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Mary McGrath: Class of 2018

Name: Mary McGrath

Location: Mukwonago, Wisconsin

Tell us a bit about yourself. What are some of your interests and hobbies?
I am pretty much in an "exclusive relationship" with rug hooking. I do however enjoy training my (2) Vizsla dogs in agility, reading and traveling.

How did you get introduced to rug hooking?
Back in 2002 I stumbled across a primitive hooked rug with a crow and corn cob at a quilt store in Minocqua, WI—I loved it but wasn't convinced with a 2-year-old at the time and a full-time job I could add another item to my schedule. I couldn't however get it out of my head—I was drawn to it and the possibilities. My heart ruled my head in this case, and I am so blessed to have this artistic part of my life; it has enriched it so many ways.

What was your first project?
A former neighbor had taken a rug hooking class and realized it wasn't really her "cup of tea." She offered to give me some pointers and work on (2) kits she had from the class she took. One had a cottage-style house with a heart and a tree. The other had a snowman. I returned both mats to her completed and rushed on to my next project.

Is there one rug that stands out as being particularly memorable?
Yes, for me there are two. The first is Aloysius by Emma Lou Primitives. I think this rug was memorable because I enjoyed hooking to so much. It was just a pure joy. Everything flowed together with ease. The other was All Dressed Up—pattern by Leonard Feenan from a photo with permission from Jacques Toffi to adapt. I think hooking this rug was the first time I felt like I can do this. I can hook fine cut, I can work through the issues I encountered, and I can read a picture. I was so scared when I saw the beautiful pattern Leonard created and had so many doubts. I always say God truly guided my hand in its creation. By the rug's completion, my confidence soared.

Is there a particular style of rugs that you're most interested in hooking?
I love fine cuts that provide me a challenge

What's your favorite part about hooking a rug?
Every part, except doing the finish work (I'm not a fan of hand sewing binding). I love the beginning of the process when I start thinking about my next project and its possibilities, I love going through a pulling wool, I love hooking it and solving the problems it offers me (some rugs more problem-solving opportunities than others), and I love standing back and looking at it when it's completed.

What's a piece of advice you'd give to a new rug hooker?
The sky is the limit with this art form—we have everything from fine cut/shaded rugs to wide-cut primitives. Pick a pattern that inspires your soul. Don't be afraid to hook a large rug. Don't be afraid to make mistakes and push yourself out of your comfort zone (reverse hooking is easy)—solving your own problems can be such a valuable step in this journey.

What do you love most about Celebration?
I love that it provides us rug hookers an opportunity to showcase our pieces, compete against other rug hookers, and finally—the publication is amazing. It is so wonderful to slowly page through the finished publication and be inspired by what others have done. It is always such a high honor to have your rug selected from the year's entries.

Aloysius, Celebration XX

Aloysius, Celebration XX

"I am frequently asked, what is the favorite rug you’ve hooked, and I can say to this day without a doubt, it would be Aloysius. The rug currently hangs in my dining room, and I love seeing it hanging in there..." Read more.

Winter Hunt, Celebration XXI

Winter Hunt, Celebration XXI

"Winter Hunt features our first Vizsla, Treeva, and will always hold a special place in my heart for several reasons. First, Treeva was a very special, old-soul-type dog and so dear to..." Read more.

Crewel Firescreen, Celebration XXIII

Crewel Firescreen, Celebration XXIII

"I had been dreaming of attending a rug camp for years, but trying to work it into my busy life with a full-time job and 3 young children was a challenge. I am blessed to share..." Read more.

Lucy, Celebration XXV

Lucy, Celebration XXV

"I have admittedly had a love affair with horses longer than my passion for rug hooking has existed. I grew up around horses and spent years riding, grooming, and obsessing over..." Read more.

Home of Jesse Smith in 1847, Celebration 28

Home of Jesse Smith in 1847, Celebration 28

"Driving home from rug hooking class one night, I was reflecting on the approach I would take in hooking my next piece. I decided..." Read more.

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