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It’s All About the Wool at Pastimes PEI

5 Sep

"Happy Sheep" on PEI

Rug hooking is a rural tradition that continues to evolve and enrich the lives of rug makers on Prince Edward Island; since we are “all about the wool” here at Pastimes PEI, we often tell our visitors about the customs of the people who made PEI their home and made nearly everything they possessed by hand.

The counrty craft of rug hooking may have been brought here by the hardy Scottish settlers who landed in this area with their sturdy Highland sheep. Wool has properties that make it perfect for winter clothing, bedding and, of course, hooked rugs. Just down the road from here the local mill made rolls of wool; my father used to tell us how his mother sent the sheared wool from the farm to the mill in Millview (Pastimes PEI is located in the little community of Millview, P.E.I.) because it made the best “rolls”. Wool carding is the process of brushing the wool fibres to organize them. It creates a continuous web of fibres that can be layed out flat into batts, rolled into rovings, or split into spinning rolls. The natural fibers that we use in rughooking today include the burlap and linen backings through which the wool is hooked.

At Pastimes PEI we create our hooked items in wool, the fiber that they ‘grew’ on their own farms in the past; today we use local yarns from the small PEI and New Brunswick mills that still make yarn, and buy wool flannel fabric from USA. The popularity of rug hooking in North America and around the world, these days, keeps the factories producing wool fabric, yarn and fibers especially for rug hooking, felting, knitting, sewing and other wool crafts. We are glad that people today are raising the sheep and others are spinning and weaving it so we can enjoy our favorite pastime.

That is why it’s all about the sheep and their wool here at Pastimes PEI.

 

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Traditional PEI Hooked Rugs in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Life and Times

12 Jan
"A Piece of Cavendish" as hooked by Pastimes PEI

“A Piece of Cavendish” as hooked by Pastimes PEI

A few weeks ago the Lucy Maud Montgomery Literary Society contacted us to tell us they were writing about rug hooking (among other things) as referenced in LM Montgomery’s various writings and books. A rug hooker from Australia was writing the article in the December online publication, Shining Scrolls Online: 

http://home.earthlink.net/~bcavert/id9.html

If you read the introduction in 2012 part2 you will find the reference to rug hooking and go on to read the full article. The article is very interesting, indeed.  Through Montgomery’s writings we are able to get a better idea of what day-to-day life was really like for women of the past and who hooked the rugs that we cherish as heirlooms today. As part of the story, our Cavendish hooked rug was featured as an example of a traditional PEI scrap mat pattern.

Because I was born and raised on PEI, I already have a sense of what life on PEI used to be like. Fortunately for us all, Lucy Maud Montgomery eloquently wrote her books, including Anne of Green Gables, on the topic she knew best: her life on PEI.  I like to think that Heather, Bette and I are carrying on the tradition of storytelling by hooking our own stories into our rugs. We have a strong sense of past generations as we honor them with the subjects, materials and, the simplicity of the past.

Gosh, I realize that I would make a terrible writer…. I’ll stick with the hooking and let you read what the literary society has produced!

Mary Beth Cavert is co-editor, The Shining Scroll to which I directed you above
We have hooked quite a few Cavendish rugs in the past; they may look simple but there is really a lot of work to get them to look just right – they are charming reminders of how talented many of our rug-hooking ancestors really were.  We have talked to many people about rug hooking through out the years; we have seen many charming Cavendish rugs.  Here are a few of our Pastimes PEI rugs, hangings and samplers.

Hooking a new Cavendish rug at Pastimes PEI

Hooking a new Cavendish rug at Pastimes PEI

A Cavendish Sampler piece hooked at Pastimes PEI

A Cavendish Sampler piece hooked at Pastimes PEI

Our latest Cavendish on the wall at Pastimes PEI

Our latest Cavendish on the wall at Pastimes PEI