QUIZ! WOULD YOU MAKE A GOOD HOOKER?

I had no idea that I had everything it took to make a spectacular hooker, but a few weekends ago, on a Saturday afternoon I discovered I was destined to be a pro.  And so did my mother.

Ask yourself these questions:

1. Do you like to work with your hands?

2. Do you love to finish a job?

3. Do you have an instinct for when to pull out?

4. Can you happily sit with wood on your lap for hours?

5.  Are you interested in a mindless activity and doing it over and over and over again?

If you answered yes to any of those questions you could be well on your way to disappearing into the dark underworld of hooking.

Rug Hooking, which is considered to be both an art and a craft, became popular after 1830 when carpets became all the rage.  Of course, only the rich could afford carpets, so the poor had to figure out a way to make their own.  Kind of like how the only way I could afford to have a pizza oven was to make my own.

The poor couldn’t afford to use good yarn or fabrics because those were needed for making clothing and quilts, but cruddy, old worn fabrics, those could be used for rug hooking.  Strips of whatever they had on hand were either cut or ripped into strips then hooked through whatever backing they could find for free.  Most of the time this was the burlap feed sacks their grain came in.

If you’re wondering why it is rug hooking isn’t as popular as, say quilting, the reason comes down yet again to money;  poverty specifically.  Quilting was considered a fine art in the 1800’s and it’s the sort of thing the daughters of rich families would learn along with embroidery and the fine art of eye lash batting.  Quilting was always an art of higher status and more sought after by everyone because of that.

Rug hooking?  That was for the common folk.  People with scabs.

It wasn’t until about a century later, in the 1930’s that rug hooking started to develop a strong following with artists and it broke free from its lower status.

O.K., that’s the short history of hooking.

So what happened a few weekends ago was I accidentally ended up taking a Saturday morning rug hooking class.  My sister, Pink Tool Belt, is an interior decorator and one of her clients is a rug hooker who offered to show my sister how to “do it”.  She in turn, invited me, my other sister and my mother along to learn too.

Rug-Hooking-1

I kind of thought we were just going for an hour or so to get a general idea of what rug hooking was. Nope.  We were there for the day, we each got our own rug hooking supplies, complete with rug backing (which is linen), wool and hook.

hooking-2

These are hookers.

Hooking-3

Rug hooking is probably the easiest craft I’ve ever tried.  I’m not saying it’s easy to excel at, but in terms of technique, you can learn everything you need to know to get started in a couple of hours.

You get a piece of linen the size of the rug you want to make (start with something small like a kitchen mat) and draw a pattern onto it.  You can get countless rug hooking patterns and kits from Etsy or you can design your own pattern.

hooked-rug-hilda

Where skill and practice comes in, is when you get into shading and picking out colours and creating interesting textures and patterns with your wool.

hooked-flowers

Oh yes.  It’s all done with 100% wool.  This only became popular in the 1900’s, the idea of using wool.  Before that, it was a matter of using what you had laying around.

Using wool means the rug will be durable just about forever and you can wash it.

And you’ll spend an insane amount of money and time trying to find the perfect wool.

blue-flower-hooking

Wools can either be solid colour, tweeds, hand dyed, dip dyed, or over dyed.

Rug-Hooking-kitchen

This is what my kitchen looked like a mere 5 hours after learning how to rug hook.  Honestly.  5 hours before this I didn’t even really know what rug hooking was.

So how did this happen?  It was a pusher.

This is how they do it.  You go for a class from a nice, friendly lady who doesn’t seem to want anything in return.  She gives you everything you need to get started and shows you how to do it for free.  Or for a very low fee.  And then … you’re in.  You’re hooked.

This of course is not unlike what a skilled drug pusher does.

rug-hooking-4

If you look closely at this photo, which was taken about an hour after I got home from my class, you’ll notice 2 things.

  1. I’ve completely pushed all the ingredients for the peanut butter cookies I was going to make out of the way, to make room for the more important thing in my life now, rug hooking.
  2. I’m a happy hooker.  Look at all those bright, fun colours.

rug-hooking-fire-1

By day 3 I hadn’t left my living room, or as I like to call it now, my hooking den.

pasta-dryer-rug-hooking

After seeing a wool stand that Pink Tool Belt made out of scraps of wood, I ran to my cupboard to pull out my pasta drying rack.  Perfect wool holder.

 

pasta-dryer-rug-hooking-wool

Something else you might be noticing right about now is that my pictures are crap.  I became so enamoured with rug hooking that I couldn’t be bothered to drag out my real camera, or set up lights or even really focus my iPhone camera.

It was a struggle to convince myself bathing was a necessity of life.

rug-hooking-fire

Because I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing or even what this class was going to be I didn’t really put a lot of thing into what I was going to hook, so I decided to just to a sort of rag rug look with all kinds of colours.  It’ll go in front of my sink in the kitchen and will be the one and only thing with colour in the room.

Now, of course that I’ve become addicted, I’ve had some time to browse around the Internet and find out a bit more about rug hooking and the different styles.

It all began with primitive rug hooking and that’s the classic look.

maplesyruprugfront

 

732_20122

1963, $1,750

732_20038

1940 (this rug is TERRIFYING to me)

 

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1900, $6,500

Now, I love all the antique and primitive rugs, but I think my first real rug (one that has an actual picture in it) will be like these slightly, slightly contemporary versions from rug hooker Joanna Close.  They’re heavier on the realism than the folk art.

Rug2

rughooking-barn

I have no idea how this happened or why, but I’ve just added yet another hobby to my repertoire of things I don’t have time to do.    At least these rugs won’t die if I don’t have time to pay attention to them, which would not be the case with bees.

The only thing that’s stopping me from really getting into this is the cost of the “cutter”.  There are 2 ways to get wool for your rug hooking.  You can either buy the wool pre-cut and ready to go in any colour you want (which is really expensive). Or you can buy the wool pre-dyed but not cut (which is still expensive) or you can go to thrift stores and find old wool skirts, jackets and blankets, wash it, dye it if you want, then  cut the wool into strips yourself.  This is the cheapest way to go but there’s a bit initial cost in the machine that cuts the wool.

 

cutter

You could cut the wool strips by hand, but get real.  How would I have time for my other hobby of dressing my chickens like 1970’s sitcom characters if I did that?

The most popular cutter because of its general indestructibleness, speed and ease of use is the Bee Line Townsend wool cutter.  It’s about $1,000 with tax.

beeline-townsend

Or, there’s the Canadian made Bolivar which is based on the same design as the Bee Line but it’s less money. I’d be happy with either. I’d actually really like to try the Boliver because it’s Canadian made and less expensive.

I know it isn’t right for me to ask you to support a habit but like any good addict I don’t care what you think, or what anyone thinks. Or that I have gum in my hair.

What I do care about is getting my hooker fix without having to completely blow a wad.

 

 

131 Comments

  1. Alison says:

    Oh god, you’ve pushed me even closer towards being a hooker! I commented on your insta about this, and I’m so psyched you did a write up! I just learned how to needlepoint (turns out it’s 50% of the cross stitching I’ve done since I was six, so less learning, more realizing “I already know how to do this!”)so now I need something *learn*. This seems cheaper than my current plan to buy a letterpress and multiple drawers of type, so hooker it is!

  2. Jessica says:

    Shoot! Now I want to to it too and you didn’t even give instructions on how to do it! As if I didn’t have enough that I already taking up space that I already don’t do…what you did describe sounded intoxicating. Watch it Lady, I may have to ban you for my own good.

  3. Ellen says:

    I sure can relate. I started making quilts in November and then I started noticing upcycled clothing on Pinterest and then someone gave me 3 trash bags full of clothing. I do not cook do not do dishes, it has taken over 4 rooms and I am freaking hooked and driven. My accelerator is stuck on full throttle!!

    • Dagmar says:

      You are very blessed that you know how to sew. I think there is such a sense of satisfaction, when you wear something that you have made on your own. Or sleep under a blanket that was given to you, or you gave someone else. There is nothing better than something hand made with love.

    • Debbie says:

      I’m a garment sewer and have been for longer than I care to admit. I suggested doing a program on upcycling for our sewing guild. My suggestion meant I had to lead the meeting. I jumped in with both feet full speed ahead and I am hooked! For the program I did all sorts of things so it’d appeal to both garment sewers and quilters but the thing I had the most fun with is men’s shirt upcycles. I have a notebook full of sketches from ideas that keep popping up in my head. If my husband see’s me bring in another thrifted men’s shirt he’s liable to threaten to divorce me!

      • Ellen says:

        I fabricated slipcovers and window treatments for a living and I have never been more enthused about sewing. It’s very free-ing. Have also been asked to teach classes. Happily I have no husband so there is nothing stopping me. Have fun!!

  4. Kelly says:

    I took a rug hooking class through Edmonton’s Metro Education in November. Husband recently offered to move out of the house to make room for craft supplies. I convinced him to stay, arguing that if I was going to quit my job to hook, bead and scrapbook, I’d really need his income.

  5. Ann Brookens says:

    It..it looks like fun…have to… try… hooking…AAAAAHHHHHH!!!
    Karen! The things you do to your loyal readers!!!
    I started thinking, “Second hand shops for fabric to use; no problem! Backing, hmm…I could find something.” No! Just stop right now!

  6. Ter'e says:

    Karen,
    You totally crack me up. You have described what it is like, to be a hooker, perfectly.
    I started hooking in 1992 and it is just the best hobby.
    We recently moved from FL to MO and my biggest house requirement, was that it have a huge area for my wool. Alas, I have this huge finished basement!!!
    Hooking is a marvelous craft. Keep at it. Get you some stripes and plaids and hooking really becomes fun!!!!
    Oh, forgot to add……..you know there are hooking camps, right? ?
    Hook on, girlfriend!!!!

  7. Dale says:

    Both my grandmothers would hook rugs and a weave technique over a stretched rack. I have a few of them as family heirlooms. One has two crossed baseball bats and a ball glove with a baseball in it. Given to me for my 10th birthday, 56 years ago.
    Yes…I’m ancient…. but still stayin’ vertical!!!

    • Lauren says:

      U. R. NOT. Ancient! Apparently, after seeing the 106 year old visitor to the White House, only 115 is ancient. Can you think back 49 years, then imagine going another umm, 49 years? Daunting isn’t it? Even 30 years is too hard to imagine.

      • Dale says:

        I love reminiscing of the day the first TV came into my family home, mid 1950s. Three (3) channels. B&W. All signed off at 10:30 pm.
        Yep, the good ol’ days!!!
        What will TV be in another 49 years?

  8. Heather says:

    Fourth generation hooker here. Love designing my own rugs. Dyeing my wool… And the mindless, but so not mindless craft/art.

  9. Chris says:

    This is hilarious, the best part is Karen is not replying…..she is busy! Can’t wait to see the finished rug.

  10. Mark says:

    My grandmother taught me and my sibs how to hook when we were kids, but it was latch-hooking. That method made you a cheaper hooker, since you didn’t need a $1,000 machine (gak!).

    • Karin says:

      Yes! I was trying to remember what that was called! I too was a cheap hooker as a kid. You get all the insanity of the addiction but none of the payoff since you end up with a synthetic, tragic looking pile of yarn you’d cross the street to avoid stepping on.

      • Gingersnappo says:

        Ack! Yes! I remember well the latch-hook picture of a bee I worked on in juniour high. Literally zero payoff.

        Karen’s hooking technique is a thing of beauty and class!

    • Debbie says:

      I was just thinking that this sounds like a much lovelier version of latchhooking. I suppose our 80s craft was actually a cheap knockoff of the original rug hooking? This is beautiful, though.

    • Stephanie says:

      I did a little latch-hooking as a kid (I made a Snoopy rug and a Miss Piggy pillow- her eyelashes were longer than the rest of the yarn, for an extra bit of realism 🙂 ), and I enjoyed it, but that rough backing caused me to rub all the skin off my knuckles. I probably held the hook wrong.

      Also, I just wanted to mention that bees won’t die if you ignore them; in fact, they like it better that way (this is spoken from my vast experience of a 1-year beekeeping veteran who bothered them too much the first couple of months).

      • Pam says:

        Yes, I was totally into latch-hooking in the ’70’s. I did a very un-lovely owl rug using those crappy little pieces of acrylic yarn. Real hooked rugs look so much nicer! I’ve drooled over some of the vintage ones on ebay, but can’t bring myself to blow a wad (as Karen so aptly puts it) on one. And taking up hooking as a hobby seems pretty pricey, too.

  11. Rachel San Diego says:

    Gah, I have thought about (rug) hooking for years!! My grandmother got her daughters and granddaughters into (rug) hooking and I still remember watching my sister (rug) hook in the 1980s. I remember the (rug) hooking to be scratchy and smelly, but maybe we were just (rug) hooking wrong?

  12. Laurinda says:

    I’ve been successfully resisting hooking since 2009, when I saw a booth at a fiber fair. There’s something very soothing about those loops of rough wool, lined up, all the same height (ish)
    It kills me, because I volunteer at 2 different fiber fairs, in the spring & fall, & those really nice, helpful ladies, who are only 2 towns away, are always willing to chat. ..
    But I’d really like more info on those stands! They look a lot different than the ones I usually see, & a lot easier to replicate!

  13. Bambi Mayer says:

    Love the post. I haven’t tried it yet but fear it would turn into an obsession for me like it has for you.
    The cutting tool is pretty cool but, for a fraction of the cost, you could get a cutting mat, rotary cutter and quilting ruler (probably for less than $100). Cutting the strips would actually go pretty quick, unless you slice your fingertip off and have to go to the ER. That would also drive the cost way past $100–oh, forgot for a minute that you’re Canadian where you can afford to slice your fingertip off!
    Bambi

    • Ann says:

      Cutting wool with a rotary cutter is still quite difficult. I have tried to do it and I would not bother. Either buying a used cutter like Karen would love to, or sharing, or borrowing one is something I bet you could do.

      I love the look of the modern contemporary funky rug you are working on Karen. Love it enough to consider a new hobby. Oh wait….stained glass comes first.

      • Bambi Mayer says:

        I’ve never found it difficult to use for cutting wool for my quilt appliques and those are often curvy, fussy pieces. Wool is certainly not as thin as quilting cottons so more pressure and fresh blades are a must. But, new gadgets are always fun and if it were me and the funds were available, I would go for the wool cutter!
        Bambi

  14. Dear Karen,

    Where oh where did you take this class?

    Also I totally know that insane feeling of a craft taking over your life. It’s kind of exhilarating.

  15. Connie says:

    Dream on Karen! As a matter of fact I was just looking for a cutter today on Kijiji! It’s not often they come up for sale. That hasn’t stopped me from stockpiling all of my wool suits from when I had a career. A friend of mine who grew up on the East coast got me started on this dream of being a hooker. She started when she left her job and on visits home she has taken classes from some true artists. Wool cutters come up for sale about as frequently as glass grinders for stained glass. Anyone have either item for sale? I could trade you for a smocking pleater! Ummm, no, I couldn’t part with that either.

  16. Shirley says:

    Hi Karen
    I am a ‘happy hooker’ too – only I make my own shaggy rugs.
    Dead simple to do.
    1. Crochet a base out of string. Nothing fancy – just need loops and gaps!
    2. Cut yarn into lengths that can be folded over.
    3. Using a (very inexpensive) latched crochet hook pull the yarn through the gap in the crochet base and then through the loop.
    4. If you want a super dooper design – just draw your design and colour onto your crochet base and change colours when you get there.
    5. Mow your rug down to the suitable height when you get there.
    6. No need for fancy yarns – just use common acrylic yarn.
    Have fun!

    • Janet says:

      Thank you for this idea!

      • Lynn says:

        My friend buys silk, usually old curtains, at the clearance Goodwill where fabric is sold by the pound. Silk is very light so she gets yards and yards for almost nothing. After tearing them into lots of strips, she latch hooks the most beautiful silk rugs ever. Sigh. I’m to lazy. I throw pots and tear out walls instead.

  17. Dagmar says:

    These rugs are so beautiful. The first one with the flowers is so stunning. I would actually frame it, not use it as a rug, otherwise within a couple of days the furry babies would make it theirs and all that stunning hard work would become a fur ball.

  18. Lili says:

    Your first rug already looks gorgeous! I am a relatively new hooker too and I use a rotary cutter, self healing mat and ruler to cut my strips, so now I am also a stripper. Your write up expressed everything I felt when I was first exposed to the craft too. Your pasta rack is a perfect idea and I am so looking forward to seeing your completeted rug!

  19. Janet says:

    How ironic that a creative activity designed to fill the long cold hours of winter when the garden couldn’t be tended to and using worn out clothing to create something useful and beautiful is so expensive. My grandmother was a hooker. Her rugs were treasures, just like her quilts, that we fought over more than money when she passed. They tell a family story and warm our feet. This technique makes beautiful covers for footstools too!

    Thanks for this idea Karen, I think this would be a great classroom activity with a little more success for elementary students than quilting. Getting little hands to make tiny quilting stitches is just ridiculous. Hooking uses more thumb action than quilting (I think), which my students would excel at, if you know what I mean.

  20. Brenda says:

    Ha ha – hookin’ an stripin’ – and doin’ a little thingin’ … KAREN … come out come out where ever you are … you’ve left all your little woollies wondering where you went – ha ha – we know where though – haha

  21. Barb says:

    I am a second generation stripper and hooker ( the wonderful gadget that cuts wool is called a stripper). I use only 100% recycled wool. There are guilds and hooking groups all over, and wonderful books, too. Check out Barb Caroll , Edith O’Neill, and the Rug Hooking Facebook group for primitive patterns and ideas. Keep true to the history by using wool ! happy hooking!

  22. Delores says:

    Love this! Do you know of any good online tutorials?

    Could you cut the wool with a rotary cutter and quilting ruler?

    • Heather says:

      For a really great tutorial, go to Deanne Fitzpatrick’s website. She offers a downloadable 45 minute lesson. $9.95 best money you will spend.

      you can cut with a rotary cutter…it just takes longer.

  23. Marilyn says:

    Oh I could really get into this hooking thing

  24. I just found your site and was amused and intrigued with all your projects. Now you’re adding hooking! You know that hooking can become a disease and the only cure is drowning yourself in WOOL! . I got a real chuckle reading your post and many of the comments. I could relate easily! About cutters. Check eBay and rug hooking Guilds for sales. There’s also a Rug Hooker’s Magazine. I have the Townsend and it’s the best cutter I’ve owned by far. Buy the basic cutter and the one cutter head that cuts the size/s you think you like best and leave the others for later. You’re hooked now! I look forward to seeing your new hobby blossom and reading about it!

  25. Susan Sutherland says:

    As a long time hooker I am thrilled you discovered this North American pioneer craft which today is considered fibre art. Our fore mothers hooked out of necessity but today we honour their tradition when we hook and create beautiful pieces of art for floors, walls, cushions, mug mats, 3 D items, the list goes on and on. My Australian rug hooking friends use any material that doesn’t fray so they will cut up tee shirts, jogging outfits, anything that has the colour they want. They use scissors or a rotary cutter to cut the fabric. To find a rug hooking teacher in Ontario check out The Ontario Hooking Craft Guild. It is also celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. To me rug hooking is like yoga, pulling those loops is very soothing for the mind. Oh yes, check out Deanne Fitzpatrick and also Encompassing Designs for patterns, kits, etc. And Face Book has a lot of rug hooking groups. And check out pinterest for ideas too! Sorry, I’m rambling about my fantastic passion. In fact I’m heading off to a two-day hook-in today in Punta Gorda, Florida. We hookers like to congregate as well!

    • Ter'e says:

      Hey Susan,
      You hooking with Julie and Chris????? They are simply the best. (Searsport Rug Hooking) They have talent in their little toes!!!!! And since Julie is always barefoot……..you know what I mean. Two of the best.
      Have fun.

      • Susan Sutherland says:

        I will tell Julie and Chris about your comment! They are the best and have organized this wonderful hook-in. Karen’s post has generated a lot of comments on the Wild with Wool Group on Face Book. We rug hookers love it when others find out about our wonderful world of hooking!!

    • Allyson says:

      What Susan didn’t mention is that she is a fantastic hooker and well renowned for her work. I, too, am a proud hooker, as all hookers are. And yes, the hooker jokes abound whenever hookers are together! Karen, you’ve opened a can of worms, and if you know that your wool strips are called worms, then you understand the double entendre there!
      As Susan has said, there are lots of resources for hooking supplies, patterns, groups, and inspiration. A few of your readers are clearly hookers, so you need only ask if you want any more info. A used cutter, well, you may be waiting a while but they do occasionally pop up on Ebay, Kijiji, etc. Probably better to ask your teacher to keep her ears open for anyone wanting to sell one.

  26. jainegayer says:

    Karen, you have crossed over to the dark side! LOL

  27. Nan Tee says:

    Happy for you, Karen. I admit, my hopes were up when you said ‘hooking,’ thinking yout meant crochet, but you are making art! Wonderful! Please, don’t forget the chickens. 🙂 Happy crafting!

  28. Tigersmom says:

    And here I thought I was going to find out if I had the required aptitude for a back up career I could do on my back.

    Love your colorful rug. Pleasantly surprised you didn’t go with black and white. I guess a pasta cutter wouldn’t work (even though those strips of wool look like so much beautifully died fettucini to me)?

  29. I’m a hooker, and let me tell ya, hookin’ ain’t easy, BUT it’s fun on many levels and the results are totally worth it. To save money (because it can be expensive), I use repurposed blankets, garments and fabric remnants. I always recommend that newbies go the traditional route to learn the basics and see where they want to take it. To see the direction I have gone, feel free to visit my Instagram page. I’m also on Facebook and Pinterest.

  30. Mike says:

    “How would I have time for my other hobby of dressing my chickens like 1970’s sitcom characters if I did that?”

    That’s the best comedic line I’ve ever heard a hooker say.

    A dirty hooker, at that.

    Please bathe. A clean hooker is a happy hooker.

    P.S – The subject matter/design for your next rug could be Cheez Whiz dressed as Mary Tyler Moore. Or Fonzie. Radar O’Reilly?

  31. Debbie Schrang says:

    Welcome to the dark side! (insert evil laugh) Addicting? you betcha – I’ve been hooking for 44 years now, am at a hook in here in Florida as I write this, and have no intention of stopping till they close my coffin lid. You’ll love it!

  32. Heather says:

    I always knew that you rocked! I became a hooker about 2 years ago. Never looked back. I am seriously impressed with the total destruction of your home. Most people only achieve this after many years. Over achievers…

    I purchased a Bliss cutter on ebay. Try looking there. For wool fabric…Salvation Army. Wash, dry, cut. Nova Scotia has a proliferation of seriously great rug hooking stores…Deanne Fitzpatrick and Encompassing Designs for another.

    I did a portrait of my chocolate Lab…in purple. Go for it. Worse case scenario…you have a weird wool rug. 🙂

  33. Paul says:

    I’m not interested in being a hooker at all but of course I had to go look up the cutter. The Bee Line has a website, http://beelinearttools.com/products and has way too many options for the cutter heads.

    I did notice that they are made in Bettendorf, IA and will rebuild older units if you happen to find one.

  34. Ryn says:

    I don’t think I have the patience to do it. However, my dad has said that my grandma was a great hooker.

  35. Katie says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while and this is the first time I’ve been compelled to write. I want to be a hooker! I’m starting my wool collection today!

    Thanks for the lovely source of enjoyment.

  36. Monique says:

    Fabulous, funny post..you really got into it!
    Hooked pieces are beautiful..how fun you went with your mom too..I’m going to paint night next Monday w/ my 2 daughters..thankfully I have paints and canvases..so I may not be running out to get more..
    the peanut butter cookies made me laugh..and bathing….I love a great hobby.

  37. Liz says:

    Loved your rug Hooking article. You have explained all the wonderful feelings we hookers get while creating and sharing with lots of new friends. I started two years ago and now totally “hooked”. Heading to Port Charlotte Convention Center in Florida to the Hookin. Can’t wait. Thank you!

  38. Melissa Leach says:

    Can’t wait to see your finished rug! You have peaked my interest!!! I’m guessing this is a fairly expensive addiction/hobby and probably not for those with measly paychecks. Great post!

    • Karen says:

      Not at all Melissa. Spending more money just means things go faster/easier. So instead of buying the $500 cutter you use a rotary wheel and mat. Instead of buying your wool predyed and/or cut, you buy wool clothing from second hand stores and do it yourself. It can be as expensive or inexpensive as you want. A lot of people go in between and invest in the cutter, but only buy second hand clothing for their wool. ~ karen!

      • Sondra says:

        Don’t forget you can also use YARNS! If you do back of chair/sofa rugs, wall hangings, pillows, chair mats, etc. then yarns of all kinds will work fine. Wool yarns also work in floor rugs. Keep an open mind as to what you can use in a “hooked rug” because the list of projects is endless, as are the option for materials, which don’t necessarily have to go on the floor.

  39. Denise Hosner says:

    How about sharing the cost of the cutter with your sisters and mom??

    • Karen says:

      That was the plan, but we all realized we’d all be the one to want to keep it at our house, lol. My sister Pink Tool Belt has already bought a Beeline Townsend cutter. I’d like to buy my own. We’re the ones who are probably going to delve the deepest into this anyway, so we’ll share with my mom and other sister. ~ karen!

      • Jan in Waterdown says:

        Wonder if you could design some kind of jig to make use of an existing table saw (yikes did I just suggest that?) or maybe a band saw? Assuming you have one . . . hmmmm. Oh heck how’s about a hand held circular saw, you gotta have one of them puppies! On the other hand, maybe not. Don’t want to hear about it on the evening news. Forget I said anything.

        • Dale says:

          J in W,
          OMG…you are just joking about the circular and band saw cutting of cloth…. please!?!
          I’ve seen and heard of the disaster of cloth getting caught in a power saw.
          As they say “Don’t do this at home”

          • Jan in Waterdown says:

            Hah! “Don’t do this at home”? Where’s the fun in that?! My fella is a skilled furniture maker so I am well aware of the potential for blood and tears. Hence the “forget I said anything”. ?

  40. BamaCarol says:

    This sounds like my obsession with needlepoint. The cost of the ‘raw’ materials is getting to be out of this world! All I want to do is needlepoint but I have to work to support my habit.

  41. Mary W says:

    The eggs in a basket are still gorgeous! Stealing the picture show, gorgeous. But I’m shocked that you didn’t do a cleaver for next to your bed!

  42. SuzyMcQ says:

    I’m guessing that you no longer have any wool skirts in your closet and that, instead they are lying on your counters looking much like wool fettuccine.

  43. Diane amick says:

    I crown you punster for 2016!!! I am still doubled over at your wit (and candor). Hook away crazy lady.

  44. vicki says:

    Fabulous! I love new skills and new projects. It is so energizing.
    I would not want to buy a new cutter… have you thought of renting one? Maybe you could work out sharing one with someone? Maybe someone who has one will let you use it occasionally for a small fee?

    Just some thoughts!

  45. gabrielle says:

    OMG that clown is nightmarish!

    My mother hooked, and she painstakingly made a design that I off-handedly admired for me. It was for my dorm room. That allowed cats. And mine crapped on it… badly.

    Never got the courage up to tell here what happened!

  46. Deb says:

    Karen, the Queen of Delicious Double-Entendre! Thankfully I’m laughing too hard to drive to the nearest hooker duly shop, or I, too, would surely fall victim to this obviously highly addictive pastime! Thanks for the hooker humor!

  47. Cathy says:

    I visited Cheticamp, Nova Scotia on vacation. One of our stops was Les Trois Pignons: Museum of the Hooked Rug and Home Life on the Cabot Trail. They have beautiful hooked rugs on display. It is well worth a visit for any hooker (and non-hooker). The rug designs were amazing; an inspiration to all. Enjoy the craft/obsession.

  48. JebberJay says:

    Niiiice hooking! The variety of beautiful wool colours alone has soothed my soul. And I am especially fond of Betty’s roots. Nary a sign of grey to be seen!

  49. Oh my Goodness! You are too funny! I know the feeling well. The same thing happened to me with making interactive scrapbbook/photo albums. Now I just want to make them all the time in lieu of my other hobbies of crocheting, sewing and making jewelry!

  50. jenny says:

    Ha, I know exactly what you mean by adding a new hobby! I taught myself embroidery several years ago and have been trying different techniques, plus making toys out of felt for my niece and nephew (felt busy books, finger puppets, big play mat for driving toy cars on, etc.), I just picked up calligraphy with pointed pens a few months ago, which led to watercolors and then designing typography quotes, which led to buying a chalkboard and trying out chalkboard art…I have craft ADD. I kinda want to try making flowers out of felt but the cost of the gorgeous merino wool felt that I want is keeping me from adding this to my craft repertoire. Which my husband is probably grateful for.
    Can’t wait to see your finished rug! You and Pink Toolbelt can have a hook-off!

  51. Helen Vance says:

    Oh, Karen. Hooking is what I have come to call a “terminal craft”. Once you reach rug hooking, all your other hobbies lose their sparkle, fall to the wayside, get left behind, etc. It sounds like you have fallen bad and I’m not sure there is a way to recover. The good news is that hookers are the nicest people in the world and you’ll find great satisfaction. The bad news is that your once lovely home is about to be taken over by bins and bins of wool.

    Near-ish to you is Wanda Kerr who runs The Welcome Mat (http://thewelcomemat.ning.com/main/authorization/signUp?) , a subscription web site, that will give you a constant stream of tips, tricks, and inspiration, as well as photos of other people’s rugs. It’s a shame that you can’t really see what you’ll be getting before you sign up but, trust me, this is worth it. Wanda also runs a blog (http://wandaworksinwiarton.blogspot.ca/)

    Welcome to the hooking world!

  52. Lauren says:

    Woooonnnnderful art form! I’m so happy to see you create these little heirloom masterpieces. I’ll be watching…..getting vicarious thrills. I’ve been through one painful episode of a new craft too many, and did not enjoy the yard sales to unburden myself. I had to go cold turkey and adopt the ‘one in, one out’ method of controlling myself.

  53. Jody says:

    I don’t think I could be a good hooker. I’d be yelling asking if their mother knew what they were doing and would they want their sister doing this…oh, wait, wrong type of hooker.

    Rug hooking I have pushed away from because I don’t need another craft. Already quilt, sew, and knit. I almost caved back in the summer when we were in Newfoundland and there were some beautiful hooked rugs. Now I’m having second thoughts……..

  54. Liz says:

    Well crap. Interest totally piqued and I suspect this is a very deep rabbit hole for me…like pottery was.

    Also, did you get married?! Or just rocking gold bands on a certain finger….

    Also, have you ever done a post of fireplace maintenance? I’d love your wisdom there. New home with 3 fire places (wood burning, no inserts) Do you hire chimney sweeps? Do you scoop out the ash between fires? How do you keep your cats out of there? Edgar seems to think ash and soot are crack cocaine and super fun to play in. I know you buy wood by the cord, do you buy more than a cord a year? Do you leave the flu open all night after a fire and close it in the morning? Sorry. So many questions.

  55. Ter'e says:

    For those of you who want to know more about Rug Hooking, do try signing onto:
    Rughookingdaily.ning.com
    Every tiny bit of info you need is on this site. Hookers are so helpful and love to share………anything………wool….ideas……tips………..we are sharers!!!!!

    To those of you hooking and cutting wool with a rotary cutter……..this is extremely difficult to keep straight. You need to cut wool on the straight grain, or your strips will be compromised and not as strong as they should be. If you are going to hook beautiful rugs, make sure they will be around 100 years from now.

    Also, to the person who mentioned “stinkey hooking”……….I bet your family member was hooking on burlap. It is stinkey and scratchy IMHO. Linen is more expensive, but the way to go.
    Make friends with a hooker who will cut wool for you. Like I said……..we share!!!!!

  56. Sandra Kelly says:

    Your rug hooking description is “dead on ” ! But , it is so much fun to hook with old t-shirts and I especially love velour – I just hand cut with scissors while watching the news or my favourite TV show . Or you can use an inexpensive fabric cutter ( like quilter’s use ) to cut any type of material in strips. I even used a yellow plastic bag cut in strips to hook rubber boots on a mat I was hooking from a pic of my granddaughter!

  57. Nancee says:

    i used to be a hooker! Still have the hand tool.
    And I’ve had a burlap bag sitting there waiting for some inspiration.
    And a box full of yarn that i bought when a yarn shop was going out.

    I’m set!

  58. Wanda Kerr says:

    Karen, Welcome to the coven. It’s pure witchery the pull of wool. It will take over your house.

  59. Erin says:

    When I learned to hook, I started lurking on my hooking teacher’s blog. Her blog roll had your blog listed at the top, so I checked out The Art of Doing Stuff…and began lurking on your blog.
    I just emailed her to say things had come full circle!
    I’ll send you a pic of my hooking project.

  60. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Great hobby Karen…I want to see the finished rug….

  61. I just saw the Bolivar cutter this weekend at a friend’s house. Rug hooking is a very popular thing here in Nova Scotia. It always starts a bidding war at the auctions. Coasters and tree ornaments are also great, not a big commitment projects. There is a hooker’s club in my town. i go and visit every now and then, and they are very welcoming and talented. I am just too afraid to cross over.
    you go girl!

  62. robert says:

    Oh Karen! What are we gonna do with you? Clone you maybe so you can do a lot more things? Or we could try to get you a time turner so you can have more hours in a day? Having said that, I’ve never really liked this particular kind of rug. And now another question, would you renounce to be a hooker if Idris Elba asked you in a totally incomprehensible way? Because let’s be honest, he’ll never ask you to stop doing something that makes you so happy

  63. Shanelle says:

    We’ve just moved from Mozambique to the UK in December. I’m please to report there is a kit for EVERYTHING! Seriously, there’s even a “Paint your own Russian nesting doll set”. No excuse to ever be bored again! 🙂

  64. Sondra says:

    Learning to design your own rug hooking projects is not all that difficult either. Check out some of my tips on my blog by clicking my name above. I haven’t been too good about keeping up this blog due to family/health issues along with being drug in another direction over the last couple of years but I think I have many ideas on the site that some hookers might find useful. Dreaming up your own projects is liberating and very satisfying and will open up a whole new world of rug hooking pleasure. Dream, explore those ideas and create your own designs!

  65. Wendy says:

    Oh my goodness.
    Totally up my alley, as they say.
    And hookers hang out in alleys too, don’t they.
    I always knew I was meant for something other this.
    Wendy

  66. Barbie says:

    I was so excited when I read this post last night that I could hardly sleep! I have been a hooker for over 10 years now… Belong to the inland northwest hooking club. I’m so excited for you!! and you have nice little “soldiers in a row” so our ladies call them. Which means nice even loops …. Your rugs going to look nice. Don’t fret about the price of the Townsend cutter. Many hookers like myself have gone years without one ….always dreaming of having one of course. There are many used ones online and I bought a “Fraser” for my first one and I think it was around 100 bucks. They are more spendy now but like I said you can find them used. However I would advise you not to try to use a rotary cutter it will drive you crazy and take too much time. If you get involved in one of the hooking clubs, trust me someone will end up knowing someone that has one for sale and will have all kinds of great ideas. I bet you would love Deanna Fitzpatrick’s patterns… I am happy to share any links to great hooking deals with you if you like! Also have a great frame source too if you like … I’m so excited for you! I love hooking! It centers and calms my overachiever personality! Lolol

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barbie! Yes, I know the rotary cutter isn’t the way to go for me. 🙂 I’ve already had 2 offers of a Fraser and a Bliss. 🙂 But my sister has bought the Townsend cutter already! So I’ll borrow hers until I can get one for myself. I’ll probably go for the Canadian made Bolivar which isn’t as well known but is based on the same design as the Townsend and is much cheaper. ~ karen!

  67. Karen, I’ve been a rug hooker for the past 20 years and have amassed hundreds of yards of hand dyed and recycled wool and have taught classes throughout the years, even to children. The people who have the hardest time learning to hook have been quilters! I think it is the need for “perfection” and primitive hooking is all about not looking “perfect”! I have two cutters, a Bliss and a Fraser (I like my Bliss best) and a Puritan frame (which I hate). I use a large quilting hoop on a lap stand that turns 360 degrees. I have never seen the kind of frame you are using. When I first got started, my frame was a wooden rectangle on a lap stand and you used large tacks to keep your burlap attached!
    My best advice to all newbies is “get thee self to the thrift stores” and look for 100 percent wool shirts and skirts. Skip blazers as there is too much stuck on interfacing material. Pants are ok, too. And of course thick wool yarn will also work if you are not planning on using it as a rug. Actually, if you are making a pillow or wall hanging, you can pretty much use whatever materials suit your fancy. Just make sure to use pure wool on things you are going to maybe have to clean.
    Once you have purchased your thrift shop wool, take it IMMEDIATELY to your washing machine and throw it in on hot. NEVER wait to wash your wool as there can be “wool moths” inside the seams and if you get them in your house, oy vey! They are super hard to get rid of. Wash on hot using a tiny bit of soap and then pop into your dryer. You want the wool to get nice and thick.
    I use Monks Cloth for my backing, it is cheaper than linen and can be washed.
    Have fun!

  68. Cred says:

    If you’re truly addicted to hooking, and you need funds for the cutter, there is a way you can make money- same way many addicts do. Hooking for hooking- let someone else blow their wad so you don’t have to.

  69. Would I make a good hooker????? Hmmmmm, well Ive opened up shop and get paid to do it…..I guess I do. It was wonderful meeting you.

  70. Sandy says:

    I think I would enjoy this. We need instructions and a video. Please!

  71. OMG you have such a way with words! Too funny and EXACTLY how it happens. I’ve been happily hooking for many years and also was a dyer for many – so much fun.

  72. Cussot says:

    Hooking is devilishly hard on the hands, I find. You’re sure fast! I’m still using a couple of utilitarian mats I made years ago with hand-cut undyed blanket strips. Kool-Aid works as a dye on recycled blanket as well – lovely, soft colours.

  73. I am the pusher! Start rug hooking, and you will never look back. I have a bunch of free info and how-to info on my web site that can help you get started.
    http://www.folkandfiber.com/Learn.html

    It’s rewarding, fun, and easy to learn. Try it, you’ll like it!!

  74. Dianne says:

    I have a Townsend cutter and love it. When I bought mine Sharon Townsend owned the business. I live in PA and went to Vermont to take a class from Polly Minnick. What a fun time we had. Sharon Townsend was also in the class. She was one of the few people who did not have any kind of cutter! She hand cut all of her wool for her beautiful hooking! We had so much fun laughing with her about the irony of that. Happy hooking and enjoy your addiction.

  75. Laura Bee says:

    Gateway post. One minute I am looking at pretty pictures – oohing and ahhhing and laughing at your clever words.. The next I am recalling all the wool & silk I’ve seen recently at the thrifts & if they might still be there Monday…Oh what a tangled web. I do not need another thing to obsess over. I have a friend who is a beautiful hooker.
    And somehow I installed Instagram for Chrome. I think I have at least.

  76. Chris says:

    I’m a hooker too, but not a stripper! (The traditional method, pulling loops, but with yarn instead of wool strips.) See my work at http://dunroaminfarm.com/fiber-art-gallery/

  77. Josephine says:

    I have done some hooking but not with wool and I designed a cabin, pine trees and surrounded in wild flowers but got stuck on the sky. I have put it aside for now. I was giving a hooked rug that was done between 75 to 100 years ago and is a picture of the Blue Nose. I treasure it!

    I couple of years ago I started on braiding rugs. Using 2 inch wool strips (or at least mostly wool). The nice thing about using wool is that you can RIP the strips.That is another way you can tell if there is enough wool in the material, it will rip really easy. Also wool will not burn so I am told.

    For hooking, the strips may be too thin to rip.

    Enjoy Karen! Maybe you will look at rug braiding some day.

  78. I think I decided…. I’m not cut out for hooking! I am the queen of unfinished jobs 😉

    • Karen says:

      HAH!!! That’s the exact type of comment I like to have my mother read and watch her face as it finally dawns on her what you mean. After a lot of prodding from me. ~ karen!

  79. Linda says:

    Rug Hooking can also be done with a variety of materials besides wool.

    Check out Deanne Fitzpatrick’s website http://www.hookingrugs.com

    Fabulous on-line classes.

  80. Pam says:

    Welcome to our world Karen! You will not regret buying the best of the best up front when it comes to foundation (linen), cutter/blades, (Bee-line) & 100% wool fabric. I also recommend a Hartman rug hook.

  81. I don’t have time to read 118 previous comments, so perhaps this has already been mentioned. There is a Hookers Guild at the Burlington Art Center (or whatever fancy name they are using now). If you contact them, someone may have a cutter for sale. Happy hooking!

  82. Hilda says:

    HOLY cow! I just couldn’t believe it. There you were doing it! I’ve been trying to find THIS kind of info on ‘Rug Hooking’ for long time. I’ve only done ‘Rag Rugs’ made by tearing sheets. Pretty cute & practical to wash. Cheap. Really cheap to make. Really easy.
    But, I’m soo excited about trying this. Yay!
    Thanks again for making my day & putting a big smile on my face, you happy-hooker, you !

  83. Sharon Zurbrigg says:

    Hi Karen,

    I too enjoy rug hooking when the time allows. I have bought kits from a “local hooker” Loretta Moore, Hooked on the Lake. Her kits are reasonable priced with pattern drawn and wool cut and sorted. She has a website and you can order from there.

  84. Janel says:

    Well Crap Karen.

    Really! I am almost mad. I am a painter and I crochet. Tired of both. Now I am really intrigued and HAVE to go out and buy the supplies. You provided a solution but Another craft? My family is going to make me move to the garage.

  85. Faye Embree says:

    I have a Bliss, a Fraser, and a Bolivar cutter.. The Bolivar is for the best as far as I am concerned.. it cuts 6 strips of 8 s at once. to die for and if you have to wait a year or two to get it, it is worth it.

    • Fran Wane says:

      Thanks Faye.. what I was looking for.. I am considering getting a cutter but can’t decide which one…but I had never heard of Bolivar, so I’ve contacted them

  86. Fran Wane says:

    Karen is there somewhere one could get the pattern for the flowered rug you pictured and you mentioned the Bolivar company but you bought a Beeline product… any reason for that?
    I go to thrift stores for my wool; its more fun to find those clothes that I can deconstruct and dye/or not dye..
    Love your blog…

    • Karen says:

      Hi Fran! My sister bought the Beeline mainly because it was the one available at the rug hooking shop we go to, but I’ve heard a lot of great things about the Bolivar. It just isn’t as easily available as the Beeline. I’m not sure about the flowered rug, but I’ll ask the owner if she knows where she got the actual pattern. (unless she designed it herself, I can’t remember). ~ karen!

  87. Shelagh says:

    The Bolivar cutter has been “discovered” by our American friends ( roughly 25-30% exchange ) to the extent that it is now a year long wait for one to be made….I too recently got hooked and have taken over a large room in the house for all my second hand wool garments that are all in various stages of being taken apart….then washed so the wool “fulls” before cutting.
    Very slow going with a rotary cutter and the blades seem to dull faster.

    Also took a class on penny rugs, another pioneer craft that used old coats, blankets etc to make rugs that were weighted down by sewing pennies into them. Check out Diane Lemieux for more info…. cutting by hand and sewing by hand…mostly blanket stitch. Very simple.

  88. Shelagh says:

    Nope.

    Sorry, that should have been Diane Lemire. Not Lemieux.

    Love your blog, Karen.

  89. Jody says:

    I took at rug hooking class at Black & Smith in Jerseyville on Saturday. The teacher provided everyone with a starter kit and was very generous with her woolly worms. Crap, I love it. Another thing to go down the Etsy rabbit hole looking for supplies.

    Are you still hooking? Did you finish your rug?

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