A Happy Hooker – As I learn the traditional skills of rug hooking.

Sir Doctor Wilfred Grenfell, a visionary for the Great Northern Peninsula and Labrador instilled in others the opportunity for greater economic development. A visit to the Grenfell Interpretation Centre in St. Anthony illustrates many hand hooked rugs on the walls, as well as available at the gift shop. A video played notes that women should send their stockings to Labrador. This would allow the material to be recycled and hooked into rugs.

I enrolled four weeks ago into the basic mat hooking course, offered by the College of the North Atlantic, St. Anthony Campus at my local high school, which is 10 minutes from where I lived. I have a love for life-long learning, especially skills that stemmed from necessity.

The class has eleven people registered. Most are nearing retirement or are retired, some are even senior citizens. It is quite safe to say, all are older than myself with the exception of our instructor. Ms. Gaulton, a graduate of the CNA Textile studies program learnt the rug hooking process and continues to create her own unique designs. Youth like Ms. Gaulton will continue to inspire others to learn, be creative and retain elements of local culture.

Rug hooking is no longer a necessity, as it was in the past. I was told by a co-worker, women would hook rugs out of potato sacks to place by bedside to protect their feet from the chilling cold of winter. They did not have a choice not to have these skills.  Those with a high skill-level were also able to sell to the International Grenfell Association, a specialty designed rug. A visit to a Personal Care Home in Flower’s Cove brought back memories for some residents who proudly say they hooked mats for Grenfell Handicrafts. Today the definite loss to preserve our culture is more and more evident. I am curious as to why did our parent’s generation not continue to practise such a useful skill? Most did not have large families, what consumed their time? Did our parents just become victims of mass consumerism and not producers? This inability to pass on tradition has a domino effect on the future generations. Typically, one learns from a parent, guardian or close relative various skills during childhood. These generational gaps, without proper bridging will see many skills lost in the near future.

There is interest in the revival of this tradition as I continue to tell people of my enrollment, which to my excitement,  includes youth. The interest grows knowing that the course is offered in their own community. General interest courses offered at satellite locations can create an environment to learn and continue on an individual or group setting after the last class is over.

Live Rural NL -

Christopher Mitchelmore

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About Live Rural NL

I am a youth living in rural Newfoundland & Labrador that will share stories of culture, tradition, heritage, business, travel, geography and other posts relating to any rural. I completed a Bachelor of Commerce Hons. (Coop) degree from Memorial University of Newfoundland & Labrador. I currently live and work on the Great Northern Peninsula, where I was born and raised. However, I have lived and worked internationally and travelled to more than 30 countries around the globe. On October 11, 2011 I was elected the youngest Member to Represent the people of the Straits -White Bay North in the Provincial Legislature of Newfoundland & Labrador.

Posted on March 14, 2011, in Art, Heritage and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. joy quinton johnson

    YES I SURE REM RUG HOOKING .MY MOM CLOTHED US CHILDREN ON THE TRADES SHE DID HOOKING RUGS FOR THE GRENFELL MISSION.I ALSO LEARNED HOW TO HOOK RUGS BY WATCHING HER.WHEN I WAS A CHILD .SINCE THEN I HAVE HOOKED OVER TWO HUNDRED RUGS .TO ME IT IS LIKE PAINTING A PICTURE.I WOULD ENCOURAGE ANYONE TO TRY. IT IS A GREAT PASS TIME FOR SURE.THANK YOU FOR THE GREAT MEMORIES.( JOY JOHNSON0)

    • It is always wonderful to get comments from someone who can remember traditions from childhood. I bet your mother had a great skill to make lovely dresses and hooked rugs.

  1. Pingback: My First Traditional Hooked Rug… « Live Rural Newfoundland & Labrador (NL)

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