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Modern Hooked Rugs
Hooked rugs are still being made today, but as I have noted, generally on stamped patterns such as the Frost designs, which have little in common with the improvisations and spontaneous productions, unique and unduplicated, of the individual craftsman.
Some of the quaint quality of the early rugs was undoubtedly due to this individuality. Each rug was made for a particular place in a particular room in a particular house, and was integrated with its proposed surroundings as well as the makeshift materials and the maker's taste would permit. It is probably for this reason that we are especially pleased to find such types of rugs in rooms which are reminiscent of the early pine and maple backgrounds identified with the time of their heyday. Today's homemaker can and should utilize the same principle of planning the rug with close relation to architectural and decorative background. While the hooked rug with its plebeian ancestry of rags and scraps appears to be of lowly origin, it possesses a great deal of social flexibility. It makes itself readily at home in the cottage dwelling and hardly less so in the modern home than in the old Colonial mansion.
There are only a very few remote portions of Canada and Newfoundland, however, where the hooking of rugs continues today in the old manner. Most of the examples at present emerging from our Eastern coastal states are of modern make, even if one of the older designs is used. It is rather commonplace practice to make them in winter to sell to tourists or dealers in the summer. Although they are largely made by home craftsmen, shop production is not unknown and sometimes quite astronomical prices are paid at auctions for such rugs designed in desirable historic or period patterns.
One of the best ways of making hooked rugs today is through following the directions and aid of Mrs. Harry King, of Batesville, Arkansas. Intrigued by the aesthetic, therapeutic and financial gains to be had by hooking rugs, she has assembled a large number of fine designs from museums and other sources. Patterns of these can be secured from her, together with an authoritative and easy-to-follow book of instructions which covers all aspects of the subject. Mrs. King is well known as a lecturer in many parts of the United States on this subject, and for having done a fine job of reviving the art of hooking today.
To people who enjoy working with their hands the hooking of rugs affords an occupation which can be either sociable or solitary, can be picked up in odd minutes or sustained for hours and is certainly remunerative. Money earned in this way, while the home life continues with no great interruption, has much to be said for it, but a greater boon is the increasing pleasure of the hobby itself as it progresses. To man or woman, maker or observer, seller or buyer, but perhaps especially the maker, a hooked rug will open up hitherto unrealized vistas in the mind. Speculation on the principles behind the design, the properties of the plants or dyes which provided the color, the ways of combining colors, the psychological sense of well-being in creative activity, identification with the sturdy early folk whose background enters into the entire tradition, are all phases which combine to make this an activity as fruitful as it is fascinating.
In a broader sense, those who deal in any form with rugs are engaged in an art process, though a minor one. The pursuit of any art can become a highly effective method of constructivelv utilizing the charged emotions and imaginations of our people in our country today. We can find in the arts, even in the comparatively humble art of the handmade rug, both healing and fulfillment.