Oil Derrick

Oil Derrick, South of Bakersfield

For every beauty there is an eye somewhere to see it. For every truth there is an ear somewhere to hear it. For every love there is a heart somewhere to receive it. Ivan Panin

“Oil Derrick” was designed and hooked by Cai King of Fresno. She writes about her family’s experience with oil and California and I’m including her story verbatim. It is very interesting and contains information that not everyone may be familiar with about California. I hope you like her story.

Although California is the third largest oil-producing state after Texas and Alaska most people do not associate the mesmerizing yo-yo nodding of the great iron grasshoppers with the sexy image of our state. The truth is, the oil industry has had and continues to have a profound financial and social influence on us and provided the underpinning of our ubiquitous car culture. Dust bowl refugees, the “Okies” from Oklahoma found work as roughnecks in the oilfields and made their mark on the Bakersfield sound of country music legends like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. My mother-in-law, a native of Broken Bow, Oklahoma, arrived in California when her father began work as a field supervisor for Standard Oil–a white-collar position that was rather unusual for an Okie at the time. My father-in-law also headed west from Oklahoma as a young man to carve out a career as a mechanic. My own father would move my mother and I from my native New Mexico to Oildale when I was a toddler so he could work for Kern County. Yes, Oildale, I’ve heard all the jokes. In later years, my youngest brother would tell the story of being in line behind a guy talking about Oildale and his friend just didn’t understand, “What? How do you spell it?”
“O-L-E-dale, stupid,” the guy responded. My brother and I can’t hear the name Oildale now without this punchline.

Oil Derrick was hooked in mostly #6 and #8 cuts in found and overdyed wool from my stash. The image was created from countless trips past the oilfield on southbound I-5. While featuring the derrick I also wanted to convey a sense of the immense fields and hills of gold that extend for miles in all directions. I love how shades of maroon wool transformed into rust iron while 23 different shades of gold/browns were used for the rolling landscape. As I hooked I thought of my husband’s forebears and their capacity to dream amidst the dirt.

What I learned:
Intent brings beauty even to the most mundane.


California Pictures

View from trail

Crumbaugh Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park

We just returned from a three-day trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California. The wildflowers were abundant due to late snowfalls. Some of the trails were still under snow although it is the middle of August.


Hooked & designed by Cai King.

After I started the postcard challenge, I asked my parents, who now live in Michigan, what image or idea they thought of when they remembered California. My father did not hesitate before saying, “Yosemite,” and then he added, “the view as you come out of the tunnel.” Of course I knew what view he was referring to—the one that includes all the Yosemite “biggies:” El Capitan, Half Dome, Clouds’ Rest, and in a wet season, Bridal veil Falls. This picturesque panorama has graced countless family Christmas cards of visitors to the Park through the years, the King family included. Trips to Yosemite include memories of my sister vomiting all over our lunches on the car ride up Highway 41 (that was a short trip!), my non-aquatic mother nearly drowning while trying to rescue my 18 month old brother after he fell into the Merced River, and a bear eating everything but the tomatoes out of our Coleman cooler. I came of age while riding the double-decker buses that toured the Yosemite Valley floor but that’s a story for another time. What can you say about Yosemite except that at least once in your life you must stand in silent awe of its magnificence?

Cai also offers some tips on hooking these small 4 by 6-inch mats that I hope other hookers will find useful.

1) Turning an image up-side down reduces the clutter in your mind so you can see simpler shapes.
2) Using the 4”x6” photo print option was perfect for resizing images so I could get an idea of how it would hook in small format.
3) Less is more.

I am amazed by the detail that Cai managed to put into this small landscape. I notice especially all the different types of wool that she used in this piece: textures, solids, spot dyes, and yarn. Notice too, her use of directional hooking to add depth and realism.


Adding text to small hooked mats can be a challenge. Although text is not needed for the postcards in this collection because their inclusion in this challenge provides context, it is something we are used to seeing in postcards.

Both Mojave and Beach Boys text are hooked into the postcard using wool strips.

The text in Jacarandas in Bloom is more complicated and I’m including Cai’s ups and downs as she figured out how to sew the letters spelling Glendale.

In my mind I had pictured a street lined with jacarandas but how to hook the street and make it “look” like LA? What about labeling it with the city name? To hook or not to hook? I HATE hooking text so if I was going to label it I had to embroider it. Out came my trusty Singer Touch & Sew II from 1977 (my only featured furnishing from that first Glendale apartment!) I found the font I wanted that gave the appearance of script you might find on a postcard on my computer, enlarged it, traced it onto tear-away stabilizer and zig-zagged it like a crazy woman unto some wool. I fiddled & I faddled to get the label to fit in the piece. Since the main tree was already hooked I didn’t want to rip it out—grrrr—but it did mean realigning the curb and changing up the background tree. Trimming the label to fit so I wouldn’t have to yank out hours of work meant that the hooking overwhelmed the letters as it butted up against the label—grrrrr–plan 12.3C: lay a secondary swatch under the label to serve as a picture “matting” to give the embroidered letters some room to “breathe”.

What I learned:

Wine Country

Let’s all raise our glasses and make a toast to Wine Country and romance.

Wine Country comes to us from Arline Keeling in Utah. She writes…

My husband takes me to California every year in June to attend Cambria Pines Rug Camp. I sometimes fantasize living in California. We absolutely love driving the coast Highway. When I think of California I think of the romantic times we’ve had in Wine Country. The vineyards and the beautiful climate are so much different from anything in Utah.

Jacarandas in Bloom

Cai King dedicates Jacaranda trees in bloom as follows:

For my Creator–Thanks for the color purple.
Love you!

Cai writes

I got to leave the Central Valley to attend college in Los Angeles. From dorm living I moved to my first apartment: a studio third floor walkup in Glendale, complete with roaches & a huge hole in the ceiling over the stove. My parents were horrified–I was in heaven. This is where I met my first jacaranda trees, not growing through my ceiling but viewed for blocks from my curtainless third floor windows. These trees bloomed purple! And when I say purple, I mean a vivid showy Hollywood drag queen purple that explodes in LA in late spring and I had never seen anything quite like it before.