Rug Hooking with a difference

ISSN 2207-001X    27th June, 2017

While most of us sit quietly, contemplating design and colour choices as we hook, on patterns drawn out on a table.

Textile Artist, Bec Andersen of Mt. Tamborine, Queensland, completes her design on a computer, and then clambers up onto a scaffold to draw the design  directly onto her backing stretched taught on a large vertical frame, before plugging in her electric hand tufting gun and starting to work on her creation.

These images were taken (with permission) from Bec Andersen’s website, where you’ll see that while her technique is physically more demanding than the traditional way of sitting in an easy chair to hook, or even bent over a stretcher frame on trestle legs  ……. and, she does have to wear protective safety glasses ….. she can still “plug in” and listen to her favourite music, or get lost in her thoughts as she creates her rugs.

Bec’s somewhat unusual rug making technique came to mind as I was sharing a video post on the Guild Facebook page and updating the Guild Calendar of Events.

The Facebook post was “Soft Machine”, a rug made at Dovecot Tapestry Studio in collaboration with Glasgow based artist Jim Lambie. The rug, gun tufted by Dennis Reinmüller and Kristi Vana at Dovecot in 2016. Bec tells me she uses a similar technique but has a looser/more relaxed approach to the art of rug making.

Bec has traditional rug hooking workshops (not tufting gun) coming up at her Studio on Mt. Tamborine on the 4th & 5th of August this year. She also offers private workshops, maybe you’d like help in the design and planning stage of your rug?

If you’ve already attended a workshop with Bec, you’re invited to the monthly gathering of the Happy Hookers. RSVP essential.

Details for these social days and all workshops – Basketry, Dyeing, Printing and Special Events can be found on her website.

Bec is also very involved with community art projects as you will see from this video.

  Guild Members – do you have a rug hooking event coming up? or know of an associated textile craft event you like our members to know about?

Contact me via email and it will be added to the Calendar of Events.          Cheers  – Jo Franco, Editor






Reinforcing the Network

ISSN 2207-001X 26th June, 2017

Judi Tompkins and the Sunshine Coast RugCrafters in Queensland, recently had a visit from Jacqui Thomson of Milton, New South Wales, who had travelled north to visit her family and good friend Kathie Ryan who’d moved  from Canberra to Caloundra West

Kathie had attended Miriam and Jacqui’s rug days at Narrawilly along with Maggie Whyte, ARG Guild Vice President/Secretary also from Canberra.

Annette White is another Queensland rughooker who started rug hooking with Jacqui and Miriam in the Rug Room at Narrawilly before moving north, … so Jacqui’s trip to Queensland was a chance for all of them to reconnect.

The ladies from the Sunshine Coast are very innovated with their hooking and their designs.

Annette,  Judy and Pat, seen here admiring a rug Stella is making as a gift for a cancer treatment centre where she was treated (successfully). The group was surprised (although they shouldn’t be) at how quickly Stella had drawn and started hooking this new piece (under a week!).

“Where to from here” –
Judy Owen discusses the border of her rug with Bea Nitschke
and here is the finished project.

Annette is hooking a bearskin rug to go in front of her fireplace – a brown bear with raised head and legs splayed like a skinned bear.

 Here Annette is working on the bear’s head and chatting with Jacqui.

I’m looking forward catching up with the Sunshine Coast RugCrafters. We’re about to hit the road again, headed North to Tenant Creek and then East to Mt. Isa, Queensland – from there via Cloncurry & Longreach to Rockhampton on the coast, and south to meet up with the Sunshine Coast Rugcrafters in Beerwah.

The 21st Annual Alice Springs Beanie Festival closed today breaking several records; number of beanies submitted, and sold, funds raised and it looks like they’ve set the record for the Guinness Book of Records longest beanie; 500m of beanie worn today at one time by 125 people.
 See more about the Alice Springs Beanie Festival on the Guild Facebook page and read about it here
I spent time this afternoon talking about rug hooking to a couple I’d met in one of the workshops. Gave an impromptu demonstration – they were most interested – so it looks like there might soon be a new group of rug hookers in the Northern Territory!
Happy Rug Hooking,   Jo Franco, Editor

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.”     




Rugs on the Wall not the Floor

ISSN 2207-001X  6th June 2017

The Sunshine Coast RugCrafters in Beerwah, Queensland have added glitz to their rugs so are hanging them on the wall ……

Stella Edmundson,  researched Mewar (Indian) painting online before coming up with her rug  “Mewar Dreaming”.

At Stella’s suggestion, I went online and discovered bright and brilliant colours of red, orange, green and blue are a feature of these paintings. Small hillocks and mounds are inserted into the paintings which are typically of the birds, animals, ornate trees and bunches of flowers, depicted in Persian style.

Stella began her rug  which is just under 2 m wide, by drawing templates for her motifs and drawing around them directly onto her backing. She said she had fun with this piece, using “Q” tips for the stars.

Judy Owen is also a member of the Sunshine Coast RugCrafters –

It’s finished …..  not only that, it’s hung!

We see rugs by members of our various groups during the design and hooking process and we’re sometimes asked for help or offer a suggestion here and there – so it’s great to see the finished project.

Now “There’s a Unicorn in My Garden” is hanging in place, the size of the rug designed and hooked by Judy can be appreciated.

Judy used bainia (Aran) wool, knitting and rug wool, dyed wool yarn, blanket, fabric strips and metallic thread to hook this piece.

I’m travelling to Queensland in July; looking forward to meeting Stella and Judy again when I visit Judi Tompkins group.

Judi and I plan to bring you video interviews with Australian rug hooking artists; Stella and Judy will be our first!   Jo Franco, Editor

Rughooking Calendar Updates

ISSN 2207-001X 26th May 2017


If I don’t use Facebook – how can I find out about rug hooking events  around Australia before they happen?”

Answer: Subscribe to receive notice of this Blog by email, then you can easily click over to “Current Events” without having to remember to actually go to the website.  Need help to [subscribe] using your iPad or computer? click here.

In Strathalbyn South Australia  – this weekend  (27th/28th May) is your last chance to visit Judith Stephens Open Studio.

This Exhibition of hooked rugs and items made using 10 different rug making techniques by members of the Strath Matters rug hooking group; a collection of old SEMCO rug patterns and “Have-a-go” proggy demonstrations; is part of the South Australia’s History Festival.

The theme this year is “Transport”, which lends itself to  thoughts of “magic carpets” or the magic of rag rugs.

President, Judith Stephens, SA

From Judith :

“The History Festival lasts for the month of May, and there are hundreds of activities throughout the state – some major and many small projects of all varieties.  It’s a great idea, and people really get into the swing of attending heaps of activities, so it is worthwhile. 

We’ve had about a dozen people each day we’ve been open – lots of chat about ‘I remember my grandfather ….. etc etc!’  One lady saw the old tools and exclaimed ‘is THAT what it’s used for!”

Open Studio  –  13 Old Bull Creek Rd, Strathalbyn, SA 5255.     For times and more details email  Judith

Speaking of “HISTORY”, check out the History of Australian Rugmakers on the Guild Website.

Many thanks to Corinne Ball, Curator, who retrieved the rugs from the archives of the South Australian Migration Museum, to photograph and for her permission to show the images on the Guild website.

The Migration Museum, at 82 Kintore Ave, Adelaide, South Australia 5001 is Open Daily from 10am-5pm Mon-Fri and 1pm-5pm Weekends – Admission is Free.

Looking ahead in South Australia – the Strath Matters will be demonstrating rug hooking at the  Kym Jones Craft Fair   –  Adelaide Showgrounds  on the 14th/15th July – for details email Judith Stephens  and on 18th & 19th August the group will be at the Strathalbyn Antique Fair & Crafts .


Tasmania – Joanne Wild of the Happy Hookers in Deloraine, will facilitate a traditional hooking workshop “Small Hook Rug Workshop” on  Saturday, May 27, 10 am – 1pm at the British Hotel  80 Emu Bay Rd. Deloraine, TAS 7304 for information contact Joanne Wild (03) 6368 1373


For the next six weeks at the Bendigo Bank in Deloraine there will be an exhibition of hooked rugs by the Happy Hookers and Rowdy Ruggers .

The following description is shown at the exhibition –

“Deloraine & districts has a healthy latchhook rug making community who gather regularly in public places to work wool together and share.

Joanne Wild founded the “Happy Hookers in 2002 and many works have been completed at her gatherings.  Initially people met in each other’s homes then the groups became larger so they met in bigger spaces e.g. ETC bakery’s meeting room.

Currently two groups meet regularly and this exhibit represents some current members finished pieces.

The “Rowdy Ruggers” meet at Deloraine House on Wednesdays from 1-3 pm and welcome children.  Peter Burns from this group took more than 500 hours to complete his rug and he has almost completed a matching  NEFERTITI !!!!

Happy Hookers” meet on Mondays from 10-12 noon in the back room at the British Hotel. They welcome other woollen textile artists and according to Joanne Wild are rowdy too!!!!”

VICTORIA – in July – Plan a full weekend in Wangaratta  ……

8th – 16th July, the 14th Stitched Up Textile Festival & Community Textile Exhibition; “Stitching a Story”  will be held at  Gallery 2 at Wangaratta Art Gallery, 56 Ovens St Wangaratta

Bobby George, VIC
Maggie Whyte, ACT

Australian Rugmakers Guild members, Bobby George, from Victoria  and V.Pres & Secretary, Maggie Whyte, ACT will be presenting “The Story of Rughooking” and demonstrating the craft with the public invited to “have-a-go” at rug hooking.

Sun 9 July, 9am – 3 pm


Designed, hooked and photographed by Bobby George, VIC

The Stitched Up Festival celebrates all forms of textile art & craft in and around Wangaratta in North East Victoria.


Designed, hooked and photographed by Maggie Whyte

Also in Wangaratta – on Saturday 8th – Opening Day for the Festival the Wangaratta Woollen Mills are having a one day SALE !

In Queensland  –

Bec Andersen, Textile Artist, has a full calendar of events – you can see her workshops and rug hooking gatherings for 2017  here



Alice Springs, Northern Territory  –   Beanie Festival  23rd  – 26th  June

Is this Rug hooking News?   Yes! definitely, several of the beanies created by the Wanneroo Rugmakers where made using rug hooking techniques and are for sale at Beanie Central, with a couple (not shown) entered in the Competition.

This year I’m attending the Festival – really looking forward to it, I hear they have over 4,000 beanies catalogued!    More news from Alice Springs.

Happy Hooking   Jo Franco/Editor


Storing and Sharing Rug Hooking Images

ISSN 220-001X  12th May, 2017

How do you show your rug hooking projects?

Judi Tompkins from Queensland, is very conscientious about photographing her many creative rug hooking projects and recently learnt how to document and create her own portfolios.

Here is what Judi had to say about the process   …………..

“If you’re like me you tend to take photos of your finished work and store them on your phone, tablet or camera for future reference. This works really well if you actually sort and catalogue your photos to make them easy to find later – particularly if you want to show someone a specific piece which you may – or may not – actually own anymore!

I was beginning to feel like a doddery ol’ lady when it came to finding photos on my phone since I had waaaaaay too many of them stored there and uncategorised. There’s nothing more annoying than trying to find a photo I just know is on my phone and having to reassure my now bored viewer, “I KNOW it’s here someplace, gimme a minute.”

With that in mind I thought I would try to make a more sensible photographic catalogue of my work and at the same time consolidate all the information about each piece. I simply wasn’t doing a good job recording (in one file) all the information about my work (title, date, dimensions, fabrics/techniques used and any “story” associated with the piece.)

I decided to use VistaPrint ( to help me with this since I had used them before to print cotton carry bags, t-shirts, banners, etc. Their quality is good and their 10-day (or less) turnaround time amazing – even more amazing when you consider they are in the USA.

So…I downloaded their editing program for the photo books. The software is easy to use and you can decide on the size and format of the book you want. In most cases the books have a suggested number of photo spaces and text boxes allocated for each book but you can delete, insert or move photos as you like (the same is true for the text boxes).

You can also do any editing function you want through their program so you don’t have to crop or adjust colours before you start – you can do it here.  Also, somewhere (I have it on the flyleaf) you should put the copyright symbol © and state that all text and photos remain the property of the artist (or some such).

There is a option for you to also have photos on the front and back cover of your book, and along the spine. I do think it is worth paying a few dollars more for the high quality photo paper.

There is a preview function so you can review the book as you go along and once you give the book a file name it will remain in your VistaPrint account so you can come back to finish it anytime, or you may decide to reprint the book or make changes for the next edition.

Before you place your order (and in fact, throughout the process) Vista Print will make you aware of problems like low resolution of a photo or text that doesn’t fit in the text box. So…when you place your order you will be told which pages have apparent problems and you can correct them at that point.

I was surprised at the number of pieces I’ve made over the years and didn’t try to replicate every one!    I did however, make two specialised books: “The Tenacious: How to Build a Tall Ship”    and   “Fibre Taxidermy: Bespoke and personal – Realistic hooking of pets or animals”. These two books are an attempt to explain and illustrate how I have done a few of the more complicated Waldoboro pieces. These are the questions so hard to answer when I can’t find the right photo on my phone.

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

So…give some thought about signing up for a Vista Print account and get on their mailing list. I have produced several of my books at the 25% or more discounts that they regularly offer so you don’t need to pay the full price. Get your photos ready and in a Vista file and you’ll be ready to order it when they are have sales.

Have fun!       Judi Tompkins

Thanks Judi – I agree, it is nice to have a record (especially one  not subject to disappearing into the ether) of something you’ve put a lot of work into, has meaning to you and perhaps has been given away or sold.

I hope this encourages other members not to feel shy about creating a portfolio of their work and calling themselves a rug hooking artist.

(Disclaimer:   Other companies provide similar services  for creating  photo albums,  the Australian Rugmakers Guild is not officially promoting VistaPrint)


The Story of Wool Exhibition

ISSN 2207-001X  9th May, 2017

The Autumn months of April and May are popular times in Australia for Craft Festivals and “Ag Shows”. For our overseas rug hooking friends that’s an abbreviation for Agricultural Society Shows/Events/Field Days        i.e. County or State Fairs.

 Last week in Albany, in the southwest of the State of Western Australia, Kira Mead’s collection of blankets was prominently displayed at the annual  Vancouver Street Festival in the Vancouver Art Centre.     All but about 5 of the blankets used in the exhibition were Kira’s and all were originally from the Albany Woollen Mills.

The theme for the 2017 Festival  – was  “The Story of Wool”  so it was no wonder Kira’s works created from recycled blankets, fitted in so well!  Kira sources these now hard to find blankets, from friends, family and Op Shops around town. The Albany Woollen Mills, the only woollen mill in Western Australia, was built in 1924 and closed in 1996. Those of us who grew up here in the West remember well the distinctive, mostly pastel, plaid blankets.

Kira photographed her creations made with her hand-dyed blankets, many of the works featured her wool quillies.

Kira said  ……..   “I really like what they did with my blankets. “The Story of Wool“ exhibition was beautifully set out as you can see from these images taken by  Isobelle Mead.

Blankets lined the entry into this room where two video’s were playing regarding Shearing. One by Bob Symons and the other by Ron Kowald. There was also a video in the Spinning Room, also by Bob Symons.  Blankets were also used as backdrops for displays in other rooms.

A crocheted version of a coral reef.  It was a project undertaken by many in 2010. 

This installation was created by Anne Walmsley, a contemporary fibre artist and was an entry in a previous years Sculptures by the Sea at Cottesloe.   Anne Walmsley also created this installation of woollen blanket “squares” in the limestone wall of the Vancouver Art Centre.”

Above more blankets and displays.  

Albany has an impressive natural deep-water harbour and is surrounding by scenic coastal vistas.

The Vancouver Arts Centre coordinates, curates and hosts touring and local exhibitions, artists in residence, school holiday programs, adult and children’s workshops, community projects and a range of engaging cultural events across multiple art-forms.  The centre is home to a number of active arts and craft groups and independent artists, it is well used by the local community whilst also welcoming all visitors through its doors.

For anyone interested in history, there is a self-guided heritage trail allowing visitors to explore the building’s unique heritage value; built in 1887 and designed by architect George Temple Poole, the sandstone brick building originally served as the Albany Cottage Hospital until 1962.

This information was taken from the Albany Gateway website, where more information can be found about what to see and do in the area.

Kira Mead, the Accidental Rugmaker with one of her vibrant rugs. Picture: Lata Photography

        Many thanks to Kira for the update on this exhibition.    Jo Franco, Editor

Canadian Exhibition

ISSN 2207-001X 4th May 2017

The event; 2017 Annual OHCG Conference, held April 28-30th in Coburg, Ontario, Canada

The Theme; Images of Canada

Canadian, Susan Sutherland, a member of the Ontario Hooking Craft Guild and this Australian Guild, attended the OHCG Conference and shared on Facebook some of her photos of the exhibits.

Aussie Guild members will recognize some of the exhibitors names as those who have visited Miriam Miller’s Rug Room in Milton, NSW or attended the 2012 The International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers (TIGHR) Triennial Conference in South Australia and who we will hopefully meet up with again at the 2018 TIGHR Conference in Reeth in the UK.

Miriam Miller, Karen Kaiser-Wiens & Jacqui Thomson.
Barbara Lukas






Susan’s Facebook post described traditional rug hooking for her many non-rug hooking Facebook friends as :-

“painting” with wool or other strips of fabric or yarn using a simple hook with a handle, puling up a simple loop – it’s not latch hooking with short pieces of wool yarn and no plastic canvas or knots.”

Susan said, there are many different rug hooking and rug making techniques.  The Australian Guild covers them all, yes, even latch hooking.

Shown with Susan’s permission, are some of her images, including comments, and a link to a blog with more images from the Exhibition which Susan thought we might enjoy.

And finally, a friendship rug –


from the Australian Rugmakers Guild

to all in the

Ontario Hooking Craft Guild

on such a successful exhibition.

A Framed Finish

ISSN 2207-001X 28th April, 2017

Have you ever hooked, or been presented with a special rug hooked piece and wondered what you were going to do with it?

Sally from Brisbane had occasionally visited Judi Tompkins “Shed Days”  in Landsborough on the Sunshine Coast. These were special occasions at Judi’s home, as the Sunshine Coast Rugcrafters  group usually meets at the local Library in Beerwah.

As a tribute to Judi, Sally hooked this piece “Shed Girls” using pieces of woollen blankets from Judi’s famous stash of recycled blankets.

Because the hooked piece is representative of those special days and the fun times the group has had, Judi wanted to display it at her new residence, so she framed Sally’s work complete with a piece of Colourbond from the shed built in 2010, along with some of Judi’s collection of hooking tools.

The beauty of Colourbond (as the manufacturers advertisements will tell you) is that it retains its colour. Historically Aussie sheds were made of corrugated iron which rusts with age, creating an interesting patina, like the shed at Strathnairn, ACT where the Guild held an Exhibition last September.

There won’t be any more Shed Days, as Judi’s property is on the market. The shed for the new residence has already been built, but in future, special days will be held not in the new Shed but the soon to be built Studio.

As can be seen in the last couple of posts, apart from making works easier to hang, framing gives more of an art, rather than craft appearance to a hooked work.

Looking forward to more rug hooking news from Queensland.       Jo Franco, Editor


ISSN 2207-001X  20th April, 2017

This mandala, 80cms x 80cms, was designed and hooked by Robin Inkpen, of Donnybrook, Western Australia.  It’s framed, without glass, so is quite lightweight.

When Robin started this project her life was in a state of flux with many changes happening in her personal and artistic life. It seemed to me, creating a mandala was a big challenge to take on at that time.  However, as I remember, Robin said she was using this project as a point of focus.

and she forwarded this image of her new project with the following comment   

“Mandalas aren’t as easy as they look, they are geometrically exact and you need compass and protractor and ruler to draw them. That’s fine when you are drawing on paper but, as I found when you draw them out on fabric with a warp and a weft it adds another dimension of difficulty because you have to line up the perpendicular and horizontal with the warp and weft grain.”

WHAT IS A MANDALA?  I had an idea, but decided to do a Google search anyway  – discovering a website which said –

“a mandala is a complex abstract design that is usually circular in form. In fact, “mandala” is a Sanskrit word that means “circle”. Mandalas generally have one identifiable center point, from which emanates an array of symbols, shapes and forms. Mandalas can contain both geometric and organic forms.  Drawing and coloring a mandala can be a highly enriching personal experience in which you look inside yourself and find the shapes, colors and patterns to represent anything from your current state of mind to your most deeply-desired wish for yourself, for a loved one, or for humanity.”

This link  “Art is Funtook me to step-by-step instructions showing how to draw a mandala.

From yet another website comes these words, with a set of instructions for creating and colouring a mandala and the benefits of doing so; 

“observing the mandala allows the busy mind to take a break while the creative mind is allowed to run free”. 

Now I understand why focusing on creating a mandala was a way for Robin to centre her thoughts and feelings, also the complexities that arose when she attempted to transfer a drawing to a woven fabric backing. 

Robin is about to embark on another mandala, this time on hessian,  interested to see how precise she can be with circles and angles on hessian. Her first mandala was hooked on monks cloth.

Robin shown here with one of her earlier hooked creations, says this about the mandalas :

“For the moment, I like the contained and structured space of the design. The only variables I add are the variably dyed fabrics and yarns.

Also, as it is so difficult to be so geometrically exact on a woven fabric I like that each quarter is not an exact replica.”


 It would be interesting to know if any other members have attempted to design and hook a mandala.  If you have and would like to share, please leave a comment below or send to        

As always, it’s interesting to see where rug hooking takes us.        Jo Franco, Editor