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Chemainus hooker

By MARINA SACHT

Val Gavin is a hooker and she’s darn proud of it. She plies her trade from her home in Chemainus where a steady stream of clients come by.

Owner of Renditions in Rags Hooked and Braided Rugs, she “hooks” rugs for sale and offers classes and supplies.

Val came by her trade honestly. Her grandmother hooked, as well as her great grandmother Annie Stevens, who with her husband Chris, used the fortune they had made in the Alaska Gold rush to purchase land on First Avenue in Ladysmith. In the early 1900’s they relocated the Ladysmith Hotel across the street so that they could build the Travellers Hotel. In its day, this was the premier hotel and Annie, who managed it, hooked a rug for every room.

Annie originally came from Cape Breton were it was a popular pastime to hook rugs. And although Val’s grandmother taught her to hook, it was following Val’s visit to Cape Breton in 1979 that Gavin started creating rugs. “I think it’s just in my genes.”

Val has created hundreds of beautiful rag and braided rugs, as well as dolls, and decorations, and makes her own patterns. In the early days, worn out clothing would be torn into strips and using a hook, would be pulled up through a burlap bag, often an old feed bag. “Everything was recycled and reused back then, That’s how it originated.”

Val still has some of Annie’s century old rugs that decorate her floors.

The time required to create a rug depends on your skill level, but on the average takes about an hour to do a six inch square. “It’s a long process but in the end it’s worth it.”

Looking around her home, beautifully decorated with colourful rugs, we agree.

As we talk women start to drop in. Someone brings a chocolate cake. It’s Tuesday and her drop-in group is starting to come by. They bring along their projects and get help and inspiration from fellow hookers. Every Tuesday is studio day from 10 am until 3pm.

“I have all the fabrics and supplies so if they run out of something I have it,” she points to her storage room, bulging with fabrics, felts, and yarns.

“I like to promote recycling,” she says pointing to a rug on the floor that is a “three bag” rug -all recycled items that would have ended up in a landfill.

If you are interested in learning this art, give her a call. The next class starts November 16, 2017. 250-246-3979 or valgalvin123 [at] hotmail [dot] com

Val Gavin says “hooking” is in her genes. Photo: Marina Sacht

About the author: Angie

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