Evolution of “Murphy”


People often ask how “Murphy” came about, both as an idea and as the finished piece..so…the story behind “Murph”:

“Murphy: A girl’s best friend” is a bespoke wallhanging I made for a friend (Mary) I’ve known for about 55 years. Recently Mary had to put her best mate down (he was 16) and I offered to make a wall hanging of him. I knew Murph when I lived in the US and I knew how loyal had been to her. Mary never treated “Murph” as a child but he was her best mate and got her through some very dark times.

I wanted to NOT make something that was just a memorial to a “dead dog” but something that had a bit of his life, whimsy and loyalty about it. Mary has always been an American football fan and her favourite team is University of Michigan and their arch rival is Michigan State University (MY alma mater!). I thought the best way to show Murph’s loyalty to her was to have him chewing to bits an MSU scarf while weaaring his U of M coat.

In the meantime, Mary has moved to So. Carolina where the football team is the Clemson Tigers (Purple with the orange tiger paw) so I also put their football by Murph (lower right).

Mary is also a bit of a fan of  the Eastern Bluebird so that too had to go into the mix and I added a birdhouse and a bird on the fence.

I always try to put something “Australian” in my work (particularly when I send pieces overseas) so the Lhasa Apso dog is made from Merino Sheep’s wool and the tree is made from Scribbly Gum (Australian Eucalypt) bark-dyed cotton bedsheet and wool.

There are more “secrets” in this piece  that Mary will “get” and others won’t.

It was just fun to do for a dear friend.

For information: the piece is 28in x 20in; the tree is worked in scribbly-gum bark dyed cotton sheets and wool; Lhasa Apso dog is Meriano sheep’s wool; it also includes recycled blanket wool, knitting yarns; Waldoboro Style.

Designed and Hooked by Judi Tompkins 2013.

The following photos walk you through this process:

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4 thoughts on “Evolution of “Murphy””

  1. I took a long piece of the twisted wool in my case Merino sheep’s wool rovings – at least 4 in long) for his top coat and hooked a couple of stitches (it’s hard because you are hooking through the already hooked undercoat) then I pulled the last loop out and let the end “dangle” over the undercoat, don’t trim it yet (unless it’s in your way). Do this as much as you need to create the look you want…then go back and give the whole thing a haircut.NO. I didn’t knot anything…but because so much of my work involves Waldoboro technique where so much of the loop areas are cut, and because I use a lot of “delicate” fibres like wool rovings, mohair, cashmere, silk, etc. I always sew a backing on to permanently protect the piece.

    1. When I look at the finished rug it looks like you also added yarn to the coat, is that right? Or have you only added wool rovings?

  2. G’day Chris.
    Nope…not yarn but wool roving that was twisted hard enough (I don’t know the correct spinning term!) to create this yarn-like appearance. It wasn’t spun or twisted like “proper” knitting yarn…just enough so that the fibres held together and looked “stringy”.

    Hope that helps!


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