I had heard about this fairly new store in Englewood called Searsport Rug Hooking, just off Gasparilla Road.

It gave me a chance to see the store and maybe learn a little bit about rug hooking, after all that kind of work isn’t exactly my strong suit.

I have to tell you, Julie Mattison and her daughter Chris Sherman were two of the most helpful people I’ve ever met. I can only imagine the time and effort they would be willing to give a novice or even someone well-versed in rug hooking.

They come from Verona Island, Maine. They had a specialty gift shop in Searsport, Maine, that was doing very well, but their main interest was and has always been rug hooking.

When the chance came to open a hooking store in Englewood — not to mention an opportunity to get out of the cold — they jumped at it. They bought a unit in a small center and set up shop, but soon realized it was to small. They bought more units, and now have one of the nicest showrooms I’ve seen. This three-unit also has space for classes, and has turned out to be one of the true destination stores for rug hooking enthusiasts around.

The class room is set up with several tables, so there is plenty of room for the rug hookers to work. There are even six teachers at different times to aid assist you.

If you have the knack and are interested, they are also looking to bring on more teachers. People will come in and do their own thing, sometimes bringing their lunches. The classes include rug hooking, weaving, crochet, needle felting, needle punching and fiber art. They also feature import linen backing from Belgium.

Julie and Chris feature more than 250 bolts of wool fabrics and wool appliques with all patterns designed right there by the mother and daughter team. They also carry rug hooks, hooking frames, hand-spun yarn and so many more hooking items. They ship all over the world, and people from all over Florida seek them out as one of the largest rug-hooking stores anywhere.

To keep pace with their industry, Julie and Chris travel America to shows in places like Asheville, North Carolina, Richmond, Virginia, and Sauder, Ohio. When they travel, they take their own trailer, so they will always have the needs, supplies and equipment they need.

Julie and Chris are also planning their own show, Florida Hookin’ later this month in in Punta Gorda.

Florida Hookin’ is a three-day event Feb. 26-28 at the Charlotte Harbor Event Center on Taylor Street. There will be seating for an audience of 400 with more than 20 vendors displaying their wares and services. Searsport Rug Hooking has been doing this show for six years, so you know they know what they are doing. If you’re interested, I suggest you call Julie or Chris for reservations.

If that’s not enough for you, there is also a rug hooking cruise set for 2020.

Searsport Rug Hooking is at 31 Chailett Road, Suite 3 just off Gasparilla Road (County Road 771). The phone number is 941-828-1799, but I would highly recommend you go to searsportrughooking.com to see what they’re up to.

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