I saw a video today of someone “hooking” a rug. He was using a hand held tool that was electric- it was hooking, and looks very much like the classic hooking done by hand, but alas, it isn’t the true form of hand hooking a rug, not the heritage way anyway. These rugs and pillows are sold as hand hooked work simply because the person making the rug or pillow was holding the electric device in their hand. Ugh- so easy! I do imagine that you would have to have a certain amount of skill to follow the pattern with your hand held electric tool but…
The material used is often a coarse yarn- go ahead- the next time you see one of these beauties, touch it- how does it feel to you? I would bet that it doesn’t feel like a rug or pillow hooked with wool fabric which is quite soft.
So, a lesson-
First you need a pattern , preferably on linen, hand drawn either by you or something that you purchased from another maker.
Second, you have to choose your materials. Typically this is 100% wool fabric that has been felted- oh yes, felted by you,(washed and dried first to make the fibers closer together), or the supplier. That wool could be hand dyed as well, by you or again, by a supplier. And let’s not forget the color planning- that can be quite an art in itself.
Third, the wool needs to be cut into strips, or worms. You decide what size you need for your project. Maybe you have a cutter that helps you cut the worms- I am lucky to have this hand crank cutter. It is a wonderful cutter hand made in Canada by Bolivar- some people cut by hand with scissors or actually tear or rip their wool. I made the decision to purchase this gem and I have never looked back! Worth every dollar.
Now the real work begins- the hooking. Each wool strip is held beneath the linen under the pattern, then pulled up from above, by hand with a special hook, one loop at a time. That’s right, one loop at a time. Consider how long it takes to hook one 12 inch row, now think about it in terms of an entire rug- that is a lot of loops! Click on the IMG below to see a quick video of actual hooking- I apologize for the extra movement but I was trying to balance my phone on my frame while hooking!
The reason I bring this up is that people sell “hand hooked rugs and pillows” but they aren’t really “hooked by hand”. These folks can sell their product for a fraction of the cost of what it takes true heritage rug hookers to make a quality product. It is frustrating to us makers to see these rugs being sold as hand hooked. As consumers, without knowing the difference, you would probably go with the less expensive item.
I urge you to do your homework. Feel the rug or pillow- I bet it isn’t soft- mine is and so are the rest of the rugs and pillows hooked the heritage way. When you look at the price of a heritage hooked piece, consider the time and cost that went into making it and determine for yourself if you think it is worth what you are spending. Chances are, the price is well below the effort of making it.
Celebrate the makers out there- we work hard and are proud of our wares whether it is rug hooking, knitting, shoe making, painting or whatever-
Enjoy your day. Until next time- make something beautiful.