The Florentine Hooked Mat by Dianne Warren

Written by: Dianne Warren

Florentine 6 ft x 3.5 ft

The pattern, Florentine, is a design originally sold by Rittermere Craft Studio in Ontario in the 1980’s, and was purchased by Margaret Kavanagh of Conception Harbour. A few years ago, Margaret decided to give up rug hooking, although she continues to quilt with the Cabot Quilter’s Guild. In early 2008, the pattern was passed to a member of the Tamarack Branch rug hookers in St. John’s, Verna Hollett, with a request that it be hooked as a fundraiser, and henceforth offered to me as Director, Avalon Region to coordinate as a group project.

The pattern came with two colour schemes, neither of which was used when it came time to choose materials. As a group, it was decided the mat would be hooked with wool yarn, and colours that could be purchased without s pecial dyeing, as much as possible. Some recycled wools that had been donated from Betty Hill, a Guild member from Arlington, Virginia, were sold to pay for some of the yarns used. Other wools were added, and sales totalled $120, enough to cover the cost of 22 skeins and some trim. The large oak frame, built about 30 years ago, but never previously used, acquired by Maxine Benson just before Christmas 2010, was borrowed, a perfect size for the 6’ x 3 ½’ pattern. By mid-January of 2011 the burlap had been attached to the frame, legs had been built by my ever-so-handy husband John for support, and hooking had begun. At a rough estimate of 500+ hours, hooking was completed by the end of July. Large mats are not very portable, so the project was located in my living room for seven months, and hooked on most days. Since I was doing the majority of the work, it was important that the style of hooking be maintained throughout, and each person was asked to hook to the height and density of my own so that no section of the mat stood out as unique.

As a note, before the burlap was put on the frame, it was washed to remove any dust or loose fibre, then ironed. The edge was serged, and a wide twill tape sewn carefully around the perimeter to reduce hand-sewing at the end. Upon completion of the hooking, Betty Lou Whelan and myself removed the rug from the frame and worked on the “holidays”. A few days later, Heather Wareham donated the use of her steamer, and we gave the rug a good steaming. By mid-August, the rug was delivered to Betty Lou, who very promptly completed the whipping and attached the inner edge of the twill. The rug was returned in late August for a final steaming and label. A carrying bag was sewn, a bundle of yarn (for future repairs if necessary) bagged, and the story of the mat was written. We had a celebration, wine and cheese, to view the final product, and the mat was delivered to Barbara Barry, Event Manager for Health Care Foundation, as an auction item for their gala fundraiser this October.

The mat backing is good quality burlap; the pile is 2-ply wool yarn from Briggs & Little and MacAuslands Woolen Mills. Stock colours were used, with the exception of yellow and gold which were hand-dyed. Although the pattern will have been hooked by others in the past, this is, no doubt, a one-of-a-kind rug, unique in its colours.

Contributors: Betty Lou Whelan, Anne Sampson, Carol Leonard, Heather Wareham, Maxine Benson, Amy Burden, Diane Hodder, Alice Moyst, Diana Dove, Jennifer Archer, Linda Kliem, Sheila Swet

Flotsam and Jetsam

Michael’s Harbour, Notre Dame Bay: Created by Judy Brockie in 2011

The hand dyed starfish geometric mat (35″X21″) and the owl inch-mat (33″X19″) were inspired by the large starfish and the old, wooden clock case which washed ashore during a late fall storm in Notre Dame Bay, some thirty years ago. The two dried pieces of ‘flotsam and jetsam’, now attached to the mats, had been kept on the mantle of my family’s Michael’s Harbour summer home for decades.

Trails Tales & Tunes

by Jane Jesseau, Corner Brook, NL

A Community hooked the Trails Tales & Tunes logo during the 2008 festival held from May 16 – 25th in Norris Point.  Seventy-two people worked on the mat which was presented to Mayor Joe Reid at the closing concert on Sunday, May 25th. 
The participants were encouraged to help me complete the mat , many had never tried hooking before.  Young and old, new and experienced, male and female enjoyed the opportunity to be a part of this community project.  Sixty  females and  twelve interested males put their hand to the mat.  Seven of the female hookers were experienced and almost all are members of our RHGNL.  
The Guild members included:
Starlynn Shears-Osmond, Ina Budgell, Joyce Chaulk, Dallis Shears, Pat Dawe, Susan Galloway and Jane Jesseau
This is the completed mat which measures approximately  2’x3′

Making Mats from the Everyday

Designing mats seems to be a challenge for some; in response to this concern, Jennifer Archer developed a design class and so began the introduction of three techniques that anyone can use to create beautiful mats. Tamarack Branch scheduled hook-ins were used as class time. In the end, Jennifer made arrangements to show the completed pieces as a group exhibit at Devon House in St. John’s during October – November 2010.

The techniques presented were:

  1. Shadow box: starting with pencil and straight edge, we drew attached boxes, and within each box, drew a variety of patterns taken from our surroundings. The design was adjusted until it was pleasing, then hooked as a monochromatic. This basic technique evolved over ideas and discussions; the results can be seen in several of the mats that were created.
  2. Repeating patterns: starting with any common shape cut into three sizes on poster board, the pieces could be dropped at random on a sheet of paper, then traced around. The procedure was repeated until the paper was fairly covered with overlapping shapes. Viewed with a variety of colours, we explored resulting feelings, moods and secondary patterns as they emerged, until a mat design could be created from the tangle. Again, with further discussion, the technique was presented using planned positioning to create designs with orderly repeat patterns. Again, the technique is reflected in several mats in the exhibit.
  3. Linoblock cutting: Jennifer presented the class with patterns from old wallpapers. These were attached to pieces of linoleum, and using carving tools, the shapes were carved until the relief remaining could be rolled with paint, and stamped on paper or burlap, either at random, or in a planned fashion. By studying the results, we began to see patterns emerge, another great
    design technique!

On opening day, it was quite stormy; nevertheless there was a good turnout, and a couple of mats in the exhibit were sold. We all came away from these classes feeling much more comfortable in our ability to create unique mat designs. Many thanks to Jennifer for all her hard work!

Stone’s Point Lighthouse

by Cathy Newbury, Corner Brook, NL

This lighthouse, built in 1913, was situated on a point of land about a mile from the community of Stone’s Cove, Fortune Bay (my home). My grandfather, John Riggs, was the first lighthouse keeper there and continued this work until 1950. Their family of six daughters and one son (my father) lived in the house attached to the lighthouse year round until the children reached school age. It was too windy and blustery on the point in the fall and winter for the children to walk to school so they lived in a house in Stone’s Cove and returned to the point in the spring. However, my grandfather made three trips, on foot, daily to the lighthouse, regardless of the weather.

My sister , Vera Frampton, has fond memories of going to the lighthouse with friends. She was so pleased to have acquired a photograph of it about a year ago, so I decided to hook a mat for her.

The lighthouse was replaced by an automatic beacon several years ago.