matangwe show at gallery 121

The show of the hooking created by the women of Matangwe, Kenya, began on Tuesday at Gallery 121 in Belleville, Ontario. The formal opening is not until tomorrow, but as you can see from the pictures below, many of the pieces are already sold. Chair seats, mats and trivets, all hand-hooked in Kenya from recycled materials, make up a portion of the new show. Everyone who visits the gallery seems captivated by the vibrant colours and designs. If you have been following the blog for a while you will know I have been working with this group of women on learning to design and hook for the last three years. It is simply marvellous to see the products displayed so beautifully and in one place. And if you would like to see some of the photos of the steps in the learning process, simply type in Matangwe in the search box above.

I would like to formally thank the members of Gallery 121 who have been so supportive of this project. This is a cooperative gallery powered solely by the talent and hard work of its members. They were wonderful to work with and, in addition, they have waived the regular gallery fee and commission rate so that all the proceeds will go directly to the women in Kenya. We are so fortunate to have such a gallery in our city. The show will be on until October 21, so please visit if you are in the area.

g121 1

g121 2

g121 3

g121 4

g121 5


matangwe show starts next week

I have been writing a profile of each of the 13 rug hookers I worked with in Matangwe, Kenya. We are having a show of their work at a local gallery. The show opens September 15, but the formal opening with reception is September 19th, 2-4 pm. I hope you will come to see the work in person if you are in the eastern Ontario area. I think it’s important that the visitors to the gallery can learn about the world of each of the rug hookers, so I am writing a short description of each rug hooker, just as they told it to me.. This is Everlyne, a veteran of the course, (two years) who hooked five pieces in the three weeks. You can see her here with one of her own designs. All the pieces are hooked with t-shirts and wool — chair seats, mats and coasters–and many will be available for sale. You can see more of the pieces here.DSCN1112


hooked rugs at the Belleville Library

A new show of hooked rugs by the Moira Mat Makers opened at the Gallery in the Belleville Library. If you are in the area, I encourage you to see this excellent display of rug hooking. The first two are my own rugs and then a few examples of the many wonderful pieces on show. The final piece in the showcase (so not a great photo) is of the darling bear hooked and sewn by Glenn Ryley Cotton. Note also his hand woven scarf! The show runs until September 17th.

pom 3 large

wedding rug

liz 2

Stained Glass Liz Brock

luba loon

Loon Luba Young

cindy 2

Poppies Cindy Lucas




Annie–hooking my big rug

I have had a chance to spend time hooking my big rug this summer. I affectionately refer to it as Annie because of its Annie Dillard quotation which fills each end border. If you check here or here you will see I have been hooking this rug for a good long time. This summer I finished the 65 houses and have made some headway on the green section of the rug. The design decisions are pretty well finished now and it is just getting down to hooking it. The green sections will morph back into blue in the centre. I say the design is finished but I’m now toying with the idea of hooking arrows into the ground among the circles, just to point the way as it were. And I’ll say publicly here that I plan to have it finished for next year’s annual. There, I’ve set the challenge.

We are back home after a few weeks at the cottage and I hope to also start on the bags which have been ordered. I’ve been away from the sewing machine all summer. In the works is a new Delta bag and a man’s messenger bag as well as a couple of others. I’ll post as soon as I have something to show.

annie 2

annie 3

annie 4


upcoming Matangwe rug hooking show sept 15 – oct 24


I am excited to tell you about the upcoming rug show in Belleville Ontario at Gallery 121. There will be a collection of the beautiful hand hooked mats and chair seats done by the women of Matangwe Kenya. Each piece reflects the world of rural Western Kenya and highlights the women’s unique sense of colour and design. Above is a chair seat depicting the mud huts, acacia tress and rolling hills. Below several more examples of the charmingly simple designs and stunning use of colour. The left thumbnail is the back of a chair seat–wax printed cotton from the Bondo market and the Matangwe label based  a drawing by one of the school children. All the pieces are hooked with found recycled cottons from the Bondo market and wool strips and old t-shirts donated by Ontario hookers. And it is all done without hooking frames or cutters. Marvellous!

The opening reception is Saturday September 19, 2-4 pm. The show runs from Tuesday September 15 until Saturday October 24, Tuesday to Saturday 10:00 until 4:00 pm. I hope you will be able to come to see this

matangwe labelrose1

jackline flower pot



another glimpse of that rug

I have been back at the rug. I affectionately call this rug Annie, because as you probably know, the quotation at either end is from Annie Dillard. These are words to reflect on at any stage of life and so the quotation is perfect for rug hooking especially a rug of this size. Pulling the loops gives you lots of time to think. I promised myself I would not post the rug until all 65 houses were done. But as I approached house #50 I thought it was time. Each house takes about 1/2 hour by the time I choose the colours, cut them and hook. So there has been lots of hooking time already and I still have the background and border to go.

I began the rug with an off the bolt blue. I had 7 yards of it, but realized early that I would not have enough even though my plan involved a switch to green and maybe even yellow. The off the bolt wool had a pronounced stripe and one of the stripes didn’t work in the design. So seven yards weren’t really seven yards. So on Sunday, the first day of glorious rain we have had in Southern Ontario in ages, I got out the dye pots. Below you see some of the blues and greens I dyed. It feels good to know that if my plan to move on to yellow or even yellow green doesn’t work, I will be able to dye enough to finish this big rug.

And below that you see the rug as it lies with 49 houses winding their way around the rug. Eventually there will be 65, because this is my birthday rug–yes, yes, I am now past that marker. And the rug goes on.
dyeing for annie

annie june 2 a


I am a retired educator and recovered administrator. I have always been interested in fibre, first as a weaver, now as a rug hooker and screen printer. Over the last few years I have become passionate about giving a new life to cast-off wool and leather. This is my journal where I muse about my creative life.

Available in Store

Follow birdbrain via email