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Nova Scotian rug hooker hopes to share her passion with summer challenge

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Through the doors of her downtown studio, past all the brightly coloured materials and tucked away in her happy place, Deanne Fitzpatrick works on her latest rug hooking creation.

“It’s an art form. To me, it’s unmistakably art,” she said.

It first started as a sister’s trip when she was just 24-years-old and it turned into a passion and a career that has lasted for over three decades now.

“I just wanted to make rugs for a farm house and then once I started making rugs I realized ‘oh I can tell stories with these rugs,’” she said.

“I just remember being in that room that night and the glow, there was kind of an orange/pink glow almost like a sunset glow, and I knew that I was doing the right thing and I knew that I was going to be hooking rugs. I just loved it.”

On top of a studio filled with colourful wool, take-home kits, and her one-of-a-kind creations hanging on every wall, Fitzpatrick has published a handful of books, been featured in multiple art shows and most recently, was inducted as a member of the Order of Canada for helping to make rug hooking an art form.

“My goal in life really are to make rugs that are unmistakably art and to teach other people to do the same,” she said.

That’s why three years ago she launched a 10-minute a day challenge, an idea she got from another rug hooker in the United States, where rug hookers of all levels are encouraged to spend 10 minutes a day, five days a week, practicing the craft.

The contest, which includes prizes, runs from July 1 until Sept. 2.

“What we want to do is we just want to encourage a healthy habit like if you come to your mat on a regular bases, you’re going to finish that rug and you have something to show for your time,” she said.

Last year 1,400 people joined in and this year there is already over 1,100 signed up.

The idea is to not only encourage a health habit, but also hopefully share the benefits.

“I can be driving down the road and I see the horizon, I see scenery and you look at things differently and you’re like ‘that would make a beautiful rug,’” said Angela Jorgensen, the Manager at Deanne Fitzpatrick Rug Hooking Studio.

She says this isn’t something that she used to notice before she got into rug hooking six years ago.

Plus, she says the testimonies that she hears from customers speak for themselves.

“People use it as a way, during the pandemic for example, they found the rug hooking community and for them it became something that wasn’t so lonesome,” she said.

Adding, “A lot of people say that ‘I’m not creative, I have no creativity,’ and I’m like ‘of course you do.’ I had two ladies in the other day, I think they were from Wisconsin, and I said ‘I’m going to challenge you and I’m going to call you in a year and I bet you’re going to be designing your own rugs’ because that’s what it does.”

Fitzpatrick says rug hooking is a form of self expression and is rewarding in multiple ways.

“When you share rug hooking you never know what you’re sharing and you don’t, you don’t know what it’s going to bring to someone,” she said.

“It could bring them a friend, it might bring them community, it might bring them solace, it might bring them comfort, that’s a huge thing.”

As for what’s next, Fitzpatrick hasn’t drawn that out yet, but she knows it will involve her hook, making rugs and continuing to share her passion with those around her.

“I really wanted people to see that you could take this one stitch and you could tell a story, you could change someone’s experience of how they might see things by what you create,” she said.

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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