Friday, November 19, 2010

Freda MacDonnell, Guest Speaker at the November Meeting

"Train your eye!" Freda MacDonnell stressed this as she spoke to the Grey County Historical Society members and guests at the November meeting. The group met at Christine Collins' Kitchen in Meaford.

When Freda was a young girl, her paternal grandmother taught her to look at fabrics closely and to discover different ways of using them. Freda has been hooking rugs since the 1970s. She has also become an avid collector and a knowledgeable person about the craft and its history.

In North America, settlers brought first the craft of hooking rugs to the northern United States and Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. They brought their knowledge from their homeland. Along with precious seeds, the settlers also brought fabric with them.

Rug hooking was a necessity for the early settlers. The rugs provided warmth on an often barren floor and piece of mind. Times were tough and the people wanted colour and the rugs provided this. The pioneers used whatever scraps they had to make a rug. Rug hooking was a family affair as both men and women created rugs that were practical household items used until they were worn and often became a bed for a pet.

Freda talked about the different rugs that she brought to show the group. To make a hit and miss rug the rug hooker uses whatever fabrics are available.

She also shared some advice on hooked rugs as an investment. Some tips she shared included: polyester is not a good fabric as it doesn't mellow and doesn't wear well, look at the newest fabric to get an idea of the age of the rug, do not clean the rugs in a washing machine, shake them or take them to a dry cleaner. She described her technique for cleaning rugs. One way pioneers cleaned their rugs was to drag the rug across the snow and sprinkling snow on the top.

As she ended her talk, she reminded the audience to train your eye to look at the different fabrics and the quality of the work. Attendees then had an opportunity to have a close up look at the rugs she had brought with her.

Susan Schank, chair of the Award's committee, reminded everyone about nominating someone for the Society's Heritage Certificate of Recognition before the February 1st deadline. The Society as a whole does not meet again until February.

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