Article # 2
Visit Peggy's Home!

A Celebration of
Hand-Hooked Rugs XIV

2004 Edition

RIGHT: The flagstone-lined, foyer of Peggy's home is a gallery of her hooked rugs, cherished family photographs, and eclectic pieces of art she and her husband both inherited and collected.  The central focus is Lurcat, a 43" x 71" Jane McGown Flynn design hooked in deep, rich tones. Hanging nearby is Unicorn in Captivity, a classic Pearl McGown design that she completed in 1999, and presented to her husband as a gift on their 50th anniversary. "I had done the unicorn and part of the fence, then put it away," she said. "Then I decided to finish it for my husband, and found that I actually enjoyed hooking all those picky little flowers."
   In the foreground is the
Gainesborough rug, which provides a colorful focal point in a living room awash in muted colors.



Margaret (Peggy) Haller Hannum considers herself an inveterate and uniquely experienced nest-featherer. The award-winning rug hooker has moved her family in and out of 12 homes over the course of her 52-year marriage as her husband, an United Methodist minister, earned his degrees and was reassigned to different parishes.
   Each time, Peggy worked with different decorating constraints, but managed to find welcome homes for most—if not all—of the nearly 25 rugs she's hooked since she discovered the craft roughly 25 years ago.
   "I planned just about each one with a particular spot in mind," said Peggy, a retired English teacher. "But no matter where I put them, they always seem to work."
   When discussing her decorating technique, Peggy fails to take credit for her keen eye for combining pattern, colors, and contrasting textures within her center hall colonial-style home in Pennsylvania. Room after room offers up artful displays of treasured family antiques, and items of interest culled from a lifetime of travel.
   Still, she noted, her finely honed skill was borne of necessity. "As a minister's wife, I was used to having to move from one Methodist parsonage to another," she said. "They usually weren't furnished. We were always fortunate to have some furniture we inherited, but I'd go in and make drapes, or do whatever I could to make them homey and warm."
   While she and her husband, Bob, were raising their three chil- dren and Peggy was teaching school, she still managed to find a few quiet hours each evening for hooking, and found that she could complete beautiful, meaningful pieces that suited her home.
   Peggy discovered rug hooking after trying her hand—and mastering—several other forms of creative expression. After completing several quilts, knitting well over a hundred sweaters, creating botanical drawings with pastels, pleating lampshades, and sewing virtually all of the window treatments, slipcovers, and bedspreads for her family's succession of homes, Peggy was encouraged to try rug hooking.
   "My dear friend, Lyn Lovell, used to knit with me when we would all go on family ski vacations," she said. "One night, when we were in Killington, Vermont, she pulled out a project she was working on and said, 'I have something you're going to love.'

 I thought, 'I can't do one more thing,' but I tried it." She took on a small project—a hooked doorstop in a pansy pattern. "No shading, very unsophisticated—almost paint-by-number," she recalled. "But by the end of the week, I was hooked."
   When she returned from vacation, Peggy ordered a catalog from the Heirloom Rug Company, and found herself captivated by it. "It was like a wish book," she said. "I couldn't wait to get started, so I called a local school, Essex Agricultural, and went to see the teacher of a class that had already started. That's how I met Meredith LeBeau, who was a wonderful, very encouraging mentor."
  Meredith wanted her enthusiastic new student to start with a small project, but Peggy had already zeroed in on an iris-patterned rug that she was determined to bring to life. Soon she was well along on Irises, which measures 38" x 54" and currently resides in her bedroom. "I still love that rug," she says- "And I still use it. It's faded, but faded nicely."
   Since that time, Peggy has perfected her skills to the point where she adapts or creates her own designs, attends regular workshops on hooking and dyeing, and teaches students in the basement workshop of her home.
   She's also become more prolific. When she started hooking in 1977, a rug might have taken years to complete. Now, by devoting a few hours each evening, she can complete as many as three rugs a year. Peggy primarily uses a #3 -cut, which she found makes the work go much faster. "I don't have to hook as high," she said.
   Her award-winning work, which has been featured several times in previous issues of Rug Hooking Magazine, continues to be inspired by teachers such as Nancy Blood of Oswego, N.Y., and Meredith. "I've been with Nancy in class after class for the past six years," said Peggy. "And through her unique ability, she's guided me over new horizons with color and technique. I've found that there is still so much out there to learn from other people. I've been fortunate to have such wonderful friends and mentors."
   Also evolving is her decorative style, which deftly combines old and new, traditional and obscure. Her words of advice for others hoping to do the same? "Trust your taste," she said. "Surround yourself with the things that you truly love. It will all go together."

 LEFT:  Peggy's award-winning Queen Mary, a rug designed by Jane McGown Flynn, which measures 38" x 72", provides a welcome burst of color in a muted guest room.  The nineteenth century walnut bed, Peggy notes, "was considered an antique when I  was just a little girl."  On the rocking chair are antique dolls-- one that Peggy received from her grandmother.  Other accents come from a pastel created by Peggy of a lily and delphinium from her garden, and a scattering of delicately toned antique plates.

 RIGHT:  Peggy's Gainsborough, is a  60" round Pearl McGown design that she completed in 1983.  Although it was originally designed for an earlier Federal-style home in Massachusetts, Peggy feels that its classic floral-and-scroll design adapts well to traditional furniture such as her antique corner cabinet and side table.

She also offers the following:

DON'T BE OVERLY CONCERNED WITH "MATCHING" SPECIFIC RUGS TO SPECIFIC COLORS, PATTERNS OR PIECES OF FURNITURE. Peggy pairs such seeming disparate items as Lancaster County family heirlooms, Staffordshire china, formal silver pieces, brass and copper vessels from the Mideast, Burmese tapestries, Armenian tiles, Palestinian needlework, and cherished dolls from her childhood. "Somehow," she said, "it all works."

EXPERIMENT. "All sorts of colors and patterns work well together, even if you can't envision them," said Peggy. "Colors may complement each other in a way that you can't anticipate. The only way to find out is to move them around, and see what works with what. "I used to make rugs for specific areas, especially when we lived in our home in Massachusetts, but I've stopped doing that. Now I want to play with the colors, not really thinking of where it has to go."  In her family room, for example, the soft, autumnal tones of her Wildwood rug suit the warm, traditional setting. But eventually, she said, it might be replaced by Istanbul, which is characterized with more vivid colors and higher contrast. "I'm sure it will work fine," she said. "The beauty of hooked rugs is that they adapt so well to their surroundings."

SHOWCASE RUGS BY TONING DOWN THE BACKDROP. Instead of layering pattern on top of pattern, Peggy likes to keep walls, floors, and window treatments fairly neutral. "That way," she said, "the rugs don't have to compete for attention."

MAKE THEM A PART OF YOUR DAILY LIFE. With the exception of a large piece titled Silver Compote, which hangs in her dining room, and Unicorn in Captivity, which graces the foyer, most of Peggy's rugs remain underfoot. "Rugs are rugs," she says. "You have to walk on them. I let my grandchildren play on them in the family room, and I have only one rule: Food stays in the kitchen. Other than that, the rugs are there to use and to enjoy and appreciate every day."

LOOK TO THE COLORS AND PATTERNS IN A ROOM FOR INSPIRATION AND A RUG TO COMPLEMENT THEM. Peggy said that when she originally began hooking rugs to fill her homes, she often looked to the distinctive shade of blue on existing wainscoting, or a prominent color in a floral pattern on the wallpaper. "Or, take your cue from one of your nicer pieces--maybe a quilt that has special significance or meaning, or a pattern on a chair you've always loved," said Peggy. "They'll point you in the right direction. Just don't be too confined by them."

EMBRACE THE UNIQUE, ALBEIT IMPERFECT, ASPECTS OF HANDMADE ITEMS. Even an accomplished and experienced rug hooker as Peggy can see the progress in her work as she becomes more daring in color, develops a more sophisticated eye for pattern, or hones her tastes. But, as with many items in her home, each rug holds special significance and is given a worthy presentation. "Each one has its own little story to tell or has so many special memories associated with it," said Peggy. "Each one reminds me of a part of our lives, or our children's lives, or the homes we lived in. That's the joy of having them and using them." •

 ABOVE:  Peggy's Chinese Butterflies, a Jane McGown Flynn design measuring 48" x3l", which was featured in A Celebration of Hand-Hooked Rugs XI," was selected by the 2000 National Guild of Pearl K. McGown Hookcrafters to be featured on notecards. In Peggy's master bedroom, it shares space with Manchu Dragon, a 31" x 49" Jane McGown Flynn design that Peggy adapted. It was inspired, she says, by Norbert, the fierce but friendly dragon from the Harry Potter series. Nearby is a gold-washed settee, an early Pennsylvania walnut stretcher table topped with a silk runner from Burma, her mother's Lane hope chest, and a collection of antique floral plates.

 ABOVE:  Peggy's Silver Compote, which was featured in A Celebration of Hand-Hooked Rugs XII, measures 27" x 23", and was designed by Charlotte Stratton. It is given a prominent place in the Hannum dining room, where a muse- um-quality treatment complements the formality of antique silver tea service and cobalt-blue Staffordshire pieces atop an antique Pennsylvania blanket chest.



RIGHT: Peggy Hannum admits that she was probably initially attracted to this 7' x 4' rug based on its name, Salem, and originally planned to use this in an upstairs hallway in the couple's Federal-style home in Massachusetts. She began it in 1993, using all white wools that she dyed with colors supplied by her teacher, Meredith LeBeau, and finished it 11 years later.
   "One of the things Meredith taught me was to always dye enough wool for an entire project, and to keep very, very good notes," says Peggy. "1 followed her advice and kept meticulous notes, so I was able to match the colors exactly when 1 picked the rug up again years later."
   The rug takes center stage in a guest bed- room furnished with family antiques, such as a Victorian bed from her grandmother's guest- room, a marble-topped pedestal table, a Lancaster County crazy quilt her grandmother gave her when she married, and a Pennsylvania-style ladder back chair. On the bed is a quilt Peggy purchased more than 40 years ago from a Pennsylvania quilter.

 ABOVE:  One of the largest rugs in the Hannum home, the 7' x7' Wildwood design from Heirloom Rugs, echoes the warm tones of the brick hearth in the family room, and complements the copper pieces and other treasures the couple brought home from their time spent in the Middle East.

 ABOVE:  In a corner of the family room, an heirloom tavern table, antique music box, banjo and family portrait are accompanied by Peggy's Oak Scrollings rug. The 23" x 36" rug is a Jane McGown Flynn design. that Peggy completed in 2002 after being inspired by tapestries she and her husband viewed in a museum in Naples.

 LEFT:  In the living room, the Pearl McGown Ming design was hooked on a 56" by 34" rug in 2001, and sits before her father's antique Pennsylvania walnut desk in a quiet corner. Its Asian flavor provides a contrast to the traditional elegance of the formal room.

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