Oriental carpets are those made in western and Central Asia, North Africa, and the Caucasus region of Europe. Made from materials particular to individual tribal provinces, the rugs of the Caucasus normally display bold geometric designs in primary colours.
A few years ago I created this little Caucasian sampler thinking it would make a lovely pillow top but it sat around without any interest until Jean decided she wanted to experience hooking a Caucasian design and its smaller size made it fit the bill.
Although this design appears simple with a repeat pattern it's not fun to produce. There is a lot of counting holes and straight lines, items that can't be produced easily with red dot medium so suffice to say this puppy is laborious to make and we won't be producing it again. A design this small that takes hours to make is a lose your shirt kind of deal. So I was delighted Jean did a lovely job and I got to see it hooked but it's now retired to the archives of patterns past. We have to deal with the present and plan for the future and patterns that cost more to produce than the price tag they carry is a thing of the past.
We will also be moth balling some of the very detailed William Morris designs. Some of those intricately detailed patterns take two to three days to produce. If you calculate for a normal eight hour day times two or three it usually exceeds the price on the pattern, so throw in overtime and now you're in the red. In the past we've done these very intricate designs because I found it challenging to adapt them to rug hooking and I liked offering a the wow factor to our customers. It's not even the lack of profit that prompts this change...it takes so much time away from all the other tasks that need doing we fall behind. Working on a design for three days straight, putting it on with the red dot and then darkening it is laborious and quite frankly a pin in the eye. Nothing about it is appealing! Markers stain the skin and fill your lungs with chemicals; there's no relief from bending over for hours and cramps in the hand are but a few of the deterrents.
Other companies stamp their patterns for easy production but the designs come out crooked and off the grain no matter how careful they are lined up. Anyone who hooks knows how wonky backings are, there's no perfect symmetry to it. I certainly can promise that stamping patterns will never be an option in our shop, we will continue to plug away with the old fashioned marker and red dot program s long as I am at the helm.
In the first couple years in business I bought patterns from other sources and they were a constant disappointment. Even though they promised the designs were straight on the grain at the time of the order they never were and I had to send them back as my customers were savvy and wouldn't buy them. That didn't put me on anyone's favourite list with the pattern houses and I got tired of dealing with it all.
When I first opened my doors, another shop owner I knew pretended to take me under her wing and sold me a bunch of patterns that were supposedly good sellers. In those days I was greener than broccoli and didn't know about straight on the grain and by the time I figured it all out, I was stuck with all those poorly stamped patterns that she couldn't get rid of in her own store. She saw me coming and did a dirty on me and I wonder if she still laughs at how naïve I was. She also unloaded three rolls of pink rug binding on me, told me that women love the colour. Pink?...Female hookers?......It seemed plausible and what did I know so I thanked her for the scoop. Thirteen years in business and I still have that damn pink binding....count it every year in inventory and every time I look at it I remember how she pulled the wool over my eyes. She must have laughed all the way to the bank over that easy money, buying that along with all the other crap gathering dust in her shop that I paid good money for just to sit in mine and continue being unsellable. She wasn't the sweetest jelly bean in the bag, used to call her customers vultures...that should have been a warning light but the excitement of starting a rug hooking shop kept the blinders on. The patterns she unloaded on me never sold and I ended up recycling them by drawing my designs on the back to hook things for the shop. A very expensive live and learn lesson.
That was why I decided to only sell my own designs and those of a few friends. I have control over the manufacturing and can deliver the quality we are known for. Every straight line, no matter how small is straight on the grain!
So the large patterns we have in the shop for William Morris will be the last of our inventory. Once sold they will be retired. Hammersmith, although lovely is a two day proposition. The new adapted Hammersmith runner was even more work, twice as long although slightly thinner and a three day event. Then there is the RedCar runner recently adapted for a customer. There is one each of linen patterns of Hammersmith, Hammersmith Runner and the RedCar Runner and once gone that will be the last of their kind....the end of an era.