Welcome to My Red Cape. Long ago in another time my husband Jack and I lived in a little old red house. It was the stuff of dreams to us for the few years that we were there. I live there still a number of hours every day in imagination, with old dolls and paintings and fabrics and feather trees. I draw inspiration and happiness from the memories of that space in time and share some of it here with friends who remember how to step with Alice through the looking glass and take delight in whimsies and antiquities. ~Edyth O’Neill

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Rachael's question about my new Hadley rug

Rachael wrote asking what I meant by a new Hadley rug, here is my letter back:

Dear Rachael, In the development of a separate American culture, English and other furniture traditions evolved here into a new and clearly different genre. In the 1600's and 1700's a distinctive style of carved and painted furniture was made in the New England colonies by a number of individual furniture makers or "joiners" as they were called. Most of these earliest pieces were oak chests, but Bible boxes, a few high back chairs and other pieces also received the carving and painting in deep colors of indigo, red and black and ochre. A notable table in the collection of Historic Deerfield has the distinctive carving on the apron. The early colors have worn away from most of the furniture and only tantalizing traces of color remain on a few examples but there is enough to know what these historic colors were!

As Americana collectors began to study and acquire this early New England furniture in the 19th century, the related objects were studied and similarities noted and bits of documentation pieced together. It was possible to identify some of the early towns and even craftsmen responsible for this work. The pieces of furniture were documented and referred to often by the place names where they were discovered. Thus one noted collector referred to a great carved storage box as "my Hadley Chest", naming it for Hadley Massachusetts where he had found the chest. Broadly, the furniture became known as "Hadley Type" and was made principally in the Connecticut river valley from Wethersfield Connecticut to Deerfield Massachusetts.

I have treated these and other related early carved furniture designs as documents of early American decorative art, and translated them to designs for rug hookers, particularly those who enjoy early motifs to complement pilgrim furniture, but the strength of these historic motifs transcends my first narrow purpose and they hold their own as beautiful in almost any setting today.
My group of Hadley rug designs includes a number of examples, including "Guilford Runner", taken from a Bible box found in Guilford Connecticut, and "Ipswich" taken from a great carved back chair. There is "Candle Mat" with the ubiquitous opposing hearts, and a "Tulip Wheel" design taken from the front of another carved chest. There are the chair pads "York", "Coventry", "Windsor" and "Greenfield". The half round "Hadley Welcome" rug is a favorite. This one hangs in my entry hall.
New this year is another Hadley design, "Cape Ann", a rectangular rug to be offered in two sizes by Barb Carroll whose company distributes all of my designs. I am excited about adding it to our home and hope it will also be enjoyed by many friends in the rug hooking community. When the rug is underway in a few weeks, I will picture it here. Edyth

Friday, February 13, 2009

My letter to Barb Carroll this am

Dear Barb, thanks for all you have sent, drawings, encouraging emails and LOVE. I am excited about the new patterns, and many people have seen the two drawings on my table and are asking when the patterns will be available. I hope to have 5 new ones all together this spring.

Tuesday and also Wednesday of this week Trish Travis brought a dozen or so rug hookers from San Antonio to visit in our home and hook here and see my rugs and All seemed to have a good time. Surely I did, even though I went to bed each day as they left! This has prompted Trish to offer to schedule a few workshops here the way Rita Rundquist did for me. I do not have to do any of the business part, just enjoy the rugs with the guests and share all I can with them to help with their projects. All will hook only my designs, as that makes it easier for me, not because I think mine are all the good ones in this world!! We plan a 3 day workshop, with the participants probably driving from SA daily, though some may book lodging here in Fburg if they like. We would hook in our house, and break for people to leave and eat lunch. I can nap at the noon break.

So with this small window of opportunity this past week, I took off with Debbie F's idea of inviting people to hook on some of the rugs I want to have and cannot hook a lot on myself due to problems with my thumbs. Starting with your Moby Dick, I set the pattern on the dining table and had out cut wool, as well as a few of the motifs started, and a number of people hooked a few lines. Remember they were all here just 2 1/2 hours each day, and did a lot besides hook on my rug! The doll collection was a major attraction for one thing.

In the several evenings I worked a very little, plus those two days, several motifs are under way. Trish then asked to take the Moby rug home with her to hook further. It is a beautiful runner and sized so well for the center of our dining table. I Like nautical things and have several in that room. I am lucky and grateful to have friends who will do this for me! Thanks to Debbie for thinking of this!

One I am excited about is the big new Hadley! As soon as I get a pattern from you on linen, I will start to accumulate and cut the wool and get it in bags. The rug will go in our living room I hope. It is much the same design as the welcome, just more of it. I love the huge tulips.
I still have the 1790 eagle rug only started, started 4 years ago to try to replace the one lost in the fire. It is in my room in a basket, and I must get it out! Stay in touch when you can, thanks again for encouraging me, as you always inspire everyone around you! Love. Edyth

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