Rearview Fridays: rug hooking

On Fridays I dig up an old project, craft or choreography or costume, and feature it here. However I am not the star of today’s Rearview Friday. My Nana is. But my humble contribution is pictured, circa 1989. Hers is just a “hare” younger than I am because she made it for my toddler self. Read on …

I love rug hooking. And I don’t mean that awful, fluffy polyester latch hooking stuff from the 80s, though that has it’s place I’m sure, I mean traditional hooked rugs. Practical art made from wool on a burlap backing. My grandmother spent her retired years rug hooking and I knew implicitly that she loved it. As I write this post I realize I have no idea how she found rug hooking [note to self: check with auntie about that]. She and her group of “hooker” friends (my 6 year old self did not get the joke) made the most lovely, textured pieces. I think they even had lacquered, handmade wood name badges that said “happy hookers” on them. I remember watching her cut wool on her cutting tool, dust motes swirling, she leaning back and looking down her nose through bifocals then leaning back into her work. And I would hang about near her work table fingering the stripes of dyed wool, loving the texture, the variation in the dye and contrast in colours.

My Nana taught me how to hook rugs when I was a tween. She was both smart and kind enough to have me work on coloured burlap so that I didn’t have to fill in the background. The hoop still has my name written on it in her handwriting.

Thinking about Nana and her rugs has me waxing nostalgic. I feel a deep yearning for her and Edmonton, my home city of big sky and crisp cold. Thinking about this post also made me curious, prompted me to look for Ontario hookers — and it seems there’s a lot of action up North (that sounds so wrong, I’ll give you a moment to collect yourself, but I really am taking burlap and wool here ladies and gents) and I am sure that at some point, even if it takes me umpteen years, I’ll find my way into this art. It’s a meeting of painting and craft. I won’t be able to resist. But for now I should really stay on sewing and parenting task, plenty at hand. So many things to do with my hands and so little time.

My Nana bunnies:

I am so happy that I carry a piece by Nan. She made this one as a chair back cushion and my tiny self did sit against this lovely rug on my tiny rocking chair. As you can see, she wielded wool like paint. She also used a very fine grade or cut of wool that yielded finely detailed rugs. Her initials sit in the bottom right, RK, Ruth Kendal. My father’s mother. For her I am thankful in ways impossible to articulate in words, but I know her art and vivaciousness permeate my life and work inextricably. Happy, inspired Friday folks!

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