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Michelle Palmer – Rug Hooking with a Painterly Twist

Rug Hooking with a Painterly Twist

This is a rug hooking retreat that will focus on exploring the use of highlights and shadows while discovering the importance of negative space and atmosphere. Students will also learn to build contrast with color and texture to support the main subject. 

The three-day retreat will focus on identifying and building your main subject and developing the areas around it. Softening details that are less important by adjusting the strength of color, placements of highlights and shadows or adding texture. We build interest in our rugs by adding details seen in nature to our compositions. Stand atop the tallest hill in the morning mist, as you look across the horizon, notice the subtle tone of each consecutive hill becoming softer, cooler, more muted. The jagged base of old barns, deeper in color and shadows from snow and water continually soaking the wood. Lichen and moss blanketing stones along filed edges. Identifying the season through color; tender chartreuse leaves in the springtime that mature to deep green by mid-summer and onto brilliant red, leather-like, blankets in Autumn. Photographs of your landscape or still life, paired with the knowledge of what our eyes actually see, develop painterly rugs.

Always hook, paint, draw what touches your heart. What gets you excited? This retreat will explore everything from simple subjects like an old crock or jug, a patch of daisies growing wild in a field or galvanized watering cans blanketed with an early autumn snow to a rural landscape. Select a photograph of your subject taken in natural light, capturing highlights and shadows. Patterns can be designed from copyright free photographs: Something from your childhood, a favorite garden vignette, vacation photograph, antique cupboard filled with crockery, seasonal still life, pumpkin patch, etc. Hooked rugs are not completed overnight. Each piece, a journey, with memoires and heart woven tightly in. 


Students are encouraged to bring wool from their stash, including swatches and bags of strips. The wool can be solids, textures, stripes, plaids, mottled etc. and students are welcome to tuck in yarn, sari ribbon and velvet. Mottled wool with light-light highlights and dark, color-soaked, shadows are always an amazing tool.

Patterns can be landscape, still life or select from Michelle’s designs. (See

*Michelle will connect with students prior to the class to discuss and/or pre-purchase their pattern.  

*Intermediate skills.

*Bring wool to choose/work from or be prepared to purchase from vendors. Frame, hook, cutter/blades in a size they are comfortable hooking in, scissors… basic rug hooking supplies. ***Color photograph for reference.


Artist’s Bio:

Michelle Palmer has illustrated in watercolor for over thirty-five years. She has translated hundreds of her paintings and ink illustrations into punch needle and rug hooking designs. Her love for designing with fibers began in 2005. Michelle wanted to bring her illustrated characters to life for her children through needle felting with wool roving. Needle felting quickly expanded to punch needle, with embroidery floss, where she could continue to design functional art. In 2017, her passion for rug hooking began.

Michelle’s works in fiber have a painterly quality. She doesn’t stop painting when she sets her paintbrush down for the day. Her teaching focuses on the use of color, light and atmosphere along with the importance of negative space to define and support the main subject. Michelle’s workshops are filled with practical techniques in a relaxed, light-hearted, atmosphere. 

You can find Michelle’s patterns and writings in Punch Needle & Primitive Stitcher Magazine, Rug Hooking Magazine and through her Etsy shop. Her licensed designs are available on fabric collections, calendars, greeting cards, garden flags and other home décor and gift items. Michelle is a member of the Rug Hookers of the Finger Lakes and The Chosen Spot Rug Hookers.

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