rug hooking in Matangwe 2015 update

Hello again from Kenya. I am in Kisumu with a great view of Lake Victoria from my balcony so I plan to sketch it soon. I hope to post some of my sketches of Matangwe and Kisumu later this week. But first rug hooking news.

We have now finished our second week of rug hooking. The pile of woollen worms has really shrunk and we have been to Bondo to shop for T shirts. We were expecially looking for the colours of grass and sky. I am thrilled with the work especially the larger mats and chair seats which they have drawn of local scenes.  I love the way they combine tshirts, wool and the occasional nylon stocing. Here are some samples of the work so far.





I’ve been hooking along with the women, using this piece to demonstrate technique.  But as you can see from the work above, they are very fast learners and have a wonderful sense of colour and design. They have been inspired by Rug Hooking magazine and the slides I’ve shown them, but these pieces all have a Matangwe lens.  It’s magic to watch these wonderful women translate their environment into hooking. image




rug hooking in Matangwe Kenya 2015

I am in Kisumu with a wifi connection, so can now do a blog post. But even with wifi, it is a long and tedious process. This post took over an hour to load. But I am not complaining–it is so much better than my first year here when I had to find a functional cyber cafe in Bondo (not at all easy)  to send an email.  Even in remote Matangwe now  I have 3G and can connect to home every day. It makes such a difference.

We have finished our first week of rug hooking in Matangwe. There are about 16 women in the classes, some who have returned from last year and some new.  We started with a small piece and then moved on to a trivet with a local bird. As I escplained last year, we hook without frames. We are hooking with a big bag of woollen strips which I brought–left over pieces from years of rug hooking. The pile has lasted us all week. Here is the group hard at work.image

I brought several issues of Rug Hooking magazine and they are serving as a great source of inspiration. My hope this year is that each rug hooker will create a piece of her own design. Already some of the women have finished the first two pieces and begun an original design. image








getting ready for Kenya 1

I am going to Kenya for a month to work with the local women on rug hooking. This is my fourth year in the village and my third year working with the women. I have a suitcase crammed with woollen worms and dyed pantihose and a few pieces of backing but hope to buy a bolt of backing in Nairobi as well as more clothing and jersey which can be cut in strips. If the project is going to be self-sustaining, it will be important to source the materials there.

I’ve been doing a little hooking in preparation. Some of the women became very proficient last year, and will be ready to go on to their own projects and designs. Others will be joining the group for the first time and will work through the practice pieces. Both both groups will produce small pieces which we will hope to sell.jan 15 hooking

Kenya is also a wonderful place for sketching and I intend to do as much as I can. I am paring down my kit into something that I can carry with me at all times in a small backpack. Since I will be away for a month, I need to take enough to last–so I have stocked up on Staedtler permanent and non-permanent markers–I have grown to like these very much –as well as the trusty Micron 05′s. I’ll take a couple of my favourite Lamy pens as well.kit jan 15And a final cup and saucer sketch. We were at my favourite café and the server heard my cough and raspy voice. Knowing I was going on a plane this weekend, she brought over her special ‘tea for colds’–lemon, cloves and honey. We were sitting in the window table, my favourite, and the tea was delicious and soothing so I celebrated the moment with a quick sketch. Yes I do love those yellow cups, but note for next time–include more of the surroundings in the sketch…btw the sketch below is done in my current sketchbook, Stillman and Birn Delta Series. Although I love the 7″x10′ size and the coil binding, I am not fond of the ivory colour. Seen compared to the while of the one above, my Kenya sketchbook, the hand.book 8.25×8.25, I realize how much I prefer the white paper.l'aub cup jan 2015


hooked in the mountains 3: some of my favourites

There were over 500 pieces in the Hooked in the Mountains rug show in Burlington Vermont this year and there were many, many exceptional pieces. I’ve included just a very small sample here. The first two pieces are designed and hooked by Diane Phillips. The interplay of patterns in each piece is complex and challenging, creating pieces I went back to again and again.diane


Colleen Faulkner describes her Poppies as ‘a labour of love to be certified for the Oxford School Certification class’. As well as wool, Colleen used felt strips, embroidery floss and ribbon. A stunning use of complementary colours. cf poppies

Sue Burton-Kelly created a dynamic rug using Deanne Fitzpatrick pattern, For All We Have Under the Sky.sbkelly

Dale Young-Wheeler used Karla Gerard’s Abstract Sheep to create a delightful piece. sheep

And again a dynamic interplay of colour and pattern in Genghis by Rae Harrell.genghis

And finally, a wonderful Sharp-shinned Hawk by Peg Irish. Peg is an inventive rug hooker who combines many techniques in her work. The hawk is hooked and felted.sharp shinned hawk


hooked in the mountains 2: featured artists

First, Peg Irish. This piece, Fall Mosaic, has over 2000 1″ squares, some recycled from other hooked pieces, glued on to a backing. I’ve included a close-up so you can see the textures and variety including embellishments. Below that is another fall scene. You need to stand back to truly appreciate these wonderful pieces. pi 1

pi 2

pi 4

Rachelle LeBlanc’s pieces are suberb portraits–but I love the backgrounds as much as the faces. You could study these pieces for ages and still not see it all, such skilled use of colour and texture.rl 1

rl 3

rl4And finally Roslyn Logsdon’s wonderful architectural pieces.rol 1

rol 2

rol 3


Hooked in the Mountains 1


I have been  at Hooked in the Mountains in Burlington Vermont this week. This is a spectacular rug show in a spectacular part of the coutry. There are over 500 rugs in the show! Doing a post on the ipad is a tedious process, so for now I’ll just give you a taste.  This  is Davey DeGraff’s marvellous depiction of her grandaughter, Ava Blossom.


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.

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