Emma Sue

sonoitI attended another Sunshine Rug Hookers workshop in March 2010. (I love going to workshops!) The teacher this time was Anne Boissonoit, and it was on creative abstract faces. When gathering up wool to use, I threw in all the  pieces of transitional wool left over from doing my double cross rug.


The end result was Emma Sue. The face is done in the transitional wool. The hair is a wonderful lumpy, curly wool yarn provided by Linda Wilson, (our hostess for the workshop), with some added bits of unspun fleece, and some sparkly hairy turquoise yarn I found at the dollar store. The second day of the workshop I was struggling with how I wanted to do the hair. I had some whites and grays, but they did nothing for the face. Linda walked over with a hank of the turquoise yarn, and suggested,..what about this? It was like a ‘eureka’ moment. I loved it, and it set the tone for the rest of the piece.

I didn’t have a lot of trouble deciding on the purple background, that is I knew what I wanted, but I had some difficulty getting it dyed so I was pleased with it. I think I ended up dyeing 3 different batches of wool, until I was satisfied with the result. Then I felt the background was too much the same tone as the flesh, so the edges of the face didn’t stand out sharply. By adding the paler purple I solved that problem, and I think it gives her a bit of an aura.

Anne said we must give our creations a name. I have no idea where the name Emma Sue came from, but it simply would not leave my mind…so Emma Sue she is. I like to think that she told me what to call her.

My No-Penny Penny Rug

Last fall the Sunshine Rug Hookers had a workshop with Bea Grant, It was on combining a penny rug with hooking.

” In the 1800s, women would use scraps of wool or wool felt from old clothing and hats to create designs for mats or rugs. They would make circles using coins as a template. Each piece was then stitched in blanket stitch fashion. Sometimes, the mats or rugs were backed with old burlap bags or feed sacks. And to make the piece lie flat, a penny was stitched under one of the circles to weigh it down. Coins were so valuable then, that in today’s world, if you are fortunate to find an antique piece containing one, you would have a very rare piece. Nineteenth century women were very creative and not wasteful.”


There were two patterns to choose from for the workshop, one with a rabbit (or was it a chicken?) and one was a  cornucopia. I can’t remember which animal, because people choosing that pattern altered it so eventually there were quite a few different animals in evidence. I chose the cornucopia. The idea was to applique the flowers, leaves, and cornucopia, do pennies around the border, and hook the rest. 

I started by cutting out the cornucopia and leaves. I watched while others were cutting out literally nearly 100 pennies which were to be blanket stitched and stacked around the border. They were beautiful, but I enjoy hooking much more than sewing, so I scrapped the idea of pennies altogether.  The cornucopia and leaves are applique, the rest is hooked in #7.

The top and bottom borders are done in ‘hit and miss’ using the scraps from the leaves and flowers. The side borders are done in recycled wool from a men’s Harris tweed jacket I picked up at ‘Good Will’.

The finishing is done in what Bea called a ‘show binding’.  It was new to me, and is meant for a rug which will not be on the floor. It is edged with strips of the background wool which have the raw edges folded under then it is sewn down front and back, with mitered corners.