Why I Am A Hooker

so much yarn for web

So Much Yarn/So Little Time, 31″x22″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

I hook rugs with yarn, which makes me kind of weird. In a country where most hookers hook with fabric strips, I tend to get some curious but skeptical looks. “Traditional Rug Hooking,” the craft of hooking rugs with fabric strips is a bit of a misnomer, because it tends to suggest that hooking rugs with yarn is somehow non-traditional. But everything to do with rug hooking, going back hundreds of years, has maintained that the two materials (yarn and fabric strips) go hand in hand to make beautiful, long lasting rugs.

According to antique historian William Winthrop Kent, it was weavers who first started the craft, not with their woven cloth, but with the ‘thrums,’ the short pieces of yarn that were cut off the loom when the fabric was woven. In fact, the idea that in the 1700’s, someone would buy whole cloth and cut it up into tiny strips to make rugs, as we do today, would be preposterous and wasteful. But what about the remnants left over after the garment had been cut out? Those could be cut into strips. What about when the garment gets worn out? Those could be hooked into rugs. The craft was begun as a way to make use of whatever was at hand. Yarn was plentiful, there was a spinning wheel in practically every home, and wool scraps would never go to waste.

Rug hooking has evolved because of its practicality, and also by way of fashion. It got its biggest boost as a craft in the 18th and 19th centuries, when Europeans began to settle in North America, because they needed to be able to furnish their new homes with everything they could make from scratch, and all they needed to carry over on the boat was a small hook. By the late 1800’s, manufactured household goods were cheap and easy to get, so the fashion of hooking rugs, like many home arts, began to lose popularity.

Then in WW II, there was a tremendous movement to reuse and recycle precious raw materials. Plus, people needed to keep their hands busy to keep their minds off loved ones who were away at the front. So rug hooking got popular again, but in the 1940’s, good wool yarn was in demand for other things and so the preference for hooking with recycled garments gained favor. After the war, acrylic yarns came out and became a cheap alternative to wool yarn, so it’s no wonder that the hookers of the day eschewed the cheap stuff, and happily continued to hook with wool fabric.

But fashions change. Today, you would be very hard pressed to find 100% wool fabric in the fabric stores, because people prefer the ease and convenience of wool blends (which don’t work for rug hooking). You can find good rug hooking wool in rug hooking shops (mostly on the East coast and online), and sometimes in recycled garments at thrift stores.

But now as never before, yarn is plentiful! Almost every yarn company sells a brand of yarn that is in the range of worsted weight to bulky, which is perfect for rug hooking. Rug hooking is attracting yarn artists as a practical way to use up leftovers from knitting, crochet and weaving. As long as the yarn is not slippery, it can be hooked into a rug.

I have been teaching how to hook rugs with yarn for 26 years. In that time, I have taught thousands of people in person, and thousands more have visited my website and bought my books. Still, yarn hookers are in a minority. We just don’t have the hooking guilds, classes, or retreats that the fabric hookers have. So I say to you yarn hookers out there, share your craft with the world. Demonstrate in public, teach classes, do a blog or a website, write a book! If there is anything I can do to support you in that effort, let me know!

The Featured Rug of the Month at Little House Rugs is shown above. So Much Yarn/So Little Time is another fun rug for using up leftover yarns from other projects, because you only need 1.5 oz of the main colors, plus 6 oz for the background.

Subscribers to this blog will receive 20% off on the So Much Yarn pattern on linen and custom kit at http://www.littlehouserugs.com/blog-special-so-much-yarn.html.

I have two classes scheduled in June. The first is at the Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene on June 26 and the second is at the Weaving Works in Seattle, on June 30. More info at http://www.littlehouserugs.com/shows-and-classes.html.

terrier finished for web_edited-1

Good Dog, Refurbished by Judy Taylor 22.5″x36″

And remember that for every $50.00 you spend with Little House Rugs between now and November 25, 2016, you will be entered to win this Good Dog rug (a $385.00 value!).

Happy Hooking everyone!

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3 thoughts on “Why I Am A Hooker

  1. jude says:

    Introduced my cousin’s wife to your website w/her interest in hooking with yarn. She lives in Yakima, hope she makes it to your Seattle class. She can take a picture for me and pass on your tips to me in Missouri!!!!

    Like

  2. elaine allerton says:

    Judy,,, I love hooking with yarn and wool strips!! Do it together most times,,, sometjmes just yarn! My yarn seems to be taking over!
    Love it all,,,, take care,,,

    Like

  3. Thank you for this post, Judy! I, too, am the “lone wolf” in a community of wool fabric hookers. I’ve shared your books with these friends because they contain such an interesting history lesson on the use of yarn in hooked rugs, and will share this post as well. I much prefer hooking with wool, and even had yarn made for hooking from the fleeces of my own sheep and goats. It seemed to me to be a great way to use those fleeces that were too coarse for next to the skin wear. Keep it up!

    Like

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