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McGown Training Workshops

The story of the founder, Pearl McGown

By: Maddy Fraioli

The Gift, 26 ½" x 21 ½", #7-cut on linen. Designed and hooked by McGown Teacher Sheila Mitchell, Victoria, British Columbia, for the Western McGown Teachers Workshop, 2008.

Hooking rugs became a unique regional American folk tradition as rural housewives, in an effort to bring warmth, decoration, and color into their cold homes and onto their bare floors, created coverings in the stolen moments of their otherwise chore-burdened days. They drew patterns by hand with charcoal on burlap or on feed sacks, and the fabrics, often scraps from used clothing, old rags, and flannels, were cut by hand and looped up on large frames balanced on kitchen chairs.

One of these women, hooking in Clinton, Massachusetts, was Emma Kinnear. Her young daughter, Pearl, who was born in 1891, would crouch underneath her mother’s frame, helping her mother by feeding up strips of wool, one at a time. This she might not have minded so much, but she was also responsible for beating the rugs clean, a task which she found quite unpleasant. Many years later, she told her granddaughter, Jane McGown Flynn, that she would beat them with great vigor in hopes that they would fall apart and be damaged beyond repair!

This article is from the January/February 2013 issue. For more information on our issues, check out our issues page.


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