Barbara Ann Carroll, born 2 September 1940 into this world and 12 June 2022 into the next one, knows how to throw a party. In the corner of heaven inhabited by creative souls, the party may never end.
Known around the world by practitioners of the art of primitive rug hooking, Barb has spent four decades learning, mastering and spreading the skills of rug pattern design, hooking technique, and especially her own virtuoso sense of color and texture usage. Barb is the co-author of four books on various rug hooking topics and has written dozens of feature articles for rug hooking magazines.
While living in Sedalia, MO in the early 1980s Barb and her pal Bobbie True drove to Kansas City and crashed a class being taught by Emma Lou Lais, the great big band era singer who learned rug hooking from her mother. Emma Lou tolerated the intrusion but gave them small projects meant to discourage them. They kept coming back, projects completed, and Their hooking talent was quickly evident. Soon Barb and Bobbie were were driving all over the Midwest looking for vintage wool skirts in thrift shops, and surreptitiously setting them on fire to weed out the synthetics.
Barbara attended hooking workshops around the country, learning more skills and developing her style - and her reputation as a superb rug planner - and was soon teaching classes herself. Along the way, many pots of foul smelling dyed wool were brewed to create just the right colors. When she and husband Wayne Carroll moved to Ligonier, PA in 1995 and purchased a large property suitable for a bed and breakfast operation, the Woolley Fox was born.
For ten years the Woolley Fox B&B hosted guests who marveled at the Americana arts and furniture that Barb has been collecting since her early 20s. Her sense of design and color is not limited to rugs: every room in the Woolley Fox evidenced her skill at whimsical harmony and house tours were a joyful voyage of discovery. The Woolley Fox rug business was building momentum at the same time, with Barb creating patterns, negotiating distribution deals with other artists and building a wool stockpile (in bolts, not disassembled and dyed skirts) that became legendary.
Soon the Woolley Fox was hosting an annual rug camp that grew large enough to take over the Ligonier Ramada Inn for a week every year, with local businesses handing out hooker specials. Barbara loved promoting the art of rug hooking, but she also loved promoting her community and Ligonier’s assortment of artisans, antique dealers, restauranteurs, and shop owners valued her friendship and enjoyed not only the business she brought to town, but the laughter and silliness as well.
Barbara’s daughters Diane (Tom Lestina) and Robin (Loren Jensen) got married during the Sedalia years and grandchildren Jack and Abigail Lestina and Molly and Nicholas Jensen soon became a special focus for Barbara, who bought them toys she didn’t understand (Pokémon and Nintendo games), watched them play sports she didn’t understand (tennis and soccer), supported everything they did, and loved them the best way she knew how. Many of the early Woolley Fox guests were served meals and refreshments by an assortment of grandchildren.
Barbara’s husband Wayne had a career that kept them constantly moving before arriving in Ligonier. At every stop along the way, Barbara painted and decorated as if she would never leave. She read mystery novels in every single room of every single home. She also collected friends as if they would always be together. While the addresses changed frequently, the collections of treasures and treasured friends only grew larger. Thus, there are many people who will miss her.
Meanwhile, Barb is throwing heavenly parties, reunited with her parents - Joseph Hammond James and Lois Elizabeth (Posie) Carter - and Wayne, friends (like Bobbie True and Jo Northrop) and teachers and students and all the beloved dogs and cats that lived with her along the path she travelled. She is showing off her breakfast muffins, telling the hooker’s pasta story, finally sharing the recipe for Aunt Adabelle’s meat sauce, and picking the brains of the first women who turned scraps of clothing into what became one of North America’s signature textile crafts - the hooked rug.
Waiting their turns to join the party are her siblings Bill James and Judy Enis, her daughters and their families (including first great-grand Monica Lestina), favorite niece Ann Curtis and two very opinionated Maine Coon cats.
Services will be on July 22 at St. Cecilia (220 St. Cecilia Road, Whitney PA 15650) A rosary at 10:30 and funeral mass at 11:00. In lieu of flowers, Barbara would love to be remembered with donations to the National Museum of the American Coverlet in Bedford, PA and the Holy Trinity Catholic Church food pantry in Ligonier.