Rug Hooking on Burlap

Beautiful designs can be made with rug hooking.

Rug hooking is an interesting, inexpensive and practical hobby that is easy to learn.  Rug hooking, which is also known as rug-punching, is not latch-hooking; both crafts result in beautiful rugs, but the tools and materials used are different.

Latch hooking is a fairly recently developed craft.  It uses short pieces of yarn and open mesh fabric backing (similar to needlepoint canvas, but the meshes are larger). The yarn is attached to each space using a latch-hook tool. A latch-hook tool resembles a crochet hook, but it features a latch to help pull the yarn through and knot it.  A latch-hooked rug is distinguished by its shag-like appearance.

By contrast, rug-hooked or punched rugs have fabric or yarn loops on the surface and use a burlap or monk’s cloth backing fabric.  The craft of rug-hooking or -punching is centuries old, but it is growing in popularity today.

Rug-hooking is simple to learn.  Unlike many crafts it does not require a lot of supplies.  Burlap or monk’s cloth is used for the backing material.  Strips of wool fabric are woven through the fabric using a crochet-like type hook which has a wooden handle.  Most people cut their own strips of wool, using used or new fabric. Some people dye their own wool to the colors they desire. (A white or cream colored wool is best if you are going to dye it.)

Burlap and muslin

Rug-hooking or punching can be done with yarn, but the traditional method uses scrapes of wool fabric. There are two basic types of rug-hooking: fine and wide.  Fine-cut hooking uses strips of fabric cut between 1/32 and 5/32 of an inch wide.  Wide-cut hooking uses strips between 6/32 and ½ an inch wide. Wide-cut hooking is also called primitive hooking.

While it is being worked, the backing fabric of the rug is held tightly in a frame.  A 14-inch embroidery hoop on a stand can work well for this task.  A few experienced rug-hookers do not use a frame while hooking their rugs, but an inexpensive frame will save you frustration as you begin to learn the craft.

Monks cloth can also be used as the backing for hooked rugs.

The National Guild of Pearl K. McGown Hookrafters  has great information on this fascinating craft. Great, step-by-step instructions are available  in “The Complete Book of Rug Hooking”  by Joan Moshimer, “Basic Rug Hooking: All the Skills and Tools You need to Get Started” by Judy P. Sopronyi and other fine books.