Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Arleen Brown's beautiful hooked rugs

While I was home visiting family this summer, I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with my maternal grandmother's sister, Arleen Brown, who is still hooking gorgeous mats in her nineties despite blindness in one eye. Aunt Arleen learned to hook from my great-grandmother while growing up near Lunenburg, and still closely adheres to the traditional South Shore Nova Scotian techniques (also described in the print edition of Rug Hooking magazine, in the Canadian Connections article about Leslie Langille's rugs)(Vol. XXV, No. 5, March/April/May 2014). Her designs are drawn onto burlap backing, the edges are turned under and crocheted to finish and hide them, and then the mat is stretched on a frame and the design is hooked right to the edge, perfectly even, with no backing showing, and straight lines used for the background. They are a technical tour-de-force.

Arleen showing us photos of her other rugs.
An antique pattern from the Eaton's catalogue that her mum had given her to hook as a young woman. She had me trace this onto red dot fabric so she can rehook it, now that the original backing has become brittle and started to shred.

Chickens are one of her favourite subjects.

The three panels above are part of a single rug. I think the slightly faded rooster with the rainbow tail is my favourite, but then, I have a feeling that beagle is pretty special.
Adorable owl footstool cover.
Half of a long runner; the other end is a mirror image of this one. I love the hit-and-miss striped background that emphasizes the length of the mat.
Detail of a maple leaf design that may have been a Bluenose Rugs pattern. Beautiful use of plaid.
A wonderful hit-or-miss geometric that she drew herself.
Magnificent traditional geometric pattern.
A pattern reminiscent of a crazy quilt, designed by her daughter, hooked this past winter.
UPDATE: I must have misunderstood Aunt Arleen - this is clearly (based on?) 
the Miss Weigle pattern by Gene Shepherd.
Three tweedy night owls.
Me, Arleen, and my mom.
This is only a fraction of Arleen's work, most of which has made its way into the homes of her family and friends. These are the pieces she has kept, the two my mom has, and the ones she has hooked most recently.

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