What’s so great about the Annual?

The question is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but not entirely. If you’ve never attended, you might wonder what all the fuss is about — and why you’d commit personal time and money to attend one, especially if lengthy travel is involved.

I decided to ask some rug hooking acquaintances, since I’m a relative newcomer to the craft (done it in spasms over the past seven years). I’ve attended two annuals and loved them both! But that doesn’t make me an expert…

Workshops, rug displays, fun

Oshawa Textures, 2014, Hooked by Marla Fletcher

Oshawa Textures, 2014. Hooked by Marla Fletcher

Someone who DOES know about the Annual is Pat Bonn, longtime member of the Ottawa Old Forge Rug Hooking Branch and a certified teacher with the Ontario Hooking Craft Guild (OHCG). Pat has attended about 10 over the past dozen years, and declares: “There’s something good about every Annual.” She lists as top personal highlights: rug displays, workshops, sharing.

“I’ve met so many people across the province, it’s great fun … and I’ve seen more of Ontario than I ever would have otherwise.” She adds you can’t beat the inspiration and opportunity to learn and find new perspective at these gatherings. And it’s focused, creative time among friends — no need to break for household chores or meal preparation.

Stephanie Gatszegi, another Olde Forge branch member, has been frequenting the Annuals just as often, and is equally enthusiastic. She loves the shopping, especially if there are vendors with unusual yarns and abundant fabrics, tools and fibres. Making a personal connection with a vendor can pay off, she says, particularly if you have a tough challenge in a piece to discuss. They have considerable knowledge and experience to draw from.

Stephanie also enjoys workshops when they offer something new, or a twist on standard techniques. But it can be an intense few days with “so much to see and learn.” Her advice? Rest up before you go, and bring your stamina!

Best of the best

With four or five Annuals under her belt, Kemptville resident Pat Reid (Rideau Valley Boots & Bundles branch) shares one experience with the two Olde Forge members that she’ll never forget: working as a host branch volunteer/planner of the gathering. It’s a huge undertaking, they confirm, rewarding and worth the experience but not to be taken lightly.

The Annual represents “the epitome”, in Pat Reid’s view, of the amazing range of ideas, colour, creativity and ever-evolving technique that the craft now embraces. It’s great value for OHCG members, and she urges anyone contemplating it: “Don’t miss the opportunity to go … and bring a friend, so you can talk about it afterwards.”

Source of inspiration

For my part, I came home exhausted from the Annuals I attended — but in a good way. I had bags of notes, tips, ideas and projects-to-come, and was thrilled to meet so many inspiring creators. As Pat Reid told me, “You never know what you’re going to pull out from inside of you” when you take up your hook to begin that next piece.

And as I heard recently at a similar gathering of rug hookers enjoying a lively presentation and hooking session (not an Annual):   Sharing = Joy

See you in the loop! And we’d love to hear from ‘newbies’ about that first Annual — what were your experiences? Anything especially memorable?

Marla, Content creator


About ottawarughooking

Olde Forge Rug Hooking Branch in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada will, together with other branches in Area 1, co-host the 2018 Annual of the Ontario Hooking Craft Guild.
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3 Responses to What’s so great about the Annual?

  1. P. Kenny says:

    As someone entirely new to rug hooking, I often heard the local experts refer to “the annual” during our weekly gatherings. I wondered about what “the annual” was all about, especially since reference to the event seemed to elicit so many positive comments by each contributor. Curious about the possibilities, I decided to attend the 2017 event in Cobourg after an invitation from an experienced rug hooker friend.
    I decided that I should concentrate on viewing the displays which provided a comprehensive view of the possibilities for creating unique pieces beyond rugs on floors (my original limited notion of what rug hooking was all about.) What an education…the annual represents an opportunity to view the collective works of talented rug hookers and fibre artists from across the province and beyond, showcasing exceptional talent and highlighting the limitless opportunities for creativity. I was in need at times of an interpretive tour guide, as I had insufficient knowledge of some of the finer details, and points to appreciate. What the experience will provide to any first time participantis a clear appreciation of just what appeals to your esthetic.
    The vendors present at the event also provided access to an unusual array of wools and fibres not normally readily available, especially in more northern and rural/remote parts of Ontario. You can’t help but gather the necessities for your next project or two-if you didn’t arrive with a notion for your next project, you will certainly leave with one (or more)!
    I was struck by the profile of the crowd at “the annual”, primarily a gathering of middle to older aged female participants, males a definite minority. A tremendous opportunity exists for exposure of the rug hooking experience for younger people, and I hope there is interest and traction established going forward to foster engagement and further sustainability. I certainly would have enjoyed discovery of rug hooking at a younger age, and in the meantime, “the annual” helped to fast track my learning. I am eagerly looking forward to 2018 in Ottawa, my favourite Canadian city and former home.


  2. Editor’s Note: In the interest of consolidating blog post discussion, the following comment from Wanda Wallace, posted June 23, 2017, has been copied from the Write Us page.

    Next spring 2018 I am so very excited to join about 300 or more OHCG members in Ottawa for the annual conference.

    I have been attending the annual conferences for a few years now. They have been hosted by Stratford, London, North Bay, Deerhurst, Kingston, Cobourg to name a few. Each annual is always exciting particularly my first one whereby I felt like a kid in a candy shop. The vendors, workshops, displays and gala have always been exceptional. Inspiration abounds as well as making connections with new and renewed friendships.

    My experience co-chairing northern Ontario’s first annual in North Bay proved to be very successful and very well attended. I learned from that experience that the road does go both ways here in the north and to never doubt the attendance of rug hookers from across the province. For those of us in the north we are always wanting to stay connected as well as our need for supplies and educational experiences. The annuals are the place to go.

    In 2016 I had the good fortune of co-chairing the 50th Anniversary of OHCG in Deerhurst in Huntsville with Diane Algera along with an exceptional team of OHCG Executive members.
    Should anyone reading this wish to participate in the planning of an annual or attend, jump at the chance. You will have made friends and connections you never thought possible.

    In the meantime see you in Ottawa 2018.

    Wanda Wallace,
    North Bay, OM


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