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Canadian Birds, Canadian Mats

The Royal Canadian Geographic Society Inspires an Artist

Updated June 17, 2020

Canada Goose, 36" x 21", yarn on rug warp. Designed and hooked by Kay LeFevre, from somewhere on the road in her RV, 2017. I love the way the Canada Goose covers its chicks to keep them warm and wanted to portray that in this rug. I added “fur yarn” for the chicks’ feathers and dyed them darker and lighter to mimic the colors in their plumes. In order to emphasize the “Canadian” in the design, the white of the dead birch and the red of the maple leaf suggest the Canadian flag. I wanted to hook the leaves on the trees as they would look with moonlight shining on them.

This series was inspired by Royal Canadian Geographic Society’s contest to name a national bird. They launched “The National Bird Project” in order to choose a national bird in time for the 150th anniversary of the country. There are 450 species of birds in Canada; which one would be the winner? My Canadian bird series is a collection of my hooked mats depicting the top five contenders. All the rugs were designed and hooked by me and hooked on rug warp.


  1. Gray Jay, 37" x 24", yarn on rug warp. Designed and hooked by Kay LeFevre, from somewhere on the road in her RV, 2017. 

    I have never seen a Gray jay, even though I’m an avid birder! I will make it a mission to find one this summer, as it’s the winner in the national bird contest. Also known as whiskey jacks and Canada jays, they are very friendly birds—I often hear stories of them flying to people’s hands for treats when hiking out west in British Columbia. I wanted to the mountains and sky as majestic as it truly is in B.C. Instead of showing a baby bird, I wanted this piece to be about how friendly they are, so added a feeding hand and a peanut. (My husband, Fred, made this peanut on his 3-D printer.)

  2. Chickadee, 48" x 30", yarn on rug warp. Designed and hooked by Kay LeFevre, from somewhere on the road in her RV, 2017. 

    In this design, I wanted to convey how small chickadees really are, so I had them sit on a tulip to demonstrate this. I used the much sought after Canadian 150th Birthday tulip. I hooked muted pastels in the background to really make the bright colors of the flowers and birds stand out. I dyed yarn in graduating colors to get that effect. The dragonfly is a piece of jewelry I found at a flea market. For a 3-D effect, I added mom feeding her chick an insect.

  3. Snowy Owl, 40" x 30", yarn on rug warp. Designed and hooked by Kay LeFevre, from somewhere on the road in her RV, 2017. 

    I have a motto: “Never hook the same animal twice.” I broke this rule to hook another snowy owl. My snowy owl that was on the cover of RHM (January/February 2016) wasn’t a big enough size and had no chick to match the other birds in the series. Snowy owls feed their young 24/7. I designed this to be a nighttime scene, with the northern lights glowing in the background. (In this case, literally glowing. I painted the yarn with glow-in-the-dark paint!) The stars are Swarovski crystals, and the baby is hooked with fur yarn. I’m amused by the wide-open mouths of chicks, and I think it adds humor to this piece.

  4. Northern Loon, 27" x 34", yarn on rug warp. Designed and hooked by Kay LeFevre, from somewhere on the road in her RV, 2017. 

    I started with the loon. We were in Montana, and every day we went to a nature preserve where there is a huge bird sanctuary, including a marsh, a river and many, many birds. I hooked it at my sister-in-law Loree’s studio, a fantastic artistic place. Originally, I designed the rug with the baby chick. But as I studied the egg, I loved the colors in it and thought it would be a slightly hidden addition. I wanted the water to be dramatic, so I hooked it as “pointers,” all the water pointing in to the loon. I thought the zigzag design was perfect for movement and the deep blues. I wanted the loon to be iridescent, so I hooked light and darker greens on his face until I got the look I was after.


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