Former teacher hooked on rugs in retirement

Carole Carlson teaches rug hooking to a group of friends residing in Lakes of Melbourne.

Colorful strands of yarn or fabric pulled through a stiff woven base such as burlap, linen or rug warp, blend into a creative hooked rug. Both an art and a craft, rugs are made based on scenes or artful designs.

Carole Carlson has introduced the art to several in her Lakes of Melbourne home, inspiring the same enthusiasm she has into their projects. Carlson, a former elementary school teacher, likes whimsical motifs, so she made a plaid sheep as her first project.

“I had a lot of ideas for whimsical things. Love making them,” she said.

Another major project is her collection of wedding rugs on which couples stand to take their vows. Most are then passed down to other generations.

Carlson has made rugs for nieces and nephews.

“I made one for a nephew, and it ended up costing $500 for material and time, and you never get all your time.”

Rug hooking began in the New England states, Carlson said.

“It probably started in Europe in some fashion but mostly in New England. Fathers would bend a nail into a hook and put a piece of wood on the end to hold it. Then, women pulled fabric strips through another fabric.”

Continuing her joy for the craft, Carlson found others who admired her creations and wanted to learn. The group was born.

Karen Smith started hooking rugs in 2015 and has given away at least 25.

“I lean toward patriotic themes, ocean scenes, birds, dolphins and palm trees,” Smith said. “We make up our own pictures.”

Smith was working on a scene of a large rooster standing in an assortment of grasses.

“We talk to ourselves over projects, and it’s OK,” Diane Weissinger said with a laugh. She has been creating hooked rug scenes for eight years.

“We get inspiration from something we see, but we do our own designs,” Carlson said. “It is curious to see what people come up with.”