Rug Hooking and Travel

TIGHR Logo RSMy overseas travels are usually taken with a fellow rug hooking friend to attend the Triennial  Conferences of The International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers (TIGHR).

This trip I’m in the USA with my husband visiting family, so my rug hooking tools were left at home and I’m doing my best to keep our trip family focused, but somehow rug hooking still creeps in.

I couldn’t resist an invitation by Susan Feller, to lunch at the home she and husband Jim Lilly built themselves in West Virginia.


Their log house is amazing – Jim who had no prior building experience, taught himself all he needed to know as he went along, including, how to handle the long timber beams by himself.  It took him  6 years with help from Susan who “chinked” (the white spaces) between the logs, to complete this two story house with basement studio.

From 2006-2009, with half a world between us and a 12-hour time difference, Susan and I worked together on The International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers (TIGHR). We cemented our friendship as she continued to manage the TIGHR website for the period Australia was host country, 2009-2012. During this time Susan also mentored Judi Tompkins and myself as we struggled to learn how to set up this Australian Rugmakers Guild website.

When it came to passing on TIGHR’s Founders’ Cup, awarded in South Australia 2012, to Judith Stephens and myself, there was no doubt as to who it should go to –  Susan had given TIGHR so much of her time as historian and virtually taking the organization into the digital age by herself. The cup’s now prominently displayed in Susan’s studio.


In our many Skype conversations I caught glimpses of the room around Susan so it was great to finally to see her actual workspace. What a wonderful studio she has – places to exhibit her work,

Designed_&_hooked_by_Susan_Feller - Copy

all manner of storage, a dye kitchen and even a “behind a screen” messy work area.

I could have stayed all day studying and admiring  Susan’s creations which I’d seen illustrated in Rug Hooking Magazine. They look good on the pages of the magazine, but seeing them hanging, they look so much bigger, brighter and the detail, WOW!

This group, each a combination of different techniques.


In their previous life Susan and Jim were in business, owners of a picture framing gallery  – The Church Door Gallery.


Susan now describes herself on her blog as, artist, educator, author, farmer.  Jim is also an artist so it’s easy to see how there can be so many interesting and unique pieces decorating the walls of their home, even door frames with quirky collections of door knobs. In fact, there’s just so much to look at, it’s easy to be distracted from the conversation.

I took time to admire Susan’s current work but missed the opportunity to photograph it. As an educator, Susan shares her thoughts about this project on her blog as well as blog and follow-up about her 2015 project.

All in all it was a great day, we sat over lunch and talked the afternoon away – reluctantly leaving late afternoon as we knew there was a long drive ahead of us.


Goodbyes were said, (above Ted, Jim & Susan) and Susan introduced me to Nora and “the girls”; chicken image is for Judi Tompkins, creator of the “Chook Folly”



This visit in W Virginia, wasn’t my first rug hooking diversion on the trip. While visiting friends in Asheville, North Carolina, I mentioned how rug hooking had basically taken over my life and my friend thought she might like to learn to rug hook.

We googled rug hooking teachers in her area and came up with the name of Sara Beth Black of

I was disappointed I didn’t have time to either teach my friend or go with her to visit Sara Beth, but was pleased to see a good “how to” video on Sara Beth’s website. With Sara Beth’s permission, I have copied a link to it here and will attempt to post it on the Guild Facebook page.

The video can be seen on her website or found on YouTube along with the following description –

Rug Hooking Tutorial with Sara Beth Black, fiber artist and owner of Mountain Wool: Sara Beth’s rug hooking supplies and kits are also available for sale at the Friends and Fiberworks store in the Biltmore Mall in Asheville NC; at the Boarding House of the Historic Johnson Farm in Hendersonville, and at The Design Gallery in Burnsville. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I am working at Friends and Fiberworks from 2pm to 6pm. The first Saturday of each month will find me at the Historic Johnson Farm doing a “study group” for anyone interested in hooking. If you are already hooking on a project and have some questions, or are a beginner, or just want a social area to meet other fiber artists, come join us. The cost of attendance is $5.00, payable at the class. To sign up for a “study group” please contact Ruth Howe @ (828) 458-0738 or by e-mail at If you have any questions, just send me an e-mail at

Sara Beth’s description of her rug hooking activities indicates, that as we do in Australia, she too spends much of her time sharing her knowledge of rughooking in an informal, inexpensive social setting in an attempt to create more interest in this craft ……  and it’s working!    Jo Franco; Editor

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