Becoming a Hooker – The Art of Rug Hooking

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Perhaps not the image that first comes to mind, but hooking, or rug hooking, is very popular these days. There has been a growing interest in this age old craft and many artists are learning how to hook rugs and create beautiful works of art. Rug Hooking is both an art and a craft where rugs are made by pulling loops of yarn or fabric through a stiff woven base such as burlap, linen, or rug warp. The loops are pulled through the backing material by using a crochet-type hook mounted in a handle (usually wood) for leverage.

220px-Rugaction1 In contrast latch-hooking uses a hinged hook to form a knotted pile from short, pre-cut pieces of yarn. A crafter creates a hooked rug by pulling lengths of cloth, usually wool through a woven fabric filling in a design to create a picture and eventually a finished hooked rug or wall hanging. Designs for the rugs can be commercially produced or hand drawn and can be as complex as flowers or animals to as simple as geometric shapes.

Rug-hooking has been popular in North America for at least the past 200 years. The technique of hooking woolen loops through a base fabric was used by the Vikings, whose families probably brought it to Scotland. The author William Winthrop Kent believed that the earliest forebears of hooked rugs were the floor mats made in Yorkshire, England during the early part of the 19th century.

Workers in Weaving Mills were allowed to collect thrums, pieces of yarn that ran 9 inches long. These by-products were useless to the mill, and the weavers took them home and pulled the thrums through a backing to create rugs. In its earliest years, rug hooking was a craft of poverty. The vogue for floor coverings in the United States came about after 1830 when factories produced machine-made carpets for the rich. Poor women began looking through their scrap bags for materials to employ in creating their own home-made floor coverings. Women employed whatever materials they had available.

Rug hooking  was considered a country craft in the days when the word country, used in this context, was derogatory. Today rug hooking has been labeled a fine art!  Here’s a link to learn more about how to do Rug Hooking: http://www.rughooking101.com

Written by Tamara Pearce, owner of Pearce’s Craft Shop.

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