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