Outside the Comfort Zone

First Rug Hooked Piece (took me FOREVER)

First Rug Hooked Piece (took me FOREVER)

Christine here:  One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to push myself to try things outside my own comfort zone, which is braiding.  I don’t think I’ll ever run out of ideas of things that I want to try next in braiding — I have about 20 rugs sketched in notebooks that I want to make — but I think we are all aided in our creative journeys by mixing things up now and then.

My friends Dianne and Kris have been encouraging me for years to get into rug hooking and…. I have tried, I really have.  I find it tedious.  I accidentally pull out loops as much as I place them.  My loops are twisted, of unequal length, and on top of all that it’s time consuming.

Kris or Dianne — I forget just who now — suggested that I try rug punching.  I took a 3 hour private lesson from Amy Oxford up at her school in Cornwall, Vermont.  While my impression was that most people use heavy rug yarn for rug punching, Amy did show me several pieces she had made that were made (at least in part) with 1/4″ wide wool strips.  She helped me learn how to work with the strips of fabric.  After all, I sure have a lot of wool, so I figured I should just use what I have.  ( www.amyoxford.com)

Then, I got tapped to teach rug hookers how to frame their pieces with braids.  I said, Sure! After all, I can do anything with braiding, right?  Then it hit me that I would have to have class samples that were hooked to show them how to attach the braids.

So, I dragged out all that rug punching stuff and the cutter that I had purchased and started working.

First Rug Punch Piece, with lots of twisted loops.

First Rug Punch Piece, with lots of twisted loops.

I can tell, just from the progression of the 3 pieces that I’ve made, that I’m getting better.  My first piece has a lot of twisted loops, but I learned how to straighten out the long 1/4″ strips before I started punching, and to straighten them out again when I changed direction.  My second piece I made too crowded, and my 3rd piece is the best — loops and rows more neatly spaced, and fewer twisted loops.

The best part of all of this?  Each piece took me less than 3 hours from start (picking out fabric) to cutting to punching to finish (steam pressing on the back).  I don’t remember exactly how long my first rug hooking piece took me, but it was nightmarishly long — several evenings.  What a difference!

Here are examples of my class pieces.  They are in various stages of completion so that I can demonstrate each technique needed to attach braids.  No, they are not perfect, but they will “do,” and best of all, it went quickly enough that I might actually try it again.

Second Rug Punched Piece, with crowded loops and rows

Second Rug Punched Piece, with crowded loops and rows

Third Rug Punched Piece (Chinese symbol for Health and Long Life) with improvement in loop spacing

Third Rug Punched Piece (Chinese symbol for Health and Long Life) with improvement in loop spacing

By this last piece, which I think looks pretty good, I was much better.  No, it’s not as perfect as the rug hooked loops my friends make.  But, I can see that if I kept up with this, I could probably get to an almost equivalent point in the appearance of the loops.  And it was FAST!

8 thoughts on “Outside the Comfort Zone

  1. Christine, I share the same problem with hooking. I have wondered if i could do the punching type as i would really like to do a bit of hooking even if it isn’t quite the same. Perhaps in time the skill will transfer and hooking will come.. Now i have to try it. Any suggestions as to where to get a punch needle?

  2. Dianne here….I am so proud of you Christine, doing this on the sly without us knowing your progression! Some of us rug hookers LIKE the slowness of the projects….but glad you found a niche in rug hooking. You can now punch all of Kris and my backgrounds! 🙂

  3. Christine – Such good outcomes for your hooking and braiding efforts. Very pretty. Mary

  4. I LOVE what you have chosen to do and may even try it myself. I still have the hooking frame and stuff from when dave was doing it years ago. I really like small creative pieces and particularly the geometric shapes. Two years ago a woman came to my place from Northern Maine and she was really into doing the Amy Oxford stuff. If I can get enough small pieces to display here and call it art, I would love to do it . I am now in charge of the art which is displayed here quarterly, down our long reception hall. We have room for 30 pieces and the neat thing is that one can sell it and keep all the money. But the pieces must be “hang-able”….and no bigger than a standard painting size. In other words, it can’t be a large rug. Nancy Young

  5. Hi Christine,
    Thanks for sending me the link to your blog. Wow! I love seeing your punched pieces and the beautiful way you have added the braiding! These are so great! I love your designs and colors. You are an inspiration. Thanks for listing our website address. If any of your blog readers have Oxford Punch Needle questions we are always happy to help.
    Warm wishes,
    Amy Oxford
    http://www.amyoxford.com

  6. Have liked each of your combination pieces. Looking forward to the teaching part of it too. I keep thinking they would make lovely wedding gifts as trivets, centerpieces, etc. Patsy Simon

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