If you read my satirical piece on Wool Rug Hooking by Tara Darr you might be surprised that when the book finally arrived I was thrilled to find it well worth the money; the $22 that is. It really is a good book for someone starting out in the craft. It is comprehensive, well-written, and I appreciated her lack of rigidity in choosing everything from tools to fabrics. I took her point to be that this should be fun. And fun it is, even if I’m punching instead of hooking.
I went to the rug hooking guild meeting yesterday, not knowing that they meet for four- hour sessions. The members are extremely nice and very good at what they do. Everyone was working on a hooking project (mostly rugs), and I was somewhat embarrassed by the little primitive I brought with me. It had been sitting in a closet for close to 20 years, and because it was small I thought it would be easy to carry and not very distracting. I went to meet kindred spirits, not really to hook.
I learned quickly there is a difference between members of a guild and just a group of friends hooking. For starters, these ladies really know what they are doing. They had the nice frames, the most beautiful patterns, and absolutely gorgeous wools. Clearly most everyone’s technique was well honed and near perfect. How anyone gets that good at anything is beyond me. There was also an actual meeting where trips, hook-ins and camps were discussed. If you want to, you can put a lot of money into this activity, and of the few people who were mentioned as absent, they were said to be at a seminar across the country or teaching a class somewhere. I began to wonder if I wasn’t in over my head.
The only problem for me was that no one there punches; they all hook. A few nice ladies looked at my punch needle but there was no question they were hookers, not punchers. I got the sense there is a finite way of doing this craft if you are in the guild, but certainly no one suggested I learn to hook instead of punch. Everyone was very friendly and asked if I would come again.
And I probably will.
In the meantime, I got some more good advice about wools and cutting machines, and even a frame that I’m sure I’ll never be able to afford. There are classes through a teacher who is the group leader, but there’s another expense, and besides, I want to design my own patterns and choose my own colors, a task several people said the group leader does best.
One thing did reaffirm my commitment to punch needle. Hooking is slow. Perhaps the people around me were slower than normal, but I couldn’t help but notice the exactness of each loop as it was pulled through the fabric, slowly and deliberately, so there was no discernible difference between the new loop and the one next to it. I just don’t have the eyesight for that kind of detail, so I will let my punch needle do the measuring for me, which is exactly what IT does best!