ORRINGTON, Maine — The weather outside was cold and gray, but inside Stacey Van Dyne’s ranch-style home in Orrington one recent Saturday the atmosphere was warm and full of color. With a rainbow of bright-hued wools, Van Dyne and a group of five other women worked fanciful flowers, birds and other motifs onto linen and hemp backing, using the simple, punch-and-pull technique of traditional rug hooking.

Van Dyne, 57, a nationally certified rug hooking instructor, moved quietly around the room, pausing to consult on a subtle color transition, admire a tidy edging and commiserate over a tricky design. The room glowed with color, laughter and conversation as the women chatted and their rugs, loop by loop, took shape.

Originally developed as a frugal housewife’s clever solution for using up odd scraps of fabric, rug hooking has evolved into a popular creative craft and even an art form. Rug hookers at every level of expertise, from tentative beginners to skilled professionals, enjoy the visual and tactile pleasure of working with the materials to create objects of beauty.

Van Dyne works as an administrative assistant at a Bangor-area financial management company. But the living room at her “ Hooked Forever” home studio is fully given over to her craft and the classes she teaches; it is clear where her passion lies.

“I imagine I’ll retire in another five or 10 years, or whenever I win the Powerball,” she said. And when that day comes, she dreams of taking her craft on the road, teaching at workshops in different areas of the U.S. and Canada.

“In 1993, when I first decided I wanted to teach, I wasn’t certified. I just hung my shingle out,” she said. But as she continued to advance her own expertise, she was encouraged to pursue certification through the National Guild of Pearl K. McGown Hookcrafters. Now, she is qualified to lead large workshops, consult on repairs and research the histories of old hand-hooked rugs.

Van Dyne’s passion for hooking rugs evolved from a childhood spent practicing needlework.

“We always did needle crafts,” she said of her growing-up years in Orrington. “I had four sisters, and our mother kept us all busy with handwork.” Sewing and cross-stitch were her favorites, until she and her mother tried hooking a rug together when Van Dyne was about 16 years old. From then on, hooking has been her go-to activity, gradually consuming more and more of her time and attention.

In addition to the small classes she hosts at her home, Van Dyne teaches at regional workshops, which typically attract more than 200 crafters from the U.S. and Canada.

Coming up on May 7, Van Dyne will host a daylong “hook-in” at the Brewer Elks Club. Rug hookers of all levels of experience are welcome. The event will feature small workshops, vendors and more. Admission is $20. For more information, call Stacey Van Dyne at 299-4593.


Meg Haskell

Meg Haskell is a curious second-career journalist with two grown sons, a background in health care and a penchant for new experiences. She lives in Stockton Springs. Email her at mhaskell@bangordailynews.com.