Nova Scotians, in particular Nova Scotian women, have been making hooked mats since the 1850s. The craft's exact origins are unknown, but it is possible that it began either in the Maritimes, Maine or New Hampshire and then spread to the rest of the eastern seaboard.
Traditionally made hooked mats use a coarse backing material of linen or burlap. Strips of rags or yarn are pulled through the backing material in loops to create images. Commercial patterns for hooked mats were also first produced in the 1850s. They were stamped or printed images, mass produced by factories, often by textile mills which also provided the dyed rags – a practice that continues to the present day. Hooked mats were a part of the folk culture of the region but were once considered craft not art. Many women artists in the 60s and 70s pushed the boundaries between art and craft, arguing that they were often "gender specific".
One of the most famous series of hooked mats was produced in Newfoundland and Labrador for the Grenfell Mission.