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Rug hooking? what is that?

There is a site where you could get free images to use however you want to use them. It is call “Upsplash“- maybe you already know about it. They are beautiful! all of them, but in my search- no rug hooking, no hooked rugs, no vintage rugs, no wool fabric for rugs…what? The image above is one I took, certainly not a professional look. Don’t these people know who we are? what this craft is? that it was a heritage craft from New England?- that there is a wonderful history that goes along with it ? that there has been a resurgence in the making of hooked rugs ?…

Tough Business

It’s a tough business- getting people to understand what you do- why you do it- why it is important- why others should , at least, learn a bit about it. There are, I imagine, other crafts out there that face similar difficulties in being understood.

Mayan women

If you were to look at the Mayan women , for example, you would see a thriving industry of hooked rugs. Their rugs are vibrant and alive with color. Look up the book, Rug Money. It is a beautiful book of how this industry changed their lives. You can see examples of some of their work if you look at the Pinterest page of Guatemalan hooked rugs.

The New England rugs can be, at times, dull- the primitive look. That all stems from the clothing actually. New Englanders wore dark, practical clothing- nothing splashy or showy. There may have been an occasional red here and there, but usually darker colors. The rugs were made from clothes that could no longer be worn after all! Other cultures have more color in their fashion lending their rugs to be more colorful. Check out this book by Judith Burger-Gossart Sadie’s Winter Dream about the Maine Seacoast Mission hooked rugs. This speaks about their cottage industry – making rugs to support their family.

Wake up mainstream

But, that isn’t the point here. The point is- the “mainstream” doesn’t know who we are! We are a vibrant community of makers too- and should be photographed! be out there in the public eye. To see a gorgeous professional photo of my work, or of someone working on a rug would be wonderful.

So- if you are reading this, you probably already know what hooked rugs are. How they might be made and with what materials. The folks that claim to be rug hookers who are using yarn in hoops to hang on the wall- well? Those might be pretty to the eye and they might take a skill set that I don’t understand- but it doesn’t really seem like they can be called “hooked rugs”. They are better described as needle punched rugs. Please don’t be offended if you are one of those makers – your work is beautiful- truly it is, but it isn’t made the traditional way with a rug hook and wool fabric.

Spread the word

Could you help the real rug hookers out there- could you say- “oh I know what that is. It is a heritage craft using wool strips on a linen foundation cloth, pulling loops up through the linen, one loop at a time”. Sometimes rugs tell stories, sometimes they depict loved ones, favorite pets, or dare I say- geometric and modern. Yes, we do it all and are proud to be hookers.

My little home business, as it is, is chugging along quite nicely. I have repeat customers and new “followers” every day. You can find me with the dye pots on the stove when the air is cooler, or sitting with my frame at night hooking away perhaps listening to an Audible book , watching Public Television or keeping up with the news. Watching the last season of Poldark makes the time fly by!

Other hookers to investigate

If you want- have a look at a few people who are making a difference in the industry- Deanne Fitzpatrick of Hooking Rugs or Wanda Kerr of WandaWorks- granted, they are both in Canada- but along with New England, they too have a rich history of making rugs. Then there is Beth Miller of Parris House Wool Works right here in Maine. Susan Feller of Artwools, from West Virginia, who I will soon meet in person… There are so many creatives hooking away trying to explain what it is that we all do. We are working hard at it and loving what we do. Maybe you could have a look at what they are working on too.

Thanks for listening- help get the word out- we are here and are strong and aren’t going anywhere soon. Take some photos of us and our rugs- make us look like all of the other great photos out there- crafting, knitting , hooking, doing.

Watch soon for a post that will highlight some of the adventures of 207 Creatives. Beth Miller and I, along with Susan Feller of Artwools are going to be on the Schooner J&E Riggin in less than 8 days. Another 16 women will join us to hook, draw, create and enjoy great food and scenery off the coast of Maine. They are coming from Michigan, Minnesota, Virginia, CT, NY, PA, Louisiana, and Maine. Don’t you wish you were joining us?

view of the J&E Riggin's sail
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