Friday, April 16, 2010

Heather Ritchie's Rug Rave fundraiser for Rug Aid

Several Quoddy Loopers are working on their Rug Aid mats from the November 21,2009 international Rug Rave event for Rug-Aid, a not-for-profit organization begun by UK rughooker & teacher Heather Ritchie, who has been helping blind and vision-impaired people and their families, in Gambia.

Heather is from Reeth, in England, and is helping the community in Gambia towards their aim of having a building of their own in which to keep their supplies and meet to hook rugs. They sell the rugs they make to visitors. The image to the left is Heather's version of the pattern that people all over the world purchased from her to help with the fundraising.

Heather has been working with the group, teaching, providing materials and spearheading the fundraising efforts, with the aim of eventually providing a building for the rughookers to work and store their materials in. For the time being, they have the use of a community room to work in but have to carry everything home between their sessions. Rug Aid also pays their transportation and provides some food for the workers. Sighted people hook outlines, sort the fabric into colours and the blind rughookers fill in the spaces. At the Rug Rave, we were to each try hooking blindfolded for 30 minutes – it’s not easy! We each paid a fee to Heather for the use of the pattern and everyone is hooking their own version. The intention is to raffle off the rugs by our 2010 hook-in and remit those funds to Rug-Aid as well.

More info from the website: "Heather Ritchie first visited the Gambia in 2007. She was amazed at how quickly the blind people she taught at the GOVI (Gambian Organisation for the Visually Impaired) Resource Centre learned to make rag rugs, even though she didn't know their language. They learned very quickly and used second hand t-shirts to create their rugs. The aim of Rug Aid is to provide opportunities for women and children in some of the poorest communities in Africa. They will make rugs, wall hangings and decorative items for sale locally, nationally and, maybe later, through fair trade organisations world wide. By providing opportunities for women and children, the aim of Rug Aid is to bring about change 'from the bottom up'."

This one is hooked with mainly as-is recycled wool, in #6 to 9 cuts, on burlap, or 'hessian', as it  is called in the UK.

Rug Bee in LIFE magazine, July 1951

Looks like fun - plein air rug bee or hook-in; it's all getting together to enjoy rughooking! 
posted by Gene Shepherd.
[not for commercial use]

Nancy G, on The Welcome Mat, nosed out the info on this huge rug bee/hook-in:
"In the book Color in Hooked Rugs by Pearl K. McGown on page 295. 'In July, 1951, the first PUBLIC Hooking Bee was staged on the green at Storrowton Village (Eastern States Expo) in West Springfield, Mass.' It was supervised by Mrs. Ione Winans, Over one thousand women [and at least one man] came with frames, rugs and of course a lunch! That's a lot of rughookers in one spot!"

1000+ rughookers - almost all women - together on a beautiful sunny day to share their love of the craft and art of rughooking - heaven! Except, these days, if we were to get that many at an 'rug bee', there would be a serious scarcity of corsets, hats, pearls, dresses, hosiery, heels... it's a different world.