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Welcome Mats

A hand-hooked invitation right under your feet

By: Melinda Russell

Welcome, 54" x 24", various cuts of wool on linen.  Designed and hooked by June B. Myles, Elkins, West Virgina, and Redding, Connecticut, 2005.

Hooked rugs proclaiming "Welcome" are as common in America as they are friendly. But when and where did they originate? These cheerful floor textiles are likely the offspring of Edward Sands Frost, that Maine maker of stencils and stenciled burlap rug patterns, and the 19th-century women who hooked the greeting into rugs. It is also worth noting that this familiar symbol of hearth and home—made and popularized by rug hookers—probably led to the expression, "Let's put out the welcome mat."
Frost made his first zinc stencil for printing rug designs in 1868. Sometime between then and 1876 when he sold the metal stencils and his business, he made two different designs including the word "welcome." Pattern No. 28 is a half-circle shaped floral with the word "WELCOME" at the bottom. Pattern No. 158 is a half-circle shape with a cat, a kitten playing ball, some stylized leaves, and "WELCOME."

This article is from the March/April/May 2011 issue. For more information on our issues, check out our issues page.


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