Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Some of the History of Rug Hooking in Australia and our next meeting details

The next meeting of the Yarra Valley Rugmakers will be held on Saturday 10th January at Anne's home in Warrandyte. Please contact for details. All welcome

I promised that after I wrote the Blog article about the 2014 Strathalbyn Rug Expo, that I would write something of the history of rug making in Australia.

As I wrote here on this Blog- 24th Oct-
I purchased an old, but in perfectly excellent condition  5’x7’  floor rug pattern by Rittermere Designs in Canada, called 'Tehran', which is possibly 30 years old or more. Faye, who sold off all her rug hooking paraphernalia was a member of the Elizabeth Rug Hooking group in Sth Australia. This is her story.
“The Elizabeth Rug Hooking Group was active in Elizabeth South Australia, from 1973 to about 1993.  It was led by the late Pam Whitehead.  Pam spent some years in Canada and was an accredited  
The Rittermere rug, 'Tehran' hooked by a member of the Elizabeth Rug Hooking group
Pearl McGown rug teacher.  Pam was also a friend of Mr and Mrs Rowan who owned ‘Rittermere’ Designs in Toronto Canada. The Rowans sold their business some years ago.  Pam held rug hooking classes in the local TAFE adult education centre in Elizabeth for some years and then in her home.   Today, there are only about 3 of us still alive.  I was the youngest member.   We took part in many community events by mounting displays and giving rug hooking demonstrations.   Several of our
Local S.A news paper, 1986
exhibitions were featured in articles in Arts and Crafts magazines.   One of my pieces formed part of an art exchange with sister city Austin Texas.   Elizabeth Rug Hookers received a Council Grant to pay for exhibition frames to display our rugs and wall hangings.   I was the secretary of the Northern Adelaide Arts Guild for several years to help promote our craft over 3 council areas for Salisbury, Elizabeth and Gawler.   I left Elizabeth in 1988 to live in Victoria and moved back to SA in 1998 but have not hooked since I finished my Sheep rug in 1990 made from a kit purchased at Priscilla’s needlework shop in Prahran. 
The photographs sent to you were taken at one or more of our exhibitions and were in my photo
Clipping from The Age news paper, Melbourne, 1991
album.  We used to hire the Lyndoch Institute Hall every 2 years for the Barossa Vintage Festival week and hang our rugs and wall hangings and provide morning and afternoon tea for a small donation.  Our husbands were most important in putting up the display and taking it down for us.  We did this about 3 or 4 times but then age began to catch up with many of the rug hooking members and the output of rugs slowed.  We were an active group for many years and Joyce Emery and I did some rug hooking teaching in the area when Pam could not do it anymore.  Pam was the importer of the rug canvases and batches of cutting machines and hooks and reference books.  I imported some items to replace worn parts in cutting machines, books and hooks to keep my classes in supplies but both Pam and I found the import duty and some regulations made it all too hard.
All of this happened before websites were available and when computers were used for word processing and calculation and the words ‘social media’ had not been invented.”

Jacqui Thomson from  Narrawilly Proggy Rugs, in Milton, NSW continues the story.
“Australian rugs have their own individuality and from slow beginnings the enthusiasm for making rugs has spread to every State, and today we have healthy groups in Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, Queensland, ACT and New South Wales. We can now boast an Australian Rugmakers Guild formed on 11 October, 2008, with Board members from each State, and meetings held using Skype. We have welcomed rug makers from Israel, Japan, Canada, America and England over the years and our members have visited rug makers in Wales, Canada, England, Japan and the USA.
Miriam Miller from Milton in NSW, and instigator of the Narrawilly Proggy Ruggers, teacher, Emeritus of the ARG, and Past President of The International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers is a driving force in the promotion of rug making in Australia; she is the author of Australia’s first rug book ‘Proggy and Hooky Rugs’, and has recently brought forward a revised edition. Her students have travelled from every corner of our country.”

More from Jo Franco in WA soon.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Christmas meeting of the Yarra Valley Rug Makers

Another year gone by. We had so much to talk about at this meeting, but that is nothing unusual off course.
As we belatedly celebrated International Rug Hooking day, held on the 4th December, we shared about how we got started, and the international influences in our work that made us who we are today. Having said that, each of us has really developed our own Aussie style as well, which sets us apart from hookers across the waters. It is still so much harder for us Aussies to get hold of tools and materials though, and the cost of postage from the States, the UK and Canada often make it prohibitive. However we are thankful that a small handful of women in SA, Sydney and Q'land have done some of the hard work for us and a limited amount of tools available. Thank you ladies for that.  So we are not totally isolated.
Joy brought her lovely mum Margaret along again, who sat knitting away while enjoying the company of the 'hookers'. She is also a crafter and a very good one from what we saw. She had a happy surprise to tell us but I had better not tell as I am not sure whether she wanted this fact published on the Blog. Maybe next time.
Anne worked on her lovely colourful Santa Rug...will she have it finished for Christmas...I wonder? We will see.

Joy had finished her gorgeous 'The last leaf' rug. It is surely a winner and also started whipping her Manet Melon rug. She checked out Simone Vojvodin's Herringbone whipped edge video, for instructions, and for which we have a link right here on the Blog.  She completed quite a bit of it before home time. The herringbone stitch, worked in a matching rug wool makes a lovely finish to her rug. She certainly picked it up quick smart.
Jen joined us just after lunch as she had to work in the morning but didn't want to miss out on our special Christmas meeting.
She is adapting her daughters lovely painting into a rug. Check out that lovely sun, it will be very different from her carpet rug that she had been working on previously.
Leeanne came and joined us for a short time, just in time for lunch.
Sandra is doing magnificently with her Shaun the Sheep rug. Her young grandson has already claimed it. He certainly has good taste as Sandra is doing a wonderful job on it.                                     
Our lunch was to 'dye' for with everyone trying to accommodate special gluten free foods for our dear Joy. I think she appreciated that. :)
Chris had finished her last Grandson's Sam rug and also had the finishing edge to do. As she did on her other portrait rugs, she used a thick, wool, piped edge in a matching colour to her hooking. It is a lovely edge and quite quick to do. Only one more of her grandchildren to go and she is pleased to do a little girl for the last of her portraits. This will be a challenge.

We missed Robyne, who has been faithfully looking after her ill dad, bless her.  Hope you come back soon Robyne.
All too soon we departed again, each to their own home. 

At this time on behalf of the Yarra Valley Rug Makers, I would like to wish all our followers and readers a Blessed Christmas as we celebrate the reason for the season, the birth of Jesus, as well as a happy, joyful 2015.
Keep coming back to the Blog as more will be added before our next meeting in January.
left to right: The last leaf by Joy Marshall; Joy and Chris working on the herringbone stitch; Sam by Chris Noorbergen

Friday, 28 November 2014

Meet Sam the man, grandson number five

This is Sam, grandson number five.  He is 3/4 of the way finished. Still a bit of tweaking to do on the face, but I'll do that at the end. This is a very different background than my other portraits. I will be looking forward to doing a little girl though for my next and last portrait rug.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Canadian Rug Hooker visiting Australia

Katherine with her hit and miss horse rug

 It is always a pleasure to be able to host anyone who needs a bed for the night, but it makes it very special when that person and her husband is a seasoned Rug Hooker.

Her beautiful Pearl Mcgown roses rug
As I was talking to Miriam Miller on Skype last week she happened to mention that she had received a phone call and subsequent visit from Canadian Rug Hooker, Katherine Cornthwaite and her husband. Alan and Katherine are doing a two months tour around Australia and Katherine had a pressing need to catch up with Rug Hookers along the way. Well we all know what that is like. Katherine had brought along two lovely rugs to work on as they travelled. You have to be keen don't you. So after their visit to Miriam in Milton where they were received in the true hospitable Miriam Miller style, I received a phone call from Katherine on Friday evening. They were in Lakes Entrance and wondered if they could drop by.
They arrived on Saturday afternoon and we hit it off like a house on fire. I promise we didn't stop 'rug talking' until we went to bed that night.

As they are Christian people they welcomed the invitation to come to church the following morning. After lunch and more rug talk and sharing of ideas and links we parted company and they went off to continue their holiday, leaving newly made friends behind. Unfortunately they will be flying home before our next meeting in December. Katherine would have loved to come and join the Yarra Valley Rug Makers at their December meeting.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

November meeting of the Yarra Valley rug makers

The day was bright and perfectly lovely for a Rug making get together. We started the morning off rather later than usual. Joy took the wrong turn, Anne was held up by road works and Sandra ended up in San Remo near Phillip Island. A good start to the day indeed. However it only got better from there. It was great to see our newest member Sandra again. She would be about my [Chris'] closest neighbour in the rug hooking world here in Victoria, being about an hours drive from Loch. it was great to see her.

Her Shaun the sheep rug was looking lovely indeed and more than half done by the time she left. Off course I didn't help things when I mistook him for an owl, having been brought up on the wrong side of the world I had never heard of him, while every one else had grown up with the mischievous little sheep.

Anne’s larger than life pear rug chair pad is looking rather grand with its lovely dark, contrasting background, and Anne now has the end of the rug in sight. But she is already thinking about her next project. 
In due time it too will appear on the Blog, so I better not give too much away. 
Joy is doing a superb job with her painterly, almost monochromatic moonscape rug. Her autumn leaf stands out beautifully from the surrounding landscape and really sets it off. It really is a work of art and will be a wonderful keepsake.
I [Chris] am working on two rugs at the time. One for at home, the other portable one is my fifth portrait of Grandson Sam, which is coming along nicely.
The Persian rug, purchased as a pattern on a Scottish Burlap backing took some time getting the colour plan together, but I think, so far I am happy with the result. It will be easier to get a picture of the whole when I have done a bit more.  

We missed some of our faithful members today and with Christmas nearly upon us we have decided to make our 13th December meeting a special Christmas celebration day with lovely goodies to eat and share. We will also partake in International Rug hooking Day, even though a bit late. IRHD will be celebrated on the 4th December, with lots of members all over the world stopping to share a cuppa or hook a rug together. Here in Victoria we will no doubt chat and share about personal and internet experiences we have had with our rugging friends across the world, as well as talk about how we can be involved in spreading the word about rug hooking to other Victorians.

And so our day came to an end, with each person hopefully arriving home in a relatively shorter time than they arrived.
Cheers till next time.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Strathalbyn Rug Expo October 2014

People from all over Australia converged on Strathalbyn for the Expo and workshop weekend during the weekend of the 12th and 13th October. Some flying, some driving, some even walking.
Four members of the Yarra Valley Rug Makers attended, with two members teaching workshops on dyeing and portrait hooking. The students were a bit low in number, but those who did attend workshops had a wonderful time sharing, getting to know one another and renewing friendships.
One delightful and very helpful ex-rug maker, Faye Godfrey, had a stall with her husband, selling off all her access materials and tools, as well as giving lots away. We were certainly blessed by this and brought much home for our other members to peruse.She was so willing to share of her talents in rug hooking. I personally loved listening to her rug tales and helpful advice.

                           Marion is transferring the pattern of her                           Jo, teaching her skills to a workshop participant
                                    husband's portrait rug to her backing

                               Chris' portrait hooking workshop                                        Judy with her beautiful sculptured rug

Some of us also purchased patterns on burlap and Chris ambitiously bought a lovely 5’ x 7’ Persian pattern on Scottish Burlap. As a result and through the exchange of emails after the event I [Chris] learned a lot about the rug hooking history in Sth Australia in the 1970s and 1980s. I was amazed and surprised that there was such an active and good sized group of women who did beautiful work through the guidance of their teacher, Pam Whitehead, who was Pearl McGown accredited. I received some photos of two finished rugs the same as was purchased by myself, which was a great help in colour planning my own rug.

                                                            Joy in the dye kitchen                   Marion and Chris working on Marion's portrait rug

                                     This is a photo I took of the rug pattern.           This is a finished rug of the pattern, 
                                                                                                                            hooked by one of the women of 
                                                                                                                                Pam Whitehead's group back 
                                                                                                                                           in 1970-1980
 More on the history of Rug Making in Sth Australia at a later date.
Judy also had lots of lovely wool to give away  This was a wonderful and generous gesture on her behalf for those starting out and have only a small stash at home. It also was much appreciated.
We were so well looked after by the Sth Aus ladies, who provided meals for the three days of the weekend. This was much appreciated and we all enjoyed each others company very much. 
Thanks ladies for your hospitality and friendship.

 Luscious meals were enjoyed by all. Thank you to all the S.A and W.A ladies for all the effort you put into making the Strathalbyn Expo the success that it was. :)

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Not So Nylon Now

The background is following a mood of Magdalena Briny Eby, sort of. I don't have a plan so much as am working abstractedly. Originally I thought I'd use all blues, then all drabs, but now the combo of shades and colour is melding the dear little deer into the image, rather than having it too prominent. I think the (wide) border will be striped, fanning outwards? Hmmm... not sure yet.

The beginning of the rug was Grandma's clothes, but the fabrics I've accumulated over many embroidering years are Vast and Silken, so they come into it when the colour is right. It's nice to work with silks too.

I almost 100% refuse to buy synthetics, but sometimes there's bling that wants in.

I've been cutting my strips off grain. Not particularly on the bias, just enough to avoid fraying. Or, cutting wide and folding the raw edges into the centre. I have an iron set up next to my table. The more I do, the less I use the iron though, and just hold it in. I've never really been terribly fond of 'rows' of loops, so try to twist them a bit... it depends. The ironed strips are very uniform as loops you see.
A few of the silks I've had to hold two strips (worms) as they haven't been thick enough to stay.
I'm really enjoying this rug... do I say that every time? This feels more me than the last (fox seat cover) and I'm learning loads. It's harder on the hands to use regular fabric... wool is so gentle, but worth the effort! I've used an old skirt of mine that I wore to death and fading. It's a nice pink and now it's all gone and no longer a burden (burden as in, sitting in my stash wanting to be used). I LOVE using up my fabric! My lifetime goal is to use all of my fabric.

Monday, 20 October 2014

October at Anne's

We had another lovely play at Anne's house in Warrandyte Saturday past. Anne is here Still working on her pear chair pad. The colours are amazing (hand-dyed). I've thought I could quite happily nick those greens many a time.
Here I am (Robyne, on the left wearing Grandma's shirt, which I pulled out of my stash when I started my new rug, but kept to wear instead of cutting it up with the rest of her clothes) with Sandra from Hastings. Sandra seemed a little daunted, as I did the first time I tried hooking and got the hook in a tangle and thought it seemed harder than it is after an hour on my own. I sincerely hope Sandra stays and gets the bug. We have a lot to talk about... crafts of course, but also Sandra is keen on Genealogy and so am I. Mad for it actually (me that is, at least). I didn't have time (in my brain) to stay long enough to really chat (too much to do at home)... so maybe next time??
We all hope so. This is a most satisfying craft. I love the practicality of it and plan vast floor coverings for when we've finished renovating (haven't started on the house yet so have time to work towards it). 

Joy is our resident teacher. She patiently goes through the steps (difficult to do with me offering helpful advice at every step) (You can see me here watching and being terribly ready to jump in).

I found Joy, then Gene Shepherd, very helpful to watch and listen to... but found my stride after it,  seeing Heather Ritchie, who 'just goes for it'.
Joy explains the technique patiently and clearly so one understands the concept and practicality of the loop, which is the basis from which to jump. Heather isn't so precise in her tutorial (and you need the basic understanding) but 'paints' and jumps in in a way I love. When I say precise, I mean that some hookers like the even-ness of same sized-same direction loops and others don't so much. Of course there are no rules, only interesting 'marks' or textures.
Anyhow... on I go as usual.
Our little group is little, but so fond and warm and delightful. I can only manage to get there every couple of months, and perhaps not for a whole day (sniff!), but I look forward to it and feel renewed by the nice, enthusiastic, happy crowd that we are.
Thanks Blossoms!! xx

P.S. I think we have another dyeing day looming. Not next month, but soon.