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


Eastern States Award Winners and Shows

A big Winner at the Milton Show

2016_Milton_Show_Champion Award_designed_&_hooked_by_Ilka_Landahl


Ilka Landahl, member of the Narrawilly Proggers gathered many awards for her sculpted wall hanging  1st prize- Shorn Hooky & Proggy ItemSpecial Award & Champion of Show.

When asked how she created such an interesting piece of work Ilka said ….

“I hooked it with normal and partly fancy wool a little bit higher than usual and cut it, sculpting it into shape.

Between the different sections of colours I hooked with a small strip of fabric which helps to hold the wool better and brings more out the effect.

For variety I hooked some sections normal without shaping.

It makes a lot dust and fluff so I had the vacuum cleaner by my side all the time.

I like it because it looks so cosy/cuddly.”


Editors note for overseas readers; Shows are held across Australia in Capital cities and country areas. In general they are a combination of agricultural displays, stock and farm machinery,  and competitions involving livestock, as well as arts & crafts and entertainment – similar to a State or County Fair in North America. They are generally called Pastoral or Agricultural Society Shows or AgFests.

Members of the Narrawilly Proggers have been entering rugs in competiton at the Milton Show for some time.

Miriam Miller said ……

“I cannot remember when the first time was, but it was many years ago and at first we entered in the general handicraft section under Any article made from recycled materials(soft)”    Then we got our own section which was about 6 years ago.

We have 5 categories.  Jacqui Thomson and I provide the prizes. The stewards are Janet Walker and Elke Smith-Hill and we also provide our own judge. We have a different person judge each year.

While many of our members compete in the various categories, some just exhibit their work, demonstrate rug hooking and talk to interested visitors about the craft.”

2016_Milton_Show_Christine_AlexanderAbove Christine Alexander taking a break in a quiet moment at the Show.

The following are images of winners and place-getters in the various rug making categories

2016_Milton_Show_1_1st_Place_Proggy_Floor_Rug_by_Carol Flyn_1st prize winner in Proggy Floor Rug by Carol Flynn

2016_Milton_Show_2_Special_Award_Pat_la_Rance - Copy

Pat la Rance received a Special Award for this piece


Gail Nicholls took 2nd    Hooky & Proggy Wall Hanging for her superb work in this rug.


2016_Milton_Show_4_Chloe_ThompsonThe Santa cushion was hooked by a 14 year old. Chloe Thompson who received a Highly Commended Award.  


This bag by Marilyn Smyth took   2dn prize Hooky  or Proggy item not otherwise mentioned.


1st prize in the Hooky Floor Rug category was awarded to Elaine Kitchner for her floral rug.

1st prize in Hooky or Proggy item not otherwise mentioned was created by Christine Alexander

2016_Milton_Show_2nd_Hooked_Floor_Rug_by_Maggie_HickeyMaggie Hickey  took 2nd prize in the Hooked Floor Rug category.

2nd Prize Proggy Rug  was awarded to Bev Latta for this rug  82cm x 110cm (33″x43.5″)

Carol Thompsons received a  Highly commended award in the Hooky and/or Proggy Wall Hanging category for her hooked and framed rug.


TO THE NORTH, in Queensland, there was a SHOW of a different kind!

Judi Tompkins held her first Sunday “Shed Day“  – it was a huge success – the inclusion of a wine tasting may have had something to do with that.  Jewellery was shown along with some rather unique mens shirts.

Here is a report on the event from Judi Tompkins

13 people attended the “Leap Year Eve” Shed Day and Wine tasting…several other people were also invited to the wine tasting which meant Ron Duggelby was able to show off some great lapidary and wire wrapped jewellery which inspired several people in terms of colour and design.


Several hookers wanted to learn how to locker hook (and thanks to my tuition by Robin Inkpen I was able to show them the basics!).

Margaret_learning_to_locker_hookMargaret’s first lesson in locker hooking.   


Sally starting on a new locker hooking project.

We then we moved on to lunch where Simon Rawlins from Pieroth Wines offered a great range of white, red and dessert wines form South American and Europe.


Finally, Jacqueline Rawlins brought in a selection of her shirt design work, she uses Aboriginal print fabrics (designs approved by the Aboriginal elders) and turns the fabric into high-quality men’s shirts for the Australian climate.


It was a day of fun for the senses; colour, taste, texture and folks! It was especially nice to have virtually two “visiting artists”!

More from the Editor: 

There will be another Show report in the  next News – the exhibition of rugs at a NSW Quilt Show.

Are you thinking of setting up a Rug Show? Watch the ARG News Blog coming soon  – for an article on “Judging Rug Shows” – where our members  will offer their suggested guidelines for choosing a judging panel as well as the criteria for judging rug submissions.

Jo Franco


by  Jo Franco;  Guild Editor/Blogger

Jo_setting_up_rug_making_demo_Sunshine_Coast_QLD_AustraliaA family holiday in Queensland provided the perfect opportunity for me to visit rugmakers in the area.

Judi TJudi Tompkins, the Guild’s webmaster and I talk regularly each week on Skype in an effort to maintain the website and bring rughooking news and Australian Guild members together.

Judi facilitates group meetings at the Beerwah Library from 3:00-6:00pm on the 2nd Monday and 3rd Tuesday of each month.

However to fit in with my schedule, she invited members of the Sunshine Coast Rug Crafters to her studio on Sunday 2nd August for an informal workshop and “hook-in” and asked them to bring a recently finished, or favourite rug for Show & Tell. Some of the rugs have been shown before on this blog but there‘s nothing like seeing and touching the real thing.

In a recent post about the SCRC group’s demonstration at the Palmwoods Art & Crafts Show Stella could be seen working on her porpoise piece which is now completed and shown below with its companion piece.


Cetacan Dreaming designed and hooked by Stella Edmundson

Cetacan_Dreaming_designed_hooked_by_Stella_Edmundson_QLD_AustraliaKangroos_on_Mars_designed_hooked_by_Stella EdmundsonKangroos on Mars designed and hooked By Stella Edmundson

This was a day of exchanging information.

I shared Judith Stephen’s method for making bags & baskets using the toothbrush or nalbinding technique (also spelled nålbinding, naalbinding, nalebinding).

Some of the group decided to give the technique a go and make a bag, others opted to make mats – this one started by Bea.

Bea's toothbrush rug started during Jo's demoToothbrush_rugmaing_Landsborough_QLD_Australia

 Sunshine_Coast_Rug_Crafters_gathering_QLD_Australia_Anne_Pat_Jo_Sally_instructing_Cassie_BeaJo looking on as Anne & Pat, Cassie (with help from Sally) & Bea get started with their toothbrush rug hooking.

Judy O_Annette_Diane_Sunshine_Coast_Rug_CraftersJudy_Owen_Annette_White_Sunshine_Coast_Rug_Crafters_QLD_Australia

 (Left)  Annette & Diane studying the iPad bag made with this technique by Judith Stephens

and below, Judy and Annette getting started with their own toothbrush rug hooking projects.

  Below is a bag made by Sally, a new member from Brisbane, who discovered this gathering through the Guild’s Facebook page and decided to join the Guild and attend.

                                  Toothbrush rugmaking bag by Sally Randle

Sally uses the punch-needle rug hooking technique and has worked on Amy Oxford designs which she purchased while overseas. She recently took a punch-needle hooking class with Bec Andersen at Mt. Tamborine, south of Brisbane,

On this day, Judi Tompkins showed her the traditional rughooking technique and how to prod a flower onto the little bag she’d almost completed.

(Below) Sally practicing the new techniques.


Information wasn’t just going one-way;


Sally brought her punch-needle hooked rugs to show, as well as the frame she’d made with a locally purchased substitute for metal gripper strips.

Details of this frame, the gripper substitute and images showing how Sally installed them on her frame, will be in the next Guild Newsletter ‘In the Loop’ emailed to members.

The day was full of conversation with everyone sharing rughooking ideas and asking questions, the only lull coming during morning tea and lunch as we enjoyed all the wonderful goodies everyone bought to share.


I demonstrated some other mat making techniques taught to me by Judith Stephens/ Guild President; Stick Weaving and the Chunky Rugmaker – unfortunately, examples of rugs using these techniques made by Judith and Fibre Necklaces made by Maggie Whyte, V.Pres/Secretary (ACT) using the Chunky Rugmaker were left behind on my workshop table in WA. Thank goodness for laptops and smart phones, I was able to pull up these images to share.

(Above) a hot pad made with stick weaving using recycled sheets and wool yarn. Alongside are the sticks set up to begin a new project.

10005218(Above) A mat being created with the Chunky Rugmaker using carpet wool and soft recycled fabric for the stuffing.

(Below) A Fibre necklace created by Maggie Whyte (ACT) with the same tool using knitting yarn and tiny scraps of fabric – the snippets from other rug hooking projects. Maggie will be at the Expertise Events Craft Fair in Canberra through this weekend, undoubtedly she will have some good examples of this technique on show.


(Below) Diana watching Stella start a stick weaving project extraordinaire – the finished project shown below is destined to be a hanger for one of her rugs.

  Over the chair behind Diana is a mat she completed recently at a CWA workshop. It is similar to the toothbrush rugmaking technique we were using, the difference is it only uses one strip of fabric – there is no cording or base strip.



 Pat and Val opted for trying Stick Weaving instead of the Toothbrush technique.

Not only was I meeting new rughooking friends but I also had the pleasure of catching up with Annette White again. We’d met at Miriam Miller’s studio in Milton a few years ago. Before she moved to the Sunshine Coast, QLD from NSW, Annette was a member of the Narrawilly Proggers and featured in many news reports about their gatherings.

Photos just don’t do justice to the detail in rugs and I was glad Annette had brought her Three Wise Men, which I’d seen images of while posting the blog, but hadn’t fully appreciated the detail and embellishments on this rug – they are amazing.

3_wise_men_hooked_by_annette_white_nsw_australia_57cmX57cm_hooked_with_silky_materials_velvet_wool_ ribbons_bits_of_broken_jewelry_attached_cufflinks_in_crowns_all_recycled

 Below are some happy snaps  taken by Judi Tompkins during our fun filled day


Jo_talking_with_Sally_Margaret_Bea_Diane_Stella_Pat_Anne_of_Sunshine_Coast_Rug_CraftersIt was so good to meet these new, but very talented rugmakers after seeing so many images of the group in action, (Judy Owen, Stella, Diana, Ann, Pat, Cassie, Val, Margaret, Bea and Annette). Judi Tompkins focus in her own rug work is the Waldoborough technique and her rug designs are original and textural.

Judi has departed from the traditional square/rectangular shaped rugs, with most of her creations being free-form in shape and incorporating elaborate frames.  This knowledge has been passed on to the group and they have really picked it up and run with it – there were  no ‘ordinary beginner’ rugs in sight!

I think everyone went home suffering from information overload but very happy and ready for more of these social events.

Sally, who lives and works in Brisbane said – “Should you find other Guild members from Brisbane who are looking to catch up occasionally then please count me in.”

Rughooking News from Queensland


 The Sunshine Coast Rug Crafters had a busy day

at the Palmwoods Arts & Craft Show

on Saturday 18th July.

There was a lot of interest in this craft from visitors to the event and many took cards and expressed an interest in learning this craft.Anne_&_Stella_discussing_the_merits_of_different_frames_Palmwood_QLD_AustraliaJudy_Owen_demonstrating_rughooking_Palmwood_Arts_&_Crafts_Show_QLD_Australia

All members of the group did a great job engaging with the visitors to the booth and explained and demonstrated what this was all about and how to do it!

Below Diana demonstrates and then allows a visitor to work on her rug.



I was so proud to see how far this group of “young hookers” have come in the last year particularly.

The group now has on offer to the public a wonderful range of diverse styles, techniques and approaches that can be used to demonstrate how individual this work can be.



Many thanks to all for their help ……. it was a long day!

Report by Judi Tompkins


More rughooking events are coming up in Queensland

in July and August – take a look at the Current Calendar of Events

Sunshine Coast Rug Crafters – Queensland

Finally! After several attempts to break the “wool ceiling” my efforts to promote Australia’s “lost” traditional craft in Queensland finally generated enough community interest (30+ people) so I was finally able to present a demonstration/workshop through the Beerwah Library on the Sunshine Coast.  I rather foolishly assumed that – as is so often the case – only about half the number would actually attend on the day but 25 showed up!

SCRC books
Resource table of books

Since I’m an old hand at teaching groups, I tend to plan for “emergencies” so I optimistically pulled together enough materials, frames, tools, fabric and equipment for 25 people and set up the community room with 6 frames, chairs, and fabric/cutting table.

Work areas with frames
Work areas with frames

 Throughout the session I ran a slide show of some of my projects,and displayed sample materials and small projects.  To help people see this craft as affordable, I deliberately brought tools and equipment that ranged from “make it yourself” (dolly pegs, knitting needles, crochet hooks and embroidery hoops) to the more expensive stretcher and lap/floor frames, metal and timber turned hooks/prodders. Monday's Group- Introduction to Crafting

If the noise level of a group is any indicator of a good time, then this group had a great time!


Feedback to the library was so good that Queensland has its first community group – the “Sunshine Coast Rug Crafters” – who meet at the library two afternoons a month. The two January sessions involved 11 people (with 8 apologies) and over time I hope to have a “core” group of about 8-12 people for each group. (Blogger: Judi Tompkins)

Prodding Flowers
Prodding Flowers, an easy beginning project