Category Archives: Rug Hooking

Project Inspiration: Christmas in July!

It’s never too soon to start preparing for the holiday season, and today we’re rounding up some of our favorite small projects for felting and weaving holiday decor! Each one is perfect for beginners, and we even have a free step-by-step needle felting tutorial to get you started!

Free needle felted mitten ornament tutorial from The Woolery

These cute mittens couldn’t be any easier – you use a cookie cutter to create their shape! Click here to get our free tutorial PDF when you sign up for our newsletter (if you’re already a subscriber, simply enter your email address to confirm & claim your free download).

Needle felt Christmas ornaments and decor with these cute kits!

When you’re ready to expand your needle felting skills, try one of our everything-you-need kits to create festive decor and adorable ornaments! Shown clockwise from above left: FELTastic Santa Charm, WoolPets Ski Sheep, FELTastic Snowmen Charms, and WoolPets Snowmen. Each kit includes wool, a felting needle, and complete instructions to ensure stellar results.

Christmas Ornament Zoom Loom Kits

Create a trio of jolly ornaments with the DJE Handwovens Christmas Ornaments Kit. If you can sew a button, you can make these ornaments! Kit includes yarn and detailed instructions; Zoom Loom sold separately. Stuffing is not included so you can use the material of your choice: wool fleece, cotton fill, or even old nylon hose.

Find more quick Christmas projects here on our Pinterest board!

All the Best,

Wave, Perri and the entire Woolery team

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Give Rug Hooking A Try For National Craft Month!

Happy National Craft Month! Although we believe in celebrating year-round, the start of spring seems like a great time to explore a new craft. Why not give rug hooking a try?

Rug hooking is an accessible craft that is easy to master. It’s not only a useful skill, but quite relaxing, too! Even a novice can create an impressive work of art – just click here to download our free guide to get started.

This sometimes-overlooked craft has its roots in creating practical (yet beautiful) items for everyday use, but there’s no reason why you have to limit yourself to just making rugs. In the gallery below, we share some of the incredible must-make projects we’ve spotted on Pinterest to inspire you; click on each image below to view a larger version.

Featured Projects
Top Row, L-R: Sheep PortraitCow PortraitFloral Foot Stool.
Middle Row, L-R: Houses PurseGold Finch Pillow, Zen Doodle Pillow.
Bottom Row, L-R: Star CoastersSunflower Coasters, Fox Coasters.

If you’re totally new to the craft, we recommend starting with a project kit – we have a lot of options here on our site, but our Henny Penny rug hooking  kit (which was featured in our free guide) is 100% beginner approved!

Happy hooking, and be sure to share your projects with us on social media using #thewoolery in your post!

All the best,

Wave, Perri & the entire Woolery team

Rug Hooking: Necessity, Art Form, or Both?

Ask a fiber artist why they do what they do, and you’re sure to get a lot of different answers. It can be a stress reliever, a fun challenge, a form of self-expression, or a way to create useful objects for everyday use, among many other reasons.

The discipline of rug hooking has historical roots in necessity; for example, in the United States in the 1800s, rugs were made out of scrap materials as a way to reuse old clothing and blankets. The resulting rugs were then used on the floors in the summer and on beds in the winter for added warmth (source: woolkeepers.com).

Early American Hooked Rug

Early American Hooked Rug

Interestingly enough, there is evidence that the Vikings may have used rug hooking techniques which they then introduced to the British Isles (for more on this topic, click here). However, the origins of modern rug hooking are generally traced back to New England and Northeastern Canada. Wikipedia notes, “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.” This isn’t to say that the results weren’t eye-catching or artistic, of course, but it wasn’t til the 21st century that decorative rug hooking really caught on in the United States.

Many credit Pearl McGown with reviving the craft in the early 1900s; McGown popularized strict guidelines for rug hooking and formalized its study. The 1950’s especially seemed to see a sharp increase in interest for rug hooking, as evinced by the many photos dating back to that era such, such as this image from a rug hooking bee which ran in Life Magazine circa 1951:

rughookingbee

Today, the McGown Guild is still dedicated to the preservation and promotion of this (nearly) lost art.  And while modern technology and mass production has seemingly removed the “necessity” of  many traditional handcrafts, there is still great interest in those who are interested in exploring the process or creating something unique that can’t be found on the shelves of store! Not having to worry about the end result of the finished project allows fiber artists to explore materials, designs and techniques, and in the world of rug hooking, this has produced some astonishing results (click each image below to visit source site):

beabrockphoto

Broken Heart Mixed Media

pegirish

If you’re interested to give rug hooking a try, we invite you to check out these informative posts from our blog archive:

All the best,

Wave, Perri & the entire Woolery team

Sheepy Resolutions for the New Year

IMG_5224The start of a new year is always an exciting time! It’s also a great opportunity to evaluate the year before and set new goals for the time ahead. Since 2015 is the Year of the Sheep (according to the Chinese zodiac calendar), we’d like to share some of our own sheepy resolutions for knitting, spinning, weaving, and rug hooking. We hope they inspire you to expand your crafting horizons in 2015!

  • Knitting: Now more than ever, knitters are able to find a variety of breed-specific yarns to explore the wonderful world of sheep. Even if you aren’t a spinner, the range of options has increased exponentially in recent years to move beyond generic “wool” which used to a common sight on a yarn label. Challenge yourself to seek out yarns with new fiber content in 2015: Masham, Blue-Faced Leicester, Targhee, Tunis, Corriedale, and more! To get you started, there are some fantastic resources for sourcing breed-specific yarns on Beth Brown-Reinsel’s informative website here.
  • bookoffleeceSpinning: The world of breed-specific fleece and fiber is well-covered territory here on the Woolery blog, and we know that many of our customers have been using such excellent books as The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook  and The Spinner’s Book of Fleece as their guide. Now is a great time to take stock of your past spinning projects and make a list of goals you’d like to accomplish in 2015. Perhaps you’d like to explore spinning with more unusual sheep breeds such karakul or dorper; click here and here for more sheepy suggestions from our blog archive. Another goal might be to try your hand at combining a variety of fibers to create unique batts or art yarns; click here for more art yarn inspiration from the Woolery blog archives. If you have a lot of natural colored fiber, playing around with DIY dye techniques might be in your future: click here for a tutorial from our blog archive featuring traditional dyeing techniques; click here for a guest post from our blog archive featuring natural dyeing techniques; and click here  for more specific instructions regarding the dyeing of fleece and prepared spinning fiber using kool-aid dyes from the Knitty archives.
  • Image ©Hello Hydrangea blog

    Image ©Hello Hydrangea blog

    Weaving: Many of our customers delight in weaving projects made with their handspun yarns, many of which are spun with breed-specific fleece or roving. What’s a non-weaving spinner to do? We spied this clever tutorial demonstrating how to incorporate roving and uncarded fleece into a tapestry piece to achieve a stunning effect.

  • Rug Hooking: Though rug hooking is traditionally done with strips of wool fabric or yarn, we have seen some very interesting tutorials and projects featuring spinning fibers recently. Click here for a photo tutorial on the Spruce Ridge Studios blog demonstrating how to use both fleece and roving to add texture to a hooked rug project. Our friends over at Strauch have shared a photo tutorial here on Flickr showing a locker-hooked rug project from start to finish which uses carded fleece. We also have more rug hooking inspiration on this post from our blog archive!
Image © Strauch

Image © Strauch

We look forward to making 2015 the sheepiest, most fibery year yet. Thanks for joining us!

All the best,

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team

Rug Hooking Materials: Form & Function

Earlier this year, we blogged about the various types of backing materials for rug hooking projects; on today’s post, we will be talking about the wonderful world of materials which can be used to create your next masterpiece!

sheeppillowWe’ll begin with the basics: wool yarn and wool strips are the traditional materials that were used to hook rugs, and they are still the best choice for hooking an actual rug. Even in a low-traffic area, a rug placed on the floor will need to be sturdy in order to last. With that in mind, we recommend using a tightly spun yarn that won’t pill; another good option is medium to heavy weight wool strips which have been fulled.

Fulling is the practice of washing woolen cloth in hot water to shrink it slightly. This practice tightens up the weave of the cloth and makes for a sturdier end product.  It will also help keep down fraying when you cut your strips!

rughookfabric

Just because you want to stick to sturdy materials when making a rug doesn’t mean you are limited in your design choices! Wool fabric and wool yarn come in a rainbow of colors and patterns: use houndstooth, herringbone, plaids, and stripes to create texture in your design as you hook. You can also get hand dyed fabrics which have natural variations in how the dye was applied to the fabric to create depth and interest in your final project.

Tweedy, variegated, and striped yarns will do the same thing if you choose to use yarn instead of wool strips for your rug. You can also explore dyeing your own fabric and yarn to create the specific shading or textured effect that you desire.

rughookornaments

For creating a wall hanging or other piece, you will want to look at how sturdy you need the finished object to be. A bag, pillow, or seat cover will definitely need to be sturdy to hold up, so you’d want to select your materials in the same way you would when making a rug as outlined above. The last thing you want to have happen is to have all of your beautiful work fall apart due to the stress of everyday use!

santaA wall hanging or other decorative object is a completely different story, however. Making an item for display rather than everyday use affords quite  bit of freedom – the sky is the limit! Do you want to hook a puffy cloud? Get some locks of wool or wool roving and hook that into the shape of your cloud. Do you want to re-create the shine of light on water?  Cut some strips of silk or use a shiny yarn like silk or bamboo to create a glimmering effect.  Do you want to make an animal which looks like it has fur? Use a bulky, fuzzy yarn to hook it; you can even hold an additional strand of eyelash yarn with it to create an even fluffier look.

Don’t be afraid to experiment by using thick and thin yarns, fabric strips, ribbons, paper, or other materials  within your piece. Play with color, texture, and fiber components to see where your imagination takes you!

2014 Fiber Toys of Christmas

FT14BANNER

Our annual holiday promotion, the 12 Fiber Toys of Christmas, is in full swing! Each Friday, we feature a favorite fiber toy with a special deal and a chance to win that particular toy (tool). Weekly specials and giveaways will be posted on our Facebook pageTwitter feed, and it will also be included in our newsletter.

These are weekly specials which expire every Friday (when the new one starts), so be sure to check the links above so you don’t miss out!

All the best,

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team

 

Rug Hooking Materials: Backings

Rug hooking is a simple technique that has been around for for many years.  It started as a way for people to use the thrums left over from weaving and any scraps of material they had around the house. Traditionally burlap was used as feed bags were recycled into the backing material for the rugs. These very frugal rugs varied from utilitarian pieces to works of art. Today the rug hooking technique isn’t just used for rugs; it is also used to create ornaments, button covers, chair pads, wall hangings, bags, and much more. Your imagination is your only limit on what you can create using the rug hooking technique. However, in order to look outside the traditional uses you have to understand how different materials impact the final result.

Backings

The first thing you have to look at is the backing you pick.  Even today, burlap is the most economical choice as it is easy to find and inexpensive to purchase. However, it is also the least sturdy of all of the backing choices you have today.

Burlap Backing

Burlap

Burlap is made of jute and when it gets wet (and rugs do tend to get wet!), it will degrade faster than the other backing options. So, if you want to make a rug that you can pass down for generations, burlap is not your best choice. However, if you want to make a wall hanging, ornament, or something else that isn’t going to see much wear and tear, burlap is an excellent choice for a backing. One thing to keep in mind with burlap is that the weave is not perfectly even; the holes will vary in size and the ditch may not run exactly straight. If you are wanting to create a geometric piece where consistency is key to the finished object, burlap is not a good choice for that type of project.

monk's cloth

monk’s cloth

The next step up from burlap is monk’s cloth.  This cloth is a bit sturdier and more expensive than burlap; it tends to have some type of marking system woven into the cloth, either vertical lines or a 2”x2” grid of white lines against the base cream color of the cloth. This makes it very easy to transfer patterns and to keep your rug hooking square in the frame. Each hole in this cloth is framed by a square of two threads on each side. New rug hookers sometimes find that when they go to push their hook through the hole that they split the threads with their hook instead. While it is something that a rug hooker will adapt to, it can certainly be frustrating at first! Monk’s cloth is made of cotton and is decently sturdy, but not stiff.  It makes it a good choice for bags, pillows, and other items which need flexibility in the final product.

rug warp

rug warp

The next choice for backings is rug warp. Rug warp is also made of cotton, but each square is made of a thicker, sturdier thread than monk’s cloth. Again, this is more expensive than the previous two choices, but when you compare the three you can easily see why: rug warp is much heavier than monk’s cloth or burlap, making it a good option for rugs and other items that will see a heavy use. It is easy to hook into as the holes are clearly defined and always run in a straight line.

linen

linen

The last, and most expensive type of backing, is linen.  Linen is light weight, flexible, and sturdy.  The weave is not quite as uniform as rug warp, but it is considerably more uniform than burlap is.  Linen is a good choice for any project as it has all the best qualities of the other backings put together.  If you want to make a heirloom quality item, then linen is the best choice for that piece because linen lasts.

 

All the best,

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team

We’re here to help you get hooked!

One of the hardest parts about trying out a new craft is making sure you have everything you need to get started; of course, having all of the supplies you need on hand will make learning something new much less frustrating! Many of our customers are curious to try rug hooking, so we’ve not only assembled a list of supplies you’ll need to get started (see below), we’ve created a short video as part of our “Ask the Woolery” series on YouTube!

You can watch the video above to get an overview of several techniques and tools used to create beautiful hooked rugs. From beginner to advanced, there is a rug hooking project for everyone – and after watching this video, you’ll have a better idea of which type of technique is right for you!

Ready to get started? Make sure you have:
Backing material such as Scottish Burlap (click here to see more backing options in our YouTube video):

backings

L-R: Scottish Burlap, Monk’s Cloth, and Linen.

Strips of cloth, yarn, or lengths of ribbon (left) and a frame or hoop to hold your work (right):

rugstripsandframe

One or more rug hooks:

rughooks

How-To Books:

rugbooks

Before you know it, you’ll be hooked on rug hooking!

All the best,

Chris, Nancy, and the entire Woolery team