Mary Jarrell - Still Hooking at 100

By: Story by Bess Jarrell Naylor, Photography by Miranda Hutchins

On July 27, 2017, Mary Jarrell received the Delaware State Fair’s “Superintendent’s Award” from the Honorable John Carney, Governor of the State of Delaware, in recognition of the numerous blue ribbons received over the years—including the two Delaware State Fair blue ribbons she won this year. DANNY AGUILAR

Mary Jarrell grew up on a farm during the Great Depression and out of necessity learned the skills of needlepoint, sewing, knitting, and darning. As a newlywed in 1944, she hooked her first rug on a burlap sack, using both wool and knits as hooking fabrics. Many years later, in one of her many rug hooking classes with Mary Sheppard Burton, “the dean of hooking instructors,” each student was instructed to bring an example of her work. Mary chose to bring that 1944 rug. When Mary Sheppard Burton held the rug up in front of the class, she announced “Mary, there are knits in this rug.” Believing a “knit” was a bug (“nit”), Mary was thoroughly embarrassed. Of course, there were no bugs, but along with the wool in the rug, she had improvised by using non-woven material.


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