The Complete Book of Rug Hooking

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Call Upcoming Events. Nola Heidbreder St. Rug hooking is basically a stress free art. It is like coloring except we will be using beautiful wool instead of crayons! Nola will introduce you to primitive rug hooking covering the equipment, supplies and techniques. After that students will jump right in to the fun of actually hooking a small mat that can be used as a chair pad, trivet or a wall piece.

At the end of this class, you will be shown everything you need to know in order to hook and finish an entire rug! Nola will discuss when and how to use equipment and supplies related to rug hooking, touching on the differences between wide cut or primitive style projects and narrow or fine cut projects.

Students will then be guided through the basic techniques as they pull up their first loops on this 12" x 12" beautiful tile design using pre-cut 8 wool strips.

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Nola will discuss cutters and the various cut sizes as well as demonstrate various finishing techniques such as whipstitching, crocheting, and the herringbone. All of which will be helpful in your future projects! Students will be using either a Kennebunkport, Maine , thriving to this day, still counts rug hookers among its most enthusiastic customers. By the end of the nineteenth century, with the growing demand for low-priced machine-made carpeting, the popularity of hooked rugs declined.

The once-prized rugs which had graced the front parlor were often relegated to the kitchen and from there to the woodpile. Or they were rolled up and tucked away into the far corners of dusty attics and barns. For decades, hooked rugs were sadly neglected and ill-appreciated-except for a few farsighted individuals who recognized hooked rugs as a valuable part of our past to be preserved. Ralph Burnham was one such man. Hooked rugs were brought to his business in Ipswich, Massachusetts, to be cleaned and repaired. In one of Burnham's advertising booklets, he stated that in more than 5, rugs were repaired by his "corps of experts" his words.

Wanting to preserve the old designs, Burnham copied the rug designs as they passed through his hands and thus began a superb collection. He began to print the old patterns on burlap and made them available for sale. In one of his advertisements, he said, "These are, for the most part, taken from famous rugs of the past. Over the years we have collected examples of American hooked rugs. When we found one which showed great merit in design our artists made faithful copies thereof and from these we have distributed them throughout the country as a part of the heritage of the past.

It has only been recently that rug hooking has received the long-overdue recognition from museums, galleries, and the public it deserves as a rich part of our heritage. But more important, not only is appreciation growing for hooked rugs made in the folk-art tradition, but the craft itself is being enthusiastically revived as a means of self-expression. That is what this book is all about. Many people have long seen and admired hooked rugs without having the least idea how they are made.

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The loops, pulled up many times close together, form a pile. A hook like a crochet hook set into a wooden handle is used to pull up the loops-hence the term "hooking. Burlap is commonly used for the foundation, although monk's cloth and certain other materials are used to a lesser extent. For the purpose of this book, the foundation will be called burlap. Today's burlap does not bear much similarity to the old loosely woven hessian feed bags of our great-grandmothers' day.

It is more correctly called "jute cloth" by the manufacturers in Scotland, since they no longer use the coarse outer layers of the plant, but instead use the stronger, fine inner fibers. Almost all weights of wool can be used in hooking. The heavier the wool, the narrower it should be cut; conversely, the lighter-weight wools should be cut wider.

Loosely woven wools and tweeds are hard to hook because they tend to pull apart when cut into strips. You can sometimes shrink them enough to make them usable, and it's well worth the effort because they are lovely when hooked in, lending their subtle colors and textures to your hooking. To shrink loosely woven materials, break all the usual rules for washing wools. Wash them in hot water and detergent, in the washing machine preferably, rinsing them in hot water and then cold.

Wool jersey and knitted material are not good to use, except possibly here and there in small amounts, because they tend to mat down and lack the natural "springiness" of regular wool weaves. Exception: jerseys work well in wall hangings. In fact, since durability is not a factor when choosing materials for a wall hanging, use any fiber you like: yarns, cut strips of fur, velvets, cottons, silk, etc.

Today, wool often has a percentage of some of the man-made fibers-this is all right as long as the percentage is small. You may notice when you dye this wool that the man- made fiber may not take the dye as well. This will give some textural interest to your rug and is not objectionable. Above all, remember this is a handcraft.

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Different weights and thicknesses can, and should, be used in the same rug. If you are insistent on using exactly the same weight and texture throughout your rug, then you'll produce a uniform, almost machine-made look which is certainly not the purpose of a handcraft. The most appealing hooked rugs result from wool strips of different colors and textures being worked into designs. The wool, to hold together and not pull apart, must be cut on the straight of the material. If you look closely at your wool strip, it will look something like the sketch fig.

The long fibers are what hold the material together; if it is cut even slightly on the bias, it will pull apart as you try to hook it.

So be careful about the cutting. The first step is to tear the wool into narrow strips about 3 or 4 inches wide. The length is a matter of choice. I suggest you make them about 12 inches long. The torn edge should be absolutely straight and will then make a perfect guide for cutting. A cutting machine is highly recommended. Although it is not essential to own one, it is a big saving in time and effort. Again, let me emphasize, whether cutting by hand or machine, keep the strips on the straight of the material. The tweeds mentioned earlier generally are difficult to tear, but you can carefully cut them with your scissors using an easily seen thread as a guide, then cut them with your cutting machine to the desired width.

The purpose of a frame is to hold your burlap firmly taut. Many kinds are available, varying greatly in price. All are good and each variety has enthusiastic boosters. For the beginner, round 14" hoops are available very reasonably, and even an old picture frame on which to thumbtack the burlap can be successfully used. The important thing is to get started-better and more efficient equipment can be acquired as time and money permit. Traditional hooking is a craft that allows great freedom and flexibility. There is no one right way to hook; hooking is like handwriting in that all rug hookers develop their own individual style.

The loops of wool are pulled up through the burlap to a height that looks and feels right to you. Some people tend to hook high and some low.

The Complete Book of Rug Hooking

And of course, when the wool strips are cut wide, you will be skipping more meshes so that the loops are not too packed. The hook is held in the right hand, above the pattern, and the strip of wool, which can be any desired length, usually about 12 inches long, is held in the left hand, underneath the pattern. If you are left-handed, these positions are reversed. Push the hook through the burlap and slide the smooth side of the shank down between your forefinger and thumb the tip of the hook will touch the thumb and let the tip catch hold of the wool strip which is between the other thumb and forefinger.

See Figure 9. Pull the end up to the top side to a height of about 1 inch. All ends are pulled through to the top side, not left hanging underneath, and later cut off even with the top of the other loops.