Peggy Hannum: Class of 2018
Name: Peggy Hannum
Location: Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Tell us a bit about yourself. What are some of your interests and hobbies?
My vocation was teaching high school English for 27 years. My avocation has always been tied to fiber arts of one variety or another. When I was little in the 1940s, I had a "toy" Singer that actually sewed my doll's clothes by manually turning a wheel. I was also heir to my grandmother's fabric sample books from her business making drapes and slipcovers in her 3rd floor sewing rooms. My mother had always sewn my dresses—no slacks in those days. When I was 13, she announced that I had to start sewing my own. That was a shock! I designed a simple cotton skirt but managed to put the zipper on the wrong side which really annoyed me though no one else noticed. Thus began my "take your time and do it right" syndrome that has hung around ever since. Through all the ensuing years I have sewn and knitted my own couture wardrobe.
How did you get introduced to rug hooking?
In the mid '70s my friend, Lyn Lovell, and co-conspirator in scouring the mills of MA for all things woolen, said she had found something new I needed to try. I inwardly resisted knowing I should not even think of a new fiber arena, not with the stash of enough yarn and cloth to keep me occupied until the end of days. I went with her to Dorr Mill Store and picked up a little doorstop kit, a paint-by-number affair with pre-cut wool. That evening she started me, and I was hooked! She loaned me her Heirloom Pattern catalog. These beautiful, floral patterns captured my imagination, and I was off and running!
What was your first project?
We lived in a 200-year-old Federal home with wide pine floors, and I needed BIG rugs. When my 3' x 5' Irises arrived from Heirloom Patterns, I searched for a teacher and found Meredith LeBeau teaching an evening course at our local Agricultural School. I had no idea that I had stumbled onto one of the all time great hooking artists and teachers. Meredith ascertained that I knew nothing about hooking or dyeing and suggested I start with Sue's Rose, a pillow. I whipped out my pattern and whined a bit, saying that I wanted a big rug and that I really loved irises! She put her hands on her hips, looked at me, looked at the rug, noted that irises were rather complicated, and said: "Well then irises it has to be!" I was off on a merry career of rug hooking, one that I may never had pursued if I had to deal with a pillow I didn't care about. One of my mantras in the ensuing years of my teaching was to encourage my students to do what they want to do no matter if it seems difficult. I was with Meredith, my teacher, friend, and mentor for 17 years. With her planning and guidance, my 7' x 7' Wildwood was selected for the 1st edition of Celebration.
Is there one rug that stands out as being particularly memorable?
In 1994 my husband and I took early retirements to accept positions of Liaisons to Jerusalem for the United Methodist Church, working mostly with refugees in West Bank and Gaza, putting aside my hooking. When we returned to retire again in PA and a rather long hiatus from hooking, I decided to go to a weekend workshop in Fort Washington, and luck was with me. I was assigned to Nancy Blood's class and once again fell in with one of the all time greats! I went to Teachers' Workshop, received my McGown accreditation, and began a 17-year rug teaching career. I became "a Nancy Blood camp follower" going to her class at MD Shores for a week each year and starting a new rug, which she had planned and I had dyed. My favorite of all has been Pearl McGown's Istanbul. Nancy did the all color plan of dramatic colors on a black background. I learned the art of using different colored wools over dyed with the same formulas to achieve harmony in a palette.
Is there a particular style of rugs that you're most interested in hooking?
I have always loved the older patterns and their complexity, especially the floral and scrolls. I gravitate to larger projects, which when I'm finished, I have BIG and dramatic.
What's your favorite part about hooking a rug?
I love the color planning and the dyeing perhaps even more than the hooking. My father was a chemist and guided me in mixing together solutions that turned different colors. What magic! I love nothing better than messing around with my dyes, trying out new formulas, or trying to recreate a color in nature. I am also "a digger in the dirt" and look forward to planting a new variety or color of rose, dahlia, or squash.
What's a piece of advice you'd give to a new rug hooker?
I tell my beginning students to feel free to hook whatever you want to do. Don't be afraid of size. Four or five pillows would be a good size rug! If you can, take some workshops and try new things, I had never done a pictorial until I went to teachers' workshop. I had no interest in "little pictures." Rugs were, in my mind, what hooking was all about. Having no choice since all classes that day were pictorial, I landed in a class with Nancy Blood who was doing Sugaring Out in a monochromatic palette of 11 shades of white to black. I worked on a birch log all day and loved the challenge! One of my "great unfinished" projects is a BIG Currier and Ives Fruit and Flowers pictorial. Now that I have retired from teaching, I'm working on the sizable stash of "great unfinished!"
What do you love most about Celebration?
Rug Hooking magazine and Celebration have always been #1 on my "art reading" list, so much so that when we were overseas for 4 years, I instructed my son to "renew my subscription each year and save those magazines!" When we returned on leave each year, even though I had no time for hooking I still had RH mag! I have twice been asked to judge Celebration. What an honor and what a job!—so many unusual and beautifully crafted rugs.
Table of Contents
Wildwood, Celebration I
"I love BIG rugs, and this is the largest one I’ve done. Mary Bower and I had both completed the same pattern and at our teacher Meredith LeBeau’s insistence submitted our rugs to Celebration #1. We both made the edition, but..." Read more.
Chinese Butterflies, Celebration XI
"Since dyeing is my favorite pastime, I really enjoyed creating colors for the swarm of butterflies, making each on slightly different variations of blue, green, and rust. I experimented with dip dyeing, casserole, and transitional strips, allowing..." Read more.
Silver Compote, Celebration XII
"Silver Compote started as a gilt frame looking for a picture. I, at times, picked up interesting frames at antique shops for some future project. The frame sat in my studio for many years. I was arranging some items on my shelves..." Read more.
Unicorn in Captivity, Celebration XIII
"Unicorn was at least 10 years in the making. Like many other projects, it was relegated to 'the great unfinished' stash, started and put aside. I had made a trip to New York City to see the original, only to find the Cloisters at the MET closed..." Read more.
Istanbul, Celebration XIV
"Istanbul is mounted on ½" fiber board and hangs spotlighted in our dining room. It is my all-time favorite, an all-color palette on a dramatic black background, masterfully color planned by Nancy Blood. It has won many awards, among them Best in Show at the..." Read more.
Entice, Celebration XVI
"I thought Entice was round, but finished, it was slightly oval. Maybe when Pearl McGown designed it, it got slightly off. Those things happened to the best of us! However, it has recently resurfaced as the center of Allure, 15' x 9 ½', just completed by..." Read more.
Poppy Seed, Celebration XVIII
"I am an avid gardener and have an affinity for poppies, planting a new variety each year, so no surprise that in my collection of old Heirloom Patterns, Poppy Seed was on my short list to do. Again, Nancy Blood color planned the rug..." Read more.
Seven Sisters, Celebration XX
"Seven Sisters is an old Pearl McGown pattern that is not listed in the Cushing catalog of all her patterns. However, Nancy suggested it; I called Cushing, and as always they were eager to help. After searching through uncatalogued items..." Read more.
Swirl, Celebration XXV
"Swirl was in my stash of of Heirloom Patterns in 2 pieces of old burlap. Thank goodness for time and progress. Now linen wide enough to retrace this on to one piece is available, no more hooking through 2 layers of backing and burlap..." Read more.
Wedgewood Platter, Celebration 28
"I love red! Pomegranates are red, and with a little research, I found that the bush's flowers are red as well. What more could I want! I was going to MD Shores..." Read more.