A Canadian FibreFest and more

TIGHR Logo RS        The 2015 Triennial Conference of The International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers (TIGHR) came to end with a FibreFest and Gala Dinner – here are some of the highlights :

Who would have thought there were so many ways to make a rug!

and so many things you could create using rugmaking techniques – the conference room at the Inn at Laurel Point was a buzz with activity and conversation on Wednesday afternoon – it was hard to take it all in – these images show only a few of the TIGHR members who were there demonstrating their rug making and associated fibre techniques.

Lynne Smith (Saltair, BC, Canada) turns her left over hooking worms into lovely Quilli Flowers which can be used as brooches or added to hooked pieces.



Sandi Hill (New Westminister, BC) demonstrating Wool Applique – “penny rugs” – table rugs created with woollen fabrics using coins or pennies as the pattern template – often seen on vintage pieces dating from the Civil War era. The designs were stitched with simple blanket stitch and other embroidery stitches.


Laurie Wiles  (Edmonton, Alta, Canada) a McGown certified teacher demonstrating Hooking Plaid as well as bead stitch, checkerboard and turkey stitch.

Fiber_Fest_Laurie_Wiles_BC_hooking_plaid (1)

Dianne Tobias (California, USA) Diane combines hooking and braiding with Velvet and nylon.


Gail Becker, (California-USA) McGown certified teacher combining needle felting & hooking.

Gail Becker

Velma Higgins (Parksville, BC, Canada)  demonstrated a unique and simple way to create a fringe on an oriental hooked rug.

Fringes for Orientals by Velma Higgins

Cec Caswell – McGown  accredited Rug Hooking Instructor & President of Edmonton Rug Hooking Guild.   Cec has been a finalist in past Rug Hooking Magazines “Celebrations” and her colourful rug Delightful Friends is currently featured as an entry on the  Rug Hooking Magazine website.

Cec Caswell

Lucinda Hepting (Qualicum Beach BC, Canada)   Filling in the Box  – Fabric framed design, the end results can be turned into a pillow or a hooked purse.


Sara Judith –  combining punch hooking with traditional hooking – exploring advantages and disadvantages of the two techniques. Sara is a McGown certified teacher and an Oxford accredited punch hooking instructor.


Not shown: Melanie Morrison/Bobbin Lace,   Nancy Wesley/sculptural needle felting,    Leola Witt/Spinning & hooking with dyed fleeces & yarn,    Nancy Bassonnette/basket weaving,    Terry Bibby/Saori weaving,  Mary Forbes/needle felted painting,    Wendy Halsall/natural dyeing,    Kris McDermet/adding baiding to hooking,   A group project/Flax to Linen.

May Sam – demonstrated Coast Salish Knitting. May is an Elder of the Tsartlip First Nation with a wealth of knowledge and experience with traditional Coast Salish knitting and the  “Cowichan” sweater.   The Cowichan sweater  has been designated as an object of national historic significance by the Canadian Government.

During her evening presentation to TIGHR members Sylvia Olsen talked of May’s knowledge and history with Cowichan knitting.  Click here to hear an interview with Sylvia.

Jen Manuell & Rachelle LeBlanc
Jen Manuell chatting with Rachelle LeBlanc at the TIGHR Conference 2015. Rachelle was a member of the Panel discussing “Defining Professionalism: What does it mean and what does it look like?”

Jennifer Manuell  is an award-winning fourth generation rug hooker, and has taught rug hooking classes in Canada, the United States and  England. Jen has teamed up with her sister to make and sell a line of finished goods featuring as-is and hand-dyed wool fabric in a series of one-of-a-kind wearables and unique home décor items, all completely handmade by them in their studio just north of Huntsville, Ontario, Canada.

The current selection of finished goods, eBooklets, patterns, kits and supplies are available on their website – including ebook Jewellery 101

JEWELLERY-How to Book Jen Manuell Fisheyesisters


 Key-note Presentation: Nature in Art  was given by Dr. Robert Bateman ‘(Victoria, BC)

This was followed by the acknowledgment of  TIGHR’s 21st Year and the introduction of previous Founders Cup recipients and the awarding of the Cup to Susan Feller  by Judith Stephens & Jo Franco (co-recipients) in 2012.

The Cup is presented to a member who has promoted rug hooking and TIGHR.   Mary Shepherd Burton (dec) who was instrumental in creating the invitation list and coordination of the first conference in 1994 with Dar Ford Kayuka (a fellow American living in the UK)  was the first recipient and began the tradition of the  Cup holder selecting and awarding the Cup to a member who has worked to further the Guild’s aims  ….. to come together in friendship to share ideas, explore the different rug making techniques using a variety of fibres and to further the art of rug making, while also enjoying the experience of travel.

Susan Feller has worked tirelessly to take the Guild into the 21st Century – she is an early adapter of ideas and with her knowledge of art and the history of this craft was instrumental in taking TIGHR’s fledgling website to an informational platform, a place for Guild News and where members have their own space to show their creations and to network.

At this conference Susan, with the help of videographer and digital storyteller, Randi Cohen Coblenz, has brought the guild to a point where, in the future members should be able to attend virtually, if travel is not physically possible.

Susan Feller - 2015 recipient receiving Cup from Judith Stephens & Jo Franco - 2012 recipients
Susan Feller – 2015 recipient receiving Cup from Judith Stephens & Jo Franco – 2012 recipients

Post Conference  – Back on the mainland:

After farewelling rug hooking friends, new and old,  the 3 “J’s” (Judith, Jo & Jenny) visited the Museum of Anthropology

Arriving just in time at the Arthur Erickson designed building overlooking mountains and sea, they were treated to a very interesting and informative tour of reputedly the worlds finest displays of Northwest Coast First Nations Art.

Even though the sunny weather of their pre-conference road trip and time in Victoria had given way to clouds and rain, they were taken into a monumental Haida house on the grounds of the museum and out to view the poles and Musqueam houseposts that capture the dramatic beauty of traditional Northwest Coast architecture and design.

Museum of Anthropology The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Museum of Anthropology The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

With the Vancouver visit coming to an end, we three were invited to visit the Studio of Michelle Sirois-Silver.

Michelle showed us many of her “hooked surfaces”, the materials she uses and described in depth, how she gathers information and creates her art books from which she draws  inspiration for future works.

Michelle utilizes  many different fabrics including waste fabric cut-offs given to her by a friend and fellow textile artist Katherine Sanssoucie. We were delighted when Michelle kindly organized for us to visit Katherine in her downtown studio.



Katherine Soucie

Be sure and click the link above to see images of the wonderful garments created by Katherine who, when we spoke with her,  had just returned from an international showing of her unique garments.

Katherine Sanssoucie in her studio explaining the philosophy behind her creations.



+ Sustainability

Zero Waste

Katherine’s base fabric is pre-consumer waste hosiery, which she dyes and then adds additional layers of paint.  There is a “mending” aspect to this procedure, as pieces are stitched together to create an embellished “fabric” from which she creates a unique range of clothing.

The cut-offs from her creations are given to Michelle to use in her hooking.

So ……. beginning with a waste product, the colourful left-overs and cut-offs from the creation of artistic garments are used in a hooked surface – absolutely nothing wasted!

These studio visits were an inspiring way to finish up the  2015 Triennial Conference in Canada.

Now it’s time to save up for the 2018 Triennial in the UK.

Click here for TIGHR membership information 2015-18

      Jo Franco

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