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Hooking rugs is a simple craft that you can easily teach yourself. Early settlers to North America hooked their old clothing on to burlap bags as a way of warming cold damp floors. It is an environmentally friendly craft that recycles old clothing and cloth scraps. It requires no energy sources but your own hands, and is a beautiful meditative craft that you can do as the world goes on around you.
1. Put your pattern onto an embroidery frame or quilting hoop. It should lie flat and be tight like a drum. As you hook, keep your burlap tight on your frame as this makes the hooking quite a bit easier.
2. Your wool should be clean and ready to use. You can cut it into one quarter to one half inch strips. A simple method for cutting wool is to take an eight-by-four inch rectangle of wool cloth, fold it accordion-style, and cut it into strips. This saves a lot of time and works best with five-and-a-half inch scissors as they have a shorter blade.
3. Take a strip of wool and hold it underneath your pattern. Take your hook, holding it in your hand as you would a pencil. Put the hook through a hole in the burlap, wrap the wool around the hook on the underside of the burlap, and pull the end of the wool up through the hole. Continue doing this with the same strip of wool, pulling it up loop by loop to the top side of your pattern.
4. Start by outlining something near the center of your pattern. Outlining is traditional in rug hooking. It helps add definition and makes it easier to see what you are creating.
5. Continue to hook in every second or third hole. The width and thickness of your wool will determine how many holes you skip. When your strip is used up, pull the end of the strip to the top side of your pattern, and clip the end so that it is an even height with your loops. Your loops should be one quarter to one third of an inch in height.
6. You can hook in straight or curved lines. Be careful not to cross the paths of your wool on the back of the pattern. Always clip your wool and start in a new place, rather than carrying a color across the back of your mat because this will make your rug bulky, messy and easy to pull out.
7. Continue to hook, by outlining and filling in all the areas of your rug. Do not hook too tightly or your mat will not lie flat. It is the packing of the loops together that keeps the loops from falling out, but if you pack it too tightly your rug will curl up.
8. Hook in all different directions. Try not to go from left to right in a straight line. Cover many parts of the rugs area in case you should run short of wool. If you do this you can always add more wool of a slightly different color to complete your rug. It may even enhance the primitive quality of your design.
9. Hooking rugs is meant to be a pleasant pastime. To avoid getting sore shoulders or hands, take lots of breaks, and make sure you are sitting in a comfortable position and that your body is relaxed. If you are comfortable, relaxed, and have support for your back, the hooking will go along much more easily. There is no right or wrong to hook rugs. Just your way. Some of us are attracted to modern design while others go for boho, or farmhouse style. Some of us love traditional, or over the top glamour. Our sense of style is reflected in what we surround ourselves with, how we dress, and yes of course the things we make and the rugs we hook. What we love is reflected in our lives.
10. There are many ways of finishing the edges of a rug. You can sew by hand black cotton twill tape around the outside edges of the rug. Hook right up to the twill tape, or sew it on after the rug is hooked. When your rug is complete, you can roll two inches of the excess burlap into the twill tape and hand sew it along the backside of your rug. If the rug is going on the wall, you can fold the excess burlap along the back side of the rug, and sew it up. I like to press the rug with a hot iron and a wet cloth. This is called blocking the rug and it helps give the rug a finished patina and even out the loops.
• Choosing the Right Hook
• Types of Rug Hooking Frames
• The One Stitch You Need to Learn
• Hooking with Yarn and Cloth
• How to Work With Textures
• Finishing Your Rugs
If you would like to learn about more hooking rugs my online class below is perfect . You can also shop our kits or choose our Poppies on the Edge of Town Starter Pack that includes the full one hour lesson.
Drop by and have some tea and homemade oatcakes.
Visit the studio year round at:
33 Church Street, Amherst , Nova Scotia, Canada
9am to 5pm, Mon. to Sat.
We can teach you to hook rugs in five minutes!
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....where you'll find a real person ready to answer your questions from 9am to 5pm Atlantic time.