Friday, April 4, 2014

Remembering My First Rug Camp Experience

I was a self-taught rug hooker and learned by reading the instructions in a Rug Hooking Magazine as well as a Kindred Spirits booklet.  Since I was also a doll maker believe it was this booklet which got me started.  However, I do own several of Kindred Spirits booklets.
So for a couple years I hooked smallish things on my own at home until one day decided to bite the bullet and attend a rug camp an hour away from home.  Figured it was time to find out what I was doing wrong , unlearn bad habits and develop proper hooking style ~ which for me was primitive and wide cut.

At that same time a doll maker and hooker friend Shari was also new to the world of rug hooking.  We discussed the camp ad we'd seen mentioned in Rug Hooking Magazine and decided to go. We could have stayed at my house and driven the hour to and fro but ....duh.... why miss all the fun.  So we chose to stay at The Dunes Hotel in Ocean City, MD where the Maryland Shores Rug Camp was being held in April.

At that time it was a McGowan school using only accepted patterns.  Thankfully they changed and now designs by anyone will be accepted at the school.  These McGowan trained teachers have had to hook numerous styles, different cuts, various techniques, different finishing and basically jump through hoops to get their certification.  Some of those teachers, like my friend Lynne, also has an art degree in addition.  So needless to say I was TIMID.  I didn't know Lynne at the time, and frankly didn't know ANY hookers until going to camp, but I was still timid.
    (this is getting long, do you need to go get a glass of water, tee hee)

Okay, so my friend Shari and I decide that once in the class room we will hurry to get a position where our backs are against the wall so other hookers can't see what we've done.  Mind you I'm an adult and am feeling like a scared child in a fetal position.  So we do pick a spot like that and we were happy.

Now, my poor poor teacher, the wonderful Mary Lou Bleakley who will (I'm sure) never forget me didn't know what she was in for.  Even tho I was a grown woman.... senior even.... I was still timid and insecure.  Since I had no stash of wool to speak of, and now know what I did have wasn't good wool, I chose to have my teacher color plan my design.  I told her which pattern I wanted, gave her ideas for colors and she did a great job for me.  I chose "Heritage" which is a Charco design and acceptable in the camp at that time. 

Guess I should have vacuumed my rug before posting the picture.  This is the rug and has been at my front door since 2003, wool is very resilient.
One of the pre-class questions Mary Lou asked was what did I want to learn from class.  Even tho I was going to hook a wide cut (#8) I wanted to learn how to do shading because this was going to be my first and last rug camp.  HA! (but that's another story).

At some point before camp I'm sure poor Mary Lou thought I was the student from hell because I had so many questions; am sure too she thought I'd be the trouble maker in the class and not a happy camper maybe always complaining.  Well I didn't start trouble in the class and she and I have laughed about that class each time we see each other. 

OH, but yes, troublemaker I am.  When I go to camp it is fun to get laughs and play with my pals so do like to stir the pot a little.  But it is all in fun not in malice.  And for the record, all the teachers and seasoned hookers greeted us newbies with open arms and tend to share every bit of information they know. 

Going to camp is a great way to see tools other hookers have and everyone is willing to share usage on a hook or a frame just so other hookers will have the experience and know what product suits them best.  Shari and I (even as newbies) had people lining up to try our 'sit-upon' swivel and tilt frame which was new on the market at the time.

All sorts of other fond memories are going through my cranium as I type this but think I'll sign off for now and take my boy Ben for yet ANOTHER walk since he didn't do his duties before and he didn't want the back yard as a substitute... dang dog.

Mary Lou, I doubt you're reading my blog but want to thank you for being patient with me. 

Please everyone, be kind to one another regardless of their difference. 



  1. Good memories of rug camp that played out a lot like the one my friend and I went to for the first time McGowen also and I hooked in a 6 and we were the youngest.

  2. I wish my rugs looked like that, all mine fell apart, no idea why mine do. I have gone in homes where they have old rugs on the floor and pets and people walking all over them and they look worn, but nice.


  3. I wish I could afford a camp. It is difficult starting out trying to get advice. I believe you Saundra were a great help to me and didnt brush me off a couple years ago when I started. I was just about to give up until you responded to an email I sent. You were very helpful and I will never forget.

  4. Fun post! Thanks for sharing your experience.
    Hugs :)


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