International Rug Hooking Day 2017

ISSN 2007-1X 6th December, 2017

An actual “day” for rughooking,  how did this come about?


The International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers was formed in England on 4th December 1994. On the twentieth anniversary of the formation,  the Guild declared December 4th to be International Hooking Day in celebration of the anniversary and to further their mission statement –

“to come together in friendship to share ideas, and to explore the different techniques of the art of rugmaking using a variety of fibres”

Rug Hooking Magazine supports the International Guild and each year dedicates a Facebook page for rug hookers and rug making groups around the world to post pictures of their activities on, or connected to, this day.


It’s been a busy time in rug hooking circles around Australia and images of Australian groups activities were posted on Rug Hooking Magazines Facebook.

In NSW – there was an International connection as the Narrawilly Proggy Rugmakers gathered at Miriam Miller’s rug room in Milton to hold their annual Fashion Parade – members model garments from the Op Shop where they source the recyclables for their rug work.

Kerrie from Canberra, ACT
Maggie Whyte, Canberra, ACT – Vice President Australian Rugmakers Guild
Elke, Milton, NSW
Maggie-Mother of the Bride, Christine-Bridesmaid, Jenny-Bride, Elke-Bridesmaid, Vivienne-2nd Mother of the Bride

At the end of the parade the garments are auctioned, and the money raised sent to Heather Ritchie in the UK to support her “Rug Aid” project, a rughooking school for the visually impaired in The Gambia.
From Heather Ritchie, UK ….. “Rug Aid is so grateful for your wonderful support, we are planning on buying talking watches and white canes to take with us in January. we will never forget the first time we gave a talking watch to one of our blind friends. the response was “this Is the first time I know what time it is to pray ” your support means so much. A huge thank youxxx”

Heather is the current President of TIGHR, The International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers.

The 2018 Triennial Conference will be held in Heather’s home town of Reeth, in the picturesque Yorkshire Dales.

Miriam has made many rug hooking contacts through her international travels with Jacquie Thomson, rug hooking friend and co-founder of the Narrawilly group and shares letters and images from these friends in her monthly newsletter which you can find archived on this website.

Still in NSW – when Gail Nichols from Mongarlowe, a tiny village near Braidwood, NSW realised it was International Rug Hooking Day on Monday she posted this image of the rug she is currently working on.

Gail worked for 30 years as a professional ceramic artist and when her friend and neighbour Maggie Hickey introduced her to rughooking in 2014 she became “hooked”. Both friends were encouraged by Miriam Miller and the Narrawilly rug makers group in Milton. Gail said by 2016 rug making was dominating her studio work, ……..

“I enjoy the tactile hooking process and the immediacy of hooking with colour. My designs are abstracted from landscape photos I’ve taken. Rughooking has allowed me to see the world in new ways. I have already collected more ideas than I could complete in a lifetime! I use new and recycled fabrics, predominantly stretch knits such as T-shirt material, hooked on hessian or polyester backing. Working with fabrics has led me to also experiment with textile collage and stitch drawing.”

It has been a successful year for Gail who won awards for her rug work in Australia and travelled to the USA to participate in a panel presentation on ceramics at Stanford University.
There’s also an international connection here ……. through contact with the Guild’s Communications Chair Judi Tompkins, both women originally from the USA, discovered they were from the same State and went to the same university – it is truly a small world. Who knew rug hooking – a traditional craft would have such a reach.

In Victoria, on Sunday 26th Nov just prior to the celebration of International Rughooking Day, two of the Yarra Valley Rugmakers, Anne and Robyne, promoted rug hooking on a warm day at Buda House, an old homestead in Castlemaine, talking to people and demonstrating rug hooking while working on their own hooking projects.
They toured the homestead which has been donated to the Castlemaine Art Gallery. Robyne says it holds a fabulous collection and is well worth a visit. Here are a couple of Robyne’s photos – read more about their visit and the interesting story about the family on the Victorian Rugmakers blog.

In Western Australia, the Wanneroo Rugmakers celebrated the day over their Christmas lunch at the café in the Library and Culutral centre, bringing with them their own table decorations – prodded Christmas Trees.
Here are some images taken during this lively event – including “Persephone” – the life-size hooked figure that stands at the foot of the stairs with information about the rug group’s meetings upstairs in the Library every Saturday. Their community project for this year is coming to an end  more on that in a couple of weeks.

Some of the members of the Wanneroo Rugmakers

Christmas trees are simple to make – it just takes some backing and a selection of small pieces of fabric and  a simple proddy tool. Kits are available from Judith Stephens in South Australia Email:

In Queensland Judi Tompkins and the Sunshine Coast RugCrafters are working on pieces to be displayed in the library where their meetings are held twice a month.

Designed and Hooked by Sally Randle, Brisbane, in appreciation of the Shed Days. Framed by Judi incorporating siding from the Shed and her antique tools.

Several entries for Re-imagined” a Challenge with a Difference have been received from this group.

Besides setting  up  the Challenge, Judi has been busy – selling her house and packing up – so unfortunately there’ll be no more shed days – not until the new house is finished – a ways off yet …….

Judi standing in the location of her new studio





Judi recently had an international visitor, also to do with rughooking in a round about way. Tom, a relative who lives in Belgium and has made several voyages on  SV Tenacious  which recently sailed the Queensland coast headed for Melbourne where Sailor Tom was to pick up the ship and sail from Melbourne to New Zealand. The ship’s departure was delayed a few days due to unseasonably wet weather,  even for Melbourne. You can read more about Tom’s voyages on the SV “Tenacious” here

This 3D hooked representation of the SV Tenacious, one of two Jubilee Sailing Trust vessels fitted out to take a mixed-ability crew, was hooked by Judi from a photograph and now hangs in 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


South Australia: More international connections – Judith Stephens, Guild President and leader of the StrathMatters rug hooking group in South Australia, recently returned from a trip to Japan where she met up with Fumiyo Hachisuka also a member of TIGHR.  

Fumiyo Hachisuka and Judith Stephens in Tokyo. Photograph courtesy of Malcolm Edward-Cole.

Fumiyo has  attended many TIGHR Conferences including the 2012 TIGHR Conference in Strathalbyn, South Australia and the 2015 Conference in Victoria, on Vancouver Island, BC.

Here Fumiyo shows Judith a hooked wall hanging inspired by a photo taken by Fumiyo at the last TIGHR Triennial Conference in Victoria, BC.

Fumiyo Hachisuka, Tokyo, Japan. Photograph courtesy of Malcolm Edward-Cole

Members of the Strathmatters Rughooking Group work on projects using varied rug making techniques.


Judith Stephens, ARG President, demonstrating rugmaking at Adelaide Craft Fair 2017
StrathMatters weekend rug retreat at Robe, South Australia 2017

More of their activities, various project and information about their meetings can be seen on their Blog.

Jo Franco, Editor

I’d like to take this opportunity to invite members, non-members and all text artists in the Southern Hemisphere, individually or as a collaboration, to enter Re-imagined a mixed media challenge. Send your Expression of Interest now, images of your completed work is not due until next year – 30th April, 2018.

Happy Rughooking  & Best Wishes for Christmas & the New Year.

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