Backing or Foundation Cloth?

ISSN 2207-001X March 29th 2017

Are you confused by these two terms?

Do you use the word “backing” or “foundation cloth” to describe that which you hook strips of fabric, or prod small pieces, into?

Or do you consider “backing” a fabric you apply to the back of a finished wall-hanging?

The first image is of wool strips and yarn hooked into a recycled woollen blanket!

The second is the back of one of Kira Mead’s large quillie pieces, where a blanket has been used to “back” the project.

Bobby George, a member of the Australian Rugmakers Guild from Victoria – posted a question on the Guild’s Facebook page……..

“I have a collection of wool blankets and have been told that they can be used as backing. To my mind, it would take a lot of effort to push the hook through for each loop. Has anyone used it as backing and if so, do you have any tips?”

Thinking maybe Bobby was confused by the words backing and foundation cloth I contacted her to clarify.

Bobby said –

“I cannot remember where I heard it, but I am sure I heard that a good use for woollen blankets was as foundation cloth. I have quite a few blankets, many bought early on before I realized that pieces of the thicker blankets need more strength to prod and strips of blanket even more to hook with.

As I have little strength in my wrists and hands I thought that I could use some of the blankets as foundation cloth, however I’m having the same problem – I need to use a lot of grunt to pierce the blanket, hence the general inquiry.”

Anne Schafer, also a Guild member from Victoria, responded on Facebook to Bobby’s question with  –

“I’ve just had a try hooking into a woollen blanket with a few different size strips and rug yarn and they worked fine. Might be hard to keep a straight line as it’s not easy to see the straight grain.

This is just a quick example, (Shown above)  no design to it as I didn’t want to draw on my cream blanket.  It’s a little harder and slower to work with as there’s no real visible weave to go by like linen, hessian or other.  Although, that might be the type of blanket I used.

Also, there’s quite a lot of bounce in the blanket even though well stretched on my gripper frame.  You would need to make sure not to break the wool thread of blanket, otherwise holes resembling that made by pet teeth would occur.  I used wool blanket strips, roughly #7, circle outlined in teal carpet wool, used double, using a 5mm hook.”

With this discussion, underway locally, today, when I received my copy of Rug Hooking Magazine, it was interesting to see there was an article on ….

“Which is the best backing” and they’re talking foundation cloth.

It’s a very interesting article and clearly sets out the comparative differences in cost and use, along with some “do’s and don’ts” – great if you live in the USA or Canada – not so good for those of us living in Australia or New Zealand where there aren’t any rug hooking suppliers.

I know, proper rug hooking backing (foundation cloth) can be purchased online – however, currency exchange and international postage adds a great deal of cost to an already expensive purchase.

The cost factor is detrimental when trying to interest beginners to the craft of rug hooking.

So most of us resort to a “make do” scenario and suggest the use of Hessian, a step above burlap.  Hessian is readily available in wide widths and inexpensive, even compared to Scottish Burlap.

While it has an even weave and no “slubs”, it does have its problems for some people – apart from it’s distinct odour, there’s also a “hairiness” to the fabric – either one of these is enough to create an allergic reaction for some.  So, what to do ……… if you don’t want to spend all the time you’re hooking sneezing and blowing your nose and can’t afford the outlay to import your backing.

One of the large fabric outlets here has in its curtain & upholstery section, a  synthetic linen that works well as a backing.  At first glance it appears that the weave is too fine – but it’s been put to the test and even an 8mm hook will pierce it without causing any problem.

An open weave synthetic curtain purchased in the same department of THAT store, was used in another creative way as a substitute for the expensive “real thing” and the “smelly hairy” local Hessian.

Speaking of “make do”, here is Kira Mead’s version of a project hanger while working on one of her large creations – “Navel Gazing”

In the next image you can also see Kira’s “Grid Back” used for hanging large odd-shaped pieces. The woollen blanket covers the plastic grid leaving only one row exposed into which to slide the metal track. The creation can then be hung from a hook by a cord looped through the metal track, or hung from Art-track systems, directly in to the holes in the metal track, all the while keeping the odd shaped edges well supported.


Judi Tompkins – the recycled Blanket Queen

has added her two cents worth to this conversation about backing …….

“Because the craft of rughooking is so well known in the North and people have more knowledge and experience with making and giving pieces, there is a tendency for people to invest in the more expensive linen/rug warp/monks cloth fabrics because they intend (or hope) that the hooked piece will be handed down for generations to come.  This may or may not be true anymore and will depend on how much the next generations value this particular type of handwork. Handmade furniture seems to retains its value through generations but I’m not sure that attitude applies to floor rugs and wall art.

The bottom line is that – for us in the South – investing in expensive and imported foundation fabric is something I do for items that I intend to give as a gift or have been commissioned to make; otherwise I use the locally available linen or hessian (which is now better quality). I don’t have any expectation that my work will survive me.

Regarding the use of wool blankets (and I’m speaking wool not acrylics) depending on the weight and weave of the wool it can be used – just test it before you use it. BUT…. be aware that you can’t easily draw – or draw complex designs – on most wool fabrics, even using a permanent pen doesn’t guarantee that the design won’t “fade” or move due to the fuzzing on the surface of the wool. So, plan on hooking a “free form” design or one that will accommodate some “flexibility”.

Wool is also immensely heavy, stretchy and itchy so you’ll want to have a proper frame to support your work (which will become even heavier as you add more wool). Small projects would be more workable I think … and because I work in LARGE stuff I would probably be crushed under the extra weight!

Because I use a lot of rovings, mohair and other delicate fibres I tend to put a backing on my work to prevent the stitches from being accidentally pulled out. If I were using a wool foundation and then added a backing I would find the piece to be very heavy indeed.

All that having been said … it might be that if you want to hook a floor rug then a wool blanket as a foundation might be ideal … it would add weight to keep it from moving and it would wear well. It’s just the stretching aspect that concerns me.

Remember too that wool is hair/protein and serves as a “hot lunch” for insects. If you use a wool as a foundation cloth but hook with non-wool fibres it is easy to forget that you need to plan for insect management when you are finished.

Editor’s Note:  Judi’s extensive woollen blanket collection is for sale – either whole blankets or sections – details can be seen on the “Swap, Sell” page  on the Guild website.

Happy Hooking     –     Jo Franco, Editor

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



Sculptures by the Sea Cottesloe

ISSN 2207-001X   March  2017







Kerrie Argent’s entry in Sculptures by the Sea at Cottesloe Beach in Perth, Western Australia, is created from recycled jumpers (sweaters) donated from friends in Esperance, Albany, Perth and Lake Grace.

Kerrie, a member of The Western Australian Fibre & Textile Association (WAFTA), lives in Lake Grace 345k (214 miles) south east of Perth. Here is what she had to say about her 2017 installation:-

        “I’m actually trying to make us think about better use of our textiles or a second use  …….. the two lots of jumpers received from Esperance and Albany were destined for land fill. People had donated them to charity groups but as most of them were out of fashion or had moth holes or stains on them they couldn’t even be given away … there is no second life for second-hand knitted fabrics … not even the rag bag. *(see Editors note)

All the recycled fabric has had a rust dye put over it to give it the glowing golden tone and neutralise the colour tones so they are all tonal now.

While pulling 4 hand knitted jumpers to bits to recycle the wool for stitching I felt like a criminal – all that beautiful knitting, but again they were thrown out and destined for land fill. So why couldn’t we make homes for the homeless from them like the yurts of the Mongolians instead of mountains of unloved unwanted fashion waste.  Australia produces 6000kg of fashion waste every ten minutes.    

This image was posted on the 1 Million Women Facebook page

What started off as my work became a community project when I shifted into the Lake Grace Regional Art Space to use as my studio, a much bigger area. I had friends dropping in to see what I was doing and then offering to help … how can you say no. So it became quite a social event during the day, after work or on weekends, to come  stitch, chat and relax. I couldn’t keep them away, one lady drove into town 25 km every day to work on the stitching, and my 87 year old diehard helper I used to have to kick her out in the evenings otherwise she might have forgot to go home and sleep. Our locum Dr came one weekend to help, even bought pancakes and maple syrup for morning tea. And people stuck in town because of the floods ended up coming and stitching to fill in some time. How lucky am I to get all this awesome support, and they had a lovely time doing it.

Here are some images of the project underway   ………….


Stitched pieces

Rubber gloves cut off make great finger protectors and much better grip on needles”

Last of the covers finished with some of my helpers

Covers finished rolled and ready to go

Trailer packed with supports ready for transport to Perth

 Installed on Cottesloe Beach

(Images were provided by the artist with permission to publish)

  Kerrie said she would be giving artist Spotlight talks to students, if people were interested they could come and listen and if they wanted to talk after she will be there.

The dates for these talks are Thursday 16th 12.00-1.00, and Friday 17th 10.45- 11.45

Kerrie’s also giving a Spotlight talk at 10:30-11:30 Tuesday 7th, however is not available to talk after this session, because she is going to East Butler Primary School to talk to the students as they received one of her cows from the City of Perth Cow Parade, and she’s headed up to see where it’s going to live. 

*Editor’s Note:  I must introduce Kerrie to rugmaking, where you can make use of old hand knitted sweaters, as you can see by these images;   [Images Courtesy Tasmanian Wool Centre]




Sculptures by the Sea is on now until 20th March, 2017 – don’t miss this fantastic Exhibition  (and its free)

Think about your next rug hooking project ……… how can you incorporate recycled items?

Happy Hooking –  Jo Franco, Editor



Defeating the Tyranny of Distance

ISSN 2207-001X

Teaching rug hooking from afar!

A rughooking instructor in Australia, a student in Holland – how does that work?

By using a Skype connection on computers.

The current Guild members’ newsletter contains an article by Judi Tompkins, Communications Chair, who was contacted via her personal blog by a woman in Holland with “how- to” questions about rugmaking. 

After a few emails back and forth, it didn’t take long for a friendship to bloom.   Thea, in Holland, a potter with a good eye for colour and design, was enthusiastic about her new-found craft. Finding it cumbersome to explain about tools and stitches in emails, Judi suggested they “hook up” through Skype.

Thea worked first on an embroidery hoop and then ………. after seeing the different frames Judi was using, and with the help of Miriam Miller’s book, included in an exchange package sent by Judi (no fees were involved for these online workshops, however a friendly barter took place)  Thea‘s husband built her a frame.






Thea began to hook up a storm and has made pillow covers and floor rugs with the new floor frame – here are a couple of examples.

Judi and I have frequent Skype conversations in order to keep this website up and running, during which, we have impromptu rughooking Show-n-Tell to discuss our current projects.

In Milton, New South Wales, on rug days, members of the Narrawilly Proggy Ruggers often talk on Skype to rughooking friends in the USA and Canada who have visited their group or who they have met while attending Triennial TIGHR Conferences.  The International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers is hosted by a different country for a three year term, culminating in a Conference to handover the reigns to the incoming Board of the next Host Country . Strathalbyn, South Australia was the Conference location in 2012, with a good turn-out from overseas rugmakers.

Judi and I would like to encourage Guild members, especially those isolated solo rugmakers to  give these “virtual rughooking sessions” a try.  If you have a laptop or computer, Judi has volunteered to help you set up a Skype connection – her email is   so,

Take advantage of what your Guild membership has to offer,

Happy Rugmaking from

Jo Franco, Editor/Membership Chair     and

Judi Tompkins, Communications Chair

Heather Ritchie – Rug Aid in The Gambia

ISSN 2207-001X

I’ve been following on Facebook, Heather Ritchie and daughter Chrissie’s two-week stint in The Gambia where they run a Rug School for the blind.

Images and Heather’s descriptions are posted with her permission so her friends in Australia who are not on Facebook can see how their donations are helping the Rug Aid organization.

In particular, the Narrawilly Proggy Rugmakers, whose annual “Fashion Show” raises money for Rug Aid.   Follow this link to the Rug Aid organization to read about the establishment of Rug Aid’s first project started in The Gambia in February 2007.

In 2009, Narrawilly members, Miriam Miller and Jacqui Thompson, travelled with Heather to The Gambia – helping her take supplies to the Rug School and they saw first-hand what a tremendous difference Heather is making to the lives of the blind students and their families.

Thanks to Editor, Lesley Close, Rug Aid’s Newsletter can also be viewed online, this link giving a report of Heather and Chrissie’s 2016 trip.

Below, are Heather’s images and comments on this year’s trip with Chrissie …

2017 – first day at the Rug Aid workshop.  Mayhem ….. as ever! A fabulous welcome.

Adamsa is introduced to her new cane with Chrissie Ritchie.

Mums and daughters working.

Heather sorting a new consignment of fabric scraps from the tailors.

A picture for Valentine’s day ………..

Fatou with her bowl of fruit ……..

Ernest doing his house-keeping, he is so proud of the workshop, keeps it so clean. 

Some of my blind students were interviewed today for a television program about the empowerment of women and disabilities in The Gambia. They were asked how the Rug Aid program had enriched their lives and what they spent the money on from the rug sales. They are confident this will promote our project and attract more visitors to our Workshop.

This is our beautiful journalist who always promotes Rug Aid on the radio. We always do a live discussion about our project every trip … a few weeks ago she did a debate about the past president. A soldier, a friend of the family came to warn her to run and hide as there was a warrant out for her arrest. She hid her children in one part of the country and found a safe place for herself. She is totally blind and was absolutely terrified listening for every sound, she hid for some weeks before she was able to come home. Many journalists here have disappeared never to be heard from again.  Poor Nay she is traumatised now and won’t work as a journalist any more. Thank goodness they have a new president adn she is safe and they have freedom of speech. We wish her well.


Here is Isatu showing her new teeth fitted last trip, by a kind donation – she has a new baby…..

and Senabu cutting new fabrics after being to market ….

and making tea in the compound.

 Playground equipment – damage & Repair:  On their arrival, Heather and Chrissie discovered the childrens’ playground had been damaged and was unusable. Images of the broken equipment were posted online and donations were immediately received and repair began on the playground equipment. 

Playground getting mended ,,,,, yipeeee

Rug Aid rugs going into Timbooktoo book shop for sale


Farewell message received from Heather ……….

Just to say this is the last post from The Gambia.  We travel home tomorrow after a very eventful, productive, hot and tiring 2 weeks … some of you perhaps will be as ready as us for the break. Sorry if I have over-crowded your FB pages but so many are interested and have been so supportive, also visiting and working with us in the past.  I wanted to share our experiences with you and keep you up to date and to say a Huge thank you from me and Chrissie.

Editors Note:    Heather is the current President of The International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers – a position which will keep her busy leading up to the 2018  Triennial Conference to be held at Reeth in the Yorkshire Dales but we know that won’t stop her tirelessly seeking funding and visiting The Gambia.

Well Done Heather and Chrissie!

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



Rughooking & Surf Lifsaving

1_nsw_dawn_hollins_one_of_seven_hooked_panels_by_bermagui_u3a_rughooking_groupnswaustraliaThe Bermagui & District U3A Rughooking Group’s community project began almost two years ago, in early 2015. It was conceived by Dawn Hollins, who organized the group in Bermagui, a coastal town 380k (about a 5-hour drive) south of Sydney. 

The group undertook a challenge to create a 7m (23ft) hooked installation to be hung on the wall of the clubhouse of the Bermagui Surf Lifesaving Club to help absorb noise.

At that time, Lin Potter, the only experienced rug hooker in the U3A group, became the instructor for the twelve women involved in the project none of whom had any previous knowledge of rughooking. 

Some of Bermagui&Dist_U3A_Rug_hookers working on project for the Surf Club

The design was based on a panorama of the area drawn full size on paper by artist Rona Walker and then transferred to the hessian panels. The rug hookers added their own personal touches such as birds, surfers, vehicles and even a hot-air balloon!


The 7metre wall hanging was hooked in panels 1m wide x 1.4m high intended to hang separately but close together.  The weight of each piece was considerable – the construction of the elevated wall section was assessed before the design was transferred to the hessian panels.


By the end of November 2016 the panels were all ready to install.





On the 15th December 2016 – with all the panels installed, and over 100 U3A and Surf Club members and dignitaries in attendance, Dawn gave a presentation on the design, creation and installation of this project and it was officially dedicated to the Bermagui Surf Club by Hon. Dr Mike Kelly AM MP Member for Eden-Monaro.

 This is an amazing series of works considering it was completed by novice rughookers who not only had to learn to hook as they began, but also had to learn how to finish off the pieces and work out how it was going to be installed – no mean feat when dealing with such large works, especially when they had to be hung so high in the air.

Members of the Rughooking Group are to be commended for completing such an amazing project – the Surf Club members must surely be pleased.

Dawn says –

“Now this project is finished some will continue with group and we will run teaching workshops next year to encourage new members.

We ran a workshop at the local school on 3rd November (Grandparents Day) where we taught 60 Grade 3 & 4 children and gave them hemmed hessian pieces, hooks and fabric strips so that they could continue in craft sessions. It was pretty full-on but they were very keen and their teachers were delighted! “

jo_franco_australian_rugmakers_guild_editor__membership_chair_2016-copyWell Done Ladies!  We look forward to seeing what you do to follow this in 2017.

Jo Franco, Editor/Membership Chair

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