August 26, 2009

Making a Hooked Rug

A few days ago, in the post "Dyeing Day", I showed the watercolor sketch for my new rug hooking project, Tilted Ovals. After finishing dyeing the wool, I had to make a full sized, 10 x 20 inch, drawing on paper that I would use for transferring design to the linen backing. Because the linen is transparent, I can place it on top of the drawing and trace the design with a soft pencil.

Then I have to cut the wool fabric into strips for hooking. I use a Fraser Cloth Cutting Machine, which has a cutter wheel under the wheel you see on the left. As you feed the fabric into the machine, it is squeezed between the upper and lower cutter wheels, and cut. The cutter wheels come in different sizes, for cutting wider or narrower strips. I use a #6, which is 6/32 of an inch: 3/16. For smaller works, I sometimes use a #5.

Here's a detail of the work just begun. With the wool strip held behind the linen, which is stretched over a frame, I reach through with the hook and make a loop of the wool. Over and over. This seemingly tedious task is actually very relaxing and I enjoy sitting and doing handwork, usually in the evening in front of the tv. The choices at this stage of the work, since the color is now fixed, are in the direction of the hooking. With the geometric ovals, I've decided to follow the curved form, while the background will be randomly hooked. The small openings of the woven linen allow for multi-directional hooking.

Since the work on a ruglet is so straightforward, I won't be doing an "in process" series. But I'll share the project when it's done.


  1. So that's how it's done. 1) does the cutting take a long time? 2) if cutting was done by hand this would make for a lot of variety in the texture? 3) do you know others who are doing work like this? (i.e. using this traditional craft untraditionally.)

  2. 1. I usually cut enough fabric as I work, doing a 5 or 6 inch wide 12 inch long piece at a time. This takes only a couple of minutes. I turn the handle on the right while feeding the fabric; it's quick.
    2. Before these machines, fabric strips were cut with scissors and were therefore much wider; contemporary work done with wide strips is called "primitive".
    3. nope

  3. I absolutely love the approach you bring to rug hooking. Having done all kinds of needlecraft and sewing, rug hooking never really appealed to me until I ran across your blog, and now am dying (no pun intended) to try it! Do you have a recommendation for what type of linen to use? Or hook? I'm tempted to try to make and entry rug (vs. art work to be wall hung) if that makes any difference.
    Really, just stunning! Thanks!

  4. Thanks, Sarah, I'm happy you like my rug hooking work. I too started by wanting to make rugs for my antique farmhouse, but then realized that the technique was good for art to be hung on the wall. My floor rugs were much larger. I started by buying a rug hooking kit, which came with already cut wool strips and a pattern on a burlap backing. Many hookers use burlap or monks cloth which is less expensive. You can find kits on ebay; starting that way will give you an idea if you like the process. Just email me (see "contact me" at the top right of the blog page) for more info.