A Maine Postcard Challenge Mat Story

Usually the posts here are about presenters and information shared or very simple sharing of information on upcoming events. Today, I’m going to write a personal experience story in the hopes it might encourage some others to follow through with their Maine Postcard challenge mat.

I’ll start off by stating that I was excited when I learned about the idea for this year’s challenge at our August board meeting. I had just completed a long fun filled preschool unit on Maine and had a ton of materials on hand to pull design ideas from. Having only bought 2 rug hooking pattens in all over the 15 years I’ve been hooking, I wasn’t thrown by the design side of the challenge. In fact I looked forward to encouraging members who hadn’t tried designing a pattern to do it with this challenge. For me the challenge would be to hook with something less than a #6 cut. I mentioned to another Tin Pedlar about doing 4 designs and making a Maine pillow after having sketching up multiple ideas and not being able to decide on one. Feeling comfortable and confident.

So, it’s 8 am New Year’s Day and I’ve resolved to get more rug hooking done in 2015 and what better place to start than with this challenge mat due in March. Should be quick and easy. Right?

  • I had my design set. DSC05999
  • I had a wonderful supply of colorful thin cuts that found their way to me and if I needed more colors I could rotary cut them.
  • I had a full day without a need to do anything else.


The hooking with very small cuts took a little getting used to, but figured it out enough. Not working with a design that needed too much detail the buoys worked up in good time. Then the trouble happened. As you can see from the design I figured the buoys to be hanging on a cedar shaker sided shed – grays and blacks to depict each shake. This would give a simple texture to the background. Good idea, but not one I could get to work. I tried my grays and black. Pulled the black and tried dark gray tweed. Pulled that and tried dark brown. Pulled it all and rethought the background. (Now these tries were not just a line or two, but at least half the background. On such a small mat, need to hook an area big enough to see what is happening and that means most of it.) 🙂

Tried a few sample lines of browns. Nope!

Maybe straight hooked solid background with a tweed. Nope! but closer.

Maybe diagonal lines like laying on a lobster trap. Nope!

Ok, I have now done more reverse hooking than hooking on a what 4″ x 6″ mat with a simple design. Time to laugh at myself, set the hooking aside and step away. Maybe good time for dinner as it’s about 6:30 pm. (Told you I’d done a lot of reverse hooking.) 🙂

About 9 pm I checked out my Pinterest boards for a bit of inspiration searching the Challenge board and a general search for lobster buoys. What I realized is that it had always been about the colors and patterns found in lobster buoys when I’ve seen them hanging, whether in photos, painting or in walks along the waterfronts in Maine coastal towns. What they are hanging on is backdrop. Why had I chosen this buoy design from all I had sketched? I love colors and patterns and the buoys allowed me to do that. So solution – fill the mat with more buoys.

A quick grab of the mat and sketch in some buoys. DSC05996  If you look close enough you can see the red shaker markings. A few black diagonal lines. But finally some extra buoys set under the already hooked ones to work as most of the background. I’d figure out how to complete the background once the buoys were all hooked.

Ok, I’m feeling better and not figuring I’ll have to start totally from scratch or hand over a mat I’m not proud to put my name with. But no more hooking tonight. I should be able to finish this off in a few hours tomorrow. Packed it all away.

Now it’s Friday morning and time to pull some more fun colors to get some buoys hooked. This took no time at all and no reverse hooking!

Once the buoys were all completed there was very little (what I was now thinking of as colorless) background. The way the buoys were hanging I decided to split the piece and have it appear they were hanging on a shed corner with sky. This worked up quick, especially where I went with a larger cut. Probably a #5, so still below my usual width of #8.


My lessons and hopefully encouragement for others is:

  • feels good to step up to a challenge, because it about learning new things (Yes, I’ll hook with small cuts again, and maybe more detail next time.)
  • sometimes just have to change directions – STOP and step away!
  • thank goodness you can reverse hook 🙂
  • good to refocus on why you wanted to do this design – to clear the direction going (or not going)
  • when you get it right it just flows!
  • Creating is fun for me and being able to laugh at myself is a part of that.

DSC06002 Can now say I’m proud of my mat, but still not sure if I want to do the 3 others needed for a pillow. 🙂  Think I’d rather work on a new rug design.

So looking forward to seeing what others have done past the designs have seen and hearing their stories.

One Reply to “A Maine Postcard Challenge Mat Story”

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience dealing with our challenge — oh what a challenge it was for you! See you soon. Cheri

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