Deconstructed Fibre: It’s a Puzzle

ISSN 2207-001X  March 19 2017

This Puzzle was hooked by the Australian Rugmakers Guild Webmaster Judi Tompkins from Queensland who shared her ideas and progress with Editor, Jo Franco, in Western Australia via Skype.

Now the ambitious project’s complete (even has it’s own special storage box with a hinged lid and an image of the completed piece on the inside of the lid) Jo asked Judi if she would share with the members, the techniques used and problems encountered.

Here’s the storage box sitting on the puzzle with a couple of the puzzle pieces on top.

and here’s the finished decorated lid of the storage box.

lift the lid and you have an illustration to follow

Here’s what Judi had to say about the process;

This was supposed to be an “easy” project when I first started thinking about it, I mean after all, I was merely going to produce 16 small rugs that would nest together neatly and create a large colourful mat with some beads and bling.  

     Hah!     Just goes to show how the best laid plans can change directions rather quickly.

(Please Note: some of the videos in this post are slow to load)

So, for any of you wishing to try a similar project, here, not in any particular order, are some observations and things I learned along the way. 

 Glue is not my friend! And believe it when they say “hot” glue – You betcha it is!

It took me a while to figure out a few things about hot glue: 

         You don’t have to touch it immediately (and in fact you shouldn’t) … give the glue 3-4 secs to lose the immediate heat before you manipulate your fabric or embellishments.

         After burning my fingers eleventy-two million times I discovered that some crumpled up oven paper/baking type works as a great substitute for your finger. The glue won’t stick to it and you can use it to push and adjust the fibre. You must use it crumpled though … then it acts as a buffer between you and the hot glue. 

Glue is still not my friend but we have come to an “understanding” at this point.

 Make your design easy to cut apart. I left space between my pieces but I think more would have been better. Just think about how you will cut the shapes once you are ready to glue the edges and how much space you will need to manipulate the glue gun.

 Once I finished hooking the pieces I used PVA glue to stiffen the edges a bit and to pull the stray fibres out of the way of the cut line.  

 If you are making a puzzle or some such thing that needs to be reassembled in a particular way … number your pieces on the backing and TAKE A PHOTO OF IT!

Then when you finish the pieces I suggest that you put the corresponding number on the back of each piece (ie. 4/16…piece 4 out of 16) so you can match them up yourself …  believe me you will be very glad you did this!    

 Because I am so bad with glue, I “over glued” the edges with hot glue before I cut the pieces apart. So … my suggestion is that if you have already used PVA glue to secure the bits … cut your pieces apart and then hot glue the edges & backing.  Believe me cutting through “set” hot glue is an ugly job and I broke a pair of scissors trying to do it! 

 I don’t hook in neat straight lines and I tend to use a lot of different fibres so my work tends to be lumpy and shaggy. That works well for hiding the rough edges but I found that I still needed to “outline” each piece with some 8ply rug yarn to clean up the edge. I would be interested to see how this looks if the pieces were hooked with cut wool strips and a consistent loop height (which I can’t seem to do!).  I think the pieces would nest together better than mine do.

 Never, never, never, never, ever use self-adhesive backing on your pieces! Ahhhhhhggggg! What a nightmare! When trimming the edges of this stuff my scissors were gummed up within seconds and I had to constantly stop to wipe them off with turps! And an exacto blade was even worse!

Awful stuff …. but again … it’s a “glue” thing with me perhaps? 

This is an extra puzzle piece included in the box as a “mystery” piece just to give people something to think about …..  “now where should it go?”

(it goes nowhere because it’s piece No. 17 of a 16 piece puzzle).    Hah!

 Good luck to all who try this … I’ll be interested to see your results! 

 Let me know if you have questions.                           Judi Tompkins


Members of the Sunshine Coast Rugcrafters group attempt to put this puzzle together for the first time – it looks like it would be fun!

Thanks Judi for sharing your thoughts as you worked through this process.

Jo Franco, Editor


Coat of Arms with Unicorn Rug

ISSN 2007-001X

What do these items have to do with a rug inspired by a coat of arms?

Read on and learn a new finishing technique.

Stella Edmundson, a member of Judi Tomkins Sunshine Coast RugCrafters group, is relatively new to rug hooking however, her background in art, and a classical education, stands her in good  stead when it comes to creating designs.

Stella has learned more than just rughooking techniques from the very creative Judi, a self-taught rughooker, who has worked in different art mediums.  Judi encourages members of her group to think outside the box when it comes to framing their hooked pieces.

Here is Stella’s latest hooked work, a commission piece, destined for the USA.

In her own words, Stella’s description of her commissioned work:

” My latest hooked rug is being sent to America by request of my sister who is a close friend of Germanic Kenesbeck descendants.  It is inspired by the Kenesbeck coat of arms. I did not attempt to copy this family crest; for my hooking is not suitable for replicating anything.    Instead I chose the unicorn which dates back to 1172!

The unicorn on the family crest is a realistic long legged colt with a lion’s mane and tail (this imbues the unicorn a lion’s strength and power). I also wanted to have some kind of border suggesting the elaborate exquisite filigree scrolling greenery on the bottom of the crest. Alas, I had to make do with a more simple pattern. I have found that including trees in my hooked rug adds energy so I searched the net for a drawing of a Germanic looking tree.

So, that was the idea I started with. The rug made itself. The unicorn turned out to be not realistic but heraldic (ditto with the rabbits). Unicorns are truly magic beasts representing innocence, sincerity, cleanliness, wisdom, peace and joy. Rabbits are often depicted in medieval unicorn tapestries for they share a reclusive nature with a deep love of nature.

The time is early spring now in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. The setting is a deep dark night in a grassy wood lit by a radiant moon.”

Stella has invested in a new way of finishing hooked rugs which are to be hung; to give them a firm even edge, without the need of a frame.

Stella says   …………

“Here’s a  step by step approach with images – these items were used during the finishing of a previous wall hanging.

 1. Cut off excess backing fabric (foundation cloth) but leave enough to cover the rug

 2. Place a mounting board the exact size of the rug on the back

 3. Surround the mounting boards with cut dowels just under the width and length of the mounting board. Connect each corner by plastic tubing. This means there is no needs for nails and the corners are rounded.

 4. Fold foundation cloth over the dowels and mounting board. Fold down from top & up from bottom first and then fold the across sides to cover the whole piece then sew all sides together.

 5. With wool yarn matching the piece do rug stitch/whip stitch over the dowels and between the mounting board. Having a dowel in place insures even stitches.”

(Editors Note: The whip stitching should be done after “assembly” while the piece is laying on a flat surface;   it helps to have the far edge weighed down – you can see Stella has a couple of very accommodating weights!

Below is Stella’s final comment regarding her technique. I might add, this finished back also provides a good surface to add an Artist’s Statement or at least (Name/Size of work, Name of Artist & date completed)

” 6. I like to cover the back with fabric which gives a polished finish.”

Well done Stella!

and thank you for sharing your technique with other rugmakers.

Jo Franco, Editor



Guild member receives Australia Day Award

ISSN 2207-001X


Photograph provided by Bega Valley Shire Council

While following the Bermagui Surf Life Saving project we’ve read much about Dawn’s “abundant enthusiasm” and dedication to making a difference in the community.

An article in the Bega District News – “A Lifetime of Service Spanning the Globe” gives an instight into Dawn’s early family life and her involvement with orphaned and abandoned children throughout Asia, increasing her own family of 3 to 6 with adoptions from Thailand, Sri Lanka and South Korea and her work with the Adoptive Parents Association.

How, after moving to the Bega area 20 years ago, this background as an organizer saw her become an active member of the Rural Women’s Network and a key member of the Bega Valley team hosting the 2005 Rural Women’s Gathering.

As reported in the Bega District News article, Dawn’s passion for learning and teaching led her to the Bermagui and District Branch of the University of the Third Age – a group that looks to create and foster educational opportunities for people in retirement. In this group Dawn helped broaden the variety of courses to 80 subjects available through local presenters.

One very active Bermagui and District U3A group, the rug hookers created seven amazing rug panels now hanging in the Bermagui Surf Club.

Dawn Hollins and Bermagui & District U3A Rug Hookers with Bruce McAslan President, Bermagui Surf Club.  Photographer Ben Smyth Bega District News

After the hanging and dedication of the hooked panels on the 15th December, 2016, we decided to create a Guild Video of this impressive project.

On learning Dawn was to receive the Australia Day award, it was decided to wait until 26th January, Australia Day, to publish the video – to honour Dawn’s leadership on the day of the award.

Bermagui & Districts U3A Rughooking Group members describe Dawn as a shining example of the ideal that one person can make a difference.

Congratulations Dawn

from the members of the Australian Rugmakers Guild



International Rughooking Day

ISSN 2207-001X

In Western Australia – the Making of Persephone:


Inspired by “An Invitation to a Reception & Rug Show to celebrate Sharon Townsend’s Birthday” Shown in Rug Hooking Magazine  Jun/Jul/Aug 2016 

The Wanneroo Rug Hooking Group was in need of a sign to direct members of the community to where the group meets in the Library & Cultural Centre. After seeing the advertisement for Sharon Townsend’s Birthday reception, they came up with an eye-catching idea, checked with the building administration and were given permission to display, providing it met all safety criteria.

The rughookers decided they’d like to make this a “group project”.  As their fearless leader, I was due to be away Jul/Aug/Sep, so told them to go for it and surprize me. Which they did! 

On my return, they had the figure drawn and dress hooked.   


I wondered at the strange shape of the figure, but now having seen their documented progress, kept under wraps while I was away, I understand why the lady has “short” legs.  Sooz who volunteered to be the model and in whose office the “lady” will stay during the week, was taller than the piece of backing at hand!   Something they forgot to tell me as I made some figure adjustments before the limbs were hooked. 


Trying to determine how to make this figure keep it’s flat shape and stand upright without any fear of it toppling over, was a challenge.  It will be on display in a public space and is bound to be touched by inquisitive “little hands” – we know this, as we often find pre-school kids sitting on and fingering our current “sign” a small colourful proggy rug.                   

The original plan was for the figure to be glued to plywood – however that would have made it quite heavy, so we decided to use Kira Mead’s “Grid-back” system, which worked to a point BUT in the end it was attached to a very thin plywood, then backed with a yummy Cherise-coloured  fabric – no plain neutral calico for this lady!


Finding a suitable stand with a heavy base to attach it to was the challenge. 

kira_work_standkiras_workstand_backSuggestions were made and Kira from Albany, who is so creative, came up with this, made from a recycled steam iron stand.  A good idea, however the base would have required some modification (cutting off the cord) and camouflage – more work than we had time for as the deadline of International Rughooking Day was fast approaching.

After my final hooking of the face  and hair, a product of my imagination, not modelled on any of our members, and attaching theready_to_unveil grid back  –  the project went off to Kath’s house and between Kath and husband Michael they created a sturdy stand which our “lady” who we’ve called Persephone (Daughter of Zeus, Greek Goddess of Springtime and Flowers) is attached to. After the backing went on the figure was screwed to a T-shape support, an upright center-back and a support across the shoulders. She was under wraps ready for her introduction to the Centre on International Rug Hooking Day.

 The big day arrived;  the group met in the Great Court of the Library and Cultural centre to demonstrate rughooking and to make proggy Christmas Trees from recycled fabrics.


wanneroo_rugmakers_margaret__rennettWanneroo Mayor Tracey Roberts (left) was on hand to help Kath with the unveiling


Ta Dah! – there she is ….


and reunited with Sooz, who was shown earlier as the “template” for this design.


Then it was time for High Tea at Cafe Elixir across the Court – Barb’s idea for our end of year gathering and what a good one it was!


Dress up and hats were the order of the day –


Margaret didn’t have to be told twice to dress up, she thought this a great opportunity to wear her tiara. Individual teapots were also dressed up in attractive tea cosies, the tables decorated and set with pretty china and and the food dainty and delicious!


Happy Rug Hooking Day to all and Best Wishes for the Holiday Season 

 Jo Franco, Editor

More on Australian Rugmaking History

ISSN 2207-001X

Have you noticed the number in the top right-hand corner of the Rug Hooking Australia blogs?  This number was assigned by the National Library of Australia and means Blogs can be deposited in the National Gallery of Australia archives.

Speaking of archives, information gathered by members about Australian Rug hookers prior to the formation of the Guild in 2008, is now posted in an Australian History Section on the Guild website. Readers are encouraged to contact us to add, or correct any of the information shown.

Included in this Section you’ll find information about Australian Rugmakers, listed by Name and State; information on museums with collections of early rag rugs (hooked or prodded) and articles about and by, Australian rugmakers and in some cases a link to the article.

With the publishers permission, there is a link to the full article written by an Australian and published in a 1990 issue of Rug Hooking Magazine(USA). The author comments on the history of rug hooking in Australia from early settlement, describing how the craft was carried into modern times and mentioning contemporary rughookers, in particular, Textile Artist, Isabel Foster of Victoria.

As I write this, I’m reminded of the first (new format), Rughooking Australia Blog which featured Isabel Foster and told of several guild members, myself included, who travelled from Western Australia and South Australia to Victoria in January 2014 to meet a Victorian group, the Yarra Valley Rugmakers, and attend The Challenge of Colour, Isabel Foster’s 50 Year Retrospective.   What a wonderful experience that was.

Isabel Foster (centre) at Burrinja Exhibition
Isabel Foster (centre) at the  Burrinja Exhibition, Victoria, Australia
Judith (SA), Robyne (VIC) and Jo(WA)
Judith (SA), Robyne (VIC) and Jo(WA) listening to Isabel tell of her love of colour and textiles.
Leanne, Joy, Jen & Renate
Leanne, Joy, Jen & Renate – all of Victoria, Australia

Sarah Squire Todd – Hobart, Tasmania (1861-1959) and her granddaughter Mary Ransom, were mentioned in the same magazine article.

Sarah Todd, a famous Australian wood-carver, was forced to give up wood-carving in favour of embroidery, needlework and rug-making in her advancing years.  More details of her life and art can be found [here]

The Wool Centre, Ross, Tasmania, Australia
Courtesy of The Tasmanian Wool Centre, Ross, Tasmania, Australia

The Tasmanian Wool Centre in Ross, Tasmania, has a rag rug in the Museum’s collection made by Mary Ransom born in Tasmania c 1915. It is not currently on display but can be viewed by appointment.

The list of places where rugs are found to be archived is growing.

Added to the Pioneer Women’s Hut in Tumbarumba and the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, both in New South Wales, is the Migration Museum in Adelaide, South Australia.

Corinne Ball, Curator of the Migration Museum, provided images and has given permission to show these rugs which she thinks were made in the Depression era or thereabouts:-

Courtesy of Migration Museum, Adelaide, South Australia HT90-143
Courtesy of Migration Museum, Adelaide, South Australia HT90.143
Courtesy of Migration Museum, Adelaide, South Australia HT90.141
Courtesy of Migration Museum, Adelaide, South Australia HT90.141
Courtesy of Migration Museum Adelaide, South Australia HT90_142
Courtesy of Migration Museum Adelaide, South Australia HT90.142
Courtesy of Migration Museum, SA HT86.404 - Community Banners project 1986 "Memories & Dreams"
Courtesy of Migration Museum, SA HT86.404 – Community Banners project 1986 “Memories & Dreams”

The Museum is located in Adelaide, South Australia at 82 Kintore Ave (08) 8207 7570 …… Open Daily 10am-5pm Mon-Fri and 1pm-5p Weekends,  Admission is Free.    

More information on this Banner is available on the Museum website and there’s also an image, provided by Faye Godfrey of South Australia, of the Banner along with the group who made it, in the Guild’s History Section.

If you would like to include information about an Australian rugmaker, please email with details and permission to publish.

This history project is like a giant jig saw puzzle – it’s interesting to fit the pieces together as information comes to light. Who knew there was so much to report about rug hooking in jo_franco_editor_membership_chair_aust_rugmakers_guildAustralia.

I encourage you to read the History section and look forward to your feedback.  Jo Franco,  Editor


Miriam’s Big Rug

ISSN 2207-001X

designed__hooked_by_miriam_miller_nsw_australia-_2016-11-04It’s hard to believe!

Miriam Miller started this BIG rug at the end of June 2016 and here it is November – yes the same year, and she is almost finished it!

A recent email, shown below, was received from Miriam about the making of her BIG rug, along with photos taken at the November 4th meeting of the Narrawilly Proggers in her Rug Room at Narrawilly, Milton in New South Wales, Australia.


Miriam said:

“When I first thought to make a large blue rug for my living room I had a wide stretcher frame made for the rug, as my usual one was not wide enough.

I started off using a ‘Snapdragon’ lap frame, as I was uncertain of my design and colours. I worked the border first, and then thought as the rug got heavier or more cumbersome I would transfer to the stretcher frame, using towels as I wound it on to even up the rug, so I could stretch it tight.

However here I am nearly finished and the wide stretcher frame is still standing in the corner.  It would not be possible except for the Snapdragon lap frame I am using.  It holds the backing drum tight and does not move.  I intend trying to crochet a finish to the edge, as suggested by Heather Ritchie.  Also, I am going to try a fringe on the ends. Not sure if I will like it, but will try and see.  We were given a large spool of multi strand fibre.

I also intend to glue the hessian tape binding around the edges on the back of the rug.  Not sure if this will be successful, but will try and if it is not any good, I can always sew it on afterwards.

People have asked how I come up with enough fabric.  I have a few blankets and dyeing them several shades with the same dyes, and then use it in a jumbled way, so I can go on forever like that.  Just keep dyeing similar and mixing it in. I had a huge skein of wool yarn, so was able to dye that all nearly the same shade.”


Elaine, a member of the Narrawilly Proggers, is shown here working on a stretcher frame similar to the large frame Miriam mentioned having had made.

Jacqui shows off the Christmas wreath she completed on the day. There’s more news about their rug day and from rug hooking friends around the world, which you can read in the newsletter “Connecting Us”  that Miriam emails to Guild members.



The colour blue features predominantly in Miriam’s house as you can see from the table setting as Narrawilly Proggy members, Bev and Janet, help themselves to lunch – and the furnishings through the open door.

Lunch this day was eaten on the side veranda and here are the group taking a break – sitting back and admiring the view and what a view it is.









Jo Franco,  Editor

Tenacious – a  ship and a rug hooker


Working with Judi Tompkins on this Guild website I was aware she had been asked by a relative to hook a rug depicting the ship on which he sometimes sails.

The "Tenacious" - Jubilee Sailing Trust Tall Ship (out of Southampton, UK)
The “Tenacious” – Jubilee Sailing Trust Tall Ship (out of Southampton, UK)


This is one of only two tall-ships purpose built to take both disabled and able bodied men and women to sea.

Both ships are part of the Jubilee Sailing Trust, an international, United Nations accredited disability charity, promoting integration through the challenge and adventure of tall ship sailing here is a link to the organization with video of ships at sea

SV Tenacious, is now on loan to Australia for the next few years and is currently docked in Melbourne. This link will provide details of the upcoming voyages while she is in the Southern hemisphere


Judi’s brother-in-law Tom, has made many voyages on both Tall-Ships, and provided these details

“Though the two ships are similarly equipped with regards to having a partially handicapped crew, with medical facilities and always a qualified medical purser (who is a nurse usually but sometimes a doctor) and on longer voyages a volunteer doctor on board, they are very different in feel.  Lord Nelson just celebrated her 30th birthday whereas Tenacious was built (mostly by volunteers) in 2000.  She is the largest wooden ship (Siberian larch) built in the 20th century.” 

Tom said he’ll be on board the Lord Nelson for 42 days in June/July 2017 when the ship sails from London, to the Faroe Islands, then on to Iceland and finally Quebec.  The ship will take part in a lot of the celebrations associated with the 150 years of Canadian Confederation with short sails around the east coast of Canada. At the end of 2017 he’ll head for Melbourne to join Tenacious for a 20 day voyage to Auckland.

Having met Tom and been taken on a tour of the Lord Nelson when she was in Fremantle in 2013 and hearing about his adventures at sea, it sounds like a voyage, if only for a day, that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Judi said she had no idea what this project was going to involve, she’d done some 3D rug work and realized that along the way the project gets to a point where it looks like such a mess – you think it’s never going to work out. In this case, there was just so much detail in the sails she didn’t think it would ever come together, but persevered. 

Through the process from design to finish Judi documented her work and now has hundreds of images – here are just a few –

The proverbial "dog's breakfast" view
The proverbial “dog’s breakfast” view



and the finished project hanging in brother-in-law Tom’s home in Belgium.   

Tall Ship "Tenacious" docked in Belgium (ship photo and rug); 26 x 28 recycled wool blankets, alpaca/mohair yarns, sari silk, sculpted, hooking Adaptation with image of original ship
Tall Ship “Tenacious” docked in Belgium (ship photo and rug); 26 x 28 recycled wool blankets, alpaca/mohair yarns, sari silk, sculpted, hooking Adaptation with image of original ship

Well done Judi,

Jo Franco, Editor

Coast to Coast Exhibition

1_2_ausralian_rugmakers_guild_exhibition_sourroundsIt was heartening to see how members of this national Guild, although small in number, overcame vast distances to bring together rug works from around the country, at a time when many organizations are moving toward digital exhibitions because of the cost of shipping and insuring creative works.    1_2_arg_woolshed_gallery_strathnairn_arts_cropped

The Exhibition is open until the 25th September

Thursday to Sunday from 10:00am – 4.00pm 

in the Woolshed Gallery at the Strathnairn Arts Assn.  90 Stockdill Rd. Holt, ACT

1_arg_vase_by_maggie_whyte_native_flower_from_her_gardenRugs and items created using rugmaking techniques are on display. For the Opening, Members came from, WA, SA, VIC, QLD, & NSW – South Coast & Braidwood, and spent the weekend sharing their knowledge of techniques and tools.

Below, Gail Nichols and Maggie Hickey from NSW studying two of Gail’s works, her inspiration for this piece was her photo of a discarded piece of rusted  and twisted corrugated iron, the material used long ago for the walls and roof of the old woolshed building, which is part of the original Strathnairn Homestead, now an Arts Association village.




This wall-hanging hooked by Gail Nichols was also inspired by a photograph, she’d taken of leaf litter on the edge of a lake.

Guild President, Judith Stephens(SA) and Janet Tayler-Henry(ACT) demonstrated toothbrush rugmaking. As well as mats, baskets and bowls (displayed), can also be made using this technique. Old doona covers and sheets are a good source of material as they provide large straight pieces of colourful fabric.


Bobby George, from Victoria, really enjoyed the company during the weekend as she is usually a solitary rughooker,  does not belong to a rugmaking group and learned to hook from books and online videos.  Bobby was so enthused after the weekend in Strathnairn she went home and contacted the organizer of a local Stitch Festival and has arranged for space to demonstrate rugging in next year’s festival, hoping to promote enough interest to get a small group going. Bobby impressed us with her colour planning.


Andrea Honey from country Victoria is also a solitary rug hooker and has her own take on this craft.  She works without the benefit of a frame and prefers a freeform style, with no corners to worry about. Plus she liked to embellish her work with cut-outs and the addition of buttons and stitch.


Techniques were not the only thing being discussed during the weekend – Gail Nichols, from NSW, whose large wall hangings are on exhibit, demonstrated the adjustable stand made for her large stretcher frame. This stand has many benefits – once attached, the frame can be used tilted or flat allowing the work area to be adjusted to various seating heights or even a standing position. The frame support was made in Ulladulla, NSW, if anyone is interested in purchasing one of these stands, email for contact details. 

Also of interest was Gail’s storage solution for her materials – now that’s an organized colour palette.



Judi Tompkins (QLD) seen examining and discussing  the functionality and design of Jo Franco’s rug created to go beneath a special coffee table; the freeform design and holes accommodate table legs, creating stability as the textural rug has an uneven surface.


Dawn Hollins from Bermagui on the south coast of NSW showed one of the seven panels created by the Bermagui U3A Rughooking Group, these panels are destined to hang in the Surf Lifesaving Clubhouse.  The designs drawn by a local artist to represent scenes from around this coastal area, were transferred to the backing from the full sized paintings.  This was a huge undertaking as the rugmakers in this group are all novices.  Right now they are working out how to hang such large pieces – the installation will be complete and presentation made to the Surf Club in early December 2016.


 Large works seem to be popular with Australian rugmakers –  Jenney Anderson from South Australia has completed a hall runner designed by Judith Stephens (SA) Jenny was so pleased with this rug  when she saw it in place – she has started on one for another hallway in her house.


Going from large rugs to small :    Entries for the “Coast to Coast Challenge” were on display – the winning entry chosen by Nancy Tingey was by Marion Nefiodovas of South Australia.



This group of small pieces hooked by Yvonne from the Wanneroo Rugmakers Group in WA began as place mats and finished up being hung as a collage.

Wanneroo_Rugmakers_West_Aust_Yvonne's_hooked_ collage

Hooked bags are also on exhibit – however this one hooked by Anne Schafer (VIC) using wool purchased from Tascot in Tasmania, was only there for the weekend as Anne uses it when travelling.  Anne is standing in front of two rugs hooked by Robin Inkpen of Western Australia – the one on the right sold on the first day.


Bec Andersen from Queensland,  has two large rugs on Exhibit, one already with a red dot “sold” sticker on it. Both these hooked pieces were designed by  Bec and created by her with an electric “tufting gun” and wool yarn which she hand-dyes with natural dyes.

Bec is very involved with community projects, her most recent, during an Artist in Residency program, was teaching 11 year old children in their last year at primary school to rug hook (11 and Beyond.) Bec also gives rug making classes and makes rugs on commission.





Talks and Demonstrations

by accomplished and well known textile artists were fascinating and much appreciated by the audience of rug hookers who were interested to hear how these women discovered their passion for their fibre art and approached creativity in their field, overcoming the problems of fitting their creative work into their daily life of family and careers. 

 4_christine_white_wow_entry_cash_cowChristine White and her award-wining wearable art entries. 

With a dynamic and humorous approach Christine, whose qualifications are in fashion and design, told of being a “sewer” and coming from a background of manufacturing clothing. How she and her friend Bonnie Begg, an art photographer, worked together their different personalities creating a ying/yang approach to come up with a “meaning” for the amazing costumes they made from things recycled.

Also, how they discovered and learned techniques to create the dramatic effects. 

Most  of the audience was aware of “WOW” in New Zealand (World of Wearableart – the wearable art competition which has been drawing entrants from around the globe for over 20 years) but didn’t know they were in the presence of someone who had placed several times in this prestigious competition and who has had garments in the museum in New Zealand and currently in a world-wide traveling exhibitions.  Christine also presented a garment entered in a WearableArt competition in NSW Australia and spoke of other wearable art contests within Australia – Mandurah’s Stretch Festival in WA, and contests in Tasmania. 

Christine’s green WOW entry titled “Cash Cow” is well placed in front of a large rug depicting a cow central in a farmyard scene, which was hooked by Helen Mennie from New South Wales.

5_4_lynne_johnson_knitted_rugs     Lynne Johnson described her passion for knitting, and how she learned to knit from family members. There is a real history of knitters in Lynne’s family which she is in the process of documenting. Lynne now teaches knitting at workshops around Australia.  While her intricate sculptural work can be seen on her blog Lynne showed a selection of her amazing colourful rugs and wraps, reminiscent of the works of Kaffe Fassett. 

Lynne also spoke of her work involved with groups knitting for community projects and her love for combining the “pieces” others who only like to knit, give up on.  To Lynne there is a mathematical challenge in composition and design to complete these projects.  Some of Lynne’s wool wraps grew from knowledge passed on by Miriam Miller, well known for her rug making, and who is also an avid spinner and knitter.     

6_warming_stoveInclement weather on Saturday was not a problem, a fire in the pot-bellied stove in the Woolshed kept visitors warm and cosy.  

The day came to a close with a Guild Meeting, the first order of business being the installation of the Managing Committee, followed by a discussion on the direction  members would like to see the Guild take, which by unanimous decision was, to further the craft of rughooking in Australia by demonstrations and exhibitions rather than to judge members work following the Guild’s mission statement :

“The Australian Rugmakers Guild is a national organisation of creative people who come together in friendship to share ideas; and to explore different techniques of the art of rugmaking using a variety of fibres.”

Also discussed was the subject of “paid advertising” in Guild newsletters and blogs. It was agreed to continue with the current position – no commercial advertising. However information brought to the Editor’s attention by members about hard to find supplies, will continue to be shown on the Swap & Sell page of the Guild website and discussed in more detail in the newsletter which is emailed to members as a benefit of membership.   

Following the meeting, the group adjourned with guests, partners and spouses to long tables set up in the Juice Kitchen Café in the Homestead where Ankur and his staff provided a delicious 3-course meal, the food was excellent and the conversation lively.

 The sun came out on Sunday – it was a lovely day for a drive in the country, and the Woolshed was a buzz with visitors.




Carol Divall an accomplished local Felter gave a morning demonstration explaining there are many ways to felt and showing a particular technique she likes to use – a surprize to some of us because while it involved “wet felting”, it was done in a controlled way without a lot of drips and mess.  Carol  said she was introduced to felting at college in the early ’80s but it wasn’t until ’88 when she did a workshop with Joan Fisher that she was hooked on teaching & working with felt and has since been invited to teach in many parts of Australia. Carol also taught ‘Creative Weaving’ certificate & Associate Dip of creative Arts at TAFE at Goulburn & Yass and from 1989 to 2000 with 4 other Artists/craft women ran ‘Fibre Design’, a gallery and studio promoting Fibre arts.  Her last comment to me says it all …..   My loom sits unused, Feltmaking took over!


Official Opening

Nancy Tingey, an accredited Textile artist in the UK and Australia whose career spans over forty years in the arts, as curator and teacher and who exhibits her works in several mediums, officially opened the Exhibition Sunday afternoon after an introduction by Maggie Whyte, Convenor.


 Nancy told of her introduction to rag rugs as a child in Lancashire, seeing a rug created by the family of her friend whose mother was a dressmaker, they utilized scraps of material left over from her work. Nancy came from a family who like most middle class families, felt recycling was “beneath” them so she didn’t see another rag rug until in her late 20s when as a curator in Kendal she helped hang an exhibition of historic prize animal portraits owned by wealthy farmers. Also in the exhibition were rag rugs made by poor families depicting their treasured animals. 

 Years later at a craft show in Milton, NSW, where rag rugs where on display Nancy bought a hand-spun purple shawl (which she was wearing at the Opening) from Miriam Miller and attended one of Miriam’s Friday rugging sessions.  After this, on a trip back to England Nancy made her own rag rug working in an English group similar to Miriam’s – according to Nancy, traversing the hessian with her hook became a metaphor for Crossing Continents, as she was using her art work to look at issues related to living in two cultures.  

 Nancy said she found making her one and only rag rug an intensely satisfying experience and has generously allowed the following to be taken from her opening speech at the Strahtnairn Exhibition

 “As some of you who are spinners will know, if you can set up a symbiotic relationship with your materials and tools, a kind of slow dance develops. This creates an energetic flow which infuses the work.  I see many expressive designs here demonstrating liveliness of design which is the natural outcome of that interaction.

 And there is the fascination of working with materials which have history, a continuous thread which seems to me to be at the heart of the rag rug tradition, evoking memories.  Your Australian Guild, in recognising this as a strength, is embracing the importance of recycling and sustainability. You are right up there with the latest trends. It is your time.

 Take risks, have faith in our own interpretations.  There are several works here which break new ground and will surprise many visitors with their innovative ideas to keep the art alive, delighting yourselves and others.

 I therefore take great pleasure in declaring this heart warming exhibition open.  Nancy Tingey 2016”

 Thank you Nancy for your kind words and allowing them to be passed on here. The quillie brooch, made by Maggie Whyte was given to Nancy as a small token of our thanks for her support – who knew it would match Nancy’s outfit so well.


 Throughout the weekend a local group of Rugmakers and Felters ; Jenny Harber, Liegh Toop, Janet Tayler-Henry, Robin Asman, Jo Mahon and Kerry Mobbs provided coffee & tea, warming soup for lunch both days and nibbles and drinks during the afternoon opening.  This group has set up a roster to have members present while the Exhibition is open Thursday through Sunday from 10:00am to 4:00pm.   Good job ladies!   Thanks from all of us who attended. 

Maggie Whyte pictured below chatting with Kerry, Gail and Maggie Hickey, is to be credited for organizing such an interesting weekend and bringing to us a group of talented textile artists.


  Thanks also goes to Judith Stephens, Guild President and Malcolm Edward-Cole for their help with setting up of the Exhibition.

There are many rugs on exhibit which      1_act_strathnairn_neighbours_kangaroos-cropped

have not been shown in this blog –

watch for more reports.

 Jo  Franco, Editor, Membership Chair




More on BIG rugs

Have you ever thought about hooking  a BIG rug?

Miriam Miller, of Milton, NSW has, and shared with me images of her beginning project .   Here is what Miriam has to say……….

Miriam_Miller_new_rug_to_match_this_sofa“I’ve started a huge rug, 1m65cm by 2m65cm (105inches by 65inches) to go in front of my sofa. 

I will move the present rug which does not go with my Miriam_Millers_new_rug_to_ replace_this_oneslate blue sofa to under the dining room table.

As backing I am using primitive linen that I bought when in America. I bought three yards, and had to cut some off the length and sew on the side to make wider.

I overlapped the material about two inches and then machined down each edge.  It means I have to hook through a double piece, but it is not causing any problem.

 I am using recycled fabrics, T shirts, track suits, wool skirts, and dyed blankets and yarn, whatever I can find.

Dyes_used_by_Miriam_Miller_for_her_big_rugI’ve dyed  wool yardage and yarn using  “Landscape” dyes.


Here are some pictures of the design  – the whole rug showing the border started and a close up of the border and centre pattern.

Rug_design_by_Miriam_Miller_Border_started _1m65cm_x_ 2m65cm_or_105inches_x_ 65inc

Rug_design_by_Miriam_Miller_Border_patternRug_design_by_Miriam_Miller_Part_of_the_pattern_in centre_of_rug







Miriam has promised to keep me up-to-date with progress on her rug which I will post on this blog.  In the meantime you can leave a comment for Miriam below or contact her through her Narrawilly Proggers website.

It’s Winter in Australia – a good time to take on such a project.

Good on you Miriam!                                Jo Franco,  Editor




Members Rughooking Videos

RHM-JJA16_Cover11 and Beyond,

Bec Anderson’s Artist in Residency project,

teaching rug hooking in school, is featured in the latest issue of Rug Hooking Magazine with a link to a video on Bec’s website

While on the Guild Facebook page, there’s now two videos featuring the work of guild members, Judi Tompkins and Robin Inkpen.

Bec’s  “11 and Beyond” project was launched on December 4th, 2014, 2_punchneedle_hooking_chair_padthe inaugural International Rughooking Day. During 2015 at Tamborine Mountain State School in Queensland,  Bec took a class of 11 year olds through the process of learning how to design their own patterns and to use a punchneedle to hook them.

Members of Bec’s rug hooking group, the Happy Hookers, assisted Bec with these sessions in return receiving punchneedle lesson themselves.  

photo 1

  The local Men’s Shed also took part, building the frames for the students to use.


The project “11 and Beyond” was inspired by the shift in Queensland in 2015 12_QLD_Government_logowhen Year 7 students became the first year of high-school and  Year 6 (11 year olds) became the leaders of the 11_Becs_Project_headerprimary school.

This special issue of Rug Hooking Magazine features article focused on children and rug hooking from  Australia, Canada, Japan, England and the USA.  

There’s an article by Gene Shepherd  (Calif. USA) Education Chair of ATHA featuring young rug hookers and an easy and safe dye experience designed by him especially for kids.  

As always, this edition is packed full of interesting articles.  The magazine is available in Australia by subscription. I’m always delighted when my copy shows up in the post box as it did today. 

Jo Franco, Editor/Membership Chair