The Bangor Daily News is celebrating its 120th birthday this year. Recently, a bit of the newspaper’s past, a copy of the booklet “New Ideas for Handmade Rugs” (No. 94) by Elizabeth Varick, came into my possession.

The booklet was copyrighted in 1940 by Home Institute Inc., which published a long list of booklets on many subjects, which were available through the Bangor Daily News for 15 cents each.

Those were the days when, in addition to reporting what was going on locally, nationally and in the world to keep readers well-informed, newspapers offered subsidiary items, such as the Home Institute Inc. booklets, that allowed readers to teach themselves a new skill or to educate themselves on such subjects as the etiquette of giving parties and personal improvement. Of course, 59 years later, the newspaper still informs and educates readers about what’s going on — that mission doesn’t change.

It was a cultural assumption, years ago, that someone who wanted to learn something was smart enough and capable enough to teach herself what she wanted to know, provided she had a ready source of easily obtainable information. Hence, I assume, Home Institute Inc. And since everyone read newspapers then, what better vehicle for helping the public obtain educational materials than through the daily newspaper, which of itself provided an education with every edition.

I have been unable to obtain information, historical or otherwise, pertaining to Home Institute Inc., but I’m guessing that it was a service newspapers throughout the United States subscribed to, making the booklets available to readers by mail order through the newspaper.

Homemaking was still considered both an art and a science in those days, and women took it as their calling to beautify their homes with the work of their hands.

“New Ideas for Handmade Rugs” contains 39 pages and features 11 ways to make rugs, including candlewicking, hooking, braiding, needlepoint and French knots. My personal favorite is the crocheted rug made of cut-up silk stockings dyed turquoise and gold. Varick writes, “It is likely that your collection of stockings will be in several shades of one color, so that when they are dyed, they will vary in tone. This will give added attractiveness to the rug.”

The rug-hooking booklet was one of eight titles available in the Home Institute Arts and Crafts category. The other titles available in that category were “Easy Embroidery Stitches in Popular Uses,” “How to Make a Doll House,” “Home Course in Fashion Art,” Beautiful and Useful Articles you can easily Weave,” “Perfumes and Household Fragrances to Make at Home,” “A Simple Course in Illustration and Advertising Art,” and “Six Pictures to Paint on Glass.”

Other Home Institute booklet categories were Beauty and Health, Club Activities, Cookery, Dancing, English and Writing, Etiquette, Gardening, Homemaking, Music, Parties, Personal Improvement, Sports, and Miscellaneous, the latter including the titles, “Interpreting Your Dreams,” Successful Amateur Photography” and “Poems the Whole World Loves.”

In these days of rugged economic times it might be worthwhile to bring back the booklets titled “How to Budget Your Income,” “How to Get the Most Out of Your Money” and “Suppose You Haven’t Gone to College,” or indeed, the entire series. If the other booklets are as interesting and useful as “New Ideas for Handmade Rugs,” then much could be learned at very little expense.


• Camden area quilter Carrie Hedstrom has been selected as a semifinalist in the 2009 American Quilt Society Quilt Expo, taking place Oct. 28-31 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa. Hedstrom’s Tree of Life quilt will be one of more than 200 quilts on display. For more information about the Expo, visit

• A bride is the subject of a story in a recent edition of the Daily Mail in the United Kingdom. Louise Fairburn got married in a dress made of the fleece from her flock of sheep — no, not just thread spun and fabric woven from the fleece — the fleece! Long white strands of curly wool from her rare Lincoln Longwool sheep Olivia. Visit to read the article and see photos of the bride wearing her fabulous creation.

• The Maine State Museum will sponsor Threads of Labor, a family fiber festival, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 5, at the museum. The event celebrates the International Year of Fiber and will include demonstrations by quilters, spinners, knitters and rug hookers. Special tours will feature museum the exhibits “Made in Maine” and “Uncommon Threads: Wabanaki Textiles, Clothing and Costume.” The event is free.