Thursday, February 02, 2006

How to Hook Rugs by Mrs. Harry King

I added a new book to my collection today, that is, a new old book. How to Hook Rugs by Mrs. Harry King was written in 1952. The combination of Helen King publishing herself as a no-name belonging to her husband and the color-by-number technique espoused in the book place it firmly in a bygone era. Just glancing through the book, I almost felt I should be wearing my white gloves and pillbox hat - but, I took myself firmly in hand and decided to look for the remarkable parts of the book - and I didn't have far to look.

The photo shows the kind of hook Mrs. King recommends and shows the way to hold it. The hook is not described as far as size goes, it looks like any old crochet hook that might be laying around in your grandmother's sewing box.

The other surprise is Mrs. King's attitude about frames - she disapproves of them. It's not that she prefers hoops over frames, she prefers using nothing. She describes hooking with only your fingers to hold the rug.

Here's how: "In your left hand, hold your pattern, on the under side. With your thumb and first finger hold the pattern as if you were pinching it, near the flower or the leaf, letting the strip of wool come up through the next two fingers." I was thinking about the heavy weight of a partially hooked rug being carried by a couple of fingers, but she solves that worry by suggesting that you might want to spread your rug out on a card table for convenience and comfort.

I'm glad to have this book in my library, but as a piece of history, not as a reference. There are many pencil drawings of flowers with a number system telling you exactly how to hook each petal or leaf, and there is an index telling which pattern each flower came from, but there are no pictures of the full pattern and no reference telling anything more than a pattern name.

A Rug Within a Rug

I tried to post this photo on Yahoo Rughookers and for some reason couldn't get it to post, so I've put it here. This photo is of a wedding rug that didn't work. The story about it was published in the ATHA Newsletter a year or so ago so I won't repeat it here. I have posted it here because someone on Rughookers asked about making "rugs within rugs" and that's what this rug has to offer. Barenaked Ed is resting on a rug - and that rug is intended to be a replica of the handwoven rug I had made for my nephew long before this wedding.

I was extremely lucky one day on a trip to the Salvation Army. I found a couple of wool blankets and quickly took them up to the counter. The very helpful worker there chatted with me and learned that I was interested in any wool blankets they might have - and it turned out they had a couple of big boxes of them in the back room. I walked away with 30 wool blankets. Most of them were the color green that you see in the border of this rug, but some of them were the dark red you see under Barenaked Ed. Some of those wool blankets became hooking fabric, but a number of them also became weaving material. I made a loom woven green and red runner for Sean and then, when I planned his wedding rug, I drew his dog resting on it.

Maybe I should add here, I have this rug because it was returned to me for framing. I dragged my heels a little about getting it done, and suddenly the marriage was over. So, what do you do with an unsuccessful wedding rug?

Sean was married again last October - to a wonderful young woman who knew him way back when he was a college student. They had drifted apart and travelled different roads, until somehow, when Sean was readjusting to single life, Kim knew she should get in contact with him. Kim stood beside Sean all through the difficult year when his mother fought a losing battle with cancer - she was a perfect supportive loving wife to Sean long before they were married - and I am very happy to have her in our family. However, just in case the wedding rug caused some kind of jinx on that first marriage, I did not make a rug for Sean and Kim. Maybe someday - maybe a family rug instead of a wedding rug.