ATHA Biennial Overview Update

By Karl Gimber, Chair - Biennial PR Committee


Our 2011 Biennial is now only a few months away.  The Planning Committee continues to work on putting the finishing touches on what promises to be a stimulating and inspiring gathering of international rug hooking artisans. There is still time to register and sign up for workshops.

Eden Resort and Suites
Eden Resort
Eden Resort Lobby
Eden Resort

Come to Lancaster and let us show you the warm Pennsylvania-German hospitality of the area. All registrants’ goody bags will be filled with local treats and area maps for exploring the beautiful countryside. The Hospitality Committee will be available throughout the Biennial to answer any questions you may have and to help guide you along the way. Join us for an unforgettable four days of fun, friendship and rugs.

Mini- Lectures  -- Spotlight on Local Talent
A series of mini-lectures on a variety of rug hooking subjects will be offered each afternoon following the day’s workshops.  There will be no charge for the lectures that will run about 45 minutes. The lectures scheduled at the present time are listed on a topic below to see more information.  Additional ones may be added. You can sign up at the Biennial.

New ATHA Officers Installed
Our new National officers will be installed during the Annual Meeting that follows the opening reception on Wednesday night.  Come and meet our new leadership team and thank the outgoing officers for their past service to ATHA.

Farewell Banquet
The closing banquet on Saturday evening is a highlight of the Biennial and provides the opportunity to share an enjoyable evening with old and newly established rug hooking friends.  We will also hear and learn from a special keynote speaker. 

Our keynote speaker is a Lancaster original -- Dr. Patricia T. Herr. “Trish”, as she is known by her friends, is a popular Lancaster veterinarian, nationally known antiques dealer, author, lecturer and fabric arts scholar.  She is the author of several books including Rags to Rugs: Hooked and Hand sewn Rugs of Pennsylvania, Amish Quilts of Lancaster County and Amish Arts of Lancaster County.  Her presentation will reflect the ideas covered in her book Rags to Rugs that was published following a Lancaster County rug harvest and exhibit at the Heritage Center Museum of Lancaster County. A book signing will follow the banquet.

Biennial Financing
Questions abound on how Biennials are financed and why the need for all the fundraising.  After all, what are our annual dues for?  The truth of the matter is that our dues do not even cover the cost of producing the ATHA Newsletter, let alone fully fund Biennials. Income generated from the Newsletter advertising allows ATHA to publish its magazine. ATHA is run by volunteers who give of their time and creativity to the organization.  ATHA officers are not salaried and those serving on the Biennial Planning Committee are all volunteers.

Each Biennial is hosted by one of ATHA’s Regions and the chapters within that region are responsible for organizing, financing and conducting the event. ATHA National provides initial “seed money” to help get the process started. To run an event such as our Biennial is costly; consequently, generating the funds needed is an important function.

Where do the funds come from?  There are activities that have proven successful in the past and are generally repeated by each host region. Proceeds from chapter sponsored hook-ins, raffles and auctions have been a mainstay, as have donations from chapters, teachers and vendors/suppliers. Previous Biennial host regions have also made generous donations. Grants from regional funding agencies are utilized when funding is available for humanities programming. Each Planning Committee brings its own creative energy to the process.

A limited edition ATHA Dye Book was compiled for the 2011 Biennial. Thirty-two of the best and most well known wool dyers, fiber artists, rug hookers and teachers contributed by sharing an original formula and a description of the dye process used. The books were sold through an ad in the ATHA Newsletter, notices sent to chapter presidents and by word of mouth.

Another popular fundraiser is the auction held at the Friday night banquet during the Biennial. Auction donations from chapters, teachers, vendors and members provide an opportunity to pick up some bargains, have fun and contribute to ATHA all at the same time. Ron Miller, a licensed auctioneer and husband of ATHA National Board Member Lisanne Miller, will conduct the auction.  If any group, company or individual wants to donate something for the auction, please contact Fundraising Co-Chair Deb Burcin ( All donors will be acknowledged as having made a donation.

An international exhibit of rugs hooked by our members is a major part of each Biennial.  Those who have attended past gatherings consistently comment on the inspiration gained from seeing the work being done by other rug hooking artisans.  The exhibit provides a rare opportunity to see hooked rugs from all corners of the country, Canada, England and Japan. Renting the display panels is always an expensive budget item.  This year new display panels are being purchased and gifted to ATHA for use at future Biennials.  They will make the rugs displayed on them easier to photograph and will give an overall professional feel to the display.

With good planning and management, Biennials should be a financial success. Any profits are shared with ATHA National (10%) and the chapters within the region with the requirement that the funds are to be used for educational purposes. The Planning Committee determines how the split is made. Sometimes it is simply divided equally among the chapters; other times it is allocated based on the help contributed by each chapter.

Come Early – Stay Late
Those who may be coming to Lancaster early or staying behind for a few days should visit Lancaster County’s web site –– for ideas and suggestions on how to see the best the County offers.

Gallery Row
Wilbur Chocolate Factory Store
Clothes Line

Amish Barnraising
Antique Horse
Ephrata Cloister
Photos Courtesy of PA Dutch Convention & Visitors' Bureau




How to Host a Successful Hook-In (Tracey Gillman & Mary Lynne Naples)

Every rug hooker loves to go to a hook-in! Learn the step by step secrets of planning and hosting an exciting and fun event. All the details will be covered from selecting a location, arranging for the vendors, registration, publicity and more. Any guild/chapter/group is able to do this. Come learn how. Handouts will be available.

Tracey Gillman and Mary Lynne Naples joined forces in 2005 to produce their very first hook-in, The Brandywine Rug Hooking Guild's Autumn Hook-In. Two more hook-ins would follow before handing over the reins to others. In the spring of 2010 Mary Lynne helped the Woolwrights host the 2011 ATHA Biennial Fundraiser Hook-In. They are presently Co-Chairing the 2011 ATHA Biennial. 

The Use of Alternative Materials in Rug Hooking (Margaret Wenger)

Alternative materials bring new dimensions to the character of almost any rug pattern. What works and what doesn't according to the theme of the pattern will be explained.

Margaret will provide samples of different materials that she has collected over time to give hookers an idea of what can be done to enhance various aspects of shading, highlighting and so on. She will also show some tricks she has learned to get certain materials to hook well, allowing a hands-on opportunity for anyone who wishes to try these materials.

Margaret Wenger has been hooking rugs for 24 years. Over that time she has earned her certification as a McGown Teacher. She has taught at Northern McGown Teacher's Workshop using alternative materials in her major required teaching projects. She holds private classes in hooking, dyeing and the use of alternative material in her home.

My Journey as a Rug Hooking Artisan (Kathleen Harwood)

Learn about Kathleen's journey from connoisseur/appraiser/dealer to rug hooking textile artist.  How did she get started? What inspires her? Who taught her? What does she hook?  Her illustrated conversation will be followed by a question and answer period.    

Kathleen Harwood is an art historian, appraiser, dealer and writer who is known to millions of fans as an appraiser of fine art on the popular PBS program, Antiques Roadshow.  Kathleen, who began her career at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, was a vice president at Christie's auction house in New York and London prior to establishing Harwood Fine Arts Inc.; she has also spent many years on the executive board of the Appraisers Association of America. Kathleen worked on the very first Antiques Roadshow and she has been traveling around America with the show, discovering treasures, for the last 16 years.  Less well known is her passion for textile art and rug hooking in particular.  She is an accomplished designer and rug hooker; see her rug, Circle in the Square, in Celebrations XX, and in Rug Hooking Magazine's recent book, Geometric Hooked Rugs.

Punch Hooking 101 (Betty Clarkson & McKinley “Mac” Murry)

Explore this wonderful traditional craft. It is fun and simple to learn. There will be demonstrations in using rug wool yarn and wool noodles to create future heirlooms with this technique. We will teach you the basics of this old craft which resembles traditional hooking. Many samples will be available.

Betty Clarkson is a native of Lancaster County, PA. A fiber "dabbler" she began her adventure at an early age with influence from her mother. She has been knitting, weaving, spinning, and rug hooking/punching and enjoying all forms of the fiber arts for many years. A recipient of numerous fiber awards in various venues, her handspun yarns have been featured in a national-international magazine. In 2008 she launched Little Pine Traditional Crafts after a long nursing career. The shop teaches a variety of tradition crafts by local fiber artists. She is an active member of the Woolwrights ATHA chapter, the Lancaster Spinners and Weavers, and the Red Rows knitting guild. Betty resides in Lancaster County with her husband Jim and their Cocker Spaniel Bailey.

McKinley “Mac” Murry is a 4th generation Manheim Township, Lancaster County resident. He is a member of the ATHA Woolwright and Brandywine Rug Hooking Guilds, Director of Little Pine Rug Hooking Camp (a closed camp) and Executive Assistant of Little Pine Traditional Crafts. Mac is an accomplished fiber artist with spinning, weaving, punch needle embroidery, needlepoint, rug punch hooking, and needle felting. He has a keen interest in woodworking and cooking. Mac is famous for his "Mac Dip” and is always willing to share his knowledge in a kind and gentle manner.

The Hooked Rug Museum of North America -- Saving the Roots of our Craft for Future Generations (Vicki Calu)

Vicki Calu will present an overview of the last ten years of work that have gone into opening the museum. She will discuss the progress made and challenges left to face. She will discuss the lengths to which the founders have gone to collect and preserve the early tools and patterns of our craft as well as historical and modern rugs of every description. A limited number of the museum’s first book, Rescued from Oblivion, will be available for sale.

Vicki is a Director at Large for the museum and has been active in raising funds to save our heritage and to open the museum so that the general public can learn about this wonderful art form. She is past president of the McGown Guild and of Northern Teachers’ Workshop. She teaches at Maryland Shores Rug School and ATHA’s Geneva Point Rug School as well as at her home in Dublin, PA.

Add Life and Realism When Hooking Animals (Judy Carter)

Learn how to use contrast, values, and textures to bring your animals to life.  Selecting wool, organizing strips, and the use of visual aids to create realistic animals will be discussed 

Judy Carter -- Judy began hooking in 1993 by taking a beginner class and has since completed 94 pieces.  She is a juried member of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen, an accredited McGown teacher and president of the Northern McGown Teachers Workshop.   Judy has written articles for Rug Hooking Magazine, ATHA Newsletter and the  McGown Newsletter. She has made presentations to rug groups, taught classes, and been a judge for Celebrations.  Judy's rugs have been in Celebrations six times and won People’s Choice Awards two times. 

Make a Prodded Flower Using Semi-Precious Gemstones. (Cindy Irwin)

This class will show you how to attach gemstones to your project and how to dye wool to create a beautiful shaded flower.  (There will be a small materials charge.)

Finish a Rug Using Wool from the Rug (Cindy Irwin)

Have you ever finished a rug and thought it would look better without a border?  Cindy will show you how to finish a rug using the same wool that you used to hook the rug. 

Cindy Irwin has been hooking rugs since 1983.  She is a certified McGown teacher and holds classes in her home and teaches in workshops throughout the area.  She has been a member of ATHA since 2001, and is a member of the Woolwrights Guild. Cindy is a juried member of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen and a past president of the Conestoga Guild of McGown Rug Crafters. Prizes won:  Celebrations XIII, XV, XVII, XIX; two people’s choice awards. 

Sponsor Award:  2008 McGown National Exhibit Excellence in Craftsmanship and People’s Choice Awards:  Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen.

Successful Dyeing (Joan Strausbaugh)

Learn how to let your dyeing anxieties go and dive in to dyeing. Aimed toward the beginning dyer, there will also be plenty of tips and tricks for the experienced dyer. A CD of tips and tricks about dyeing available for purchase ($5)

Joan Hull Strausbaugh is a fourth generation rug hooker from Central PA. In 1990, she learned to hook from her paternal Grandmother, who hooked with t-shirts and Danskin tops on burlap. To prevent scuffles at local church rummages, Joan decided to hook with wool, and began her extensive collection way back then. About seven years ago, Joan began dyeing after collecting all the information she could and reading it. Dyeing your own wool will add a whole new dimension to your work, and is not as complicated and scary as it might appear.

Joan's work has been featured several times in Rug Hooking Magazine and Celebrations. She is a member of several hooking groups near her home (Blue and Gray Rug Hookers, Grant St Woolworkers, and the On the Creek Dye Group) and online (yahoo rug hookers, padula, and the Welcome Mat). Joan's annual Hook In raises funds and supplies for her local SPCA, and her love of rug hooking and sharing that love with others bring her great joy. 

Large Frost Oriental (Tour of recently completed rug) (Nancy Parcels)

BE INSPIRED In this workshop Nancy will take you on a tour of her recently completed hooked rug, Large Frost Oriental. She will explain why certain decisions were made concerning hooking direction, color choices, dyeing tips, wool tips and tricks to hide information in your hooked rug. . Come and BE INSPIRED.

Nancy Zeppelin Parcels has been hooking rugs since 2000, and teaches from her Mechanicsburg, PA home. She is a McGown teacher. Several of her rugs have been selected for Rug Hooking Magazine's  annual Celebrations issue. She has also had the honor to serve as a judge for previous issues and at several fairs. Last year her rug, Rick-Rack, was selected to hang in the State Museum as part of the annual State of the Arts in Pennsylvania competition.

Nancy frequently writes for Rug Hooking Magazine covering a wide variety of rug hooking topics. Color planning and dyeing wool for herself and her students keep her busy at the dye-pot. Inspiring her students to "be themselves" and make their rugs a reflection of who they are is something she strives for as a teacher

3-D Sheep (Leanne Sitler)

The workshop will show how to take a flat hooked piece to a 3-D stuffed decorative item, small enough to hang on a tree or large enough to serve as a door stop. This is a simple and fun hooked project. Bet you can't make just one.

Leanne Sitler is a member of the Woolwrights ATHA Guild, enjoys the challenges and rewards of hooking, dyeing and creating. She even loves the finishing! Leanne learned to hook in 2000 and has studied with teachers at camps and classes around the US and UK.

Back to Our Roots -- Hooking With Recycled Wool  (Karl Gimber)

Our early rug hooking ancestors went to their rag bags for scraps of fabric to be used in their hooked rugs.  Today we can follow in their footsteps by hooking with wool from old garments.  This is an ideal way to recycle clothing and provide an inexpensive source of wool.  The presentation will explore the following subjects:

Karl Gimber started hooking in 2003 after he and his wife took a beginners’ workshop at their local museum.  Since then he and Mary Jo have been working on a series of hooked rugs inspired by old tavern, trade and farm signs. Over 60 rugs have been completed so far. Their rugs have been featured in Rug Hooking Magazine, ATHA Newsletter, and The Wool Street Journal. They have written and spoken extensively about their rugs and the stories they tell. Karl is a member of the Goat Hill ATHA Chapter and the Hunterdon County Rug Artisans Guild. He is the Chair of the Lancaster Biennial PR Committee.


website updated 3-31-2011