The Captain James Skilton Family Association

Hooked Rugs by Lida Ives

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Hooked Rugs by Lida Ives

The following material is from an exhibit at the University of Connecticut Libraries in Storrs, CT.

An Accidental Artist


The Hooked Rugs of Lida Skilton Ives

How does one define a life?  What of our accomplishments will survive to tell future generations who we were?  Lida Skilton Ives (1902-1988) was a prominent western Connecticut citizen of the mid-20th century: a mother, businesswoman, community historian, writer, Grange leader…and “rugger.”


Prompted by the thrift minded WPA era and inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, Lida eventually hooked a substantial, but never fully documented, number of rugs from the 1940s through the 1970s, using recycled woolens and simple burlap backing.


Unlike her other very public endeavors, of which she was unabashedly proud, Lida hooked constantly in the background, anonymously, never touting her now well recognized creative accomplishments.  Unfortunately, and again indicative of how she viewed her artistic efforts, most of her pieces were never signed, adding to the mystery of this enigmatic woman.

THe following picture is one of the hooked rugs.  Click on the picture to view the entire photo album.
Hooked Rugs by Lida Ives

Although Lida married a UConn alumnus and was the mother of four UConn graduates (and the grandmother or great grandmother of three others), she never earned a college degree—one of her life regrets.  Ironically, she has finally made her UConn debut through her rugs.


The rugs on display are a sampling of more than 180 surviving pieces owned by family members from several states.  A small collection is also housed at the Morris Connecticut Historical Society.  The exhibit is dedicated to Lida’s daughter, Virginia, and to the memory of Lida’s son-inlaw and Virginia’s husband, Dr. Jack E. Stephens, emeritus professor of engineering, University of Connecticut.


When you see Lida’s work, you be the judge: utilitarian or artist, or, perhaps to her surprise, both.


–Kathy Stephens, Bozeman, Montana


Babbidge Library, Gallery on the Plaza

Curators: Erika McNeil & Laura Katz Smith

Click on the link below to view the Ives' Rug Show Brochure.

Ives' Rug Show Brochure




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