Hooked in the Blue Ridge

Mother and daughter share a collective 50 years of hooking

By: Leigh Glenn/Photos provided by Sally Mello and Jeanne Day

Bluebells, 24" x 45½

Mother and daughter Sally Mello and Jeanne Day have the about-as-perfect-as-you-can-find space for creating their hooked rugs and wall hangings. Like most things at Jim and Sally Mello’s Oak Shade Farm in the Virginia foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the studio space is handmade and cozy. Finished rugs and Sally’s framed punch-needle scenes adorn the walls. Rugs in process on Sally’s rectangular frame and Jeanne’s oval frame stand at the ready for whenever the two next meet to work and share news, exchange stories, or listen to Diane Rehm, a radio show host on NPR.

The studio’s sliding-glass doors open to the west—to the fields of Christmas trees that Sally, husband Jim, and their children and grandchildren cut and sell every holiday season, and the field in which the family grows strawberries and asparagus and rotates through a variety of veggies to sell through CSA (community-supported agriculture) subscriptions and at local farmers' markets. Beyond that are the often-psychedelic vistas of the mountains that show up in their rugs as blue against pink skies born by the setting sun.

Sally and Jeanne have more than a combined 50 years of rug hooking experience. Both hand cut wide strips of wool they fold over as they hook. They glean the wool from thrift stores, yard sales, and hospital auxiliary shops. Only once has Sally dyed some greens for a particular rug. Otherwise, they use what they find—as-is.

This article is from the November/December 2015 issue. For more information on our issue, check out our issue page.


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