Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hooked on Rugs Ligonier Rug Hooker Mixes Art and Craft in Her Work

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hooked on Rugs Ligonier Rug Hooker Mixes Art and Craft in Her Work

Article excerpt

If you think of hooked rugs as a type of handcraft relegated to the hallways of 19th century houses or museums, Barb Carroll stands ready to correct that misconception.

She has spent decades researching and teaching rug hooking, is the author of four rug hooking books, has designed patterns that are in demand by other crafters - and she is a collector.

Most significantly, she brings an artist's eye and impulse to her work and makes an honored traditional craft her own.

The nationally known Ligonier resident, who led rug hooking workshops at her nearby Woolley Fox homestead for 24 years, spoke about the craft's history and contemporary rug designs on Feb. 22 at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Ligonier Valley.

She brought samples of her rugs, historic rugs and some by contemporary rug hooker Sue McCann, as well as hooking tools. The talk was a museum Lunch a l'Art program.

Mrs. Carroll was living in Missouri when she and her best friend, Bobbie True, read about rug hooking in an issue of Country Living magazine and decided they wanted to try it.

They commuted an hour and a half weekly to classes in Sedalia and soon, they were, well, hooked.

When she and her husband moved to Pittsburgh, she looked into follow-up classes "but they didn't teach how my head works," she said.

"I do what is now called primitive rug hooking," a form of expression that is stylistically similar to what was being done in the 1850s through 1870s. Mrs. Carroll never formally studied art, but is known for her vibrant use of color and sense of design.

"I use unexpected color in unexpected places," she said. "One of my rugs had two horses on it and I used the color teal for one of the horses." Most of her rugs have animals in them. "I also do floral, but not the flowers you'd find in a garden."

"I'm absolutely sure purple is a neutral. There's absolutely nothing you can put next to it that doesn't go with it."

She prefers patterned materials for her rugs, like a herringbone or a check, she said, and colors that are muted and soft, that meld together rather than are clear and bright.

While she has sold her patterns, she has never sold her rugs.

Mrs. Carroll lives in Ligonier proper now, but for more than two decades she and her husband ran a bed and breakfast on their Woolley Fox property near Ligonier where she taught full time. "In the end, it was like a small conference center for rug hooking. I had rugs everywhere. When we moved, I gave them to people I loved and family."

Now she limits her teaching mostly to friends, although she will participate in an April Rug School at the Ligonier Ramada, which she said is "really wonderful" and one of her favorites among such schools'

At SAMA she talked about how rug hooking got started and what materials were used historically. …

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