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A true titan of rughooking has left us. Jeanne Margaret Field (née Hurst) passed away November 4, 2017, at Billings Court Manor in Burlington, Ontario. The following article appeared in the Spring 2015 OHCG newsletter.
Jeanne Field wore many hats, but was known to many rug hookers as the owner of Rittermere-Hurst-Field, rug hooking supplier. She was the author of Shading Flowers: The Complete Guide for Rug Hookers (1991) and the Let’s Hook video and the owner of Majic Carpet Dyes. To many, she was a teacher, mentor, a friend, thespian, business woman and artist. She conducted many memorable workshops in her farmhouse north of Orangeville. Allow me to share some warm memories of a forward-thinking rug hooker; I hope the memories will make Jeanne laugh.
In 1965, Jeanne visited the Rittermere Studio in Vineland owned by Mr. and Mrs. Rittenhouse, their daughter Margaret and son-in-law Ted Rowan. She became “hooked” with what she saw and heard about rug hooking. Her artistic bent took hold; she began to hook rugs and design her own patterns. Ted Rowan encouraged her to teach so she took all the courses that were offered. The interest in rug hooking was apparent to her and in the early 1970s, Hurst-Field Designs was born.
It was at the CNE in 1966 when I first laid eyes on a display by the Rowans of Rittermere and I was caught up with the colour, multitude and variation of patterns that had been hooked. The large and small pieces were overwhelming. My name went onto a list to learn about rug hooking. Almost 2 years later Jeanne came into my life as teacher, mentor and friend. My introduction to rug hooking was at Jeanne’s beginner night school class in Port Credit. Fifteen of us worked ten weeks on a rug, shading leaves and flowers. When our family moved to Brampton in 1971, Jeanne told me I was to teach there. After much thought, I decided to teach rug hooking. Jeanne mentored me, taught me how to dye, was kind, fair but firm; I appreciated her assistance and support.
It was in 1971 that the OHCG Teachers’ Branch was formed; Jeanne was one of four Teachers who started the group, which is now 44 years old. It was amazing to be at the first Teachers’ Meeting and have American and Canadian Teachers teaching a very large group of interested Teachers.
Jeanne opened The Blue Willow Wool Shop in Etobicoke in the mid-70s. Jeanne stocked yarn and rug hooking materials. Workshops were taught at the shop and many were introduced to the craft at the Blue Willow.
Jeanne was the Teachers’ representative on the OHCG executive from 1968–1973. She also started a branch of the OHCG in Mississauga at the Port Credit Library. It too was a thriving group and in 1973 the Mississauga Branch hosted the 7th OHCG Annual. Jeanne had many rug hooking friends on both sides of the border and a few that joined us for that memorable weekend were: Joan and Bob Moshimer, Mary Sheppard Burton, Anne Ashworth, and Dottie Ebi. Each of these was a star in the rug hooking world. Joan Moshimer began Rug Hooking News and Views, (now Rug Hooking Magazine) and owned Cushing Dyes.
Workshops were offered at the OHCG Annual in 1972 and Jeanne taught sculptured mushrooms. What a craze that started in our rug hooking world. Sculpturing and sculptured mushroom were BIG.
In 1984, Margaret and Ted Rowan decided to retire and sell Rittermere. Thus the business became Rittermere-Hurst-Field. Jeanne and her friend Pam Dowling opened a shop in King City near her home. After a few years, Jeanne became sole owner and moved to Aurora. Her home Studio was in a lovely setting and rug hookers enjoyed attending classes, hook-ins, and seeing the new rug hooking items in the studio. Jeanne’s daughter Andrea joined her in the business.
OHCG: Our Story 1981–1996 documented Rittermere-Hurst-Field’s sponsorship of competitions for their patterns and prizes for the Beginner Competition at the OHCG Annual.
Jeanne gave daily seminars at the Creative Sewing and Needlework Festival in 1994. She was approached by the CSNF to mount a large display at their fall show where 341 rugs in total were on display. It was an awesome display to view. She taught workshops, demonstrated, and had other teachers demonstrating various aspects of our craft. People would go to the Rittermere-Hurst-Field booth, purchase a kit and come back to the Teachers to learn how to hook and then be given the name of a teacher in their area.
Jeanne is also a founding member of TIGHR (The International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers). The first meeting was held December 2, 1994, just outside of London, England. The Mission Statement evolved to be “The International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers is a global organization of creative people who come together in friendship to share ideas, and to explore the different techniques of the art of rugmaking using a variety of fibres.” TIGHR meetings are held in different countries every three years and this year will be the 8th TIGHR Triennial, in Victoria, British Columbia.
Andrea reminded me of a few things about Jeanne during her rughooking career. She was always with hoop and hook in hand where ever or whatever she was doing. She also was about designing new courses for students.
The Native Art Course was so new and different, she was learning about the subject while hooking the piece. She also encouraged rug hookers to create their own stories for the Story Rugs that became popular. She was always creating new ideas for us to hook like her Big Fall Leaves rug. She planned that rug by picking up every kind of leaf she could find, letting them fall where they landed on the linen and there was the pattern. She brought wide cut Crewel to students when more people were experimenting with wide cuts. She encouraged students to design their own larger-than-life flower rugs called Magnificent Mille Fleur. She would send you the basic flower and you could design your own. It was an act of giving and encouragement for students to design their own pattern.
Jeanne’s life was full, with a husband, four children and, always, “a dog”. She also had a career as a nurse and yet, rug hooking was her passion. Jeanne was involved in many areas of rug hooking and was a leader in her field. She was involved in many things behind the scenes and some front and centre. Teaching down East, out West, in the U. S. at schools and at Trent School of Rug Hooking, she was a teacher, a fun-loving player with her friend Audrey Deere behind the cafeteria serving up breakfast or the two of them doing their cleaning lady shtick…always for a smile and laughs.
I hope you had a class with Jeanne. She encouraged students, gave freely of herself, encouraged design, and helped many become rug hooking teachers.
Lastly, some of you will remember when she would come to you in class and say after a pause, her famous or infamous words: “that’s interesting.” We knew what that meant. ❧ Submitted by Anne Boissinot
“A MIlestone Event” announced Jeanne’s 80th birthday celebration
“Honouring Recipients of Fibre ArtsTraditional Rug Hooking” said the Master of Ceremony Doug Roughton, Campus Dean, as he introduced us one at a time to the audience—Pamela Langdon, Jayne Nevins, Carol Shewan, and Kim Slade. Cheered on by the crowd, we walked across the stage to shake the congratulatory hand of Glenn Vollebregt, President and CEO of St. Lawrence College (SLC) on the 29th of May, 2015. A glorious moment in the sun in recognition of our achievement!