Hang the beauty on display at the Yarmouth County Museum

YARMOUTH, NS – In the old days, rug hooking was not so much for beauty as for a practical purpose – to have something warm on the floor.

The basis of these rugs was made from burlap sacks that feed the cattle into, and the fabric was any type of fabric too old to be worn or made into a quilt.

Influenced by mothers and grandmothers, rug hooking has been passed down from generation to generation.

Poinsettia hung by Audrey Pierce from a painting by Marna Flavell.CARLA ALLEN • TRI-COUNTY VANGUARD

Nowadays, craftsmanship has become a stunning art form – with intricate landscape hangings, shades to add depth, and the addition of fur, jewelry, and other artifacts into the pattern.

A 20th anniversary exhibit at the Yarmouth County Museum & Archives showcases the work of a group of Yarmouth carpet crocheters – the Rugg Bees – and can be viewed throughout December.

Founding members of Rugg Bees: Shirley Bradshaw, Ann Durkee and Elaine Howatt. CARLA ALLEN • TRI-COUNTY VANGUARD
Founding members of Rugg Bees: Shirley Bradshaw, Ann Durkee and Elaine Howatt. CARLA ALLEN • TRI-COUNTY VANGUARD

The Yarmouth Rugg Bees are the result of Ann Durkee and Elaine Howatt enrolling in a six-week beginner’s carpet lockpicking workshop taught by Shirley Bradshaw. The women had some interest in hooking up but say they “were really newbies”.

They joined an existing group called the Carpetbaggers, but found meeting times difficult for working women.

Bradshaw encouraged them to form an evening band and, with a catchy new name provided by Eleanor MacKenzie, the Rugg Bees were born.

Oh Be a Rugg Bee Hanging by Frieda Perry, adapted from a drawing by Tish Murphy CARLA ALLEN • TRI-COUNTY VANGUARD
Oh Be a Rugg Bee Hanging by Frieda Perry, adapted from a drawing by Tish Murphy CARLA ALLEN • TRI-COUNTY VANGUARD

Howatt says the group was small at first, but has grown over the years.

“Before COVID, we had over 40 members. A great achievement, ”she says.

“Today we still have a strong membership, which says a lot about our program. Members range from professionals to freelancers, retirees, home members, an international member and a male. “

Beginners start with a small hanging piece, but not always.

Tutu designed and hung by Jane Steele CARLA ALLEN • TRI-COUNTY VANGUARD
Tutu designed and hung by Jane Steele CARLA ALLEN • TRI-COUNTY VANGUARD
Tutu Design Detail by Jane SteeleCARLA ALLEN • TRI-COUNTY VANGUARD
Tutu Design Detail by Jane SteeleCARLA ALLEN • TRI-COUNTY VANGUARD

“Some start with big plans. However, those who have worked with fiber generally feel very comfortable getting started, ”explains Howatt.

As the exhibit opens, Rugg Bees member Elizabeth Sweeney sits quietly, hanging a small hoop with a holly and berry design for a coaster.

“I started crocheting two years ago, quit and just recently started crocheting,” she says. “I missed it a bit.”

She likes small projects for their portability and sometimes works on them while watching TV.

Catch of the day, designed and hung by Jane Steele CARLA ALLEN • TRI-COUNTY VANGUARD
Catch of the day, designed and hung by Jane Steele CARLA ALLEN • TRI-COUNTY VANGUARD
Catch of the day design detail.  Designed and hung by Jane Steele CARLA ALLEN • TRI-COUNTY VANGUARD
Catch of the day design detail. Designed and hung by Jane Steele CARLA ALLEN • TRI-COUNTY VANGUARD

There are no limits to size, style or technique with rug hooking. It is a profession that encourages free expression.

The timing of each project depends on many factors, including individual snap speeds.

Some people hang on quickly, while others tend to be slower. But it’s never a race.

Typically, it would take several months for a rug of considerable size, but simple in style.

Tools and materials required include a beginner’s crochet hook ($ 10 to $ 15), simple hoop ($ 35), pattern, yarn, yarn (price varies depending on new or old. )

A cutter can be a big expense, but once purchased it lasts for years. The Rugg Bees have a cutter for use on site at the Yarmouth County Museum.

Midnight Rendezvous - designed and hung by Jane Steele CARLA ALLEN • TRI-COUNTY VANGUARD
Midnight Rendezvous – designed and hung by Jane Steele CARLA ALLEN • TRI-COUNTY VANGUARD

Once an investment is made in the basic equipment, the costs are calculated per project for the future. Prostitutes can draw their own designs, dye their own yarn / wool, and use recycled wool. All the approaches make the hobby more affordable.

Collective projects have been carried out over the years for the benefit of local charities. Durkee says these include several rugs for which tickets have been sold, with funds going to the museum, cancer unit and Yarmouth Hospital.

“We also had a baby shower for Princess Diana, collecting diapers that were donated to Parents Place,” she says. “We sent the princess a note telling her what we did and we received a letter from the royal family.”

In 2010, the Doorways to Yarmouth project was completed to celebrate the city’s 250th anniversary. The project was a joint venture with the Yarmouth Carpetbaggers and the Rugg Bees.

A-Round Yarmouth - Faith Stoll CARLA ALLEN • TRI-COUNTY VANGUARD
A-Round Yarmouth – Faith Stoll CARLA ALLEN • TRI-COUNTY VANGUARD

In the past, the Rugg Bees have worked with many groups including the Yarmouth Writers Group, Yarmouth Art Society, Craft Splash (Yarmouth Craft Guild) Seafest, Western NS Exhibition and rug hooking groups in Shelburne, Weymouth. and West Pubnico.

Howatt says they’ve also hosted an annual Spring Fling, hosting up to 300 prostitutes in some years from all of the Maritime provinces and as far away as Ontario and the United States.

Durkee says the benefits of belonging to Rugg Bees are many.

“Friendship, knowledge, socialization and learning a new profession … many members also practice other professions,” she says.

Howatt says the benefits of belonging to the group include: “Friendship, artist expression and community involvement. Some say it’s a good stress release… above all, we get together to share and have fun. “

The Rugg Bees meet every week Thursdays from noon to 3 p.m. at the Yarmouth County Museum on Collins Street. New prostitutes and other fiber artists are always welcome. The annual fee is $ 20, which includes a $ 5 donation to the museum. Annual dues are collected in September.


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