T-Shirt Treasures!

t shirt cover scan for web

Announcing the newest book available for pre-order (available October 1, 2018) from Little House Rugs, T-Shirt Treasures–Creating Heirloom Hooked Rugs from the Humble T-Shirt. $24.95 (Later in this post, you’ll find step-by-step instructions for hooking with T-shirts. That and lots more information and inspiration is in the book!)

The single greatest thing about rug hooking is it’s versatility. There are so many things you can hook with, from yarn, to wool fabric, to T-shirts and other recycled clothing, so no matter your hooking style or what type of project you would like to make, there’s something in rug hooking for every hooker. We’ve seen through history, hundreds of years of the craft of rug hooking, how it has changed and evolved, responding to what is available and what is needed.

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In this new book, you’ll learn everything you need to know to hook beautiful, durable, economical and machine washable hooked rugs using T-shirts. Included are instructions on how to prepare your T-shirts, which backing to use for which type of project, how to transfer your designs, how to hem your rugs, plus you’ll discover seven templates which you can use to explore hooking with T-shirts, making easy projects as large or as small as you like.

dresden t shirt retouched 300 smaller file

Dresden Plate Runner, 19.5″x44″ Designed and hooked with T-Shirts by Judy Taylor. One of the templates in the book that you can use to create a project of any size.

In addition, you’ll read that hooking with non-wool knit fabrics goes back about 100 years with the Grenfell mats of Newfoundland and Labrador, then you’ll fast-forward to modern-day Guatemala, where women have learned to hook amazing rugs with recycled clothing.

grenfell 1 Sealskin Drying, Grenfell Mat hooked with silk stockings, ca. 1930’s

footstools in booth santa feRugs and footstools in the Multicolores booth, Santa Fe Int’l Folk Art Festival, 2018

You will also be inspired see what rug hookers worldwide are doing with T-shirts, like Judi Tompkins (Queensland, Australia), this month’s featured rug hooker at Little House Rugs. Click here to read about her incredible multi-dimensional, multi-media hooked pieces (see a couple of them below).

Pretty Bird and Migration, both pieces hooked and embellished by Judi Tompkins

How to hook with T-shirt strips:

Just like with any new fiber art, there is a learning curve. I find it easiest to break the process down into steps. By doing this, you only have to think about one thing at a time, and move on to the next step as soon as you are satisfied with the current one. What you’ll find will happen is that what seems at first like many distinct steps, will soon flow smoothly into a fluid motion. As you repeat the steps, your hands will almost automatically and naturally take over.

When my mom taught me to sew, (I was about fifteen years old at the time) I remember she told me, “Don’t decide if you like sewing until you have sewn your tenth garment.” What she meant by that is that on the front end, there’s lots to learn. Then comes that “ah-ha!” moment, when the whole process starts to make sense. As soon as you find that “eureka” sensation hooking with T-shirts, you’ll start to absolutely wallow in the color and creativity that T-shirts give you.

I mainly hook with yarn, of course, and what I found was that with practice, I got to the point where hooking with T-shirts became just as smooth and easy as working with yarn. I did experience an learning curve, though. It took some practice, which is why I included seven projects in the book. They will allow you to create projects as small as a pillow, or as large as a floor rug, using an inexhaustible supply of t-shirt material.

More templates from the book you can use to improve your technique.

The technique for hooking with T-shirt strips is very similar to hooking with yarn. However, if you are used to hooking with wool fabric strips, you’ll definitely want to take a look at the steps shown below. If you take it slow in the beginning, you’ll start hooking faster and faster.

hooking with t step 1Step 1: Push in your hook where you would like to begin. (I am right-handed, so my right hand is holding the hook above, my left hand is controlling the strip from below) Grab onto a strip from below with your hook and pull it up to the surface. With your left hand (underneath), pull the strip down from below until you have a 1” tail sticking up. The picture (above) shows the hook next to the tail, ready to push in for the first loop.

hooking with t step 2Step 2: This shot is from below. It shows how my left hand pushes up against the backing while I’m poking the hook in. It gives me something to push against.

hooking with t step 3Step 3: (view from below) Here you see my left hand sliding down the strip. I’m not pulling down on the strip, I’m just letting my fingers guide me down at bit. This is to give myself some slack, so I don’t pull out the previous loop or tail when I’m pulling the strip up with my hook.

hooking with t step 4Step 4: (view from below) Spreading the strip out with my fingers, I am raising a section of the strip up to meet the hook. If, while you are hooking, you find you’re pulling out the previous loop or tail, give yourself more slack.

hooking with t step 5Step 5: (view from below) Here you see I have folded the strip over the hook. I pinch it with my left hand and give gentle downward pressure to keep it on the hook, until I have pulled the hook up to the top. If you find you’re losing control of the strip when you try to pull up, remind yourself to anchor the strip to the hook with your hand underneath. Imagine hanging up a winter scarf on a hook, and pulling down on both ends with your hand. How you control the strip underneath is extremely important if you’re going to get the hang of smoothly hooking.

hooking with t step 6Step 6: (view from below) As I pull up on the strip with the hook, my left hand is feeling with my index finger for the loop that is being pulled up (this is the slack I gave myself in Step 4). I’m feeling it disappear (underneath), so the strip gets pulled tight against the back.

hooking with t step 7Step 7: Here is the view of Step 6 from above, as I pull up on the strip with my hook. My left hand (underneath) is feeling the strip pull tight against the back. While I’m feeling the slack pull tight in back, I’m also noticing (from above) the tail or the previous loop shift just a bit. Then I know to stop pulling up with the hook.

hooking with t step 8Step 8: With some T-shirt strips, it is necessary to leave the hook in the loop while you pull down from below with your left hand. Otherwise, you may find the strip drags itself down, leaving a loop in the back. When you leave the hook in the loop, don’t pull up from above, a little resistance is all it takes. Only pull down with your left hand, and let the strip glide down over your hook.

hooking with t step 9Step 9: Here you can see the loop has been pulled down to the desired height (about 1/8″). You see how it spreads out, that’s important. As it takes up space, it is anchoring itself (if your loops aren’t spreading out on top, they’re not high enough). Once that loop is surrounded by other loops, they hold themselves in place.

hooking with t step 10Step 10: When you have filled in the area you want to hook, bring up one last loop, but before you pull it down, cut it from above with scissors, leaving a 1” tail, just like when you began. Then pull the rest of the strip out.

hooking with t step 11Step 11: As soon as all the tails are surrounded by loops, they can be cut off, even with the surrounding loops.

hooking with t step 13Step 12: Take a look at the back. You should be able to see some gaps where the backing shows through (but it doesn’t show through from the front). It’s important that the loops have room to spread out on top, that’s what keeps them in place. If you don’t find some gaps in the back, you’re probably overpacking your loops, which might prevent the rug from lying flat. You have to hook for a little while to get the hang of how far apart to go.

leaving ends inside borderIt’s a good idea to start your outside row just inside the line. That way, all of your tails will be surrounded and secured.loop in backCheck the back periodically for any loop that got dragged to the back.trimming loop in frontJust gently pull the extra up to the top, then trim the loop.

While it may seem as if there are many steps, in fact, the whole thing becomes fluid with practice. Anytime you find you’re having a problem, just slow down and do one step at time, and don’t go on to the next step until you’re satisfied. It’s like learning to knit; you feel all thumbs at first, then when you get the hang of it, it becomes automatic, rather meditative. You’ll find tons of information and inspiration in the new book, check it out!

 

The Arts Business Institute did an artist profile on me, which was pretty cool of them. Check it out here!

antique flower rug cropped for web

Antique Flower Rug, 33.5″x24.5″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

And don’t forget, someone is going to win the Antique Flower Rug (a $585 value!) on November 25, 2018. If you would like to be entered in the drawing, all you have to do is purchase at least $50 from Little House Rugs (if you purchase $100, you’ll be entered twice, $150 you’ll be entered three times, etc.). What a great time to start your holiday shopping (hint, hint).

Have fun everyone!

Judy

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Dyeing Rugs?

I’ll admit, dyeing a rug may seem like a drastic move. After all, somebody (me) put hours into hooking the rug, who in their right mind would take a risk and throw it into a dyepot!!!

block party for web

Block Party Rug, 23.5″x30″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

I made this Block Party Rug for my book, Rug Hooker’s Guide to the YARNIVERSE! to demonstrate how with yarn, we can take advantage of natural colors in our designs, something that is impossible when hooking with fabric strips, so the Block Party Rug showcased some of the yarn companies that are doing natural colors.

That served its purpose, but as time went on, I decided the rug seemed kind of drab in my booth. Not many people are looking for a natural colored rug, especially one with so much white in it. So what did I have to lose?

dyeing rug 1 for web

Block Party Rug, soaking in water, with spray bottle, dye and spoon ready to go

First, I soaked the rug in plain water. Then I filled the spray bottle with water, and a tiny smidge of Sugar Plum dye. I laid the rug out on the grass, and started to spray the dye on the rug, front and back. I quickly noticed that the Sugar Plum wasn’t adding to the natural colors, it was looking too muddy.

dyeing rug 3 for web

Here’s the rug with the first application of Sugar Plum. I decided the purple wasn’t adding anything to the grays, it was just looking muddy.

No problem. I just switched to Turkey Red, and kept adding layer after layer of color until I had evenly distributed dye, both front and back.

dyeing rug 5 for web

The Turkey Red brought out the browns and grays without making them look too blah.

Now came the moment of truth. Putting the rug into the pot and heating it up.

dyeing rug 6 for web

After it simmered in the pot for about 20 minutes, I rinsed it out: I first filled another pot with hot, soapy water, and transferred the dyed rug into that. Then I filled another pot with clean, hot water, and transferred the rug, squeezing it to remove excess dye, to the new pot. Be very careful, the rug is hot, so do wear gloves, and take your time with this part.

dyeing rug 7 for web

Carefully transferring the dyed rug from the soapy pot to the clean water pot. I repeated the clean water step several times, until the water ran clear. Always use very hot water for the rinse (if you shock wool from hot to cold when wet, you’ll have a felted mess!) and always wear gloves to protect your hands.

dyeing rug 8 for web

Yikes! A splotch!

It seems some dye collected in a part of the rug that was folded down too tight. I think I could have avoided the splotch if I would have lifted the rug and moved it around in the simmering step. You live and learn. But it’s not a tragedy, it’s just a new challenge, right?

dyeing rug 10 for web

I overdyed some new yarn, using natural colors, so I would have something to play with, then I re-hooked some of the sections, hoping to even out some of the splotchiness.

dyeing rug 9 for web

It ain’t perfect, but none of my rugs ever are! Now I have a rose colored, quilt-patterned rug that I think will have a much better chance of finding a home! Stay tuned!

This month’s Featured Rug is actually a bunch of rugs, made by Jane Sittnick of Newbury, MA. Jane is an intrepid artist who hooks with all sorts of non-trad materials, like t-shirts and sweaters. You’ve got to see her artistry and ingenuity!

jane miscou moose for web

Miscou Moose, 20″x17″ Designed and hooked by Jane Sittnick, using a variety of wool, synthetics knits, nylons, woven silk, velvet and yarns

What a great segue for me to announce my upcoming book (in which Jane’s rugs and those of many other wonderful artists are featured) called T-Shirt Treasures, coming out next month!

t shirt treasures cover made darker cropped for web

Don’t forget that for every $50 you spend at Little House Rugs between now and Nov. 25, 2018, you will be entered to win the Antique Flower Rug (below).

antique flower rug cropped for web

Antique Flower Rug, 33.5″x24.5″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

Happy Hooking Everyone!

Judy Taylor
www.littlehouserugs.com

 

 

 

 

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Call for T-shirt Rugs!

counting sheep t shirt

Counting Sheep T-shirt Rug, 17.5″x40″, Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

Do you have a rug that was hooked with T-shirts? I’d love to feature it in my new book, T-Shirt Treasures.

While hooking with T-shirts may seem like a new twist on the age-old craft of rug hooking, it’s really not. Grenfell Mats, hooked with silk stockings and nylons go back almost 100 years. Rugs made with nylons and t-shirts can last for generations, are extremely hard-wearing and easy to care for. So the creative explosion that comes from hooking rugs with T-shirts has a long tradition.

1940s nylon rug

Antique Nylon Strip rug, 22.5″x17″, Designer unknown

Back in 2011, when I was writing Joy of Hooking (With Yarn!) I put out a call on social media for photographs of hand hooked rugs made with yarn. I was delighted to receive over 100 rugs from all over North America! I’m hoping to include as many hand-hooked T-shirt rugs in the new book, as well as any Grenfell Mats or any rugs from Multicolores, the Guatemalan Rug Hooking Cooperative. Multicolores is a new organization very much in the tradition of the Grenfell Mission in the previous century. It is an organization started by rug hooking artist Mary Anne Wise that assists Guatemalan women to express themselves creatively, as well as to improve their economy. So if you own any of these types of rugs, or are associated with the organizations, I would love to feature them in this new book (with permission, of course).

t shirt penny for web cropped

T-Shirt Penny Rug, 21″x28.5″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

Photographs can be submitted in digital form (high-quality JPEGs, with at least 300 d.p.i.) either via email or by mailing me a CD which I can return to you. I can also scan paper photographs, which will also be returned to you. They can be finished rugs or rugs in progress, old rugs or new. If your rugs are featured, you will receive a free copy of the new book, hot off the presses!

Pretty quick turn-around: I’ll need the photos by the end of this month! Please include the normal stuff: your name, mailing address, email, phone, as well as the name of your rug, who designed it, dimensions (and anything else you’d like to add about it) and help to share this craft with the world! You can submit to me at judytaylor@littlehouserugs.com, or mail to Little House Rugs, PO Box 2003, Auburn, WA 98071.

antique flower rug cropped for web

Antique Flower Rug, 33.5″x24.5″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

And don’t forget that for every $50 you spend with Little House Rugs between now and November 25, 2018, you will be entered to win the Antique Flower Rug (a $560 value!).

Happy Hooking Everyone!

Judy Taylor

 

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Rug Hooking Daily

I have taken over management of an online Rug Hooking social network called Rug Hooking Daily, which is a vibrant community of 9100-plus rug hookers! In addition to the main group, there are dozens of other smaller groups (Hooking Primitives, Audio Books to Hook By, Gentleman Rug Hookers, All About Patterns, Yarn Hookers, Dyeing, You Can Do It, and so many more) that you can join and share your projects and questions with others who love rug hooking as much as you do! It’s free to join, so check it out!

This month’s Featured Rug covers the topic of un-hooking and re-hooking your rugs. In the Tree of Life rug above, I decided that the night sky was altogether too purple (Van Gogh might have been able to get away with a purple night sky, but it didn’t work for me!). Even though I had already hemmed the rug and bound the edges, I was still able to unhook and rehook to make the sky more blue.

This kind of thing can come up in the life of a hand-hooked rug. Maybe you’ve moved to a new home, or you are redecorating, and find that old rug just doesn’t match your current color scheme. One of the great things about hooked rugs is that you can always refurbish them to match your décor. You can read more about re-hooking here.

This month I’ll be teaching at the Black Sheep Gathering in Albany, OR (June 29-July 1)and I’ll also have a booth, so if you’re in the area, stop in and say hi!

antique flower rug cropped for web

Antique Flower Rug, 33.5″x24.5″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

And don’t forget that for every $50 you spend with Little House Rugs between now and November 25, 2018, you will be entered to win this Antique Flower Rug (a $550 value!).

Happy Hooking everyone!

Judy

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Maintaining Your Stash

If you’re reading this blog, you’re a fiber artist like me. And like me, you probably have lots of yarn, carded wool, fabric, patterns, beads, tools and equipment, I could go on and on. When I go to a fiber show, I usually bring home a few treasures to add to my stash.

yarn for web

The problem, as you well know, is how to keep track of all these fiber finds and creations, so you can make use of them when you need them! Lets say someone’s birthday is coming up. Either you can’t find that hand-painted merino/cashmere roving in the perfect shade of purple that your friend adores, or you’ve already forgotten that you bought the roving at the Black Sheep Gathering ten years ago, so of course, you go and buy more purple merino/cashmere roving for the project.

It’s just human nature that we tend to take those treasures home, or we dye or spin a lovely something, but then it goes into a bag, a box, a closet, or stuffed into hidey-holes to get it out of the way, never to see the light of day again. And no matter how much fabulous fiber we already have, we are always tempted to buy something new because it fills us with that sense of inspiration and creativity that is chicken soup for the soul.

My suggestion is to fess up, bring all that booty out where everyone can see it. Even if you have limited space, I really believe that you will benefit from having all your yarn out where you can see it. You can recreate the feeling you get when you are shopping for fiber finds whenever you look at your stash. You’ll never forget what you have, and even better, you’ll see terrific combinations you didn’t even know you had.

I got a chance to put that theory into practice, when I took over one of the kid’s bedrooms for my work room. carded wool

Here’s just one wall, containing my carded wool, organized by color. Now I never have to wonder if I have just the right pink or purple or green for my project. Suddenly I see colors that I can blend or ply together for the right effect. Full disclosure, I have added lots of lovely carded wool to my stash since this picture was taken. More than I could spin in a lifetime, but it is all organized by color, and all visible, so I know what I have and how much of it I have. Every time I look at it, my fingers itch to caress it and pull out my wheel. That same sense of creativity that I get visiting someone’s booth, I get to enjoy in my very own home. That makes a big difference to me in my creative endeavors.

yarn and fabric

Here’s my yarn and fabric, organized by color and type. Don’t you just want to reach out and grab some of it? Fondle it, ask it what it wants to be? Me, too.

sweaters

This area has more yarn in milk crates, the stuff that comes with me to shows, my sewing table (there always seems to be a coffee cup there, too), and the shelf area is packed full of felted wool sweaters. I cut them up and make things like jackets, hats and purses. It’s really important to see all the colors at once, because I combine them in smaller pieces to make my projects. I often use 5-8 different sweaters in one project, so knowing what colors I have, and in what quantity is invaluable.

sewing table notions

Changing the angle, you can see the show yarn in milk crates, and behind that is my notions area. Thread out where I can see it, and know that I have the exact color I need, clear drawers help me to see what’s stored inside. You can see my ironing board, and to the left, the corner of my work table.

I probably shouldn’t call it a work table. It’s a play table, and going into this room always cheers me. Okay, I’ll admit it’s seldom this tidy, there’s usually a few half-finished projects crowding the space, but it always inspires me.

You don’t have an empty kids room? Maybe you can find a corner somewhere, where you can prioritize your favorite stuff. For you, it might be your yarn purchases, or your carded wool, felted sweaters, fabric, etc. Do yourself the favor of putting your treasures on display. It will inspire you to create, I promise.

This month’s feature from Little House Rugs is Hattie the Dog! For inspiration on how to create a portrait, click here!

hattie finished cropped for web

Hattie Mat 12″x12″, Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

In the spirit of this flowery season, blog subscribers can get the Wildflower Rug pattern on linen for 20% off (shown below)! Not yet a subscriber? It’s oh so easy to do! Just scroll down to the bottom of this post, the Follow button should be in the lower right-hand corner. If it doesn’t pop up, just navigate away from the post and come back, it will come up then (don’t get me started on why they don’t leave the darn Follow button up the whole time your’re reading the post…) When you become a subscriber, you’ll get a monthly post sent to your very own email box, full of tips and techniques, show schedule and monthly subscriber specials!

wildflower teal for web

Wildflower Rug 48″x24″, Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

Coming up, I’ll have a booth on June 1 and 2 at the NwRSA Annual Conference in Olympia, WA. Then on June 29, I’ll be teaching a Beginning Rug Hooking class at the Black Sheep Gathering, as well as having a booth for the weekend. This year the gathering will be in Albany, Oregon.

And of course, for every $50 you spend with Little House Rugs between now and November 25, 2018, you will be entered to win the Antique Flower Rug (a $480 value).

antique flower rug cropped for web

Antique Flower Rug, 33.5″x24.5″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

Happy Hooking Everyone!

Judy Taylor
www.littlehouserugs.com

 

 

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More Hooking with T-Shirts!

t shirt penny for web cropped

T-Shirt Penny Rug, 21″x28.5″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

Lately I’ve been having fun exploring what can be done hooking with T-shirt strips. It’s a fun new tool to add to my creative toolbox. T-shirt rugs are easy to hook, the materials are cheaper, and most amazing and mind-blowing of all, they are MACHINE WASHABLE!

The Penny Rug shown above is very tough and durable, and as you see it above, it has already been through the washing machine, just to be sure!

rainbow t shirt for web cropped

T-Shirt Rainbow Mat, 8″x13″, Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

There was just one more thing I needed to know, and that was whether I could hook the t-shirts on a linen backing, instead of cotton Monk’s Cloth. The rainbow mat above was hooked on pre-washed linen, and after hooking, put through the wash again, and it came through perfectly. That’s good to know, because linen is more durable and long lasting than cotton, so it’s great that we have the choice.

There are some minor differences when hooking with T-shirts. One thing is that you are limited to the colors you can find. T-shirts are very difficult to dye, even if you try Rit Dye, the colors aren’t strong and they come out in the wash. Fortunately, t-shirts come in a huge variety of colors, all we have to do is be creative with what we have available.

You will need one extra-large t-shirt to hook approximately one square foot of rug. So on the Penny Rug, I needed two black t-shirts to hook the background. Luckily, I was able to find two that were indistinguishable, but if they had been slightly different, I would have just gone for a variegated effect, just like I do with yarn. Then you can just cut up child-sized t-shirts for the pennies.

On the T-Shirt Turtle mat (below), I used one extra-large t-shirt for the background, and small shirts for the yellow and blue. You can hook with a t-shirt with a design on it (like silk screen), but not the kind of iron-on transfer design (but you can cut that part out and cut strips out of the blank areas.)

 

t shirt turtle for web

T-Shirt Turtle, 15.5″x16.75″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

I made sure to pre-wash the rug cord for the binding, so it wouldn’t shrink in the wash, and I bound the edges with acrylic yarn. The best way to cut the strips is with a rotary cutter on a cutting mat (like they use for quilting), using a yardstick for a guide. For more info on how to hook with t-shirts, read this post.

This month I’ll have a booth at the Puyallup Spring Fair, April 19-22, and at the Okanogan Fiber Festival in Omak, WA April 27-29. If you’re in the area, come on and say hi!

Don’t forget that for every $50 you spend at Little House Rugs you will be entered to win the Antique Flower Rug (below, a $480 value!). If you spend $100, you will be entered twice, $150 three times, etc. 

antique flower rug cropped for web

Antique Flower Rug, 33.5″x24.5″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

For you Etsy lovers, I just wanted to let you know that in addition to some of my rugs and supplies, I have recently put up some of the hats, purses and scarves that I make on my Etsy site. If you come to see me in a booth, I always have a variety of garments and accessories that are knitted or felted, but they didn’t seem like something that should go on my website, which is mainly just rug hooking. So if you’re looking for fun and funky accessories or gifts, check out my Etsy shop! If you “favorite” the shop, you’ll be notified when new items are added.

Happy Hooking Everyone!!!

Judy
http://www.littlehouserugs.com

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March News

veeben sheep whimsy

This month’s Featured Rug is an expanded version of our Sheep Whimsy kit, hooked by Vee Cowell of Becket, MA. You can read all about it here. Do you have a rug you would like to see featured on Little House Rugs? Let me know! If your rug is featured, you will receive a free half-yard of linen or our recycled cotton rug hooking bag that says “FIBER is good for you!”

Blog subscribers can try their hand at the Sheep Whimsy kit for 20% off during the month of March. Click here to order!

No shows or classes in March, but two shows are coming up in April, one in Puyallup, WA and the other in Omak, WA. Click here to check out our schedule.

antique flower rug cropped for web

Antique Flower Rug, 33.5″x24.5″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

Don’t forget that for every $50 you spend with Little House Rugs between now and November 25, 2018, you will be entered to win the Antique Flower Rug (a $480 value!).

Happy Hooking everyone!

Judy Taylor
http://www.littlehouserugs.com

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