Dropped off my latest rag rugged wall hanging at The Bakehouse Gallery in Alnwick, Northumberland today. The piece is 54 x 76 cm in size and costs £675. It is made from handwoven Harris Tweed using the traditional rag rugging technique known as “hooking.” I am a Northumbrian textile artist and all my work is made from Harris Tweed. Most of my work is made using the technique of needle felting, but I also use rag rugging techniques to create colourful and contemporary wall hangings. If you are interested in learning how to rag rug, I run a series of rag rugging workshops for beginners each year in various locations in Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. Contact me for further details.
The design - I've been working on this one for a few months now and as you can see it's mostly about using warm colours. Although it’s lovely living in rural Northumberland, I find winter a really challenging period, as the light levels drop, the days get shorter and most of the colour drains out of the landscape. So I wanted to work on something in bright warm colours to keep me going. My favourite colours are at the other end of the spectrum and so these aren’t really “my” colours at all. I’ve been working on this piece at various craft events over the last few months and it’s been really interesting to see how people respond to the colours I’ve used in this piece. It does seem to me that people seem to fall into two camps, those who like the warm end of the spectrum and those who like the cool end.
Harris Tweed – I have always loved the rough texture of Harris Tweed, which is still hand-woven in the Outer Hebrides by Crofters. Harris Tweed is the only fabric in the world to be governed by it’s own Act of Parliament, which ensures the continuation of it’s unique heritage and high quality. Over recent years Harris Tweed has moved from only being available in traditional colours and is now available in a wide range of bright colours to cater for increasing demand from the world of high fashion. I am passionate about this very special fabric and love working with it.
Rag Rugging Techniques - There is a strong tradition of rag rugging in the North East of England, where the craft has been used for hundreds of years to turn old, worn-out textiles into hard-wearing and decorative rugs. The two most common rag rugging techniques are known locally in Northumberland as “Proggy” and “Hooky. Proggy entails poking short, pre-cut pieces of fabric through a hessian base using a hand held pointed tool known as a "progger", working from the underside of the rug. Hooking entails using a hand held hook to pull loops (from long thin strips of pre-cut fabric) through a hessian base, working from the top side of the rug. Proggy rugs have a shaggy, highly textured finish and therefore progged designs are quite loose in nature. Although I sometimes use progging in my work, I mainly use hooking as this allows me to create more detailed designs.
I am a Northumberland based textile artist and I create needle felted paintings with Harris Tweed and wool yarns.