Love Birds, 26" x 18", cotton yarn punch hooked on linen. Designed by Maddy Fraioli, Roseville, Ohio, and created by Heenaben, Gujarat, India, 2011.
I first realized how similar ari hooking techniques were to traditional rug hooking techniques when I created a teaching piece for my McGown certification. The ari, a tool used by the Mochi in India, is a fine-tipped hook used to pull silk, wool, or cotton threads through fabric. The thread is then pulled through an existing loop on the needle at the top of the fabric, which forms a continuous line of chain embroidery. A standard embroidery hoop is used to hold the fabric taut.
My realization made me wonder if the Mochi women were familiar with traditional American hooking techniques. So, in the winter of 2010, I launched the concept of a hooking exchange with the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), the largest employer of ari workers in India. In January 2011, I was invited to spend six weeks teaching traditional rug and punch needle techniques to the ari hookers in northern Gujarat. VillooMirza, coordinator at SEWA, appreciated the similarity of our two traditions and saw how using the slightly different hook from the United States might meet SEWA’s goal of empowering women in their lives and businesses.
This article is from the September/October 2012 issue. For more information on our issues, check out our issues page.