Silk Stocking Mats

Silk Stocking Mats: Hooked Mats of the Grenfell Mission

Paula Laverty
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Silk Stocking Mats
    Book Description:

    Beginning in 1928, the Grenfell Mission sent out a call to socialites: When your stockings run, let them run to Labrador! The creative recycling of tattered stockings, dyed in soft hues, is just one of many innovations that made Grenfell hooked mats highly collectible folk art. In Silk Stocking Mats, Paula Laverty chronicles the development of a local craft into an art form. For generations Newfoundland women had augmented their family's unreliable fishing income with a matting season in February and March. Through the Grenfell Mission's Industrial Department, set up in 1909 to help develop cottage industries, the mat industry became an increasingly important source of income, reaching peak production in the late 1920s and early 1930s when the women's mats became renowned for their strong design, meticulous craftsmanship, and distinctive images chronicling life in the north. Reindeer, sled dog teams, polar bears, schooners, outports, and florals are but a few of the mat designs. Silk Stocking Mats is the result of over seventeen years of exhaustive research and draws on personal interviews with older women who recall their hooking days, the study of hundreds of archival documents, and careful examination of countless Grenfell hooked mats. Laverty's book is beautifully illustrated with photographs and descriptions, including rare and unusual as well as common mat designs.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8292-7
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. [Illustrations]
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-2)

    The Grenfell Mission was a medical mission in the remote areas of Labrador and the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland. While the Mission began in 1892, this book starts in 1906 with the establishment of the Industrial, a cottage industry that became an important part of the Mission by providing for the making of handicrafts as a means of supplementing the local economy. The Industrial is chronicled here with a sole emphasis on hooked mats; a significant number of other products was also produced but they are not the focus of this book, though some are mentioned in passing.


  5. PART ONE The History
    (pp. 3-60)

    Wilfred Thomason Grenfell (1865-1940) was an energetic, idealistic English physician schooled at London Hospital Medical College and, briefly, Oxford University. He spent his boyhood by the sea in the tiny hamlet of Parkgate, England. His father, Reverend Algernon Sidney Grenfell, was the headmaster of Mostyn House School, a small boys’ school that he struggled to keep afloat. In his later years, Reverend Grenfell was plagued by neurosis and committed suicide. Wilf’s mother, Jane Hutchinson Grenfell, bore four sons, one of whom died of meningitis in childhood. An affable and athletic young man, Wilf decided on a career in medicine early...

  6. Time Line
    (pp. 61-64)

    1892 Wilfred Thomason Grenfell first voyages to Newfoundland from England, under the auspices of the Royal National Mission to the Deep Sea Fishermen (RNMDSF), a medical and religious organization ministering to the needs of fishermen at sea.

    1893 Return voyage aboard theAlbert;Dr Grenfell establishes a hospital at Battle Harbour. He decides to devote his life to alleviating the sickness, poverty, and exploitation prevalent on the Labrador coast, and begins fundraising to further this work.

    1894 A seasonal hospital is established at Indian Harbour, Labrador.

    1901 Work begins on a hospital in St Anthony, Newfoundland. Dr Grenfell chooses St...

  7. PART TWO The Mats
    (pp. 65-74)

    Mat-hooking was centralized around St Anthony in northern Newfoundland, Battle Harbour and Red Bay in southern Labrador, and Harrington Harbour in the part of Quebec known as the Canadian Labrador. Mat bundles were prepared at the Industrial’s buildings in St Anthony and Harrington Harbour and other outlying areas.

    Putting together the mat bundles for the hookers’ use was the work of many hands. Designers drew original mat patterns and decided on the colours. Other Industrial workers cut stencils from the patterns by slashing through heavy card stock or, later, used x-ray film. The stencils were painted with shellac for durability....

  8. A Gallery of Mats
    (pp. 75-164)

    The design of this mat was adapted from a hand-drawn map, signed L.H.H., which showed the Grenfell Mission hospitals and nursing stationsand was published in the 1935British Annual Reportof the International Grenfell Association. The design was hooked in large numbers in four sizes, the largest of which appears here. St Anthony, the headquarters of the Grenfell Mission, is marked by a small white house to the left of the spouting whale. Flower’s Cove is shown southwest of St Anthony, and St John’s is indicated by a small building on the lower right of the map on Newfoundland’s Avalon...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 165-176)
  10. Collections
    (pp. 177-178)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 179-186)
  12. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 187-190)
  13. Index
    (pp. 191-197)