Southampton wants more Hookers in the new year

As we head into 2020, many people aspire to doing something different in the new year, perhaps, by taking up a new hobby that is a return to an earlier time.

One of the crafts that has seen a resurgence in popularity is the tradition of ‘hooking’ whether it’s rugs, floor mats or wall hangings.

                                             A hookers’ workshop (Saugeen Times archive photo)

From the time of early history, when the Vikings were believed to have brought the technique of hooking to Scotland, rug hooking was once known as the “craft of poverty” in a time when women crafted rugs from scraps to cover bare floors.

According to history, the earliest forebears of hooked rugs were the floor mats made in Yorkshire, England, during the early part of the 19th century. Workers in weaving mills were allowed to collect thrums or pieces of yarn that ran 9 inches (23 cm) long. These by-products were useless to the mill so the weavers would take them home and pull the thrums through a backing creating a rug.  The practice of traditional rug hooking saw rug makers putting to use whatever materials were available. Antique hooked rugs were created on burlap after 1850 because old grain and feed bags was free. Every and any scrap of fiber that was no longer usable as clothing was put into rugs.

Rug hooking as we know it today may have developed in North America, specifically along the Eastern Seaboard in New England in the United States, the Canadian Maritimes, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

In more recent decades, hookers have followed quilters in exploring new materials and new techniques. Combined with knowledge and respect for the past, this let rug hooking evolve and grow in the 21st century.

Today, rug hooking has evolved into two genres that fall into groups based upon the width of the wool strip employed to create a rug: fine hooking and primitive hooking.

Primitive (or wide-cut) hooking uses wool strips measuring 6/32 up to 1/2-inch wide. The wide-cut hooking allows beautiful shading and highlights using textures in wool, such as plaids, checks, herringbones, etc.  The wide-cut designs are generally less detailed and mimic the naivety of rug hookers of the past.

Today, local hookers are keeping the primitive practice of traditional rug hooking alive and well in Southampton, meeting year round at the Chantry Centre 50+ on Monday mornings.

The robust group of experienced hookers are only too happy to coach and encourage those who want to join in and learn to create works of art rugs and wall hangings using recycled materials or purchased wool from ready-made patterns or those who want to try to create their own.

Each year, the Ontario-wide Hooking Guild also meets where visitors travel from far and wide to have the opportunity to show their work and pick up new ideas.

Locally, the Hookers meet Monday mornings from 9:30 – noon at the Chantry Centre where anyone interested in the ancient craft can drop in for a coffee and see some of the completed works and meet and talk with those are creating their current pieces.

For more information, contact Sybil Mercer at 519-797-5337.