Island Rug Hookers are back and looking for new members


The October West Tisbury library art exhibit featuring the work of sisters Lynn Hoeft and Kris McDermet was breathtaking. Hoeft, an Islander, is a painter, and McDermet is a fabric braiding artist residing in Vermont.

Word of the exhibit’s magic spread among the Island Rug Hookers, and soon the work of McDermet generated the idea among the hookers of a workshop so the art of braiding, in combination with hooking, could be learned here on Martha’s Vineyard. Neither lessons nor workshops have been organized here since Island hooking matriarch Rosalie Powell’s classes ended a decade ago.

A few weeks ago, Debbie Grant, who lives in Edgartown, took charge of organizing a workshop for the Rug Hookers, and the bright, sunny main room at Howes House was reserved for the weekend workshop.

During the summer months, the Island Rug Hookers gatherings on Thursday afternoons might include more than a dozen hooking enthusiasts. Winter gatherings are smaller. Seven hookers signed up for the workshop (two had to bow out due to illness). The students were Grant, Nancy Weaver, Lynn Marquedant, Becky Flanders-Clement, and Patti Kirwin.

“I loved being back on the Vineyard, hooking and braiding with such a nice, funny, talented group of women. It was extra-special to be able to meet other people who share my love of all things fiber, laugh so much, and teach them new skills, talk about my past, and hear their histories,” McDermet said. The sisters are members of the Mathiesen family, which owned and operated the Chicama Vineyard in West Tisbury for 35 years.

For two days, starting at 9 am with coffee, the work began. Each hooker had her own table, clamp, and wool. Excitement filled the room. Instructor McDermet led the interactive sessions with show-and-tell, and then “do it yourself” time, with her checking in on each hooker’s progress. The feelings of energy and enthusiasm filled the room.

“Kris shared her love of combining rug hooking and rug braiding with us. It was so exciting for each of us to leave the workshop with two finished pieces of our own creation. Spending a weekend with such a gifted artist helped all of us add a new skill to our rug hooking!” said Grant.

Before the weekend workshop wrapped up, the hookers were discussing organizing an advanced workshop, perhaps this summer.

Interested in joining the Island Rug Hookers? Beginners are welcome. Contact Debbie Grant at