More About Rug Hooking Hooks
Choosing the right hook for successful and easy rug hooking is essential and can be confusing. There are so many styles of hooks to choose from and on top of that, unlike knitting needles or crochet hooks, there is no set standard of measurement for rug hooks; a size 2 rug hook in one brand is completely different from a size 2 hook in a different brand (if that different brand even uses that sizing designation at all!).
So how do you choose?
We recommend that you look at what you need and then go from there. Rug hooking uses different sized strips of wool (or yarn) to make up the rug. A good rule of thumb is the thicker the yarn or strip, the larger the hook you need.
The one thing that is standard in rug hooking is the cuts of wool. A size 2 is very small. A size 8 is standard for most primitive style kits (which is the most common kit) at a 1/4” wide. Strips can go up to a size 10, or a 1/2” wide for a very quick to make rug. Typically, a primitive sized hook will be the largest hook that a person can find. However, a Nancy Miller primitive hook and a Hartman Primitive hook are all different sizes.
The next thing you want to look at are your physical limitations, if you have any. It isn’t uncommon for people who use their hands to make things to have hand, wrist, or elbow problems. If you have any of those problems - then you want to find a hook that makes hooking as easy as possible. For that you want a hook with a comfortable handle and a fat shank under the hook.
Handles are very much a personal preference. Some hooks have pencil handles, some have ball handles, some have elongated ball handles, and others have ergonomic handles with a spot to rest your thumb. Pick the one that is most comfortable! If you can’t try out hooks think about how a pencil feels in your hand. Is writing for long periods of time comfortable for you? If not then a ball handle is the way to go. If it is, then get a pencil handle.
Some people with wrist and hand issues prefer a bent hook as the motion used for a bent hook is more of a lever action at the shoulder than a bending action at the wrist. The choices for bent hooks is more limited, but if you hands and wrists give you a lot of trouble then it is worth trying out.
Now to the more complicated part, the shank of the hook. A thick shank on a rug hook opens up the hole in the fabric so that pulling the strip through the backing is very easy. This is particularly important in primitive cuts. It is hard on your hands and your wool to pull a wide cut through the small hole that a slender hook makes. A large hole in the backing will close up with the next strip you pull through the backing. That is the main function of the loosely woven backing, to open up to accommodate a strip being pulled through, then to close back up around the strip securing it in place as the next strip is pulled through the backing. You do want to match up your hook to your project. A hook with a thick shank is wonderful on the larger sizes of wool, but it will not work with the smaller cuts. Even the adjustability of the backing won’t adapt that far and your loops won’t stay secure as you hook.
Now on to the hook itself. Some hooks are blunt and shaped more like a crochet hook, others are very pointed, and some fall between the two. This comes down to personal preference and hooking style. If you find that you split threads using monks cloth, or have a hard time pushing your hook through just the hole you want, a hook with a sharper tip may help you with that problem. Some people are afraid that a sharp hook will shred the wool. What you have to keep in mind with any hook is that you are seating your wool in the hook properly. Wrapping the wool above the hook and sliding it down the shank into the hook is a very good way to ensure that you don’t shred your wool with your hook. That will set the wool into the hook perfectly so that the hook doesn’t catch in the wool, but instead holds the wool in place as you pull it through.
Finding the best tool for your rug hooking style will make rug hooking faster and more comfortable for you. If the hook you currently are using isn’t working for you try a different one. Everyone hooks a little bit differently, so the information above is just a guideline, but it is a good place to start in your pursuit of the perfect hook!