Fifty plus years ago two young Irish girls, Louise and Freda, came to Canada with their parents, leaving behind their beloved farm in Monaghan, Ireland. The young girls prospered in the fertile Fraser valley of British Columbia: Louise grew up to become a farmer's wife, and Freda became the founding member of The Gone Hooking Group of Maple Ridge. Louise hosts all the visiting rug-hooking teachers at her farm, and gets up at 6:00AM to bake for us every Wednesday (because we are starving). The Gone Hooking Group decided to hook something for Louise - but what? She already has a farmful of beautiful hooking made by her elder sister Freda.
We set ourselves the task of making a hooked picture in the French Impressionist style (notably C. Pissarro) of the family farm in Ireland, called Killyvane. We wanted to learn something about hooking from this project; we needed to create an Irish palette (as the old song says, "The moorlands and the meadows and the forty shades of green"); and it must look as though only one person had hooked it. Most of this was accomplished by having one designer, one dyer, and no substitutions.
It was kept secret from Louise. But telling someone else's story in wool is a risky business, so Freda had to smuggle out photos from Louise's family album. Freda was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces for many years and always on the move. She certainly makes the hookers jump to it! Then began a process of work shopping Freda to find out how the picture should look. Here's a sample:
Interviewer: That looks like a long driveway in the photograph. What time of year
Freda: Just before Spring. Oh, the path was so long! The teacher dropped us off at
The gate after school. As soon as she'd gone, Louise and I would fight like cats and dogs.
Interviewer: What was the surrounding landscape like?
Freda: There were whins (yellow bushes) in the fields.
Interviewer: You are making that up.
Freda: The English call them gorse, you fool!
Typically our group, Gone Hooking, embraced this project enthusiastically.
People chose sections they would like to work on - the house, the fields of Ireland, the wrought-iron gates - and labeled packets of dyed wool, plain and textures, circulated in a big carrier bag along with a notebook/journal, the original paper design, the pattern on linen, a book of Impressionist landscapes, and two photos of the farm. Fortunately, fifteen of us had recently taken a pictorial workshop and what we had learned was still fresh.
We are used to working together on fund-raising projects for the Lions' Club (they give us a free meeting space at their Lions' Den), on promoting rug hooking at museums and fairs, and mounting our own exhibition once a year. Some of the members have even gone on a cruise together to Southern California and Mexico. We visit other hooking groups in the US and Canada, send out teachers to teach all over Canada, and bring in teachers to give us workshops. You could characterize us as a sharing group.
The end of the story is that we had a formal unveiling of the picture at Christmas for Louise. I think she likes it. I saw her at her farm not long ago - it was someone's birthday - and she had the guests seated in a half circle while she displayed Killyvane on an easel and regaled the group with stories of the farm in Monaghan, Ireland.
Freda has been rug hooking for approximately 15 years, she began while stationed in Nova Scotia. She is kept busy instructing beginners' classes in the Vancouver and Lower Mainland areas. She is a McGown accredited teacher.