These past few months I participated in a rug hooking challenge, presented by Lori Brechlin of Notforgotten Farms. She provided motifs drawn by her, based on antique rugs. Those of us who chose to participate were to use ONLY those motifs in a rug design that WE created. We could use one of the motif, all of them, or whatever inspired us. She had an alphabet, whale, mouse, cats, dog, flowers, scrolls, chicken, squirrel, I think about 26 different choices in all. The rug needed to be at least 17" x 24". We had three months to finish it, that included binding. The challenge began on October 3 and ended by midnight January 3.
For the last ten years or so, I have hooked only my own designs. I guess I had many personal stories and ideas I needed to share and express through my rugs. But, lately, I have tried to say, "Yes," to the Universe, when it comes calling. The idea of using Lori's antique inspired motifs and to be part of a creative group of rug hooking women, seemed like a fun thing to do! And it definitely was!
We were to share our designs and rugs with the Facebook challenge group, as we hooked along from start to finish! I was amazed at how some people had their designs on paper and were transferring them to a backing the next day just about. I am a "ponderer", so it takes me a while to get my designs worked out. It was good for me to see people jump right in with their ideas! Liberating really! And best of all, I thought it thrilling to see how other rug hookers, who may have never designed a rug before, made meaningful beautiful rugs for themselves! They were designers!
So, how did I choose which motifs to use? When my daughter was a little girl and could not fall asleep at night, we would recite the poem All Things Bright And Beautiful, by Cecil Frances Alexander. When I saw the whale and mouse that Lori had designed, a line from that poem, "All creatures great and small" kept popping into my head.
When I initially designed this rug, I was SO FOCUSED on the suggested size, 17" x 24", that I didn't take into account, how the color would flow once I hooked it. (An aside, I was already working on a rug, an antique reproduction, that is 30" x 36", which also had a deadline for finishing... more on this in another post.) So, I was trying to keep the challenge rug as small as possible.
Originally my rug design, ended at the top, with a scroll-like wave just above my lettering... But read on!
As I was hooking my rug, I realized I had a problem with my design, that would bother me unless I fixed the issue. But the "fix" required me doing something I have never done before. I would to need to attach more linen at the top of my rug, in order to adds the flower motifs, above that top scroll, so the colors used in the bottom would flow to the top.
I contacted a friend and fellow designer, who often hooks large rugs and sews linen together to make the linen big enough for her rugs. She suggested that for this size of rug, I overlap the linen by three inches, using the largest zigzag setting on my sewing machine, so that my hook could fit between the stitches. I was very nervous to try this. I was possibly going to ruin my rug, and all the work I had put into it. I was pleased her approach worked like a charm! It was not difficult to hook through the double layers of the foundation, and once pressed I could not tell where the rug was joined.
(Look closely in the photo below, you can see the zigzag stitching where the linen was joined. In between the TOP zigzag line and BOTTOM zigzag line is the three inches of double overlapped linen that I hooked through.)
My goal was to hook a soft, pastel and muted rug, reminiscent of a vintage valentine postcard. I had recently marbleized batches of wool and thought they could blend in an interesting way for the background to look like the sun sparkling on the water. I also used some textured neutral wool, to blend with the marbleized wool, and to add interest.
For my binding, I often use the technique of a crocheted edge. I had two ideas I wanted to experiment with. One, was to use yarn for crocheting the edge, the other was to use wool fabric strips. I had some beautiful multicolored yarn, that I thought would look beautiful, and it did! However, getting just the right color placement was going to be "fiddly". (This was the weekend before Christmas, and I had yet to wrap presents, or do any baking.) I needed to finish this rug, or risk mutiny by my family!
So, instead of the yarn, I chose to use long wool fabric strips. I had used this same wool in the background and it picked up the lighter and darker tones of the background perfectly. I liked how it did not compete for attention with the overall design of the rug.
Thank you Lori Brechlin for the wonderful motifs and challenge!
Thank you fellow rug hooker and designers for the shared journey.
It was a fun challenge!