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OK gals (and gents if there are any following along), its time for the second lesson in our rug hooking tutorial. We will be covering color planning and yes, we will actually start hooking. First off, one of the things I like most about primitive rug hooking is that when it comes to color or scale, there are no rules. It's common to see a prim rug with a cat that's bigger than the house. Perhaps the cat is a deep purple or vivid red. These are not colors that happen in nature in these items, yet they are playful and fun and add a true Americana Folk Art quality to each rug. I love this because I can make a rug that is truly original. I'm a little on the conservative side, but you can choose any color you like. Primitive rug hooking is not meant to be literal but more of an outline. If you want heavy, intricate details where you can see each wrinkle on a mans face, try traditional rug hooking. Primitive hooking harkens back to the day when the women and girls of the home, who may not be artistic at all, made rugs out of scraps of wool. They drew what they saw...horses, houses, flowers etc. Sometimes the rugs look simplistic....a simple ABC rug might have been done by a young daughter and more complex designs done by the truly more talented.
Just for a little background for you. Originally rugs were hooked on old burlap feed sacks with bits of left over or used up clothing. Wool was a common fabric known for it's durability, so when someone outgrew a pair of pants or something could no longer be repaired, it would be cut into strips for use in a rug. Patterns were drawn on the burlap with ash from the fireplace by using a partially burnt piece of wood ....no wonder there's not a ton of detail. By the way, most ordinary folks didn't have a huge color palette of ready made wool from which to choose, so they used berries, weeds etc to dye the wool. It really was a time consuming task to say the least. There were no ready made dye's to use like today. One common way to over-dye wool to tone down a strong color which is still used today by rug purists is called onion skin dying. We will cover dying in an upcoming lesson, but I just wanted you to have some back ground. Often times their version of a rug hook was simply a bent nail. We all have it sooooo good now, dont we ?
So, you have a pattern, either one you purchased or one you drew and you want to transfer it onto your foundation fabric. I use Red Dot Tracer which is a see-thru, filmy, almost papery product that has red dots equally spaced. You simply place the Red Dot Tracer over your pattern and trace, which transfer it from the pattern to the Red Dot. Then you place the Red Dot over the foundation and using a permanent marker, slowly go over the lines to transfer.
Once you transfer your design, you need to serge or zigzag the outer most edges so it doesn't unravel while hooking. When I first started hooking I just used masking tape on my ends. Then you need to sew a straight stitch right next to the outside of the pattern like this.
So, now your pattern is ready to hook. If you purchased a kit, you have the wool needed to complete the rug. If you purchased or drew your own pattern, then the next step is to decide what colors to use. Again, let me stress, there are NO rules here. If you like it, it's right for you. That being said here are a few tricks to making sure you have a rug that most OTHER people will like. First of all decide if there's a specific place you want the rug. If that's the case, you will want to stay within the color palette of your room. I have already shown in lesson #1 how the same pattern, hooked in different colors, can take on a whole different look. One way I decide is by placing strips (cut or uncut) in a pile.
Now you probably want to know how much wool you will need for a project. Well, everyone hooks a little differently. Some people hook closer together, some hook with taller loops, but a good rule of thumb is 4 to 5 times the area of the pattern.
So once you pick the wool you want it needs to be cut as discussed in lesson one. Again, most primitive rugs are hooked in a size 6 to a size 10. If you have a machine cutter you just need to use the appropriate blade. If using a rotary cutter and a ruler, here are the measurements you will need :
#6 is equal to 3/16"
#7 is equal to 7/32"
#8 is equal to 1/4" (This is the MOST common size for prim hooking)
#9 is equal to 9/32"
#10 is equal to 5/16"
More on wool cutting in the future lesson on garment deconstruction.
Next step is to take your foundation piece and place it face up in your STURDY quilt hoop or frame, making sure to pull it straight and taught. You should be looking at the right side of your pattern from the top side of your frame/hoop. Now, now finally, you are ready to plunge your hook into the foundation and pull your first loop !!!
I want you to put the hook in your writing hand and place it on top of the pattern and place your left hand underneath the pattern , directly below where you will be starting to hook. I like to start in the middle of a pattern and work out. Let's start by outlining the center box on our pattern. I never start on a corner since I dont feel it holds the point as well, so just start half way in the middle of the middle box. The trick here is to hook INSIDE the lines. You really wont ever be hooking ON the marked lines of your pattern. This keeps your entire pattern from shifting and becoming bigger or lopsided.
So put your hook into the fabric like this
Ok, now go into the very next hole, and do the same thing, but this time dont pull your strip all the way through. Just kind of roll your hand up away from you about and inch or so and pull back down toward you with the hand underneath. Most folks need some practice at this before their loops are a uniform height, but you get into a rhythm. The rule of thumb on height of your loops is they should be as high as they are wide...So if you are using a #8 cut they should be 1/4" high (no need for a ruler here, just eyeball it). You need to keep repeating this process hooking in a straight line, but after that first loop, just go into every other hole or your work will become really crowded and it will be very hard to pull the loops up. It should look like this ...
When your strip is at the end, you want to pull it through to the top, just like that first loop (just dont pull too hard or you may pull out the entire row...even happens to old timers). It will look like this au from mthe topfter you pull a new strip up in the SAME hole you ended in. So down again with the new strip, just like you began the process...pull it up on top so 2 "tails' are waving to you from the topside of the piece, like this:
Continue hooking all the way around the center square and when you've completed the square just clip off the "tails" from the top of your the piece. You can clip these whenever you want...they bug me, so I clip them every so often, but it's up to you.
This is what it should now look like....
When you bring that second color up you want to use the same theory of not over crowding. You want the strips to be "friendly" with each other, kind of shoulder to shoulder, but not in the hole immediatelt beside the last row .
Here is a picture of what the UNDER side looks like one you're down and take it off the frame.
See how there's room between the lines ? Thats\'s what you want.
Now remember, you may have to adjust your pattern on your frame/hoop. You may need to pull it taught if it gets slack or more the pattern as you go. For now, feel free to work on all the empty squares and in the next lesson I will show you how to do the stars and fill in around them.