Here is something you may not know about me – in addition to all the “spiritual stuff” I do, I am also a Fibre Artist. In addition to co-creating my life, I have been creating works of arts for a very long time. My creativity began in my teens as a poet in high school with a lot of encouragement from my English teacher. I had a 10 or 12 year hiatus and then discovered basket weaving. I used to make beautiful baskets and sell them through an Artisan’s Co-op, where I later found out, other basket weavers bought them. What a compliment. Then in 1992, I discovered traditional Nova Scotia rug hooking.
Now my creative work is done using re-cycle wool clothing and blankets. Wool is extremely comforting to work with. It is warm, has a lot of texture, and comes in beautiful colours. I think for the next few blogs I will share my art with you and the processes behind it. Are you ready? Here goes.
This rug is titled “Washday” (1992). It is the very first rug that I hooked. It is a pattern designed by Deanne Fitzpatrick.
We were holding our first rug hooking meeting at the Wallace Area Museum where I worked as a Curator. I had put an ad in the local paper asking anyone who was interested in learning how to rug hook to come to a meeting. Betty Brown, a local woman from Pugwash was coming to teach us how to hook. There were more than 30 women who came to the meeting, including internationally recoginzed hooker – Sara Ladd, and Deanne Fitzpatrick who at that time owned a small rug hooking shop. The shop is now much larger, and Deanne is now also an internationally recognized rug hooker. I learned at the knees of some of the most beautiful rug hookers living in Atlantic Canada. I am truly grateful for everything that these three incredible women have taught me, both about rug hooking and life. Deanne brought a selection of patterns from her shop and I choose this one for a few reasons.
I had never hooked before and want something that I could focus my technique on without having to worry about colour planning. So I choose this one because no one would expect to see the clothes on your line colour coordinated. Also, I didn’t have a big wool “stash” so I figured I could use a lot of wool scraps that the other ladies would give me, and they did. Rug hookers are very generous people. Those were the reasons for picking this pattern that I told everyone. But there were personal reasons as well.
This rug reminded me and still to this day reminds me of my mother. I lost my mother to liver cancer when I was 20, she was 42. I still miss her everyday, and still speak to her every day. This rug was a way of honouring who she was. My mother, like many women in the 40s, 50s and 60s, did her laundry every Saturday. Every Saturday. She got up early on Saturdays and did the laundry and had it hanging on the line by 9am at the latest so it would be out of the way and the rest of the day was free to do whatever we were going to do as a family.
I would have been around the age of eight, with one brother older, and three siblings younger, when one Saturday morning my mother came in and woke me. She was very, very, ill, my father was out of town and as the oldest girl, she wanted me to go down to the basement, lug up the dirty clothes and hang them on the line. I didn’t understand the reasoning behind this at first, but she patiently explained to me that I was too young to use the Wringer/Washer that we had (it was a couple of years later that we got a top load washer) and there had to be laundry hanging on the line by 9am or the neighbours would know that there was something wrong. So I had to hang unwashed clothes on the line so everyone would think that everything was ok. That logic went right over the head of an eight-year-old, but I did as I was told. This rug reminds me of that day, and my mother.
I spent a lot of time thinking of my mother and her life as I hooked the rug. I had many insights into who she was when I was a child, and who she was becoming at the time of her illness. I was always regretful that I was only beginning to know her as a person rather than “just a mom”, and that she never got to see any of her children grown, or meet any of her grandchildren. But some of the things I learned about her through this rug has cushioned those regrets a bit. She was such a teacher to me, in ways I am not even certain she was aware of. I am very grateful to have had her as my mom. This rug hangs in my kitchen where I can see it and connect with mom everyday.
To see the entire rug, be sure to click on it to open the thumbnail.