Australian-Canadian Rugmaking Connection

ISSN 2207-001X  18th June, 2017

The Australian Rugmakers Guild has several Canadian members. In recognition of Canada’s 150th “Birthday” celebrations Canadian rugmakers and their rugs have been featured on this Guild’s Facebook page.

Claudia Forster-Purchase (Allen) from Canada now lives in Brisbane, Queensland and has shared this image of a rug hooked by three different branches of the Nova Scotia Rughooking Guild.

Millennium Rug (2 meters x 1.2 meters)

Millennium Rug Nova Scotia CanadaThis rug was sent to each of the 3 branches in the Maritime Provinces in Eastern Canada to complete their section, and was finished in a year.

The rug was on display at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC for 8 years and is now hung at a college in Nova Scotia.

Before coming to Australia in 2013 Claudia was President of the Rug Hooking Guild of Nova Scotia.

Claudia said;  With more than 1,000 members in the Guild I was heavily involved with the day to day operations, including travelling to different branches, giving lectures, and teaching and organizing functions. During the summer the demonstrations would be at different venues, e.g. craft shops, community halls, schools etc. and people who attended would bring the old rugs that their ancestors had hooked, some rugs were over 100 years old.

Recognizing a record should be kept, not only of the image of the rug but the story that went with it, the Guild began a rug registry programme.

In the old days during the long winter period, women would gather at each other’s home for the day to hook rugs to be used on the floor to stop the snow and draughts coming in. One story told by an older gentleman was that he remembered as a boy having to stand on a chair and hold a lantern high so the ladies could see to hook.

This clam shell rug hooked by Claudia is a traditional Maritime pattern.

Clam shell a typical Maritime rug pattern

Claudia said; In part the longevity of the rugs was enhanced by turning them upside down for day to day use and turning them right side up when guests were coming to visit.

How about this for a cleaning process …… the rugs were laid out in the snow to kill any parasites and then swept off with a broom.

Claudia first met up with Australian rugmakers at Miriam Miller’s Rug Room in Narrawilly, Milton, New South Wales.  At that time she was working on this rug – her merpeople – “A ghra mo chroil” which she tells me is gaelic for

“Love of my Heart”

From the Editor;   Jo Franco

There have been “rug hooking  ties” between Canada and Australia since 1969.

Peter Whitehead recently contacted me to update information shown in the Guild History section regarding his mother, Pam Whitehead from the UK.  Pam came to Australia in 1953, married, then moved to Canada where she learned traditional rug hooking. On her return to Australia in 1969 Pam lived in Elizabeth, South Australia where she taught classes for many years.

Peter said; “My mother was involved in many crafts but Rug Hooking was her passion. She would have been so happy to see it continue to flourish in Australia.”     




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