Friday, March 12, 2010

Topaz Award, Merit program, McGown Pattern

One of the requirements of the Topaz award for the Merit program is to hook an early McGown pattern. To learn more about McGown patterns, I found (on the internet) an old copy of Pearl McGown's book "YOU . . . can HOOK RUGS". It was reprinted in 1953 and smelled like it had been in someone's basement since 1954, but I read it anyway to learn more about the woman and her patterns.

Pearl was definitely my kind of woman! In 1930 she hooked her first rug and took off running from there. Although she loved hooking, her interest was more into creating patterns (she had well over 1,000) and her business had gotten so big that she enlisted help from her son, two sisters, and her father-in-law. She bought the larger house across the street (she named it the 'Rose Cottage') just so that she could hold her patterns and swatches, and have a place for hookers to get together and share their rugs and discuss the aspects of technique, color, and teaching others. She and her helpers would hand draw on burlap the patterns that she designed.

Pearl McGown was very much into an artistic effect when hooking a rug. She realized that the only way to achieve this effect was to use a graduation of hues to hook flowers, leaves, or to accentuate a scroll, all with using fine cuts of wool. Her book is a wealth of information! She covers all aspects of rug hooking, my most favorite is the drawings which illustrate where to put each value in different leaves and flowers to help you 'see' that particular item in a realistic way. It is such a shame that the majority of the beautiful rugs in the book were not in color. However, the ones that are were beautiful.

For my project, I chose one of her chair pads that I squared off for a pillow. Recently, our rug hooking group offered a workshop with Nola Heidbreder, a certified McGown teacher, so she helped me with my pillow. Nola is a fabulous teacher! She is so into the 'fun' aspects of hooking and embellishing. So I wouldn't miss out on the fun, I would hook on my pillow for a few minutes then go and do some of her fun things she taught us in hooking. If you EVER get the chance to have a class with Nola, I HIGHLY recommend her. Anyway, I got the jest of hooking the McGown way. There is a lot to learn and my attempt is puny at best in comparrison to rugs in Pearl's book. I used a #4 cut with some of the Palette Dyed swatches I dyed from April DeConick's virtual class "Palette Dyeing' on RUG HOOKING DAILY.
I may also get credit in the Garnet Award for using a fine cut. I'll check on that.


  1. Wow you are going to town! You are a lovely rug hooker. This is a really beautiful piece, and gosh those colors look great!

  2. I think I have that same book, my grandmother and her sister were rug hookers from about 1945ish-1970. I think my Aunt was a certified teacher in Michigan, but sadly I don't think there's any way to verify that.

    Your piece is to go to find MY book! I know there are alot of my grandmother's sketches and dye recipes too..yum.

  3. Hi~I just found your blog and I love it! You do beautiful work!
    I live in Springfield and would love to take a class with Nola someday. Maybe we'll meet in person some day!

  4. Hi Sheri, Glad you found my blog, come back to visit sometime. I'm almost finished with a rug and soon will blog about it. It is a reproduction of a pre-1910 hooked rug.