Many of my customers and students balk at the idea of putting a hooked rug on the floor. I reassure them that a well-made hooked rug will last 100 years or more, on the floor, and will in fact be fought over by future generations.
Stuff will happen to the rug, to be sure, but anything that happens to a hooked rug can be repaired (which is why they last so long). These rugs can be washed and vacuumed, and if they get stained, worn or moth-eaten, no worries, all these things can be fixed.
Vacuuming is great for hooked rugs, because you want to remove the grit that wears away at the fibers. Before I vacuum a hooked rug, I always check for snagged yarn to be re-hooked (more about this later). Don’t ‘beat’ a hooked rug though, that’s not good for the fibers.
Hooked rugs can also be washed, but hand-washing is preferred. Just have on hand two pans containing about two cups of water each. In the first, add one tablespoon of laundry detergent. (You want laundry detergent as opposed to dishwashing liquid or other soap, because you don’t want too many suds.)
Put a rag in the pan and squeeze it almost all the way out. You don’t need to get the rug soaking wet, you just want enough moisture to pick up the dirt that has been deposited on the rug. Scrub the rug in a circular motion. Don’t forget to wash the back as well.
In the second pan of water, add a splash of vinegar (this is good for the yarn). Then using a clean rag, go over the washed rug one more time, to remove some of the soap. Then lay the rug where it can get plenty of air to dry.
I read once that in days of yore, they would wait for a good powdery snow, take the rugs outside, put snow on top, sweep it off, and bring the rugs inside to dry. So you don’t need a lot of moisture, just enough to lift the dirt off the surface.
These two old rugs (above) were probably forty or fifty years old. They were quite dirty, but other than that, they were in really good shape. I washed them, and since the edges were in good shape, I decided to bind them before I use these rugs on the floor.
To bind the edge, I removed the hem, then I wrapped the backing around a cotton cord, extending out from the hooked edge. I tacked the cording in place using regular sewing thread.
The cotton cord protects the backing, because the fabric is not going to fold down flat anymore.
I whip stitch over the cording, using a matching yarn and a tapestry needle. I sew over the ends of the yarn, so they don’t show (I don’t tie knots in the back). The whip stitching adds yet another protective layer to the backing fabric, shielding it from wear and tear.
This is the most common thing that happens to a hooked rug. Occasionally, a bit of yarn may get snagged on something. Kitties are often the culprits, but don’t throw out the rug (or the cat!). Just remember, your rug will survive not only this cat, but many generations of family pets to come.
Just pull the unhooked yarn through to the back, and re-hook it. If you have just a little bit of experience with rug hooking, it is a five-minute repair. What could be easier?
What if Fido took a liking to your hooked rug and decided to make it a chew toy, like the rug shown below?
Don’t panic, even this can be repaired! Unhook the rug until you come to healthy backing. Then sew in a patch on the back. Tack the two layers of backing together, trimming away any loose threads, but keep the ones that run all the way through the damage. Then re-hook the rug, hooking through both layers.
This rug was fairly new at the time, so it was easy to match the yarn to re-hook the design. When you lay the rug on the floor, you cannot see the repair. If you examine it on the back, you can see the patch.
With normal wear and tear, the first place to wear out on a hooked rug is the edge. When I hook a rug, I always bind the edge to prevent such damage, but I have found that old rugs rarely have bound edges. In this instance, I unhooked the border and sewed in a patch to strengthen and protect the hooked edge of the rug. Then I re-hooked the border, bound the edge with a matching yarn, and completed the hem.
This Cocker Spaniel rug is another family treasure that had been used and loved for many decades. I unhooked the edge, but in this case, the owner decided to have me make the rug a little smaller, rather than patching the old edge.
This charming leaf rug (below) had sustained major damage all around the edge, as well as in spots inside the design.
I made a large patch, to restore and support the entire edge. Then I re-hooked all of the patched areas and bound the edge, so the rug will continue to be used and enjoyed for a long time.
Why bother to repair an old rug? Because hooked rugs are extremely valuable. Restored, this rug has a retail value of at least $1400.00, not to mention the sentimental value to the family.
This month, subscribers to this blog can get my books for 20% off retail prices, and if you combine both Joy of Hooking (With Yarn!) and Rug Hooker’s Guide to the YARNIVERSE! you will save 35% off regular prices. This blog special will expire on July 31, 2015. http://hstrial-jtaylor9.homestead.com/blog-special-july-2015.html
And don’t forget that for every $50.00 you spend with Little House Rugs between now and November 25, 2015, you will be entered to win the Victorian Santa (valued at $165.00). (In other words, if you spend $200.00 you will be entered four times.)