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Rug Hooking Workshops, Lectures & Exhibitions by Sandra Brown

Why rug hooking teachers and workshops? Even though some rug hookers are self-taught, our rate of improvement increases as we stretch ourselves into our gifts and into our craft. Workshops are an opportunity to study with teachers whose specialty areas are new to you and to receive individual instruction in a classroom setting. Typically the student is there to begin a new piece, and the combination of a gifted teacher and the presence of other rug hookers also exploring their creativity is vivifying—a gift of space for nourishing our creative energies.

Want to arrange a workshop in your area? Workshops on any of the topics below or one that is custom planned for your hooking group can be arranged for as little as $40 per student per day plus travel, room and board (accommodations at private homes are preferred). Please contact me at for further details.

Want to bring a few friends to the farm for a private workshop?  A group of 4 people can be accommodated (two with shared master bedroom and private bath) and topic can be from any of the workshops listed below.  Custom workshops can also be planned specifically for your group.  Gourmet, healthy meals, snacks, room and teaching fee is included--please call (724.499.5680) or email ( for current prices. 

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Rug Hooking Workshops & Lectures by Sandra Brown
workshop classes topics

My own philosophy of teaching has always been summed up in the phrase -"getting you the student to the place you want to go with your piece." It isn't my vision, it's yours, but technically, logistically, you may not know how to make it a reality, and my job is to get you there. All my workshops rely on this approach and are informed by the pieces I myself have hooked on the same themes.

Arranging your own workshop can be as easy as locating a dozen fellow rug hookers who want to congregate in a place conducive to teaching and hooking, and contacting me for scheduling and topic ideas. As well as the workshop topics listed below, custom workshops are also available. Please contact me at for further information.

Geometrics (3-4 Days)

Geometrics go well in any decor - traditional to modern - and represent a unique opportunity for individual creativity and color choice. We will explore, in-depth, the possible interpretations of any geometric pattern - primitive to contemporary - and the various color options to realize a unique, one of a kind rug that the grandchildren will be fighting over. Students will work on a new pattern of their choice, and spend time in class color planning, either with wools of their own or the large inventory (including rich gradation swatches) the teacher will have on hand. Cut can be anything from #3 to #9 and project can be anything from a small tote bag to a room size rug. There will be a slide show lecture on Geometrics and Nature Patterns during the class.

Essentially my goal is to provide you with a systematic way of approaching any geometric - not just the one you're working on during this workshop. In addition to analyzing what patterns lurk beneath any given printed geometric, I would also like to spend some time on the first day showing the class how to design their own geometrics. If you have a pattern in mind already we can start right in with pattern analysis and move from there to color planning. If you're undecided about a pattern, then designing one could be a fun experience - the idea is to stretch our brains a little in ways that are ultimately very satisfying. 

Flowers in Rug Hooking - Fine and Large Cut (3 Days)

An opportunity to study hooked flowers, both fine and large-cut shaded using hand-dyed, gradation and/or dip dyed wool. We will cover several basic flowers, including cabbage rose, iris, tulip, throated flowers such as lily and morning glory and multi-petaled such as daisy and dahlia. We will also learn how to hook leaves and scrolls and spend time color planning individual student's hooked rugs. Workshop includes dye demonstration showing which dye systems work best for various floral motifs.

Wool Dyeing, Level One (2 Days)

Wool fabric, with its luxurious texture, has been a favorite of rug hookers for generations and it can be dyed to any color for any hooked rug design imaginable. Learn how to dye wool with ProChem and Cushing acid dyes in a workshop where instead of taking notes you will participate in the custom dyeing of quality wool fabric for your own hooked rugs.

Classes are "hands-on" with each student mixing dyes to create and develop colors and dye formulas, then using those formulas to dye wool according to their own palette. All dye techniques, including 8 & 12 value gradation swatches, open pan, primitive (using recycled and textured wools), transcolor, transition, dip-dyeing, spot, marbleized, onion skin, sprayed dyeing for skies and stained glass are covered by the teacher but can be done by the student. Class will also include color planning and basic theory using the color wheel.

You will go home knowing how to dye!! Each student leaves with one yard of mixed wools they have dyed themselves using all the various techniques.

Dye and Apply Workshop (3 Days)

Wool Dyeing, Level One and Hooking Instruction

A 3-day workshop covering all the basic techniques of dyeing wool for hooked rugs. We will use as our examples wool needed for the rugs each student brings to class, providing hands-on experience in dyeing and teacher direction for each hooked piece. 

Dye Workshop, Advanced Level (3 Days)

Expanding Your Dye Skills - Excellent for Teachers!

The advanced level dye workshop is both a more applied and a more theoretical version of the First Level Dye Class. We cover the creation and expanding of formulas, large volume dyeing, complementaries as the basis for beautiful neutrals and toning of hues, and a myriad of sophisticated dye secrets that add extra dimension to our rugs.

It begins with a recap of basic dye techniques (gradation swatches, open pan, transition and transcolor, over dyeing recycled wool, casserole, spot and stained glass dyeing) and moves quickly to exploring how to match colors and why certain dye techniques are recommended for a particular effect. Which dye technique is useful for primitives? For strap leaves or petals in florals? Pictorials (including skies)? And just when you thought 3 primaries plus black constituted a basic dye palette, we find out why, via the dye pot, 6 primaries are better. We will also explore color theory and play with matching student samples of hard-to-find wools. Finally, a primer on how to color plan your rugs will complete the three-day immersion in dyeing and color theory. Each student leaves with one yard of mixed wools they have dyed themselves which represent 3 days of color exploration.

Stuck on Color? (2 Days)
Understanding Color & Color Planning Rugs

A class for rug hookers who are perplexed by an unfinished piece they're stalled on where the color plan is just not working. We'll explore color temperatures, weight, the color wheel and some custom dyeing solutions to get you back on track with your hooked piece. The key here is recognizing your perception that something isn't quite right with the color planning and needs to be FIXED so you can finish it with pleasure.  This one-day class is intended to deepen our color sensibilities, validate our preferences, hone our color planning skills and send everyone home with a much stronger methodology for approaching color planning.

Pictorials with Dramatic Lighting (3-4 Days)
Places and Houses We Love at Night

A class on pictorials using depictions of each student's own house or a favorite scene to study lighting conditions that add drama to the finished piece. Skies at night, full moons, sunrises and sunsets will be explored and dye demonstrations will be included for those wishing to take these lessons on to other hooked pieces. The use of textures and values in pictorials will be covered, as well as the best wools for plants, trees and other greenery, water and reflections.

Light (3 Days)
An exploration of Values (of the light and dark kind) in Rug Hooking

We begin with an overview of how Light affects how we see things and what colors we see them in, how it affects mood, composition and dramatic narrative, and how--with its opposite side, Dark--it is the most important element in rug hooking. We will move quickly into how these aspects of Light (highlight, shadow, color rendering, to name a few) impact our hooking, whether it be a finely hooked floral, a portrait, a pictorial, a night scene or even a geometric or Oriental.  There is no aspect of rug hooking that doesn't have Light as an important design element in the original color plan--the topic pertains to any hooking project the student would like to work on.

Torn Wool Rugs - How Wide Can You Get? (2-3 Days)

Before fancy cutters there were pioneer women tearing wool into strips to make hooked "mats". This old-fashioned way of hooking rugs is returning, not only because the hooking goes faster, but the softer edges of the wool tend to meld more, turning the over-sized (often 1" wide!) loops of textured and specialty-dyed fabric into a luxurious cushion of wool. More than any other cut of wool, this technique lets you see the wool itself, although balancing colors and textures is still an art.

Borders (1 Day)

How to design a border for either an original design or purchased pattern. What steps do we take to examine the possibilities and how do we transfer those ideas to create a border that enhances and completes the rug? Since (almost) every rug benefits from a finishing 'frame', the goal is to design the best possible border to carry the interior rug's message. Borders for both primitive and fine-cut rugs will be covered.

My Philosophy of Teaching

My aim is to give instruction while I am there to teach you, sharing with you as much as possible the techniques I have learned in over 22 years of rug hooking - stretching you to think in ways that will improve your work and FEED YOUR BRAIN! The pure joy of solving aesthetic "problems" or challenges in our rug hooking is often a function of what technical understanding we bring to the project - increase the understanding of technique, how color works, what dye processes are available to us, and the creativity begins to soar.
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Past, Current and Upcoming Exhibitions by Sandra Brown


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So'Journey Farm

A 45-acre farm located in the loveliest corner of Pennsylvania, where rolling hills intersect with rivers and streams, historic farmsteads dot the wooded vistas and a Victorian/European styled home provides an opportunity for quiet retreat and personal comfort. In addition to the rug hooking and fiber workshops (which include room and board from dinner on the first night through lunch on the last day), there are trails to hike, a pond and streams to visit, and wildlife and birding to enjoy. Meals are prepared using healthy food grown by local farmers with an eye to American Ethnic and European gourmet. There will even be fishing for fresh catfish, crappie and bass at our pond!

grass-fed beef at So'Journey Farm
So'Journey Farm reminds us that our life is a journey of the soul toward wisdom and understanding, and that our place in the Universe also includes responsibilities of stewardship and love. It is a working farm using sustainable farming techniques - in this case, grass-fed beef (from our Scottish Highland cattle) and pastured poultry. The aim is to return the Earth in better condition than when it was lent to us. We'll have more information on-line soon about So'Journey Farm!

The new So'Journey Farm Website is now online. Come visit us!

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About the image for the logo on this page: 248 Outlook Drive - 28" x 39" - hand dyed wool on burlap - hooked rug by Sandra Brown. This depiction of my first home in Pittsburgh at night was meant to explore the colors we see under low-lighting conditions - in this case, the cool cast of moonlight (bluer) on the left side of the picture and the warmer cast of the porch light (yellower) on the right. High drama is either a function of movement or value in our rug hooking, hence the appeal of this piece which won First Place in Readers' Choice Award in Celebrations of Hand-Hooked Rugs, Originals category.
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Updated 2013