Thursday, February 19, 2009
I had an absolutely wonderful surprise today when I read Gene Shepherd's blog (http://geneshepherd.com/ ). I had forgotten that Rughookers has been around for a whole decade now and what a nice way to be reminded. I thought I would take this opportunity to tell the story of Rughookers (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/rughookers )
More than a dozen years ago, I bought that funny long frame building in this old aerial photo. The building is the largest one in downtown Hamburg, Michigan (which you can see is not a very large town). I loved the old building, bought it without a real plan, but I had a sporadic antique business at my farm and I was in love with some antique replica crafts, so I decided to turn the main floor of the building into an antique shop and then have craft classes held in other parts of the building.
I was teaching school in another small town fifty miles away and running a boarding stable and riding school at my farm, so I could only give Saturday and Sunday afternoons and Thursday and Friday evenings to the store. On Saturdays, I gave riding lessons in the morning and then raced off to the store, made a big pot of soup or stew on the old ten burner stove in the upstairs back hall, and fed the riding students and other teachers because making lunch was the only way I could get everyone to leave the farm in time for me to open the antique shop at noon.
I called the building The Hamburg Store because it had alway before been called The Hamburg Hardware. It was situated on a corner, with a refurbished general store next door and an old gas station converted into a fire hall next to that. Around the corner and behind The Store was an old church that had become the town hall, with the police station in the basement. After the township moved out, the old church became a library. That building is now a museum, started and run by the people who now own the old general store and the old fire hall. I started doing some of my school work at the store when the customers and hangers-on were gone, correcting papers and recording grades and doing research on the internet. The internet was quite different then, not nearly so many choices available, and somehow I found the rug hooking group called Padula. I learned that there were other rug hookers and started learning from them about schools and suppliers and Rug Hooking Magazine. We chatted a lot about rugs, but we couldn't see them, there was no photo hosting on the server. While surfing the internet, I eventually found the Yahoo group service. I set up a group, thinking Padulans would like to see photos of their rugs, and I called the group Rughookers. The people running Padula weren't excited about having photos, so I was suddenly the proud owner of a completely independent group. I can remember saying back then that if we could get three hundred members, we would probably have all of the internet savvy rughookers in the whole country.
I used to think about Rughookers as a home, a home where visitors should be welcomed and treated as honored guests. Netiquet really hadn't been established well yet and there were often unpleasant outbursts in the early years - sometimes it felt like we were the Hatfields and the McCoys with our foolish disagreements. That's when I hooked this little house, which would have been big enough to entertain the whole group.
It only took a few years for the group to grow so large we needed a new home. I thought this house would be the one I would build on my farm if I ever won the lottery, but instead, The Lottery House turned into The Rughookers Home, and the Rughookers Home is a place where all rughookers are welcome.