Tag Archives: hooked rugs

A Leaf Falls

One day in high school English class Mrs. Bowen assigned us an EE Cummings poem. Minutes went by as I stared at the letters and then….. I read it!

Decades later I honored this experience with “A Leaf Falls”.

Welcome to my favorite season.


The design evolved from a sketch of migrating birds gathering seeds outside of our home one October day. The Carolina Wren’s tiny body with tail sticking up and beak down looked like a leaf. Gathering yellows and muted gold wools, I organically filled in defined shapes keeping three openings for my leaves. Two leaf shapes are stuffed and stitched onto the linen backing. Their veins and stems are copper wire anchored by  gold threads. The third is partially stuffed but its edge flutters because of a layer of iron-on interfacing with wire inserted between two pieces of wool and bent to shape.

I sent off a card with the image and poem as a thank you note to Mrs. Bowen and received a lovely note back. It felt nice to have been able to send my appreciation after all these years.

The finish makes the piece

Attending the 20th Annual Rug Hooking Week at Sauder Village I studied the 700+ works looking for different, effective finishing techniques.

The border of a rug design, fringe on an oriental pattern, embroidered fabric edge on a primitive composition all enhanced the time-consuming handwork rughooking entails. Here are some highlights. I realize my focus was on the details and not capturing the completed image for comparison……all the better for inspiration I hope.

The purpose of a “frame” is to enhance the subject and introduce it to the environment. These techniques completed each design, emphasizing the style (steam punk), drawing attention to the subject (bulky natural linen fringe on colonial design), providing interest (the rippled tail of eagle by Meetinghouse Hill Design).

Learn to select the right finishing technique and your work will rise beyond completed. See Finishing Hooked Rugs for step-by-step lessons from experts and select the right technique so your work will be more than just done.

by Rug Hooking Magazine

by Rug Hooking Magazine

History at Penn Dry Goods

As one of 11 national speakers this year at Penn Dry Goods Market at the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center, Pennsburg, PA my topic of rughooking was well represented in the antique dealers’ collections.  The lecture presented an overview timeline of rughooking techniques from sailors using their tools to pull yarns through canvas for riggings, handsewn coverings to creations that evolved into rugs as an open weave material in burlap became available in the mid 1860’s. Here is the handout listing the resources I used to create this historical background. History of Rughooking from an Artist’s Frame

Spreading through the Maritime Provinces of Canada and New England where winters were long and wool fabric available, I mentioned the people along this journey from pattern makers, authors, collectors, teachers and the artists in every home.  The talk encouraged all to think of the individuals pulling or poking fabric into designs which pleased the maker and now are purchased (or made) to decorate our own homes. This list is just the beginning referring to fine artists who use the technique of rughooking History People who used technique as art

Look at the variety of rugs, mats, framed work the dealers brought.  Interested in one contact the vendor directly, see this list.   I would recommend this event  May 19-20, 2017 with another lineup of presenters and dealers. Exhibits in the museum are interesting anytime. Featured now is Within and Without: the Art of the Book in the Fraktur Gallery

Ani DiFazio Antiques

Ani DiFazio Antiques – hooked on linen pillowcase novelty yarns early 1900’s

Rug published in Hooked Rug Treasury, by Jessie Turbayne now available

Rug published in Hooked Rug Treasury, by Jessie Turbayne now available

David Tuttle  sold

David Tuttle

Gatchellville Store

Gatchellville Store – Madonna hooked in PA early 1900’s

Cat Lady Antiques

Cat Lady Antiques – Mother and children Esther, Philip probably from New England

Nailor Antiques half of a runner, black is heart design

Nailor Antiques
half of a runner, black is heart design

Neverbird Antiques

Neverbird Antiques – Hannah L Hale, Newburyport, MA 1845-1849 sheered yarn

Rose B. Berry

Rose B. Berry


Ninth Retreat Whitened

Early in April for the past nine years fiber enthusiasts have traveled to Hampshire County, WV for a weekend at Peterkin Camp and Conference Center. Anticipation of renewing friendships, flashes of pinks from native redbuds along Route 50, and pulling loops until midnight energize us.

Snow but no travel on Saturday

Snow but no travel on Saturday

This year the weather included snow! We also had rain on Friday and bright sun on Sunday to travel home. In past years there has been hurricanes, tornadoes, and a full weekend of very warm sunny weather. Mother Nature is fickle in April in West Virginia.

We worked away on a wide variety of rughooking projects. Many of which will be works in progress next year too – they are quite intricate.

Too quickly the packing began and vehicles headed north, south, east and west filled with memories of conversations and visual fun.

Join with a friend or two and pull some loops soon, your mind and work will benefit.

Revealing Squares

4-24-14 Positive Negative; hooked

4-24-14 Positive Negative; hooked

I am thrilled to announce the administrative work is completed and you can virtually explore the Year Study – square by square.  Review the exhibit here online.

From November 2013, through November 2014 the  individual squares are listed for sale at squareup.com/store/Susan-Feller-ArtWools select STORE then the month you are interested in or scroll through. Sold pieces are not listed on the sale site but you can still study them at www.ArtWools.com/year-study.

Looking forward to conversations in person, here online and through articles about creativity, process and product.

Retreating in the Mountains 2015

The 8th Retreat into the Mountains weekend is over with resounding “YES let’s do this again” from all.  Coming in over the mountains fog slowed the progress into Peterkin Camp and Conference Center on Friday.  Gathering with friends, settling into our nests, sharing the projects we wanted to spend our time on, and learning a variety of finishing techniques were how Friday was spent.  Of course there was food in the dining hall and in-between, all with a healthy approach. Last person left the workroom at 12:30 Saturday morning….

Keri Sue Brunk lead two yoga sessions on Saturday.  The first before breakfast and the second one introducing the practice just before lunch.  She also loosened up the neck, hands and back muscles while we sat in our seats.

The finishing techniques we covered were triple whipping with cording conducted as a hands-on session by Nancy Parcels. Stumbles, success, and appreciation were the compliments we shared with our samples.  Lori LaBerge showed the layering involved to present her work for gallery sales by stitching the hooked work to gray herringbone, stretched onto art board with clean wrapped corners, cloth covering the back all of which is then inserted into a gold rimmed shadowbox frame. A whipped mitered corner was demonstrated from handout by Germaine James of Canada. Debra Smith showed how a picot crocheted edge enhances a whimsical design.

Collection of pin looms

Collection of pin looms

The Falls

The Falls

We played with pin looms ranging in sizes from 2 inch square to 4″ x 6″ and using a variety of yarns and ribbons.  The March/April/May 2015 issue of Rug Hooking Magazine includes an article about continuous weaving incorporating pieces into hooked art. The annual hike to the glen with waterfall and hemlock grove introduced the property at Peterkin to the new attendees on Saturday afternoon.

Jim, Paul, Andy, Rick and Joe

Jim, Paul, Andy, Rick and Joe

Saturday evening we stayed at Peterkin and all of our senses were exposed to a new experience.  Within Hampshire County there are dozens of musicians who jam weekly playing old-time music. I called Paul Roomsburg and he networked with four others. Jim Morris brought instruments made from common objects telling us the history of music. Joe Hypes and Andy Agnew brought along their Rebel Union CDs and played guitar, fiddle and banjo during the evening.  Rick Pegg played the entire three hours standing up with the bass. To say we had a good time would be far from enough compliments to this group of talent.  By the end wooden spoons were tapping away on body parts, our clapping and stomping added to their strings. We all joined in with a rendition of John Denver’s ‘Country Roads‘ and ‘Amazing Grace‘.

Taking photos, studying

Taking photos, studying

2015 attendees

2015 attendees

Sunday was filled with conversations including critiques; suggestions for equipment, material and other workshops; and several successful completed projects.  We “throw down” works onto the wide porch each year and then get together for a group portrait.  Lunch and packing up came too quickly but the dates are set for 2016 and cyberspace will keep us connected until then.


Finishing up the Study

March 23 I finished the last month in the Year Study.  That is not to mean every single square is completed but I can say there is an end in sight and the twelve panels will be ready for Sauder Village Rug Hooking Week August 11-15 in Archbold, OH.

Visit Year Study – Collection Gallery to see the months and individual squares.  Over time the full project will be uploaded.

August 2014 nine squares

August 2014 nine squares

Lessons learned? Sketch and complete each subject at least within the month.  I jumped around and when busy with teaching stopped working on the pieces until months later.  The creative momentum was lost for a particular design or a techniqueI had suggested did not interest me when it came around to doing that square. So I changed it.

I still procrastinate.  Although deadlines are met, I prioritize the projects and decide whether a commitment is worth pursuing or can be shelved.  This one will be completed because I told many people, it has been accepted as an exhibit, I am happy with the results, the documentation will be useful in future articles, workshops and the direction of my artwork practices.

Color studies

Color studies

Solution:  Independent study with one person as student and advisor means goals or methods can be changed to meet the situation.  Stay positive do not chastise, evolve. I changed some designs from original sketch.  There were days with no sketches which I used to explore a series with pleasure.  I got through by breaking the 365+pieces  down into segments of a each month.

Results: When the project began I thought it would be rewarding to explore new techniques in surface design.  Now 18 months later and counting, that goal was met and I have set another one: to educate. During the year photographs were taken when changes were made to a piece.  I will write a series of articles describing the process, challenges and solutions.  In future posts and the pages on the site under Year Study, mini courses will develop and a dialog with viewers.  I found using social media helpful for encouragement, directed critique and developing an interested audience.

Progress in the Mountains, Susan L. Feller 2014

Progress in the Mountains, Susan L. Feller 2014

There is an urge to work on larger pieces finally.  Abstract, geometric, simplified palettes, and environmental stories are the styles and subjects which will be developed.


To be continued. I am glad to be on this creative journey with you.

Virtual Studio Visit – Susan L. Feller

Transfer design to linen backing

Transfer design to linen backing

As a creative person I would love to stay in the studio and work, but no one sees the results unless they visit. These days a virtual visit can be arranged if some of that creative time is put into developing websites, blogs and social media avenues.

Here are ways you can view, learn about, and purchase some of that artwork:

Ruckman Mill Farm color logo  We are revamping the website www.RuckmanMillFarm.com It is back up now. Hope you check it out regularly to see new and favorite rug hooking patterns, supplies, and my teaching schedule.  Use the coupon FaceShip when checking out to receive free shipping until March 31.  And please send me comments on the navigation and order process, we can improve with input. Here in the hills of West Virginia it is loading SLOWLY……

The site you are on now,  www.ArtWools.com serves as my identity as an artist and also acts as a blog. If you are new to it, I invite you to look on the right sidebar and sign up for automatic posts . Search the pages to view Galleries and biographical details.

We are now on Facebook on two pages Ruckman Mill FarmSusan L. Feller, Artwools , LIKE them for news feeds.

And I have several boards on Pinterest at Susan Feller at Artwools

Hoping to hear from you after “visiting” 24-7.

Progress in the Mountains

Progress in the Mountains, Susan L. Feller 2015

Progress in the Mountains, Susan L. Feller 2015

After three years of muddling over this topic I created “Progress in the Mountains“, a seven foot by 27 inch hand hooked runner.

Envision the impact on geography, environment, culture and community the human drive for progress has had on the natural resources of West Virginia (a micro example of the globe).

1. Major interstate highways create jobs for the construction industry, allow quicker access to towns and destinations for tourism and commerce but disturb migration paths, feeding and lodging habitat for fauna and flora.

2. Corporate farming in the form of one breed of cattle, poultry buildings for thousands, and processing plants for each creates excess of waste which needs to be distributed by vehicles to wider destinations or processed into a stable by-product.

3. Lumbering of the forests, many of which were contract planted for the pulp or board feet affects the terrain.  The undergrowth is necessary to keep erosion from happening, contributing to pollutants in the rivers.  Slow traffic from lumber trucks is alleviated with the new highway system.

4. Coal mining strips the tops of mountains to find the veins, moving the waste often into headwaters of small streams which will run into the major river systems.  But the coal is used to create electricity for the metropolitan population’s requirements to communicate, work, entertain.  The power lines to distribute the energy create wide cuts in direct paths economical for the corporations taking years of negotiating with landowners, environmentalists, historians and politicians but eventually “for the good of the majority” being implemented.

5. Wind turbines line the highest ridge lines feeding the energy generated into those power lines again going out of our state to the metropolitan region.  Although a regenerable resource (wind) the effect on birds’ migratory paths is being studied.

I find it interesting to use a traditional hands-on process of pulling one loop at a time, manipulating the fabric into shapes and directions (rug hooking) to depict these issues of the 21st Century.  For months this design was drawn horizontally spreading the seven feet with layers of hills, roads and power lines intersecting the organic shapes.  It did not seem to be the right format. Finally in my daily journal on June 27 I tried a vertical format and could see more layers allowing a longer trail to be able to tell more stories.  The piece evolved easily from there.

Study for Progress in the Mountains

Study for Progress in the Mountains

Working this runner was like reading a great book, each chapter and character held my interest. They built on previous sections with shapes, colors and values evolving along the path, progressing to the top and end.  Imagine walking along, following the flow of road and hills then turning around and coming back down the mountain in your hallway.

Following are subjects taken along the Robert C. Byrd Highway system in Hardy County, WV and the rug in stages of completion.


Rug Hooking outdoors in Fall

FALL in West Virginia means breezes, sunshine, brittle leaves fluttering, COLOR and no bugs.  As a member of the Plein Air Hooking Artists it was time to get out and enjoy all of the above while creating.

Paw Paw Tree in Fall

Paw Paw Tree in Fall

My attention was drawn to our Paw Paw tree.  The fruit is indescribable in taste subtle like  banana, custard, but something else.  Yet it is memorable and a native to the Appalachians.  There is even a Paw Paw Festival in early September held in Ohio.

Out came the chair, portable frame (Townsend model, Beeline is making a similar style); bags of yellow, green, purple and red wool strips; hook and linen.  I drew a design 7″ x 5″ on a strip of linen with three more of the same size.  One will be used as a Friendship Exchange Mat during the TIGHR Triennial 2015 (Back to Nature is the theme).

I enjoyed working with the elements, they influenced my mood and the work.  Starting with using the purple bag to depict the dark trunk, and limbs.  (The literalist said, “Oh darn I forgot the neutral bag”.  The artist said, “Use what you have and purple is the complement of yellow along with the darkest color”.)

I will admit the sun went in and breeze got colder so into the studio I went after two hours to finish the piece in a total of five hours.

I worked up a second design outside the next day.  This one I wanted to show the smooth leaves, vein colors and layers so hooked some, then cut out leaf shapes in wool and anchored them with pearl cotton embroidery stitching.  I pulled the two together with the same blue, similar purples and crisp yellow greens. Number three is drawn.  These leaves change daily now that the light and temperatures are changing.

Get out and look at nature daily.  You may be surprised what detail draws your attention and says “Capture me in your artwork.”