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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Rug Hooking Tutorial Lesson 1

Hope you signed up for the Rug Hooking Kit Giveaway that coicides with this first tutorial...If not, read the previous post and join in the fun.
Ok my prim pals, this is the first in a series of rug hooking tutorials I am doing. In this first lesson we are going to cover the materilas needed to begin rug hooking. You will need wool, a way to cut it into strips, a foundation material to hook into , a hook and some type of frame or hoop, scissors, a needle and thread and a pattern. I will be going over the things I think are most critically important to have and the things you can purchase over time as you see how much you want to invest into your new hobby. If you're anything like me, you'll be "hooked" in no time. I got into rug hooking out of necessity. Well, maybe necessity is too strong of a word. I loved the look of primitive rugs but couldn't afford them, so I needed to figure out how to make them myself. I have found ways to keep the cost of rug making fit in my VERY tight budget...I hope my frugal ideas help you.

OK, lets start our very first lesson. The obvious place to start is the star of the show...the wool !!!
Now of course, you could buy all your wool from me since I will have it all cut into strips like this ready for hooking (wink, wink)....But,

 over the long haul you will want to build your own stash of wool to have lots of choices. Building a stash is easiest by just walking into a shop and buying everything right off the bolt that you love (and there will be lots to love)...but in this economy I doubt whether most of you can afford this method since new wool off the bolt can run $20 and up per yard. In addition to that, places like Joann Fabrics and Michaels dont carry much, if ANY
wool at all.

Now, some of you may be lucky enough to have a quilt or wool shop near you...LUCKY YOU. Most of us dont have that luxury. Now, if you're reading this tutorial you obviously have access to the internet and it will afford you MANY choices of wool suppliers that have reasonable prices right here in blog land and on ebay.

But folks, the EASIEST and LEAST EXPENSIVE way to build your stash is to hit the thrift stores, tag sales or ask family members to look in their closets for wool clothing. You are able to purchase quality wool at low prices if you are willing to do a little digging and take a few precautions.

First and formost...make sure it's wool. Not everything that looks like wool is 100% wool. Luckily for those of us who love to use recycled wool, all clothing that is 100% wool is clearly marked that way by a universal tag located on the clothing pieces themselves. Sorry for the quality of the picture, but my camera would just NOT cooperate. Now even though this symbol will let you know it is 100% wool, it may be worsted wool or gaberdine, which really aren't suitable for hooking. You will probably make some mistakes along the way, but it's part of the learning process. Once you hook for awhile, you wont even need to look at the label because your hands will tell you whether or not you can use it in a rug.

Sometimes though, an item wont have a tag if it's homemade or someone may give you a piece of material they think is wool. I dont usually risk more than a buck or two unless I am SURE its wool. But hey, if its FREE, well then here's a little test you can do to check. Snip off a on inch square piece of the wool and  place it in a bowl and cover it with bleach...go to bed and if in the morning the wool has disappeared someone stole your wool....NO, I am just kidding. If it disappeared you are in luck because it's 100% wool and you can use it in your rugs. Now, if there's a tiny bit left in the bowl it's not pure wool, but its probably still good enough to use. But if there's more than a tiny bit left, use if for another craft project. Trust me, it just wont cooperate with you.

Now, when I purchase wool clothing I try to go for skirts because they yeild lots of bigger pieces of usable wool, although I look through the pants and even the ladies suit blazers although remember when looking at suit jackets you will probably only be able to use the back panel and the sleeves because there's usually interfacing on the front, so again, unless its CHEAP (like $1) I usually pass on blazers and stick with skirts. Another trick...check the plus size section. Generally at thrift stores the prices are the same for all skirts (like 3.99 at my Goodwill) so it pays to get the largest  size available.

OK, so you've purchased your wool...Now you have to get it ready to use for hooking. Whether you buy wool to recycle or buy it off the bolt, it will need to be "fulled". (Most people who sell you wool for hooking will tell you if its been washed, which is most likely has been if they have dyed and cut it).

So, just a note of caution when using recycled wool. You will want to keep it in your garage or trunk of your car until you have a chance to wash it just in case of any little critters like moths ...You certainly wouldn't want to bring home a big haul of wool and have it ruin your stash because you failed to realize you had a critter. Ok, now I dont like bugs etc and I have yet to ever see one in all my wool journeys, but it can happen and you dont want to risk it. I generally am so excited to see how it turns out that I rush right home and get busy.  First thing I do is a little deconstruction...Using a skirt I first cut off the entire waist band and hem and then rip open the seems (be sure to check pockets because I have found a few tissues and gum wrappers...even found a $20 bill once..YIPPEE)...then into the washer it goes. Now you will want to wash light and dark wools seperately since the darker colors sometimes bleed a bit.

I use a small amount of mild detergent that does not contain any bleach or bleach alternative. Lots of people insist on a specific brand, but I am too cheap  and have found my Purex to work just fine. The magic of fulling happens during the washing/drying process. I like to wash in HOT water and rinse with cold. I set my washer for the longest cycle since its the agitation that helps the process along, but I usually check on it periodically since I just want it to "full" and not "felt". We just want to tighten up the weave so it wont unravel when we cut it. Once the wash cycle is done its off to the dryer where the real transfomation begins. Next step... toss in the dryer with a big fluffy towel and a dryer sheet and wait about 20 minutes or so. I check on my wool because I dont want to overdry it and get it all wrinkled. I usually take it out when its just barely damp and smooth it out and either hang it or lay it flat to finish drying.

Once it's dry you are ready for your wool to be either dyed or used as is and cut into strips. And for that you will need something with which to cut the wool into uniform strips.

 Now you could go out and buy a very fancy pants cloth slitter like the Townsend which is about $400 or you could be less fussy and buy a Fraser Bliss for about $175, but my suggestion for newbies is to just use a ruler and a rotary cutter...IF you fall in love with hooking, THEN, yes, you surely will want to purchase a cutter. I myself, being frugal, scoured eBay for a used Frazer Bliss and bid on everyone for a max bid of $50.00 'cause thats all that was in my budget. Guess what ? Took about a month of bidding, but I finally won one and I have used it for the last several years and have only had to replace the cutting blades once. I have a #8 blade which cuts the strips in 1/4"  widths which is common for prim hooking. So, if you are just trying out hooking...use a rotary tool and cut at 1/4" or purchase your wool pre-cut.

Now, what else will you need ? A foundation material to hook into and there are lots of options here...
Lots of rug hookers insist on linen (the center piece) because it is soft to work with and will stand the test of time, but it's VERY pricey, up to $50 a yard which makes for a VERY expensive project in my book.. Many rug hookers use Monk's cloth (on the right) since it is a little less expensive, around $20 a yard. It is easy to work with and has 2" grids woven into it which makes it nice for laying out your design. Be sure though you dont go out to Joanne Fabrics and buy monks cloth though...the stuff they carry is actually for Swedish weaving...Be sure when you buy monk's cloth you clarify from thr seller that it is intended for rug hooking, otherwise you will get VERY discouraged because it's just too loose to hold your wool strips.

 Now even though monk's cloth is my preferred foundation,  lets not count out burlap. It's definately the least expensive (although burlaps have diffferent grade too, so go for the higher priced if using burlap). I have gotten it online for about $8 per yard. Now before you dismiss the idea of burlap lets remember that back in the day (Colonial times up through the 1940's) women made hooked rugs out of old burlap sacks. They were recycling LONG before it was "in" or "politically correct"...It was just LIFE ! That's one reason you see so many vintage rugs of the same approx size...they used up those burlap feed sacks. Now, if you are really strapped for cash (I have been there and done this) you can use burlap sacks today for FREE or VERY CHEAP by simply ASKING at your local coffee shop ...Coffee beans still come primarily in burlap sacks and can still be made into beautiful rugs. Will it last 200 years ? I dont know...It depends on how you treat it and how your family treats it after you are dead and gone. It wont matter to you by then, so dont get hung up on the  "heirloom quality" of every project. Sure, some projects might call for using the finest of then finest and hey, if you can afford it, by all means, buy the linen, buy your wool off the bolt, order a Townsend cutter and be sure to get a great, top of the line frame too...Or, cut some costs where possible WITHOUT sacrificing the beauty and integrity of your finished project.

 Here is a great piece I did on a piece of burlap many years ago.

 
Will it last forever ? I dont really care. I started making rugs because I loved them but couldn't afford them. So please, dont let the high and mighty opinion of others keep you from being able to enjoy a wonderful craft that will bring a great sense of accomplishment AND beautify your home AND make wonderful gifts. This little rug will never be put on the floor, so it wont see any traffic. With care, even this little rug will be able to be passed down for many generations.

But, I am getting off track, but I am sure you can tell how passionate I am about being able to enjoy this craft and if the start-up cost is $100's, I know many of you wont be able to enjoy it too.

OK, back to the lesson. Once you have your wool, have it washed and cut, have gotten a foundation you just need a few more supplies. Next up : a simple rug hook (about $6 on line) and pair of scissors...a regular pair will do until you can afford an offset pair like this...

These scissors make it easier to snip off you wool strips. There are lots of expensive hooks out there...this is the original one I bought and have used for every rug I have made. If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to try out different hooks, by all means, do so and pick what you like.

Ok...now you need some way to stretch out your foundation fabric so you can pull your wool strips through it. Lots or rug hookers, even famous ones like Polly Minnick, use heavy duty quilt hoops like this
And I did use this hoop when I first started, but to be honest, I just never felt it held things taut enough and so when I was able, I got a lap frame. I asked for a gift certificate to a wool shop over 100 miles from my house for Christmas one year and Ooooooooh was I excited.

I got this lap frame for $80 and I LOVE it. It tilts every direction and has gripper teeth that hold the fabric in place. But maybe you dont have $80 or even the $15 for a quality hoop. Dont fret...you can still hook a fine rug by getting an old wooden picture frame and a box of push pins and simply stretch your fabric over and pin in place...Thats how lots of folks did it in the old days, it's just more labor intensive.

Now that you have all this are you ready to hook ??? Well, one more thing. Unless you purchase a foundation with a pattern already on it (which I will happily be selling, wink, wink) you will need to get a pattern on that blank monks cloth, linen or burlap. You can purchase paper patterns on line from many different sellers on ebay, use designs from magazines like Create & Decorate or draw your own...I use a product some of you crafters may be familiar with called Red Dot tracer paper (which is more like a weird see thru fabric). You can trace any pattern you like and then simply place the Red Dot pattern on top of your foundation (be sure to line up the dots for straightness) and use a fine point permanent marker and draw right over top of the Red Dot and it will bleed through to the foundation. I always tape my pattern down to the foundation so it doesnt slip. In our next lesson I will show examples of how to work with patterns, but for now, here's a picture so you can get the idea.


OK, folks, now you know all the necessary tools to hook a rug. In our next lesson we will cover pattern transfer, color selection and we finally get hooking ! Dont forget about the Giveaway and you could hook along with me !!!

Until next time...
Grace to you,
Margie

80 comments:

  1. Oh Margie!!!
    Thank you so much for doing this.
    I have wanted forever to learn to hook.
    I have tried before on my own, but since I never had a clue what to do.
    What to use, not use, etc.
    This has helped me already.
    Looking forward to part 2!!!
    Maybe soon I'll be brave enough to try again.
    Big hug,
    Tam

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  2. Oh Margie, Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I am so excited. Loved part 1 of your tutorial. I have always wanted to learn how to do this and have priced supplies. I am one who can't afford all the expensive items to get started. Thanks for the alternatives. Looking forward to part 2.
    Angela

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  3. Thanks, Margie! I have been wanting to learn this, also. I have wool, a couple books, a rug hooking tool, some monks cloth and burlap and a quilting hoop, so I am almost all set! I am going to enter your giveaway, for sure!

    Bear Hugs & Blessings~Karen

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  4. Margie,
    This would have been great to have 2 years ago ... I do agree with you on the start up tho ... It is a big investment ... so start out with the least expensive, and if you like it enough to continue then buy ... Good advice.
    I'll keep reading ...
    Teri

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  5. Thanks for making it simple and helping us know what is really important to start with.Warm Blessings!~Amy

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  6. this is a really great tutorial. Thank you so much. I love the "cheaper" way to do things", especially if just starting out. We have all tried things that we just didn't like and then find ourselves with a box full of items we don't want to get rid of because we invested too much. So thanks again. Can't wait to see the next part.
    Kat

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  7. Margie, you are a gem fo sharing this series of hooking tutorials! I have only hooked 2 small (well tiny) projects with no instructions. I hope to gain lots of tips and techniques from you. So excited!

    Blessings,
    Traci

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  8. Margie,
    Thank you so much for doing this wonderful Tutorial. I have been wanting to learn how to hook but times are so tight that I just don't have the extra money to spend alot on supplies. I LOVE that you have shown us the least expensive way to start up. I am going to start getting my supplies together so I am ready for the next tutorial. I entered your giveaway. Thank you so much for being so generous.
    Have a wonderful weekend
    Sabrina

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  9. Great first lesson. when are you going to write a book. Can't wait for lesson two. I am so disappointed that I missed out on your great yard blog sale of wool. All my favorite colors were there. Be sure to let me know the next time you have one. I am just starting out and on a fixed income so I have been hitting the thrift stores around here but there aren't many in our rural area. I keep looking though.
    I will be waiting on pins and needles till the next tutorial. Thanks so much
    Jan

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  10. Wow Margie - I so appreciate all the time and effort you took in creating this tutorial! I can't wait to get started and will certainly look forward to the next edition!
    *Blessings*

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  11. Very, very, thorough Margie - sure wished there was someone like you - and something like this - when I took to hooking! I would just point out maybe two things....Another alternative foundation cloth is rug warp - I personally prefer linen, but agree it's pricey. I do NOT like monk's cloth, so rug warp is my second choice. Also, for hooks - there's a lot of variations out there and I agree they should find one that "feels good" to them - but they should make sure to stay away from those made primarily for fine cut hooking - I mistakenly started out with one like that and didn't realize how difficult it was making my life until my friend saw what I was hooking with!! Thanks, again, Sweetie for taking this on - lots of time and thought you've put into this... :o) Smiles & Hugs ~ Robin

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  12. Very nicely done! I can't wait to try my hand at this. I also love your wools for sale ... truly beautiful prims colors.

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  13. That is a very nice tutorial. I wish I had read it when I started. I hope you are going to do some more tutorials. I am hooking and am still new at it less than a year, but I have fits with eyes and letters and It would be nice to read how you do it.
    I can't wait to read some more, so glad I just happened in.

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  14. You have explained things so clearly. Thank you!!!!

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  15. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I've done one tiny kit and have wanted to do more but wasn't quite sure how. I'll be following along & be sure to test the hopefully 'wool' clothing I have already bought and packed away from the goodwill! ~Kriss~

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  16. sounds like fun, hooking is something i really want to learn, denise

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  17. Great job Margie! You really should write a beginners guide~ to sell. I really appreciate all the time and hard work your putting into this tutorial. Anyone can read and understand.
    Blessings,
    Jean

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  18. I don't know Margie, looks sort of scary but hey I will give it a try. Your tutorial makes it sound so easy. You did a great job.

    Felicia

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  19. Thank you Margie for the great tutorial #1....can't wait to read more!!
    patti

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  20. Hi, Margie, I found your blog while visiting Felicia at Raggedy Creations. I really appreciate the rug tutorial and will post about you on my blog. This is really generous of you to share this craft with us.
    Warm Regards,
    Susan B., Western MA
    Glen Oaks Primitives

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  21. Hi, I just wanted you to know I put up a post this morning with your tutorial in it and I borrowed your picture of your rug kit and put it there too. I hope you get lots of new people to your site. I am going to put your blog in my side bar too. Thanks so much.

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  22. Found you through Farm Girls blog, the tutorial was really good. I love that you explain how to find wool and what to look for, I now will begin keeping my eyes open for garments that can be made into strips. Very excited to finally have a clue how to start making these rugs I have loved but were always out of my budget. Will post your give away on my blog.

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  23. Thanks for taking the time to post your tutorial. I'm new to rug hooking and always looking for helpful hints & info! Can't wait for the next tutorial. Thanks for the great giveaway, I would love for this to be my next project.
    Tammy
    tbbordner@comcast.net

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  24. ...this is awesome, I have needed a tutorial like for so long! Thank you.

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  25. I am learning to hook. My friend has given a small project to get me started. I have read and reread your tutorial and it is sooooo helpful. I would love to be entered in your giveaway. Thank you.

    Phyllis

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  26. Wow - I've already learned so much. I just bought 6 men's suit jackets from Goodwill - can't wait to get them torn apart!

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  27. Thank you so very much for posting this on line tutorial!! I have wanted to rug hook for such a long time!! Must do on my "bucket list" :) I will be following along with you, you are such a sweetie for posting!! Love all the work you do!! Such an amazing art form!! Lovely!!

    Big Hugs to you!!
    Mona

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  28. Your directions are not only easy to follow but love the thrify $ hints also.

    jleibfried@aol.com

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  29. Hi Margie,
    I just found you via Maureens' blog. I think I am following, it's hard to tell! LOL! Anyhow, I love hooking, haven't done it for a few years now, but have some stuff to do it with.
    Thanks for sharing some of your tips with us, it was very easy to understand. You are very talented. I look forward to getting to know you.
    Have a good night.
    Renee

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  30. Hi Margie,
    I am a follower. I've always wanted to learn how to hook rugs and found your tutorial very instructive. Looking forward to #2. Will post your giveaway on my blog.
    Thanks, Ellie

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  31. *****thanks for putting this out there for people to understand that it DOES NOT take the fancy equiptment to produce great rugs. i started forty years ago and burlap, that which was created for rug hooking in scotland, was the most popular backing. i would like to add a few thoughts:
    1) when using whatever foundation you choose, when attaching it to a frame without grippers it would be safer to double over the fabric before pushing in the pins. this will prevent
    tearing the material, and it may very well tear.
    2)another alternative frame would be to purchase from an art supply store their stretcher frames. these are also inexpensive and can handle any size rug that you work on.
    3)in cutting your material...the rotary cutter isn't as reliable as a pair of scissors. start with a textured material and follow the lines.
    it's very simple and will get you going before needing, if ever, a specific cutter.
    4)transferring a pattern to the backing...you can use quilting pins to hold the pattern and
    backing together. just smooth out the design
    and pin to the backing.
    5)rug warp is also rather expensive and does not have the give other foundations have. plus
    using a strip above a number seven would be really difficult to get the material to pull
    up easily and smoothly.
    6)all parts to a jacket can be used...it is difficult on the hands to pull out the interfacing but soak the wool for a bit and this should work. if you don't have the strength in your hands to get it to release from the fabric then pass it on to someone who does. i do this all the time and it is worth
    the work.
    again...good luck to all the new hookers out there. it's a fun craft and the only limits are your dreams!

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  32. Thank you ,thank you Margie ! That was wonderfully informative and very nicely done.I can't wait to start sometime soon.Hugs,Jen

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  33. Great info on your blog for new hookers.
    I'm a new follower, I love what you are giving away, especially the orange one.
    I don't have a blog but hope I can be in the drawing.
    ronnietall@gmail.com

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  34. Such a wonderful beginning. Thanks for sharing. I found your blog via Lee Hill Primitives. I signed up for the giveaway also. Can't wait for stepp 2.

    Blessings,
    Rhonda

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  35. Great Tutorial. I just started rug hooking and am "hooked". Can't wait to read more from your blog.

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  36. Wow! So much good info packed into this post. Thanks Margie, for all the time you're taking to share.
    ~Katherine

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  37. Margie,

    I almost missed this, been so busy crafting myself... I recently purchased some wool from you... I have a hook and everything. so want to do this hooking!!! thanks for so much wonderful info! OLM

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  38. Hi Margie, Thank you for doing the tutorial on rug hooking. Your directions make it seem so easy. Thanks for all the great money saving tips. I am looking forward to part two. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and talent on this craft
    Big Hugs.....
    Maureen
    macbasketspa@aol.com

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  39. This comment has been removed by the author.

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