Miriam Miller, President Emeritus of the Australian Rugmakers Guild, was elected the Guilds first President in 2008 and was also the President of The International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers for the period 2009-2012.
Miriam who began rug hooking in the 1970’s, tells of her introduction to rug hooking in her book Proggy & Hooky Rugs, self-published in 2008 and again in 2013. Harbour Publishing House now sells an E-copy.
In 1993 an article by Judy Newman was published in Australian Country Craft and Decorating, Vol3 No1, Jul/Aug issue, describing Miriam’s restoration of the family’s 1870 farm house in Milton, New South Wales and the rugs Miriam made to go in it. The article described Miriam’s interest in rug making, spinning and knitting. In particular, how Miriam went back to her roots in the north of England, Whickham in Country Durham near Newcastle on Tyne, to begin her journey into rug making. Miriam had a cousin send her a tool and asked her father to teach her how to make the proggy rugs. As a young man, Miriam’s father had helped her grandmother made rugs for their home in England. The article describes Miriam’s love of colour and how she dyed the wool and fabric she uses in her rugmaking.
Following the publication of this article Miriam was invited to Lord Howe Island to give workshops for a week, teaching rug making and spinning. Miriam said the group who invited her to the island were given a special grant to run the workshops because they were so isolated, so her airfare and accommodations was provided.
After friends and neighbours saw the rugs Miriam began creating for her own home, many wanted her to teach them. This led to rug hooking workshops and a group of her “graduates” meeting at the old Narrawilly farmhouse.
In1994, with the help of friend and traveling companion, Jacqueline (Jacqui) Thomson, the Narrawilly Proggy Rugmakers group was formed with Miriam’s former students meeting initially once and now twice a month.
In 2002 Miriam’s new house, complete with a studio – the “Rug Room”, was built on the property. The Narrawilly Proggers continue to meet in the Rug Room twice a month.
Miriam has facilitated workshops by overseas instructors at her Narrawilly Rug Room in Milton, and in other places during the period 2003-2007. Heather Ritchie & Cilla Cameron gave workshops twice, and Heather Ritchie three times – the first in 2003. Miriam taught in TAFTA/Orange, NSW, when Cilla Cameron could not come.
Visiting Instructors to the Rug Room at Narrawilly were, 2010 Gene Shepherd (USA), 2014 Karen Kaiser (Canada), 2010 Jo Franco (West Australia) and in 2010 & 2014 Judith Stephens (South Australia).
Miriam has travelled the world to meet rugmakers; 2001, 2003 & 2006 in the UK. In 2009 she was joined by Jacqui Thomson, good friend and co-founder of the Narrawilly Proggers, on a trip that took them to the USA, Canada, UK and The Gambia with Heather Ritchie. In 2011 the couple travelled to Japan to give a Workshop to Fumiyo Hachisuka’s rug hooking group and in 2014, travelled to New Zealand to meet up with Canadian, Sybil Mercer. Their journeys continued in 2015 to the UK and across the USA to the Triennial Conference of The International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakaers in Victoria on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada.