Category Archives: Workshops

Australians Spreading Rug Hooking down under

Jo Franco and Judy Stephens are literally worldwide travelers in search of rug hooking tools, contacts and inspiration.  We met in Wales four years ago during the Tri-Ennial of TIGHR (the International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers).  I went home to the States as President for the next three years and they headed home to Australia having asked: ” What can we do to spread rughooking?”

Fast track to 2009 and these two, along with Miriam Miller and Jacqui Thomson became the next Board for TIGHR at the Louisville, KY Tri-Ennial.  While on the road members of this group visited suppliers, artists and friends in the States, Canadian rugmakers, attended a retreat in the UK, and worked at a project involving sight impaired rug hookers in Gambia.

Jo and Judy teach both Australian techniques in rugmaking incorporating aboriginal basketmaking and proddy popularized by the English immigrants along with, in Jo’s case, being McGown Certified in traditional styles.

Let the River Run, by Judith Stephens 2010

Visit their website to see more work, and supplies available in Australia for rug hookers.

Designing Challenges in Indiana

Bev and Susan

The  last week of October took me out to Indiana, and Bev Stewart’s Whispering Pines Designs in Clayton.  Bev coordinated two wonderful classes filled with talent and eager people. In three day sessions they worked through the Basic Elements and Principles of Design.  The classes included three generations of fiber artists, and another mother, daughter pair along with people who were pulling their first 1000 loops to those who had spent thousands of hours enjoying wool.    

Bev and the locals coordinate a very successful hook-in the second Saturday of September, bringing in a wide variety of vendors and over 300 eager rugmakers.  The efforts of this organizing group validates the passions thousands have for pulling loops through backing whether the fabric is wool strips, yarns or plastic bags.

The wonderful Arts and Crafts home of Jim and Bev Stewart welcomed me along with its inhabitants.  Jim was “treated” each morning to a bowl of oatmeal I had prepared and the animals seemed to enjoy another person around. 

Kit Cat in Studio at Bev Stewart's

I will be back in May of 2012 to teach two more workshops. Interested students should contact Bev Whispering Pines Designs 6583 S CR 400 E, Clayton, IN 46118 or see Calendar under About Susan Feller

Hooked on the River

A retreat should slow the participants lifestyles down to just the focus of their work.  The Hooked on the River retreat does just that. 
New and old friends gathered along the Shenandoah River for three days creating fiber art, sharing words of wisdom, laughter and praise.  The core of this group is members of the Old Dominion Chapter of Pearl McGown Rugcrafters others from the region join in to make the 22 attendees.

Fall Fiesta in Vermont

Stephanie Krauss of Green Mountain Hooked Rugs created a great event: four days in beautiful Vermont during the height of Fall Foliage Season.  The first Fall Fiesta was Sept 22-26 and I advise you mark your calendars for just the same times in 2011.  I was one of three instructors (others were Jane Halliwell Green and Lisanne Miller) along with a store, retreat session and fabulous food prepared and served by the New England Culinary Institute students.  Located on the campus of Vermont College of Fine Arts just up the hill from Vermont’s capitol, Montpelier this event had everyone attending smiling and calling each other friends in no time.

Fraktur Workshop at Fall Fiesta, VT

 Our class stands outside of College Hall, a massive elegant building housing the workshops for the weekend.

Off to St. Louis

After Sauder, I went on to St. Louis to teach for Nola Heidbreder.  Her studio is in a section referred to as The Hill, a charming walkable neighborhood of Italian eateries, grocery stores, cafes and bocci clubs.  This is the second time I have been to St. Louis, and it was enjoyable revisiting some favorite restaurants and eating my way around the Meditteranean.  Spanish tappas at Modesto and great Italian seafood the next night.

St. Louis student's work in progress

The workshop was designing a rug with the folk art influence. Each student created a unique pattern and over the three days we colorplanned and with their efforts, saw the rugs evolve.  This class really applied theirselves and I am looking forward to seeing the finished works. 

My trip back home took me on Interstate 64.  I went through Louisville around 8:00 pm admiring the multitude of bridges and clustered skyline with little traffic to hinder the trip.  Remembering the last visit just a year ago when we hosted the TIGHR tri-ennial in Louisville and the end of three years as host country.  Sorry not time to stop and visit this time.

Sauder Village 2010

Last year we thought all the forces had gathered at Sauder Village in Archbold, OH for the Rug Hooking Week in a “perfect storm”. Well this year the exhibit was even better.

Ruckman Mill Farm at Sauder Village 21010

Starting with the pinnacle of inspiration: Noah’s Ark and the collection of works by Mary Sheppard Burton and Leonard Feenan as the featured exhibit.  Although Mary had recently passed away, the retrospective included personal pieces never seen to the very last piece she was working on, being completed by her grand daughter, Jennifer Zamato who was in attendance.

Kathy Wright the event coordinator for Rug Hooking Week at Sauder Village, pulled together several small collections including six rugs hooked by members of a close network.  Each rug included elements worked by every one of the  members.  The owner started their rug and others knew the recipient well enough to either go along with their “likes” or play with this, responding directly to the work already on the piece. The visual step by step evolution of the rugs provided along side, added to viewers appreciation of the process.

Jim and I were thrilled with the turnout again, thousands annually make their treks to what is becoming, after fourteen years, the premier annual exhibit of hooked rugs in the United States.  Friends who only see us here, to workshop attendees over the past year visited, shared their works and went home with more colorful wools, or new patterns.

We were invited back for the 15th Annual Rug Hooking Week, August 15-20, 2011. Go to  and review the Hooked Rug Week Special Events

Loyalist College and Belleville Ontario, Welcoming

This was my second year instructing on the staff of Loyalist College in Belleville, ON, Canada. Again an inspiring group of students, who kept me working them for five full days.  I have enjoyed traveling and seeing how different groups approach rughooking studies.  The Canadian’s are serious and dedicated to improving their skills.

The new director of Continuing Studies is Holly Cockeline, who come to find out hails from Nova Scotia where she was exposed to rughooking by association with Dianne Fitzpatrick.  Seems from her interest during the week she will be pulling a few loops again in her new home.

This workshop centered around the basics : Elements and Principles of Design. We gradually built on these concepts using small 5 inch mats and the same materials.  By mid week the suggestion for next year’s lesson plan was to zero in on VALUE.  Everyone mentioned and showed me with their pieces that the session helped them see, and grow in their art. 

Registration opens in mid February,

Colorful inspirations Hollyhocks

While in Belleville, the residents of the Dormitories (myself included) entertained ourselves with sidetrips.  Pictured are Andrea and Peggy at the honor system seed box for wild hollyhocks. We travelled to the far eastern side of gorgeous, artistic Prince Edward County one evening in search of these flowers.

Stopped along the way in one of the towns for very local ice cream… delicious. Then saw the Lake on the Mountain, an unexplained phenonomen (high above the water line of waterway)… and ended up eating dinner at a Tim Horton’s.

There was a great seafood restaurant in Belleville on Sydney Street just north of the bridge (would be on your right if heading north immediately after coming over the bridge) Name escapes me right now.

Heirlooms Rug School

The Blair’s (Fred, Nancy and extended family) conducted another successful and fun week of rughooking in Holland MI.  Again the site was the hospitable Haworth Inn and Conference Center with 9 instructors and a full house of students. 

The fifteen who enrolled in the Fraktur Design Workshop with me produced (with minimal encouragement on my part) unique and personal designs. With five days to dedicate to the patterns, each evolved before my eyes, satisfying me with colorful motifs.  A big thank you to all, looking forward to seeing the completed pieces on display.

Happy Students and Instructor (center in green)


Next year will be the 5th Annual Heirlooms Rug School and registrations are open now.  Although I won’t be an instructor (two year rotation rule) there are great people to select from. Contact Nancy Blair at or phone her at 616-895-6378

Color is the word for Holland Michigan

July in Holland Michigan brings out tourists, friendly locals and loads of color. The shop owners really understand visual abundance.  While teaching at the Heirlooms Rug School at Haworth Inn and Conference Center in downtown Holland, MI we strolled the streets after class hours.  A rainbow of lawn chairs were arranged outside of one shop, the logo for a children’s clothing line was all about color, and the farmers market on Wednesday included artistically arranged produce and flowers. 

All lined up for sale, and pleasing to the eye

Green Mountain Design Workshop 2010

Orange/Blue, Red/Green and Samples

A full class with beginners and very experienced rughookers settled in on Friday, June 4 for three days experimenting with the design elements and principles at the 29th Green Mountain Hooked Rugs School in East Randolph VT.  Each lesson plan’s end result was a five inch square hooked using materials and exercises to understand the particular elements or principles. 

Colorful Explorations began with a neutral bundle of wools in a warm palette of natural to deep brown.  There were solids and textured wools and the lesson was to use the basic elements of line, shape and form to create a simple composition.

Next we introdced a 6 value swatch from Dorr Mill Store.  The color choices were from the primaries: red, blue or yellow and their complements: green, orange and purple. And the lesson was to work with contrast, and value to enhance the depth of a shape.

Yellow/Purple and Hooked mats by Susan Feller

Third lesson the participants chose four pieces of wool from the color they had and its complement.  This pile included several values of solids and three different textured wools.  Each time they were encouraged to delve into their own scrap bags to suplement the wools.  My bag had been previously sorted by color families and was also well scavenged.

Fourth, put all you learned together and if you want to add as many colors, values, textures you want.

I can conduct this workshop in modules of three hours each, and have a 5 day lesson plan which will be used at Loyalist College in Belleville, Ontario in July.  Interested in your guild playing with small hooked pieces and learning more about how to design and colorplan? Contact me at 304-496-8073 or through the website.  (see pages over on the right hand side)