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Aug '09

Woolwrights in PA

Every now and then, blog readers pass through Southern California.  When it’s possible to do so, I always enjoy having them drop by the studio … even if it means I have to clean up!   Last November, Janice Buckingham, from Lebanon County, PA, was able to make a short visit.  I asked her to send in some shots from her group and am happy to share them with you as well as her story. It is a basic story that I have heard in various forms, usually ending with finding an ATHA group.


I became interested in rug hooking by watching a woman at a community swimming pool while she hooked on a sheep. The woman told me she was taking lessons from a woman in a nearby town. When I went home I called the woman (Tish Bachleva) and signed up for the next class to learn how to hook a rug. After my first project,  a chair pad, I immediately started a small mat. I was hooked!


(Here is a close up shot of Janice’s current rug.)


Janice continues:  The closest group I could find was in Lancaster County, PA, so attended my first meeting in  September 2007.  I was greeted with so much enthusiasm and friendliness that I decided this could be a place to learn and hook. In November I joined the Woolwrights, who have had an  ATHA charter since 2007.  At one of those early meetings, I heard the name Gene Shepherd mentioned  and I asked “Who is Gene Shepherd?” I got an earful!! That same day I received a book to review from Rug Hooking magazine. It was your book!! I sent you an email thinking you would never respond and the next day I received my first email from you. Since I was planning to travel to Laguna Beach area that November I was thrilled when you invited me to get in touch with you while visiting.


As an ATHA member myself,  I am always happy to hear about other ATHA groups and the way they help promote our art form around the world.  Janice gave me a bit of history about this particular group:

Woolwrights was born out of a group of rug hooking friends that met once a month at each other’s homes. Gradually (as rug hookers do) others were invited to join the fun and the group got quite large to be comfortably welcomed into many members’ homes. Anne Stevens had taken on the job of organizing where the group would meet month to month and sent reminders both by email and phone. Anne soon became the person responsible to find a public location and with the input of several members Anne found Zion Lutheran church for our meeting place. It was discussed in the group that if we were to meet in a public place we had to be an official organization which would present itself as both worthwhile and trustworthy to be renting to but also carry our own insurance. Hence, we became an ATHA chapter. Most of the participants were already ATHA members anyway. Our charter was granted September 2007.


One of the group projects that the Woolwrightds have done is to make these foot stools, with “Four Seasons” removable tops, for their host church’s fund raiser.  Since I was blocking one of my own rugs to donate for my church’s October 10 fund raiser, when this shot came in, you can see why I found this photo particularly interesting.   Good job Woolwrights!

There are lots of ATHA groups scattered all over the US – all of them would be happy to have some new members.  If you are looking for people with whom you can hook, but do not know how to find an ATHA group, check out their site at www.atharugs.com  Additionally, if you have an unchartered group, but would like to have the benefit of insurance coverage for your meetings, as well as the connection to several thousand rug hookers around the world, an ATHA charter would be a great thing to consider.


4 comments to “Woolwrights in PA”

  1. Jo Says:

    A wonderful story and review of “reaching out and touching someone”! Also interesting as my daughter lives in Lancaster County, PA. jo

  2. Phyllis Says:

    I wonder if this is one of the ATHA chapters that’s planning the next Biennial – which will be held in Pennsylvania in 2011.


  3. Arline Keeling Says:

    What a lovely basket and a great story…….I was just reading the latest ATHA magazine and there is a group of ATHA ladies but they don’t have officers…can you do that. I would still like to get the gals in Utah to be ATHA……..V. Sharmay

  4. Gene Shepherd Says:

    Arline – You can do anything you want. I think all ATHA really cares about is the dues and having a contact … plus being able to advertise you as a local group. GRS