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Somers History Illustrated by Fiber Artist

SOMERS - As a fiber artist, Somers resident Mary Parker knits, quilts, weaves, felts, spins, hooks rugs and dyes yarn.

"Spinning is meditative and relaxing, hooking is creative and weaving is -- well, boring,” she said, with a rug on her frame, a scarf on her loom and some knitting in a basket. The different crafts satisfy different moods, she said.

Parker started hooking rugs 10 years ago and has exhibited them at a number of shows. One of her latest projects is a series of historic rugs based on sites around Somers. They include the Elephant Hotel, Muscoot Farm, the Wright Reis Homestead, St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Stuart's Farm, the Lent House, the Tomahawk Chapel and Parker's own representation of a typical Somers sheep farmer's home.

A hooked rug is created by pulling strips of wool or yarn through a stiff fabric such as burlap or linen, using a tool similar to a crochet hook. Typically, New England farm wives used empty feed sacks as a base and scraps of old clothing cut into strips.

Parker's approach is more sophisticated. She develops her own designs, often using personally dyed wool or fabric for the end product. Although she has made more than 50 rugs in the past years, she has only sold two because she said she prefers to exhibit her work.

For the Somers rugs, Parker put together a show to publicize the restoration of the Tomahawk Chapel. Parker and her husband, Geoffrey, have been working for more than a year to restore the chapel and its adjacent cemetery. Thanks to them, the chapel and cemetery have just received official recognition from the New York State Register of Historic Places.

The collection of Somers rugs was recently on display at Muscoot Farm and the Wright Reis Homestead during the Independence Day celebration.

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