Our fibre fixation

Iverson: Photo courtesy of Wilhaven Ridge Alpacas, Cumberland, ON

It’s amazing what you can tuck into a developing rug hooking piece to bring it to life and personalize it: a shiny porcelain button, shards from a broken bracelet, a rusty nail or a bit of sari silk, maybe some alpaca fleece.

It’s all part of the joy of creation, a fringe benefit to being involved in fibre and multimedia arts — and a way of stretching your vision and your work.

“I like to have a variety of things to work from when I’m hooking … To me, the multimedia thing adds to the fun of the piece,” says Barbara Lukas, Ottawa Olde Forge Rug Hooking Branch member and fibre/multimedia artist. “The other fibre arts I use inspire me to reach out and try new things.”

Her creativity was sparked when she started taking courses at the acclaimed Green Mountain Rug School, in Vermont. Some 30 years later, she still attends annually. Her circle of arts and crafts endeavours keeps widening, and the ideas keep coming. Since retiring in 2009, she’s bumped up the inspiration level by taking lessons from experts in areas that interest her, and happily shares that with fellow creators.

It’s a healthy trend

Barbara thinks rug hooking has opened up to more contemporary interpretations and personal designs over the last decade or so, with broader acceptance. She finds that refreshing, and notes the Ottawa area is well represented in this movement.

She’s probably right. The number of rug hookers I meet who also knit, weave, quilt, sew, do multi-fibre art, make lace and/or other fibre-related creations just keeps growing!

One woman who can attest to this is Roberta Murrant, coordinator of the annual Fibrefest event hosted for the past 22 years by the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum in Almonte, ON. She observes that interest in fibre arts (and related activities) has grown “exponentially.” Annual attendance has now surpassed 2,500, filling two sites over one very busy weekend in September. Visitors can see remarkable works of art, craft demonstrations and a kaleidoscope of everything from beads to fine weaving, smocking, quilts, yarns and even ‘woven wood’ from some 80 vendors. Hands-on workshops were offered for the first time this year. Roberta says Fibrefest’s reach is wide and deep, and she finds this group supports and encourages its members continuously.

Thriving local fibre community

‘Ice Storm’ by Barbara Lukas, 2014

The Ottawa area also boasts an active community of men and women who rejoice in fibre. The collective known as Out Of The Box (OOTB) is self-defined as a “group … passionate about creating innovative and thought-provoking works of art with fibre.” It includes artists working in: silk painting, felting, weaving, embroidery, mixed media, art quilting and more. At monthly meetings they “share ideas, techniques and inspiration,” according to the group’s website. Other activities include: periodic ‘play dates’; theme or technique challenges; presentations by guest artists.

This group’s public Fibre Fling shows are eagerly anticipated each year.

There are some businesses that serve rug hookers and other fibre aficionados well: Wabi Sabi in the Wellington West neighbourhood has an excellent selection of yarns, kits and other specialty items, and Wool-Tyme in southwest Ottawa has abundant knitting and sewing/needlework supplies. At locations in the Glebe and Kanata, Yarn Forward sells yarns, sewing machines and craft-related goods.

If only Fibrefest was on in early May! Then those of us who love playing with colour and fibre could get our fix while attending the 2018 Annual. But as a friend has pointed out, then we’d be agonizing over how to get the most out of both events in an all-too-short weekend.

See you in the loop,
Marla, Content creator

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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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