Updater # 14, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct 2015

As you can see from the number of months since our last Updater, I have been delinquent in getting information out to you.  I had an especially busy spring, summer, and fall and am just now getting caught up.  

I had the privilege of teaching at Puget Sound Rug Camp in March, Western Teacher’s Workshop in June, Prairie Harvest Rug Hooking School in September, and TIGHR in October.  These were all positive and rewarding experiences for me.  I spent a whole month in Canada and saw portions of  Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, and finally Vancouver Island and Victoria.  Fall in Canada was spectacular.

Report from the TIGHR  Conference, Victoria, BC

(The International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers)

The theme of the conference was “Back to Nature” and that set the tone for the whole event.  The conference opened with a “Welcome and Opening Ceremonies” that included a small mat exchange and wine and cheese.  The conference took place at The Inn at Laurel Point, a beautiful hotel.

Sunset view from my room at Laurel Point Inn, Victoria, BC.

Sunset view from my room at Laurel Point Inn, Victoria, BC.

Each day participants chose from a selection of classes, panel discussions, speakers, and visits to local museums and galleries.  I took full advantage of the classes and didn’t have time for many of the other events, but I’ll describe the classes that I took and show what I made.

My first class was “Seaside Postcards” with Peg Irish. My version is in the lower right hand corner of the photo. Her kit contained rocks, novelty yarn, wool strips, and birds that she had made with a process that was new to me using special paper and a printer. I also added my own sea glass and small carnelians that I found at Cronkite Beach in Marin County. We placed our rocks and found objects on the blank backing and drew around them with a Sharpie. We then hooked our pieces and when the hooking was done, we glued the rocks to the backing.

My second class was “Belle Bijoux” with Jennifer Manuell. The pin I made is in the middle, bottom of the photo. We used felted balls, wool, and yarn to make jewelry. Jennifer has published an online book of her jewelry making techniques that is available through her website: http://fisheyesisters.ca.

My third class was “Playing with Plaids” taught by Laurie Wiles. Laurie taught us how to hook plaid. We hooked “TIGHR Plaid” using her chart. We also learned to chart unique plaids on graph paper using her alphabet method. I charted my own name and hope to hook it one day.

In addition, I bought a kit from Diane Learmonth, which she used in her class, “Playing Hooky Northwest Style.” This mat is very much like Peg Irish’s although the technique is different. Diane glues the rocks and found objects on the backing first and then hooks around them. Of the two methods, Diane’s was by far the easiest and less messy since she did the gluing for us. The two mats look completely different because of the materials used.

My TIGHR class projects.

My TIGHR class projects.

Lastly, I’m including a photo from my own class, “Felted Owl Sachet.” Students were able to finish needle felting the owl, string beads for the handle, and sew the sachet in the time allotted. The photo shows Bonnie Peltcer holding her finished owl. The wet felted beads were a big hit and students left with complete instructions on how to make them.

Bonnie Pelczar holding her needle felted owl sachet.

Bonnie Pelczar holding her needle felted owl sachet.

One more item I must mention—the talk by Robert Bateman. I won’t summarize all he said, but will impart what I took away from his talk. Make your art personal.

I highly recommend TIGHR conferences to other members of the guild. It had a truly international feel. The next one in 2018 will be in Yorkshire, England.

Barbara Larsen, Newbury Park, CA, is a member of Orange Coast Classics and writes about her road trip to the ATHA Biennial.  Reading it gave me a taste of what it would have been like to attend.  Thank you, Barbara!

Trip Report from the ATHA Biennial in San Antonio

                  By Barbara Larsen

I was privileged to attend the 2015 ATHA Biennial in San Antonio, Texas in September. Region 9 was the host group. It was a fun week—let me share some of the highlights.

The Road Trip

Gita Phy, Carla Fortney, and I drove to San Antonio in a car caravan. We met up in the parking lot of the Autrey Museum just as the zoo parking lot across the street was being emptied because of a fire in Griffith Park—not an auspicious start. The highlight of the trip was Sunday brunch in Tucson. At first we thought the restaurant was closed, but following the sound of voices and music we found a delightful patio. The food was tasty and we were entertained by a two-person funky band. One of the problems as we got further from urban settings was the lack of Starbucks coffee needed to get Gita started in the morning. On the plus side, gas out in the hinterlands was really cheap.

The City

I had never been to San Antonio. Since we arrived Monday night, I had a day to go sightseeing before the convention activity started. I decided to visit Mission San José, part of the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. The mission was largely restored as a WPA project in the 1930’s and has an educational visitor center with illuminating historical exhibits and a video with a balanced presentation of the Spanish presence. Touring the site, I practiced looking for motifs that could be used in rug hooking designs. Even though the architecture was Spanish, the influence of the Moors was evident. I also took my first selfie. Since no self-respecting tourist could go to San Antonio without seeing the Alamo, I did that, too, but it’s far more limited in content.

Barbara Larsen at the Alamo

Barbara Larsen at the Alamo








The Program

Although there were activities going on constantly, I’ll concentrate on the evenings. Thursday, we were all disappointed by the cancellation of the BBQ barge trip due to pouring rain. We were able to find fine Texas BBQ on our own, but we did get soaking wet. Friday night was the auction with Gene Shepherd as auctioneer. The most impressive item up for bids was “King of Clubs” by Elizabeth Black, and not surprisingly it drew the largest bid of the evening. The keynote speaker at Saturday’s banquet was Jan Whitlock, the co-author and publisher of American Sewn Rugs: Their History with Exceptional Examples. For me, the most interesting aspect of her talk was the discussion of the teaching of decorative rug hooking in schools for affluent young women.

The Rug Show

Although the rug show was not especially large, it was diverse. April DeConick’s rugs made the most lasting impression on me. Some of her rugs that were displayed at the Biennial are pictured on her web site at http://www.aprildeconickrugstudio.com/.

The Market

The vendors were squeezed into a corridor outside the main meeting room, so the shopping was pretty crowded. Although many of the patterns were more folk art or primitive and much of the wool darker than I prefer, I did find enough to buy to make packing for the trip home challenging. Fortunately, we drove.

The Classes

Since I still have unfinished projects from the last biennial in Long Beach, I had not intended to take a class each day. When I saw the class catalog, I couldn’t resist—some days I could happily have taken three or four of those offered. The first two days, I concentrated on having fun (if that’s not an oxymoron). I sampled punch hooking with Bea Brock, which gave me good reason to expand my stash of perl cotton. Then I tried Modern Leaves with Brigitta Phy. After months of serious study on color and lighting, it was quite the change of pace to go with unorthodox color choices.

Barbara Larsen hooking "Modern Leaves" in Brigitta Phy's class.

Barbara Larsen hooking “Modern Leaves” in Brigitta Phy’s class.


On Saturday, I went to the opposite extreme in Carla Fortney’s class “Armadillos Do Wear Plaid” where each loop had to be exactly right to make the plaid pattern work. Will I get these done before the next biennial in Cleveland?

The People

Of course, a big part of the fun is reconnecting with fellow rug hookers. I ran into people I have met at rugs camps all over Region 12 and Region 11 as well. I met lots of new rug hookers from the rest of the country, too, especially at meals. At one dinner we sat with a group of Canadian rug hookers who took the train to the convention, hooking along the way. I find it satisfying to be part of a widespread creative community that comes together to both share their craft and to have fun.

Next Time

The 2017 ATHA Biennial will be held in Cleveland, OH, October 11-14, 2017.


Please take a look at all the menu items at the ATHA Region 12 website. Note that we need your announcements of Coming Events to be listed on the Coming Events web page. Also, note that a new menu tab for “Brick and Mortar Stores” has been added. If you know of any stores that would be of interest to rug hookers, please send me the information and I’ll add it to the page.

If you have any photos or “self promotion” don’t be shy. Send me your information and I’ll be happy to blog about what you are doing.