I am Laura Kenyon and here is my rug hooking story.
In the spring of 2006, my sister, Debra Walland, asked me if I had any interest in rug hooking. Not knowing exactly what she was talking about, and looking for a new needlecraft, I said I might. Several days later, she had located a workshop in Scarborough Maine with a lady named Jacqueline Hansen. Since we hadn’t been away, just the two sisters, for at least 10 years, I agreed to go with her if she could get us registered. She did. We went.
We couldn’t stop hooking all week. We both loved it. We would hook until late afternoon with the most delightful group of women, eat a quick seafood dinner, and go back to the hotel to hook until we couldn’t keep our eyes open. Over the week, we learned that Jackye was selling her pattern business so that she could “slow down”. She was planning to travel more, to teach at rug camps, to spend more time with her students in her shop, and to just hook.
On the drive home we talked about retiring someday and starting a small business together. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a life like Jackye’s—surrounded by an art and a craft you love?
Fast forward. May 11, 2007. Jackye made Deb and I the heirs to and custodians of her 40 years of drawings and pattern designs. Neither Deb nor I have retired yet, but in addition to everything that kept us busy before, we are now Seaside Rug Hooking
I am usually the one at the Shows so come by and say Hi if you see our booth at your local show. If your organization is having a Show please feel free to contact us so we can help you with getting the word out through our website.
Debra inherited the artistic gene from Mom’s DNA. Mom had studied art at Skidmore College in New York and was an accomplished painter.
In school, Debra received high grades in art class effortlessly. She started needlework as a child, learning to knit with our grandmother. As a teen, she embroidered everything…jeans, tee shirts, peasant blouses. (Those were the days.) She continued with counted cross stitch and needlepoint, often designing her own pieces.
She chose another direction for her career. In college, she studied the life sciences and went on to study medicine. She is a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist. Someone recently referred to her as the “gynecologic hooker”! Her lack of formal art training has not affected her creativity. Perhaps, it has kept her fresh and unique as a folk artist.
She was drawn to rug hooking after seeing antique rugs at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. Several years later she started to hook. Up until now, she has kept her art and needlework for her own enjoyment and a lucky few friends and family.
“What I love about hooking rugs is the feel of the wool, the rhythm, and the centering of only doing one thing. I am one who enjoys hooking backgrounds. I cannot multi-task when I hook. It quiets me.”
Growing up in New England, rug hooking seems to bring her back to her roots. She now lives in the Low Country of South Carolina with her husband, five dogs, and one reclusive cat. There aren’t many others nearby who know how to hook, but we all know how evangelical hooking artists are. She is spreading the word, from Down East to Down South.
Jackye started her rug hooking career in 1968 by enrolling in a class at a small needlecraft shop, Berry’s of Maine, in Yarmouth. Within a few years, she had purchased the shop and was hooking with the likes of Joan Moshimer and Pearl McGown. Actually, she received her teaching certification from Mrs. McGown personally. As a side note, Mrs. Moshimer teased her about why she bothered with it.
Having studied at the Massachusetts College of Art, her artistic talent and training brought her to designing patterns for herself and her friends. In no time she was publishing a mail order catalog, Jacqueline Designs, for the Joy of Hooking. This catalog was published in 9 editions and her patterns number over 450.
Her patterns reflect her fondness for working in narrow cut wool and fine shading. She is an expert on the traditional art of Waldoboro rug hooking. She recently finished her book, Willing Hands, Waldoboro Hooked Rugs for the Twenty-first Century. She has been featured in several books and magazines including Country Home, Rug Hooking Magazine, Celebrations, The Hooker’s Art, and The Rug Hook Book.
She is continuing to teach in her shop, The 1840 House, in Scarborough, Maine as well as traveling to teach at numerous seminars and workshops. She has a CD, How to Hook, for beginners without the benefit of a teacher nearby. She welcomes requests for custom designs and color planning. You can reach her through the web at www.rughookersnetwork.com.