Hooked rugs — colourful, creative, bold, charming — are on exhibit in Almonte.

The members of “Almonte Rug Hookers” group, formed in 2015, will have their works of art on display in the Mississippi Mills Administration Building from August to the end of September and then move to the Almonte Library for October and November.

A century ago hooked rugs were simply functional mats made from scraps of old material and often the results were rugs of exquisite beauty and rustic charm. Hooked mats were made by using a hook to draw loops of woollen or rag strips through a burlap background stretched on a frame. Worn out blankets, stockings, sweaters, coats and even long underwear were cut into strips. Not much made it to the ragbag when something useful could be made of the scraps. In days past, thrifty farm women recognized the potential of burlap feed bags from the granary for hooking floor coverings. Stamped burlap patterns were also available from travelling pedlars in the late 1800s.

Many mats started in the parlour and sometimes the floor was scattered with ten or more, each of a different design. Then as time passed a mat was moved to the hearth in the kitchen. The next stop was as a doormat and then a porch mat. After it became too thin or ragged it went to the doghouse or was used to cover potatoes in the cold weather. This progression in the life of a hooked mat is the reason so few examples of the artistry of the women are preserved today.

The Almonte Rug Hookers are passionate about heritage hooked rugs and are lured by the artistry of creating new ones. The group gets together once a month, much as neighbour women used to gather for “mat hookings” in days past, working at their latest projects while sharing skills, ideas, colours and conversation.

Many years ago when a new mat was laid in some homes, the youngest child rolled on it to celebrate the new floor covering. You will not be able to roll on any of the mats on display, but you can enjoy the different styles of rug hooking that the members of the Almonte Rug Hookers group are proud to present at the Chambers Gallery, Mississippi Mills Administration Building, 3131 Old Perth Rd., Almonte from August 1 to October 1, 2018. This exciting exhibit of local talent will then be on display at the Corridor Gallery in the Almonte Public Library, 155 High Street, Almonte from October 2 to December 4, 2018.

Claudia Smith for the Almonte Rug Hookers