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Rug Hooking Tutorial

How To Learn Rug Hooking
       ©Jeanne Sullivan 2012

So, you want to learn how to Hook a Rug?! Well, traditional Rug Hooking with wool strips is a very easy craft! Try it! You’ll love it!!!
Here's everything you need and the basic step-by-step directions to get you started:
(But be forewarned that it can be totally addictive!)

Basic Supplies & Materials Needed:

  • 100% Wool fabric cut into thin strips
  • Backing fabric for rug hooking (like rug warp, monks cloth or rug linen)
  • Rug hook or crochet hook
  • Hoop, quilt hoop or rug hooking frame
  • Scissors

A few notes before you begin:

  • Adjust the backing fabric within the hoop or frame so that it is taut. If you are using a hoop, seat yourself so you can lean the top of the hoop against a table edge while the bottom of the hoop rests in your lap, leaving both hands free.
  • For ''Righties": Your left hand will always hold the wool strip underneath the backing fabric. Your right hand will always manipulate the hook on top of the backing fabric. If you are left-handed, reverse hand positions.
  • It is a good idea to just look at all the photos first. Then go back and look at the photos again while you read the text descriptions. Next, get out your materials and actually begin to hook step-by-step with the photos & descriptions in front of you.
  • That’s it! Now, get going!!!

Step #1

Hold a wool strip flat between the thumb and forefinger of your left hand, leaving about an inch of “tail” hanging north of your forefinger. Hold the hook with your right hand with the hook facing up.


Step #2

Note: This photo was taken to show what your hands will be doing as they work together... However, when you actually are hooking, your left hand will be underneath the backing fabric and you won’t be able to see it. When the tip of the hook is inserted down into a hole in the fabric you won’t be able to see the hook tip either. Study the photo to see how the hook is facing up as it is slipped under the strip. In other words, your left hand will feed the strip on to the hook, getting it into position to be pulled up through the fabric by your right hand, thereby forming a loop. This will become clearer as you continue.

Step #3

Now, place your left hand (still holding the strip) underneath the backing fabric. Hold the hook, facing up, with your right hand on top of the fabric. Poke the hook through a hole in the top of the background fabric.


Step #4

Underneath, use your left hand to feed the strip onto the hook tip which is now also below the fabric. On top, with your right hand, begin to pull up the strip with the hook by manipulating it up through the hole. As it emerges, it will start to bulge up through the hole as a loop.

Step #5

Continue to keep a tight grip on the strip from underneath with your left hand while at the same time pulling up on the strip loop with the hook until the tail end pops out on top. I call this a “beginning tail”.

Step #6

With your left hand still holding the strip underneath, poke your hook down into the next hole in the backing. Feed the wool strip again onto the hook and begin to pull up your first loop.

Step #7

As you bring up the loop, pull it slightly back (away from you) as it emerges from the hole. This will help it to stay in place and not pull out when you make your next loop.

Step #8

Generally, a loop should be as high as the strip is wide, but you can’t go wrong by pulling it higher than you actually want it and then pulling down on the strip from underneath (with the hook shaft still in the loop on top) until you have the desired loop height. Then turn the hook and slip it out of the loop. Forming loops in this way allows the loop to “blossom” or “plump”.

Step #9

Obviously, the goal is to maintain a fairly even loop height. Do not, however, worry unnecessarily about this because in time you’ll fall into an even rhythm and consistent loop height. Also, after a hooked piece is finished it is steamed and pressed, making all the loops relax and appear even. It is a very forgiving craft!

Step #10

Next, insert the hook into the next hole. Pull up a second loop. The loops should sit up comfortably, resting on each other, without being over-crowded. A goal for good coverage is to have sufficient loops to hide the backing fabric but without crowding loops or stressing the backing.

Step #11

In this tutorial, #4 cut wool strips and monks cloth backing are being used. If a third loop were to be made in the third hole, the loops would be too crowded and not plump. So, the loop pattern here will be to hook 2 loops in each of two consecutive holes, then skip a hole, hook 2 more loops in each of the next two holes, then skip a hole, etc.

Step #12

In this photo, the tip of the hook is being used to push back the second loop so you can see where to skip over the next hole before making the next loop.

Step #13

The hook is now inserted into the next available hole after skipping a hole.

Step #14

A third loop is pulled up.

Step #15

This next section will illustrate how to end one strip and begin another. Begin to pull up a loop as usual...

Step #16

...continue to pull up on the loop until it is about an inch high. Remove your hook. Insert your scissors into the loop and clip it in half. This will form an “ending tail”. From underneath, pull down on the remaining length of wool strip with your left hand to remove it. Note: There are specially made scissors for rug hooking but as a beginner you may not wish to make the investment as yet. A sharp scissors of any type will work for now.

Step #17

This is how the “ending tail” will look.

Step #18

In the same hole as the ending tail, pull up a new beginning tail from your next wool strip.

Step #19

This photo shows a side view of several more loops of the gold followed by an ending tail.

Step #20

Now, clip off the tails even with the height of the other loops. The loops & tails resting upon each other keep the loops in place. They will not pull out unless you intentionally pull them out.


Ending Notes:

As you will notice, hooking a straight line of loops is very easy to accomplish. When you need to negotiate a curved line or fill-in area, you may find that some of the loops fall over. Do not be concerned because adding surrounding loops will prop them up again. You can also coax an uncooperative loop into proper position with the tip of your scissors or rug hook.

Because of the linear grid on rug hooking backing fabric, curved lines on a hooked rug look a lot like pixels on a computer image or the way a curve drawn on graph paper would look as filled in boxes. Up close, the edges look a bit jagged but when you stand back, the curves are visually blended.

This tutorial has offered some beginning helpful hints & how-to’s to get you started. Our kits include full, explicit instructions for the specific projects. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us. We’re here to help ♥