Rug School Courses


Are you curious about tessellations? Come and explore these patterns whose pieces interlock with themselves. For generations, rug hookers have been creating mats using squares, triangles and hexagons. You will learn how to modify these shapes while preserving their ability to cover the mat without gaps or overlaps. I will demonstrate how I created fish and fowl, flowers and foliage. You will have opportunities to adapt these patterns and to play with your new skills, creating designs that are uniquely yours. We will look for inspiration in ancient Moroccan mosaics, in the recent work of textile artists and in the art of M.C. Escher. You may choose to come to school with a pattern you have created or purchased. Alternatively, you can bring your backing and use one of my designs or one you develop in class. This class is suitable for anyone with hooking experience and for all cuts of wool.

Instructor: Beth Calabrese, Nova Scotia
Beth works in medium cuts and enjoys bringing her rugs through the entire creation process from design through colour planning, dying and hooking. She has had a lifetime love of geometry and of the weird and wonderful work of M.C. Escher. She sees her students as textile artists who have unique tastes, talents and goals. Her approach is to teach technical skills and to respect students’ need to apply skills as they see fit in their work. Beth is a RHGNS certified teacher and a supplier of rug hooking materials in Sydney, Cape Breton.


© Copyright 2017 Cherylyn Brubaker

What is your personal totem?
A totem is defined as a natural object such as a bird, fish or other animal, serving as an emblem to a family, clan or group. The indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast hold beliefs that animal totems are spirit guides that walk through life with them, while teaching and protecting. What animal embodies traits that represent you or your family? Creating a personal totem is a great way to tell your own story using symbols that have meaning to you.

In this class we will discuss totem pole symbols, birth totem animals and formline design. Each student’s project will be individual and Cherylyn will be happy to assist students with design suggestions. She is currently working on a mat to celebrate her grandson’s birth. The landscape design will incorporate his family’s birth totem animals.
Prior hooking experience is necessary and all cuts welcome.

Instructor: Cherylyn Brubaker, Maine
Cherylyn is a former graphic designer, certified member of the RHGNS Teachers’ Branch and owner of Hooked Treasures in Brunswick, Maine. Website:


In this 5 day design course students will learn how to create their own designs for rug hooking. By the 5th day, hooking will be underway. Students will learn how to find design ideas and how to turn those ideas into a hooked rug. Template making, various drawing methods and repeat pattern making will be taught. Three designs will be created in the course and students will choose one to begin hooking. No drawing experience is necessary.

Instructor: Joanna Close, Nova Scotia
Joanna studied textiles at NSCAD University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts with a Major in Textiles in 2004. In 2006 she completed a Master of Arts degree in Textile and Fibre Art at the Winchester School of Art in the United Kingdom. Since 2006 she has worked as a textile artist and illustrator in Nova Scotia, Yukon Territory and New Brunswick. Joanna is a Regular Part Time faculty member at NSCAD University. Joanna’s artwork explores imagery of rural landscapes and domestic life of the Atlantic Provinces through textiles and illustration. She currently lives and works in Nova Scotia.


This course will explore the realistic face whether taken from a photograph, drawing or painting. Students will study their subjects in detail and paint with wool by hooking flesh tone swatches in #3 and #4 cut to create their individual masterpiece. Instruction will center around the face with placement of eyes, brows, mouth, nose and hair. Attention will be given to directional hooking, shadows and highlights, and the use of texture to add interest, depth and dimension. Join me for a fun and rewarding week as we enter the world of portraiture. A finely hooked face is truly a thing of beauty! Copyright laws do apply. Level – Intermediate.

Instructor: Ruth Downing, Nova Scotia
Ruth has been hooking for 19 years and is a certified teacher with RHGNS. Her passion is “fine detail”, whether in portraits, flowers or pictorials. She regularly teaches workshops out of her home in Cow Bay and also travels to other communities to teach. Ruth so enjoys the enthusiasm of her students and encouraging their creativity. Her “Girl with a Pearl Earring” was selected for inclusion in Celebration 2007.


You know how to hook; now will be your time to learn how to create an “Artful Masterpiece”. We are going to explore the creative stitches and their uses. Large and small three dimensional proddy flowers, the embellishments of beads, roving, ribbon, silk, buttons and any other fabric you would like to bring. Come, create and have fun building your masterpiece.

Instructor: Donna Gass, Nova Scotia
Donna Gass is a Nova Scotia based rug hooker. She has been hooking and member of the RHGNS since 1999, has been a certified rug hooking teacher with the teacher branch of RHGNS for the past 8 years, and is a member of TIGHR. Her favorites to teach are the embellishing of rugs with creative stitches, 3D proddy flowers, using different mediums such as yarns, silks, shoe laces, beads and different fabrics. Donna has had her work featured in the Celebration of Hand Hooked Rugs and the Rug Hooking Magazine in England.


This subject includes seascapes, cityscapes and streetscapes. The shapes are simpler, there is less perspective, and the colours are used to express feelings and emotions about the scene. Bring your pattern, your photos, your ideas, and I will assist you in making a modern landscape rug using a painterly approach. If you like, there will be daily critiques of the work of great modern landscape artists, and what they were trying to achieve. They could be our inspiration. Here are a few references: Cezanne; van Gogh; Monet; Franz Marc; Gabriele Munter; Paul Klee.

I welcome all skill levels. My goal as a teacher is to help the rug maker gain confidence in organizing a pattern, and in using colour for personal expression.

Instructor: Tanya Graham, British Columbia
Tanya has been a textile maker for nigh on fifty years in the fields of embroidery, weaving and spinning, creative sewing, and rag rug making. She has studied modern art history, and has attended drawing, painting, printing, surface design and colour workshops throughout her adult life.

Tanya is a graduate of the Ontario Hooking Craft Guild’s teaching program (1996) and is an accredited McGown teacher. Her work has been exhibited in group exhibitions in art galleries in the Vancouver area, Ontario, Oregon and California. Some of Tanya’s earlier rugs are published in “The Creative Hooker” by Jessie A Turbayne, ISBN 978-0-7643-2645-5


During the week we will discuss dye theory. We will focus on primary, secondary and split complementary colours. Casserole, dip, marrying colour, oven dyeing and swatches are some of the dyeing techniques which will be included in our week. Please join me for a colour filled time. (This is one of the required courses for RHGNS Teacher Certification.)

Instructor: Carol Harvey-Clark, Nova Scotia
Carol has taught rug hooking for more than twenty years. She is a member of the RHGNS Teacher’s Branch, has a diploma in rug hooking from St. Lawrence College and is McGown accredited. She loves dyeing and dyes almost every day.


This is a fun, interesting and exciting course which focuses on Jacobean designs of the 17th century. These contain large flowers, leaves, animals, insects, fruits and a Tree of Life. We will create Crewel stitches to use in the designs. Original or purchased designs are welcome, any cut may be used. You may hook or punch with yarn. [The photo accompanying this article is a 6 and 7 cut but finer cuts may be used especially on smaller Crewel motifs.] This is a great opportunity to use swatches and wool left from other projects. The motifs are sometimes exotic and imaginary; various colours may be used in one flower. A list of copy right free books, formulae and other information will be in the student letter sent to you upon registration. Course will interest average to experienced rug hookers.

Instructor: Doris Norman, New Brunswick
Doris is a skilled artisan and instructor since 1982, she enjoys sharing her passion for rug hooking with others. She encourages students to relax and enjoy the process of creating an heirloom to be passed down to future generations. Doris encourages students to create designs, to dye and use reclaimed fabrics. She teaches rug hooking courses at schools and workshops in the United States and Canada. She is an accredited Nova Scotia and Pearl McGown Teacher specializing in Celtic Art, Jacobean/Crewel, William Morris Design, Monochromatic, Art of the Americas, Land scape and Realistic Shading. Her work has been featured in Canadian Living Magazine, Rug Hooking Magazine, Hook Me a Story by Deanne Fitzpatrick and in Story Rugs by Paulette Hackman. Doris has a passion for the history of rug hooking and its preservation.


Imagine a small hole in the stone wall, watch it for a while, concentrate on it and suddenly a creature comes out. You are startled and amazed. You have never seen one of these before, only heard about them. You thought they were just make-believe! It’s watching you now and you start sketching it because you don’t want to forget the details. It is very friendly and hangs around until you get it sketched, then it disappears into its hole. The sketch is very childlike but the details are etched in your mind, now just to get it onto the background and to hook its likeness. Folk artists think outside the box and see the world through a different lens than most people and they use the materials and resources at hand. Using these ideas we will uncover the folk artist inside each of us and create a piece of authentic folk art. There are no limits! You may hook an original design, a pattern by another designer or come with an idea and we will work on a design together.

In this class we will learn tricks to inspire the artist within and design rugs to tell stories of the world around us, humorous and otherwise. We will dye new and recycled wools to complement your piece, troubleshoot problems, embellish your piece, and create a piece of folk art which will become an heirloom for future generations.

There will be an assortment of wools for sale, but you are encouraged to bring your own as well as some other fibers to play with. Plus there are always the vendors for more beautiful wools!

This class is open to all abilities, cuts, patterns or original designs. Please bring some cut wools or other interesting fibers to share. Think outside the box about what you can use! Also please bring an open mind, jokes, hints and tricks, experiences and stories, and your sense of humor! Be ready for a fun filled week and a chance to find that inner folk artist!

Instructor: Susie Stephenson, Maine
Susie lives on the coast of Maine with her husband Tom in a house they designed and built together. With their four children now 23 to 27 years old, Susie and Tom have renovated an old one-room schoolhouse across the road from their small farm and are running the Stephenson Fiber Arts Studio. Susie grew up in Maine and Nova Scotia, the second of six children. She taught 3rd grade for 15 years before leaving the profession to spend more time doing fiber art. Susie learned to hook from her mother, drawing her own designs and hooking with recycled fabrics from the very beginning. She continues in this tradition today and encourages others to create their own unique designs and experiment with found fabrics.

In 2009, Susie wrote Designing and Hooking Primitive Rugs, a guide to hooking in the primitive style and a window into her process of designing rugs. Today, Susie keeps a small flock of sheep and goats, teaches classes, hosts fiber arts gatherings and shows her work at fiber events. Susie is not one to get stuck in a rut, she is constantly looking for new ways to express herself through spinning, dyeing, felting and knitting in addition to rug hooking. Through it all, the emphasis is on fun, creativity and community.


This class will give you an opportunity to make “winter magic”. Through the use of a variety of textures, subtle values, fabrics and stitches, a winter scene will magically be created which is unique to each student. The use of subtle tones and textures will also be explored for more traditionally hooked designs.

No previous experience using creative stitches is necessary but an intermediate mastery of rug hooking skills would be an asset.
Patterns will be available for purchase but students should bring a personal supply of “winter whites”, soft pastels, subtle tones in yarns, wools, ribbons etc. to make their project “one of a kind”.

Instructor: Linda Marchbank, Prince Edward Island
Linda is a professional teacher and home economist with extensive experience in adult education. Having taught rug hooking classes and workshops for 13 years, it is a goal always to encourage creativity as well as excellence and love for rug hooking in all its aspects. A McGown certified teacher, she is a member of the Lady Slipper Rug Hooking Guild, RHGNS and McGown Northern Teachers Workshop.


This class is best suited for the rug hooker who wishes to experience the camaraderie of Rug School without taking a formal class. There will be no formal instruction; however, you are sure to have fun while learning tips and techniques from each other. Open to all levels of rug hooking and fun.

Click here to download the PDF Application.