Once a year, for the month of September and October, I unroll my rug Jack In the Red and hang "him" in my house. This is a very deliberate thing I do, and it is always twinged pain. All rugs I hook hold memories. How can our hands not weave into our rugs our hearts and lives? Of all my rugs though, this one holds the most bittersweet of my memories.
In the late 90s, when I was still a new rug hooker, I used all recycled wools that my mother and I found at rummage and estate sales. One friday autumn afternoon, we had the joy of coming across a number of bright red and bright orange wool coats at different church sales. It was decided that my next rug had to feature leaves. So together, my mother and I collected maple and oak leaves from the the woods. These became templates for my rug design which included Jack peeking out behind the leaves.
The rug is huge, and it took me several years to hook. I was a much slower hooker then, and hadn't yet figured out that if I was ever going to finish my rugs, I had to hook on them everyday. In the summer of 1999, I had finished it, much to my mother's joy. Two years earlier, I had moved to Illinois to take a professorship at Illinois Wesleyan University. So I was excited to visit my mom that summer and share with her the finished rug and display it at Sauder Village.
The sad part of this story is that my visit home also included a surgery that my mom did not survive. She died at age 57, twelve years ago, on September 28. So I hang this rug in memory of her life and also her passing.
This rug went on to be featured in the Celebration magazine, and became the source for my studio's name, Red Jack Rugs. It represents for me the celebration of life, in all its wonder and all its pain.