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Speech Bubbles Challenge

Back in the spring of 2020, we issued a challenge to our readers: hook a speech bubble or word bubble and show us what you have to say. What a lot of fun this was! And, as expected, it was a little peek into the minds of rug hookers and what is on their minds. There were quite a few related to the COVID-19 pandemic and all the changes that has brought, and we received quite a few more general, poignant pieces. Take a look at what our readers did—maybe you will be inspired to hook a few word bubbles of your own!

Below is an excerpt of the rugs we received for this challenge. To view the entire collection, check out the January/February 2021 issue of Rug Hooking magazine. Subscribe today


“I’ve spent a good bit of my lockdown time hooking speech bubbles. I wanted a record of my feelings about what was going on in our world during 2020. The stress of the lockdown has affected my power of concentration, so small projects were perfect. Dr. Henry the British Columbia Provincial Health Officer, a professional epidemiologist who ended her daily afternoon talks with the words, ‘Be kind, be calm, be safe.’ Because of her, British Columbia has had relatively low numbers of infection.” Sunny Runnells, Lantzville, British Columbia

Diane Hooks,16" x 20", #4- and 5-cut wool on linen. “When I saw this pattern by Tish Murphy, I thought it was fun, funny, and could be used at rug hooking displays. Tish took a photo of me and created the pattern. The piece is hung from a metal rod and chain to reinforce the feel but whimsically tied to the rod with calico. Tish had 'Hook It' in the word bubble; I added Just because I wanted Diane to be a bit sassy.” Diane Mate, Arlington Heights, Illinois

Hooked by the Northumberland Rug Hookers, based in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada. 

Grassy Green, 24" x 16", #6- and 8-cut wool on linen. Designed and hooked by Debra Smith, Landisburg, Pennsylvania, 2020.
Many years ago a feisty elderly woman said this to me as I was explaining something to her. . . she put me smack dab in my place! The expression has come in handy during the years.

Names, #8-cut wool on a recycled men’s shirt. “During 2020 I’ve found myself in an #artmyfeelings mood.” Designed and hooked by Patti Colen, London, Ontario

Word Pillow, 14" x 8", #6-cut wool on linen with a recycled wool plaid back. Designed and hooked by Norma Press, Geneva, New York.

Feed Me, #4- and 8-cut new and recycled wool on monk’s cloth. Designed and hooked by Julia Majory, Elliottsburg, Pennsylvania.

Measure Twice, 15" x 111 /2". “I saw this quote on an HGTV show I enjoy. I think it’s a fun play on ‘Measure twice, cut once.’ My oldest son has built his own post-and-beam house and workshop; I’m hoping he wants this for his workshop.” Gail Lapierre, Shelburne, Vermont

Hooked by Helen Vance.

Dayenu, 23" x 29". “Dayenu is a Hebrew word that refers to the miracles God gives us: Each gift would be sufficient on its own, but when we are living in gratitude there is more! The rug design is my heart offering joyful thanks to God for sufficiency that is always abundance.” Donna Miller, Little Creek, North Carolina. HAPPY MOUNTAIN MOMENTS

Whoop Tee Doo, 15" x 10". “Straight out of my early 1970s high school journal! We thought we were cool and used Tee instead of Dee— must be our central Pennsylvania regional dialect. I used remnants from past projects and an Oxford Punch Needle #8 Fine.” Staci Shuck, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania

Summer Afternoon, 25" x 19". “A quote from Henry James (1843-1916). He said the two loveliest words in the English language are ‘summer afternoon.’ I agree with Henry! I had thought about other wittier words, but I kept coming back to these—and of course it didn’t hurt that I was spending this COVID summer at our family cottage.” Barb Murray, Springhill, Nova Scotia


Look up (encouragement for Covid times!), 13" round.

Talk, 19" x 14"

The Ann and Peg Show, 211 /2" x 191 /2". “This piece depicts Ann Winterling and me talking about our hooked rugs. There aren’t any actual words—but don’t they say that a picture is worth a thousand words? The Ann and Peg Show was originally hooked in 1998. The floor was hooked on the reverse side and the wall is a piece of hand dyed wool that was appliquéd to the foundation. The balloons were printed on cotton and sealed onto the wool with a hot iron. The works-in-progress were printed on cotton and placed in small embroidery hoops.” Peg Irish, Exeter, New Hampshire

Carpe Diem, 24" x 15". Christine Van Hees, Cobourg, Ontario

Aigoo, 12"x14", #6 wool strips. “Aigoo is Korean and the meaning is along the line of ‘Oh man’ or ‘Geez,’ meaning surprise or annoyance. I picture someone with their hands on their head exclaiming Aigoo, but my artistic skills did not allow me to put that in the bubble.”

Appa. “This one is based on the show Avatar. Appa is the Avatar’s flying bison.” Myra Davis, Winchester, Virginia

Two welcome mats

Kick Off Your Shoes, 181 /2" x 12" framed. Kathy Eckhaus, Elliottsburg, Pennsylvania.

Welcome Pup, 23" x 14". Peg McPherson, New Bloomfield, Pennsylvania

Hope, 18" x 16". “Words from our provincial health minister during a daily briefing regarding management of the COVID pandemic in late March/early April 2020. Rug was presented to (former) Premier Dwight Ball as a thank you for his service to our people throughout the pandemic and his leadership/strategic management of resources and protocols. Trying to get an appointment with a Premier to present the darned thing was probably the hardest part of all of the project!” Afton Modore-Lambert, Corner Brook, Newfoundland


who got us started on these word bubbles. Oy Vey, each piece 81 /2" x 8".

Bird, 10" x 6".

Bloom, 12" x 9"

Ellen Banker, Williamsburg, Virginia. Ellen is the author of Hooked On Words and hooks from her home in Williamsburg, Virginia

To see the full collection of speech bubbles, go to


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