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New Rugs Hooked from Embroidery Designs from the Past

New designs from the historical archives of the Hastings Needlework Company are available to rug hookers as part of a needlework competition.

By: Cindy Thury Smith

Pedulas in Bloom. Adapted from a design by Alice and Florence LeDuc and hooked by Anita Bahls, Hastings, Minnesota, 2008.

In the 1860s, Hastings, Minnesota, was a bustling river town at the junction of the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers. It had just been named county seat, and even though the Civil War was raging, business and construction were booming. One of the buildings under construction was the future home of Alice and Florence LeDuc, two sisters who broke the social barriers of their day and used their artistic talents to design and market their own line of embroidered household linens. 

From 1888 to around 1920, Alice and Florence, daughters of Civil War General and U.S. Commissioner for Agriculture William G. LeDuc, created embroidered pieces that were sold throughout the neighboring states and as far away as New York. Their appealing designs were written up in 1903 in House Beautiful magazine. Their business model was flexible: they had stock items for sale that were available through a traveling saleswoman, and they visited clients' homes to design custom embroidered pieces.

This article is from the September/October 2010 issue. For more information on our issues, check out our issues page.

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