Helping hands needed for ‘Hook-A-Thon’

Duane Hicks

As part of the national celebration of “Culture Days” (Sept. 24-26), district residents are encouraged to drop by the Fort Frances Museum this Friday through Sunday and help work on the “What Hooks You Here?” community rug-hooking project.
Consisting of four panels each depicting seasonal activities in the Fort Frances and Rainy Lake area, the project got off the ground earlier this year and several workshops were held back in the spring.
But now local rug-hookers Debbie Ballard and Judy Kielczewski want people to come for a “Hook-A-Thon” weekend at the museum, which will run from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. each day, in order to make some real progress on getting the project done.
“We’re looking for anyone that wants to hook, anyone that wants to pull a loop in the project,” said Kielczewski, adding she thanks the people who have come out to workshops in the past and welcomes them to return to hooking this weekend.
“All of the panels are ready to go,” noted Ballard. “Conceivably, eight people could be working at any one time because we have had some frames made, and two people could work on one panel at once.
“We want people to come and hook on it,” she added. “It can’t be that Judy and I are the only ones working on it.
“For it to be a community project, it really needs people working on it.”
“The key word is ‘community,’” echoed Kielczewski, who noted both first-timers and veteran “hookers” are encouraged to come on out, adding there will be sample pieces for beginners to practice on.
Museum curator Pam Cain said “What Hooks You Here?” ties in perfectly to “Culture Days.”
“This is a great opportunity to come out and see the museum, and what this project is all about,” she remarked.
While the design phase of the project is completed, and it has been determined what will be featured on the four panels, the project also eventually will include a companion book or anthology, which will contain photos, artwork, and writing indicating what local residents love so much about Fort Frances and Rainy Lake.
Kielczewski said people are encouraged to contribute to this aspect of the project, and can feel free to bring ideas and items to the museum this weekend.
Cain noted the museum also will have writing and art materials on hand this weekend for people who want to make something while they’re there.
The duo got several helping hands with the project today when a rug-hooking group from Stratton came to the Fort Frances Public Library to work on it. This group also will be working on panels in the future.
Those wanting to hook will get another chance to do so the first three Wednesdays of October (Oct. 6, 13, and 20) when Ballard and Kielczewski will be at the library and museum, respectively.
From 1-4 p.m. each of those days, everyone is welcome to drop by and either learn how to hook, or pick up a piece and resume hooking if they’ve done it before.
Then later this fall, Ballard and Kielczewski said they’re hoping to get a rug-hooking panel into Rainycrest on Sundays so residents and/or their families can work on it.
As well, they will be bringing panels into district schools and having students learn how to hook and pull a few loops.
Any teacher interested in having them come to their school can contact Kielczewski (274-7120), Ballard (274-3250), or the museum (274-7891).
They also are willing to do the same for any other local groups or service clubs.
“What Hooks You Here?” is sponsored by the Community Arts and Heritage Education Project (CAHEP) and Moffat Fund.
Ballard said the project has caught the eyes of people outside of Fort Frances and the surrounding district.
For example, she and Kielczewski presented the project to the Ontario Hooking Crafting Guild (OHCG) in June at Trent University in Peterborough, where they got “an amazing reaction.”
“It was put in the OHCG newsletter, and we had people from other communities decide to do one in their community,” Ballard recalled.
Kielczewski said one of the panels will be brought to a workshop in North Bay next month, and the OHCG has asked for “What Hooks You Here?” to be the featured presentation at its annual general meeting in 2012.
“The reaction in the hooking community has been tremendous. Really, really super supportive,” enthused Ballard.
“We received donations of wool from people.
“So it has already, outside of this community, had some recognition,” she noted.