Troubleshooting Your Technique

As my show and class season winds down for the year, I’m thinking about all my students that I had in class. I hope they’re doing well with the craft, and I thought it might be a good time to go over some common problems that beginners can encounter. Words and pictures can be helpful, but I have a couple of YouTube videos that can sometimes help more.

For a basic overview of hooking rugs with yarn, try https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WAqNkrDM5E&t=6s

And for hooking with T-Shirts, try https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExEbox_Hpns&t=3s

Even if you’re primarily interested in hooking with yarn, I really recommend the video on hooking with T-shirts, because the technique is almost exactly the same as hooking with yarn, but with this short video, we really made an effort to film from below. I have found that when you’re learning to hook, one of the biggest challenges is that you can’t actually SEE what your hand is doing under the backing, so the T-shirt video really shows what the process looks like in motion.

Some of the most common problems people encounter when they start rug hooking are splitting the yarn and pulling out the previous loop. Let’s go over the basic steps to address those:

109. 2 tbear hooking

Here you can see that I’ve pulled up the first tail. Next I’ll push in the hook next to the tail to make my first loop.

111. 4 tbear hookingFrom below, I slide my hand down a little bit and lift the yarn up to connect it with the hook. Notice that I don’t grab the yarn close to where it comes out of the back (if I did that, it would be very easy for me to pull out the loop or tail I just did). Giving myself some slack before I connect the yarn to the hook makes it possible for me to pull up the yarn tight in back without disturbing the previous loop. So if you find you’re pulling out the previous loop, try to remind yourself to give some extra slack.112. 5 tbear hooking

Once I have connected the yarn to the hook, I pinch down on it. This prevents me from splitting the yarn as I pull my hook up to the top. I keep downward pressure on the yarn until the hook is through to the top.

113. 6 tbear hooking

Now that the hook has been pulled through to the top, I can let go with my hand underneath and just feel that loop (slack) pull tight against the back as I continue to pull up with the hook. When I’m satisfied that I’ve pulled the slack up tight against the back, I remove the hook from the loop above, and just pull the loop down until it’s the height I want.

How high should the loop be? If you look at a loop from the side, it should look round, like a little ball on top of the backing, it should spread out above the hole. If the loop is too high, you could push it over. That makes it difficult to fill in the space and it’s easier to snag a loop that’s hooked too high. What you want is a loop that spreads out and fills in the space around it. If the loop is too short, it will look stubby from the side, and won’t look like it spreads out above the backing. What holds the hooking in place is that the loops spread out, and are then packed in all around them.

117. 10 tbear hooking

As soon as you’ve surrounded those tails, trim them from above, even with the loops around them.

How do you know if you’re overpacking the loops? The rug won’t lay flat, for one thing. Ideally, your loops are close enough together that you can’t see the backing from the front, but if you flip the rug over, you should be able to see gaps between the rows (like in the picture below).

118. 11 tbear hooking view of backside

This month’s Featured Rug is by Margaret Magic from Bellingham, WA. Click here to read more about it!

margaret magic bunny cropped for web

Bunnies, 14″x14″ Designed and hooked by Margaret Magic

Do you have a rug you would like to see featured on Little House Rugs? Let me know! If your rug is featured, you will receive your choice of a free half-yard of linen or our rug hooking totebag that says “FIBER is good for you!” It can be a rug you’ve made, found or inherited. Every rug has a story and we love to hear all about them, so what are you waiting for?

And just for poops and giggles, check out this video of my little goat who think’s she’s either trying out for the circus, or the Brementown Musicians!

As a special holiday thank you to my blog subscribers, everything on the website is 20% off (that includes kits, frames, and rugs, as long as they’re in stock) through December 31, 2019. When you order, be sure to put in the note to the seller that you’re a subscriber and your 20% will be refunded. Not yet a subscriber? It couldn’t be easier, just look for the Follow button at the bottom right-hand side of your screen. Happy Hooking Everyone!

Judy Taylor


New Article in Rug Hooking Magazine


    “Wanna see my picture on the cover, wanna buy five copies for my mother!”

It’s always a thrill to get an article published, but it’s just icing on the cake to get the cover of the magazine too! In the latest issue of Rug Hooking Magazine, I got to do an article on hooking with T-shirts. In it, you’ll find the design on the cover, which you can enlarge to make your own Ma Jolie Fleur rug.

ma jonie fleur 2 retouched for web

Ma Jolie Fleur, 13″x16″ Designed and hooked with T-shirts by Judy Taylor

This month, I’ll be at Oregon Flock & Fiber in Canby, OR. I’ll have my booth on the weekend, and I’ll also be teaching Beginning Rug Hooking on Friday afternoon.

little house cropped with dark background

Little House, 11″x8.5″. designed with yarn, T-shirt strips and wool fabric strips by Judy Taylor

With this class, students will learn all three techniques (hooking with yarn, T-shirt strips and wool fabric strips), so they can hook with anything, which is a great thing when designing new projects.

If you can’t make the class in Canby, I’ll be teaching it again in Port Gamble, WA on October 26. You can get info and sign up here.

Check out this month’s Featured Rug. It’s another first rug by Karen West of Seattle, WA. Do you have a rug you would like to see featured on www.littlehouserugs.com? Email me! Every rug has a story and we love to hear all about them. If your rug is featured, you will receive your choice of a free half-yard of linen or our recycled cotton rug hooking bag (says “FIBER is good for you!), so what are you waiting for?

Happy Hooking everyone!

Judy Taylor


Summer Spruce-Up

I’m a big believer in having my yarns, fabric and wool out on display, where I can see what I’ve got. I like to organize it by color. When I enter my workroom, I feel like I’m going shopping— what a treat!

yarn and fabric

If you keep all your stuff in bags and boxes, crammed into closets, chances are the next time you want to start a project, you’ll forget what you’ve got! Even if space is a premium at home, try to find a way to keep your treasures visible. They will inspire you in your creative life.

carded wool

Check out the Featured Rug of the Month at Little House Rugs. This month, you’ll read about Michelle Carey’s first rug!

the wave cropped lighter

The Wave, 20″x30″ Designed and hooked by Michelle Carey

August is blessedly quiet on the farm. Good time to catch up on chores, then gear up for next month’s shows.

birdie, bingo and maisie

My Nigerian doe Birdie with her 3 month old kids, Bingo and Maisie

Need a spruce-up on your technique? Check out our youtube videos:

Hooking With Yarn and Hooking with T-Shirts!

Happy Hooking Everyone!

Judy Taylor


T-Shirt Treasures wins the eLit Book Awards!

t shirt cover scan for web

T-Shirt Treasures won the eLit Book Awards, and was a finalist in the INDIES Book Awards! Big thank you to everyone who contributed to it and made it a success!

marcy Cienna

This month’s Featured Rug of the Month is by Marcy Gonzales of Los Lunas, NM. You can read her inspiring story here.

Do you have a rug you would like to see featured at Little House Rugs? Let me know! I am especially interested in seeing your first rug. Marcy shared her first rug in this feature, and it’s a knockout. If your rug is featured, you’ll receive your choice of a free half-yard of linen or our recycled cotton rug hooking bag, so what are you waiting for? Email me!


This was a fun project for me this month. I have hooked this design a number of times before, and I always try to do something different every time. For the background, I spun up small amounts of leftover carded wool into a variegated strand. Rather than plying that to itself (and to make it go further) I plied it to a green/blue wool/mohair blend. That gave the rug a bit of shimmer, made it look “lively.” I had enough of all of the yarn leftover to put it into a kit, so if you’d like to give it a try yourself, you can find it here. (Just scroll down the page, you’ll find it on the right)

July is going to be mighty busy for this little hooker:

There’s still a few spots available in my Beginning Rug Hooking Class July 7, 9:00-noon at the Black Sheep Gathering in Albany, OR. Students will learn the craft while making these four Jacob Sheep ornaments.  Click here for more info.

I’ll also be in my booth all weekend, July 5-7, so if you can’t make it to the class, stop by and say hi!

Then the following weekend, I’ll have a booth at the Wedgewood Art Festival in Seattle, WA.

sheps ex booth cropped for web[438]

Then I’ll be trekking out to Prairie City, OR, for the fiber festival there July 27-28.

And if the creek don’t rise, I’ll see you next month, same bat-time, same bat-channel!

Happy Hooking everyone!

Judy Taylor


Rug Hooking, Uncategorized

First Rugs

farm rug for web[720]

Farm Rug, 36″x36″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

This is the first rug I ever designed and hooked, all the way back in neolithic times (1991 or so). I had just taken a class at a Claire Murray shop in Poulsbo, Washington. I hooked that little beginner kit without stopping, just couldn’t put it down. (All together now: “I was HOOKED!”)

I had recently learned to spin yarn when I happened upon that Claire Murray shop. I was on the lookout for something fun to do with my quickly burgeoning baskets, boxes and bags of handspun yarns. When I saw a beautiful yarn-hooked rug on the wall, I knew it would be the perfect craft for using up all my yarn, as well as provide me with an unlimited creative platform.

ewenique yarn on fence

Jacob’s Pride drying in the sun

I used that first rug as my farm sign when I showed my sheep and goats at the local fair. It was a real attention-getter. It’s full of flaws of course. I overpacked my loops. It took me a while to trust that the yarn really wanted to stay put. I hooked it on burlap (I now prefer linen), and I hadn’t learned yet how to bind my edges. But I don’t care about any of that. When I look at this rug, I remember that fantastic time of discovery for me, and all the years of joy that followed.

I subscribed to Rug Hooking Magazine and ATHA, which were both great for hooking with wool fabric, but couldn’t find much (or really anything at all) on hooking rugs with yarn. Did that stop me? Of course not!

I worked on that first rug at fiber events and demonstrations. There weren’t many yarn hookers in the Pacific Northwest at the time, and so many yarn people wanted to know where they could learn how to hook. I had never taught a class before, but did I let that stop me? Of course not!

I offered a class at the next year’s Black Sheep Gathering, which filled up quickly, so they added a second class and that one filled up, too. It really showed that people were eager to try this new (but actually very old) yarn craft. I just approached the class with the bounding enthusiasm I already had for the craft, and what do you know? People were hooking after the three hour class.

By and by, I created a DVD on hooking with yarn (click here to watch on youtube), then Rug Hooking Magazine kindly published my first book, Hooking With Yarn. That one quickly sold out the 2000 copies that they printed. I really loved having a book of my own in my booth or teaching classes, so I decided to self-publish my next one. Did I know anything about self-publishing? Nope. Did that stop me? No way!

What followed was Joy of Hooking (With Yarn!) and Rug Hooker’s Guide to the YARNIVERSE! (the former covers all the basics, the latter takes you beyond the basics). I recently came out with T-Shirt Treasures- Creating Heirloom Hooked Rugs from the Humble T-Shirt.  (click here to watch hooking with T-shirts in action!)

Do you have pictures of your first rug you’d like to share? Please email me! I’d love to feature you on my website! I have found that when people see someone’s first hooked rug, they are much more eager to try it themselves, like all those fiber folks who responded to my first one. If your rug is featured, you’ll receive your choice of a free half-yard of linen, or our recycled cotton rug hooking bag (it says “FIBER is good for you!”) so what are you waiting for?

In other news:

I have updated the security settings on my website, so in the future, you can visit at https://www.littlehouserugs.com (you need to add the https://). If you have me on your favorites list, do update the web address, so your communications and purchases can have that extra layer of protection.

The Black Sheep Gathering in Albany, Oregon is coming up, first weekend of July. I’ll have my booth there, as well as a Sunday morning rug hooking class on hooking a flock of sheep!

jacob orn in tree 1 adjusted

Students will learn the art of rug hooking, while hooking these four Jacob sheep ornaments/magnets. Click here to sign up!

I hope to see you there!

Happy Hooking Everyone!

Judy Taylor




Rug Repairs: The Minor and the YIKES! Care and Cleaning Part II

One of the great things about hand-hooked rugs (and why they last so long) is that they can be repaired. Whether they are stained, snagged or moth-eaten, they can always be fixed. Last month we talked about cleaning and vacuuming your rugs. In this post, we’ll go over some techniques for repairing hooked rugs.

What if you have cleaned your rug and you notice some of it has become stained or snagged, or that (yikes) some of the backing is damaged? Not a problem. I’ll cover some of the typical wear-and-tear stuff, and even walk you through the process of doing a major repair.

pinwheel rug before rehooking for web

This is by far the most common wear issue with a hooked rug, and the easiest to fix; when a small amount of yarn has become snagged. Just pull that yarn through to the back, and go ahead and rehook.

What if you notice a stain that can’t be washed out? In the rug above, on the left, you can see a stain in the white border. I was able to unhook the stain and rehook with a similar yarn. Since I have a sizable yarn stash, matching this yarn color wasn’t too difficult.

What if you can’t get an exact match? In the Salmon rug above, you can see just to the left of the Claire Murray signature, a small amount of yarn had been pulled out. Since I couldn’t match that color exactly, we had two choices; unhook the whole blue border and rehook with new yarn, or bring in a slightly different yarn (the strand you see in the upper left picture), peppering it throughout the blue border, creating a variegated effect. We chose the latter option, so when I unhooked some of the original yarn from other spots, I was able to bring that over to the original unhooked patch so it wouldn’t stand out, and when completed, you see a variegated outer border instead of the original solid color.

77. Mabel worn edge

This is also a pretty typical wear-and-tear issue, especially with old rugs without bound edges. If the backing is just folded down along the edge, over time those fibers can break, and cause the hooking to come unraveled.

In this case, our choice was either to reduce the overall size of the rug, say, removing the red hooked border and replacing it with a red bound edge to salvage the healthy backing remaining, or to unhook the original red border, sew in a patch to make it possible to rehook to the original size, and then bind the edge to prevent further damage. We chose the latter option for this rug.

mabel showing added burlap edge for web

Here you see the red border has been completely unhooked, and a new backing has been sewn in place. That made it possible for me to hook a new border through the old and new backing, with new yarn.

mabel finished edge for web

So here you can see that I bound the edge and completed the hem. If you have an old rug with a simple folded-over hem in your house and the backing on the edge is in good shape, bind the edge now to prevent damage. And of course, if you’re making a new rug, take a little time to do this extra step and you’ll ensure that rug will last a long long time!

Need a primer on how to bind the edges on your rugs? Check out this post for how you can protect your new and old rugs from wear and tear here.

old rug before for web

I wanted to share a recent repair job, just to show you that even severe damage can be repaired fairly easily. This old beauty, probably around 80 years old, was in pretty good shape except for some serious damage in the center. Notice that the edges of this old rug were bound, which explains why it has lasted this long. I suspect that the damage in the center could have been caused by embers from the fire popping out and burning small holes, and those holes just started getting bigger and bigger.

It looked like there were some efforts to repair the rug, but they may have made it worse. Once there is a raw edge of the backing fabric, unless the rug is properly patched, the unraveling will just get worse. A piece of burlap had been sewn into the back, and some sections were rehooked through the new piece, but without doing anything to hold the raw edges (the holes) together, the damage just continued.

Above left is a close up of the damaged area from the top. Above right is what the rug looked like in the back.

I carefully unsewed the patch and removed the parts that had been hooked through it (above left). Once the patch was removed, it was easy to see where the holes were in the backing. I decided that instead of trying to match the colors and keep any of the old hooking in the center, I would just come in with new yarn for that section. I carefully unhooked the center section.

So here’s what I mean by a good, secure patch. Above left you can see that I have pinned some backing fabric to the back of the rug, at least 1″ outside of any of the holes. Above right shows that I marked that area with a sharpie pen.

I then zig-zagged along the sharpie line to protect the patch from unraveling through the hooking process. Above right, you can see that I trimmed the patch close to the stitching line and pinned the patch into place into the back of the rug.

Above left shows hand-stitching the patch into the back of the rug. Above right shows tacking down all of the raw edges of the original burlap on the top of the rug. The hole on the right is getting tacked down, the hole on the left hasn’t been tacked down yet. I trimmed away any stray strands of burlap.

old rug patch sewn in top for web

Here you can see all the holes have been patched, all the raw edges tacked down, protected from future unraveling. At this point, I rehooked the center section.

old rug after_for web

Old Rug, 45″x27″ Repaired

Ta da! Now this lovely old rug can be enjoyed for many more years to come.

So if your hooked rugs start to show wear and tear, no problem. You can fix them!

Happy Hooking Everyone!

Judy Taylor


Spring Cleaning! Care and Cleaning of Hand-hooked Rugs, Part I

Spring is a great time to take stock of our faithful old hooked rugs, and to spruce them up for another year of warmth and comfort in our homes. This is an easy process, just a few things to keep in mind.


Hand-hooked rugs can benefit from occasional vacuuming, but you always want to give a quick check top and bottom, to make sure there haven’t been any snags. If you find any, take a minute to re-hook before you vacuum.

Vacuuming will remove most of the surface material, as well as any grit that can get down and grind away at the fibers. But you might be surprised how much you can brighten your rug with an easy scrub.


Set of lovely old area rugs. The one on the right has been washed, the one on the left hasn’t.

In William Winthrop Kent’s book, The Hooked Rug (1923), he told the story that pioneer folks would wait for a good powdery snow to wash their rugs. They’d take the rugs outside, throw snow on top, sweep it off, then bring the rugs inside to dry. So you don’t need a whole lot of water, just enough moisture to remove the dirt clinging to the rug.

When I wash my rugs, I take two pans of cold water. In one, I add a tablespoon of liquid laundry detergent. You want laundry detergent, because you don’t need suds (if you use powdered laundry detergent, just make sure you completely dissolve it so you won’t leave any flakes of residue on the rug). In the other pan of water, I add a splash of white vinegar. I put a clean rag or sponge into each pan.


With the pan of soapy water, I squeeze the rag almost all the way out. You don’t need to get the rug soaking wet, you just need enough moisture to lift up hair and debris that has collected. In a circular motion, I scrub the rug in small sections, following up with a light rinse with the vinegar water. I repeat this process on the back of the rug. Then I leave the rug to air dry.

At times like these, when you are making a close examination of your rug, you may notice some problems, like stains that won’t wash out or areas where the backing has weakened. All of these can be repaired, and I’ll cover that topic in next month’s post.

This month I’ll have a booth at the Puyallup Spring Fair (April 11-14). If you live in the Pacific Northwest, definitely come by and say hi!

sheps ex booth cropped for web[438]

I’ll also be teaching a Beginning Rug Hooking Class at the Spring Fair on Friday, 10-1.

little house edited

Little House, 11″x8.5″ Kit includes yarn, wool fabric strips and T-shirt strips

In this class, we’re going to cover hooking with yarn, wool fabric strips and T-shirt strips, so this will be your All-In-One class to get you started with this delightful craft!

Old Books

Old Books, 17″x32″, designed and hand hooked with T-shirts by Judy Taylor

This month’s Featured Rug is one I made for a fundraiser for Hugo House, a writing school in Seattle. It’s hooked with 100% T-shirts. You can read more about it here!

Happy Hooking everyone!

Judy Taylor