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My Year as a Happy Hooker

December 23, 2012

Becoming a hooker was my mother’s idea; in fact, she pretty much pressured me into it. She coerced my sister-in-law into doing it, too. And to ensure that we followed through, my then 65 year old mother decided she’d become a hooker for a year as well.

Son 1 at Grandparent's 45th AnniversaryThe year was 1984.  My parents had retired to a small ‘resort’ community on the shores of Lake Huron a couple of years earlier and I suppose mom was a bit bored (1984 was the year she and Dad celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary).  I had a small child at home (son #1 was born the same year my mother and father moved), was teaching part-time (two nights a week plus Saturdays), and trying to juggle myriad household responsibilities (cooking, cleaning, bill paying, etc.) at the time – so boredom wasn’t really a factor for me (I don’t imagine it was for my sister-in-law either – she had a full time job, a relatively new marriage, and her own household to run).  Still, Mom clearly thought we needed a little something ‘extra’ in our lives – something to keep our hands and minds occupied on those long, cold nights when we didn’t have more ardent tasks scheduled.

Happy HookerPerhaps Mom had seen an old copy of ‘The Happy Hooker’ by Xaviera Hollander in the bookstore in town and thought ‘what a good idea’.  It might have been that she wanted the three of us to bond over a shared passion for something other than taking care of the men (including child) in our lives. Or possibly she thought we needed a hobby that we could pursue separately but reveal the intimate details of when we got together (which we did fairly regularly in those days).  Whatever it was that prompted her original inspiration, we simultaneously embraced the idea, participated with a reasonable amount of zeal (most of the time), and experienced our share of predictable ‘ups and downs’, triumphs and tribulations, frustration, excitement, and occasional tedium (all of which we conveyed to the others in detail).

The three of us ‘hooked’ in our spare time for almost an entire year, and despite the time and effort that was required for that sort of undertaking, the end result was entirely worth it!  Don’t you agree?

Santa Rug

My very first (and last) rug hooking project: a 30” Santa Claus ‘wall rug’.

Son 1 With Santa 1983Mom had bought three Santa Claus rug hooking kits at ‘The Christmas Store’ during a Boxing Week sale in 1983. (The store was an emporium devoted entirely to the Christmas season; it was located on the main street of the town they’d retired to.  The owner knew the REAL Santa Claus personally [honestly, he made ME believe in Santa all over again]; he would stand outside the store on weekends in December and visit with all the children who came by. Unfortunately the store closed in the late 80s). None of us (Mom, sister-in-law, or myself) had ever hooked a rug before; we were knitters and crocheters and ‘hand crafters’, but this was a completely new endeavour for all of us.

Rug hooking yarn

The kit came with a wide-weave canvas rectangle with the pattern (of Santa) on it, two dozen bunches of pre-cut red, black, white and gold wool, a set of basic instructions, and a ‘latch hook’.

Hooking the wool through the canvas

Working from the bottom up (or top down, I can’t recall which) you took a single piece of wool (based on the colour indicated on the ‘pattern’), wrapped it around the hook, inserted the hook through the canvas, and pulled it back through (the hook ‘latches’ the wool around the canvas and ties it in a knot). Then you repeat this process row by row, colour by colour, until the whole thing is done. When it was done, all that was left to do was to cut off the excess canvas to reveal a ‘stand alone’ Santa Claus rug, ready to hang on the wall.

Making progress; hooked woolAt first I found ‘hooking’ hard on my fingers (I still have a callus on the index finger of my right hand that I attribute to my ‘year as a hooker’), but gradually I got into a sort of rhythm (not unlike knitting or crocheting); having the pattern ‘painted’ onto the canvas helped (although I recall finding it more and more difficult to see the pattern underneath the completed rows as I progressed).

Since we were each working independently (when he ‘had time’), the three Santas advanced at different rates – but we all managed to have a new addition to our holiday decor to proudly hang on our walls by the following Christmas.

Santa on the DoorThis year, when I hung my Santa rug on the inside of my front door, I couldn’t help but think about my mother and her absolute certainty that we’d be able to ‘hook a Santa by next Christmas’ despite everything else that was going on in our busy lives at the time.  Back then Mom had a pretty good sense of what was possible, and a ‘can do’ attitude that I’ve tried hard to emulate.  This will be my first Christmas without her – but I know she’s watching over me and I like to think it makes her smile to see that Santa’s still in the house, even though I’ve reached … the other side of 55.

Merry Christmas 2012

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7 Comments
  1. Colleen permalink
    January 7, 2013 8:50 am

    Hah Margo, I used to do this too! My mom taught me. I made some pretty tacky things in my day… But do you know how to knit? It’s on my list of things to learn this year.

    Colleen

    • January 7, 2013 9:12 am

      I learned to knit in my teens; I made myself a GORGEOUS white sweater with colourful flowers on the cowl neck and sleeves (I have no idea what happened to it) and I knit sweater jackets for both boys when they were little (Son #1 wanted one with a horse on the back; Son #2 got one with a train). I also knit my share of scarves and mittens. It’s quite soothing! Good luck with it.

      Margo

  2. Christine Frame permalink
    December 28, 2012 7:51 pm

    I love your “hooking” story. I made a rug with the rug hooking kit I was given several years ago (and I mean several … like 1986)…not sure where the rug is now. Thanks for sharing.

    • December 29, 2012 6:17 pm

      It’s amazing how things like that ‘disappear’ isn’t it? Glad you enjoyed the post.

      Margo

  3. December 28, 2012 10:34 am

    Love the word play!

  4. December 23, 2012 5:36 pm

    Wishing you the same!

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