For the love of Textiles

I’ve always been fascinated with textiles, even before I actually knew what the term “textiles” was. Sewing has been a part of my life since my grandmother taught me to sew with scrap clothing on her treadle sewing machine. In the mid 1980′s I studied textiles at Malaspina College while trying to raise a very young family. Due to funding cutbacks the¬†program was dropped from the curriculum and there went my certificate. :(

No matter, I was captivated by the history of weaving, spinning and knitting. I find the Chilkat blankets woven by the Northwest Coastal Tribes awe inspiring.

I’m also a huge fan of the Button blankets made by the Haida. One day I will make a button blanket with my collection of abalone shell buttons. :)

What brought all this to mind was a newsletter I received from Deanne Fitzpatrick, a Rug Hooker from Amherst Nova Scotia. She had been on a trip to see the MacCausland Woolen factory in PEI. I was lucky enough to spend a month travelling our wonderful east coast in June 2009. I was fascinated by all the rug hooking we saw in museums and for sale everywhere we went. I own two pieces, one from Newfoundland and one from Nova Scotia.

Yarn hooked mat

This piece was hooked by a woman from Trinity Harbour in Newfoundland. It is hooked using yarn. Many of these pieces are but many more are hooked using cloth or woolens. While we were touring the various light houses and museums there was always a frame set up so you could try your hand at hooking. Didn’t take a lot to convince me that I wanted to become a “hooker!”


Cheticamp hooked rug

This piece was picked up in Halifax, Nova Scotia. How could I resist a rug hooked with a quilt hanging from a clothesline? It too is hooked using yarn, very fine wool yarn. Cheticamp is a community on Cape Breton Island that is famous for their beautiful hooked¬†rugs. Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia is another beautiful community that is heavy into rug hooking and quilting. While there I picked up a rug hooking kit that was designed to looked like a quilt block. It is halfway completed and I think it is time for it to come out of storage so that I can complete it. It is a beginners version, large wool strips (1/4″) with burlap like canvas. August 31 is now a new deadline!

So, the reason I started thinking about textiles today was reading Deanne Fitzpatrick’s blog about the MacCausland Woolen Mill. I never got to the mill while I was there but couldn’t resist this awesome little fisherman that was made from recycled MacCausland wool blankets. He was found in Victoria, PEI. Somehwere along the line I also picked up a book written by the very same Deanne Fitzpatrick: Hook Me a Story, the History & Method of Rug Hooking in Atlantic Canada.

MacCausland Wool Blanket Fisherman

Happy Quilting…Valerie Raye

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