Rug Hooking Changes People

So many times I have heard people say that rug hooking changed them. As they started rug hooking they began to see the world differently, started noticing beauty around them. Hooking rugs allowed them to express themselves, to use their time wisely and creatively, and opened up a whole new community of people to them.

Rug hooking is full of possibilities. It has changed my life, and been a powerful force in changing the lives of the people I have met through it over these twenty five years. It has made me who I am. I started out as a therapist, thinking that was how I would spend my life helping people, but rug hooking found me and helped me find myself. 

I have learned that craft and handmade can totally change the way you view the world and how you feel about it. I believe that I have helped as many people by teaching them how to hook rugs and embrace their own creativity as I would have as a therapist. My style of rug hooking, with its meditative qualities, and its freedom from rules adds beauty to our world and is therapeutic on its own. It is joyful, powerful and transformative. My style of rug hooking is not about being perfect, it is about creating beauty everyday.

How I Started

I grew up in Freshwater, Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, the youngest of seven children. My mother and both of my grandmothers hooked rugs as a past time, and as a chore of necessity. By the time I was born both my grandmothers had died and my mother had long since abandoned rug hooking as a chore of poverty. In Newfoundland in the late sixties, and early seventies very few people were hooking, though there was still a scattered mat hanging about peoples back doors. 

For the most part it was out with the old and in with the new. I can still see Rita Murphy, my friends mother, sitting in her back room, hooking away on her mats. Her floors were a carpet of many multicoloured hooked rugs. At the time, to me, it seemed an old fashioned thing. Little did I know that I would spend years doing exactly the same thing. I learned to hook rugs because I wanted rugs for an old farmhouse where I had settled. It began as a purely practical craft for me, and later turned into an art.

Though I did not know how to hook, it was something I had always been familiar with. As a teenager, I began seeing rugs for what they were. I marvelled that a woman's' hand had pulled up every loop in a rug that lay on the floor of my sisters' farmhouse. In my mid twenties, I went to an annual meeting of The Rug Hooking Guild of Nova Scotia, and Marion Kennedy taught me the basics. How to cut your wool, and how to pull up a loop, then she told me to get to it. As soon as I started hooking rugs I knew it was for me. 

It was a simple technique, and I could see my progress. I finished my first little stamped pattern within a week and so it began. For me, Marion was the right teacher. She gave me the supplies, showed me the basic stitch, and said, "Now do it, finish the rug." Her simple style of teaching made a huge difference in my learning. She did not try to direct me but let me learn as I hooked. I learned that I could tell stories, and express myself through rug hooking. This is what really got me involved with it. Each time I make a rug I create a new design. In many of my pieces I tell stories or express ideas about the world. I work full time as a rug hooking artist. Each piece I create is different from the last. I use recycled cloth, gather old wool clothing from real people in real communities. The clothes are washed, dried and torn apart. It is then hooked loop by loop on a backing of burlap or linen.   

What I Believe

I am a woman who lives on seven acres in an old farm house with wooden clapboard that is lifting in the wind. I walk a few miles each day, most days, because it clears my head, and stretches out stiff limbs that have hunched over a rug frame. I am a lot of things in no particular order, a mother, sister, wife, artist, writer, teacher, reader, thinker, talker, friend, fool, dreamer, buddy. I am good at all of these. I am also terrible at all of these because sometimes I am being one of them when really I want to be one of the others. 

In my work the thing that matters most is making great rugs. I hook nearly everyday. I cannot stop myself. I like the feel of wool slipping through my fingers. I want to write more books. I want them to be both worthwhile and beautiful because writing is another thing I found that I liked to do. I dream that a small stack of books that I wrote myself will lay on my office shelf. I love land, especially fields. I find that a bunch of scrub and brush is a beautiful thing. It changes all day long with the light. I love the smell of fresh air on a person. It makes me want to hold them. I want to hang onto as simple a life as I possibly can. I do not find that easy because there are so many charms, that are like a ruby to a crow, but it is my goal to live simply, and make hooked rugs that are unmistakably art. 


The Studio

My studio is nestled in downtown Amherst, Nova Scotia where I display my one of a kind hooked rugs, create kits, patterns, host workshops, and sell supplies. It is a warm colourful space that I am able to create and write. I love to spend time there, touching the wool making tea and playing. It is a dream come true for me. We have welcomed visitors from all over the world. It's also a space for me to meet people who come to visit and have some tea. 

Writing & Books

I have written eight books about rug hooking and creativity. Each week I write a Sunday Newsletter where I talk about creativity & rug hooking. You can sign up here

Shows and Collections

A solo show of my work, The Very Mention of Home is currently on display at The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. My work is in the permanent collections of the Canadian Museum of History, the Art Gallery of NS, and the Art Gallery of NL. (Read More)

Awards and Honours

I was a recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Mount Saint Vincent University. Click here to hear my acceptance speech.

In 2023 I was honoured to receive The Order of Canada for my work in the advancement of rug hooking as an art form.

Rug Hooker of the Year from the Rug Hooking Museum of North America.

For media inquiries or to  collaborate with Deanne please email at

Do you want more creativity in your life? 

Join me on a journey 
of fun, creativity and making beautiful rugs.

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