Rug hooking is the craft of creating rugs by pulling loops of fabric or yarn through a woven backing. A hook is used to pull these loops through, thus the name, “rug hooking”. There is evidence of rug hooking techniques in rag rugs made by the Vikings. It is believed that rug hooking as a popular home art’s origin is in the 19th century. Weaving mills had byproducts called thrums (a piece of yarn about 9 inches long) that were basically leftovers from the process. The workers at these mills would take these thrums home and put them to use by pulling them through a backing to create rugs. Rug hooking in North America evolved from the home trend of machine made carpets becoming popular around 1930. Poor women created carpets of their own by going through their fabric scraps and creating strips out o the scraps to use as the hooking material. Burlap was a popular backing during this time because it was often free as people would have burlap bags of feed and grain available to them.
Rug hooking today typically uses strips of wool of varying width (1/32 to 1/2 of an inch) that are pulled through a stiff woven backing (burlap, linen, or rug warp) with a tool (rug hook) to form loops. The rug hook often has a wooden handle to provide a more ergonomic grip to the hooker.
Variations in color and shading are accomplished with both patterns in the fabric strips used (solids, plaids, herringbone, etc.) and / or variations in the coloring of the wool yarn (overdyeing, dip dyeing, etc.)
The two broadest classifications are fine rug hooking (typically utilizing wool strips less than 5/32 of an inch wide) and primitive rug hooking (typically utilizing wool strips up to ½ of an inch wide). Fine hooking can create detailed intricate designs due to the smaller working material. The wide-cut hooking designs are often less detailed and modeled after vintage designs.
In recent decades, rug hookers have been exploring new materials and new techniques. This experimentation (combined with knowledge and respect for the past) has allowed rug hooking to evolve and grow into an exciting and creative form of art. Hooked rugs are a great way to utilize your creativity but also add a useful piece of art to your home. We are excited to be a part of this fun and social craft.
View our selection of rug hooking supplies, materials, tools and more!