Sometimes a dream takes awhile to realize. Here are three photos of my rug designed for the small community theatre in St Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick (Canada). Since I was on the board that worked to refurbish the current little theatre and to build an eventual multi-purpose new theatre space in town, I wanted to add something tangible. I could have bought a spot on the donor plaques for $100, but in my relatively new hooker naiveté, I decided something was needed to spruce up a blank grey and black wall in the theatre itself. I’d taken to the craft and art of rughooking in 2002 like the proverbial duck to water, as my love affair with the myriad colours and textures of fabric and yarn began at a very young age. There were murals designed and painted in the lobby and washrooms, but the performance space seemed awfully bland.
So, in 2004, I began drawing my favourite features of the town, to be hooked by me and any of our group who wished to help. Wool was also donated from the group, some of which I dyed and some used as-is; most of the wool came from my stash.
I then blew up my final little sketch on a photocopier and drew it onto primitive linen, to a size of 4 ft by 5 ft (wide). As I said, I was a newbie, not realizing the exponential amount of time needed to hook something that large. My previous pieces had been a couple of small mats and a few in the 12-20″ x 20-27″ ranges. I soon transferred it to a borrowed standing frame, which stayed at the church hall where the group meets every Wednesday evening. There is more recycled wool in the rug than new, cut from #3 through #8 and on to hand-torn, plus wool yarn, which created a very textured surface and a miscellany of detail. Featured helpers were Hella Haun, for the rocks and windmill (indicative of Kingsbrae Garden, the 27-acre public garden where I worked; Hella’s son is the GM) and Jan Hunter, for the lighthouse. I particularly did not want to work to a deadline, as I had enough of those at work and elsewhere in my life. But, we made a fairly sudden move to Toronto, due to my husband’s new job, so I desperately wanted to finish it and not have to: a) pack it, to finish later and b) courier or carry it back. Most everyone in our group at least hooked a few loops; some hooked many, in the border, various trees, sky, etc. At our annual “Hurricane Hook-in”, Nov 3, 2012, our visitors were also invited to help us race the clock; I was very glad of their help.
Working around the frame, trying to beat the emergency deadline, are (L) Lynn Kozak, Maureen McIlwain, Nancy Carson, Hella Haun and Sandra Lewis, a few of the Quoddy Loopers rughooking group. In the background is Suzanne Bousquet, tirelessly cutting wool as quickly as 7 or 8 people could hook it. (I can’t place the mystery legs). Others were taking a break; I won’t list them, as I’m bound to leave someone out. I could not have finished the rug before leaving town without the help of the whole group.
It did get finished, very early in the morning of my departure for “Upper Canada”, with more help from the group working on the yarn whipping at the Ross Museum, where the Quoddy Loopers help in the museum’s yearly fundraiser. The annual open house of the elegant decorative arts museum is decorated to the yearly theme, room by room, by families and groups. Felicitously, it was “A Seaside Christmas” for 2012. So, for the final two days of the open house, the finished St Andrews mat was on display, along with new and old rugs from the group. Members also take turn doing hooking demonstrations (though not usually sitting on the floor, whipping like mad) while the public files through and admires each decorated room. School children from the area are also brought through during the weekdays; some have shown a lively interest in the craft.
Then, in September of 2012, I was finally able to get down to St Andrews to present the mat to the Town, as they own the ACT (Arena Complex Theatre). Unfortunately, there are persistent damp problems there, so the mat had to be hung in a different public space. The Town Hall was chosen, on a wall in the entry that does not get direct sunlight. I am sorry it is not in its intended spot, but perhaps down the road. Regardless, it was lovely to be back in St Andrews – Canada’s oldest seaside resort town – and with my sister Wendy Pepper (who helped me sew on the hanging sleeves on the back of the rug) and with friends again.
Quoddy Loopers members in attendance at the presentation, September 10, 2012, from left: Suzanne Bousquet, Jan Hunter, Mary Jones, Karen Eagles, Carol Baker and me. Sandra Lewis was behind the camera for the presentation and first group shot.