I recently showed my friend Rita how to rug hook. It brought me right back to my first rug hooking experience. While nothing could be easier than pulling a loop, it can feel awkward until you get comfortable holding everything and handling the wool. I felt such tenderness for all beginners when I watched my friend take her hoop and hook out for their inaugural spin. She fumbled and wrestled a bit and was very intent on trying to make her loops the same height and perfectly spaced. I remember feeling the same way. In fact,once I had made some progress on my first piece, I wanted to go back and rip those wonky beginner loops right out. I’m glad I resisted the urge. They’re an important part of that rug’s story and I like that I can pinpoint my first steps.
To start with I set Rita up with a bit of backing so she could noodle around. When she leaned over to show me her first doodles she was all too aware they were wiggly and wildly spaced. Where she saw imperfection, I saw beauty. There was a lovely innocent flourish to those sweeps of color. Honestly, I found them way more appealing than a tidy grid of loops. I didn’t think to take a specific photo of them at the time but later I made a few doodles of my own inspired by her baby steps.
Now you might think I have something against neat loops and tidy rows but the reality is I like to rug hook corn rows too. I don’t view any loop; big,small, tidy or wild, as right or wrong. They are all options and a design choice. Because there’s such a wide range of work you can create with rug hooking techniques,from functional floor coverings to art pieces,I like to play around and teach my hook more than one dance move.
We worked away side by side for a few hours and I found it refreshing to keep company with someone just starting out. I often find a lot of inspiration and charm in the unfiltered, uninhibited impulses of early work. We are all children again when we try something new.
Our afternoon had me thinking back to my earlier pieces and I realized my current rug hooking work has areas of wonky loops exactly like the ones I was so eager to pull out all those years ago. The difference now is I create them with intent. In certain projects I like mixing even rows and uniform loops with sections of kookiness for more textural variety. Sometimes progress takes us right back to where we started.
Detail of D.T., Diane Krys,2013
Detail of Sawtooth, Diane Krys,2013
I spoke with Rita the other day. She hasn’t trimmed any wooly tails off the hooked surface yet because she’s unsure of the best way to cut them. She’s popping over this week and she’s anxious to mow them down. Personally, I can’t wait to see her shaggy pillow top. I’m thinking it might look kinda great.
Serendipity, Diane Krys, 2006
Recent work on display at the Edmonton International Airport
“It took me four years to paint like Raphael but a lifetime to paint like a child.”
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