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TitleAirstream and FlowersDesigned byNancy PhillipsHooked byNancy PhillipsInspirationDeanne Fitzpatrick's Houses and Poppies along the oceanDimensions24" x 15.5"Materialswool on linenCuts6, 8Start to Finish2022Share

Airstream and Flowers

I had visited Deanne Fitzpatrick’s store in Amherst, Nova Scotia on a trip to the Maritimes. One of her themes is wonky tilted houses overlooking the ocean with poppies. I picked up a pillow sized pattern to try on her color palate. It hooked up quickly and was fun to do. An Airstream friend saw the pillow and loved it. I decided to make this friend an Airstream pillow. It was an easy adaptation to replace wonky houses with an Airstream surrounded by flowers  with hills and sky in the background.

I knew I wanted the reddish purple flowers with greenish hills in the background.  I struggled a bit finding the right color for the Airstream. Airstreams are gray, which tends to wash out other colors. I spent a fair amount of time looking at paintings by artists of Airstreams, that allowed me to look for other colors. It was the shape that says Airstream, not necessarily the color. The sky also challenged me. It works,  but I still have a hard time with a yellow sky. The blue green lettering helps a bit. The saying, “See More, Do More and Live More”  is from Wally Byam who created the Airstream in the 1940s.  He was passionate about travel and designed his trailers to go places.  Now her Airstream pillow travels in her trailer.  I am off to design another Airstream pillow for another friend.

I wanted the back of the pillow to be wool.  It was a good way to use up some of the wool I have. I spent a fair amount of time reviewing You Tube videos on how to make an envelope pillow. The best were from the sewing world. I tried to sew the backing on with my sewing machine, but that didn’t work, because the loops are too bulky. I couldn’t get close enough to the finished edge of the pillow. I ripped it out and realized I was going to have to hand sew the backing on, which actually was easier and faster to do. Luckily, I found a company that makes a variety of pillow forms. Next time I will pay more attention to standardized pillow forms.

About the Artist

I was a serious knitter, and I dabbled in quilting, and needlepoint. Then I saw some hooked rugs in a women’s magazine that caught my eye. After that  I saw some vintage hooked rugs at a friend’s house that spoke to me.  I wanted to learn to hook primitive style rugs.

I started hooking with Sylvia Dole of Plainfield, a rug restorer in the early 1980s. She was a student of Charlotte Stratton, a competitor of Pearl  McGowen, so it was fine shading of six flowers which took me about three years to finish. I could only go for lessons in the summer when I wasn’t teaching. The Green Mountain Rug School was near the end of the school year so, I was not able to attend until the dates were moved to later in June and school got out earlier. It wasn’t until the Guild started holding a rug show at the Round Barn Inn in Waitsfield and offered a few classes that I was able to take a variety of classes.

I was able to attend two-one week rug camps with Marion Hamm in Maine. She was the other teacher that influenced my direction to more primitive wide cuts.  Karen Kahle, who taught at the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild Show at the Shelburne Museum, was the third person who made an impression on me.  She incorporates many variations of the same colors in her backgrounds  to create a more impressionistic look. She only hooks three  to ten loops with one color before changing to a slightly different color. I really like that painterly effect.

I started by hooking other people’s patterns, but then started to modify patterns, and then designed some of my own.  I still do other’s patterns as well as my own. Being retired and enjoying what I am hooking now, with wide cuts and patterns that catch my eye, I get a lot more done, versus taking years to finish one rug.

I don’t have much interest in dying, but do like the techniques of melding colors together in a dye pot or creating marbleized wool.  I buy wool clothing, bolt wool, and dyed wools as I need something. Like most people I have more wool than know what to do with.  I try to use what I have and only buy if I need a color for a rug.

I don’t have room in my house for rugs, so I make them for friends, now.  I don’t tell them the rug is for them, since the first one I did, took over twenty years to finish.  I am a lot quicker now.  My record might be nine months for my current Magdalena Briner style rug  (8 cut 30” by 50” ) that I designed.