When rug hooking is as common as coal

Dear Diary, Today in our Thursday Fibre Arts Group I pondered why knitting has taken off with young people so widely. It has become mainstream. Quilting to has become mainstream. Rug Hooking is slowly growing but I think it still is a long way from mainstream across North America in the way quilting or knitting are.. When I started rug hooking twenty two years ago it was not so common as it is now. At that time one of my goals became to contribute to making it common in Maritimes homes again. I think there has been a strong grass roots movement here in Atlantic Canada and rug hooking is experiencing a serious revival. It is strong and growing. Now I would like to see that movement spread and I am thinking about how to do that. If you have any ideas I would love to hear from you.
Imagine if when you told people you hook rugs, they understood what you did with out you having to bring out your phone or your rug. I always know that when I tell people I hook rugs they are imagining those latch hook kits from the seventies, and those acrylic yarns. It is too bad really. There are alot of us. We should be able to make a movement that makes rug hooking as common as coal (local expression, I liver near Springhill, NS).
Why do I care ? I am happy hooking rugs on my own. What does it matter if someone else knows how to do it? Why bother?
Well I look at it like this . If you made a delicious cake would you want to eat it all yourself? Of course not. You want to share the goodness. I see that rug hooking opens up people’s worlds. It leads them to friendships, travel, creativity. It teaches them about beauty and art. It makes their eyes  widen, and light up. Rug Hooking adds passion to their life. It also adds a deep soothing meditative quality to their lives. It is an interest that really connects us to others, as well as to ourselves and because I love that about it I want to share it.
In the last week, three young women have walked into my studio and bought kits and I am inspired to inspire them. I know what ten minutes to yourself at a rug can do for you when you are raising young children. You always need a little time to yourself, even when you think you can least afford it.
I am inspired to see more and more older women take up the craft as well. I notice that as women’s children leave home, they have time again for themselves and for the new friendships that are so accessible in the rug hooking community. I look at Ravelry for knitting, that has hundreds of thousands of users and I think…”Oh wouldn’t it be nice.”
We are a force you know, us, this wild band of women, with our big bags of wool in tow. We have to show the world what we got.

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20 thoughts on “When rug hooking is as common as coal

  1. I was asked to do a presentation at a ladies group regarding one of my ‘hobbies’ which is restoring and bringing back to life and using, old rusted cast iron cookware. I asked if instead I might talk about rug hooking, and happily they were pleased to switch topics.
    I love showing people the basics of hooking and watching faces as they look at piles of rugs, old and antique, wool fabrics, strips, frames, hooks etc etc. So many of them have a story to tell about an aunt or granny that made rugs! ( and everyone has a latch hook story arrrgggh)

    Until I read your post I never really thought about it, but have decided I am ‘evangelist’ for rug hooking, yakking it up whenever I can.
    A few years ago a book store that hangs art exhibits asked me to hang some rugs, I was kind of skeptical as the art usually shown is pretty professional, and my work is pretty primitive. I hung some antique rugs and some of my own and to my amazement it was very popular, it hung an extra month.
    Again, lots of stories came out and I actually received some old rugs and supplies as gifts from someone who was planning to toss them till she read the newspaper write-up!

    I have started lots of friends off with a small project, most finished, but only a few became real ‘hookers’. But even one finished piece is a testament to our foremother’s art of thrift and creativity and is now in the world for others to see and enjoy.( and ask questions about!)

    Keep on doing what you do so well Deanne, maybe rug hooking is not as mainstream as knitting or crochet, but that just makes it more wonderful!

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  2. Deanne….Usually I draw and hook my own patterns. However, I treated myself with a Christmas Present this year buying your “Gray Barn in Field of Flowers” kit. I joined “Busy Fingers” +/- 25 ladies at the RV resort where I have been staying for the first time this winter. None of the gals had been exposed to “real” rug hooking…just the latch hook/yarn of years ago. As the winter progressed they were eager to see the progress. As many were knitters, I soon acquired bits and pieces of their projects and added whatever to my project. At their suggestion and with some donated yarn, a small pond has flowed into the lower left corner and a setting or rising sun is soon to appear in the yet to hook sky. They have enjoyed being involved in the project and are eager to see the finished project next winter when I return. In addition, through a Mesa monthly hooking group, I met lovely Sharon Broadbent from Mahone Bay. We have hooked together weekly all winter. I hope Sharon will be arriving at your studio on her return trip to NS. Thanks for providing much enjoyment this winter. You are a gift and indeed making the world a more beautiful place.

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  3. I am now crazy about cabbages, not to eat, to hook..my 16 year old Granddaughter and I spent last night designing Cabbages .. The images that came up on my IPAD were mind boggling! Thought I would tackle a.16 inch cushion, With a 10 inch curly cabbage as the centre piece Whoooo. Can hardly wait to get home from my teen age sitting job in London to sort through all my wools.

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  4. My rug hooking group are having the annual Hook- In Saturday March 6th. Rug Hookers come from many areas in South Western Ont. There will be 6 vendors there. this event has grown so popular we have now had to rent a bigger place. More and more ladies are joining our group each week. The word is certainly getting around.

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  5. Hi Deanne,

    Who knew that some cabbages would be the subject of such a beautiful work of art. Love it Deanne……………….Barbara

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  6. Hi Deanne,

    Great to see Stacy Little John’s tree trunk in the news letter. I just love it. Great piece of art Stacy. Stacy came back, to our Ingersoll group, from your workshop last fall. She introduced me to your site. That was it. I started rug hooking and haven’t stopped. I’m entering two pieces in our members show at the Ingersoll Creative Arts Centre. I signed up for your May workshop last fall and I excitedly and eagerly wait to attend next month.

    The best way to spread the word. Keep talking it up and showing it off.

    Cheers to both you and Stacy.

    Barbara Scott
    Hooker (Sounds so naughty. – I love it.)
    Ingersoll, ON

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  7. Hi Deanne,I agree with your sentiments entirely and for years I have been on a mission to spread the joy of hooking in the far west of Cornwall here in the UK.,and it is lovely to see how many hookers we now have!It is our 5th annual charity hook-in next week and it just grows and grows.
    What I would love to do would be to hook up with a hooking group overseas to do joint projects with….any ideas anyone?
    I am in several groups…one is a small closed group and we LOVE challenges and to really stretch our creativity.
    Would love to return to N.S. one day!

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  8. In the early 80’s we lived in Kentucky, near Lexington. One day at the mall, I found a group of ladies hooking away at their frames. Believe it or not, I had never seen it before. One of the ladies was a teacher. Before I left I was signed up to come to her house to join a group and learn to hook…we were in Kentucky for about four years, and I never missed a hooking day!
    I have hooked at the local Farmers Market…I hope to do that again, with others, and find more venues that would welcome a few hookers on the side! I can take small projects and my lap frame to the doctor’s office, to the park with grandkids, and on trips…I’ll make a concerted effort to be more public with my hooking (!)…perhaps even to the library with a friend. We have active hooking guilds in Colorado, but I don’t know how much they do to spread the joy, encourage young people, or leave a legacy of hooks and wool to future generations. I’ll look into it. Being “a force”…”us, a wild band of women…with big bags of wool in tow”…how can the world resist?! Carol

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  9. I don’t think rug hooking will ever be as widespread as other hand work because it is so labor intensive and takes up more room and uses more equipment. Also, so many people are intimidated by designing their own patterns. You have to have many fabrics/yarns, have to cut the fabric–that is why the old time kits were so popular, but they were cheap and uninteresting also! Knitting and crochet, embroidery are more portable and take less planning, but rug hooking will always have a place as a wonderful, inimitable art form!

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  10. Deanne, Our local Stitcher Guild is offering a rug hooking class. I have not been able to find affordable wool. I know beside myself,most of the guild members are on fixed income. Can you offer any information for affofdable rug hooking wool and other supplies. Thank-You Shirley

    g

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  11. Hi Deanne,
    When I tell someone I’m rug hooking almost everyone thinks I’m talking about those same rugs you described from the 70’s. I have to admit that I did do a couple of those kits when I was young. But I explain to them the difference and if I have a computer nearby I always show them your website. So many people have commented about how wonderful your work is, how artistic your work is.
    I think rug hooking isn’t as popular for a few reasons: it isn’t quite as portable as knitting, people can’t wear or cover themselves with their creations, people are not exposed to or aware of the different styles of rug hooking (such as yours) and a lack of opportunities in areas outside of the eastern provinces. In Toronto we have a number of knitting “cafes” and day and weekly classes offered at these little independent shops. Sometimes getting supplies for hooking can be a challenge. That is one of the reasons I love your store so much — everything under one roof and some of the friendliest customer service to be found!
    Thanks for teaching me how to hook!

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  12. I took a class with a gal and we did a wee sampler years ago. Luved it but I have serious $$$ invested in fabric and quilting. Found you throuugh TN&TN. I am sew tempted to add this. :O Am I seeing felted strips and wool yarn. Your work is lovely and I do hope that this wonderful craft takes its place along side the others. Bless you!

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  13. And … Dare I say it on a site that sells patterns !? But I just have to. We need to encourage people to find their own voice. (And I know Deanne does that). So please, with at least one out of every couple of rugs — do your own design!!!! If rug hooking is truly to be considered the art form it has the potential to be, we must be brave enough to put sharpie to burlap or linen and tell our own stories rather than an adaptation of somebody else’s. I just returned from my first rug hooking camp (which happened to be in Texas) and was shocked to realize that out of 64 people I was one of about 3 people hooking my own design. Sorry for the rant but I’m pretty passionate about this subject!

    I’ll get off my soapbox now:)

    Roberta xo

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