Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rugs with Hidden Messages, Dates and Initials

There was a lot of interest and questions on ‘how to’ for the Bev Conway signing technique of her wedding rug in a previous post.  I was not in Bev’s class this year but she shared the information with all of us at meal time.  By the end of the week’s camp I’m sure every hooker there had either received the same information from Bev at meal time or had gotten wind of the wonderful new way to sign and date rugs from other students.  This technique can be executed even when there is no place to sign on the front; that was evident with the complex and beautifully design rug did for her daughter's Wedding Rug (a previous post).
I asked Bev if there would be an upcoming article or book offered thru Rug Hooking Magazine regarding this technique.  She hoped so and commented that she did ask seasoned hookers, teachers from every contact she had to find out if this had ever been done before.  The unanimous answer was 'no'.  So Bev has the copyright on this technique and hopefully there will be a future article in a rughooking publication.
So, after coming home from camp I just had to try the technique that Bev generously shared with us.  Since I hadn’t seen any demonstration went on how she described it.  Bev said that you need to pull your loops up at least as high as #8 strip (1/4”) and the lettering strip needed to be a light and noticeable color from the rest (like white) and more narrow that the strip used for the letter/number hooking the better.  So I’m guessing if you hook in #3 strips to begin with it wouldn’t work.
What you do is put your initials and date, message or saying, on red dot tracer, reverse it and write it on the front of the foundation.  That means it will look like gobbly gook from the front, but that is okay because it will be read from the back. 
So my log cabin rug was my experiment since it was what I am working on.  As you can see to the top left, that is where I placed the year 2011 and it is reversed.  This is the front of my rug.
So then I drew my initials on the right hand side of the rug so that when it was read from the back it would be my initials first and then the date hooked.  Yes, the picture below is the back (yes, I know, it’s confusing…. I drew the design twice because I didn’t like how I drew the trees and leaves the first time so flipped it over and drew it again).  You can see my initials “SP”.  But really should have put another row of background color around so you could see how the letters could be hidden from the front.
From the front I hooked the initials (which had also been reversed on the foundation on the front) and used a #5 strip.  I thought I was hooking low enough but since I’m a high hooker had to keep nudging those babies down. 
Then I cut my #8.5 strips for the background and started hooking around them.  Bev said to leave only one thread (as in linen backing thread) between the letter or number hooked and the color being worked on the design front.  I must say that just because the letters were hooked low, that my initial reaction was to hook lower than I normally do around the white initials.  Hey, remember all that training as hookers about ‘you can use different cuts in a rug just hook them all the same height?’  So it took some effort to be sure to pull those #8.5 loops up as I would normally.
It might be my imagination because I know where the initials are hooked..or, it could be that it just needs another row of background hooking to move those other loops tighter to fully conceal the white letters.  I'm sure that with another row of background the letters will be hidden forever except from the back.
I think this is a magnificent thing that Bev has worked hard to establish.  I mean, stitched on fabric can pull off, but this is a way to forever memorialize our rugs as gifts, heirlooms and historical records of our dedication, love and hard work for our hooked pieces.


  1. It is pretty cool I have seen it hooked in the back ground.
    you can see it from the front.

  2. Hi Saundra, Wow, That is something else. I will have to read this again closely so it gets in my head. But it is interesting what she came up with.Cheri

  3. I think the reasn you can see it from the front (tho only in ghost form) is because I haven't hooked a second row around. I think that by hooking a second row around the light then wool letters would encapsule and hide those letters.

  4. Saundra ~
    Very cool. I'm not ready to try it but it is interesting.
    Pug hugs :)

  5. Thanks for sharing this technique, but I kind of like seeing a signature on the rugs, like an artist's signature on a painting. Did bev say why she wanted to hide this from the viewer? Just curious.


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