Saturday, January 17, 2009


I hook with wide-cut strips on a burlap foundation. Even though my designs may look non-traditional, they are still being hooked in the traditional primitive style. It's important to me to continue working to produce beauty with a purpose.

The other day I was reading about the virtues of hooking on a linen foundation as opposed to one of burlap. I have often read these arguments and I keep wondering what all the fuss is about.

I watched my mother hook rugs for our home. She saved all the wool - and wool-type - garments and sewing remnants in a cupboard. When she saw a need to have a mat at a door or bedside, my father would get out the frame and he's fasten on the burlap for her. Mom drew her design and worked at the rug in her spare time - she had 5 kids. My favorite design was the Kellogg's Corn Flakes 'rooster' logo. It was green, red and yellow with a gray background. She thought it would be a cheerful addition to our kitchen floor - and it was.

I can't remember how long it took to make one but it didn't seem like more than a month. I was a kid, who knows? Suddenly the mat would appear. And then it would go down on the floor and it would be used. Our floors were hardwood and every bedroom had a mat beside it. Some were hooked, not by my mother, but by older women in the family whom I had never met. They were all hooked on burlap with wool strips or wool yarn. Some were quite old then.

The argument is that the linen doesn't break down as does burlap and will therefore last longer. That rug that you spent time designing, collecting and/or dyeing the wool, cutting the strips and finally hooking them in will disintegrate. Well, duh! Of course, it will. And, do I care if it disintegrates in hundred years or a thousand? Not really. I am not creating museum pieces...I want my rugs to be used. Walked on;, sat on; slept on. Loved for their warmth as much as for their artistic merit.

If I compare the mats I hook to the knitted garments and socks that I make, well, I sure wouldn't want the socks I spent time designing and knitting to be hung on a wall to look at. Is there a difference with rugs? I don't really think there is. I love how working in this way connects me to the story of people who have made garments for their families and objects to use in their homes.

I'm happy with the way things are. For me.


Rosemary aka fabricfan said...

Thanks for writing about your mother, I didn't know about your rug hooking background.

Anonymous said...

Well said - I think that handmade items, heirlooms or not, are meant to be used, not just put away in a cupboard or hung on a wall!



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