Barb D’Arcy, Featured Artist at OHCG

Each year OHCG honours the work and skill of one rug hooker. This year’s featured artist was Barb D’Arcy.


(please excuse the fuzzy photo)

Barb had loved rug hooking from the age of 13, when she first saw hooked rugs on the floors during a visit to P.E.I. , but it wasn’t until she retired from Bell Canada in 1988, that she actually took up hooking herself. She soon became an OHCG and McGown certified teacher, and she quickly became  a popular and renowned teacher.

Her rugs have been shown at many venues, including The Textile Museum, Etobicoke City Hall. The Creative Needlework Festival, and Home Makers Magazine.

She is popular as a judge for rug hooking shows, has served on the board of OHCG (Ontario Hooking Craft Guild), and is a past VP of TIGHR (International Guild of Hand Hooking Rug Makers)

Her home studio, was called a magical place by her students, and her greatest joy was to launch beginners and guide them to become skilled artizans. She retired from teaching after fire destroyed her studio.

Barb regards both rug hooking and life as a journey, and lives by the motto….”Learning is Forever”. She believes that rug hooking is a form of artisitic self expression and is forever grateful to her friends and all those who have enabled her to continue on her own journey .


I somehow missed a full picture of this beautiful red oriental.DSCF6420

…but this one shows the intricacy and detail.DSCF6421

Many of her rugs have a Canadian theme or inspiration.DSCF6422

Barb hooked the bunny “Mason” …the original is  at the North American Rug Hooking Museum with the fabulous Noah’s Ark. This is a much larger version, and what a charming fellow he is.DSCF6424

Barb is adept with all styles and cuts.DSCF6425





….with striking colour…..DSCF6428

…..or more subtle tones….




This is the top of a beautiful footstool. The hooking so compliments the graceful lines of the legs (which as you can see I didn’t photograph).

With Barb’s guidance, many of her students have  become master hookers themselves, and some of their work was also in the display.



….and the top of this incredible runner…..full of Canadian wildlifeDSCF6433









This last one is hooked by Barb’s student Elaine Copeman and won the wide cut award two years ago at the annual in North Bay.DSCF6438



Barb is both a skilled artist herself and a master teacher. Her influence and love of hooking will be passed along to posterity as she and those she has guided continue to to create their expressions of “Life’s Journey”



OHCG 2014 The Teachers’ Challenge

What a wonderful weekend at Durham College in Oshawa. I didn’t even begin to get photos of all the pieces on display, but I certainly have enough to provide a feel for the wonderful work I saw (and several blog posts). As well as the various guild displays, there were several specialty displays and I’m going to start with one that I just loved. “The Teachers Challenge”.

Members of the teachers group were given a challenge.

They were given this line drawing…


….and challenged to hook it …any way they liked.

DSCF6509….What fantastic results, and such a learning experience to see the wide variety of interpretations, styles and techniques they used.

The wide variety of treatments of the rocks, shows an intimate knowledge of the Canadian Shield and the infinite possible colours in granite


DSCF6522 DSCF6513DSCF6514




….some chose the special effects of a sunset…with a silhouette style

DSCF6517……or a different season….with a monochromatic treatment



….or tiling…DSCF6521

…..or mosaic…..DSCF6516

or a more modern treatment….(I’m sure there’s a proper name for this style, but I can’t think of it)DSCF6510


….or a monochromatic straight line treatmentDSCF6518


….or a wonderful night time interpretation. I can just hear  and the waves lapping gently on the shore.DSCF6523

What a powerful sky in this rendition. I can feel the wind blowing. even the trees have a wind blown aspect, and the highlights in the rocks balance the sky so well.DSCF6511


….and another amazing sky….the wool for the sky was painted, then reverse hooked…and the spaces evenly staggered to create the regular “swiss dot ” effect.DSCF6533

Wow! What talent…..and what a lesson on the endless possibilities of a black line drawing!

….and that was just one small display….I’ll show another one next blog.

In the meantime…I’m recouperating from all the fun and food and laughter of a marvelous weekend away with hookers.

Thanks for dropping by.

….and finishing….

The finishing continues while I get ready for the annual this weekend. I’m so proud of myself that I haven’t started anything new! (Although I have lots of ideas swirling in my head, and I’ve even started a little notebook of ideas. ) I’m just itching to get into the dye pots and create some beautiful wool.

But instead, I put the last touches on the six Klimt inspired trivets. I decided to trim the edges all in black, and had just enough of the background wool to cut #8 strips for the edges.


I ran a small bead of tacky glue around the edge….DSCF6390

…and carefully laid the strip along the edge. (by using a #8 cut, it is wide enough to cover the felt the backing and the hooking (which is a #6) making a smooth finish.


…one doneDSCF6396

….six done…on to the next….Lunenburg Harbour…DSCF6397

Although I’ve hooked a border, and this will hang on the wall, …….since it is hooked on burlap, I decided not to just turn it under, but to whip a tiny edge as I did on Sir John.


…I’ve just got it under way.

On my to do list for the annual, I’ve got “extra camera batteries” so hopefully the next post will have lots of photos of rugs from the display at Durham College.

Thanks for stopping by.


Two Down…????? To Go …plus Pan Am

That’s right. I’ve completely finished two rugs, and I haven’t counted how many yet to go.

Sir John was the first , since I needed to show him as a part of the Sunshine Sir John A. group at R.U.G.. What an adventure that was. I found out the Tuesday before R.U.G. that he was needed, and although I could have shown him unfinished, I was determined to have it completely done. It seemed reasonable….just the few gaps in the background and completing the rows of black around the edge. DSCF6300


By Thursday evening, I had completed the hooking, zigzagged the edge, cut and used my clips to secure the edge, and then steamed it down. Friday I would just have to sew down the back edge, creating the packets from the backing. Easy and quick!. (here’s the back…)


I snapped this photo just after steaming the edge down, and went off to bed.

Friday morning I flipped it over, and discovered that the white backing showed up along the edges of the black border, and I knew I’d never be happy with it if I finished it the way I’d intended. After contemplating a variety of possible solutions, I finally settled on whipping the edge in black yarn…..just a teeny tiny whipped edge to cover up the white. Great idea…but it took me HOURS! I worked literally all day Friday, and then stitched the whole thing down after supper Friday night.

I was so tired that I didn’t even take a picture of the finished piece, and now it’s gone off with the pieces to be displayed at the annual. I’ll eventually get a photo of it finished to post here.

Yesterday I completed “Scott’s Dogs”. No drama with the finishing of this one. Whew! I tried a different way to finish a rug for hanging (well a bit different for me). I whipped the edge through the binding tape, and tacked it down (Gene Shepherd’s technique) , then created loops along the top using strips of the binding tape.


The black loops don’t really show up against the black tape. I made 5 loops across the back so hopefully that’s enough to have it hang nicely.

That’s number two finished.


And now for a flashback to R.U.G. Along with the barn display, there was a display of rugs celebrating the Pan Am Games. Here’s the background.

The Pan AM (Pan American …all the countries of North and South America) games are to be held next year in Toronto. OHCG is hoping to have a Canadian hooked rug to present to each country, and both groups and individuals have been working on the project for some time. Designs were submitted, and hookers could choose one of the selected designs or one of their own. Some of these rugs were on display at R.U.G.


There was certainly lots of eye candy at R.U.G. what with the Barn Project and the Pan Am Rugs, and the usual wonderful “show and tell” which I didn’t get even one photo of!

I’m looking forward to the Annual at Durham College in two weeks where I know there will be another wonderful rug display. For now it’s back to the finishing for me!  Next……


Part Two…. Barn Project on Display


Here are the rest of the photos of the Barn Project I took on Saturday.DSCF6352

“The Grain Bag by the Front Door” contains many childhood memories.DSCF6341DSCF6353

Barn at Lawless Ranch, Anarchist Pass, BC….. winner Judges’ Choice Award


The Smith Family Fruit Barn typical of the style in the Niagara region.DSCF6363

“Lee Valley Barn” in the township of Sables-Spanish Rivers. This barn is still in use. Historical Significance award.


“Reverence for the Bell Barn” award for Best Exemplifies Heritage Presentation DSCF6355

“Mount Olivet Lilac Ridge” DSCF6356

“Evening Milking” DSCF6357

“The Madill’s FarmDSCF6358

“Walker’s barn in Horseshoe Valley. Avant Barn Award for the Most Artistic InterpretationDSCF6359

“Spring Chores”DSCF6360“Man Maketh, Nature Taketh”  Theme Award for best depiction of the loss of a traditional barn.

Oh my!! That’s 31 barns, but there were 62 entries. I only managed to get shots of half of them. Here are a few of the others ….photos I had taken in October when they were first handed in….


“Barn Swallows”  with the disappearance of the barns follows a scarcity of the swallowsDSCF5632

“The Barns of my Youth”….Luise Bishop Award for  Best Pictorial and Gwen Robertson Memorial Award for Best Depiction of Rural LifestyleDSCF5634

“Rural Cathedral”DSCF5633“Bossie’s Barn” …memories of activities around a barn in Cantic, QuebecDSCF5635“Barnyard Sculpture” ….the only 3D pieceDSCF5636

“The Wallace Barn”DSCF5637“Grandpa’s Farm”DSCF5645DSCF5656DSCF5664“Our Farm” near Whitby. All the buildings are now gone.


I still missed 20 barns and my sincere apologies to those whose pieces I’ve missed.  It goes without saying that this is a terrific show of our heritage, and the art of rug hooking. Thanks again to the Huronia Committee and the Simcoe County Museum for making it possible.

Barn Project on Display

Saturday’s get together at R.U.G. was a special event. The rugs entered in the Barn Project had been judged and hung and the entire group of 62 entries was on display. 40 of the rugs have been selected to tour for the next two years. Much to my dismay, when I got home, I didn’t have photos of all the entries, but enough to let you see the wide variety and skill of the hookers. Entries were received from all across Canada….from British Columbia to Newfoundland. Each rug was accompanied by a write up telling of the memories or significance evoked by that specific barn. Sadly I don’t have information on them all.

DSCF6345….a stone barn still standing in Saskatchewan


…originally a horse barn in British Columbia….no longer  standing


…the barn on highway 6….a local landmark for over a hundred years


…a deserted barn north of Orillia Ontario…at odds with the beauty of nature overtaking it…winner of Award for Best Wide CutDSCF6343

….from Calgary Alberta


…sheds (kilns) for drying tobacco in Southwestern Ontario…not longer used and falling down


Dairy barn in Prince Edward County…..winner of The Award for Best Fine Cut…DSCF6340


The Old Tobacco Kiln  at Port Hope Ontario….won Judges Choice AwardDSCF6349DSCF6350Judges choice Award from British Columbia entitled Hayloft DreamingDSCF6351

I thought I could include all the photos I had in one blog entry….but there are just too many. I’ll continue with the rest  next time.


Hooking a Vimy Ridge Memorial

2014 marks 100 years since the beginning of WWI and there will undoubtedly be many events commemorating this terrible war in the next few years. In particular, Canadians will be marking the battle of Vimy Ridge (fought in 1917) for many consider it the beginning of Canada’s true nationhood.

Wikipedia has a brief description: “The Battle of Vimy Ridge was the first occasion whereupon all four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force participated in a battle as a cohesive formation, and thus became a Canadian nationalistic symbol of achievement and sacrifice. France ceded to Canada perpetual use of a portion of land on Vimy Ridge under the understanding that the Canadians use the land to establish a battlefield park and memorial. Wartime tunnels, trenches, craters and unexploded munitions still honeycomb the grounds of the site, which remains largely closed off for reasons of public safety. Along with preserved trench lines, there are a number of other memorials and cemeteries contained within the site.” pic_wonder_vimy_lg

The two towers represent Canada and France, united forever in friendship.  125px-Canadian_National_Vimy_Memorial_-_Mother_Canada

One of the statues is called Mother Canada, or Canada Bereft and represents the nation of Canada mourning her dead. (3,600 Canadian soldiers died at Vimy Ridge)

You might well ask…What has this to do with rug hooking? Let me back up and tell you what happened. I was taking photos of people’s work at our meeting on Tuesday, and came to Ann Hallett, who had two piles of wool in front of her she had obviously been cutting by hand. What are you working on Ann I asked? She proceeded to pull out her “just started” piece and ended up speaking about it to the whole amazed group.DSCF6312

I’m hooking a tribute to Vimy Ridge she told us. My grandfather was killed there you know!

…and what a poignant story…..

Her grandfather had written a letter to his wife shortly before the battle, and tucked it in his pocket. The letter was found on his body, and sent to his wife, who received it two weeks after learning of his death.


As Ann read the letter, there was hardly a dry eye in the room.

…and as if that weren’t significant enough, she is hooking the whole piece using ” used stump socks” from the Canadian army. (woolen socks used to cover and protect the  ‘stumps ‘ of amputated limbs) They are 100% wool in order to absorb any moisture from the stump, and to keep it warm.


They come in various sizes and she dyes them as needed. then hand cuts them for hooking. (cross ways as you do when hooking nylons)



This is the template she used for the two towers, depicting Canada and France.


…and she drew Canada Bereft on a mylar sheet for transfer to the backing…


She has just recently learned that she is actually holding lilies in her right hand that is hanging down, so she’ll adjust the pattern to include them.


When completed, this wonderful tribute will hang in Saint James Cathedral in Toronto. A moving tribute to such an important part of Canadian history, created by a dedicated and talented Canadian fiber artist.

I’ll keep you updated on its progress.