. 

Paula and Tony live in Holland, PA.  Tony works in Philadelphia as the Chief Information Officer for a packaging company. He is Paula’s greatest fan and encourages her to be the best rug hooker that she can be.  In his spare time he enjoys glassblowing and gardening. Their home is landscaped with coneflowers, hibiscus flowers, and butterfly bushes during the summer.  Paula and Tony have two children – Jeff and Jennifer.  Jeff is a computer consultant who lives in Philadelphia.  Jennifer is a newlywed and physical therapist.  Her husband Jesse is a fireman. They live on Long Island.   The family keeps in touch by e-mail.  Over the summertime Paula gets them together for cookouts.

Paula doubts that she will ever put rug hooking away “because HCRAG has so much to offer.  The Guild has given friendship, teachers, hook-ins, shows, and more to everyone. “

To see some of Paula’s rugs and Tony’s blown glass, go online to

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September 2013
Featured Member — Arline Bechtoldt-Apgar

Today Arline Bechtoldt-Apgar is recognized as an accomplished rug hooker, camp director and sought after instructor.  The journey which brought her to this point started in the mid-1970s shortly after a close friend moved from South Plainfield, NJ to Long Island. Her friend relocated a great deal and found that joining local groups was a good way to meet people in her new community. On Long Island, she was introduced to a quilting and rug hooking group. During a visit, Arline persuaded her friend to arrange a meeting with her hooking instructor.  She ended up taking a one day “crash course” with Helen Connelly who taught rug hooking on Long Island. The journey was started!

When she got back home Arline started looking for a rug hooking teacher and found one 40 miles away who was McGown certified and gave Arline a good grounding in the fundamentals. In 1977 Arline joined the local McGown Guild.  At that point in time McGown Guild’s concentrated on shading and narrow cut hooking and that is what Arline was taught. That was about to change.

Alice Beatty was scheduled to speak at a guild chapter meeting but was too ill to attend.  One of Alice’s friends came instead and gave a presentation on primitive style rug hooking.  That was Arline’s introduction into the world of wide cut primitive rug hooking which she now embraces. Arline recalls buying books written by Alice and having her sign them.  Shortly thereafter, Alice Beatty passed away. In recognition of her contribution to the rug hooking world, the Molly Pitcher Chapter was renamed the Alice Beatty Chapter of ATHA. Arline went on to continue taking classes and workshops with many of the well-known instructors of the time including Ruth Roccia, Ethel Bruce and Mary Anne Lincoln. 

Arline became involved with the McGown Teacher Certification Program in 1989 and has participated in their teacher workshops for the last 22 years. With the broad based training Arline received, she is in a position to “do it all”.

According to Arline, her style of hooking “depends on the pattern”. She prefers to work with commercially available patterns and hooks with both new and recycled wool  Arline “loves color” and looks forward to getting the dye pots out for a day of dyeing wool for one of her projects or for others.  When attending a workshop, she “likes to get the input from the teacher on color planning”.  “I could do it myself”, she notes “but I treat myself by getting ideas from the teacher.”

Arline “likes to learn” and makes it a practice to “attend a couple of camps a year”.  The Maryland Shores Camp is a favorite which she attends often along with the HCRAG Camp.  Arline is always on the lookout for interesting classes.  An opportunity to attend a class with Deanne Fitzpatrick this summer was a particular treat.

Supporting and participating in local rug hooking groups is also a priority. Arline is an active member of the Alice Beatty ATHA Chapter, HCRAG and the National Guild of Pearl K. McGown Rughookrafters.  She is a teacher and mentor with the group that meets at Longstreet Farm.

Arline likes to hook every day which she generally does several days a week on her own or with friends.  “There are months when I hook every day” she observes.  “I like to hook first thing in the morning.  I set the timer and hook and find it gets you going.” With this routine Arline is more inclined to hook at night too.

Teaching was a logical evolution of Arline’s growth as a rug hooking artisan.  She began teaching in 1988 and gave lessons at home for many years.  When her husband became ill, teaching from home was no longer possible.  She then began to teach at camps and workshops. (Arline was one of the teachers at our Camp last year.) Specialized workshops on dyeing are a favorite of hers.

For the past 16 years Arline has been the director of the Country Inn Rug School that is held in Rindge, New Hampshire.  The Sunday to Friday camp is held at the Woodbound Inn and has a McGown orientation. Before rug hooking took over her life, Arline was a quilter, but found there “was not time for both”. She is also a member of the Historical Society of Early American Decoration.

Arline lives in South Plainfield. Her first husband died suddenly the day after the 9/11Attack in New York. Six years later, she married her “high school sweetheart” with whom she enjoyed two years before he passed away.  Arline has three sons – Chris and twins Scott and Todd.  Chris also lives in South Plainfield as do Scott and his wife, Jen.  Todd lives in Milford enjoying the opportunity to have more land with his home.   

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June 2013
Featured Member – Janet Keller Laughlin

Janet has had a lifelong interest in textiles, which she attributes to two “great women” in her life. Her mother, Nancy A. Keller, was a fantastic seamstress, teaching her embroidery, crocheting, knitting and sewing. When Janet was in high school, they worked together on Janetcreating “artistic 1970’s fashion and accessories” for school and events. Her mother in-law, Carin Moore Laughlin, was a talented artist who taught Janet needlepoint and punch needle hooking, inspiring Janet to experiment with these mediums. Nancy and Carin both were avid gardeners and fantastic cooks as well.
Janet’s interest in textiles and historic decorative arts grew while she was working as an illustrator and designer for an educational book publisher in the 1980’s. She studied gilding, fresco and mural painting, while developing skills in materials and techniques of ancient and antique processes of making art. She continued her fiber art skills as well, making puppets, dolls and tapestries.

In 1980, Janet’s “obsession for rugs” turned into a custom design business of producing hand-painted custom large-scale floorcloths ranging up to 10’ x 13’.  She has given floorcloth workshops and still does custom work today. Janet developed many patterns that she sells. During that time, Janet’s interest grew to take her designs and make them into rugs with fabric. “For me hooking rugs is like painting with wool, applying painting principles of color, saturation, value and texture into the rug making process.

Janet’s involvement with rug hooking started with an ad she saw for a workshop in rug hooking with former Guild member Claudia Casebolt. For the next few years, Janet attended weekly gatherings at Claudia’s house.  She recalls “It was then I vowed I would only collect the amount of wool I was using for that specific rug. And yes, only one rug at a time. My studio was already filled with a multitude of painting & sculptural mediums.  I didn’t want to add to my collections……and then I got hooked. It is hard to resist a beautiful array of colors, textures and patterns. I need a full pallet to select from….so the collecting started.”

With Claudia’s encouragement, Janet entered Rug Hooking Magazine’s Celebrations XX competition and her third rug. “Harmony Along the Delaware” was accepted into the “Magnificent Landscape Category”. The rug was exhibited at Sauder Village, The Jersey Girls Rug Show, and Barron Arts Center.

Janet likes primitive folk art and graphic styles, but she notes “my instinct to render finds its way into my work.”

Claudia and Dee Rosebrock introduced Janet to our Guild. She now attends HCRAG’s summer camps and Spring Flings when she can make them. “It’s a concentrated time when I can make progress on a piece and get good feedback from the teachers and Guild members, because after a while, I can’t see my own piece. I’m too immersed in the process, so it’s good to get some distance on the rug and get feedback.”

Janet is a real fan of HCRAG. “I’ve taking some great workshops with experienced rug hookers. I am grateful to HCRAG for providing great meeting programming and for hosting workshops and events that bring teachers from around the country into our local community. I am fortunate that I don’t have to travel far to attend these events. It’s inspiring to be in the company of enthusiastic and dedicated HCRAG members. It takes months/years to finish a piece. I get great feedback from anyone of the talented members who are always willing to share. I always find the HCRAG gatherings to be a nurturing environment; it’s like a retreat on its own.”

Some of the teachers with whom she has worked with include Claudia Casebolt, Michele Micarelli, and Cindy Duade. Claudia launched her into the rug hooking world eight years ago and was especially influential with her unique point of view and years of rug making skill and wisdom.

Occasionally Janet dyes her own wool, but mainly she uses “as is” new and recycled wool. For a special addition, she has used dyed wool from Michele Micarelli, Jeannie Benjamin, and Gail Dufresne. Janet will hook five or six hours in a sitting in the evenings, although not every day. She will usually hook long evening hours over the course of a couple of weeks.

With her background as an illustrator and designer, drawing and designing her own patterns are natural extensions of her skills.  Janet notes, “The sky’s the limit. Nature is my ongoing theme. I have quite a large inventory of designs that were for floorcloths and illustrations. Rug hooking is a medium to explore the drawings and designs I’ve used in my art. I take some of them and make them into rugs. I also have many patterns for sale.”

“Nature is my inspiration”, Janet observes. She is currently the President of The Garden Club of Trenton, and participates in horticulture, conservation, floral design & botanical arts projects and entries. She enters the Philadelphia Flower Show & Garden Club of America shows and recently won The Garden Club of America’s, “Botanical Arts Creativity Award” for a shoe entry constructed entirely out of dried plant material. The materials were harvested from her backyard and gathered from her kitchen.

Janet is a full time multidisciplinary artist working in the fine arts and decorative arts for commissioned projects and national exhibits. She also teaches fiber/botanical art, figurative and landscape drawing and painting at her studio, in schools and at art organizations. Her professional history includes working as an illustrator and graphic designer for TV (WABC, Philadelphia), advertising agencies and book publishers. She has degrees from Moore College of Art & Design (Illustration & Design) and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (Painting and Sculpture) and has studied at The Isabel O’Neil Studio, NYC

Janet and her husband, Alex, live in Hopewell, NJ with their dog, Maggie. Alex works in real estate development. Their daughter, Alissa, is also an artist, specializing in Upcycled Jewelry and photography. Their son, Alexander, is a commercial real estate investment manager. Both live in Philadelphia.

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May 2013
Featured Member – Nancy Sears Nancy Sears

Nancy attributes her friend Donna Kolznak with introducing her to the world of hooked rugs.  They were both volunteers at Quiet Valley Historical Farm where they met in 2007. When Nancy took over running Everlastings, (dried flower arrangements) for their annual Harvest Festival in the fall, Donna helped and they soon became good friends. In 2009, Donna mentioned she was taking a rug hooking class being taught by Jeannine Happe (Two Old Crows).  Although it sounded interesting, Nancy was not available for all of the class meetings.

“Donna’s first rug was the only hooked item I saw in person”, Nancy recalls.  After learning that Jeannine had her studio open on Thursdays, Nancy decided to take a ride there with Donna to see if she “could learn how to make a tiny rug”. “One look at Jeannine’s things and I knew I was ‘hooked’!  Nancy picked the same small log cabin kit that Jeanine had used for the class; Jeannine showed her how to start.

Nancy admires the results that can be achieved by the various styles of rug hooking, but from the beginning was particularly drawn to the primitive style with the wider cuts.  That continues to be her preference.

Nancy Sears floralThe 2011 ATHA Biennial that was held in Lancaster presented a special opportunity to attend such a major rug hooking event. Nancy recalls “feeling a little intimidated by all of the wonderful instructors teaching classes” and felt “lucky to get into Chris Miller’s and Barb Carroll’s classes”. She has continued to develop her rug hooking knowledge with wool dyeing and color planning classes with Jeannine Happe and Norma Batastini.  Nancy also learned to finish hooked rugs with a braided rug binding.

Nancy credits Jeannine Happe with being the most influencial in her development as a hooking artisan. “Her patterns and color choices just make her rugs look like beautiful paintings.” Other rug hookers are also a great source of inspiration. Nancy notes that “Therese Schick never ceases to amaze with the beautiful projects she does using rich color planning and fine detail. But most of all, her encouraging words and help when asked show the true fellowship of hookers.”

Last summer, Nancy took a dyeing class with Jeannine Happe and was amazed at how simple she made it look.  “I love the process and all the possibilities of color and have been doing a little on my own but resist the temptation out of necessity.” Nancy tends to only dye when she has a purpose for a particular color and wants to create her own rather than pick from all the amazing colors offered by vendors.

For the most part, Nancy buys her patterns from the rich resources available today. However, she recently wanted a simple snowman pattern for her dining room table so with Jeannine’s permission used the snowman head from her mug rugs.  Nancy added some simple snowflakes and made her own pattern.

Trying to be practical, Nancy attempts to limit purchases only to patterns that she knows have a use or for which she has space. “That hasn’t stopped me from having what seems like an endless supply of un-started projects”, she jokes. Although Nancy is currently working on a larger rug, she prefers smaller projects “that don’t run in to multi-year projects”. She is drawn to 3-D seasonal projects such as sheep, a Christmas tree, a Santa, a chicken  and the first of a set of three chocolate Easter bunnies (milk chocolate – her favorite!) Nancy Sears 3d

Like so many Guild members, finding time to hook on a regular basis is a challenge when you have a busy schedule.  Nancy notes that “I don’t have a set hooking routine at home as my free time is limited”.  She attempts to attend the open studio hook-ins at Two Old Crows every other Thursday as well as our monthly Guild meetings. She always takes her current project with her when heading to the beach for some relaxation.

Nancy learned of the Guild from Therese over a year ago but at that time she had a daytime commitment on Fridays and could not make the meetings. When her calendar opened up, Nancy came to the September meeting and joined then. She attended the Guild’s annual hook-in and “had a blast getting a chance spending time with other hookers, seeing and being able to talk about their projects”.

Enjoying doing various crafts started when Nancy was young.  She remembers taking her first “official class” to learn macramé in elementary school and being taught to crochet around the same time by her mother.  Afghans made by her mom, grandmother and great grandmother are treasured family heirlooms.

While still in school, Nancy became interested in needlework and counted cross-stitch became her favorite craft. When she and husband, Brad, dated, he was a competitive trap shooter so Nancy spent weekends at his shoots working on her projects and adding various mallard and wildlife scenes to his shooting shirts. She still enjoys both of these hobbies today and has added punch needle since it is a very portable craft. “When I have free time and am not working on crafts, I usually have a book in my hands”, Nancy observes.

Nancy and Brad live in Stroudsburg, PA in the Poconos region. They have been married for 28 years this coming August and have two children -- Frankie and Micki. Frankie is a District Executive for the Boy Scouts of America and works in Maryland. Micki will be graduating from East Stroudsburg University in May and hopes to get a job in social work. Frankie will be married this July in Maryland. Brad also has an older daughter, Debbie, who has blessed them with four wonderful grandkids – Andrew, Diana, Mathew, and Julia. Sadly for Nancy and Brad, they reside in Maryland which limits how often they can see them.

Brad worked in information technology until he was downsized in 2009. He was able to take his talents and start two different businesses.  His main business is one as a studio wood turner.  He sells his work online at  and through artist shows. This also became one of Nancy’s “jobs” as his bookkeeper and assistant at shows. Brad also created a web design business specializing in sites for artisans. Nancy keeps the books.

Nancy has an accounting degree and a master’s degree in business.  She chose to stay home to raise her children after working just a few years in her field. Nancy currently works part time at a women’s clothing store at the mall.

Any spare time Nancy might find is usually taken up with volunteering for her church and other mission projects in her area. She was very active as the representative from her church working with others on a two year project to start Family Promise in Monroe County, PA. This program uses local churches to house, feed and assist local homeless families to get back on their feet and become active community members. She continued to be the coordinator for several years and still assists with the rotations at her church.

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April 2013
Featured Member – Meet our Co-President Cindy Boults

Cindy grew up learning the importance of handwork and recalls a treasured piece of embroidery thather grandmother brought with her when she emigrated from Germany. Her childhood was a time when Cindy Boults Treeparents lived in the fear of their children developing the dread disease of polio. Her mother, who was a nurse, believed that it was important for children to rest in the afternoon. Those periods of rest were creatively used by Cindy to do embroidery and crewel work. She traces her inability to be idle to those childhood days.

Cindy was living on Long Island when she was first introduced to rug hooking. Her cousin’s wife is Cyndy Duade with whom she shares a strong interest in gardening attended a rug hooking camp that was held for many years in Greenport, Long Island. Cindy visited the rug show and “loved the rugs”. Cyndy taught Cindy the fundamentals of rug hooking by leading her through the steps of creating an original design, color planning and dyeing the necessary wool for the project. Now Cindy was truly hooked and her first post retirement activity was to attend the Long Island Rug School.

Shortly after retiring, Cindy and her husband, George, moved to New Jersey. “You are moving to rug hooking Mecca”, Cyndy declared when learning the news. Looking for a way to meet people in her new Cindy Boults Round rugcommunity Cindy used her interest in gardening and joined the Chrysanthemum Club, a popular local gardening group. It was there she met Guild member Sharon Ballard who invited Cindy to participate in her informal hooking group.

All aspects of rug hooking appeal to Cindy. “I do not see myself hooking in any specific style. I like to do it all”, she notes. Wool cuts ranging from #3 to #8 are routinely used in her hooking projects. When attending workshops, Cindy intentionally selects instructors from whom she can learn. “I have an eclectic style. I love it all!”

Cindy is frustrated by what she claims is an inability to draw her own patterns. “I am not an artist and need to rely on patterns drawn by others. Fortunately there are beautiful patterns out there.” However with help from her artist daughter and using computer images, she has designed some original works. Recently she was inspired by art work created by her granddaughter.

Our Guild’s summer rugs hooking camps and spring workshops have allowed Cindy to work with many of the best instructors available today. The teachers she has worked with are impressive. They include the following:

Norma Batastini, Sandra Brown, Judith Dallegret, Jen Lavoie, Gail Dufresne, Cynda Duade, Jayne Hester, AnneMarie Littenberg, Michele Micarelli, Iris Simpson

In addition to HCRAG camps/workshops, Cindy has journeyed north to the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild’s programs on two occasions. She also enjoys attending regional hook-ins.

“I am not a master dyer, but I do like to dye wool for my projects”, Cindy says. She claims to have trouble sticking to the recipes which can intimidate her. That notwithstanding, Cindy looks forward to doing more dyeing. She works mostly with new wool that is hooked “as is” or over dyed.Cindy Boults Flag

“Sitting down to hook for a half hour during the day is a real gift. I hook mostly at night.” Cindy cannot just sit and watch TV. She needs to be busy and finds hooking at that time allows her to be productive. Cindy also hooks on Tuesdays with an informal group in the area.

Our Guild was brought to Cindy’s attention by Sharon Ballard in 2005. She has been a regular ever since and currently serves as our co-president. Cindy has also run our Spring Fling workshops for the last two years and will be responsible admissions at the Rug Festival. Providing housing for our camp instructors has allowed her to build friendships and expand her rug hooking network. The generous and supportive environment found within our Guild has been responsible for Cindy’s ongoing involvement. “The genuine support and encouragement in our Guild are not often found in other art groups”, she observes. “The food at meetings is great too!”

Cindy and George bought a small apple farm in Annandale when they moved to New Jersey. Making apple cider, hard and soft, each year is a favorite family project. At one time, there were over 90 apple trees. Many were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy which devastated the area. The farm is also home to a flock of sheep, chickens, a goat, a duck, a miniature horse and two dogs. Before retiring in 2004, Cindy was an early childhood teacher for 20 years at a Quaker academy on Long Island. She taught kindergarten and first grade for three years. George is a representative for a food packaging company headquartered in Chicago. The Bouts have two children – Justin and Melissa. Justin lives in Brooklyn. Melissa lives in Three Bridges, NJ with her husband, Tim, and their two children — Cassidy, age 9, and Charlotte, age 5. Living close to their grandchildren was one of the motivations for Cindy’s and George’s decision to move to New Jersey.cindy_boults_tree

When it comes to hobbies and other activities, Cindy is a passionate organic gardener. No chemicals are used on the apple trees or elsewhere on the property. She also enjoys cooking and riding horses. (Cindy lived on a horse farm years ago.) Family gatherings are also a favorite. “We like to make events when the family gets together.” Traveling is another passion. She fondly recalls frequent trips to Ireland to visit her father. More recently, she and George traveled to Spain with their son. A knee injury curtailed Cindy’s winter ski trips.

“The translation of art into fiber” is one of the reasons Cindy is attracted to rug hooking. She likes how color can be translated in the creative process of hooking a rug. The feel of the wool and how textured wool hooks up is extremely satisfying. Cindy is always thinking of rugs in a series such as trees and roof tiles. Weezie’s presentation at the March meeting was especially inspiring. Cindy jokes that she hopes “to live long enough to do it all”.

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March 2013
Featured Member – Laurie Milne

Laurie Milne grew up in Connecticut and then moved to Colorado to attend Western State College where she majored in business marketing. She remained out west and was living in Vail when she met her husband, Bob, who lived in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The Laurie MilneMilne family recently relocated to New Jersey.

It was in Colorado where Laurie first started to hooked rugs.  She shares a passion for early American antiques with her good friend, Jenny, who she met in college. They admired old hooked rugs, but the ones they found in antique shops and shows were often in rough shape. Jenny’s mother started to hook rugs in the early 1990s and soon introduced her daughter to the art form.  Shortly thereafter, Laurie was hooking too.  Jenny and Laurie realized that the rugs and other decorative items they made could make their homes special. 

Laurie is basically self-taught and spent several years improving her technique on her own until the fall of 1998 when she attended her first rug hooking workshop. It was a weeklong workshop with Marion Ham that turned out to be a life changing experience. “Marion turned on every light bulb in my head. I couldn’t sleep after the workshop” Laurie recalls. She was so motivated and inspired that she went home and started her own rug hooking business – Get Hooked by Laurie – and created her own website.

After that initial workshop experience, Laurie went on to attend others. She has worked with many highly admired instructors including Emma Lou Lais, Barb Carroll, Jeannie Benjamin, Nola Heidbreder, Jule Marie Smith, Sally Kallin and Rhonde Manley.  The Arrow Rock Rug Hooking Camp in Missouri is one of her favorites.

From a style standpoint, Laurie is attracted to wide cut hooking.  She works mostly with #8.5 and # 9 cuts of wool.  A  #6 cut  may be used for detailing. In the beginning, Laurie hooked mostly with recycled wool obtained from local thrift shops. Eventually she  purchased  new wool that she found at the workshops she attended as well as from Rebecca Erb (The Wool Studio) and Betsy Reed (Heavens to Betsy).  She loves to over-dye her wool and before relocating made it a practice to regularly dye wool for her stash. Laurie’s dye pots and equipment are in her Colorado studio, but she “dyes like crazy” when she and Bob return every few months.

Laurie enjoys designing and hooking pillows which she sells through her website and at the Into the West Shop in Steamboat Springs.  The shop has been selling her pillows for 11 years. A few rugs have been designed at the request of her clients who wanted a rug to compliment a particular pillow. When she lived in Colorado, Laurie held open studio sessions where she taught and designed pillows, rugs and seasonal items.

Laurie tries to hook every day, but that is not always possible.  She is a big ice hockey fan and often hooks in the evening while watching a hockey game on TV.  There is always a project in the works, but there are times when a week can go by without any hooking. She enjoys the creative aspects of rug hooking, the colors and how the wool feels.  “I am a texture girl” she proclaims.Deer Jumping the garden

Shortly after Laurie and Bob moved to New Jersey, she went online to locate rug hooking resources in the area. She found the HCRAG website and then called Joyce Combs who was co-president at the time.  When she attended her first Guild meeting, Laurie was pleasantly surprised to see Nina Seaman who was a participant in the 1998 workshop with Marion Ham. 

As noted previously, Laurie is an avid ice hockey fan.  She played on a women’s team when she lived in Colorado. She also does dance cardio as part of her exercise regimen.  Her volunteer activities include grocery shopping for senior citizens through a program sponsored by the Visiting Nurses Services.

Laurie and her family live in Morristown, NJ.  Her husband, Bob, works for a major hotel chain where he is responsible for vacation rentals.  They have two sons – Jonathan and Patrick. Jonathan attends Holy Cross College and Patrick attends the Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts.

Visit to see a few of Laurie’s creations.

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February 2013
Featured Member – Donna Kolznak

Donna Kolznak and her husband, George, are volunteers at Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm located outside of Stroudsburg, PA.  It was there during a short lunch break in the spring of 2009 that Donna saw Jeannine Happe (Two Old Crows) demonstrating rug hooking. She was taken by what she saw and immediately knew that she wanted to learn how to hook rugs.  The hooked rugs that Donna had seen at antique shows always seemed to be drab and dirty, but Jeannine’s rugs had wonderful colors.  “I had to do it!” is what Donna recalls as her reaction.

She explored the idea of having Jeannine conduct a workshop for beginners at Quiet Valley. Tentative arrangements were made as long as there would be six participants. There was stronger interest than expected because 10 excited registrants were found with little effort. They worked on a log cabin pattern that was completed in three weeks when the group reconvened.  All of the students bought a second kit and were on their way!

Nancy Sears and Donna attended a penny mat workshop together, but they spent a lot of time talking about rug hooking.  They decided to visit Jeannine’s shop and learned of her open studio sessions on Thursdays. A serious car accident prevented Donna from hooking for about six months while she recovered from the injuries suffered in the accident. She could not drive, but Nancy gladly provided the transportation to hooking events.  Donna used the time when she could not hook to be thinking about and color planning her next hooking projects.  The process was very therapeutic.

The ATHA Biennial that was held in Lancaster in 2011 provided an opportunity for Donna to meet other rug hookers, vendors and teachers that she would normally not be exposed to. She took a workshop with Kris Miller who taught her students seven or eight hooking techniques on one rug. “It was a fantastic experience”, Donna recalls. She also attended workshops with Barb Carroll and Eric Sandberg.

Donna started to search for other rug hookers and hooking groups. There were no guilds in the Pocono area where she lives, but it was not long before Donna and Nancy learned of the guilds a little further away.  Soon they were attending regional hook-ins sponsored by the Woolwrights, Brandywine and Hunterdon Guilds.  Donna met Therese Shick at an open studio session at Two Old Crows and heard about the Lamb Yankees ATHA Chapter. While attending a Lamb Yankees meeting, Donna was introduced to our Guild when Kathleen Murray-Boyda circulated a copy of The Loop. She has been a member of both guilds from that time and has not missed a meeting. Donna chairs the HCRAG Mentoring Program and Rug Festival Committee on Door Prizes.

Donna KolznakDonna “loves antiques” and old things in general and finds herself attracted to primitive style rug hooking. The darker palette with which she likes to hook fits in nicely with her home and furnishings. An 8 ½ cut is what she currently uses although Donna wants to try wider cuts that she saw being used by Betsy Reed (Heavens to Betsy) last year at a demonstration at the Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY. Betsy was hooking with ½” and ¾” strips of ripped wool.

Dyeing wool is something that Donna has tried on her own after attending a dyeing get together at Janet Williams’ home. She enjoyed the experience, but says that “I will not be a true dyer. I would rather use my time hooking. Also, there is so much great wool available.”  Donna is drawn to textured and plaid wool that she buys off the bolt.  “I am not into spot dyed wool”, she notes.

Donna’s favorite time to hook is during the summer when she can sit on her deck in the back yard.  “I wish I had a regular routine, but there are times when I will hook all weekend and then nothing for a week”, she observes. She also gets hooking done at guild meetings and hook-ins.

In addition to hooking rugs, Donna is an avid reader of books on American history.  She also does hand sewing and enjoys making penny mats and mug mats. She and her husband, George, have been married 15 years and live in Kresgeville, which is in the Pocono Mountains region of Pennsylvania.  As Donna looks ahead, she wants to try hooking using the “ripping style” she saw with Betsy Reed.  Eventually, she hopes to tackle a big rug.

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January 2013
Featured Members, Jan & Fred Cole

Most members know Jan and Fred Cole as the proprietors of Wool n’ Gardener and their wonderfully dyed wool. Now that they are both approaching retirement from their “day jobs”, they envision having the time to devote to pulling loops.  Jan has been hooking since the 1990s.  Fred has been around rug hooking all that time, but has just recently started to hook himself.

Their introduction to rug hooking came in the mid-1990s when they first saw Vicki Calu working on her room size pictorial rug at the Goschenhoppen Folk Festival. They were also familiar with rug hooking from magazine articles. When Jan asked Vicki how to get started, she learned of Vicki’s popular Saturday classes at her studio in Dublin, PA. Jan attended the classes for several years and met other local hookers – Ronnie Arena, Cheryl Halliday, Kim Kagan, Annie Lee, and Patty Mahaffey – who were regulars too.

Jan and Fred live in an old Pennsylvania stone farmhouse.  Jan’s goal was to create rugs for the house. She wanted rugs that looked old and would complement the house and their antiques. Jan was attracted to hooking with recycled wool because it made her rugs look older. “Vicki inspired me and tolerated my wide cut hooking and primitive pallet” Jan jokes.

santa-jan coleFrom the beginning Jan wanted to hook in the primitive style.  “I have no desire to change, although my color palette is getting slightly brighter.  “Primitive looking rugs are in my heart and soul,” she notes.  “I fell in love with rug hooking as soon as I had a hook in hand with wool strips”, Jan recalls.        

Working full time did not allow time for Jan to attend many workshops or camps, but she did find her way to the Highlands Rug Hooking Workshops run by Vicki Calu. It was there that she worked with Lucille Festa and Pat Hornafius.  During a trip to Vermont for the Green Mountain Guild’s “Hooked in the Mountains” Workshops, Jan was able to get into a class on wool dyeing with Dick Labarge and George Kahl, which was the only workshop open.  Jan attributes Vicki as being the one who got her started.  “I could not have gotten the basics any better.” Vicki had “a passion for rug hooking and instilled that in those she touched”, Jan observes.  Lucille Festa was another influential teacher who “listens and responds to what you want to do”. 

Vicki Calu offered dyeing classes from time to time and Jan recalls telling her that she “did not want to get involved with dyeing”, but she did take the workshop.  Vicki was very precise in her dyeing techniques which were important for jan colethose who needed wool for their fine cut and shaded rugs. In her class with Dick and George, Jan was exposed to another approach in which “wool dyeing was not treated as a science, but more as fun“.  That was more consistent with her style.

Time limitations have caused Jan to work mostly with commercial patterns. Patterns by Karen Kahle and Camp Wool in Kennebunk, Maine are favorite sources. She has designed a few rugs that she has hooked to sell along with her wool.

In spite of her initial reluctance to get involved in dyeing wool, Jan slowly found herself being drawn to it.  Vicki encouraged her to try over-dyeing the recycled wool with which she was hooking.  Shortly thereafter, Vicki invited Jan to sell her recycled wool at the Highlands. People responded and liked what Jan and Fred were doing. They had accumulated so much wool by this time that it provided a way to get rid of some of it “and support her habit”.

From that reluctant and humble start, Wool n’ Gardener was born. Today dyeing wool both recycled and new is a major part of Jan’s and Fred’s lives. The have had experience running a small personal business together before. Years ago, they ran “The Wild Gardener” creating and selling dried flower arrangements. They found it too labor intense and eventually phased it out.

Jan and Fred are active partners and share the work.  She does all the dyeing while he handles the ripping, rinsing, drying and marking of the wool as well as shipping/receiving. During their busy times when they are preparing for a hook-in or show, they devote most evenings from 6 to 10 PM. and most weekends to dyeing wool in their basement dye studio. They can dye 4-6 yards of wool (6-8 yards if spot dyed) a night and 10-12 yards a day during the weekend. About 1200 pieces of new wool and over 700 pieces of recycled wool are needed for each event.

The business got a boost from Kay Leisey (Homespun) when she needed more stock and was too busy to dthistle-jan coleye wool herself. Now there are 500+ pieces of wool in stock at Homespun at any one time. Local hookers were receptive to their dyed wool and word of mouth soon resulted in invitations to sell at hook-ins and shows. Wholesale accounts in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and New York followed. Their philosophy is to provide a quality product for traditional rug hookers that is reasonably priced. Jan and Fred are always looking for wool.  They estimate they currently have 30 boxes of recycled clothing that “has not been touched” and over 80 bolts of news wool ready to be over-dyed.

Although Fred has been around rug hookers for a long time, he has just started to hook himself with pointers from Jan.  He is intrigued by Native American art that he first observed during a trip to Alaska and wants to hook a series of rugs adapted from those symbols.  His first rug is in progress and plans are underway for his next project. A co-worker knows one of the best totem pole carvers in the northwest and Fred hopes to use one of his designs for his next rug. Fred hooks with #6 and #8 cuts in what he calls a “semi primitive” style. Naturally he will be hooking with their wool both new and recycled. Fred also creates penny rugs, wool ornaments that are layered like penny rugs and appliqué rugs that are sold when they are vending.

Fred retired last month from a document software management company where he was responsible for setting up and running classes for clients. Jan is scheduled to retire this month. She was a financial coordinator for a national credentialing agency for health educators.  Jan and Fred live in Emmaus, PA in a stone farmhouse that was built in the late 1700s or early 1800s. They share their home with two cats – Nahla (a Maine Coon cat) and Sadie (a Tortoise cat).  Jan and Fred have two daughters – Taryn and Tanya.  Taryn lives in Fort Lauderdale, FL with her husband, Rafael, who works for one of the major cruise lines and three children – Andrea (age 12), Nicholas (age 9) and Isabella (age 6).  Tanya lives in Allentown with her two children – Purnell (age 18) and Kendyl (age 13).  Tanya is employed at the same company where Jan worked.

Now that Jan and Fred are retiring, they are both looking forward to attending more rug hooking programs and workshops. They also want to develop their business but on a more leisurely basis with fewer long nights over the dye pots. A website will also be added this year. Jan wants to take a Magdalena Briner workshop sometime soon. More time can also be devoted to interests they share such as sail boating, biking and kayaking.

Jan and Fred became involved with our Guild when they sold their wool at our first hook-in several years ago.  They have vended at all of the hook-ins at the Mennonite Heritage Center and will be at the Hooked Rug Festival in October. With more time to now devote to hooking, they envision taking part in our various programs.  Both will be at the January Retreat.  We are delighted to have them as members of HCRAG.

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December, 2012Sue Schulz
Featured Member – Susan Schulz

We are always curious about how our Featured Member became involved in hooking rugs. In Sue Schulz’ case, it started with signing up for a punch needle class at Homespun with Kay Leisey in the winter of 2009. As Sue entered Kay’s charming shop, she saw the hooked rugs and knew that it was what she wanted to do. She borrowed a friend’s frame and hook and was ready to learn, but Kay was away on vacation. She looked for other resources and learned of Karen Worthington (The Blue Tulip). They quickly connected and soon Sue was sitting at Karen’s kitchen table one Sunday afternoon getting her first class on the basics of rug hooking.

Next Sue got a copy of Rug Hooking Magazine and the ATHA Newsletter. She compiled a list of ATHA members in the area and sent out an email message expressing her interest in connecting with local rug hookers.  It did not take long before Sue heard from Guild member Patty Mahaffey. Sue was looking for a hooking group, but acknowledges that she “dropped the ball” and did not follow up with Patty. Fortunately she finally met Patty at a Brandywine Guild hook-in. “Patty took me under her wing.  It was wonderful” Sue notes.

Sue started hooking with an 8 cut and worked in the style commonly referred to as   primitive. However, she states that she is drawn to more “classic” or fine cut hooking. Sue currently hooks mostly with #5, #6 and #7 cuts.  Those cuts are not normally thought of as fine cut, but hooking with narrower cuts is the direction in which Sue is moving.

Right from the beginning, Sue was attracted to wool dyeing and she now dyes every week. Dyeing wool not only allows Sue to extend her wool budget, but also introduces an element of creativity in the process. Recycled wool makes up about 25% of the wool Sue uses in her rugs. Her favorite sources for new wool are the Wool Studio (Rebecca Erb) and Heavens to Betsy (Betsy Reed).  She also knows a local 80 year old rug braider from Collegeville, PA who has great wool for hooking. 

Sue works mostly with commercial patterns. She is attracted to designs by Sharon Smith. Common primitive motifs have limited appeal.  Sue’s daughter, Allyson, is a graphic design student who collaborates with her on their own rug patterns. They have designed three rug patterns with more in the planning stage.

The workshops, open studio sessions and camps available in the area have allowed Sue to study with very talented instructors without the need to travel a great distance. Gail Dufresne, Lucille Festa, Angela Foote, Kay Leisey, and Karen Worthington are among those with whom Sue has worked. Kay Leisey helped Sue understand the importance of color planning.  Lucille taught her how to “have colors sink in” so that no one color stands out.

Whenever possible, Sue will hook every day, usually in the evening.  However, there are times when she will get up at 4 AM and work on her current rug before heading off to work. Sue is a real Philadelphia Phillies fan and jokes that she “is most prolific during the baseball season” when she may hook for three hours a night while watching a game on TV. 

Patty Mahaffey and Betsy Warner helped to introduce Sue to the various guilds in the area. She is an active member of the Lamb Yankees, Wool Whisperers and HCRAG. “I treat myself to a Friday off each month so that I can attend Hunterdon meetings”, she says with a smile. Sue likes the people she has met in the various guilds and is struck by the talent found in them and rugs created by their members.  “The people are warm and welcoming.  There are no cliques or stuffiness. People take you under their wing.”

In addition to hooking rugs, Sue is a disciplined runner and has participated in 5K and half marathon races. She also enjoys reading and cooking.  Sue is an accomplished quilter who quilted for 20 years until rug hooking took over.  At one time, Sue quilted sample patterns for a local quilt shop.

When asked why rug hooking had such a strong attraction, Sue noted that “there is the serenity that comes from pulling loops. Quilting requires too much precision. I also like what can be achieved with dyed wool. I love antiques and prefer old things to new. Hooked rugs just fit in.”

Sue and her daughter live in North Wales, PA. with Briar, a 120 pound Bouvier herding breed dog that Sue says “looks like big bear“. Allyson commutes to the Art Institute in Philadelphia where she is a student. Sue has worked at Foulkeways Retirement Community for 24 years and is currently the Activities Director. 

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November, 2012
Featured Member – Suzanne Menges

The journey that put Sue Menges on her journey to becoming a master rug hooking artisan started in 1996 along with her good friend, June Madden.  They have always had many of the same interests and over the sue mengesyears have encouraged each other. Gardening and growing herbs was a special interest that they shared. June recalls that “Every spring we would get very excited about going to the Highlands for their annual spring perennial sale and herbal luncheon.  The Highlands Mansion and Gardens is a 44 acre site with an 18th Century Georgian mansion and a two-acre formal garden, including a formal herb garden.  In 1996, while at the Highlands for the herbal luncheon, we spotted a lovely hooked rug hanging on the wall depicting the Highlands’ mansion and grounds.  Little did we know that when we inquired about this charming hooked rug that we were about to discover a whole new world.  That is how we fell into rug hooking.”

Sue and June learned about the Highlands Rug Hooking School and were encouraged to get in touch with Vicki Calu, who ran the School.  They immediately called Vicki and went to her studio for some lessons and to get started. “I will always have fond memories of Vicki and be grateful to her for the wonderful foundation that she gave us in this beautiful art form” notes Sue.

Sue was an art major in college and has experimented with many different art forms.  Ever since she was a child Sue loved to draw and paint.  However, there was not a lot of time for that when she was raising three boys.  When she began rug hooking, Sue discovered that “I could paint with wool and once again express that love of color and texture and design that had been put on the back burner for several years.” 

Her rug hooking style mirrors her favorite periods in art history. Sue says that “I have always loved American Folk Art and the great French Impressionists.  I am constantly torn Mr. Lincoln hooked by Sue Menges Designed by Barbara Carrollbetween my love for the exciting colors and light and movement of impressionism and the simplicity, form, and subject matter of folk art.”  When she paints with wool, Sue likes to hook her impressions in a primitive, folk art way.  She hooks in #8 and #8 ½ cuts and finds that by using the bigger cuts, you can see more of the beautiful texture and pattern of the wool. “I think it is more interesting. I don’t usually hook in a fine cut but I can really appreciate the beautiful shading in the finer cut rugs just like I appreciate the classically trained painters in art history.”  Sue’s mother was a great influence on her.  She did not paint or draw, but she was an artist with textile.  Her mother did beautiful hand quilting, knitting intricate patterned sweaters, sewing clothes for grandchildren and even hooking a rug.  The beginnings of Sue’s love of wool and textiles definitely were a gift from her mother.

Sue got started at the Highlands and always looked forward to going to the workshops twice a year where she met so many wonderful hookers. “I am still friends with so many of them today”, Sue notes.  She also observes that “once you have been bitten by the rug hooking bug, you can’t wait to take more classes and learn more.”  Sue has been a regular at Cape May; Ligonier, PA; Hooked in the Mountains in Vermont, Buckeystown, MD; Carrie Martin’s workshop in New Orleans; Goat Hill Studio; HCRAG workshops and ATHA Conventions in New Orleans, Louisville, KY and Lancaster.  Going to workshops is not only a rug hooking learning experience, but also a chance to get away and have fun with her friends June Madden and Eleanor Dunker.  “We have been called ‘the triplets’”, Sue jokes.

By attending a variety of regional and national workshops on a regular basis, Sue has had the opportunity to work with many of the most highly regarded rug hooking instructors.  The list is wedding dayimpressive —Vicki Calu, Patsy Becker, Beverly Conway, Norma Batastini, Linda Woodbury, Barbara Carroll, Cynthia Norcross, Lucille Festa, Cindi Gay, Judy Quintman, Gail Dufresne, Kris Miller, Eric Sandberg, Susan Feller, Lee Ridgeway,  Michelle Micarelli, Carrie Martin, Elizabeth Black, Jennifer Manuel, and Sandra Black. 

“When I think of all the wonderful instructors that I have had over the years, I just feel so lucky.  I have learned so much from each one.”  Sue recalls that “It was a joy to work with Patsy Becker.  I loved her and I loved her whimsical spirit that found its way into her sense of design. She really taught my eye how to see.”   Patsy designed and customized a sailing ship rug for Sue and hooked the little man in the boat.  That rug is one of Sue’s most cherished. Taking a class with Edythe O’Neil is on Sue’s “to do list.”  

Sue has taken a couple of “mini” and basic dye workshops. “Dyeing my own wool would complete the whole artistic experience for me.  I would love to get into the dye pots and look forward to dyeing wool when I retire.  But, for now, working full time, I’m grateful to have the time just to hook.” Sue takes advantage of the many talented people dyeing wool.  There is so much beautiful wool available and it is so much fun to shop for it.  Black Scottie hooked by Sue Menges Designed by Michelle Micarelli.

“I mostly fall in love with patterns that I see as I go around to workshops and hook-ins — patterns that I just have to have.” Sue observes. She has drawn a couple of her own patterns and wants to do more of that.  One of her designs was a folk art “bride and groom” rug that was a wedding present for her older brother and his wife.  “So many patterns, so little time!” she sighs

Sue does not have a regular hooking routine.  She has always been a night person but lately, she likes to get up at 5 AM and hook a little while before she leaves for work at 7:30 am.   “Instead of getting up just in time to dash off to work, it is more serene to start my day by getting up a little earlier and doing a little bit of hooking.  Just pulling a few loops makes me feel I have already accomplished something before I really even get started.” Sue observes.

The “triplets” — June Madden, Eleanor Dunker and Sue — joined our Guild a few years ago because they had so many friends in the Guild and our many great workshop opportunities. Sue is co-chair of the Vendors Committee for the 2013 Hooked Rug Festival at the Mill.

Sue and her husband, Bill, celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary this past May.  They moved from Maryland to New Jersey in 1972 so Bill could attend Rutgers Law School.  Bill has a private law practice in Moorestown, NJ.  They have made their home in Moorestown where they have raised three sons.  Their oldest son, Christopher, is a Police Officer in Moorestown.  David is a Mechanical Engineer and Peter is in marketing.  Sue has worked for Burlington County Office of Human Services for 21 years.

When she is not hooking, Sue loves to garden especially in the spring and fall; however she hates weeding in the summer.  Another favorite activity is cooking for all the men in her family. Sue notes that her “cookbook collection has gotten as out of control as my wool collection.”  She also likes to read and loves to travel and takes lots of photographs.  Anything artistic has special appeal especially painting old furniture and doing something fun with it.  “Because I live in a male household, I do watch a lot of college football, basketball and professional baseball.  I have to admit that I love it!  I can get a lot of hooking done during a football game.” Sue jokes.

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October 2012, Featured Hooker
Our Assistant Treasurer – Jean Laurence

Jean recalls shopping at the Souder Store in Souderton, PA when she saw a sample of a hooked chair pad.  The Jean Laurencestore was having a beginner rug hooking class for which she signed up. “I just went on from there”, she says.  However, it turned out that the workshop was the first one conducted by the instructor and the entire class had difficulty cutting wool strips correctly.   So Jean ended up retaking the beginner class as a “remedial student”.  In that class all the students (including Jean) learned to cut wool strips properly with no problem. 

The McGowan National Exhibit was held in King of Prussia, PA the same year that Jean started hooking.  She attended and recalls that “the show was amazing and made me want to hook all the rug styles I saw”. Jean has subsequently attended all McGowan and ATHA national exhibits but one.  She also started attending all the workshops directed by Vicki Calu at the Highlands.

As Jean grew as a rug hooking artisan, she was attracted to fine shading but wanted to try all styles. She started out with a #6 cut for a chair pad and continued with #6 to #8 cuts until she took a class Jeans 2nd Rugwith Nancy Blood who assured her that working with a #3 cut would not be a problem.  For fun and smiles Jean says “I really like the bright colors and pushing the rules when I work with Gail Dufresne”.

Attending at least one camp or workshop a year was a way for Jean to continue learning.  Now that she has retired, Jean is able to attend four or more. The camps held in Santa Fe in February and Cape May in September are among her favorites. Jean typically starts a new rug with each new instructor so that she can learn the most from them.   This does result in many rugs in progress.

The number of workshops and camps that Jean attends has allowed her to work and learn with many talented instructors.  It is an impressive list.

Jean notes that “I have learned something from every instructor I have had the opportunity to work with (see notes following the names above).  Each instructor has their preferences and I find that if I begin a workshop with an open mind, curiosity, and willingness to try what they suggest I learn the most.”   She attributes learning fine shading in flowers, leaves, animals, birds, and hooking Orientals to Nancy Blood and to Gail Dufrense for bright chromas, sculpting, and mixed media.  bottles

Jean works primarily with commercial patterns although she does on occasion design her own rug patterns.  She works almost exclusively with new wool purchased at camps, workshops and local suppliers.

Most of her hooking is done in the winter when Jean has more time since her farm and horses seem to require less attention that time of year. She also likes to go to hook-ins particularly the HCRAG hooking retreat where she “can catch up on all those rugs in progress, hook late into the night and early in the morning and enjoy the company of other hookers”.

In 2011, Pat McDonnell introduced Jean to our Guild by bringing her to a meeting. She became a member and later attended the summer workshop with Diane Stoffel.  Jean is currently our Guild’s Assistant Treasurer and Treasurer for the 2013 Hooked Rug Festival. She is also active with a McGowan Guild and two ATHA Chapters.

Jean and her husband, Ken, have a small horse farm in Harleysville, PA. They have four horses (Nemours Lord Nelson, Nemours Queen Katherine, Jemini Equulei, and Tranquility Daze). In addition to the horses, their immediate family at the farm consists of an Irish Water Spaniel, Saiorse, and a domestic short hair cat named Yo. They have had as many as six horses, four cats, and two dogs all at one time.  However, Jean notes “As we get older we have tried to keep the number of creatures on the farm a little lower so we can find time for travel and relaxation”. Jean and Ken have four nieces lunchand nephews and a great niece and a great nephew.

Jean competes in equestrian sports including dressage. She also likes to participate in paper chases and fox hunting.  Trail riding is the most relaxing.  When she was younger Jean competed in horse events. She says that “Now I like to stay closer to the ground.”  Like most rug hookers Jean is “crazy about all fiber arts”.  She learned to knit when she was four and to quilt when she was 12.  Jean has also done dressmaking, appliqué, embroidery, needlepoint, crewel, and bear/doll making.  “I am a fiber fanatic.”

Three years ago Jean retired after working 32 years in the pharmaceutical industry.  She worked in Clinical Research and Regulatory Affairs and also taught pharmaceutical research process and mentored new staff.  She has certifications in professional development team dynamics.

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September 2012, Featured Hooker
Meet our member
— Janet Kovach

Janet Kovach’s rug hooking journey began in the 1970s when she observed a woman hooking while on a house tour. Her interest was reinforced during a vacation trip to Kennebunkport, Maine where she met Joan Moshimer and Jessie Turbayne.

A private lesson with Margaret Lutz got things moving. Janet recalls going to Margaret’s home to learn rug hooking Janet Kovachbasics and how she had to step over Margaret’s large Irish Setter as she viewed Margaret’s rugs that were on the floors throughout the house. She still pictures a long rug in the upstairs hallway. They sat in the living room and started work on a small rug with an image of a cow. Margaret told her “Put your hook in and pull up a loop.  Now you know how to hook!”  The pillow pattern purchased from Joan Moshimer was Janet’s next project.

Like so many local rug hookers, Janet soon learned about Gail Dufresne and continued her development at workshops and open studio sessions. One important lesson learned from Gail was that you can combine wide and narrow cuts in a rug. It does not have to be one or the other. That approach can be seen in the rugs that Janet creates.  “The pattern and style is determined by who the rug is intended for and their interests. That being said, I am not inclined to do fine shading”, Janet notes.

As a multi-talented artist, Janet prefers to create rugs that are inspired by her own drawings and art work. Her passion “is the art”. In addition to hooking rugs, Janet weaves on floor looms, weaves tapestry on a large Fireside loom, spins on several spinning wheels and her collection of drop spindles, dyes, laces, knits constantly (she belongs to the Rocking Sock Club of Blue Moon Fibers out west), crochets, quilts, draws, and paints in watercolors and oils. Two of her paintings can be seen on the kitchen wall in the photo on the website of her hooking a new rug on her frame.  This rug depicting fish in Alaska is being made for her children who love to vacation there.

Janet was familiar with Elizabeth Black’s work and was hoping to study with her.  She learned from her hooking and weaving friend, Andrea Dallesandro, that Elizabeth was scheduled to give a workshop at Gail Dufresne’s Studio. While at the workshop, Janet first learned of the Hunterdon Guild from the participants who were discussing an upcoming meeting. She was invited to attend.

At that time the Guild met in the “Yellow House” in Flemington.   “I was blown away by the women at the meeting, especially Helen Buchanan who was the Guild’s President at the time.  They were farmers, raised sheep and hooked rugs! They reminded me of my mother and her friends. How wonderful to hook with them.“ Janet remembers Madeline and Margaret Brightbill, Ingrid Cosmen, Andrea Dalessandro, Kathy Donovan, Jo Knobloch, Barbara Lugg, Laurie Rubinetti, Bernice Smith, Virginia Sutton, Kay Weeks, and Mary Jean Whitelaw from those early days with the Guild. There was also Marion Michel with her wonderful moose rug with the knitted borders. She was surely thinking outside the box. “They were all so extremely friendly and welcoming”, Janet recalls. “These women reminded me of times spent on farms near Columbus, Ohio growing up with my parents’ Ohio State University friends.” Trips to the Ohio State Fair were her favorites.

In 1995 Janet lost her husband, Lou, and mother both to cancer within five months.  “My world collapsed”, Janet recalls. Then in 2000 her son, Jeff, committed suicide due to a broken engagement.  The total grief strain eventually led to a stroke, which put Janet in a wheelchair, unable to walk. Janet entered into a difficult rehab program at the JFK Stroke Rehab Facility in Edison, NJ. She remembers the nurse saying “you will walk and drive again”; that kept her going.

While in the hospital, Janet can still picture Kathy Donovan bringing her a bouquet of white daisies in a large blue vase and Andrea Dallesandro setting up her frame and hooking in her room. Andrea's husband, Andy, just happened to be Janet's mailman at the time of recovery. Every day he would walk the mail up to her back door with a big dose of encouragement that was greatly appreciated. J Kovach Stroke
During rehab there was an arts and crafts exercise where participants “made a rug”.  The sunflower pattern was painted, not hooked! Janet named the rug “Growth” and it still hangs over her stationary bike which she rides every day. Janet looks back at this difficult time and observes that “you can go down to nothing and come back with sheer guts, determination and a very strong faith”.

The stroke occurred in January and Janet was scheduled to run the HCRAG camp in August. She was committed to do it. The Guild was mystified when she showed up for camp. What they did not know at the time was that it was necessary for Janet to go to her car several times during the day to rest. Patti Ann Finch kept watch over camp while Janet slept on the front seat of the car. She was very grateful for Patti Ann’s help. After camp, Joyce Combs was particularly kind, encouraging and supportive in the kitchen helping Janet know she could lead meetings and not break down crying. Janet served as the Guild’s president from 1999 to 2003. She was also active in the Alice Beatty ATHA Chapter where she served as Vice President. 

Hunterdon RootsOver the years, Janet attended many of the HCRAG camps and ran them for four years. During that time, she worked with the various camp instructors as well as Jon Ciemiwicz, Gail Dufresne, Marjory Judson and Elizabeth Black. Margaret Lutz, Gail Dufresne and Marjory Judson have been influential in different ways.  She recalls Gail sitting on a chair with a hoop and thinking “look what she can do with a simple hoop”. “Marjory encouraged us to look at everything outside from the way pine needles grew to reflections in windows.”  When questions came up on how to hook something, Marjory would say “It is all out there.  You are just not looking at it.”

Janet dyed wool long before formal classes were being offered. She has taken formal classes, but prefers natural dyes instead of commercial ones. Flowers, nut hulls and other natural ingredients find their way into her dye pot.  Janet will “work with anything”, however; she prefers new wool to recycled.  Most of her wool comes from local suppliers, but she is also a big fan of Dorr Mill wools and Winterberry Cabin.Dead people series

As an artist, it is natural for Janet to design most of her own patterns, although she does buy an occasional commercial one. Janet designed a series of rugs that were hooked with wool from family members’ clothing — Pendleton skirts from her mother and pants and jackets from her husband and son.  Each of her children received one of the rugs which she jokingly calls her “dead people’s rugs”.  Creating the rugs was part of the healing process.

Janet was born in Columbus, Ohio and spent her early years there. She was raised in Pittsburg, PA and remains a Steelers fan. Janet started her professional career in nursing with a degree from the University of Pennsylvania. As her family grew to five children, Janet decided to change careers to teaching and went to night school at Rutgers University where she earned a Bachelor and a Master degree in English. She taught English for 30 years after which she went back to nursing at local doctor offices, but soon “missed the kids”.  Her next career change built upon her long passion for the piano. Janet has played the piano since age five and continues to take lessons twice a week in piano technique and jazz. She now teaches piano from her home and has established a large clientele and has the kids she missed.

Janet and Lou raised five sons — Stephen, Neil, Craig, Jeff, and Christopher. She has five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Stephen and his wife, Jennie, live on a ranch in Houston, Texas.  Stephen is a safety engineer for Chevron and travels the world from jungles to cities to oil fields. Jennie, in between ranch work, home-schools her two grandchildren, Arwyn and Isaac. Zack, Arwyn’s and Isaac’s father, is a police officer who served in Iraq with the Air Force and is now in the Air Force Reserves. We thank him for his service. Janet’s granddaughter, Katlin, is presently in Africa doing missionary work.

Neil lives in Flemington, NJ with his wife, Patty. He is a J_kovachs_cowcabinetmaker and is currently building a new addition to their house. Patty is an engineering contractor at Merck and also a splendid quilter. Their daughter, Erica, a second year resident doctor at Hunterdon Medical Center, and her husband, Will, who is an environmental engineer, live on Will’s large dairy farm in Washington, NJ.  Their son, Willem, is two years old. Janet took the Morton House pattern (see page 74 in Gail Dufresne’s book Geometric Hooked Rugs) with the image of a primitive cow and added a stethoscope and fancy shoes to reflect Erica’s profession and fondness for shoes. The rug was a wedding present for Erica and Will.

Craig and his wife, Irene, live in Manalapan, NJ. He is a middle school English teacher and Irene is a private music teacher.

Christopher and his wife, Selina, live outside of Milwaukee in Saukville, Wisconsin. He is a ceramic engineer who is Vice President of Signacast in Hartford, WI. Selina is active in CBS Bible groups. They have two daughters – Samantha and Charlotte. Samantha is a jazz trumpeter and music major in her senior year at DePauw University in Indiana.  Charlotte is a junior at University School in Milwaukee and is an artist/pianist and soon-to-be harpist.

It is interesting to see how Janet’s artistic and musical talents are shared by her family.

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May 2012, Featured Hooker
Meet our member
— Barbara Boyko

Barbara Boyko and her husband, Rick, relocated to Bucks County from Richmond, VA in 2009, although they had bought the property 2 years earlier. They purchased a 1747 stone farm house outside of New Hope in 2007 and it needed a lot of work. It was a “real fixer-upper” notes Barbara. Even with much work to be done before they could move into the house, Barbara was already thinking about how she wanted to decorate her new home. Her sister suggested hooked rugs for the floors.

Barbara had a few “hooked rugs from China” but wanted the real thing. While still in Richmond, Barbara started to ask around and learned of Mary Henck. Mary, a former HCRAG member, taught rug hooking in the Richmond area and had a small shop where she sold basic rug hooking supplies. Barbara called and soon was taking private lessons. “I was ready for a new art form,” Barbara recalls. “Mary was great. She is McGowen trained and certified so I had the best teaching me.”

“Regular traditional rug hooking is what I prefer to do,” says Barbara although many in the Guild associate her and proddy. Her January retreat project was a proddy pillow top and Barbara demonstrated proddy technique at the recent “round robin” meeting program. “Primitive is more my style” Barbara insists. She believes that hooked rugs are for the floors and proddy rugs are not suitable for that, but they are very suitable for boudoir pillows. “I love just inventing proddy flowers. It’s my bag. The possibilities are unlimited!”

For the last three years Barbara has attended the popular camp held at the Outer Banks of North Carolina in late October. She learned of the camp from Mary Henck who runs and organizes it, along with her sister Pat. Last year Heather Richie was the guest instructor from whom Barbara learned proddy. Bev Conway and Diane Stoffel were her other teachers, also at the Outer Back Rug Hooking Camp. Barbara attended the HCRAG camp last year for the first time and worked with Iris Simpson. “Iris is a real hoot and lets you do whatever you want and will honestly critique it, and I learned a lot from her. I have learned from all my teachers. Mary is very disciplined, Diane and Beverly have a great sense of color and Heather really knows all about proddy” says Barbara.

So far Barbara has worked primarily with new wool that she buys at the camps she goes to and at other events. She will pick up a piece of wool if it has a nice color that she thinks she can use in one of her projects. Barbara does have a pair of cashmere pants that she is getting closer to incorporating into one of her rugs. She also recently found some bolts of wool at the Lambertville Flea Market. Barbara has not yet undertaken dyeing wool, but expects to eventually start. “I am afraid I may create a monster.”

Barbara tends to be a seasonal hooker; she is an avid gardener so hooking in the summer is difficult especially taking into account visiting children and friends. Retreating to the house from the August heat is a time to begin her hooking season. Barbara is also conscious of the sedentary nature of rug hooking and tries to offset all the sitting with daily four mile walks.

When Barbara started rug hooking, it was a new art form for her. “I am not a fine artist, but I can execute. My family members can draw anything I need”, Barbara observes. “I have a good sense of color and a good eye.”

After moving into the area, it did not take Barbara long to discover the local guilds. She was one of the early members of the Goat Hill ATHA Chapter where she learned about the Hunterdon Guild. Last year she attended our camp for the first time and claims that we “got her going.” She is recently volunteered to serve as one of our Program Chairs. Barbara enjoys the social element of her guilds. “I am not a joiner, but enjoy the women and the meetings.” She draws a lot of inspiration from the work being done by others in the Guild.

In addition to gardening, Barbara loves to cook and has a large collection of cook books which she regularly reads. Knitting and quilting are other interests. Taking care of her pets (three dogs and a cat) and occasionally her daughter’s two dogs can be a full time job all by itself.

Barbara and Rick live outside of New Hope, PA. on 24 acres, 22 of which are wooded and in land conservancy. They lived in the guest cottage for some time while extensive work was done to the main house. New plumbing, heating system and bathrooms were needed. After retiring as an executive with a major advertising firm, Rick headed up the graduate advertising program at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. He will retire from that position at the end of this month and according to Barbara “is already talking to people in New York about his next venture.”

Rick and Barbara have three daughters — Mary, Jessica and Kate. Mary and her husband, David, live in Madison, NJ with their son, Dylan (2 ½ years old). A second child is due at the end of this month. Mary is a graphic designer and David is the creative director for a New York based advertising agency. Jessica is an art therapist at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. Her husband, Andy, will graduate from the University of Pennsylvania as a nurse practitioner in August. They are expecting their first child in September. Kate is a clothing designer for a custom apparel company in New York. She recently relocated from Los Angles and lives in Brooklyn.

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May 2012, Featured Hooker
Meet our member — Joan Shymko

Joan Shymko has had a long standing interest in fiber and fabrics. She is an excellent sewer and began making her own clothing in high school.  While in high school she “dabbled” with rug hooking but did not get very far. It was not until about six years ago that she was able to pursue her rug hooking interest in a serious way. Joan and her husband, Ron, had just returned to the United States after living in Denmark for 15 years. She was quilting and decided to finally take up rug hooking.

An internet search revealed a well established rug hooking community in the area.  Joan found our Guild’s website and attended a meeting where she sat next to Karen Worthington who offered help her get started. At the following meeting Karen brought supplies and equipment for Joan. The next stop was the library for books on rug hooking. Having done counted cross-stitch and other needle crafts over the years made it easier for Joan to pick up the basics from the books and by observing what members were doing at our meetings. Joan recalls that “It was not difficult to learn rug hooking since I have done lots of crafts.” Joan has attended our annual hooking retreats, but has not had any formal instruction. She is self taught!

Joan loves the primitive look. “It is what attracted me to rug hooking in the first place” she says.  “Casual primitive” is how Joan describes her work. As a self proclaimed “fiber person” Joan finds herself “fondling the fabric” as she prepares it for her rugs. She works primarily with recycled wool, but has found her way to Gail Dufresne’s studio where she could not resist buying some new wool.  “I will probably need ‘real wool’ as I design more of my patterns” she jokes.

Being self taught also allowed Joan to jump into the world of wool dyeing with little hesitation.  She ran out of wool for one of her projects, so she pulled out the dye pots “just to dye a little wool”. She was having so much fun that she spent the rest of the afternoon dyeing more wool. 

When it comes to patterns, Joan prefers to design her own.  She has worked with commercial ones but finds herself modifying them. Her first project was a geometric pattern that she drew on the blank linen backing initially provided by Karen Worthington. The next project came from the “shoe box exchange” at our Guild’s holiday luncheon.  The pattern was a three foot wide sunburst that Joan changed into a stain glass window design. “It was a real challenge and learning experience for my second hooking project, but I am forever grateful for the exchange” says Joan.  “I did something I did not think I was capable of doing.” A fish design for a footstool followed. Joyce Combs provided a flower design pattern when Joan needed a project to work on while demonstrating at Howell Farm.

Joan was “overwhelmed by the talent found in our Guild.  I can tell quality when I see it.  It is inspiring to see what HCRAG members come up with”. She recalls being immediately accepted and continues to be active “because everyone is so helpful and friendly and for the good ideas.”

Counted cross stitch, knitting, crocheting, and quilting are among the other needle arts enjoyed by Joan.  She is an accomplished sewer and started making her own cloths when she was 12.  Today her sewing is done for items in the house such as window curtains. Hooking has a special appeal “because of the freedom to do what you want”.  Patterns can be changed. Fabrics can be selected and then changed. Hooking can be done in stages.  “When I am low on ambition, I can hook background” Joan notes.

In addition to the needle arts, Joan enjoys gardening and cooking. She and her husband are also members of the Curling Club in Plainfield, NJ. Curling is a sport they learned from their native Canada. Joan likes to fix things and often finds projects at yard sales and thrift stores. Her latest project is reupholstering a set of dining room chairs. “They look kind of nice”, she proudly beams.

Joan and Ron are native Canadians and now live in Flemington, NJ. Ron has a PhD in Physics and works for a Danish company where he is a research analyst using computers to facilitate research. His work took the family to Denmark for 15 years.  Their son, Evan, remained in Denmark to complete his education and build his business (computer consulting and photography) when Joan and Bob returned to the States six years ago.

Joan earned two undergraduate degrees in Canada (Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Education) and two graduate degrees (Masters in Education and Masters  Equivalency in Education) in the United States. She taught in high school and junior high school in New York, Pennsylvania and Canada and kindergarten while in Denmark. Joan and Ron lived in California for a while and even though she had four degrees, the school system wanted some additional training.  Instead, Joan went on to manage a microwave oven store in Pasadena for 10 years.  This was a time when microwaves ovens were new to the market and selling them included offering classes on how to cook with them.

Ron is retiring this year and the Shymkos are planning to relocate to Vancouver. Their house may be sold so they hope to be moving this summer. Joan will be missed.


April 2012, Featured Hooker
Meet Our Member – June Madden

In the late 1990s June Madden and her friend Suzanne Menges attended an herbal tea luncheon at the Highlands.  They were admiring a hooked rug on display when a member of the staff told them about rug hooking and the hooking June_Maddenworkshops held at the Highlands. At the time, the workshops were run by Vicki Calu’s mother with Vicki assisting. Vicki also offered instructions at her studio in Dublin, PA. June approached Vicki about lessons and soon was learning the fundamentals of rug hooking. The workshops at the Highlands were a good supplement and the weekend schedule worked well for June.

Before she learned about rug hooking, June actively pursued many needle works such as sewing, needle point, knitting, drapery making, counted cross stitch and quilting. All that ended after June’s introduction to rug hooking. She was totally fascinated by the variety of things that could be achieved in rug hooking.  The pattern design, color planning, and 3-D techniques all excited her. “There is no end to the possibilities. Hooking is so creative and freeing. I doubt if I will ever go back to the other crafts,” June observes.

June_Madden Bless Our HomeJune started hooking with #6 cuts of wool but now finds working in wider cuts (#8 and #8.5) more appealing.  “I definitely prefer hooking in the primitive style. I may stray out of that box occasionally, but my heart is in primitive patterns and cuts,” she observes.  June recalls that her first rug was a Patsy Becker design where the flowers were bigger than the house in the true primitive manner.
After a few years, June learned of the various hooking camps, retreats and workshops available. She has since made it a practice to attend “a couple of camps a year” with her friends Eleanor Dunker and Sue Menges. Cape May, where she has been going for at least 10 years, is her favorite. Over the years, June also attended camps at the Highlands, Ligioner, Shelburne, ATHA Biennials (New Orleans, Louisville, Lancaster), and our Guild’s summer camp.

The list of teachers with whom she has worked is impressive. They include: Norma Batastini, Gail Dufresne, Carrie Martin, Patsy Becker, Lucille Festa, Kim Nixon, Elizabeth Black, Cindi Gay, Cynthia Norwood, Barb Carroll, Jayne Hester, Linda Repasky, Vicki Calu, Stephanie Krauss, Dianne Stoffel, Bev Conway, Jennifer Manuel

“Each teacher is special and I learned from all of them.  Working with Dianne Stoffel was different.  She taught me techniques not learned in any previous workshop. The piece I did with her was unlike anything I had done before. She has a wonderful way about her,” June recalls.
As June was getting started, there were not many rug hookers in her area, but she did meet Marsha Moyer-Payne and together with Sue Menges they decided to meet on a regular basis to hook. Their gathering grew and eventually became the Pinelands ATHA Chapter that now has about 20 members.

June “loves to hook with recycled wool” although she does buy new wool at the camps she attends.  Norma Batastini and Gail Dufresne are also favorite sources for textured wool. June is “fascinated by what you can do with textured wool.” She rarely works with plain wool even if it is over dyed. June does no dyeing herself — yet. “With my work schedule, I simply do not have the time. I am sure I will get into dyeing at some time,” June notes. She has designed or redesigned a few of her rug patterns; however, she tends to work mostly with commercial patterns.  There is no favorite source; she buys whatever patterns appeal to her at the time. With a busy work schedule, June hooks “as I can, mostly in the evenings”.

Attending hook-ins in the region is another favorite activity for June and her hooking companions. Last month she joined with other Guild members who travelled to Lancaster for the popular hook-in sponsored by the Woolwrights ATHA Chapter.   “I am in awe at what people are hooking. The talent out there is fantastic. I am inspired to learn more!” beams June.

June_Madden FootstoolParticipating in rug hooking guilds is another way that June continues to grow as a rug hooking artisan. She was an early member of the Goat Hill ATHA Chapter.  It was there that she learned about our Guild.  Our organized approach and programs appealed to her.

June and her husband, John, have been married for 39 years and live in Lumberton, NJ. June is the finance officer for two New Jersey townships — Allentown and Plumsted – and the purchasing officer for Plumsted. John is a retired attorney, who recently earned a Masters Degree in Theology that prepared him to be a Spiritual Director.

John and June have two children – Christina and Lee.  Christina and her husband, Brian, are both attorneys who live in Chappaqua, NY, with their four children – Jack (age 10), Liam (age 8), Quinn (age 5), and Caitlin (age 2). Lee lives in Mt. Laurel, NJ, with his new bride Kelly.  They were married last July.

When she is not working or hooking, June enjoys golfing gardening and reading.  She is active in her church serving as a Eucharistic Minister and participates in hospital ministry.

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March 2012, Featured Hooker
Meet Our Member – Betsy Warner
Betsy Warner

Betsy is the oldest of five daughters and grew up in Connecticut. She gained an appreciation of fiber arts early on from her grandmother and step-mother. Needlepoint, crewel, embroidery, quilting, weaving, and sewing were all skills she developed. In 2002 Betsy wanted a hooked rug for a special place in her home, but could not locate a commercial rug that appealed to her. She decided to do it herself!

At the time Betsy had not yet learned to hook, so she needed to learn the basics. Gail Dufresne was brought to her attention and Betsy started to take classes with Gail, initially once a month and then twice a month. It took her about four years, but Betsy got the rug she wanted. It is a round rug about 36 inches in diameter. After she started hooking, Betsy discovered two aunts who hooked 20 years before. One still tries to do some.

Betsy Warner MermaidHooking with #8 cuts is Betsy’s standard with #6 and #4 cuts used as needed. She describes her hooking style as “colorful primitive”. Betsy likes color and is not attracted to the muted colors often associated with primitive style rugs. She has hooked several geometric patterns and did a series on the “Goddess of Elements” – fire, earth, air and water. The goddess of water was the first in the series and featured a mermaid as the principle image. Betsy also enjoys hooking Celtic knots and landscapes.

Betsy attends several camps each year as a way to continue her development as a rug hooking artisan. Norma Batastini’s Rugs by the Sea is her favorite and she returns each year. The Highlands Rug Hooking School was another favorite until it ceased operating several years ago. Betsy has attended two ATHA Biennials, one in Nova Scotia and the last one in Lancaster. Over the years, Betsy has worked with many of the most sought after rug hooking instructors including Norma Batastini, Bev Conway, Gail Dufresne, Cindi Betsy Warner Gay, Deanne Fitzpatrick, Michele Micarelli, Kim Nixon, and Laura Pierce.

New and recycled wool are used in Betsy’s rugs. She does not have the time to dye her wool especially in view of the beautiful woolens available from local suppliers and at the camps she attends. Betsy likes to incorporate yarn and roving into her rugs for the special affect they achieve.
Betsy works with both commercially available patterns and ones she designs herself. Karen Kahle and Vermont Folk Rug patterns are favorites. When Betsy designs rugs as a gift, she attempts to create a pattern that suits the recipient. She does not look at other rugs, but rather what suits the occasion such as a wedding or the individual. Betsy notes that “most of my rugs are on the small side, no more than about 24” by 36”.

Hooking most evenings is a way for Betsy to relax and to make steady progress on her current project. She commutes into Philadelphia for her work and finds hooking at night while she is watching TV as a way to rejuvenate herself. Betsy hooks about two hours each day whenever possible.

Betsy Warner roundWhen asked “Why rug hooking appeals to her?” Betsy observed that she “likes working with fabric and finds rug hooking a forgiving art form. It goes quickly unlike needlepoint. There is also a great rug hooking community out there.”

Betsy was attracted to our Guild because of our programs and activities. She learned about HCRAG from others she met at local workshops. The “people and programs keep me coming back when I can”. She is active in the Goat Hill ATHA Chapter and a member of the Brandywine Rug Hooking Guild. Betsy also hooks with a group of “Highlands people” who get together occasionally.

Betsy was a social worker for 14 years before she decided to attend Temple University Law School. . She is now a family law attorney working for a twenty lawyer firm in Philadelphia. Her practice includes child support, divorce, adoption and custody issues. Her other interests include attending the theater and dance performances.

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February 2012, Featured Hooker
Meet Our Member – Lois Grieves

Lois Grieves’ mother, Irene, was an antiques dealer in Meyersville, NJ, so she grew up with an appreciation of old things. Her mother encouraged her to try rug braiding with a fellow antique dealer; she taught Lois the importance of handwork. Lois started knitting when she was 12 years old and subsequently learned counted cross stitch, embroidery, quilting. and needlepoint. Lois liked the look of rugs hooked with yarn by Nantucket rug hooker Claire Murray.Lois grieves Crewel

Weezie Huntington, who in the mid 1980s worked in the same real estate office as Lois, introduced her to hooking with wool strips. Weezie encouraged Lois to attend a workshop by Shelly Roe in Princeton, NJ. She was pleased with the result of the workshop and wanted to continue hooking. Shortly thereafter, Lois stopped by a local consignment shop and found all she would need to get started. The shop had a frame, a Bliss cutter, patterns, hooks, a tub of wool, and other various hooking items. She bought it all for $100.

Lois was impressed by a rug that Weezie completed for a PTA auction and looked to Weezie for direction on how to continue learning. Weezie introduced Lois to Gail Dufresne who was teaching a basic rug hooking workshop as part of the Hunterdon County Adult Education program. After attending, Lois was hooked and continued to take classes with Gail. At that point, Lois discontinued knitting. “Everyone in the family had sweaters I knitted and my closet was full of them too” she recalls.

HLois grieves, My Sammiooking with #5 and #6 cuts appeals to Lois the most. She has no desire to hook with wide cuts or to do proddy. “I am a purist and have no interest in combining hooking and braiding.” Lois confesses she “loves color” and is attracted to the work done by Gail Dufresne and Jule Marie Smith. “I especially like the feel of Jule Marie’s work.” Lois is drawn to flower patterns and designs with lots of color.

Lois was introduced to dyeing wool during her first HCRAG Camp in 2001. This was the first of two workshops she took with Helen Woffel. Helen freely shared her dyeing techniques which led to Lois continuing to learn more by attending Gail Dufresne’s dyeing workshops. “When I have the time, I love to play with dyeing.” Lois notes. She continued learning more about wool dyeing in an Outer Banks workshop by Bev Conway.

“My production is not what I want it to be, but I have had the opportunity to work with some of the best teachers out there”. Lois has attended workshops conducted by Elizabeth Black, Bev Conway, Gail Dufresne, Dick Labarge, Judy Quintman, Eric Sandberg, Jule Marie Smith, and Diane Stoffel. She notes that Gail Dufresne has been the most influential in her development as a rug hooking artisan. “Gail is so patient and her work is phenomenal. Of course, Weezie was instrumental in me getting started.” Lois recalls buying 50 wool skirts from local thrift stores as a gift to Weezie for her 50th birthday.Lois_grieves Jersey Girls

Lois loves to seek out recycled wool for her rugs, although she also buys wool from her camp instructors. She thought that it was “nifty” that a hooking friend used her father’s old coat as the background wool for one of her rugs. Lois has a tub full of white and off white skirts that she has collected for future dyeing projects. When the spirit moves her, she will dye a batch of wool with no particular project in mind. Like so many of us, Lois frets that “I have too much wool in tubs and must admit that I do not know what is in them.”

Lois will buy a pattern if she sees one that she likes. Over the years, she has purchased patterns from Susan Feller, Margaret Lutz and Joan Moshimer. However, she prefers to design or adapt her own rug patterns. Lois claims that she “is not an artist, but can adapt things I like”.

Gail Dufresne and Joyce Combs, who Lois met at Gail’s studio, were responsible for introducing her to our Guild. She recalls sitting between Margaret and Madeline Brightbill at one of her first meetings and wondering “What in the world am I doing here? These people are so talented!” It was not long before it was the people Lois met at our meetings who brought her back. “Our members have a great outlook on life and you do not have to be a big producer to be accepted. I enjoy being with them at meetings, camps and the retreats.” Lois is a regular participant at HCRAG camps.

Rug hooking is more freeing than the other handwork Lois has done. “The others all have specific instructions and rules that need to be followed. With hooking you can get advice from others and change things as you go along. I am thrifty and like the recycling aspect too.”

Lois lost her husband, Hirshal, two years ago due to heart surgery complications. They were married 48 yeLois Grieves Starsars. Her life and routine are slowly being reestablished. She is concentrating on completing an addition to their home that she and Hirshal started years ago. Lois has served for many years as one of two treasurers for the Hopewell Presbyterian Church. She also works full time as a real estate agent in Weidel’s Hopewell Valley office in Pennington, NJ. “I love working with people and solving problems” she observes. However, all of this does make it difficult for Lois to hook on a regular basis.

Lois lives in Hopewell, NJ with Sammi, her Golden Retriever. She has three children – Cindy, Jeffrey and Jennifer – and seven grandchildren. Cindy and her husband, John, are lawyers living in Raleigh, NC along with their four children – Addison (freshman at Old Miss), Natalie (high school junior who hopes to have a stage career), Carter (who is into computers) and Emery (who is highly involved in sports). Jeffrey and his wife, Amy, live in Richmond, VA. Their daughter, Sarah, is a recent graduate of Lynchburg College. Jeff has one year remaining before he will retire from Army Special Forces. Jennifer and her husband, Seth, live in Elkins Park, PA. Jen is a stay at home mom concentrating on raising their two daughters, Annabelle and Harper. Seth practices law in Philadelphia.

One of Lois’ goals is to hook a rug for each of her grandchildren. Natalie’s rug is almost complete. She also looks forward to being able to go Cape May for Norma Batastini’s popular camp and to the Shelburne Museum in Vermont for a Green Mountain Guild Workshop.

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January 2012, Featured Hooker
Meet Our Member – Dolores Clark

Dolores Clark has had an interest in rug hooking from a time in the 1970s when she observed a rug hooking demonstration at a church inPennington, NJ. She recalls “The women had frames that appeared to have been made by their husbands, not like the frames we see today.” The demands of her family and her job prevented Dolores from pursuing her interest. Dolores Clark

Dolores’ father passed away in the early 1960s, so she had the responsibility of caring for her mother in addition to her brother who was born with a serious vision disability. She raised four children and worked as the municipal tax collector for East Windsor, NJ. Dolores and her husband, Barry, were living in a house next to the one in which she was born and raised when they lost both houses to the widening of the New Jersey Turnpike and relocation of Exit 8. In a short time, they had to find another house and consolidate possessions from the two houses.

Fiber arts always had a special appeal. Over the years, Dolores has done knitting, crocheting, quilting and spinning. In the 1970s she learned how to spin and dye wool using natural dyes.  Her sons were in 4-H and raised rabbits and sheep, so she had a ready supply of wool. Dolores likes to work with bulky yarns.  She still has her spinning wheels and wants to get back to spinning again. At one time she bought a kiln and made porcelain dolls.

It was not until she retired that Dolores was in a position to learn to hook.  Again, it was a rug hooking demonstration that piqued her interest.  This time it was our Guild members demonstrating at the Mercer County 4-H Fair at Howell Farm in 2009. Dolores attended our beginners’ workshop that summer and learned the basics by hooking a mat with a bird image. She joined the Guild shortly thereafter. Her next project was a kit of an American flag. Dolores was set to attend our hooking retreat last January, but her brother passed away a few days before. Dolores did attend our camp last year and worked on a bench pad with instruction and guidance from Iris Simpson. She is currently hooking the sheep for Therese Shick’s February Guild meeting project. Up to now, Dolores’ formal instruction has been limited to the beginners’ workshop and camp.  She wants to take additional classes and learn more about hooking techniques.  She would also like to be part of a group that hooks on a regular basis; finding time to hook is still a challenge.  Dolores is a full time baby sitter for her grandchildren and has raised her 13 year old great-granddaughter, Brianna, from the time she was an infant. Family is her #1 priority!

Dolores notes that she “likes rug hooking because you are creating something functional. The finished piece can go on the floor or hang on the wall. You can admire it and use it too.” She “hates waste in any form”, so the recycling aspect of rug hooking has considerable appeal. Dolores draws inspiration from Guild members who work with recycled wool and who hook on a regular basis. “I am in awe of the fine and beautiful things our Guild members produce.” Dolores says “I do not want to be a perfectionist, just want to create something to use and enjoy. I want to be comfortable with my talents, not competitive.”

“I am so new at this and my life is full of my family that I am still feeling my way with rug hooking. I am attracted to primitive rug hooking, but want to learn shading and other styles.”  She plans to design her own patterns after she “gets her technique down”.

After joining the Guild, Dolores has attended all but two meetings. She is impressed by the way she has been received as a new member. “Guild members are so friendly and take you in.  It is not ‘clicky’ like some organizations. I learn something at each meeting.  Members are so willing to share.”

Both Dolores and Barry worked in local government.  Dolores was a municipal tax collector for 33 years. Barry is a former municipal administrator having worked in state and county government before retiring 15 years ago. They live in East Windsor, NJ on two acres of land that accommodates seven “Baby Doll” sheep, a small flock of chickens, a donkey, and a “Zebu” cow.  Dolores explained that “the Zebu has the face of a cow but looks more like a donkey.  It also has the hump found on Brahma cows.”  When discussing the donkey, Dolores jokes that “It is useless since it does absolutely nothing. On top of that, we have to build a shed to protect it from the winter weather.” Her homestead also includes an orchard and a small fish pond.

Dolores and Barry have four sons – James, Robert, Richard, and David – 12 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.  Their oldest son James died in a motorcycle accident at the age of 25. Robert and his wife, Ginett, have five children – Christine, Sarah, James, Angelica and Robert. Richard and his wife, Mary Ellen, have three children – Alicia, Emily and Abigail. David has two children – Taylor and Samanatha.   The children all live close by and are a close knit family.  Dolores sees most of her children every day and baby sits for the youngest grandchildren.



December 2011, Featured Hookerj lee
Meet Our Member – Jacqueline Lee

Jacqueline Lee lives on Cape Cod all year round and learned about our Guild from an article in Rug Hooking Magazine. She realized that she could be part of the Guild and combine visits to her sister who lives in Branchburg, NJ with Guild events. She became a member shortly thereafter and has been a regular participant at our January retreat, summer camp and our spring workshops. “I am thrilled to be a member of the Hunterdon Guild”, she notes. Jackie is also a member of the Cranberry Rug Hooking Chapter of ATHA. She is winding up her second (and final!) term as Treasurer, and hopes to become part of a new committee to promote education and outreach. She will also replace the current librarian for their guild. “No one in my family hooks and I need to be with people with similar interests. They spark my creativity and my technique gets better.”

“I am crazy about textiles.  It is something I learned from my mother early on” Jackie notes. Over the years she has done embroidery, crewel and needlepoint before becoming enthralled by rug hooking. Her introduction to rug hooking took place in 2005 while shopping at an outlet in Maine where she found a Claire Murray kit.  The kit had instructions for the “Nantucket style” of hooking with yarn which is the style for which Claire Murray is known.

Jackie was living in Maryland at the time and soon learned of Roz Logsdon who had her studio in Laurel, Maryland.  Jackie started to attend Roz’ classes on a regular basis. “I gave up on hooking with yarn as soon as I saw what could be accomplished with wool strips” Jackie recalls. There was something about working with wool and the size of projects that really appealed to her. Rugs are not dainty. She likes working with wool strips instead of thread or yarn. “Rug hooking affords more than small needlepoint projects. It’s a tactile thing and endlessly creative” notes Jackie. She has found that her rug hooking sparks creativity and “provides entry into the creative process.” 

j leeRoz Logsdon, who is a regular instructor at Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild’s annual “Hooked in the Mountains” workshops mentioned the gathering to Jackie. She decided to go. “I plunged into the wonderful world of rug hooking.  I bought scissors, hooks, and the works!” Jackie beams. A class with Patsy Becker came next.  It turned out to the last class Patsy taught because of her declining health.

Long before she began to hook rugs, Jackie had kept scraps of fabric, pictures, magazine photos, etc., with colors or patterns which piqued her interest. Fascinated by them, she was vexed by what to do with them, and occasionally, would chastise herself for keeping the assortment. On several occasions, she nearly pitched the lot. Later she learned their purpose was to serve as artistic inspiration, being the muse which sparked the creative impulse into being. One of these items was a cocktail-sized paper napkin composed solely of soft blues and greens. She employed these colors exclusively in her first rug, Patsy Becker’s pattern Little Crewel. Jackie continues to find inspiration from artworks, fabric, prints, and now, of course, rugs by others.  Karen Kahle’s particular approach to primitive style has been a major influence.  “Karen’s style spoke to me in an amazing way. Her approach to creating background by mingling short, 5-7 loop strips made up of all the values of a single color, from palest to darkest, was a revelation.” She utilized this technique also in that first rug, Little Crewel, which is one of her rugs on our website.

Jackie makes it a practice to regularly attend workshops and camps. She has had the opportunity to work with many of the most respected instructors in the northeast and has learned from each one. Her teachers have included Susan Feller, Angela Foote, Kathleen Herbert, Rae Harrell, Jayne Hester, Norma McElhenny, Sibyl Osicka, Jule Marie Smith, and Diane Stoffel. Rae Harrell  was Jackie’s instructor at her first HCRAG camp.  “Rae gave me permission to throw away the rules” Jackie notes.  “I learned never to look back and to follow if being called in a certain direction.” She has been fortunate recently to be included in twice yearly workshops (April and October) on Cape Cod featuring Angela Foote, a New Hampshire instructor whose incredibly colored wools are amazing. j lee 2

Jackie hooks with #8 and #8.5 cuts in the primitive style.  She wants to try other things with color, perhaps something abstract. Jackie works primarily with her own patterns but will buy patterns designed by others if she “falls for it”. Her ideas for patterns come from various sources. She once received a card with a lattice work design that appealed to her. The lattice work inspired a perfect border for one of her rugs. “Color is at the forefront of my design process. I am color driven.” Jackie notes. She will see color in a piece of wool and looks for a way to use it in a rug. “I am always working on my technique and see that I am getting better with more consistent loops. I am at a point where I can now use different heights of loops intelligently to create the results I want.” she observes.   Jackie is not attracted to proddy or other embellishments.

New and recycled wool are used in Jackie’s rugs. She finds old blankets from thrift shops to be ideal for backgrounds. However, she also buys new wool from her teachers and from vendors at the camps she attends.

Dyeing her own wool has a lot of appeal but she does not always have time to get the dye pots out, so Jackie does use wool dyed by others.  Karen Kahle’s Little Dye Book is a favorite source for dye formulas.

Hooking at home has been a challenge for Jackie because other things always seem to get in the way. She recently decided to now make time for her hooking and is hooking a lot more. She hooks mostly in the evenings but will also do it in the mornings. Jackie has come to the realization that we do not know how much time we have left, so we need to have priorities such as getting more hooking done. 

j lee 4Cooking is another one of Jackie’s passions. She particularly enjoys creating recipes which are both delicious and healthy.  For example, she makes her own applesauce and creatively adds other fruits with the apples. The same is true with her soups. She will make a big pot of soup with lots of veggies that will last a week or more. 

Jackie has always loved books and reading, which lead to her professional career as a librarian. She has worked in public, special, and academic libraries, and now enjoys part-time work at her favorite local village library, the West Falmouth Library. After earning a Master’s Degree in Library Science, Jackie worked for a series of Federal Government agencies in Washington, DC, spending 25 years at the Justice Department. Ever since visiting New England relatives as a child, Jackie has always wanted to be there. For a five year stint she resided in New Hampshire while working at Dartmouth College Library, and returned in 2006 to Cape Cod. There she met her boyfriend/partner, Jim Lamb, when he built the bookcases for her new home. He employs his draftsmanship skills in assisting her to get her designs onto the linen backing. For these rugs, Jackie signs them “(JL) 2 [squared]” because they share the same initials.

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November 2011, Featured Hooker
Meet Our Member Eleanor Dunker

When Eleanor was a young child, she remembers watching her mother hook rugs. Her mother and a friend had learned to hook from a neighbor in town. Eleanor did not realize what eleanor dunkeran impact this had on her until she became an adult. Her mother had stopped hooking when Eleanor was in high school because her father had passed away and her mother needed to get a job outside of the home. She never hooked another rug after that.

Her mother gave rugs for special events like a marriage or milestone birthday. Since Eleanor was the youngest child by 15 years, she was the only one in her family who did not receive one of her mother’s rugs. The memories of her sitting with a rug wrapped around her lap every evening started to invade Eleanor’s thoughts. She also remembers her mother going out with her best friend to search for wool at places like rummage sales. At one auction, she bought a huge amount of wool yarn that she incorporated in many of her rugs.

Finally, around 2004, while visiting her daughter in college in Vermont, Eleanor stumbled on the Green Mountain Rueleanor dunkerg Hooking Guild as they were setting up their Hooked in the Mountains exhibit in the Shelburne Museum Round Barn. They were not open to the public yet, but they kindly let her in since she was heading back to NJ. It was then that Eleanor decided that she was going to learn how to hook and create one of those rugs that she admired that day. Eleanor could not believe the variety of styles and topics that she saw and the amazing talent on display.  Eleanor recalls that "That some of the rugs I saw made you laugh, other's told a story of a personal journey, and others were just beautiful. All called to me."

However, finding people back home who hooked proved to be harder than she expected. Eleanor was unable to locate local instructors or other rug hookers. Today, the internet lets you connect easily. Quite by accident, she was talking with Sue Menges and June Madden at her women’s investment club when she discovered that they were HOOKERS. They took her under their wings and invited Eleanor to come to the Highlands with them. That was her first mini camp and she has been "hooked" ever since. June and Sue were part of a small group of women that met once a month to hook, but they did not meet during the summer at that time.   “I then found someone named Gail Dufresne and she lived a drivable distance from my home.” Eleanor recalls.  She called and Gail invited Eleanor to attend her Saturday class. “June, Sue and Gail were my first three mentors.” notes Eleanor.

Hooking primitive style rugs fits in perfectly with Eleanor’s love for history, antiques and the 1761 house that she and her husband, Skip, have been restoring for most of their married life.   “The primitive rug goes quite well with my decorating. However, the brighter colors are calling—-thanks, Patty Mahaffey! Also, I do love some of the finely shaded rugs. I guess I will be exploring many styles. I can see that I will be expanding my style of hooking in the future. ” says Eleanor.eleanor dunker

After a difficult time initially locating rug hooking resources, Eleanor soon learned of the stimulating camps and schools available within driving distance. “I love Rugs by the Sea camp with Norma and Linda. You can park your car and not move it all week. The teachers are fabulous and it is so much fun to be around so many talented people.” she observes. She has also attended “One Rug Two Rugs” by Carrie Martin in New Orleans, Barbara Carroll’s camp at the Wooley Fox, and twice with Stephanie Krauss at her Green Mountain Camp in Vermont.

With so many skilled wool dyers producing beautiful dyed wool that is available locally and at workshops, Eleanor has not felt compelled to seriously take up wool dyeing. She has attended a few mini dye workshops and found that the one Diane Stoffel incorporated into her workshop this past August at our camp was very informative. “So far I have not really done any dying but I hope that changes soon. I will probably start with over-dying textures.” she notes.

When Eleanor finds a pattern that she loves, she will buy it.  She did design a pattern of her house, but it took three years to “get all the bugs out of it”. That experience helped her appreciate the time involved in designing a rug pattern; she currently prefers to hook commercially available patterns. 

Eleanor tries to hook in the evening while watching TV, but finds that daily demands can make that difficult. She has started a practice that her mother-in-law used when working on her many quilts. “It involves getting up an hour earlier, getting that cup of coffee and sitting down before the rest of the day's activities took over and just hooking for an hour. It is working and I am finally finishing some old projects.”

Our Guild came to Eleanor’s attention by members she met at Gail Dufresne’s studio and who were talking about our camp. “Our Guild offers some great camps. It is amazing what HCRAG accomplishes and the teacher's they bring in. Guild members are so friendly and welcoming. I feel privileged to be a part it.” Eleanor is also a member of the Goat Hill Rug Hooking Guild and the Pinelands Guild that is growing in numbers and meets closer to her home.

Eleanor has always liked to do handcrafts. At various times over the years, she has done tole painting, quilting, knitting and counted cross stitch.  There was something different with rug hooking. “Hooking really fits with my love of history and is something I will do the rest of my life.” she observes. Her eleanor dunkerrugs decorate the floors of her historic house with the special ones displayed on the walls.
After earning a Master Degree in Education as a Reading Specialist, Eleanor devoted 35 years teaching elementary school.  She went on to teach “how to teach reading “ for two years at the Georgian Court College in Toms River, NJ. Eleanor and Skip live in Bordentown, NJ.  Skip has spent his professional life in the aviation industry. After serving in the Air Force as an airplane mechanic, he has worked as a trouble shooter for companies manufacturing corporate airplanes. They have a daughter and son – Meredith and Rusty.   Meredith lives in Burlington County with her husband, Elias, and two sons – Nathan, age 6, and Matthew, age 3. She is the Acting Agriculture Agent for Mercer County. Rusty is the manager of a roofing contractor and lives in Southampton, NJ.

Eleanor and Skip are avid kayakers which they enjoy doing in the New Jersey Pinelands.  They also are downhill skiers. Eleanor is a committed volunteer at the 1840 historic Smithville Mansion ( ) that is owned by Burlington County. She is donating the rug she hooked to the mansion. It was an adapted folk art rug of Bev Conway's called Wheels. The Star bicycle was made at Smithville.

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October 2011, Featured Hooker
Meet Our Member
Barbara Kimbrough

Barbara Kimbrough was familiar with hooked rugs from her childhood.  Her mother was an antiques collector, so Barbara grew up with hooked rugs and other old things in the house. She always thought of hooked rugs as antiques. While in college in Virginia, Barbara attended a folk art exhibit at the Richmond Museum and “was blown away by the fabulous rugs made by women who took a feed sack and old clothing and produced works of art.” In the late 1960s, Barbara’s sister married and her mother-in-law, Elaine Russell, was a rug hooker. Elaine Russell did it the old way.  She drew her patterns on burlap and hooked with old clothing.   It was then that Barbara realized that hooking rugs was a craft still performed by contemporary artisans.

Barbara presents her niece, Laura Kent,
a hooked rug made for her baby shower.

While clearly attracted to hooked rugs, the demands of raising a son and a career just did not permit time to get engaged with hooking.  However, Barbara did start collecting hooking items that she found at auctions, flea markets and farm sales.  The hooks, frames and various cutter pieces were put away in a wooden box for a later time.  When Barbara retired in 2006, her elderly parents needed her help and attention. Three years ago, Barbara saw information on the Longstreet Farm Gathering of rug hookers in a Monmouth County Parks brochure. She attended the next meeting and walked in with her box of collected hooking items.  She recalls going through each item in the box with the Longstreet Farm hookers saying “you can use this, not this” and “what is this?”

At the time Barbara had no idea about where to get patterns or wool.  Her first pillow was a sunflower pattern drawn on monk’s cloth and hooked in a 5 cut because that was the only blade she had. The women who are part of the Longstreet Farm Gathering were a big help in getting her started.  “They are a welcoming group who gave a lot of their time and experience to support and educate me.” Barbara notes. 

When it comes to a preferred hooking style, Barbara “wants to do it all and to learn it all”. Her first couple of pillows were hooked in a 5 cut.  She was exposed to hooking in an 8 cut on a Patsy Becker pattern in a Cynthia Norwood workshop at Gail Dufresne’s Goat Hill Studio. “Cynthia Norwood is a great teacher and inspired me to view primitive rugs with a new eye. I liked the speed of hooking with a wide cut.” Barbara recalls. Now she goes back and forth with cuts and often uses several cuts in a piece.

The Gathering also introduced her to the names of teachers and various rug hooking camps. While the Gathering was very positive about her work, Barbara feared that “They were being too kind.” and wanted a critical review of her work. She learned about Gail Dufresne and soon started to attend her open studio sessions. “I have learned a lot from Gail, especially about creativity and the importance of values to color planning.” Barbara says. “Gail makes it clear that rules are needed, like starting to hook in the middle, but always open to each individual’s interpretation.”  Barbara has also learned from Arline Bechtoldt who “has a wonderful eye and lots of wisdom about rug hooking” and Jan Levit who loves color.  Last year’s camp at Longstreet was with Judy Quintman. “I have been fortunate to work with great teachers and have learned from them all.  They are creative, supportive, forgiving and non-judgmental.” Deanne Fitzpatrick whose blog Barbara follows each day has been an influence as well. pillow

Barbara works with both new and recycled wool.  She selects the wool based on the look she wants to achieve.  Barbara has accumulated a significant amount of wool in three years along with roving, sari silk and specialty yarns.  “Any could turn up in a rug at any time if it achieves the look I want.”  Barbara looks for pleated skirts and kilts at thrift stores, but “I do not take sport coats or blazers apart”, she notes. Most of her new wool comes from Gail Dufresne or Rebecca Erb.

As she grows as a hooking artisan, Barbara is now undertaking learning how to dye wool. At first she observed what Gail Dufresne was doing during her open studio sessions. Barbara subsequently found several books to be especially helpful – Dyeing Wool by Karen Schellinger, Beautiful Wool by Laurice Heath, Hand Dyed Wools by Jane Halliwell Green and the SPENA  Dye Formulas by Sharon Townsend. Guild member Janet Bosshard invited Barbara to her home for an impromptu jar dyeing session and Margaret Dickerson has been a wonderful mentor.

Barbara works with both commercial patterns and her own. “More and more I am designing my own patterns. People are starting to ask me for a pattern or to design one for them, so I am starting to think about my own pattern business.” she notes.

Hooking is part of Barbara’s every day life.  She is an early person getting up at 5:00 – 5:30 each morning. Her routine is to sit down at her hooking frame with a cup of tea, watch the early morning news shows and work on her latest project.  She returns to her hooking for an hour or so just before supper.

Guild member Janet Bosshard, who is also a participant in the Gathering at Longstreet Farm, first mentioned our Guild to Barbara and encouraged her to check out our website. As soon as she did, “I wanted to join.” Barbara recalls. “There were so many things going on; I wanted to get involved. I was fascinated by the website and all the information it contained.”  Barbara recently led the effort to establish the new Spring Lake ATHA Chapter.  “It came about in a weird way.” she says. The Gathering is sponsored by the Monmouth County Park System and there are times when they cannot meet due to other County events. Most of the participants were driving a long distance to attend other guild meetings in New Jersey.  When gasoline prices spiked last year, Barbara raised the question whether there was any interest in establishing a new ATHA chapter locally.  The response was an overwhelming “yes!” and people started to give Barbara money that day before any of the arrangements were finalized. The new chapter will augment The Gathering, not replace it. “I can’t imagine not hooking at Longstreet Farm.” Barbara states. (For more information on the Spring Lake Chapter go to its website – Mariners Compass

Before retiring, Barbara worked for two long term care facilities where she was responsible for the computers and software used in the billing process including teaching nurses how to use the system.  Now she has the time to devote to her passions for rug hooking, antiquing, bird watching and perennial flower gardening.  Barbara has signed up for the New Jersey Master Gardner’s Program and hopes to begin the process this coming year. She also participates in “Project Feederwatch” through Cornel University and is a member of the Audubon Society and the American Hemerocalis Society.

Barbara has completed about 15 hooking projects, but only has five in her possession.  The others have been given to family members and friends. Each member of her family has received one of her creations. Her son Jared lives in Wall, NJ and she has a 10 year old Granddaughter, Autumn and a Papillion named Leelee.

When asked what it was about rug hooking that has captured her soul, Barbara observed that “It felt right. To take pieces of wool and make a rug is noble and beautiful.  To be made by hand and to be on the floor is a noble use.  They don’t have to be works of art that hang on a wall. I recall when my sister’s deceased mother-in-law was in a nursing home, the family brought her home for a special party in her honor.  Every member brought a cherished rug she had created with her hands and the 25 plus pieces were hung all around the yard, on the tent canopy, the side of the barn and over the fence.  It was like ‘This is Your Life Elaine Russell’. Each piece had the hooked initials EFB that stood for ‘Elaine, the Fair and Beautiful’.” This has led to one of her great grandchildren having the middle name ‘Fair’ in honor of her sense of art and whimsy. I aspire to being remembered that way.” Barbara notes.  In closing Barbara says that “I wish that I had more time to hook because I have more ideas than time.”


September 2011, Featured HookerCarol Collin
Meet Our Member
Carol Collin

Carol Collin joined our Guild in 2009 after attending our camp with Jayne Hester which she learned about in Rug Hooking Magazine.  At the time Carol and her husband, Barry, lived in Goode, Virginia.  They have recently returned to the area and are now living in Newtown, PA.

Carol has always loved old houses and decorating with antiques and country items. For years she  savored  and collected articles found in magazines especially Early American Life. Hooked rugs were a natural extension of her interest in country décor.  In 1997 Carol observed a hooking demonstration by Eleanor Branin when she attended the local Centerfest Craft Festival. Eleanor had her pull a few loops and by the following Tuesday, Carol purchased the rug hooking equipment needed to get started. She was on her way!

Carol CollinsThe next step was to purchase an instructional rug hooking book.  That provided the basics Carol needed. While she is self taught, Carol religiously attends several camps each year so that she can continue to learn and develop her technique. Her camps include Caraway, Green Mountain, Shenandoah, Smith Mountain Lake and HCRAG. “I have been very fortunate to work with many outstanding teachers” Carol says. Her instructors include Jeanne Benjamin, Pris Butler, Barb Carroll, Sandy Chevarie, Pat Cross, Nola Heidbreder, Jayne Hester, Sally Kallin, June McKoriak and Judy Quintman.  Carol notes that she “learned about hooking with ‘dirty colors’ from Pat Cross which led me in the direction I like to hook.  Pris Butler helped me spread my wings and learn to design my rugs.”

Hooking rugs in the primitive style appeals to Carol.  Her rugs are hooked with 7 and 8 cuts. She works mostly with new wool, much of which she obtains from Rebecca Erb.  “There was little wool clothing in Virginia” notes Carol, “so hooking with new wool was the easiest thing to do.”
Carol enjoys dyeing wool and does lots of it. She works almost exclusively with Cushing dyes.  “I must have two-thirds of their colors” Carol observes. Her dyeing is typically done for a specific project, but then she dyes extra for her stash.
carol collin house
“I enjoy designing my rug patterns, but also hook a lot of commercial patterns. It all depends on my mood” says Carol. “My patterns tend to be geometrics.

Carol tries to hook every day. She likes to hook in the morning when she can sit with a cup of coffee, watch the news and pull some loops. She will also try to sit with her hooking frame again in the afternoon when she can. According to Carol “I am not the best hooker, but I am fast.  I like the routine of pulling loops and find it very comforting.”  She likes the fact that hooking does not have to be done in a separate room apart from her family. When she did quilting and sewing, the sewing machine was generally in a separate room. Hooking allows her work on her project while being with friends and maintaining a conversation at the same time. Hooking is a creative and relaxing process for her.

Within the first year of hooking, Carol found that there was local interest in her rugs.  A friend bought several of her rugs for herself and then bought some to sell in her shop that specialized in country and primitive items.  Others, including local hookers, soon learned of Carol’s rugs by word of mouth. “I priced my rugs according to the economy and the town not by the suggested formulas. For me, I love the process of hooking and the sales help offset my expenses.  I am also open to bartering, if someone wants to.”
c collin wool
Rug hooking is Carol’s primary activity.  In the past, she has also done counted cross stitch, punch needle and quilting.  Both Carol and Barry are committed golfers.  In Virginia, they golfed several days a week. They look forward to resuming their golfing in Bucks County once they get settled down.
Carol and Barry will be married 50 years in January.  Barry is a retired physical education teacher. Carol is a retired registered nurse. They have three children – Rachelle, Russell and Richard — and three grandchildren.  Rachelle lives in Furlong, PA with her husband, Tony, and their children Grace, age 12, and Alex, age 9. Russell is an executive chef who lives in New Jersey. Richard died in December 2009 following complications from cancer surgery. His daughter Reese, age 12, has one of her grandmother’s rugs as do the other two grandchildren.

Carol looks forward to being an active Guild member.  She already joined members who demonstrated rug hooking at the recent Mercer County 4-H Fair. Carol was also at camp last month.  We are delighted to have her creativity and enthusiasm in the Guild.

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May 2011, Featured Hooker
Meet Our Member –
Judy Quintman

When it comes to rug hooking Judy Quintman does it all. She hooks each day. She designs all her own patterns. She dyes all her wool. She is active in several hooking groups. She attends three camps a year and she teaches at three others. flowersJudy lives in Wilmington, NC with her husband Larry and is the stepmother of our favorite twins – Gail Ferdinando and Debbie Walsh.

Years ago Judy stopped at the Dorr Mill Store and had a fast lesson on pulling loops. She purchased a pattern of shaded fruit and some wool. The project was soon put a way in a closet where it remained for some time. In 1998 Judy and Larry were spending about half their time in Vermont and Judy was looking for ways to meet people. Rug hooking provided that vehicle. Judy met Jean Evans who was a local rug hooking instructor from Rupert, VT and started to take classes with her. When she arrived with all her shaded wool from her Door Mill Store project, Jean told her to “put the colors away and have fun”. Her first project was finished in one and a half weeks. Judy was addicted.

Judy loves primitive style rug hooking. However, she is currently working with mixed size cuts. She was recently given lots of fine cut wool and is having fun working them into her rugs. Judy is a serious hooker and typically hooks for two to six hours a day. The amount of time depends “on how excited I am about the rug. I can easily hook for eight hours if I am really excited; less if I am just doing the background” she notes. Most of her hooking is done in the afternoon and evening.

CelebrationsAbout six years ago, Judy and the twins began what has become a family hooking tradition. They meet at a local motel and spend the weekend hooking in a suite with a large living room where they can set up their frames and comfortably hook. They begin Thursday night and work straight through to Sunday afternoon. They bring plenty of food, snacks and wine. “We eat and drink continually” she jokes. After the first year, they decided to have a project challenge for the weekend. For the first challenge Judy provided clip art ideas. It was agreed that each would come with something on paper, although they did not have to hook it. Another rule was that they could not discuss or share their pattern until the “big reveal” at the weekend. This was especially difficult for the twins who constantly talk and share what is going on. Judy recalls “how very similar their first patterns were in design and color. It was uncanny.”

In 2001 Judy was encouraged by Jane King, another influential instructor and mentor, to consider becoming McGown certified and to teach. She was apprehensive at first because “shading is not my thing”, but “Jean Evans agreed and was so encouraging and enthusiastic” that she decided to go ahead. Her stand-up skills acquired from work in management training proved to be an asset when combined with her love for rug hooking. Judy completed her McGown certification in record time – one year!

Judy finds that attending several camps each year is important as a way to remain revitalized. She participates in an annual workshop that Patty Yoder started. The participants meet in Georgia and hook for five days during which time they share what they are doing. Specialized presentations are part of the program as many of the attendees are teachers. Our camp is another of Judy’s favorites. She also participates in a “Friendship Group” that invites a teacher to join with them once a year. This year it was Norma Batastini. In a normal year, Judy will attend one other camp. fish

Instructors with whom she has studied include Norma Batastini, Jean Evans, Karen Kahle, Jane King, Maryanne Lincoln, Jule Marie Smith and Dianne Phillips. Judy attributes Jean Evans, Jane King and Patty Yoder as being the most influential in her development as a rug hooking artisan. She met Patty in a hooking group at Jean Evans’ home and recalls how generous she was with her time. They all inspired Judy to give back and share her love of rug hooking.

Teaching rug hooking is a way that Judy gives back and shares her enthusiasm with the rug hooking community. However, she limits her teaching to three camps a year. Judy wants to remain fresh and does not want the teaching to “turn into a job that I hate” she notes. She taught more in the early years but found that “it was hard to maintain my energy and to give it my all. There is a lot of up front time involved in teaching at a camp than most people realize.” Dyeing wool for students and for sale, pre-camp planning and communicating with participants, packing, driving for hours and unpacking are the unseen realities of those on the teaching circuit.

Not surprisingly, Judy designs all her own patterns even though she claims “not to be an artist”. She likes the fun and challenge of designing rug patterns. She carries a notebook where she can record ideas that may come from a plate pattern seen in a department store, a magazine article or an object in a museum. Judy rips out and saves pages from catalogs, decorating magazines and antique magazines. Sometime, just the color can serve as an inspiration.

Selling her rugs is not something on which Judy concentrates. She has had commission sales, but this is not a goal. Judy finds that a commission rug may be stifling and not an enjoyable project. Clients often have very specific design and color requirements that she finds limiting. On the positive sign, Judy finds working with colors that she normally does not use can be a challenge.

The twins introduced her to our Guild. Living in North Carolina does prevent monthly involvement, but Judy has taught at one of our camps and attends others. This year she is one of our camp directors along with the twins. Judy is also a member of the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild, the Southern Bells (a local McGown Guild) and a local hooking group that she formed in Wilmington, NC.
Other than rug hooking, Judy loves to cook, makes greeting cards and does beading. At one time, she did a lot of quilting, but gave that up when hooking took over. “The freedom of creativity” is what Judy sees as the main appeal to rug hooking. “Quilting had too many rules for me” she notes. “With rug hooking, I can do anything I want to.”

Judy and Larry now live in Wilmington, NC. Larry is a retired from an advertising agency which he started. His artistic talents are now expressed in exquisite bird carvings that are displayed in realistic settings, sculptures, bronzes and paintings. Judy and Larry have three step children (Debbie, Gail and Andy) and seven grandchildren. Debbie and her husband Dave live in Cranford, NJ with their three children – Devin, Maggie and Eric. Devin, just graduated from Princeton University, Maggie is an undergraduate student at Rider University who likes to work with children with disabilities. Eric will be attending Lehigh University after graduation from high school this June. Gail and her husband Ken live in Pittstown, NJ with their three children – Kyle, Keith and Abby. Kyle is a sophomore at Lehigh University. Keith is a high school sophomore. Abby is about to graduate from 8th grade. Andy and his wife Analis live in Hamden, CT with their daughter Maya, age 4. Andy teaches Tibetan studies at Yale University.

Judy’s rugs have been featured in Hooked Rugs Today by Amy Oxford, Celebrations and an upcoming book by Jessie Turbayne on Southern Rugs. The March/April 2008 issue of Rug Hooking Magazine features an article on the four generation of rug hooking artisans in the family and shows one of her rugs on the cover.

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May 2011, Featured Hooker
Meet Our Member – Juliana Kapusta
Juliana Kapusta

Juliana Kapusta has always had an interest in pioneer life and admits “to having an over romanticized image” of that simpler life.  While attending the Goschenhoppen Folk Festival in 1997 she saw a group of women demonstrating rug hooking and was fascinated by their work. She went to local fabric stores looking for information on rug hooking, but was unable to find anything. Juliana had to wait a full year for the next Goschenhoppen Folk Festival.

When she returned to the Festival in 1998, Juliana met Vicki Calu who was doing the rug hooking that year.  Vicki had an extra hooking frame with her and encouraged Juliana to pull a few loops.  That brief introduction resulted in Juliana taking more formal lessons with Vicki after which she became a regular participant in Vicki’s open studio sessions.

Her first rug was partially completed when according to Juliana her “son discovered scissors”. The backing was damaged so she had to reorder the pattern and start over again, but she was not discouraged.  By that time she was committed to mastering the art of rug hooking. Her first rug was a McGown Flynn pattern that went right on the kitchen floor. The rug received a lot of wear and is now gone

scroll rugJuliana is attracted to primitive style rugs, but when she selects the colors for her rugs, they tend to be brighter than the more muted colors normally associated with primitive style rugs. Juliana also likes patterns that allow her to do shading.  Her current project is a pattern of a cat and cabbage plant that provides the opportunity to develop her shading technique.

In addition to studying with Vicki Calu, Juliana has taken workshops with Jon Ciemiewicz, Michelle Micarelli and Jane Halliwell Green.  She journeyed to Buckeystown to work with Jon where she was introduced to hooking animals and Jon’s technique for dyeing wool for animal patterns in order to let the wool do the work for you.  She wished she had not dyed all her wool before she went to class.  Juliana was a student with Michelle at our Guild’s initial “Spring Fling” workshops. “It was a fun class” she recalls.  “Michelle encouraged me to use bright colors in my hooking.”  Color planning was the subject of the workshop with Jane Halliwell Green that was offered at Sauder Village.  Looking back on these formal learning experiences, Juliana notes that she “has learned from each instructor.  They are all different and I have been influenced by each of them.”

Juliana works with both new and recycled wool. The used clothing that goes into her rugs are found at locals thrift stores where she has more luck finding men’s wool clothing.  Juliana enjoys the challenge of dyeing the wool she finds.  Her goal is to get as good as Jan Cole.coneflower

When it comes to the patterns she hooks, Juliana will work with a commercial one if she likes the design. She also likes the challenge of designing her own patterns. Her project at Jon Ciemiewicz’s class was her own design of her cat.  With Michelle, Juliana used a pattern that was adapted from a book on fusible quilts.

Juliana finds that by attending Vicki Calu’s open sessions on Thursday that she is assured of getting some hooking done each week.  She also tries to hook on Sundays and occasionally in the evenings.

Her friend Cheryl Halliday introduced Juliana to our Guild when she brought the Spring Fling Workshop with Michelle Micarelli to her attention. Juliana soon became a member.  Living in Telford, PA makes it difficult to attend many monthly meetings.  However, Juliana supports the Guild by demonstrating at the Peter Wentz Farmstead and at the Hilltown Historical Society Festival.  She was one of the volunteers at our recent hook-in where she gave a presentation on finishing rugs.

Like many of our members, Juliana has worked with other fiber crafts such as counted cross stitch, quilting, embroidery, knitting and crocheting.  She likes rug hooking the most and now spends more time hooking than she does with the other crafts. “Rug hooking is more of an art form than the others” she notes. “The wool dyeing, pattern designing and wool selecting results in a more creative art form.  I still enjoy the others, but would rather spend time hooking.”

Juliana and her husband Richard live in Telford, PA.  They have recently become empty nesters except for three cats and a puppy. Richard is an architect and has his own business. To say that they have a large family is an understatement! Juliana and Richard adopted two sibling groups of children. Four children were in the first adoption and three children in a second adoption three and a half years later and Juliana home schooled them all! Juliana notes that “we adopted because we felt that the Lord was leading us to do that.  We could not have done anything with out God's help and His mercy and grace in our lives.” Here is a brief overview of this remarkable family:

Juliana also enjoys gardening and cooking. When her children were young, canning was a big part of pillowher life.  It was important to her to show her children that they could be self sufficient with a little hard work.  She also wanted to give the children the security of seeing plenty of food in the house because of their unstable early life. 

Our Guild has a proud history of members completing rugs that are critically acclaimed and recognized for inclusion in Celebrations.  Juliana’s Cone Flower rug is included in Celebrations XX under the Adaptations Category.  This rug was started at the HCRAG Spring Fling Workshop with Michelle Micarelli.  Juliana continued to work on the rug at Vicki Calu’s open studio sessions where she received much support and encouragement. Congratulations Juliana!

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April 2011, Featured Hooker
Meet Our Member – Martha Theiling

About six years ago Martha Theiling saw an article on punch needle in a craft magazine. The article also mentioned Jeannine Happe’s Two Old Crows Studio. Soon thereafter Martha and her husband Martha ThielingGeorge drove to Columbia, NJ and that was the beginning of her love affair with rug hooking. Jeannine did teach Martha how to do miniature punch needle, but that soon migrated to traditional rug hooking.  Martha still does some punch needle, but prefers primitive rug hooking.

In Jeannine, Martha found a teacher with whom she shared similar likes and dislikes when it comes to hooking styles, wools and patterns. “Every thing I have learned, I have learned from Jeannine” says Martha. “She is a very talented teacher.” Not surprisingly, Martha is a regular at Jeannine’s open studio sessions.

Martha is attracted to primitive style rug hooking. She works mainly in a #8 cut and likes the darker colors. While she admires what can be achieved with narrow cut, hooking floral shading is not her cup of tea. Martha prefers to work with new wool that she buys from local vendors.

One of Martha’s recent rugs was one she designed and was inspired by an old game board. More often she prefers to work on commercially available patterns and changes them, as needed. She Martha Thielingfinds that “Jeannine is very amenable to changing her patterns and always a big help”.

Martha tries to hook for a couple of hours every day, “but I am not a slave to that” she says. Martha prefers to hook in day light and is fortunate that her home has lots of natural light.  When she is not hooking, Martha enjoys reading mystery and adventure novels. “I read a lot” she notes

Our Guild came to Martha’s attention from those attending the open studio sessions at the Two Old Crows. She has been a regular participant in our meetings ever since she became a member. “I enjoy being with others who hook” she notes. “I like seeing other rug designs, the colors used and how they are put together.  My confidence grows when I sense that my rugs hold up to the work being done in the Guild.  Our members are very supportive”, she adds. Martha is a nascent hooking demonstrator having for the first time joined other members who demonstrated at Howell Living Farm last fall. She is also scheduled to attend the up coming hook-in at the Mennonite Heritage Center.

Martha and George live in Flemington, NJ with their Black Lab, Sophie. George is a retired computer systems professional. Martha is a registered nurse and over the years has worked in hospitals, doctor offices, with an insurance company and in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. She is currently looking for a part time job in a doctor’s office. Martha and George have a son, Michael, who lives in Hoboken, NJ.  He is taking acting lessons and hopes to get into the theater and movies.

Over the years Martha has done needle work such as crocheting and knitting but clearly prefers rug hooking.  “You don’t have to count every stitch and can easily correct mistakes.  You can get amazing results and continue to learn new techniques.” she observes.

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March 2011, Featured Hooker
Meet Our Secretary – Lynda Kling

Lynda Kling wanted to learn to hook for a long time. In the mid 1990s she learned of a beginners’ workshop conducted by Betsy Coleman in her home in Doylestown, PA.  The project was a seat pad with rabbit image.  After that experience, Lynda wanted to find a teacher who could help her moving forward.  She soon spotted an ad in Penny Power for Vicki Calu who was beginning to teach from her home in Dublin, PA.  Lynda recalls sitting in Vicki’s dining room for her weekly sessions.  Lynda continues to attend Vicki’s Thursday open studio sessions that are now held in her studio.  Several Guild members including Cheryl Halliday and Juliana Kapusta are regulars too.

Right from the outset, Lynda was attracted to primitive style rug hooking working with #6 and wider cuts. Even with her extensive quilting, Lynda notes that she is not attracted to “fussy work”. 

Lynda is an active “thrifter” who visits the local thrift stores on a regular basis and is always on the look-out for wool for her rugs and fabric for her quilts.  However, she prefers to hook with new wool and gets much of it from Jan Cole who is also a regular at Vicki’s open studio. Much of the wool is used “as is”, although Lynda does enjoy dyeing her wool.  She has all the equipment and on occasion will pull it out for a day of wool dyeing.  She has lots of sheep’s wool in the barn that she hopes to dye some day as well.

When it comes to rug patterns, Lynda likes to design her own, but she is also comfortable working with commercial ones.  Many of the chairs pads she has hooked over the years are ones that she has designed.  Lynda has accumulated a sizable number of commercial patterns over the years and is now focusing on completing them.

Lynda tries to hook at least an hour a day generally at night in addition to her weekly participation in Vicki Calu’s open studio day.  She is a believer of the “10 minute rug” approach when she falls behind in her hooking.  The idea is to hook for just 10 minutes a day and that you will soon see progress being made on your rug.

Our Guild was brought to Lynda’s attention by former member Kim Kagan who at the time was a regular at Vicki’s open studio.  Kim has subsequently relocated to New Hampshire. “I find the work being done by Guild members to be really fantastic and inspiring” says Lynda.  “The group is friendly and so willing to share.  Seeing what others are doing keeps you going when you get discouraged.” she notes.

Quilting and knitting are also favorite activities for Lynda. She has lots of fabric and is always trying to get ahead of the quilts needed for gifts to family members and friends. Her goal is to have several quilts in reserve that can be used for baby and others gifts. 

Lynda and her husband Larry live in Ottsville, PA with four sheep, a pony, four cats, two dogs and “lots” of chickens.  Lynda has been collecting the sheep’s wool with the idea that she will again return to spinning. Larry is an administrator with the Council Rock School District in Newtown, PA. Before retiring, Lynda was an earth sciences teacher in the Central Bucks School District. She also did long term subbing as a teacher, was a nanny for six years and also worked in a Lahaska flower shop.  Lynda and Larry have two sons – Andrew and David.  Andrew lives in Bristol, PA with his wife Melissa and son Campbell.  David and his wife Anna live in Worcester, England with their daughter Isabella.  Both grandchildren are 7 months old and each has a quilt made by their grandmother.

Visiting her family in England twice a year is a priority for Lynda. She enjoys touring National Trust Houses and seeing a quilting friend who she met on line several years ago. Lynda has been fascinated by some of the English rug hooking techniques that she has observed.  “They use everything in their rugs, even sweaters that have been felted. I am amazed by what they use.” she notes. Lynda hopes at some time to take advantage of being in England and to study rug hooking with Heather Ritchie.

Lynda likes the old look of hand made rugs and quilts and the fact that they make wonderful gifts. She also has an interest in 18th Century American history and adds that “some of the time I should have been hooking for about 10 years was taken up doing Revolutionary War re-enactments with my younger son.  I still have all the clothes and gear but don't do it any more”.  Like so many of our Guild members, Lynda has diverse interests and talents that make her special.

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February 2011, Featured Hooker
Meet Our Member – Therese Shick
Therese Shick

Working with her hands was an important part of her life as Therese Shick was growing up. She did quilting, cross stitch, tole painting and sewing to name a few of her creative interests. In 2006 while taking her son to an art program at the Red Mill Museum in Clinton, NJ she saw an announcement for a rug hooking workshop to be conducted by Gail Dufresne. It was held one day a week for five weeks during which time they worked on a log cabin pattern. “I was hooked right from the beginning and could not wait for the next week’s class” recalls Therese.

Following the completion of the beginners’ workshop Therese attended open studio days at Gail Dufresne’s studio in Lambertville. In time she learned of Jeannine Happe’s studio and shop (Two Old Crows). Therese was attracted by Jeannine’s color preferences and hooking style. She is a regular participant at the Thursday hooking gathering at the Two Old Crows. 

Primitive rugs with the country look fit in well with the décor of Therese’s home, although she likes to challenge herself by working on patterns that go beyond the typical wide cut primitive. She is fascinated by portraits and has just started one that is based on a photograph of her sister’s daughter. Her plan is to complete a rug that will be relatively realistic. When hooking outside her comfort zone, Therese says “I like to jump in and learn from my mistakes”.

t shick 1Therese enjoys attending hooking camps, but prefers ones that are within driving distance. “We are so fortunate to have wonderful teaching resources within our locality and we do not have to go far to work with the best teachers”, she notes.  For the past three years, Therese has gone to Cape May in September where she has worked with Cindi Gay, Cherylyn Brubaker and Kris Miller. “Cape May is fantastic; very enjoyable”, according to Therese.  She has also studied with Cynthia Norwood at Gail Dufresne’s Studio and with Jennifer Manuel at the HCRAG March Madness Weekend. “I have learned something different from each one”, Therese says.

Therese prefers hooking with #7 and #8 cuts and works almost exclusively with new wool. When it comes to patterns, Therese prefers to design her own. However, recently, she has started to purchase a few.  “There are so many wonderful patterns out there but this year I want to get back to designing more of my own.  I enjoy doing it.”

Dyeing wool is something that Therese does “in spurts”.  Getting out the dye pots is an all day event and needs to be planned for a day when she will be free. Her dyeing is typically project oriented. She is planning a dye day soon for the flesh colored wool needed in her portrait project.  In preparation Therese has been collecting and studying magazines with images of portraits.

Being the daughter from a farming family, Therese tended to get up early even in childhood.   That t shick 4practice continues with her today.  She is typically up at 4:30 or 5:00 and tries to hook for a couple of hours before she heads out for the gym around 6:30. She sometimes hooks at night, but prefers to hook with natural light. Hooking on a regular basis is an important part of Therese’s life and her husband Eric observes that “she is nuts about hooking and gets cranky if she has not hooked for a few days.”

When she reflects on why rug hooking has become such an important part of her life, Therese believes it has a lot to do with her independent personality.  She likes that she can control the whole hooking process from start to end and she does not have to leave home to do it.  She has her backing, supply of wool, equipment and patterns. The feel of working with wool also appeals to her. The frugal origins and North American history of rug hooking strikes a responsive cord as well.

Therese and Eric live in Annandale, NJ with their two sons – Rob, age 24, and Michael, age 21. Rob is in the process of changing careers and Michael is a computer science major at George Washington University. After earning a degree in accounting, Therese was at a summer internship where she met her future husband. Their work took them to New Hampshire for ten years before returning to New t shick 3Jersey.  Eric now does investor relations.  If she had to do it all over, Therese says she “would have gotten a teaching degree”, but in her heart she always wanted to be a mom.

When she is not hooking, Therese still does counted cross stitch and during the spring and summer she spends a lot of time outside gardening.  She enjoys searching for antique pieces that can be incorporated into her landscaping.

Both Jeannine Happe and Gail Dufresne mentioned our Guild and encouraged Therese to get involved as a way to expand her hooking network. Therese is also active in the Goat Hill ATHA Chapter and was recently elected Vice President.  She finds both guilds inspirational. Therese has generously donated items for our annual fundraising auction.  The recipes for the refreshments she brings to our meetings are routinely requested.

It is hard to believe that Therese has only been hooking for five years!

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January 2011, Featured Hooker
Meet Our Member – Jeannine Happe

Today Jeannine Happe runs a successful rug hooking shop and studio — Two Old Crows — teaches rug hooking, designs patterns and sells her rugs. Her rug hooking journey started 22 years ago when she saw and fell in love with a pictorial rug at a street fair in Newtown, PA. She wanted to buy the rug, but J. Happe the woman who hooked it did not sell her work. However, she did give classes so Jeannine signed up for the one day workshop.  “The squirrel pattern turned out to look more like an alien” recalls Jeannine who put the project aside for several years.

Crafts and hand made items have been a part of Jeannine’s life for as long as she can remember. She is a self taught artisan who is drawn to the decorative arts of the 18th and 19th centuries. “That time period has captured my heart” Jeannine observes. Over the years she created dried flower arrangements, sculpted, quilted, painted, did counted cross stitch and other needle work. “Anything artsy appeals to me”, she says. Her work has been sold at the Lamington General Store. For a while Jeannine did quilting and made small quilt appliqués.  She found quilting “to be too precise an art form for me”, but the quilt appliqué led her to experiment with wool. “A light went on when I realized what could be done with wool” recalls Jeannine.

During one of her deliveries to the Lamington General Store in 1999, Jeannine saw and fell in love with a hooked rug but it was too expensive for her at the time. The store clerk convinced Jeannine that she could create her own rug and encouraged her to contact Guild member, Margaret Lutz. Jeannine followed through and purchased wool from Margaret.  She subsequently learned of Gail Dufresne’s studio in Lambertville and travelled there where she bought more wool and a cutter. After making a sizeable investment in wool and equipment, Jeannine was on her way. Her husband, Glenn, jokingly suggested the “the next time you see something you like, just buy it”.

Right from the beginning, Jeannine was attracted to primitive style rug hooking and hooks mostly with an 8 or 8 ½ cut. She is basically self taught. Other than the initial beginners’ workshop, Jeannine has not taken classes and does not have the time to attend hooking camps. “Over the years I have ripped out a lot until it finally looks right” she notes. Jeannine observes that “her students teach her as much as she teaches them; we get so much from each other.”

j. happe

Like many new rug hookers, Jeannine started hooking with recycled wool.  When she first went to Gail Dufrense’s studio and saw all her wool, Jeannine says “I thought I died and gone to heaven”. She now works almost exclusively with new wool.  “It is easier and faster.  No buttons to cut off or garments to take apart”.

Eighteenth and ninetieth century needle work has been a major influence on Jeannine. She has “always loved early samplers” and refers to them for her patterns. Jeannine has a large collection of books and “looks at them all the time for ideas”. She designs her own patterns drawing inspiration from her books, magazines and things she sees around her home which is furnished and decorated in an early American/primitive style. Seeing colors and textures together often trigger ideas as well.

Jeannine tries to hook everyday. She is better in the morning and will normally hook for a couple of hours and, if time permits, again in the afternoon. The ease of hooking, limited or no rules and the combination of color and texture all contribute to Jeannine’s passionate interest in primitive rug hooking.  “It doesn’t get better” she beams.j. happe

Guild member, Karen Worthington, and Jeannine have been close friends since high school and share many of the same interests including rug hooking. They participated together in craft shows on the east coast and for a time toyed with the idea of opening a shop together, but found the idea too complicated to implement. Consequently, in 2005 each opened their own shop – Two Old Crows and The Blue Tulip. Jeannine and Karen help each other, refer customers and recently formed a joint venture – American Color Woolens. They have introduced their own line of wool woven to their specifications. Seven colors have been delivered with four more on order.

Glenn Happe has a construction business and built Jeannine’s studio. The building was initially planned to be an apartment for her mother. Her mother is still on her own, so the building was perfect for Jeannine’s studio. The kitchen is ideal for dyeing and the other rooms for storing wool, teaching, hooking and displaying supplies and equipment.  Jeannine offers classes and holds a popular weekly open studio/casual hook-in on Thursdays. Several Guild members attend regularly.

Jeannine and Glenn live in Blairstown, NJ with three recently acquired puppies (two Coon Hounds and a Stafordshire Terrier). They have seven children between them – Jasmine, Dale, Christopher, Rachel, Travis, Glenna and Robin – who live in New Jersey, Florida, Pennsylvania and New York. There are six grandchildren with another on the way. Every year Jeannine demonstrates rug hooking at Quiet Valley Park outside of Stroudsburg, PA.

Karen Worthington introduced Jeannine to our Guild and brought her to one of our meetings. With her shop open on Fridays, it is difficult for Jeannine to attend meetings on a regular basis. However, she generously supports the Guild with wool donations for camp raffle items and our annual fundraising auction.

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December 2010, Featured Hooker
Meet our Member – Debbie Adam Deb Adam 

Debbie Adam has been hooking for about one and a half years after being exposed to rug hooking at the Lebanon Township Museum by her friends Deanna Kinney and Joan Lucas. Her first project was a guinea hen on burlap.  Debbie found working on burlap to be painful and did not really get “into it” until she took a beginners’ class at the Museum with Kay Weeks where she hooked a rooster on linen.  The linen backing made all the difference.

Hooking in the primitive style is “definitely me” says Debbie who jokes that “my inconsistent loops lend to primitive hooking too”. Debbie likes to draw her own patterns, often drawing freehand on the backing.  Other times she draws on paper first and then cuts out the image and traces around it on the linen. So far her rug designs are a result of specific requests from family members – large white daisy for her mother, piano keyboard for her daughter and lobsters for her grandson. Designing the piano keyboard rug required counting the linen threads to make sure the design was properly balanced. Debbie’s rugs are hooked with a combination of recycled and new wool.  Jeannine Happe’s shop, Two Old Crows, is a favorite source of new wool.

Debbie says she “has always done some form of needle work and rug hooking is another form of that crroostereative process”. She finds it “very satisfying to create a pattern that means something to someone”.

Deanne Kinney, Joan Lucas and Kay Weeks have been influential in Deb’s development as a rug hooker. She does not make it a practice to attend formal workshops, preferring to learn informally by hooking at the Museum with Deanna and Joan on Tuesdays and observing the work being done by Guild members.  She tries to hook at home at least once or twice a week in addition to the day at the Museum. Debbie’s husband recently converted their chicken house into a hooking studio. When it is too cold to go to the unheated studio, Debbie works at her frame that is set up in the living room.

Kay Weeks mentioned our Guild during her beginners’ workshop and outlined all the benefits associated with membership. Debbie came to her fist meeting shortly thereafter and has been coming ever since. She “likes being with people with common interests.”
Debbie is a regular participant at the Guild’s annual weekend retreat at the Flemington Hampton Inn.

Debbie and her husband Richard live in Washington, NJ in an 1840 house. Richard is responsible for delivering milk daily to Shop Rite Stores up and down the east coast from New Hampshire to Maryland.  That means he is up and out of the house at 2:00 AM and returns home around 2:00 in the afternoon. Richard and Deb have two daughters – Jennifer and Melissa. llama

Jennifer and her husband George live in Highlands, NJ with their son Jacob.  Jennifer is a music teacher in Newark, NJ where she teaches piano, violin, trombone and saxophone. She also provides private music lessons. George is following in his father-in-law’s footsteps as a truck driver delivering seafood in the area. Melissa is a homemaker who lives in Middlesex, NJ with her husband Sean and three children – Samantha (age12), Alex (age 8) and Keith (age 6). Sean is a wholesale florist.

In addition to rug hooking, Debbie spends a considerable time with her “critters” – three llamas, three turkeys, a small flock of chickens and two goats (one is pregnant) that they just purchased.  Her llamas are registered and bred for the cria (baby llamas) that are sold locally. She also harvests llama fiber that is sold to spinners in the area.  Debbie recently bought a spinning wheel at an estate sale and hopes to learn to spin. The turkeys are pets that “follow Richard around like puppy dogs.”

Up until recently, Debbie managed a flock of over 250 chickens which produced green colored eggs that she sold at a co-op and local farmers’ market.  She recently downsized and now has eight chickens that produce encow benchough eggs for the family’s needs. Ironically, Debbie was one of the Show & Tell raffle winners at the last meeting and received a dozen eggs!

For many years Debbie was the comptroller for an aircraft maintenance corporation and had a private pilot’s license. Ten years ago she required a spinal fusion which made it difficult for her to work outside the home.

Debbie’s warmth and enthusiasm for rug hooking is evident and contributes to the spirit of our Guild.

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November 2010, Featured Hooker
Meet our Historian – Sonia Force

Sonia Force was introduced to rug hooking when she received a hooked rug on burlap with rows of brightly colored strips for a wedding present. Her husband’s grandmother belonged to a church rug hooking group in Lambertville, which met every week. “She used rags and old things for her rugs” recalls Sonia. “Being a young wife and a very fastidious homemaker then, these rugs got washed too often and you know what happened to the burlap.  Needless to say now, I wish now I knew more about their care.”  Sonia notes.

A love for working and creating with her hands was instilled in Sonia from an early point in her childhood. When she was in junior high school, she made her first dress after shopping for the yard goods all over Trenton, NJ, her hometown. Sonia says she “sewed everything for our three little girls and myself.” Her interest in hand work led Sonia to take up quilting, counted cross-stitch and latchet hooked rugs. All 13 grandchildren have a quilt made by their grandmother.  A trio of matched latchet hooked rugs made in the early 1960s is still being used in her living room.

For years Sonia enjoyed seeing hooked rugs in antique shops and at fairs where enthusiastic, generous-hearted rug hookers shared the love of their craft.  About five years ago, Sonia and her daughter attended a program at the Hunterdon County Arboretum taught by Trish Becker.  There were three evening sessions devoted to learning rug hooking basics while working on a traditional mug rug. After the classes, the project was put aside, but last summer Sonia was drawn back to it and finally completed it.

Sonia learned about our Guild from articles in the local papers. Finding the time to come to a meeting was always a challenge. However, last fall she and her niece, Loriann Fell, attended a Guild meeting and both soon became members. Sonia recalls that “The show and tell portion of the meeting was particularly exciting.  Guild members were so supportive to one another and so welcoming to us. The beauty of the rugs I saw at this meeting and the ones to follow continue to be an inspiration to me. Most of all I saw reverence for enjoying and furthering this time-honored craft.”

Hooking in the primitive style is the direction in which Sonia is moving as she develops her rug hooking skills. Sonia tries to take advantage of the wealth of knowledge that is present when Guild members come together.  Before each meeting, she thinks of a hooking question and then asks as many members as she can to get various opinions. Sonia also takes advantage of the Guild’s extensive library and says “I pore through the books several times each month”. “Everyone has been so supportive” Sonia notes. She is especially thankful for the encouragement received from Margaret Brightbill, Karl Gimber, Deanna Kinney and Karen Worthington.

Sonia tries to hook a little every day.  She has been gathering recycled wool for her stash and did buy some new wool for her current project. As she expands her rug hooking knowledge, Sonia says “I know I will get into the dyeing process, but am content for now to buy what I need”.

Our Guild’s annual rug hooking camp in August presented an opportunity for Sonia to really immerse herself in her first rug project. She participated in the workshop conducted by Cherylyn Brubaker.  Initially, Sonia was going to work on a prepared pattern and actually started to transfer it to her linen backing. However, she followed her urge to draw her own pattern. The inspiration for the pattern was John’s favorite ancient flannel shirt notes Sonia. The Western shirt had a strong Indian type pattern with turquoise and pipestone red colors. The pattern was drawn on the backing before camp so that Cherylyn was able to help Sonia get started.  The rug is being hooked with 6 and 8 cuts.
Sonia looks forward to when she can soon share her completed rug with the Guild and say “My first rug is finished!” We know the Guild will applaud.

After receiving her college degree in 1972, Sonia taught first and third grades in Robert Hunter School in Flemington, NJ.  She and husband John have been active collectors of antiques for most of their 59 years of marriage. Sonia concentrates on collecting antique buttons, some of which she shared at camp. John has an extensive collection of vintage milk bottles. They live with them and enjoy them totally.

Sonia and John live in Flemington, NJ.  At one time they owned Paul Bunyon’s Village in Flemington which John built. The Village was a series of specialty shops including a restaurant and ice cream parlor that they operated. They have one son, Dan, and three daughters – Amy, Holly and Joy. Dan also lives in Flemington and is the owner of Pete’s Bike Shop. His wife Patricia is a special education teacher.  Their daughter Meredith lives in Upper Montclair with her husband James. Their daughter Lindsay who is also a special education teacher lives in Ewing, NJ. Amy is also a teacher who lives in Three Bridges, NJ with her husband Ed and their three children Eddie, Elise and Emily. Holly, a teacher, and her husband Bob live in Wellsboro, PA with their three children – Jacob, Jesse and Luke.  Joy lives in Ivyland, PA with her husband Rob and their children,  “RJ” and McKenzie.  Keeping with the family tradition, Joy is also a teacher.

As the Guild’s Historian, Sonia is responsible for maintaining our historical scrapbook that is a record of articles on the Guild and our members and paper items that relating to HCRAG activities.

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September 2010 Hooker of the Month
Meet Our Member – Meet Our Co-President Joyce Combs

Joyce Combs and her husband, “Skeet” spend their summers in Fishers Landing along the St. Lawrence River in upstate New York. It was there in the summer of 1999 that she begajoyce combsn her rug hooking journey when she took a week long beginner’s class at the Handweaving Museum in Clayton, NY with Pandy Goodbody as the teacher.  She notes that “I was immediately “hooked” and knew that this was an art I would enjoy.”   It turned out that Pandy lived very near to Joyce in the winter and invited her to come to her hooking group, now known as the “Hooksome and Chatmore group”.

Joyce does not have a preferred style.  “I love it all”, she says. Joyce has hooked with hand torn wool, wide cut, fine cut and proddy.  She finds that “they are all fun.  I don’t like to do the same thing too many times.”  Landscapes are her favorite.

Attending HCRAG camps and workshops is a priority.  Joyce has also attended workshops at the Highlands before it closed.  She recently participated in the Grenfeld Workshop sponsored by Norma Batastini. This provided yet another hooking technique experience.  Joyce has also participated in workshops at Gail Dufresne’s studio. Over the years she has worked with Norma Batastini, Elizabeth Black, Sandy Cheverie, Cecelia Clemens, Gail Dufresne, Pandy Goodbody, Jen Lavoie, Michele Micarelli and Jule Marie Smith.

Joyce has learned from each of her workshops and instructors, but identifies Gail Dufresne and  the Hooksome and Chatmore Group as the most influential in her development as a rug hooking artisan. At one point she also found Padula, the internet discussion group, to be a wonderful source for ideas, but now finds the group less active.

Dyeing wool is something that Joyce enjoys and challenges her.  While she claims that “I have much to learn”, Joyce is one of the Guild’s more experienced wool dyers who has taught wool dyeing and wrote a series of articles on the subject for The Loop.  Joyce works with new and recycled wool from local thrift stores. She especially likes the wool available from Rebecca Erb.  Old Pendleton skirts are a favorite source for the best old plaids. Joyce’s friends from upstate New York collect wool for her from church bag sales.  In return, she hooks mats and small items for them.

Joyce prefers to design her own patterns.  She finds that commercial patterns lack the excitement that comes from drawing her own, even though she may draw the pattern 10 times before she gets it right.

An extra bedroom has been converted into a studio with shelves of her wool on display.  There is a comfortable chair where she can curl up with her I-pod audio book.  Joyce’s dog, Jack, jumps up on her lap and anchors her until he feels she has completed enough of the rug. During the fall and winter months, Joyce will hook two to four hours a day, especially if she is working on a rug she likes. When she is finished hooking for the day, the rug is placed where she can see it first thing in the morning and can study it to see if something needs to be changed.

Our Guild was brought to Joyce’s attention by Gail Dufresne and by the Hooksome and Chatmore Group in late 1999 or early 2000. She actively supports the Guild by demonstrating at events throughout the year and currently serves as co-president. Joyce has also served as secretary and was the Guild’s treasurer for several years. The stimulation that comes from seeing what others are doing is a major reason she looks forward to Guild meetings each month. “The Show & Tell portion of the meeting is exciting and inspirational. I am inspired by the work being done by our members. Of course, the friendships formed are special.”

Joyce is a retired accounting manager. Skeet worked in the aerospace industry for 30 years before retiring. They have been married for 44 years. Restoring their 200 year old house is an ongoing project for them.  They have two sons — Jeff and Keith.  Jeff  has his own executive search business.  He and his wife Betsy live in Stockton, NJ with their two daughters, Clara and Charlotte.  Sadly, Keith died an accidental death at the age of 19. The entire family enjoyed American Power Boat (APBA) racing for many years, traveling from Maine to Florida and New Jersey to Michigan for many of the races. Skeet who is an accomplished woodworker built many of their boats. Kayaking and anything to do with water attracts Joyce and Skeet. Their summer home sits on the St. Lawrence River and is an ideal location for them to enjoy all the water sports.seascape

Before hooking, Joyce was a weaver.  She still has her loom and expects to go back to weaving at some point. Hooking rugs appeals to her because “there are no boundaries for creativity.”  It is also something you can do with others. Weaving, on the other hand, is a solitary activity. Most recently, Joyce has started drawing with pencil.  She carries her sketch pad with her to capture images that attract her. “I am not very good, but will get better if I do it all the time”, notes Joyce.

Joyce’s hooking adventure has gone full circle.  During her summers at Fishers Island, Joyce and a group of hookers meet on Wednesdays and hook on the porch of the same museum where Joyce first learned to hook. As visitors enter the museum, they frequently stop and ask questions. Quite a few buy beginners’ kits from the museum. One of Joyce’s upstate friends, Marilyn Ellison, attended our camp this summer.

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June 2010 Hooker of the Month
Meet Our Member – Jana Laidlaw

In 2007 Jana finally had more time to devote to her creative interests.  She knew that there was a quilters group that met at the Mercer County Library on Thursdays and went to see what they were all about.  It turns out that she went on the wrong Thursday and the Mercer Rug Hookers were there and not the quilters. She was “blown away” by what she saw being done. Jana had seen rug hooking in Nova Scotia years before while on vacation and was somewhat familiar with the craft.  The Mercer Hookers are also HCRAG members and told her of our Beginners’ Workshop, which she attended.leaves
Her timing was ideal because shortly after the workshop Norma Batastini had her yard sale.  The Mercer Hookers took Jana under their wing and took her to the sale where she bought wool, a cutter, patterns and other basic supplies. She was now all set up to seriously begin her rug hooking.

In her first year, Jana was “just trying things out” with the Mercer Hookers. The next summer at the HCRAG camp she took Gail Dufresne’s workshop and started her first rug. Jana continues to go to Gail’s open studio workshops in Lambertville, NJ once or twice a month. Jana has sampled different styles and once took a workshop with Cynthia Norwood where the focus was on using wide cuts.  “I like Cynthia very much, but hooking with a 9 cut is not for me.” notes Jana. She attended Doris Norman’s Celtic knot workshop with Weezie Huntington and “loved it”. Jana continues to learn as a participant with the “Hooksome & Chatmore” group who meet to hook every Thursday.

Jana has hooked with recycled wool, but tends to work almost exclusively with new wool. She notes that “going to Gail’s and seeing her wool is like finding the mother lode. It’s there and it’s beautiful.  If it is not there, Gail will dye it for you.”

So far, Jana has tended to work with commercial patterns, although she is beginning to design some of her own. Her Celtic knot rug was designed using internet images. Jana envisions doing more of her own designs in the future.  “There are so many possibilities.” sheep pillow

The amount of time that Jana can devote to her hooking depends on what else she is doing. Sometimes it is haphazard, especially when she is working. Often she works on her current project while watching TV.  “My hands need to be busy”, she says. Jana gets hooking done on the days she goes to Gail Dufresne and Thursdays with the Hooksome & Chatmore group. In mid March of this year, Jana’s basement was flooded when they lost power and the sump pump failed. The water caused structural wall problems and the house is undergoing major remedial construction. The family’s routine has been disrupted.  “Most of my stuff is in a big pile in a storage unit.” she notes.

The combination of the manual process involved in hooking and the creativity involved in designing patterns and selecting and combining wool provide an experience that Jana did not find in quilting or knitting. “It’s absolutely the best thing for me”, she claims.

For 35 years Jana worked as a molecular and cellular biology laboratory researcher focusing on the process to bring new drugs to the market. Initially she worked in a university setting at the University of Michigan and the University of Texas before moving into the corporate world with a small pharmaceutical firm and then Bristol-Meyers Squibb. Then Jana moved into regulatory affairs with Merck and worked on the process of getting drugs approved.  Now retired, Jana devotes time to volunteer work. Her major activity is with Centurion Ministries who investigate situations where individuals may have been incarcerated incorrectly. Much of their work involves forensic DNA examination. Jana does the early case work. Her portion takes a few months on each case which generally take years to be resolved.

Jana and her husband Bob live in Princeton, NJ with their two sons, Kai and Ryan. Bob is a Chartered Financial Analyst who does analysis of various stocks for a hedge fund in New York City. Kai works with computers at Princeton University and Ryan is a college student. At the present time, they share their home with five pets – Molly (a Boston Terrier), Autumn (a cat who is the ruler of the house), Coco (a bunny), Percy (a duck who rules the backyard) and Terry (a turtle). Their guinea pig died a few months ago.

Besides rug hooking, Jana enjoys quilting, gardening and knitting, although she does knit as much as she once did.  
As a family they like camping, hiking and sailing in Barnegat Bay with their small sail boat.

Jana joined our Guild shortly after participating in the Beginners’ Workshop.  She finds that the longer she belongs, the “more fun it becomes. The programs and seeing the people are worth the drive from Princeton.”

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May 2010 Hooker of the Month
Meet Our Member – Cheryl Halliday

Featured members have been introduced to rug hooking by their mothers, sisters, friends and other relatives.  Cheryl Halliday is the first to acknowledge that her real estate broker was the one responsible for her getting involved with rug hooking.  Cheryl and her husband, Cherry HallidayKevin, purchased a small farm in upstate Pennsylvania through Sullivan County realtor, Janet Schleeter.   A few years later Janet told Cheryl about finding a new interest in rug hooking.   At the time Cheryl had a young son and simply did not have the time to take on another activity.   Cheryl grew up keeping busy with various fabric related activities, including cross stitch, crocheting, knitting and sewing.  If it had to do with fabric, Cheryl was attracted, but rug hooking would have to wait.

Later, Janet formed the Old Barn Rug Hooking Guild with other rug hookers in the Sullivan County area.  Conversations with Janet would always return to rug hooking.  After being diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2004 and undergoing surgery and chemotherapy Cheryl decided it was time to try rug hooking.    By the summer of 2005, Cheryl was ready to get started and Janet suggested Vicki Calu as a local Bucks County instructor.  Cheryl started attending Vicki’s open studio sessions where she learned rug hooking basics and “has not put it down”.  Cheryl had the opportunity to attend a meeting of the Old Barn Rug Hooking Guild and joined the Guild of dedicated ladies.

frogAfter being launched by Vicki Calu, Cheryl attended workshops that were available within a reasonable driving distance.  A weekend workshop at The Highlands was a favorite where she worked with Jon Ciemiewicz.  During the summer, she combined trips to her upstate farm and attended workshops sponsored by the Old Barn Guild that gave her the opportunity to work with Susan Feller and Trish Becker. Last year Cheryl attended the HCRAG Spring Fling with Michele Micarelli.  With Jon, Cheryl learned how to achieve detail in rugs by using narrow cuts.  Trish Becker exposed her to wide cut hooking. She has learned from all her instructors and looks forward to being exposed to others.

As you can tell by the instructors with whom she has worked, Cheryl is not wedded to a particular rug hooking style.  She likes to try and do it all.  Her first rug used cuts ranging from #2 to #6 and was featured in Rug Hooking Magazine (Mar/Apr/May 2007 issue) in the First Rug article.  Since then she finds herself hooking mostly with #3 to # 9 cuts. The project determines the cuts to be used. Cheryl is especially attracted to hooking with plaids either new or recycled.

Cheryl is in the beginning stages of dyeing her own wool.  Initially she was afraid of ruining a piece of wool by dyeing it.  As she gained experience, her confidence has increased and she reports that “I am beyond that now.” Her goal is to reach a point where she color plans the entire rug and then dyes all the wool in advance of hooking.Patch

When it comes to rug patterns, Cheryl is increasingly designing them herself and she has a very practical approach. For example, she took a photo of her dog to Staples to have it enlarged in a black and white copy.  The copy was tacked up on a window and traced on tissue paper.  The tissue paper was pinned to the backing and Cheryl went over the design with a Sharpie.  Enough of the Sharpie bled through on the backing so that she could go over it to make the outline darker.

Cheryl finds that designing her rugs also allows her to more fully use her creativity.  One of her favorite rugs is of a Luna Moth that she discovered at her upstate farm.  Her rug depicts the moth growing up to become a fairy.  While she has worked with commercial patterns, Cheryl finds it more fulfilling to be involved in the entire process from designing the pattern to dyeing the wool to pulling the loops.

“I try to hook whenever I can steal the time” says Cheryl.  Her schedule normally allows time to hook a few hours two to three days a week.  She continues to attend Vicki Calu’s Thursday open studio where she is frequently joined by Guild members Juliana Kapusta and Annie Edwards.

Cheryl finds her two Guild memberships (HCRAG and the Old Barn Guild) as a special opportunity to connect with other rug hookers, to share ideas and to see what others are doing. The supportive environment reinforces and stimulates her passion for hooking rugs. Cheryl shared her enthusiasm at the February Guild meeting when she and Lydia Brenner discussed hooking rugs with animal images.

woolVicki Calu has graciously offered to sponsor Cheryl as a trainee with the McGown Guild.  This summer she will begin her training to become a teacher and is anxious to join a group of so many that she admires. 

Cheryl and Kevin live in Hatboro, PA with their son Christopher, who is a high school student.  Kevin sells parking and security equipment such as card access systems.  Cheryl does bookkeeping at home and works part time at a local pet shop.

When asked what it was about rug hooking that has aroused such a committed interest, Cheryl notes that “Rug hooking pulls together all of my previous craft experience. I can create a piece that is entirely my own.  All I have done in the past was just practice to get to this. Working with wool is addictive. I love how it feels in my hands.”.

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April 2010 Hooker of the Month
Meet Our Member – Karen Worthington

Karen’s mother was an antiques dealer, so Karen grew up in a home surrounded with old things.  She was also exposed to various handcrafts from her mother who was always working on some project.  Quilting and sewing were favorite activities. As a result, Karen developed a strong appreciation for the warmth of handmade furniture and decorative objects. It was love at first sight when she discovered her first hooked rug in a shop. At that point she knew that she wanted to hook rugs.
Karen is basically self-taught. She found books at the library and started to teach herself rug hooking. Eventually she learned of Gail Dufresne and drove down to her studio in Lambertville where she bought some wool. Karen has not taken any formal classes, but did sit in on a few open studio sessions. She does not have an arts background, but describes herself as “crafty” and was a fast learner.harmony

The feel and look of primitive style rugs appeals to Karen.. She works mostly with a #8 cut with #6 cuts used for detailing.  Wider cuts such as #9 have been tried, but do not work for her. Karen’s projects are not restricted to one type of design. She recently completed a pictorial rug that “was a lot of fun”.

Karen designs all her own patterns and draws on many sources for her inspiration. Books magazines, catalogs, wallpaper, old quilts, cross stitch samplers, houses and pets provide images that find their way into her rugs. While the designing aspect comes more naturally to Karen, color planning is another matter. She notes that she “has to work on it to get it right.”
Dyeing wool is another element to rug hooking that Karen enjoys. She finds it “lots of fun”. She started using Cushing Dyes because of their muted colors and the convenience of the small packets. More recently, she has started to use ProChem dyes because of the larger containers.  Karen is learning how to mute the stronger ProChem colors.  Karen is also a fan of Wanda Kerr and looks forward to her dyeing articles in Rug Hooking Magazine.

Karen and her high school friend, Jeannine Happe, share a similar passion for rug hooking.  For a while they explored the idea of establishing a business together, but it was too complicated to work out. They each decided it was best for each of them to have their own business.  In 2005, The Blue Tulip Woolery was established in Karen’s home with two rooms dedicated to her studio. It is there where she greets the public on Fridays, conducts classes and sells her rugs, wool and hooking equipment. Karen also sells on the internet and at the better regional craft shows in York, PA, Newtown, CT, Waterford, NY as well as the Mercer Museum Folk Fest.
Fortunately Karen is a prolific rug hooker as she diligently works on rugs for her personal needs and for her business. Whenever possible, she will sit down by her hooking frame in the afternoon and hook until midnight.  Hooking for six to seven hours a day is not unusual. She also creates smaller related items such as pincushions, punch needle, felted sheep and kits that continue to sell during the current slow economy.

Jeannine and Karen have recently joined forces and established a joint business venture – American Color Woolens.  They are introducing their own line of woolens designed for rug hookers, quilters and other fabric artisans.  The wool will come from South America since there are no longer any mills in the United States.  Jeannie and Karen have established high standards for their products.  In fact, the first shipment was rejected for quality reasons.   
A Guild member, who visited The Blue Tulip, mentioned our Guild to Karen. She joined shortly thereafter.  Unfortunately, monthly Guild meetings conflict with the day The Blue Tulip is open, so Karen has difficulty making meetings.

Those who know Karen are not surprised that she has many varied interests which keep her busy. Designing and completing antique looking cross stitch samplers is something that she has done for many years. She draws on old images for the designs. Tea dyeing provides the aged look that is so appealing. The entire process is time consuming and does limit how much time Karen can devote to a favorite craft.  When Karen quilted, it was all done by hand — no sewing machine. She finds quilting “OK”, but not as enjoyable as rug hooking. Other fabric related interests include punch needle, felted sheep and pin cushions (flat and three dimensional). Karen “loves gardening” and is a graduate of the Master Gardener program.  Growing up she did gardening work on a part time basis and still has a few gardening clients.

Karen and her husband, Bill, have been married for 27 years.  They live in Harmony, NJ where Bill is a building contractor.  They have two daughters — Rebecca and Gretchen.  “Becky” is 22 years old and a student at East Stroudsburg University.  Gretchen, age 15, is a high school student. The Worthingtons love their pets – three dogs and two cats.  Heidi is a German Sheppard, Ozzie is “a big mutt who walked up their driveway one day” and Wylie, a beagle mix. Their cats, Camie and Vinnie, are strays who found a loving home with hooked rugs to sleep on.
When asked what it was about rug hooking that she finds so compelling, Karen says “It is the warm and comfortable feeling I get from living with old handmade things.  I like making and using the rugs.  They are special to me.”  
Karen successfully juggles the varied demands of being a wife, mother, artisan and business owner.

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March 2010 Hooker of the Month
Meet Our Member – Claudia Casebolt

Claudia Casebolt’s  passion for rug hooking is all about creativity.  She was drawn to traditional rug hooking because it allowed the artisan to be creatively involved with each step from designing the pattern to selecting the wool palette to the actual hooking. Claudia did not find these complete creative possibilities in any of the other fiber arts she had done. The history of rug hooking and the recycling Claudia Caseboltelement are additional attractions. She also likes the flexibility possible with hooked rugs. Claudia notes that “If you do not like what you have done, you can pull it out and change it. Once you create a piece of pottery, you are stuck with it, if you do not like it.” 

Claudia's first exposure to rug hooking started during a two month camping trip to the Maritime Provinces in 1990. In Nova Scotia she saw someone hooking a bright floral pattern.  Claudia did not like the colors but was clearly drawn to the art form. Continuing their trip, Claudia and her husband, Steve, stopped at the Grenfell House and Museum in Newfoundland.  There she saw many hooked rugs hanging on the walls.  At the museum Claudia noticed an announcement for a rug hooking workshop to be conducted by Jessie Turbayne the following day. Jessie was writing her first book and wanted to revitalize interest in rug hooking in Saint Anthony.  The workshop was intended for the local community, but Claudia was permitted to attend.  The Grenfell Museum allowed the participants to use one of their patterns. 

Claudia's plan was to hook with nylon in the Grenfell manner when she returned home.  She had just moved to New Jersey and through the Newcomers Club of Princeton met Elizabeth Walker who amazingly was from Newfoundland. Elizabeth was “a serious rug hooker” and took Claudia under her wing. All the leftover # 4 cut hand dyed wool from a large rug Elizabeth was working on went to Claudia.  The two of them hooked together for five years. During that time they were joined by five other local rug hookers who formed the nucleus of what became known as the Hooksome and Chatmore Group.  Claudia is the only remaining member of the original group in the area. 
Even though Claudia started hooking with yarn at Jessie Turbayne's workshop and then with the #4 cut wool given to her by Elizabeth Walker, she has always liked primitive style rugs that complement the primitive furniture in her home. Claudia prefers to work with recycled wool.  She has used her “share of dyed wool”, but likes it best “as is”. According to Claudia her “perfect rug is one hooked in a #6 cut, using ‘as is’ recycled wool with lettering in a pattern that she has drawn.” Interesting borders are also important.  A personal storyline is often found in her patterns. Claudia says “When you look at the big picture, I want my rugs to be a storyboard of my life.”   Not surprisingly, Claudia rarely works with commercial patterns.  Over the years, she has hooked in #3 to #9 cuts. Her next rug will use #4 and #5 cuts since that is what the pattern calls for.

Elizabeth Walker and Hildegard Von Tenspolde provided the foundation for Claudia's rug hooking.  She does not attend many camps, but in the early 90s, Claudia attended the Truro Camp in Nova Scotia for four years where she worked with Germaine James, Doris Norman (before she taught Celtic designs) and Dorothy Height.  She is unable to attend the HCRAG Camp because she and Steve normally travel during the summer, but she loves to go to the Cape May Rug Camp every fall. Over the years, Claudia has worked with Gail Dufresne, Michele Micarelli, Kim Nixon, Jule Marie Smith and Abby Vakkay. She approaches instructors in a very deliberate manner. They are selected based on what she wants to learn but “I do not want my work to look like the teacher's” says Claudia.  

Designed by Dahlov Ipcar

Hooking two hours a day with a book tape playing is her dream.  In reality, hooking two days a week is more the norm. The Hooksome and Chatmore Group meet on Thursdays, so that provides one day.  Claudia and Tracy Fetzer often hook on Tuesdays.  Claudia and another friend, who is not a rug hooker, try to get together on Fridays where they visit while Claudia hooks and her friend does office work. A day spent sitting, talking and hooking is the ideal. 

Her early instructors introduced Claudia to the rug hooking guilds in the area. Elizabeth Walker brought her to the Alice Beatty Guild and Hildegard Von Tenspolde was active with the Bucks-Mont Guild. From there Claudia learned of HCRAG. She continues her guild involvements because of the creativity she finds there. She is especially attracted to programs with outside speakers.  
When it comes to hobbies and interests, Claudia's list is a long one. High on the list for her and Steve is travel. Two years ago, they spent six months going around the world.  Claudia spent much time planning all aspects of the trip. They spend each summer camping and traveling.  This coming summer they plan to visit Newfoundland again. Photography, quilting, Ukrainian egg decorating, reading, flea marketing, baking and visiting museums are also on the list of interests. Claudia collects folk art as well as outsider art. 

Claudia and Steve live at The Lawrenceville School where Steve teaches physics. He is very involved in raising cactus and succulents and enters many of his plants in the Philadelphia Flower Show every year. He also makes most of the pots for his plants. The Lawrenceville School provides a special living community that fosters Claudia’s creative instincts. They live on the school campus with their four cats: Bogie, Bacall, Yuki Lu and Fleas.

Claudia was a hospital Medical Technologist for about 14 years before she and Steve moved from Washington State to the East Coast.  They have two children. Their son, Tarmigan, is 29 years old and is an engineer living in California.  Daughter, Sahale, age 26, is a graduate student at the University of Iowa where she is studying invertebrate paleontology.  When Steve retires they plan to move back to Washington to the house they bought 25 years ago in Gig Harbor.

Claudia teaches a beginning group of rug hookers in her home. She helps them to design their own patterns right from the start and encourages them to use recycled wool whenever possible.

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February 2010 Hooker of the Month
Meet Our Member – Patty Mahaffey

In 2003 Patty was watching a show on the Home & Garden TV channel when a segment on rug hooking caught her attention.  She was intrigued and went on line to learn more. It was there that she first learned about Vicki Calu, the well-known and admired rug hooking instructor from Bucks County.  Patty MahaffeyPatty lived only 15 minutes from Vicki and started attending her Saturday classes.  At the time, Vicki was also the director of the Highlands Rug Hooking School, so attending Highlands workshops came next. It was there that Patty met Gail Dufresne. She liked Gail’s wool and creative rug hooking technique. Patty has attended Gail’s open studio sessions on Saturdays for the last six years.

Geometric and pictorial patterns using bright colors are what Patty tends to hook.  She likes to mix cuts depending on the rug.  Most of her latest projects have been done in a #6 cut although Patty is comfortable hooking in anything from a #3 to #8 cut. She will buy a commercial pattern if it is something that she likes, but enjoys designing her own rugs.

Right from the beginning Patty was committed to learning as much as she could. She is serious about improving her technique and knowledge about all aspects of rug hooking. Patty finds that the leavesworkshops sponsored by local instructors such as Norma Batastini and Gail Dufresne to be invaluable in her development as a rug hooking artisan. Local classes are augmented by regular attendance at Rugs by the Sea in Cape May where she has gone for the last five years and the HCRAG camp which she attended last year for the first time. She was also “a regular” at the Highlands. Norma Batastini sponsored Patty’s participation in the McGown Certification Program where she has completed the first segment. The list of instructors with whom Patty has worked resembles the “Who’s Who” of the rug hooking world. The list currently includes 21 names!  Patty states that she “has gained from every teacher and has learned from them all”. Since Patty has attended Gail Dufresne’s classes for so long, she credits Gail with being the most influential on her development and style.

Patty tries to hook after dinner every day, but when her schedule gets busy days or even a week can go by before she can sit down at her hooking frame. Weekends are the time when she can count on getting some serious hooking done. It is typical for Patty to have a couple of rugs that she alternates working on. She has about eight unfinished rugs, which is not that many considering the number of workshops she attends. Interestingly all of Patty’s completed pieces are wall hangings.  None are done for the floor.

When it comes to wool, Patty takes advantage of the wool she finds at her classes and from local vendors.  “There is so much beautiful wool available” says Patty “that I prefer to work with it rather than recycled wool. It can be as is or overdyed.” Finding time to do more dyeing is something she wants to do.

Patty was first introduced to our Guild when she participated in the hook-in held at the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center in conjunction with our rug exhibit in 2006. She met several members at the Highlands.  Patty is also active with the Goat Hill ATHA Chapter where she serves as secretary.She saysI enjoy coming to the meetings for both guilds because it's an opportunity to see people who I may not have a chance to see on a regular basis plus, it's always fun to see what everyone is hooking and catch up on anything new that is going on in the world of rug hooking.”flowers

In addition to rug hooking, Patty is an avid reader and enjoys knitting.  She is also proficient in miniature punch needle. Patty lives in Perkasie, PA with her husband Dave, who is a police officer in Hilltown Township (PA) along with their 14 year old Bichon Frise named Muffin. They have two children, Matthew and Colleen.  Matthew, age 24, followed his father into law enforcement and is a police officer in Towamencin Township (PA). Colleen, age 21, is a student at Millersville University.  Patty is an administrative assistant and has worked for an electronics company in Lansdale, PA for the past 25 years.

Patty Mahaffey was clearly “hooked” when she first learned about rug hooking.  When asked what it was that grabbed  her, she said: “I love the fact that rug hooking can be tailored to whatever style you want whether it is primitive, traditional, whimsical, large, small, etc. and that you can either design your own rug or choose from the hundreds of patterns that are available. You can choose not only the beautiful colors and textures of wool, but also any kind of embellishment (i.e., felting, yarn, buttons, etc.)  to make the rug your own.  I remember being so amazed when I first started rug hooking by the whole network of teachers, workshops, and classes that are out there and, especially, the fellow rug hookers with whom I have become friends.  I find it so inspiring to see other people's work and I have met so many interesting people whom I never would have met if it wasn't for rug hooking.” 

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January 2010 Hooker of the Month Meet Our MemberTracy Fetzer
Tracy was intrigued when she saw her friend Joyce Combs hooking a rug. That was in the late 1990s. Joyce gave her backing, wool and the instructional pages from Rug Hooking Magazine and sent her on her way. Although Tracy’s first project required a lot of reverse hooking, she was not deterred.  Her journey and development as a gifted rug hooking artisan was launched.

Finding time to hook had to compete with the passion for boating that Tracy shared with her husband, Albi.  In 1997 they refurbished a boat in Maine which they then sailed to the Florida Keys where it was docked at a marina.  It became their home away from home. That first boat was sold and they purchased a 58 foot “Launch” (used to carry sailors to shore). Work started on converting the boat to a floating home. For the next 10 years Tracy and Albi spent increasing periods of time in Florida. Tracy’s hooking was restricted to their stays back in Pennsylvania.  Life on the boat was too hot for hooking.

Tracy prefers hooking in the primitive style.  She has done crewel embroidery and some McGown style hooking, but finds it too exacting.  “I don’t have the discipline required for fine cut hooking” she claims. Tracy is more comfortable hooking with # 8cuts. In the beginning, Tracy “bought wool like crazy”. She went to all the local thrift shops looking for wool garments. Like most of us, she made mistakes buying wool that was not well suited for rug hooking, but learned in the process. She continues to work with “as is” wool, but is much more selective. Tracy also does her share of buying new wool. Tracy enjoys over dyeing wool.  At one point she experimented with natural dyes coming from Goldenrod and walnut hulls. She was pleased with the results and wants to do more.

The desire to learn and improve her skills is the motivation to attend local workshops and camps in the area.  Tracy is a regular participant at the HCRAG rug hooking camp. In addition, she has attended workshops at Goat Hill Studio, The Highlands and Shelburne Museum.  Tracy feels very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with and be exposed to talented instructors such as Norma Batastini, Elizabeth Black, Gail Dufresne, Jayne Hester, Anne Marie Littenberg, Jule Marie Smith and Helen Wolfel. She recalls fondly her HCRAG camp with Helen Wolfel who at the time was retiring from traveling to camps. “Helen was the most wonderful teacher... such a dream…loved her.”

Joyce Combs introduced Tracy to HCRAG and to the “Hooksome Chatmore” Group. She is also a member of the Goat Hill ATHA Chapter.  The relationships and friendships formed proved to be a blessing when Tracy’s life changed dramatically with the sudden and unexpected death of her husband in early 2007.  Her family and rug hooking friends provided comfort and helped Tracy deal with her new life.  “I treasure those friendships and could not have made it without them” she says. Using her studio that Albi built over his woodworking shop has special meaning to her when she gathers with friends. “It is a wonderful place to hook, especially on sunny or rainy days” says Tracy. “It has lots of glass windows and the views are so relaxing.”

Tracy prefers to hook on linen. Monk’s cloth is “too slick”. Her early use of commercial patterns was not satisfying.  She found it difficult to relate to the designs.  Consequently, Tracy now draws her own rug patterns. In the last two years, she has established more of a hooking routine.   Tracy likes to hook in her kitchen in the mornings because the light is good and she can enjoy a fire in the woodstove. She finds that her schedule normally allows her to hook at least three mornings a week in addition to the Thursday gatherings of the “Hooksome Chatmore” Group. That schedule is augmented by a week long winter trip to New England to hook with past members.

Tracy is never bored with life. She is an avid gardener, belongs to a book club and has always “dabbled in the arts” — pottery, watercolor and writing. Knitting has been a passion of hers for many years as is house restoration.  Tracy also enjoys cooking, hiking and boating.  “Travel has always been high on my list, starting when I was a teenager” she claims. She fondly recalls when she was living in New York City, her roommate’s sister was going to Greece and asked her if she wanted to come.  “Yes!” was the answer. Tracy’s father once advised her to save one half of the money she earned from baby sitting and other odd jobs.  Fortunately she heeded that advice and had a nest-egg to finance her first major trip. They traveled all through Europe, Greece, Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. Before coming home, Tracy joined a Turkish freighter heading to Italy for six more weeks. “It was basic living, but a fabulous experience”, Tracy recalls.

When it comes to her work experiences, they are diversified. Tracy lived in Manhattan and did editing for two magazines – Rudder (a boating magazine) and Woman’s Day. She earned a BA Degree in Nursing and worked as a Hospice Nurse and a Home Care Nurse for 10 years.  Tracy joined her sister-in-law as a partner in The Complete Gardener, a local landscape and gardening business. She has also worked as a massage therapist.

Her family is very important and much time is spent with them even though many miles separate them. She has two step-daughters – Shawn and Lischen.  Shawn, the oldest, is an artist and lives in Atlanta with her husband Michael who works for the Cartoon Network.  They have three sons – Fin, Alden and Tristan. Lischen is in nursing school and lives in Carversville, PA with her husband Steve and three children – Brooke, Morgan and Max. Steve is the CEO of a computer technology company. Tracy has two daughters of her own – Kelly and Amy. Kelly is a stay at home mom living in Reno, Nevada with her husband, Bill, who works for the Department of Agriculture Conservation Service. They have three children – Zach, Samantha and Ian. Daughter Amy lives in Panama City, Panama.  Her husband, Jorge, works for a natural resource company.  They have two children – Blake and Isabella. Tracy looks forward to her trips to see her family and for the times they join her at her home in Point Pleasant, PA.

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December 2009 Hooker of the Month
Sunshine Chair, Susan Woodworth

For several years Sue Woodworth accompanied her sister, Lissa Williamson, to the rug hooking camp run by Norma Batastini in Cape May, NJ.  However, Sue did not hook then and spent her time knitting and working on other handwork while Lissa was attending her workshop. In 2005 Lissa insisted that Sue learn to hook. Sue attended her first rug hooking workshop that year and it was the beginning of her journey as a rug hooking artisan.  Sue’s Cape May experience ignited a passion for hooking rugs. The sister who sat knitting at Cape May now attends multiple camps and workshops a year and hooks 3-4 hours most days!

Sue’s camp schedule starts in January with Off the Ocean Rug Hooking Conference run by Judy Colley and her daughter in Jacksonville, Florida. In April, she attends the Anne Arundel Maryland Guild’s Workshop, followed by the Maryland Shores Rug Hooking School in Ocean City Maryland. In June Sue will be found in Caraway, North Carolina attending Eric Sandburg’s camp. She will be at the HCRAG camp in August before heading off to Rugs by the Sea in Cape May with Norman Batastini.  “I love to start a new project, as evidenced by the UFO's in the attic.  But once I return from a camp with a new rug all planned, I go back to my previous rug and work it to completion. I use the camps as a means for days and nights of uninterrupted hooking without having to deal with every day chores.”

Attendance at these camps exposed Sue to many of the best instructors available today.  The teachers with whom she has studied include Norma Batastini, Bev Conway, Gail Dufresne, Cindi Gay, Barb Miller, Joan Reckwerdt, Jule Marie Smith, Diane Stoffel, Judy Quintman and Faith Williston. “I have learned from each of them and been inspired by them all” says Susan.

Sue prefers to hook with #6 cuts and is attracted to “vibrant colors such as hot pinks, purples and bright blues”. She likes rug patterns that look the same regardless of the angle at which you look at the rug.  While that leads to many rugs with flower motifs, Sue likes to try new things and will soon start the Oriental rug pattern Cedar Lakes.  It is a Pearl McGown pattern available in Charlotte Price’s House of Price catalog.  Sue first saw the rug at Eric Sandberg’s camp in North Carolina.  She plans to hook it in a #6 cut rather than the more narrow cuts often used for oriental patterns.

When it comes to wool, Sue works with both recycled “as is” and new wools. She prefers to “let the professionals do the dyeing.  I am willing to pay for their expertise.” Sue spends hours combing through various rug pattern catalogs looking for her next project. She makes a list and goes back and forth narrowing her selection.

Sue tries to hook most days and usually can get five days in during the week.  Her routine starts after dinner when she sits down in her kitchen where the light is good and normally hooks from 7:30 to 11:00 with the TV on in the background. The rehabilitation period following recent hand surgery was difficult since Sue was unable to hook for several weeks. “Something is missing when I do not hook.”

In 2007 an advertisement for the HCRAG camp in Rug Hooking Magazine brought our Guild to Sue’s attention. She joined the Guild and worked with Jule Marie Smith that summer. “Seeing other rug hookers and their work along with the friendships formed” are responsible for Sue’s continued involvement with HCRAG. “I am inspired by the work I see at our meetings”, says Sue. She currently serves as our Sunshine Chair.

Sue and her husband, Jay, live in Summit, NJ. They have a son, Nicholas, and a daughter, Marian. Nicholas is a career Navy Officer living in Norfolk, Virginia with his wife, Jillian, and their 3 ½ year old daughter, Emma Grace.  Marian and her husband, Rob, live in Edgewater, New Jersey. Rob works for an information technology firm and Marian is currently involved in decorating their new apartment.  Jay is an economist who works with the automobile industry. He maintains his office in Glen Gardner, NJ that also houses his train collection. Sue notes that Jay has “a serious collection”. At one point, Sue had time for other hobbies, but “hooking took over”.

The rugs Sue completes are displayed at her home or given to the family.  Granddaughter, Emma Grace, received Sue’s very first rug — a simple Lib Callaway pattern.  Her next rug had a train motif and went to Jay in recognition of his collection.  “I never knew trains had so much wording on them!” Sue groaned.  She is currently working on a rug of Whidby Island in Washington State which was Nicholas’ first active duty spot. An earlier Santa rug was given to Marian.

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November 2009 Hooker of the Month
Meet Our MemberCarol Kindt

While on a house tour of the Centerbridge Artisans in Hunterdon County some years ago Carol saw some hooked rugs displayed at Mary Schenck’s “Whiskey Run Herb Farm”.  This peaked her interest in fiber art.  Not only were the objects pleasing to the eye but they could also be utilitarian.  Carol likes things that are multi-functional.  Several years passed and as luck would have it she met Kay Weeks while on a Thanksgiving in the Country house tour.  Kay was demonstrating hooking at a little stone church and showed Carol some proddy items she had made.  She give Carol the Guild’s brochure and invited her to come to our monthly meeting which Carol did that very same month.  She was “bowled over by the beautiful work that the members were doing and by the generous sharing of information and advice they were so eager to share”.  Carol knew then this was a craft that she just had to learn. 

Carol is pictured at the Lebanon Museum
with a few of her hooked rugs.


The first rug Carol made was a small kit by Hooked on Rugs that she bought at the Guild’s white elephant sale.  It featured a crow stealing an apple from an apple tree. With encouragement from the Guild members and an old craft book she had stashed away that showed the basics of rug hooking, Carol was on her way.  That was so much fun that she started haunting garage sales and recycle shops looking for more wool and anything else connected to rug hooking.  The second rug was self-designed which Carol hooked as a gift for her sister, Roberta. The house was the central theme and represented her sister’s last name which is Housel. 

Looking back there are some things Carol would have done differently on that one but she moved on.  Her next project was an adventure into fine hooking.  It was a pattern by Jane McGowan-Flynn entitled “The Enchanted Forest”.  She gave this one to her step-daughter, Kara, as the dog in the center of the mat reminded Carol of Kara’s dog, Iowa.  After taking a one day workshop in 2007 with Susan Feller on designing fraktur style rugs, Carol found her preference leaned towards the more primitive style, larger cuts.  She completed a design in that workshop and hopes one day soon to begin hooking it.  Carol’s enchanted forestpreference for larger size cuts was further confirmed after taking her first Guild summer camp in 2008 with teacher Jayne Hester.   At camp she hooked a DiFranzia pattern entitled “The Weathervane” and Jayne was a fantastic help guiding her through the choices of colors that went into that rug.  Carol gave this one to her granddaughter, Megan, because she loves horses and Carol loves her. 

Carol enjoys attending Guild meetings and has “learned so much from the members and guest speakers and have yet to explore all the many facets of this fascinating fiber art.”

After working as an Administrative Assistant for upper management in a major pharmaceutical corporation for over 20 years, Carol retired in 2004 to devote more time to family and home.  Ray and Carol have lived in Readington Township for over 30 years.  Ray retired from the Army National Guard after over 40 years of service.  They have two children, Shawn and Kara.  Shawn, an engineer with the City of Tacoma, WA lives with his wife, Kelly and two children, Aaron (age 13) and Megan (age 10) in Bonney Lake.  Kara, is employed with Elite Air, Inc. and is studying towards a degree in nursing.  She lives in St. Petersburg, FL with her husband, Charlie and son, Ryan (age 4).

Carol is an avid photographer and when she is not looking for that next best picture, working on hooking project, scrapbooking, crafting or day tripping with Ray, she has got her nose buried in a book. Carol currently serves as the Guild’s Chair for Special Events.

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September 2009 Hooker of the Month
Meet Our Founder – Jo Knobloch

jo's bowl
This month we recognize and celebrate Jo Knobloch, who was responsible for establishing the Hunterdon County Rug Artisans Guild in April 1977. This is her story in her words. “It is amazing how events in our lives plot a course for us to journey through without a conscious plan on our part.

Having lived on a farm during the Depression, survival techniques were a way of life.  My parents did everything by hand. Even though there was a dearth and sometimes no money, Mom never ceased to beautify our home with her creativity. The floors were always covered with rugs she had made, starting with the early shag kind that were sewn on by machine. Later she crocheted rag rugs and then got into hooking and designing her own pieces. Our parlor, sitting room and dining room were covered with her braided rugs.

It was not until we left home that we realized how fortunate we were to have been raised in this environment, especially during a depression.  I am telling you this, because this is my background.  I learned to do so many techniques from her.

Included in my background was also music.  I played Bass Viol for six years in the concert band and orchestra and in a Jazz Combo and had an opportunity to play for dances at our school. I was always in the school chorus and took lessons in singing for several years.  Dad paid for these lessons with apples, potatoes, etc.  On occasion, I did solo work at various functions.  My impossible dream was always to some day study voice professionally, but with not two pennies to rub together, this was just a hope to fantasize about.

Artist Talents of Hunterdon

At 17, I left home to enter St. Elizabeth’s Nursing School in Utica, NY.  At that time, there were three careers open for females — teaching, secretarial, or nursing.  When I graduated as a Registered Nurse, our country was at war and I joined the Service as an Army Air Force Nurse and was stationed at the Mountain Home Army Air Force Base in Mountain Home, Idaho from 1943 to 1945. My Chief Nurse was 42 and I was 21.  She was from Maine and was an avid knitter.  She taught me to knit in the two years I was with her. While in the service I did some solo work for the church and sang for the troops on occasion with the Air Force Band.

My husband and I entered college at Syracuse University in 1946. He had been a pilot before the war, and during the war served in the Air Transport Command in the African and Indian Theatres for three years. When he returned from overseas, he had an airplane accident six months after we were married, while flying a P 38. It exploded on its final approach when landing at Love Field, Texas and he was severely enough injured for the physician in charge to tell me that he would not live the night out.  I was given a leave to take care of him for three weeks, until he was well enough to be shipped home.  He was in a cast for nine months and the end result was that his flying career was over and he would have to be trained for a new career. We now have been married 65 years.

We graduated in 1950, my husband with a Bachelors in Art Education and I with a Bachelors in Music, with a Major in Voice. My dream of studying voice professionally had materialized and I was now a Mezzo Soprano and was able to sing in four languages and do some operatic arias composed for Mezzo Sopranos.  Salaries were still low, so I ended up working in a doctor’s office for eight years, before going back to college and getting my Masters and a CAS in Music Education. I taught music and was a choral conductor in the public schools of New York State, Maryland, and New Jersey for 12 years.

Making things with my hands has always interested me, so while teaching I took night courses through Hunterdon County Adult Education in weaving, basket making, and country tin painting. My daughter taught me to paint with acrylics.  We started taking classes from every nationally known teacher we could find and afford.  To date we have been painting together for nearly 29 years and formed a little business called “Jo and Karen”.  This is our 25th year participating in shows together, as well as our own annual house shows. (See Jo's Folk Art "cat" bowl above. This was done as a study piece).

When I retired from teaching in 1970, there was a notice in the Hunterdon Democrat that Adult Education and the Office On Aging had applied for a grant and needed a volunteer coordinator to put the grant into action. With my background, I thought this was something that I could handle, so I applied and was accepted. My job was to canvas the county and find out what art and craft courses Seniors would like to learn, find Master Teachers who could teach the desired classes and find locations within the County where the classes could be held.

Josephine Knobloch as
Special Coordinator for
Hunterdon Adult Education.
Photo is from one of the many Art and Crafts courses offered.

The demand for classes was unbelievable.  Where one class was scheduled, it was not unusual to add three or four to accommodate demand.  Not only did I find teachers for requested arts and crafts, I found teachers for media that I thought would and should be of interest.

Rug hooking was a request and I was given a lead that there was a person named Penny Waring, who hooked rugs.  She not only hooked rugs, but braided them also.  She taught everywhere in the county, awakening an amazing interest through her teaching ability, her knowledge and her dedication to her craft.

Monies for free classes gave out in a year. It was obvious that many would be unable to continue. I presented a proposal to the Director of Adult Education to establish a Guild for the purpose of preserving the cultural heritage of traditional rug hooking.  It would be self sustaining, requiring an annual payment of minimal dues, which would be used to pay for guest instructors. He agreed and the Guild was granted the use of the Meeting Room in the Hunterdon County Library on the second Friday of each month for its meetings.  In turn the Guild would hold exhibits and demonstrations within the library.

In addition to the Rug Artisans Guild, a Patchwork and Quilting, Needlework, and Knitting Guild were formed in the same manner, holding their meetings on the other three Fridays of the month.
Due to the success of this project, called “Project Arts and Crafts for Hunterdon Aging”, with the acronym “PACHA”, I was offered a full time position as Special Projects Coordinator for Adult Education and was employed by them for 10 years, after which I retired in 1983.

We were able to put on three “Festival of Guilds”, which were held in the gymnasium of the Junior High School at Hunterdon Central every other year from 1978 to 1982.  The work of the members was on exhibition and vendors were available, along with guest instructors. Joan Moshimer was one of our guests.

When the various Guilds and other art and craft classes started producing their work, I approached the Director, telling him that I thought we had sufficient variety and quantity to start an Outlet Store.  Once again, the Director supported the idea and was helpful in locating a building for this outlet and thus was born Golden Talents, which was located in Liberty Village for 19 years and nine years in Turntable Junction.  After 28 years, it closed its doors in 2004.

Jo arranged to get Evelyn Lawson's hooked memorial rug to her comrades in arms accepted by Brigadier General Vaught for the permanent collection in the "Women In Military Service In America's Museum" at Arlington. July 14, 1995

Around 1983, the library changed personnel and the guilds were notified that they could no longer meet in its meeting room, so they were scattered about the county. In the mid 1980s a revamping of the State Adult Education Program resulted in Adult Education becoming a component of a larger organization – Educational Services Commission (ESC).  The guilds were granted use of the Commissions’ facilities and eventually able to procure facilities within the Flemington area for their meetings. I retired in 1983, but returned in 1993 as a volunteer helping the Guilds and Golden Talents.

For 10 years I hosted a weekly radio program, sponsored by the Office On Aging and aired out of the Communications Center at Hunterdon County Regional High School.  My guests were always artists and artisans, who would explain and talk about their artistic involvement.  When I came back as a volunteer, the Communications Center now had a TV Station and I was able to host a TV program, called “Artistic Talents of Hunterdon” for another 10 years.  One of my programs was a two part presentation on the Hunterdon County Rug Artisans Guild.

Six years ago, I retired for the third time.  The guilds keep in touch and generously invite me to their functions and keep me abreast of their activities, which I appreciate immensely, as they are all my children.  Each guild celebrated their 32nd year of existence this year.  It is such a pleasure to see the level of sophistication that they have arrived at and to witness their continued enthusiasm for preserving the cultural heritage of their art form, not only by executing traditional patterns from the past, but by designing their own patterns.  These pieces will become historic examples of the 20th Century’s contribution to traditional rug hooking for the future.

It has been such a joy to live in Hunterdon and to have been involved with all the artists and artisans over the past some 30 years and to have been able to utilize and share the artistic talents that I had been fortunate enough to have been exposed to throughout my life span.  Working with all the talented people gave me an opportunity to continue to learn new techniques also and made it possible for me to make wonderful friendships that I will forever treasure.  My cup runneth over.”

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Meet Our Member – Cathy Edwards
June 2009 Hooker of the Month

During a trip through North Carolina with her husband, Chuck, in the mid 1990s, Cathy spotted a store advertising “Hooked Rugs by Local Mountain Women”.  She was curious and stopped in.  Inside there were beautiful rugs (she had never seen a hooked rug before) which were made by the local women.  At this point, Cathy does not remember whether they were hooked with yarn  or wool – just that they were very expensive and the thought entered her mind that she would like to find someone to teach her how to hook.  Several years later, at the annual “Victorian Days” in Belvidere NJ, she happened upon a woman doing a dye demonstration and exhibiting several hooked rugs.  She had a list of local teachers which included Margaret Lutz.  Cathy called Margaret and set up a lesson.  That was the beginning of her rug hooking journey and her friendship with Margaret as well as the other women she met through Margaret’s informal weekly hook-in that she had at her home.

Cathy likes diversity in her hooking projects and has an eclectic style.  She has hooked geometrics, pictorials, and florals and is currently working on a piece inspired by crewelwork.  She hooks in #3 to #8 cuts.  Cathy tends to hook commercially available patterns, although she did design her “Love Rug” for granddaughter Madelyn.

Cathy is a regular at Gail Dufresne’s Goal Hill Studio in Lambertville, NJ.  Beside the expert instruction and advice she receives from Gail, she enjoys the camaraderie of the group.  “It is also wonderful to have available to me the most wonderful wool which Gail provides.” Cathy is also a regular attendee of HCRAG camp.  She has taken workshops with Helen Wolfel, Susan Feller, Michele Micarelli and Sherri Heiber-Day at camp in addition to workshops with Cynthia Norwood, Jackie Hansen and Elizabeth Black.

Whenever possible, Cathy hooks every day.  Hooking late in the afternoon normally works best for her. When the errands and daily activities are done, she can sit at her frame and hook for a couple of hours before it is time to prepare dinner.  Cathy gets more hooking done during the winter months than during the summer when outside activities demand her attention.

Like so many members, Cathy learned about the Hunterdon County Rug Artisans Guild from Margaret Lutz and from Sharon Ballard whom she met in Margaret’s hooking group.  She joined the Guild right after she started hooking in 1998.  After 11 years, Cathy still finds the Guild as a source of new ideas, inspiration and camaraderie. “I like the women I have met there.  They are friendly and supportive and we share a love of hooking”.  Cathy observes that “rug hookers take delight in the accomplishments of their peers.  There is no competition.”

Supporting her church, tending to her perennial flower beds, improving her golf game and visiting her grandchildren are other priorities for Cathy.  She has been a religious education teacher for over 13 years and serves as a Eucharistic Minister.  Cathy is also a serious gardener.  With seven acres of property, she has all the room needed for extensive gardening.  During the summer, Cathy works on improving her golf game and spending time with her golfing buddies.  She has been an active member of Harkers Hollow Golf Club for the last seventeen years and has held several positions in the Ladies Association.

Chuck and Cathy live in Harmony, NJ.  Chuck is Executive Vice-President with Micro Stamping Group of Companies involved with contract manufacturing in the medical and automotive industries.  They have four children – Michelle, Michael, Melissa and Gregg.  Michelle, the oldest, lives in San Francisco with her husband Ray.  They are both attorneys.  Michael, an engineer, lives in Greenville SC with his wife Julie and their two children, Madelyn (age 7) and Nathan (age 5).   Melissa, also an engineer, lives in Fairfax, Va. with her husband Bob and two sons, Trevor (age 7) and Jeremy (age 6).  Their youngest son, Gregg, who is a planning analyst, is single and living in Phillipsburg, NJ.

Creating family heirlooms is how Cathy sees the rugs she hooks and shares with her family.  Cathy’s parents died early in life and did not leave items that traditionally become treasures.  That will not be the case for Cathy’s family.  Each of her children and grandchildren has at least one of her rugs.  She likes to “hook something special and personal in each rug”.  Normally it is a message worked into the background but is hard to detect unless you know where to look.  A rug inspired by a Currier & Ives print “American Express Train” and hooked for grandson Nathan, has the wording “I love you” hooked in the  clouds.  This rug won an “Honorable Mention Award” in the 2007 Celebration sponsored by Rug Hooking Magazine.  Cathy’s “Love Rug” was hooked for granddaughter Madelyn, and was featured in the February/March 2008 issue of the ATHA Newsletter. This rug was designed during a workshop with Susan Feller in 2006.  Cathy shared the rug with the Guild during a “show and tell” portion of one of our meetings.  We were all amazed to learn that she hooked the rug so that all the tails were hidden!

Cathy Edwards is a talented artisan who strives to have her most recent rug better than the one before it and who finds rug hooking a source of enrichment in her life on so many levels. We are fortunate to have her in our Guild.

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Meet Our Member – Lydia Lewis

May 2009 Hooker of the Month

In 1990 Lydia Lewis was on a bus trip traveling throughout England with her garden club. She had herknitting along with her to help pass the time.  Two of the other women on the trip admired her work and mentioned that they were rug hookers. Lydia’s reaction was “I don’t think I can do that”. However, she was intrigued and agreed to join them at a meeting of the Bux-Mont Guild when they returned home. After the meeting she bought a small kit and “fell in love with hooking”.

Lydia is basically a self taught artisan.  She did have a two hour lesson with Betsy Coleman where she learned the fundamentals. Betsy was an “avid hooker” recalls Lydia. Her first project was a pineapple chair pad. Lydia became a member of the Bux-Mont Guild where she received help and encouragement. Workshops at the Highlands, Marathon, Florida with B.J. Andreas and the Outer Banks, North Carolina with Bev Conway helped to round out her knowledge and understanding of rug hooking.  At one workshop, Lydia was working on a rug with a Swiss cow and a mountain.  The instructor arbitrarily said “Take it out!” referring to the mountain and, needless to say, Lydia was not impressed. However, she was impressed by Hildegarde von Tenspolde's guidance when hooking Eleanor's Garden. Hildegarde and Betsy Coleman are among those who have been most influential in Lydia’s development as a rug hooking artisan.

When it comes to rug hooking styles, Lydia’s work defies simple categorization. She prefers to hook with #6 cuts, but does work with #4 and #5 cuts too. “I like to try new things”, she says. Her rugs include stain glass images, geometric patterns and lots of pictorials.  Lydia prefers to design her own patterns, mostly from every day images. Her stain glass rugs were inspired by a churchin Florida.  She designed a rug based on her father’s favorite sweatshirt. A zoo animal rug was inspired because of a fund raiser fair featuring a petting zoo and exotic animal lectures for the benefit of Friends Home and Village in Newtown, PA.   Scratches on her washer and dryer inspired rugs to be placed over the scratches.  A wine bottle rug with real corks was completed for her husband. Lydia notes that many of her rug ideas come to her as she is falling asleep at night. Pattern ideas also come to her from magazines, note cards and photos.

Lydia prefers to work with new wool.  “It is beautiful and easy to work with”, she says. Much of the wool she acquires comes from Dorr in response to ads in rug hooking magazines. She does some dyeing, but “it is not my thing”. Lydia uses a lot of recycled garments, but avoids men’s sport coats since “there is not much wool”.

A day is not complete without working on a hooking project.  Lydia tries to hook for several hours every day. Most of the hooking is done at nights while she is watching TV. During the winter when the weather is bad, she will hook during the day too.  July and August are also major hooking times for Lydia. That is when she and her husband, Paul, spend time in their place in the Poconos.  Lydia always takes a hooking project along.

Margaret Brightbill encouraged Lydia to come to a HCRAG meeting for sometime.  She resisted because she belonged to several groups and did not want to spread herself too thin.  Lydia came to her first meeting last year and joined the Guild at that meeting.  “I found Guild members friendly and open”. She immediately became involved and volunteered to coordinate a hooking demonstration in Langhorne, PA this year and will be one of the team teaching the 4-H club this month.  She will be attending her first HCRAG camp in August.  Lydia has also become active with the “Hooksome and Chatmore” group.

Lydia does not sell her rugs but does donate them to local charitable organizations for fund raisers and gives them as gifts – especially to her family. Each grandchild has a Winnie Pooh rug. Lydia’s husband, Paul, is a retired banker.  “Paul is very understanding”, says Lydia.  “He is allergic to wool!” Paul and Lydia have two sons – Justin and William. Justin lives in his hometown of Newtown. He works for Newtown Township, is a volunteer fireman and has his own lawn mowing business. Justin is working toward his fire science degree at Bucks County Community College. William lives in Holland, PA with his wife Elizabeth and their two children — Connor, age 8, and Evelyn, age 6. William and Elizabeth are graduates of the Johnson & Wales Culinary School in Providence, RI. Will is a chef at the Knight House in Doylestown, PA and Elizabeth has an" in house" dessert business.

The creative qualities found in Lydia’s rugs find their origins in her other interests and activities.  For 18 years she worked at a floral shop where she designed and arranged floral arrangements. She now designs floral arrangements at home and will create flowers for weddings, parties and funerals. Lydia has been involved with the renowned Philadelphia Flower Show since 1980 when her mother first had a display at the show under Countryside Gardens which was started 76 years ago by her grandmother. Lydia and her partner Geri Williams won several ribbons for their work in medium niches.  Lydia also had a stenciling business that she ran from her home. Lydia serves on the Board of the Friends Home and Village, a Quaker retirement home in Newtown.  Paul and Lydia are members of Middletown Meeting in Langhorne, PA. She enjoys bridge, tennis, weaving, knitting and is a member of the Penns New Towne Questers group.  Her career started as a 1st Grade teacher which she loved, but “retired” before her children were born.

Lydia is a multitalented member who brings so much to the Guild.  We are fortunate to have her as a member.

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Meet Our Sunshine Chair – Lib Ryman
April 2009 Hooker of the Month

Lib Ryman is one of the charter members of our Guild. She started hooking in early 1977, just a few months before the Guild was founded. Lib was actually looking for an activity for her mother when she saw a brochure published by the Hunterdon County Adult Education Program. There was a write up on a rug hooking class that she suggested to her mother.  Her mother agreed to attend as long as Lib came too.  Penny Hayes was the instructor.  Lib’s mother hooked a chair mat and then stopped.  Lib continued on her own and has been hooking ever since.  Shortly after the workshop, Jo Knobloch, who was responsible for the adult education programs, established the Hunterdon County Rug Artisans Guild in April 1977. Other than two periods of three year breaks when Lib and her husband lived in up state New York and Florida, she has been an active member. Over the years, she has held various Guild positions.  In the past year, Lib served as our Sunshine Chair.

Hooking with #6 – 8 cuts is preferred, although Lib hooks with finer cuts as well. Wider cuts are often associated with primitive style hooking. That is not the case with Lib. She is “all over depending on the project.” For example, Lib hooked a deacon’s bench seat cover for her daughter that included all of the six houses she lived in and the three churches she attended.  Narrow cut wool was needed for the detail found in such a pattern. Initially, Lib worked with patterns she purchased.  Now she designs her own. She has designed rugs and pillows with family houses and other familiar images. Rugs with “circles and odd shapes” are creative ways Lib uses strips left over from other rugs. Her next project will be a 19’ hallway runner requested by her daughter! Lib estimates that it will take two years to complete.

“Using cast-offs to make something beautiful” appeals to Lib.  When the Visiting Nurses have their rummage sale, Lib is there and “makes a beeline to the clothing”. She has accumulated enough wool to meet her needs and limits new purchases to “interesting colors or white for dyeing”.  Lib has always dyed her wool, but does not do as much of it as she once did. When she gets the dye pots out, Lib tends not to follow formulas.  She experiments and likes to surprise herself. “Look what I got!”

In the early 1990s Lib and her husband began thinking about moving into a retirement community.   Moving was put on hold when her husband was tragically killed in an automobile accident in 1994. Lib found that her rug hooking and painting kept her busy and “was the key to survival.” In 1996, Lib moved into the Fellowship Village Continuing Care Retirement Community in Basking Ridge, NJ. It did not take long before her enthusiasm for rug hooking spread within her community. . She started a small group that meets on Mondays to sit, talk and hook.

Lib hooks most days.  Her hooking frame is up in the living room all the time.  She “cannot sit and do nothing”. In the evenings she will hook while watching TV.  Monday she hooks with her community group.

Over the years, Lib has attended hooking camps at Buckeystown, MD, Shelburne, VT and one in Nova Scotia. Her daughter Patti and son-in law Bill joined her one year when she went to Maine to hook with Marion Hamm. “Bill did his thing while Patti and I hooked.” He joined them for dinner in Marion’s home. Lib used a #9 cut for the first time when she worked with Marion.

When asked why she has continued to attend Guild meetings for all these years, Lib sums it up by saying “I get new ideas from what others are doing.  I am inspired by what I see and enjoy seeing old friends. It is a nice thing to do. I always come home wanting to do something different after seeing what others have done.”

To say that Lib has multiple talents is an understatement! In addition to hooking, she is an active gardener, although her recent shoulder replacement surgery has slowed her gardening down somewhat. Painting is another passion. Lib works with watercolor, oil, pastels and pen/ink. She paints everything but portraits. Lib could not bring her piano with her when she moved into the retirement community, but did buy a keyboard.  For a while she was a knitter, but stopped when a sweater for her husband turned out much too long. Lib says “I will die with a list of things I still want to learn and do.”

Lib has three daughters – Kathy (oldest), Gail and Patti (youngest). Kathy and her husband, Steve, live in Pennsylvania. Their son, Ken, and daughter-in-law, Leslie, have Lib’s first great granddaughter, Jaiden. Gail and her husband, Bill, live in Virginia with their children Justin and Nicole.  Youngest daughter, Patti, and her husband, Bill, live in Tennessee with two adopted children, Vasyl and Ivan, who were born in the Ukraine.  All of Lib’s daughters have rugs hooked by their mother. Each grandchild has what Lib calls a “learning rug” — rugs that include their name, birth date, the alphabet and numbers.

The spirit and enthusiasm that Lib Ryman brings to rug hooking and our Guild makes her special.  We are fortunate that she helped form our Guild and continues to contribute in many ways.

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Meet Our Webmaster, Laurie Rubinetti
March 2009 Hooker of the Month

Laurie’s introduction to rug hooking actually came about through rug braiding.  When her son was one year old, Laurie was looking for a creative outlet and noticed a book on braided rugs.  She taught herself how to braid and went on to complete a considerable number of braided rugs. She met long-time rug braiding teacher Nancy Young rummaging through a pile of wool remnants at a mill end store in Catasaqua, PA. and later took many classes with Nancy ( From time to time, Laurie is asked to teach rug braiding. In 1996 she saw her first hooked rugs and “fell in love with them”. Her daughter was in kindergarten at the time, so Laurie had time to start a new activity. She responded to an advertisement for a beginners’ rug hooking workshop sponsored by Hunterdon County Adult Education.  Norma McElhenny was the instructor and fortuitously was also the President of HCRAG.

Laurie admires all forms of rug hooking.  She hooks mainly with wide cuts in the primitive style and is attracted to what she calls “wild designs”, self portraits and modern/abstract images. Her first rug was hooked on a purchased pattern.  After that she designed the balance of her rugs herself. Laurie is inspired by the things around her. One of her first rugs was based on a drawing done by her daughter who was six or seven years old at the time. That rug is called "Happy Day" (pictured at the bottom of this article.) Subsequent rugs were of her dog that had passed away, her cat and a close up from a photo of sunflowers in her garden.

As the principal of Lola Design, a small graphic and web design business, Laurie finds that growing her business is not a 9-5 job.  She devotes most days to her business which does not leave much time for other interests. Laurie seems to work on her rugs “in spurts”. She “gets into the mood” and hooks intensely.  Vacations and our camps are often a good time for her to get out her hooking frame and work on a rug. The project may then be put aside for a while.  As a result, it may take a couple of years for Laurie to complete a rug. Many of her rugs are finished with a braided edge.

Laurie has attended about five HCRAG Camps over the years. She has studied with Norma Batastini, Gail Dufresne and Jayne Hester. Laurie draws inspiration from other rug hookers and “loves the rugs created by Barbara Lugg”. “Guild members are real artists” says Laurie. “The design and placement of color takes artistic skills. Painting with wool is difficult.”

Laurie is a self proclaimed “thrift shop junkie”. She has collected lots of wool, most of which is from recycled garments.  However, if she sees new wool that she likes, she will buy it. Laurie likes to dye wool.  She “experiments” rather than following set formulas.  She prefers Cushing dyes, but also uses ProChem dyes.  The dye pot is pulled out when she needs wool for a project.

Since Laurie’s first instructor was the Guild’s President, it was natural that she would be introduced to and join the Guild.  Gail Dufresne was the Guild’s Vice President. Laurie has maintained her membership for 13 years and continues to gain inspiration from the rugs hooked by members. In late 2007 Laurie offered to create and maintain a website for the Guild. By early 2008, was up and running!  The site has been enormously helpful in bringing our Guild to the attention of the rug hooking community.  It also helps establish instant credibility with non-members who have interest in our camps, workshops and activities.  Last year, Laurie was the first recipient of the Madeline Brightbill Camp Scholarship in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the Guild.

Laurie, who loves to garden, lives in Milford, NJ with her husband, Peter, and  their two children – Vincent and Elena. Peter is a computer programmer with a large insurance company and is a musician who plays the guitar. Vincent is studying engineering at the University of Delaware and shares his father’s musical talents. He plays the drums and keyboard as well as composes music.  Elena is a Delaware Valley Regional High School sophomore, a member of the JV basketball team, a Peer Leader and “mostly a social butterfly”.

Our Guild is extremely fortunate to have Laurie Rubinetti as our member and webmaster.

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Meet Our Members – Deanna Kinney & Joan Lucas
February 2009 Hookers of the Month

Deanna Kinney and Joan Lucas work together at the Lebanon Township Museum where they have the opportunity demonstrate rug hooking and dyeing wool to the public on a regular basis. They have a combined 40 years of rug hooking experience and will share their rugs and approach to primitive style hooking at the Guild’s meeting this month. Since they work as a team, we have the pleasure of featuring them this month.

Deanna Kinney
Deanna was a stay at home mom and had lots of time to work on her old house, refinish furniture, paint, stencil and decorate. She also did a lot of handwork and “tried almost anything”. She especially liked quilting and crocheting. Deanna and her husband collected antiques and attended many shows. At one show in the late 1980s, she met Lillian Vail and her husband, Bill. When Lillian invited her to a rug show at the Everittstown Church, Deanna was happy to go. At that point, the only knowledge she had of old rugs was that she could not afford them. The day of the show she was amazed at the talents of all the women and how friendly and helpful they all were. They said anyone could hook but Deanna had her doubts. She was invited to come to the hooking group at the Church on Thursdays. In no time Deanna “was hooked”. Lillian started her with a wooden frame with thumbtacks, a pig on burlap and some pink and gray wool. She went right home and worked on it until the hooking was finished. Not knowing how to finish the edges, she trimmed it close to the last row of hooking just like she did on quilting projects. Of course, it started to unravel. Not knowing what to do, Deanna put gray duct tape on the edges and finished it that way. It held up for many years. When it got too worn for the house, the rug was put it in the garage and used to wipe her feet before getting in the car. After her husband passed away, Deanna decided to sell some things at auction. She put auction items in the garage for a while to see if she could really part with them. A few things made it back in the house. The men from the auction house came and picked up the items to be auctioned and unknown to her they took the pig rug too. When Deanna and her family attended the auction, they were surprised to see the pig rug listed as a" primitive rug". It sold for $70 and they still talk about it! Deanna bought a used frame and cutter from Hildegard Von Tenspole. “Hildegard was a great teacher and I learned a lot from her” says Deanna. “Helen Buchanan, Fanny Whitenack, Priscilla Sockwell and all the others were wonderful to me. So many of the women are gone now, but I have wonderful memories of them.” Primitive rug hooking is Deanna’s favorite style. She buys patterns or draws them—whatever catches her eye. She finds that “If I love the pattern I can finish it quickly but, if not, it takes me forever.” Deanna likes to use recycled wool best. She will dye when she has to and prefers to use Dump n’ Dye products. Deanna has attended two rug hooking camps sponsored by the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild and was impressed with the wonderful work the others were doing. She worked with Sandy Chevery and Helen Wolfel. “Helen is the best! - very patient and comfortable to be around” notes Deanna. Before her husband passed away, Deanna hooked every day and always had the next rug ready to start the minute the last one was completed. Her work schedule now limits the time she has available although she is able to do some hooking at the Lebanon Township Museum where she works as assistant curator two and a half days a week with Joan Lucas. “How great is it when you get to work in a wonderful place like the museum and have Joan Lucas to work and hook with. Together we come up with some great projects, sometimes we dye all day and are always surprised with what we come up with. Of course we can never come up with the same color twice.” Deanna enjoys hooking rugs for her three children and three grandchildren. Her oldest son, Ron, lives in Port Murray, NJ with his wife Kelly and their 8 year old daughter Catherine. Son Jeff and his wife Lori live in Lebanon, NJ with their daughter Morgan and son Sean. Daughter Diane lives in Clinton with her husband Rich and their two kittens. They all get a kick out of deciding which rug they would like. When hooking rugs for others, Deanna says that “Sometimes I feel like a surrogate hooker when I hook for other people but I don't get attached to the project as I do if it's my own.” Deanna joined our Guild in the late 1980s. Sometimes she has to work on Fridays, but in past year she has been able to attend most meetings. Deanna also loves scherenschnitte, needle felting, punch needle, antiques, stain glass and anything country.

Joan Lucas
When it comes to rug hooking, Joan claims “I have probably done everything wrong that can be done and do some of it still!” Her motto is that “Rug hooking is good for your hands. There is lanolin in the wool!” She learned about hooking from Janell Harjes about 20 years ago. Her first project was a chair pad. Janell said: “draw it – hook it” and that is what Joan did and continues to do. She enjoys making useful things from “old stuff”. Joan is attracted to primitive style projects and prefers making small things to put on mantles, cupboards and table tops. Recycled wool from Janell is still being used for chair pads. Someone gave Joan a pattern of a hen and chickens on burlap backing and it seemed huge at the time. A blanket from her mother was used for the background and was hooked on a $5 frame with large thumbtacks. Joan always went to yard sales and thrift shops, but now had a reason to look for wool using everything “as is”. Joan rarely, if ever, buys new wool. Several years ago, Joan studied with Helen Wolfel at the Guild’s rug hooking camp. There are times when Joan does not know what to hook, so she turns to books, magazines and children’s books as well as things around her for ideas. She also checks her supply of wools and asks herself “What can I make with this color?” One day she found a piece of purple wool and made a chair pad with thistles for a friend. Joan observes that she cooks like that too – “What can I make with the ingredients I have on hand. I guess I am like a crazy quilt.” Joan was the oldest of six children – “part of a poor farmer’s family growing up in the late 30s and 40s”. She graduated from high school in the late 50s, married young and had five children. She was a stay at home mom and
“gave my kids the things I did not have – ice cream in the freezer and three good meals a day.” When her youngest child was in school, Joan wanted to get a job outside the house and worked part time in a local nursing home and became a certified activities director. About 23 years ago she helped out at the Lebanon Township Museum and is now its curator. Joan and Deanna conduct programs and entertain there two and a half days a week all year long. Joan notes that “Since God gave us two ears to hear with and with only one mouth to speak with, we are great listeners, and are able to be of some comfort to many visitors by listening to their tragedies, heartaches, illnesses and also to rejoice when there are weddings, babies, and good news. It is rewarding to think that maybe we helped some, just by listening.” The hooking that Joan and Deanna do at the museum is not only creative and satisfying to them, but inspires others to be hookers too. For the past 43 years, Joan and her husband, Don, have lived in their Victorian home in the historic village of New Hampton that is within walking distance of the museum. Joan muses that they “raised five kids with only one bathroom”. Joan also works two days a week as a library clerk at the Bunnvale Library. Joan “loves coming to Guild meetings. I am in awe at all I see.” Joan and Deanna were responsible for arranging the Guild’s rug exhibit at the Lebanon Township Museum last fall. The former one room school house was an ideal site to display our handcrafted rugs. The Guild and the rug hooking community are indebted to Joan and Deanna for the exposure gained from the exhibit.

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Meet Our Members – Mary Jo & Karl Gimber
January 2009 Hookers of the Month

Mary Jo and Karl Gimber have admired the decorative arts from the 18th and 19th Centuries for as long as they can remember. Their formal introduction to hooked rugs came in 2003 when they purchased a Christmas mat at a local auction.  It turned out that Edith Prundeanu, who hooked the mat, was at the auction and introduced herself.  They learned that Edith was about to start a beginners’ workshop at the Mercer Museum in Doylestown.  Both signed up.  “Edith was a perfect instructor for us” says Mary Jo.  “She was supportive and encouraging and had few hard and fast rules.”

Mary Jo and Karl work as a team.  While they both hook, Mary Jo designs most of their rugs and Karl does most of the hooking. They do not use commercial patterns.  Both are attracted to primitive style rugs and hook with cuts ranging from #6 to #9 with an occasional #4 or # 5 cut used for detailing or Gimber-Temperanceoutlining. They work almost exclusively with recycled “as is” wool.  Karl volunteers at a local thrift store where he finds many of the woolen garments that end up in their rugs. He and Mary Jo regularly visit several other thrift stores in the search for old woolen garments.  The Lambertville Flea Market is another favorite source for them.  

Guild member Margaret Brightbill spent an afternoon teaching them the fundamentals of dyeing wool.  Mary Jo will occasionally pull out the dye equipment and spend an afternoon dyeing wool, sometimes with a specific project in mind. Last year they were given some new wool that had already been dyed and cut into strips.  They are always tempted by the beautiful new wool they see when attending hook-ins and workshops.

Neither Mary Jo nor Karl attend many classes, but they have attended a few open studio sessions, week-end workshops at the Highlands and HCRAG summer camps.  In 2006, they participated in the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild workshops at Shelburne Museum. They have enjoyed the opportunity to work with Gail Dufresne, Susan Feller, Lucille Festa, Rae Harrell, Jayne Hester, Karen Kahle, Kay Levan, Michele Micarelli, Jule Marie Smith and Helen Wolfel. They both feel privileged to be able to learn from such talented and knowledgeable instructors.

The Gimber’s interest in early American history is reflected in the rugs they design and hook. Mary Jo and Karl have been working on a series of rugs adapted from old tavern, trade and farm signs. (They have completed over 50 rugs so far.) Sometimes they find an image of an old sign that Mary Jo adapts for the rug pattern.  Other times, they come across only the tavern name and Mary Jo creates the design. Books on old taverns and folk art are often used as sources.  Auction catalogs and publications dealing with antiques have akarl-gimber-hookinglso been rich resources for them.  Karl enjoys searching out tavern names.  When visiting museums and historical sites, he often spends time in their libraries researching new ideas. They are especially looking for tavern names that are in the form of a rebus or with an interesting story. “There are a lot of taverns named after the owners such as “Smith’s Inn” that do not lend themselves to a creative image.” notes Karl.

When looking at the projects they hook, Karl observes that “Mary Jo needs more variation in style, subject matter and technique than I do.  I am pretty fixed (and content) in what I want to do.  Mary Jo likes to experiment.  She does traditional rug hooking, proddy, sculpting, regular punch-needle and miniature punch-needle.”  

Karl tries to hook every day.  He routinely sits down to watch the news in the late afternoon or early evening and starts his hooking for the day.  He normally hooks 2-4 hours a day.  If the weather is inclement and prevents him from doing outside work, he may start to hook earlier in the day.  Mary Jo has periods when she hooks a lot and periods when her time is devoted to her other creative activities. When she is in a rug hooking mode, her routine is similar to Karl’s.

HCRAG was first mentioned to the Gimbers by Margaret Brightbill.  Mary Jo and Karl were impressed by the Guild’s sampler project that Margaret was working on.  Mary Jo attended the November 2003 meeting and asked whether the Guild was receptive to having a male member.  The Guild president and members responded “Yes!” Karl came to the December holiday luncheon with Mary Jo and has not missed a meeting since! He says that he “likes being with people who share his interest in hooking rugs and learns and is inspired by what others are doing.” Both Mary Jo and Karl have supported the Guild in many ways.  Mary Jo served as Vice President and Program Director from 2006 to early 2008.  During her tenure, she began the annual hooking retreat, organized a successful hook-in and planned many new and creative programs.  She also organized and installed multiple rug shows in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which included festival/fair, library and museum venues. Karl produces the Guild’s newsletter, The Loop, and handles PR and other administrative functions. He also demonstrates at several local festivals. Mary Jo and Karl have enjoyed hosting teachers while in the area teaching at camps and workshops. They are also members of the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild and the Goat Hill ATHA Chapter where they will be speaking in January.

The Gimbers do not sell their rugs, but do enjoy exhibiting and talking about them.  Several of their creations have been on display at the year long juried exhibit at the Lancaster Heritage Center in mary-jo-fracturLancaster in 2008. They have donated rugs for fundraising efforts for local museums and historical societies. Mary Jo and Karl have been invited to talk about their rugs at Guilds in Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont and West Virginia as well as at local historical/civic groups.  Their rugs were featured in the June/July/August 2006 issue of Rug Hooking Magazine and are included in Contemporary Hooked Rugs by Linda Rae Coughlin, Hooked Rugs Today by Amy Oxford and Rags to Rugs by Patricia Herr.

Mary Jo and Karl have many interests in common and others they pursue on their own. They both enjoy early American history and the decorative arts of the period, travelling, antiquing and flea marketing.  Mary Jo has been involved with art and textiles since childhood.  She attended Saturday art classes at the Cincinnati Art Museum where she learned drawing and sculpting in clay.  Her interests include quilt history, Pennsylvania German arts and culture, art history, drawing and painting (oil, pastel, mixed media and watercolors).  She is a juried member of the Historical Society of Early American Decoration (HSEAD). Karl has a strong interest in the period of the American Revolution and has been collecting books on the subject for over 30 years.  He volunteers at local historical sites where he gives tavern tours and portrays the fictional character Pliny Freeman, who now in his 60s recalls when he was a 12 year old drummer boy with General George Washington at the crossing of the Delaware River prior to the Battle of Trenton in1776.  Karl also portrays the role of a Pennsylvania German itinerant peddler “Liniment Renninger” at several Pennsylvania German festivals.


The couple met in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1962 while Karl was in one year training program following graduation from Muhlenberg College.  At the end of the year, he went into active duty with the Army Reserves and Mary Jo moved to Fort Worth, Texas to train as a stewardess with American Airlines.  Both were reassigned to Long Island and were married in 1964. After graduation from Goddard College in Vermont, Mary Jo began to exhibit her art regionally and nationally.  Her work received many prizes and is included in corporate, public and private collections including the Cincinnati Museum of Art and New York Public Library Print Collection.   Karl worked for a major insurance company until 1983 when he joined a human resources consulting firm in New York City.  The couple relocated to Bucks County in the early 1970s.  Karl continued to commute to New York until he retired in 1997. Their daughter, Jennifer, lives in Concord, Massachusetts with her husband, Dave, and 15 month old daughter, Kate. Last year Mary Jo designed a rug that Karl hooked as a gift to celebrate Kate’s baptism. Mary Jo, Karl and their two cats – Muffin and Rootie Tootie – live in Carversville, PA

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Meet Our Member! Connie Coleman
December 2008 Hooker of the Month

Connie grew up in a “Rhode Island Yankee household” where handiwork was the custom.  Both her mother and father were very creative. Her father was a professional photographer and took many photographs of her mother hooking. She worked with a group instructed by Dot Galey. Many in that group worked with recycled wool garments that were over dyed.  As was common in the 1950s, most of the rugs were done in a narrow cut with beautiful shading. Connie fondly remembers her mother’s Mary Colemanhooking frame being up all the time and cutting wool for her projects. Her bedroom was decorated around a rug designed and hooked by her mother. Using a frame made by her father, Connie tried hooking a chair seat mat, but never completed the project.

Making all her own clothing during high school inspired Connie to attend design school. She wanted to be an artist but received little encouragement from her guidance counselor.  This was a time when academic emphasis was placed on the sciences to support the new space program and the arts were not considered of value. However, her parents sent her to Saturday classes at the Rhode Island School of Design. Connie later attended the Boston Museum School for her freshman year and then transferred to the Textile Program at the Rhode Island School of Design. When she graduated in 1970 there were few jobs, so she started working as a production handweaver using a floor loom given to her as a graduation present from her parents.

home matConnie became involved with the Rhode Island Craftsman’s Guild where she was one of three professional weavers in the state. She also started teaching at Rhode Island College as a “fiber artist” - a new term at the time. That work led to being hired as a designer for a major manufacturer of knit fabrics working in their sampling plant.  She worked as a Jacquard designer and “loved the challenge of the intricate patterns.” The American craft movement was underway and Connie’s personal work was accepted in major juried shows throughout New England giving her a lot of exposure. She started giving workshops and helped establish the first Rhode Island Craftsman’s Fair.  Her weavings sold, but did not generate sufficient income. Connie decided to teach and returned to Rhode Island School of Design where she earned her Masters Degree. From 1974-1976 she was the Rhode Island Arts Council’s Craftsman in Residence under a NEA grant where she conducted workshops from kindergarten age up through senior citizens.  Her work also took her to Rhode Island prisons.  “This work is where I really learned how to teach”, says Connie. 

Connie met her future husband, Alan, at Rhode Island School of Design. He was one of the first to get involved with the newly emerging field of video, although he initially wanted to be a sculptor.  Connie started to work with Alan when they conducted professional workshops and honed their teaching skills.  After they married, they moved to Philadelphia and bought a “shell of an old brownstone building in the art museum area”. Connie spent the next nine years renovating it!  She also came to the conclusion that it would be too difficult economically to be a textile artist.  She joined forces with Alan forming Coleman and Powell, a video/media firm.  For the last 20 years, Connie has taught at the University of the Arts (formerly the Philadelphia College of Arts and Design) where she is a Professor of Computer Animation. She also teaches in the Communications  program at Arcadia University where Alan is an Associate Professor.

In 2006 Connie responded to an article on the HCRAG Camp in the Bucks County Herald.  Although she had not hooked in many years, her extensive textile experience and an afternoon reviewing the basics with Mary Jo and Karl Gimber prepared her for her first rug hooking camp. Connie saw this “as an opportunity to return to something from my childhood.”

Her rugs do not fit into the commonly described styles.  The rug design determines how it will be hooked. Not surprisingly considering her background, Connie enjoys designing her rugs, finding the right garments/wool and figuring it all out. She “loves the challenge of designing.” Connie follows in the footsteps of her favorite conceptual artist – Hans Haacke – who “takes an idea and finds an appropriate medium and way in which to articulate it.” Central and South American textiles have a great deal of appeal as well and are a source of inspiration for her. She is currently working on the first in a series of prayer rugs and a portrait/memorial rug of her cat, George.

The recycling aspect of rug hooking has a lot of appeal. She works almost exclusively with recycled garments.   Connie kept the dye pots from her weaving days and uses them to over-dye her wool.  She is still using her mother’s Cushing dyes!

Her work schedule does not allow time to attend many workshops or classes.  Since she has the summers off, Connie has attended each of the three HCRAG summer camp since joining the Guild.  “This is necessary for me to learn technique” she says. At camp she has worked with Norma Batastini, Susan Feller and Gail Dufresne. Connie also credits Guild members for helping her learn by sharing their knowledge and rugs.

Returning to rug hooking was not done without overcoming pain and physical issues with her hands.  She has suffered from debilitating osteoarthritis for which she recently under went surgery on her right hand.  The hand is healing and Connie is optimistic about being able to hook without the extreme discomfort she had to endure in the past.

During the time Connie spent as a weaver, she understood how lonely a profession it was.   She came to value the importance of community and the need for association with others.  Fostering the need for community is one reason why Connie actively supports the Plumsteadville Grange. She is involved connies quiltwith the Grange quilting group where she designs quilts that are raffled to support their Farmers’ Market.  Both she and Alan help with the Grange’s breakfast and dinner fundraisers.

Connie is “a voracious reader and not necessarily of high-brow books.” She also enjoys cooking and gardening.  After many years living in center city Philadelphia, she “loves living in the country”. Connie and Alan live in rural Pipersville, PA with their miniature Poodle BJ — a rescue dog who is now blind.

As a teacher of creative people, Connie has special insights into what is needed to nurture the creative process.  She observes that “There are lots of creative people who never have the opportunity to find constructive support.  Our Guild provides creative energy and support.  You can feel it at our meetings, camp and workshops.” 

Immediately upon joining the Guild, Connie found ways to get involved.  She helped locate the facility we used for our hook-in and worked though out the day of that event.  Connie helped to coordinate our bus trip to Lancaster and is playing a similar role with the upcoming trip to Winterthur.  She will be sharing her knowledge at the May meeting with her program on Computer Assisted Design for Rugs.

Connie Coleman is an example of our diverse, talented and supportive membership.  She helps makes our Guild special.

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Meet Our Member! Nina Seaman
November 2008 Hooker of the MonthThe Rug Hookers

Nina Seaman spends the summer and early fall months on Bell’s Island, Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia where she is very actively involved with the local rug hooking community.  We are fortunate that she is with us the balance of the year.

Nina came to rug hooking later in life starting in the 1990s when her friend, Fran Lewis, presented her with rug hooking lessons as a birthday gift. As Nina says: “It was the best present ever! It opened a new vista for me. I began to see things differently, such as now many different colors of grass are in a field.  I also found out things I didn’t want to do – hook in a fine cut or do shaded flowers – and I focused on the things I wanted to hook such as crazy padulas, the sea, boats and wharves, the sky, pictures of the island and the people.”  Her first rug, which was her own design, was of an image she saw every day – a Cape Island Boat.

She works in primitive folk art style, using #6 - #8 cuts of wool. Nina uses recycled wool as well as some Dorr wool.  Recently she has begun using more spun wools, as well as fleece.  Nina has also branched out to using metallic cloth and ribbon as well as other embellishments. According to her friend and past instructor, Deanne Fitzpatrick, “Nina’s style is to mull over a piece of work for a good long time as she looks at it. She waits to see what new materials she will find that will enhance the rug. She is patient in her approach to her work.” Maritime Nativity

Two Nova Scotia hookers — Doris Eaton and Deanne Fitzpatrick – have had the most influence on Nina’s development as a rug hooker. She does not attend many workshops or camps, although she did attend one with Marion Ham in Maine and then several with Deanne Fitzpatrick in Nova Scotia.  Nina also worked with Roslyn Logsdon at The Highlands.

While Nina does some dyeing, she prefers to work with “as is” wool, including lots of tweeds and plaids. When she first started, Nina used mostly commercial patterns with a few of her own.  Today, she draws most of her patterns and rarely relies on a commercial one.

Rug hooking is Nina’s major hobby.  She finds it “so fulfilling and meaningful that it has crowded out other interests.”  Travel and art museums are sources of inspiration for her that goes into making rugs. Nina likes to hook in the late morning and early afternoon.  Mornings are used for gathering materials or working on designs.  She claims to “do my best thinking while on my morning walk or in the shower.”

In 2005, Nina’s rugs were featured at an exhibit at the LaHave Islands Marine Museum.  The theme was the island and its people.  The rugs were a collection of stories about the government wharf, fish stories, Sunday church, the fisherman, the hard work and the boats.  The exhibit had a great response from those who saw it. From These Roots

Nina is a retired World History teacher.  She taught for many years in the Edison, NJ school system.  Nina and her husband, Bob, who is a retired Presbyterian minister, lived all their professional lives in NJ, mainly in Edison.  They lived in Toms River for eight years before retiring and moving full time to Nova Scotia.  They now split their time between their home on Bell’s Island and their new home in Plainsboro, NJ.  The home in Nova Scotia was their summer place before renovations in 2000 made it a year round house.  They spent many summers there with their two sons, John and David. Both sons are married and bring their families to Bell’s  Island each summer.  Nina has four grandchildren – Lydia, Ian, Kate and Will. She has made rugs celebrating the birth of each of them as well as others showing life on Bell’s Island. Nina is now thinking ahead to The Jersey Girls show in April, 2009 and to a mat that celebrates the friendship of a group of women who she taught with in Edison.

When Nina moved to Plainsboro, NJ in January 2008, she was soon reunited with her long time friend Roberta Smith.   It was through Roberta that Nina was introduced to our Guild. We are indebted to Roberta!

(Some of the information in this article is from Deanne Fitzpatrick’s article “Great Beginnings Start Somewhere in the Middle – The Art of Nina Seaman” that appeared in the June/July/August 2006 issue of Rug Hooking Magazine.)

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Meet Our Member! Joanne McIllmurray
October 2008 Hooker of the Month

Joanne lives is Schwenksville, PA.  The distance to our meetings and her job prevents her from attending as many meetings as she would like. However, she finds ways to contribute to HCRAG. Last year, Joanne presented the Guild program on wool “feather trees”.  She also participates in most HCRAG demonstrations in Pennsylvania at The Henry Muhlenberg House in Trappe, the Peter Wentz Farmstead in Worcester, PA and the Apple Butter Frolic in Harleysville, PA.

Joanne’s involvement with rug hooking started accidently in October 2004 when she stopped at Homespun in Herford, PA and met Nettie Snyder who was so enthusiastic about rug hooking that  Joanne signed up for a workshop in November.  She went home and did some internet research and that night bought a little 8” x 8” pumpkin kit on eBay. The woman from whom she bought the kit was a big help too and told Joanne about online rug hooking groups which she joined.  When the pumpkin kit arrived a few days later, she worked on it immediately using a hoop.  It was finished in one day and she was hooked!  The following weekend, she went back to Homespun and bought a Puritan frame. Joanne had three rugs completed by the time she took the November workshop.  She has not stopped since.

Her first rug hooking camp was “Hooked in the Mountains” at Shelburne Museum in April 2006 where she worked with Karen Kahle.  The following August she took a Jon Ciemiewicz workshop.   Jon drew Joanne’s cat, Nicky, who she lost a few days after coming back from Vermont.  Joanne prefers to hook in 8 and 8.5 cuts in the primitive style, but she completed Nicky’s rug in 4 and 6 cuts. Joanne has also taken several workshops at Homespun.

She is a real student and “absolutely loves pouring through books with antique rugs and trying to copy their style.”  Her favorite book is American Folk Art Rugs Underfoot by Joel and Mary Kopp. She was able to see several of her favorite rugs from the book last year at the American Folk Art Museum’s exhibit in New York City

When she first started hooking, Joanne said that she would “never get into dyeing her own wool or drawing her own patterns”.  That changed in less than two months.  She now enjoys “playing in the dye pot” when she has the time.  She especially likes the colors that can be achieved by marbleizing. Joanne visits the local thrift stores looking for wool skirts and slacks that she will over dye.  She also buys yardage, more so lighter shades that she can also over dye.

Joanne works with patterns she buys as well as her own.  She claims that she “cannot draw to save my life”, so she has a practical approach to rug design.  She uses shapes from the internet that she prints, cuts out and traces and items from the house such as plates and various size bottles that she traces for circles.  Her approach works well for primitive style patterns.  Joanne believes that “Rug hooking is what you do with the colors you use that really make your rug come alive.  The same person can hook the same rug, but one can look totally different than the other.”  When not designing her own patterns, Joanne keeps her eyes open for “that pattern that when you see it you know you have to hook it.”

When you consider the energy and enthusiasm that she put into her first pumpkin project, it is not surprising that Joanne hooks every chance she gets.  With a full time job, hooking in the evenings currently works best.  You will find Joanne at her hooking frame most evenings. After work, she enjoys coming home and sitting down to hook after dinner that is often prepared by her husband. When hooking she concentrates completely on her rug.  Joanne works on one rug at a time.  Usually that means whipping the edges and completely finishing the rug before starting the next one. However, she is often planning her next rug while working on one. Sometimes Joanne has trouble getting started on a new rug, but when she does, she “can’t seem to stop until it is finished.”

Being a prolific rug hooker presents the challenge of what to do with all her creations. The year after she started hooking, Joanne was accepted into several juried craft shows. She hates to part with them, but does not have the room for all she makes. She also has her rugs in several stores and does well around the holidays. The feather tree work shop that Joanne presented to the Guild has become popular and she has given the workshop at the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center in Pennsburg, PA and the Mennonite Heritage Center in Harleysville, PA. Others have expressed interest too.

Joanne learned about our Guild from Mary Jo and Karl Gimber who were taking workshops at Shelburne when she was there.  Her love of rug hooking has allowed her to support the Guild by demonstrating at events in Bucks and Montgomery Counties that are difficult for others to do.

When she is not working or hooking, Joanne enjoys reading, flea marketing, shopping and going to the movies. She also loves the ocean and will often jump into her car and drive to the beach for the day, mostly during the off season.

Joanne and her husband Phillip just celebrated their 14th wedding anniversary.  They do not have children, but do share their lives with two cats – an Abyssinian named Miles who just turned 15 and a Bengal named Riley who is two.  Joanne has worked in the construction industry for about 25 years.  When she was laid off last year, she found work in another industry, but looks forward to returning when an opportunity arises. Phillip is an expeditor for a company that produces anesthesia machines.

Joanne grew up in a Pennsylvania German family where everyone did hand work of some kind.  Her grandmother used to crochet, sew, needlework, knit and quilt.  Her mother is still an avid quilter, seamstress and knitter.  Her uncle taught her to do needlepoint and crewel embroidery.  Joanne learned to do stamped cross stitch at the age of 6.  She still has her first project, which hangs in her hooking room.  For many years Joanne did counted cross stitch, but was unable to continue because of hand problems.  She then discovered rug hooking.  The rug hooking community and Guild are glad she did!

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Meet Our Treasurer! Gisele Meader
September 2008 Hooker of the Month

snack timeGisele Meader is one talented lady! Not only does she create beautiful fine cut rugs, but she is an award winning quilter, a doll maker and a sewer.  She also does counted cross stitch and redwork. The amazing thing is that Gisele works on all these creative endeavors at the same time. Her rugs and quilts have won awards at many local shows. She won blue ribbons this year at the Hunterdon County 4-H & Agricultural Fair for her miniature redwork quilt and one for her rabbit rug entitled “Snack Time.” Her quilts and rugs received similar recognition at the Mercer County 4- Fair recently held at the Howell Farm just south of Lambertville, NJ. Gisele is the proud winner of a national contest sponsored by the manufacturer of the Bernina Sewing Machine. The challenge was to complete an 8 ½ inch quilt block using the color red. Her award was an all expense paid trip to Alex Anderson’s Quilt Retreat in backLivermore, California.

Gisele’s introduction to rug hooking came in the early 1970s when she lived in Hopkinton, New Hampshire and attended a rug show where she was inspired by the rugs hooked by Hallie Hall who was a McGown certified instructor from Contoocook, NH, an adjacent community.  Hallie’s classes were full, but she agreed to fit Gisele in “if she was serious and did the work.” The classes were in Hallie’s home and ran from 9 to 4 for $3! All aspects of rug hooking were covered including dyeing, so Gisele received a strong foundation. Initially, Gisele worked on burlap and used narrow cuts to hook pictorial rugs based on Currier and Ives prints. She brought several of her early rugs to camp this year to share during the rug show.

In 1978 Gisele moved to Massachusetts and had to stop rug hooking.  She held two full time jobs, commuted 75 miles one way to work and had two children to raise.  There was simply no time for rug hooking. Twenty years later, Gisele returned to hooking on a part time basis.  Her sister was remodeling her kitchen in 1998 and Gisele hooked four hot mats that had a flower motif based on the pattern of the wallpaper in the kitchen. She designed the patterns and dyed the wool. Her sister hung the mats on the wall where they still remain. Hooking items for the family continued when in 2000 she completed a buckboard bench seat cover for her cousin using English ivy leaves from her yard as the pattern source.

Bernie, Gisele’s husband, encouraged her to return to rug hooking on a steady basis.  She started to look for a guild and attended a HCRAG meeting in February 2003.  Later that year Gisele was representing the quilting guild at the Hunterdon County 4-H Fair when she met several HCRAG members who were demonstrating rug hooking.  They encouraged her join the Guild, which she did.winter scene

Gisele is a member of the historic “Phillips House Group” (formerly the Birum House) that meets at the Howell Farm where they make items needed for the farm museum and store.  While working on the hooked seat mat project, she learned of Gail Dufresne.  It had been 25 years since her initial wool dyeing class, so she signed up for Gail’s class to refresh herself. “It was a fantastic class”, says Gisele.  Gail helped design and plan Gisele’s award winning Manatee rug that she hooked for her grandson Josh. Through Gail, she also took a class with Elizabeth Black who is the acknowledged expert on hooking animals. Since Gisele works with fine cut wool (3 cut is her largest), Elizabeth’s approach was a natural one for her.

yellow roseWhile Hallie Hall had a major influence on Gisele early on, she currently draws her inspiration from Guild meetings and from the interaction of small groups of members who demonstrate at the 4-H Fair, the Holcombe-Jimison Farmstead and other sites.

The rugs created by Gisele are almost always in response to a specific person’s request. She retains very few of her creations.  Most are given to family or friends. About half of the patterns are ones Gisele creates for the occasion. The wool is purchased and dyed specifically for the project.  Gisele does not work with “as is” wools. The backing used is fine linen specifically made for narrow cut hooking.

Gisele’s sister Teresa is a long arm quilter and recently custom quilted Gisele’s appliquéd Santa quilt that was on display at the 2008 Hunterdon County 4-H Fair. In return, Gisele is hooking a seat mat for a new bench in the master bedroom. Hooking on the project started at the HCRAG camp this summer. The pattern is based on the quilt in the bedroom.  Gisele designed the pattern and dyed the wool from swatches of fabric provided by her sister.

Gisele says she hooks “whenever I can fit it in”.  She is driven by target dates often associated with her projects, such as birthdays.  As a member of the “Hooksome Chatmore Group”, she is assured of at least a couple of days devoted to rug hooking each month.

Gisele spent 31 years working for AT&T.  She started as an operator with New England Telephone and then moved into human resources.  Shortly after retiring in December 1998, her son Jon, who had a framing sub-contractor business in North Carolina, asked her to help him start a general contracting business, supporting the bookkeeping end of both businesses. What was supposed to be one week a month for a few months turned into a four year commitment.  When Gisele’s mother, who lived in New Hampshire, became ill, she spent much of her time travelling between New Jersey, North Carolina and New Hampshire. This was a time when family needs were her priority.  There was no time for hooking or other creative things. When it became clear that the needs of Jon’s business would be more extensive than expected, they struck a deal that in lieu of salary he would build her a retirement house in North Carolina for cost.po po

When her life returned to some sense of normalcy, Gisele returned to New Jersey and was able to give more time working in the flower department of the Pennington Market where she is responsible for bookkeeping.  Bernie is the Estate Manager for the Roebling Estate in West Amwell. They have two sons — Mike who is a teacher in Wisconsin and Jon in North Carolina. Jon has three children – Josh (age 9), Caleb (age 7) and Abby (age 3) who is adopted from China.

Gisele’s bookkeeping skills are used to the benefit of our Guild, her church and the West Amwell Cemetery Association.  She serves as the Treasurer for all three organizations. Gisele has also been a Hospice Volunteer for the last 14 years.

Gisele Meader is a talented and valued member of our Guild.  She contributes in many ways and we are fortunate indeed to have her involved in the rug hooking community.

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Meet Our Member! Janet Bosshard
June 2008 Hooker of the Month

Janet Bosshard grew up on a farm in Hunterdon County in the 1950s.  At that time, there were fewer people living in the area and children had to find ways to entertain themselves.  Encouraged by her mother, Janet was attracted to handwork and learned knitting, counted cross-stitch and needlepoint.  This attraction to creative work done by hand stayed with her. In 2001, Janet signed up for a beginners’ workshop with Gail Dufresne sponsored by the Hunterdon County Adult Education Program.  Before the workshop started, Janet saw an article in the Hunterdon Democrat about Susan Feller and her Church Door Gallery in Califon, NJ.  Hooked rugs were mentioned in the article, so Janet decided to visit the gallery to see what hooked rugs looked like and to find out what she got herself into with Gail’s workshop.  She loved the rugs Susan hooked.  At the time Susan was not teaching, but had wonderful things to say about Gail and encouraged her to take the class.  That is how it all started.

The first class with Gail was held at the ESC School, but the participants agreed to meet at Gail’s home for future sessions, which was ideal because they could see all the different styles and projects in Gail’s home/studio.  It opened up a whole new world.  Looking back, Janet found Gail to be the ideal teacher for someone new to rug hooking because of her wealth of experience that she eagerly shared.

In October 2002, Janet along with her daughter went to the ATHA Biennial Exhibit held at the Valley Forge Convention Center.  The vast display of rugs hooked in diverse styles and techniques stimulated her to want to do more and learn more.  By chance, Janet met Helen Johnson at the exhibit.  Helen was one of the top fine cut hookers in the area.  Janet’s daughter was admiring a McGown rug and was encouraging Janet to buy the pattern and hook the piece. Helen overheard the conversation and mentioned that she was the instructor for that pattern.  Initially, Janet was unsure that she could hook the complicated leaf pattern, but Helen assured her it could be done.  Following the exhibit, Janet contacted Helen and arrangements were made for her to take lessons.  She learned jar dyeing using Cushing Dyes and dyed all the wool for the rug, which was completed in a #4 cut. It is still among Janet’s favorite pieces.

Janet hooks in anything from a #3 cut to a #8 cut.  The cut depends on the pattern and for whom the rug is intended.  Janet has found that her children like rugs with detailing that calls for narrow cuts.  Rugs completed for her grandchildren are normally done with wider cuts since the patterns have less detail. Each project is approached with flexibility. Janet wants the rug to be personal and something the individual will like. Janet is very generous with her rugs.  Most are done for others.  She has completed a rug for each of her three children and six grandchildren.  Actually, the rug for her youngest grandchild, Harry, is not yet completed.

Participation in workshops and camps assures that Janet continues to grow as a rug hooking artisan.  In 2003, she travelled to Virginia to work with Sally Kallin who describes her style as “impressionistic primitive”.  Arline Bechtoldt, Bev Conway, Sherri Heiber-Day, Jayne Hester and Helen Wolfel are instructors with whom she has studied.  The workshops were sponsored by HCRAG, the Everittstown Group or local classes. Most of the projects Janet has completed were patterns she purchased or were designed by her instructors.  However, she is starting to develop her own designs.  Janet wants to design her own pattern for the rug entered into the “Jersey Girls” Exhibit.  A current rug for the Longstreet Farm challenge will be mostly of her own creation. Janet is still attracted to McGown patterns even though the shading associated with McGown style hooking is less popular than it once was.

Janet works with both recycled wool and new wool purchased from her instructors and other vendors like Rebecca Erb.  At first, she went to a lot of garage sales and purchased recycled garments.  When it became clear that her interest in hooking rugs was going to be long term, Janet decided to improve the consistency of the wool in her rugs and started to purchase more new wool. Janet notes that she “became more fussy” as her skills improved. Currently, she uses recycled wool from her stash together with new wool. Janet likes to incorporate wool purchased from her instructor when working on a project started at a workshop.

She has taken dyeing classes with Gail Dufresne and Arline Bechtoldt and enjoys dyeing her wool.  Normally, Janet will dye her wool at the time she is starting a new project.  The biggest obstacle is pulling out all the equipment and making a mess in the kitchen.  Without a dedicated place for dyeing wool, the dye pots and equipment must be put away after each dyeing session.  When her husband is menton abbeyaway on a trip, Janet often sets up for several days of dyeing.

Janet finds that the winter months (January to March) are her most productive for hooking.  When it is bleak outside, it is so satisfying to sit and hook. When the weather is better, there is just less time available.  Janet’s enthusiasm for rug hooking is demonstrated by her active involvement in several guilds and hooking groups.  She has been Corresponding Secretary of the Alice Beatty ATHA Chapter for the last four years, she demonstrates rug hooking at HCRAG community events and hooks with the Longstreet Farm and Everittstown groups. Gail Dufresne was responsible for introducing Janet to our Guild.  She recalls the enthusiasm of our members and the wide range of projects.  Janet remembers that at one end of the spectrum Barbara Lugg was creating wonderful pins and at the other end, Margaret Lutz was working on a room size rug! The friendships formed, the sharing and the enthusiasm are what bring her back.

Janet’s husband, Steve, is a Captain who has flown with United Parcel Service (UPS) for 20 years. He recently was assigned to fly the Boeing 747.  Unfortunately, most of his flights will originate in Anchorage, Alaska. The schedule will call for flying for two weeks followed by two weeks off. Janet and Steve plan to try to make the arrangement work with him coming home every two weeks and her flying out to join him when she can.  Steve loves to fly and is eagerly looking forward to learning to fly a new airplane.

Up until last year Janet and Steve lived in an old farm house which they renovated over the last 20 years.  They moved to Monmouth County to be closer to their daughter and so that Janet could help with baby sitting the youngest child.  Their home was sold to their niece who also grew up on a farm and will lovingly care for the farmstead.

The Bosshards have three children and six grandchildren.  Their oldest son, Henry, his wife, Gail, and children - Grace, Margaret and Harry - live in Allentown, PA. Their son Mike and his wife, Laurie, live in Maryland with their son Matthew. Daughter Ali lives in Monmouth County with her husband Chuck and their children Brooke and Tyler.

When she is not hooking rugs or caring for her grandchildren, Janet enjoys gardening, antiquing and going to garage sales.  She continues the hand work learned as a young girl and often knits scarfs for friends.

Janet Bosshard is someone who is generous with the rugs she creates giving most of them to family or friends.  She is generous with her time as she finds ways to support her rug hooking groups. Most importantly, she is selflessly provides time to support her children and family.  We are fortunate to have her as a friend and member of our Guild.

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Meet Our Member! Bernice Smith
May 2008 Hooker of the Month

Bernice Smith’s mother-in-law, Ada “Mae” Smith, was an accomplished rug hooker in the Pearl McGown tradition.  She was basically self taught with an excellent color sense and technique using #3 and #4 cuts.  She started hooking in the late 1940s.  After moving to Hillsbourough, NJ, she became part of a small rug hooking group.  Bernice recalls that Mae had a number of books dealing with rug hooking and McGown newsletters. She introduced Bernice to rug hooking about a year after Bernice’s marriage to her son, Barrett, and gave her a new Puritan frame, a new Bliss cutter, and her first hook. The frame and cutter are still in use today, 40 years later, but the hook eventually needed replacement.

The first rug (#4 cut) that Bernice hooked was a McGown floral called “It’s a Cinch” that contained roses, iris, pansies, leaves and a simple scroll. Over the years, she has settled into hooking mostly with a #5 cut, but will also use a #4 cut or #6. Bernice has moved away from hooking commercial designs. She does not see herself as a rug designer, but the truth of the matter is that Bernice does design most of her own rugs.  Photos, slides and pictures are the sources for most of her rug ideas.  She is drawn to family related subjects such as: her Bedlington Terriers, her son’s interest in lacrosse, the beautiful windows of the church she attends, and early trips to the Maine Coast. “Eclectic” is the word she uses to describe her style and the rugs she creates.  Her tendency is to choose projects that challenge her even though she is not quite sure she is up to the task. Bernice jokingly says that she is “better at starting than finishing” referring to some rugs that take years to complete. Once she starts a rug, she works on it to completion, which is why she is determined not to start any new projects until the few she has in progress are complete.

Bernice hooks weekly with a group that meets each Thursday at the Everittstown Church. This assures that she works on her hooking at least one day a week and also provides for wonderful fellowship and interaction with some very fine and talented ladies. 

In the late 1970s, while at her son’s swim team practice, Bernice met Pauline Phillips who was working on a rug while waiting for her son to finish practice.  Through Pauline, she met another rug hooker, Peggy Zahn. The three formed a friendship and started meeting to work together on their rugs. Peggy and Pauline introduced Bernice to HCRAG in about 1978.  Through the Guild she met a talented teacher, Penny Waring Hayes, and worked under her tutelage for about a year until Penny moved to New England.

When it comes to dyeing wool, Bernice does it if she has a need. She is “not a serious student of the dye pot”.  She likes working with both new and recycled wool and if needed may over-dye. Her favorite backing is rug warp that she finds works well with her cut. Bernice has used linen also.  For small, odd projects she will use monk’s cloth, which she has among her supplies.  She no longer uses burlap.   Bernice has found that one of her mother-in-law‘s early rugs has serious problems where the burlap backing has given way.  Bernice wants her hooking projects to last, hopefully, for generations.

After earning a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education from Paterson State College (now William Paterson University), she went on to a teaching career where she taught at the elementary and middle school levels. While teaching she earned a Masters Degree in Guidance and Personnel from Rutgers University where she met her husband. Bernice stopped teaching when her son, Evan, arrived and remained at home until he was in high school.  During that time she earned an Associates Degree in Computer Programming.  In 1987, she went to work as a computer programmer for a large insurance company. After retiring 1997, she was able to return to hooking rugs and the Guild once more.  She attended several of the Guild’s summer rug camps where she became acquainted with a wonderful rug-hooking instructor, Helen Wolfel. Helen returned to the camp several times and also taught two summers for the small rug hooking group Bernice meets with on Thursdays.  Helen was an avid dyer and over a period of time got Bernice started on four of her most challenging rugs.

Bernice’s husband, Barrett, is a retired earth science teacher. They enjoy playing cards in the evening and reading aloud to each other.  Fiction, history and poetry are among the subjects they most like to read.  She enjoys using her digital camera and sharing her photographs with others.  Bernice has also been very active in her church over the years.

Last year the Guild was treated to a program on hooking trees that was presented by Bernice. Many who attended have commented that they now find themselves looking at trees differently and observing things they had not noticed before. The Guild is fortunate to have Bernice Smith as a member.

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Meet Our Member! Janet Santaniello
April 2008 Hooker of the Month
Janet Santaniello learned to hook rugs in 1978 and has been at it ever since.  It started when Janet and several friends visited the home of Nadine Rogg who was a rug hooker living in her town.  They fell in love with Nadine’s rugs and wanted to learn to hook.  Through Nadine, Janet met Alice Beatty at woman are like teaa local antique show where Alice was speaking.  Unfortunately, Alice’s classes were full, so she was not taking new students.  When her classes opened up, Janet and her friends all signed up.  Alice was McGown trained, but she preferred to hook in the primitive style and her students tended to gravitate towards primitive rug hooking. It is what Janet prefers too. 

Janet hooks mostly with #7 or #8 cuts with #6 cut used for detailing.  When she buys patterns, they are normally adaptations of old or antique rugs.  Janet likes to design her own rugs as well.  After 30 years of rug hooking, Janet confesses that “I have wool coming out my ears!” The wool is stored in large boxes in the attic and basement.  Like most of us, Janet finds that it is a challenge to keep the wool storage area neat and organized. As woolens are pulled out for possible use in a rug or returned after a rug is completed, they do not always get immediately returned to their box.

Janet likes the effect that can be achieved with textured wool and recalls the workshop with Jayne Hester where she used eight different wools (tweeds, herringbones and checks) in the background.  Over the years she has used a lot of recycled wool, but increasingly turns to the wonderful new woolens being sold. Janet is an accomplished dyer having taken classes with Alice Beatty and Arline Bechtold. However, she really does not like to dye and with the great woolens now available finds less reason to get the dye pot out. When she does, it is for a specific need in her current project.

Selecting instructors who hook in the primitive style is an important consideration when Janet signs up for camps and workshops. She attends one or two a year and is a perennial participant in the HCRAG Rug Hooking Camp.  In recent years, she has studied with Lucille Festa (at Cape May last year), Jayne Hester and Jule Marie Smith (three workshops). Janet recalls the enjoyment from participating in Patsy Becker’s backyard classes before Patsy moved to Cape Cod.Ewe & Me

A busy schedule makes it difficult for Janet to hook on a regular basis.  A new rug project often provides the stimulation needed to hook, especially if the rug is progressing well.  The winter months when the weather is unpleasant is a time to get more hooking done.

Alice Beatty was responsible for introducing Janet to what was then known as the Molly Pitcher ATHA Chapter (now the Alice Beatty Chapter).  Janet has been a committed member and currently serves as its President. In the early 1980s, Janet attended a show of the works from all local guilds (quilting, needle work, rug hooking, etc.) that were under the sponsorship of the Hunterdon County Adult School Program.  It was held at Hunterdon Central High School and Alice Beatty was the featured speaker.  Janet and many of her fellow students traveled to see the show and to hear their teacher and mentor lecture on primitive rugs. It was there that she discovered the Hunterdon County Rug Artisans Guild. Currently, Janet is a member of the McGown Guild in Bernardsville, NJ and the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild.  The distance involved makes attendance at Green Mountain events difficult and limits participation to shows and an occasional workshop at Shelburne Museum.  Janet is also an active participant in the group that hooks at the Everittstown Church each week.  She also has a group of friends who meet in their homes to hook. Janet enjoys the informal and casual groups. As she reflects on the various rug hooking groups with which she is involved, Janet notes the “rug hooking community is a great bunch”. She enjoys the camaraderie of being with people who share her love of pulling loops and creating hooked rugs.

Janet and her husband Phillip, who retired from the electrical business nine years ago, live in Watchung, NJ.  They have two children – Phillip and Maryann – who live in Hunterdon County.  Maryann has two children, Lauren and Kathryn McKean, both of whom have a nursery rug hooked by their grandmother. Janet enjoys hooking rugs for the family, so each of her children and nieces have wedding rugs (six rugs in total!). Janet was a secretary before she was married.  Volunteer work at a local hospital eventually led her to form her own floral design business.  Janet was part of a volunteer group who created floral arrangements.  When the hospital closed, she was encouraged to continue arranging with a flower shop that sponsored her for formal training with the Floral Association. A request from her daughter’s friend to do the flowers for her wedding led Janet to establish a freelance business from her home, which continued for 20 years.  Eventually the overuse of her hands created physical damage and pain that caused her to close her business. It also presents problems today for wide cut (#9) hooking. When she is not taking care of her grandchildren, working on ATHA matters or hooking, Janet enjoys antiquing in the tri-state area. She and Phillip share an appreciation of primitive antiques.

After 30 years of involvement, Janet Santaniello is well informed and active in most rug hooking activities in NJ. She attends lectures such as the one recently held at Longstreet Farm, she helps welcome new ATHA Chapters such as the one  in Lambertville and supports efforts such as  the New Jersey Girls project. All of this is in addition to participating in HCRAG programs and running the Alice Beatty ATHA Chapter.  It is no wonder that she is so admired by those who know her!

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Meet Our Member! M. Kay Weeks
March 2008 Hooker of the Month
Kay Weeks’ journey as a rug hooker started in 1998 when her mother gave her the home made rug hook used by her grandmother. The hook was made out of a wooden clothespin with a nail driven in one end which her grandfather filed down and bent to form the hook. There were teeth marks at the base of the clothes pin.  According to the oral history of the family, Kay’s mother would pick up the hook and put it in her mouth when her grandmother put it down, so that she could tend to whatever turtlewas cooking on the wood burning stove in the kitchen. Her grandmother recycled feed sacks and cut the fabric by hand.  The rugs were put by the doors to cut down on drafts.  Kay felt a strong need to use the hook and complete a rug in honor of her grandmother.

At the time the local library had very little information on rug hooking.  All Kay could find was a page or two in craft books.  Someone told her of Margaret Lutz who she called right away and went down to see her.  Kay bought a frame, cutter and a professional hook, which she took home and “started to play around.”  Kay also went to the local thrift stores and started collecting wool of all kinds including blends. Her initial attempts at hooking did not go well.  Much of the fabric frayed. Kay soon learned that 100% wool was preferred.  Margaret was not teaching at the time, but encouraged Kay to come to a HCRAG meeting.  Fearing that Guild members would “all be pros”, she felt intimidated, and asked her friend Ingrid Cosmen to come with her.  The two of them went to the “small Yellow House” in Flemington where the Guild met.  They found the meeting room overflowing with rug hookers who were warm, welcoming and sharing.  Both Ingrid and Kay were excited to find others who shared their interests. Gail Dufresne was President of the Guild at that time and was just getting started teaching.  Kay signed up for a class and took advantage of all the Guild’s programs and classes.mother tiger

Kay has participated in HCRAG camps and workshops ever since.  She finds the fellowship and new project ideas stimulating.  In time, Kay found that she would be in a position to mentor others.  She currently is involved with a rug hooking program for school children. Kay is also an active member of the Alice Beatty ATHA Chapter.

“Not for the floor only” is how Kay describes her rug hooking projects. Living on a working farm with seven dogs and five cats means that floor rugs would be damaged in no time.  Therefore, she creates pieces mainly for the wall and for the top of tables. As her abilities grew, Kay branched out and started to design her own patterns. They can be adaptations or completely original.  However, each project has to have meaning for her.   As an example, Kay once saw a painting by Barbara LeVallie, and Alaskan artist, in her book entitled “Painted Ladies”.  With the artist’s permission, Kay adapted the image of her painting “Children Dancing with Umbrellas Over Puddles” to show her grandchildren jumping in puddles. In this case, she took someone’s image and modified it to reflect a family meaning.

Guild members have enjoyed following the development of Kay’s cedar chest series.  The project started when Kay decided to hook a covering for an antique family cedar chest given to her by an uncle.  The original idea was to hook a runner for each of the four seasons. She then decided to do one for each month.  Seven have been completed so far.  A new one is started each year at our camp in August. She attempts to work with a new instructor each year and to incorporate what she has learned into the rug.  She also makes it a point to include wool purchased from the instructor.

Living on a working farm does not allow much time for traveling.  Kay limits her attendance at camps and workshops to those sponsored by the Guild. Over the years, she recalls with fondness working with Elizabeth Black, Sherri Heber Day, Gail Dufresne, Susan Feller, Michele Micarelli, Kim Nixon and Helen Wolfel.

The recycling aspect of working with recycled garments was one of the features that attracted Kay to rug hooking.  She now prefers to buy natural white wool and dye it.  Kay and Ingrid will get together for a “dye day” where they work all day and share the results 50-50. They both like to experiment.  Kay has accumulated all the equipment from local garage sales.  She has taken various classes on wool dyeing and currently prefers the approach taught by Wanda Kerr, who is often featured in Rug Hooking Magazine. Kay now has bundles of dyed wool in boxes on shelves and can pick out what she needs before each project. She enjoys the creative process of matching wool colors to her designs.

Kay hooks as much as she can.  She likes to get up early and hook for an hour or two, but finds it difficult to do that consistently.  She finds the weekends a good time to hook when the demands of the farm are less. Kay enjoys settling in on Saturdays listening to a book on TV while she hooks.  On Sunday after church and lunch, she will hook all afternoon if possible.

When asked to describer her style, Kay says: “It all has to do with color, not cut. I love to work with color.” She is especially attracted to light and medium values.  Kay started hooking with #4 & #5 cuts and then was introduced to #3 cut by Elizabeth Black. Her Bolivar cutter has #3, 6 & 9 cutter blades which meet all her needs nicely. Kay fully organizes each project and needs to have every thing in place before she starts to hook.  The pattern is drawn.  Her wool is selected. Then it is time to sit and hook. Not surprisingly, her 2008 camp project is ready to go!geo kids

Kay was born in Alexandria, VA and grew up in Washington, DC.  After attending American University she went to work with Capital Airlines (now United) where she met her future husband, Jay, who was a Capital Airlines pilot. They married in 1958. When Jay’s mother passed away, they returned to the family home in High Bridge, NJ.  Going from the big city to the country was a big change and challenge for Kay.  By the time their third son was born, they had out grown the house and eventually moved to the 100 acre farm in Port Murray, NJ which Jay had been operating “on the side” raising beef cattle, hay and corn. There was still the big city girl in Kay, but she “bit the bullet” and made the move.  She quickly fell in love with the farm and the life style it offered. There was a sense of freedom, family closeness and “trees for the boys to climb.” Kay was introduced to joys of flower and vegetable gardening. 

Kay and Jay have three sons – Jay Jr., Jeffrey and James.  Jay Jr. is married and lives on a home built on the farm. He has two step children – David who is in college and Ryan who is in the Air Force. Jeffrey lives in Anchorage, Alaska where he is a Captain on ships that fish for King Crab and salmon.  James also lives in Alaska (Kodiak) and works for several captains fishing for salmon, cod and herring. James has a son and daughter who visit their grandparents each summer.

An interesting aspect of Kay’s talents is the work she has done with her church in the area of “Puppet Ministry”.  For 14 years, she worked and traveled with children who performed puppet shows in various church settings such as Messiah College, a Christian college in Pennsylvania. When the children outgrew the puppets, Kay turned to “Clown Ministry” which she did with adults for seven years. She found the clowning was a great activity for empty nesters.  Christian clowning brought her chair“to a whole person”.  She could share her joy and her giving feelings.  “Clowning was a freeing experience”, according to Kay. Guild members had a chance to appreciate Kay’s clowning skills when she as “Yakm” the clown welcomed participants to our hook-in in April. (Yakm is M. Kay spelled backwards.)

Kay has always had a special interest and love for children.  She was trained at the Western Theological Seminary in Michigan and spent some 14 years as a trainer, counselor and consultant in the Reformed Church Children and Worship Program.  This gave her the opportunity to travel to many church denominations and assist Christian leaders in setting up children worship centers. Weezie Huntington was one of her students. Kay feels her previous church involvements helped to prepare her for the exceptional opportunities to touch the lives of many young children giving them a foundation for spiritual development.

As Kay turns 70 years of age, she looks back on her life philosophically and sees that “Life puts us on many paths, ends become beginnings and beginnings become endings. The last 10 years of rug hooking have been wonderful. A new world of color has opened for me.  I look at trees, the sky and things around me differently. Rug hooking has provided a world of creativity and fellowship for me.”

Our Guild benefits from Kay’s enthusiastic celebration of life!

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Meet Our Member! Weezie Huntington
February 2008 Hooker of the Month
In 1990 Weezie was pregnant with her younger son and wanted to make something hand-made to commemorate the upcoming birth.  At the time, she was teaching at the Princeton YWCA and saw a brochure on various “Y” programs.  She signed up for an introduction to rug hooking program taught by Margaret Lutz.  Weezie was a weaver for many years and found rug hooking allowed her to move more quickly in a direction and was an activity that was more portable than weaving.  While her previous interests have included basket making, knitting (briefly) and sewing,  photography continues to be a passion, as does hooking.  She cannot imagine life without either of those activities.hopewell

Weezie prefers to hook in a wide cut (considering anything less than a #6 cut to be “fine hooking”) and tends towards rugs with bright colors with patterns that are not too realistic.  Her first rugs were of farm animals and farm scenes.  She then did a series of rugs inspired by greeting cards.  Weezie strives for a primitive look where the image is close, but not fully realistic. At times she works from photographs and recalls hooking a rug based on a pen and ink drawing of the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair, combined with pictures she took of the pigs at the Howell Living Farm.  That rug was entered at the Fair the following year, where it received “Honorable Mention”.

A busy work and family schedule does not permit much time for classes and workshops.  Weezie averages about one workshop a year.  Most recently that has been our Guild’s summer rug hooking camp. However, in years past, she has attended programs at the Highlands and the Outer Banks.  Last year, for the first time she was able to go to Shelburne, taking a workshop with Jule Marie Smith. Her other instructors have included Helen Johnson, Claire De Roos, Bev Conway, Helen Wolfel Rae Harrell, Jayne Hester and Kim Nixon.  After working with Kim, Weezie started collecting old stools that now await a hooked top.

Weezie learned of the Hunterdon Guild from people she knew.  About 10 years ago, a friend brought her to a HCRAG meeting that was also a members' rug show. She met Pandy Goodbody who, as it turned out, was a good friend of her brother-in-law. Weezie finds Guild members to be very encouraging and enjoys the camaraderie and the common bond that exists among rug hookers. She likes the creative thinking and finds that she is always learning from our members whether it is at a regular meeting or at camp. Weezie currently serves as the Guild’s Co-President.  She is also a member of the “Hooksome and Chatmore” Group that meets to hook in members’ homes once a week.  Weezie also hooks at the Hopewell Branch of the Mercer Country Library on the 1st Thursday of stained glassthe month.  She encourages other Guild members to participate.

When it comes to dyeing wool, Weezie claims “not to be good with recipes or following them”.    “Eyeball dyeing” is more her approach.  At one time, Weezie did more dyeing than she now does.  Dyeing is generally initiated by someone in the “Hooksome” Group or a workshop and is not for a specific purpose or project.  About 65% of the wool in Weezie’s current rugs is new with the remaining 35% being recycled. Like most of us, she finds it difficult to pass up the wonderful wools available today.

For the last six or seven years, Weezie has designed her own rug patterns.  It is something she “loves to do.” Her rugs tend to be big and she normally works on one rug at a time, so she has few UFOs.  Weezie is not in a position to hook every day.  The “Hooksome & Chatmore” Group and the Mercer Library Group provide the structure to assure at least one day a week is devoted to hooking. There are certain times of the year when she can get more hooking done. Starting a new rug or finishing one is exciting and she will work more diligently at those times. Weezie’s rugs are made for her family.  She would like to sell them, but finds that the price most people are willing to spend is just too low.  She has hooked several rugs for charitable auctions.buffalo

Weezie has had a diverse and varied professional career. After graduating from the University of Denver with a BA Degree in Geography, she spent a year at the University of Wyoming in Environmental Studies and then became a Geophysist’s Assistant with Mobil Oil after which she became a self employed weaver.  Her next job was as a UPS driver, a job “she loved”. She was promoted to Industrial Engineering Supervisor at UPS, a job she held for 5 years until leaving the company to be a mom.  After the birth of her first son, she spent 12 years as a real estate broker/salesperson. Today, Weezie is a Certified Aquatic Fitness Professional working at the Princeton YWCA where she teaches aerobic level classes as well as working one on one helping to rehabilitate stroke victims.  She also serves as a deacon at her church, sings in the choir, and is in charge of organizing and running the summer mission trips.

Weezie and her husband, Paul Moran, live in Hopewell, NJ.  Paul is a quality assurance consultant specializing in medical devices.  Weezie has two sons, Paul, from her first marriage who lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and their daughter, Kaylee, and Matthew, who is a high school junior.  They have no pets since husband Paul, and Matt, are allergic to animal hair.

In her current role as HCRAG Co-President, Weezie has helped lead the growth of our Guild in the last two years. She is an effective spokesperson for rug hooking and HCRAG.

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January 2008 Hooker of the Month — Kim Kagan!
Kim was living in Ohio when she first observed rugs being hooked at a local folk festival similar to the Mercer Folk Fest.  She was disappointed that the rugs were not for sale, but purchased a kit with a small heart image.  Kim was still working full time and not being aware of local instructors or hooking groups, the kit was put away for a later time. At the time, she was also involved with basket weaving, tole painting and water colors.

In 1999, Kim moved from Ohio to Doylestown.  She did not plan to return to work and, therefore, had time to finally pursue rug hooking.  She saw an article about a local rug hooker, Edith Prundeanu, who was teaching at the Mercer Museum.  The classes were full, but Edith told her about the Bux-Mont Guild that met at the Doylestown Library. Kim went to the October meeting and sat next to Hildegard von Tenspolde who inspired her.  The following month, Kim brought the kit she bought in Ohio and the Guild members helped her get started.  She soon learned of Vicki Calu who lived near-by and completed a chair pad kit with Vicki’s guidance. By then, Kim “had fallen in love with rug hooking” and decided upon a more ambitious project – a large rug.  She selected a “Whispering Pines” pattern that reflected a woodlands theme with pinecones.  Vicki helped with the dyeing of the wool and the color planning, but it was apparent that Kim had found her art form and was a natural talent.  That first rug was accepted for recognition in “Celebrations XI”. (We wonder how many, if any, other first rugs have been included in Celebrations.) After the rug was completed, Vicki shared that pine cones are among the most difficult images to hook properly, so Kim is especially proud of the end result.5 birds

Those who admire Kim’s wide cut primitive rugs may be surprised to learn that she started as a fine cut hooker doing realistic florals with traditional shading.  At the time, she did not know about primitive style rug hooking.  After hooking for about one or one and a half years, Kim met two women at Vicki Calu’s studio who hooked primitive style rugs.  She was immediately attracted to wide cut hooking. Shortly thereafter, Kim bought a crow pattern kit along with the wool from Rebecca Erb and changed course.  As someone who is serious about rug hooking, Kim admires all hooking styles and wants to be experienced in all aspects of the art form.  However, wide cut primitive rugs are her passion.

Kim is dedicated to her development as a rug hooking artisan. She has taken classes “up and down the east coast and mid-west”. The workshops, camps and instructors are purposefully selected to help her learn and round out her hooking experiences. Kim sets goals for her continuing development. Becoming proficient in hooking portraits and landscapes are on her agenda. To say that Kim enjoys attending workshops is an understatement.  One year she attended seven! In a typical year, Kim participates in three or four camps/workshops. Each one is selected with a specific purpose or a specific instructor in mind. She attempts to work with and learn from all the major instructors. Elizabeth Black ,Nancy Blood, Barb Carroll, Gail Dufresne, Dick LaBarge,  Emmy Lou Lais, George Kahnle and Helen Wolfel and are just a few who come to mind.

Kim speaks of Penny Hayes with particular fondness and sees Penny as her mentor.  They met at a camp in Maine and soon were vacationing together where they spent their time dyeing wool and hooking rugs. According to Kim, “Penny is hooking the antiques of tomorrow.” Penny, who now lives in Tennessee, is one of the founding members of HCRAG.

Large rugs appeal to Kim more than smaller ones.  Since a new project is typically started at each workshop, Kim normally has several rugs going at the same time.  When she first started hooking, Kim stayed with one rug until it was completed.  However, she found that she “got sloppy when she became bored with the rug”. With three or four rugs under development, she can switch to another rug when she tires of doing background on one.  Kim disciplines herself by setting deadlines, but acknowledges that she still has her share of unfinished projects.

Kim describes herself as “a novice wool dyer”. She has taken classes and knows what to do, but tends to buy the wool she needs for a rug.  When she dyes, it is more to add to her stash rather than for a project. She likes to hook more than dye and is always anxious to get started on the next project.  When it comes to her stash, she has an entire room dedicated to her wool with floor to ceiling shelves and plastic tubs.  Kim confesses that her wool “is spilling over to another room.” When Kim first started hooking, she used recycled wool almost exclusively and visited the local thrift stores on a regular basis. Today, she relies more on suppliers for her wool. In addition to collecting wool, Kim collects patterns and ideas for rugs.  She has a sketch book where she records notes for rug ideas.  She is comfortable and confident in enhancing a pattern by making changes that better reflect what she wants.

The hooking frame and favorite chair are always in view.  Kim likes and tries to hook every day, but there are times when weeks go by without pulling a loop. More often than not, she “gets into a rhythm” and works steadily on the current project.  With large rugs, she approaches them in sections and normally sets a goal for herself when she sits down to hook. “That way it is not overwhelming.”

Madeline and Margaret Brightbill are responsible for introducing Kim to HCRAG about four years ago.  At the time they were members of the Bux-Mont Guild where Kim served as president for two years.  In addition, Kim has participated in the hooking group at the looney tunesHighlands as well as several open studios and community rug hooking groups in the area. She is inspired by HCRAG members and by the rugs shared during the “show and tell’ portion of the meeting. Kim admires the wide range of rug hooking styles displayed by Guild members and their sharing nature.

Kim grew up in Plaistow, NH where she was one of five daughters and the youngest twin (by three minutes).  After high school, she married and had two children. Kim divorced in 1980 and devoted the next 10 years working as a single mother raising her children. She was living in Westford, MA when she met her future husband, Michael, who was an engineering manager. In 1992, they moved to Ohio when Michael was promoted and then to Doylestown, PA in 1999 with a promotion to VP of Engineering and Operations for a bio-tech company. Her son, Joshua, lives in Tennessee and her daughter, Melinda, lives in Ohio. Kim has four grandchildren.  Kim and Michael have two Boston Terriers – Max and Maya — and a log house in Maine where they go several times a year.  Their New England home is an ideal showcase for Kim’s primitive rugs. Kim volunteers at a thrift store that supports the Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA) and enjoys antiquing.  Michael is an accomplished woodcarver, turner and sculptor who shows and sells his work at several shows.  He is also active in several carving clubs.

Learning and improving her technique is important to Kim.  Equally important is sharing what she has learned with others as demonstrated by her recent Guild meeting programs. Kim Kagan contributes to our Guild in many ways. She is a real HCRAG asset.

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