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Rug Hooking Serendipity

A discovery of parallel projects

By: Catherine Heilferty
Photography by Catherine Heilferty

NYC Subways circa 1905: An Appreciation, 4 1⁄2’ x 5 1⁄2’. Hand-dyed wool on linen. Designed and hooked by Catherine Heilferty, Yardley, Pennsylvania, 2016. 

What are you working on? That’s always a good first question for rug hooking friends who haven’t seen each other in a while. We speak our own language: It’s a primitive. A geometric. A fine-shaded floral. I’m hooking with “as-is.” With hand-dyed. It’s a story rug. To hang. For the floor.
“It’s a map of the historic ceramic tiles in the New York City subway system,” I say.

For most, this resulted in confused looks and more questions. But for one person, the response was a look of intrigue, then surprise, then knowing nods—and finally a laugh. Weezie wasn’t confused. She was nodding her head in understanding, waiting for me to finish telling her about the trip my daughter and I took that summer: five days in a rented five-story walk-up in the Lower East Side, determined to use only the subway to get everywhere we went. More nodding. More smiling. I stopped mid-sentence when Weezie seemed to know exactly what I was talking about. Now I was the one looking confused.

“You are not going to believe this. I am making a rug of the Paris Metro.”

“You ARE?”

“I AM!”


“Yes! Come see!”


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