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



Celtic Designs

celtic love knot with poem for web

Celtic Love Knot (with poem) 46″ round. Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, what better time to think about hooking a Celtic design? It might seem like a complex interlace, but it’s actually quite easy to hook. The challenge in the rug shown above was to include a love poem within the circular ribbons.

The poem was written by my brother, Mark Ford, who died at age 18. I love how it seems profound and knowing, as well as youthful and hopeful, perfect for a love knot design. Here’s the text:

The lover lives in a small world where love is the
Moving force.
Why tell him life is not as good as it could be?
Heartbreak is the only tender hold we have on innocence.
And if he should never come to the realization that the universe is heartless
Is that a loss?
We boast of knowing the ‘facts of life’
But is it not we who have lost them?

The universe would continue to hiss and clank should love leave it
But it is a hopeless task to make him believe it.

I do not promise to love forever
(Unless man does live forever)
But I do promise to love you as long as I am.

(Eighteen years old… If you would like to read more of Mark’s beautiful poetry, click here!)

Of course, you could hook this design without the poem. I have included this design in many iterations, as well as a bunch of other Celtic designs to inspire you on the Featured Rug of the Month. You can also follow a link to get 20% off Celtic patterns and kits during the month of March.

Erin go bragh everyone!

Judy Taylor


Featured Artist Sharon Johnston

Summer in the Forest, 19.5"x13" Designed, hooked and embroidered by Sharon Johnston

If I could take a walk inside the imagination of an artist, it would be Sharon Johnston. Her artistry includes hooked rugs made with yarn, but is by no means limited to only that. She includes many different fibers, textures and techniques to create her multi-dimensional artwork. Here is just one of her brilliant series’.


But don’t stop there. Visit the Featured Rug of the Month to see each piece in detail, and marvel at her ingenuity and creativity, inviting you to explore her spectacular wooded realm.

Do you have a rug you would like to see featured on Little House Rugs? E-mail me! It can be a rug you’ve made, found or inherited. They all have a story, and we love to read all about them. 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?

Don’t forget to visit (and join) Rug Hooking Daily. Share your love of rug hooking with 9400+ members in this inter-active rug hooking community!

And if you haven’t had the chance, view my new youtube videos on hooking with T-shirts and that good old standby, hooking with yarn.

That’s it for a quiet February. Time to gear up for spring!

Happy Hooking everyone!





Show and Class Schedule for 2019

ma jonie fleur 2 retouched for web

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

This is a new piece I hooked for an article in Rug Hooking Magazine, coming up in the September/October issue. I really want to show how versatile T-shirts are, that you can really hook any kind of design. I’ll let you know when the issue comes out!

Here’s my show and class schedule, come by and see my booth, or try a Beginning Rug Hooking class. In this year’s class I’m going to try something ambitious, we’re going to be hooking a kit with yarn, T-shirt strips and wool fabric strips, so you can learn all the techniques in one fell swoop! (Note: schedule subject to change, you can always check up for sure at my website):

St. Distaff’s Day, Sat. Jan 5, 10-4, Evergreen Fairgrounds, Monroe, WA

Shepherd’s Extravaganza, April 11-14 Puyallup Spring Fair, Puyallup, WA

All in One Beginning Rug Hooking Class, Shepherd’s Extravaganza, Puyallup Spring Fair, Puyallup, WA (date and time TBA)

All in One Beginning Rug Hooking Class, Black Sheep Gathering, Albany, OR
Friday, (time TBA) July 5

Black Sheep Gathering, July 5-7, Linn County Fairgrounds, Albany, OR

Wedgewood Arts Festival, July 14, 15 Seattle, WA

Prairie City Fiber Fest, July 27, 28, Prairie City, OR

Oregon Flock and Fiber, Sept. 28, 29, Canby, OR

All in One Beginning Rug Hooking Class, Oregon Flock & Fiber, Friday Sept. 27, (time TBA)

Fiber Fusion, Oct. 20, 21, Evergreen Fairgrounds, Monroe, WA

demelza tshirts 1 retouched for web

Demelza, 24.5″x39″ Designed and hooked with T-shirts by Judy Taylor

This month’s Featured Rug (shown above) is on sale for the month of January. Get 20% off the pattern on linen or the Custom Kit (in your choice of colors, and your choice of yarn or T-shirt strips).

antique flower rug cropped for web

Antique Flower Rug, 33.5″x24.5″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

The winner of the drawing for the Antique Flower Rug was Dona Snow of Wilton, CA. Congratulations Dona!

Happy New Year and Happy Hooking everyone!



St. Distaff’s Day Spin-In
Evergreen Fairgrounds
Monroe, WA
Saturday, January 5, 2019
Shepherd’s Extravaganza
Puyallup Spring Fair
April 11-14 2019
Puyallup, WA
Class: All In One Beginning Rug Hooking
Learn to hook with yarn, wool fabric strips and T-shirt strips
Shepherd’s Extravaganza
(date and time to be added)
Class: All In One Beginning Rug Hooking
Learn to hook with yarn, wool fabric
strips and T-shirt strips
Friday, July 5, 9-12
Albany, OR
Linn County Fairgrounds
July 5-July 7 2019
Albany, OR
(wait list)
July 14-15 2019
Seattle, WA
July 27-28 2019
Prairie City, OR
Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival
September 28-29 2019
Canby, OR
Class: All In One Beginning Rug Hooking
Learn to hook with yarn, wool fabric strips
and T-shirt strips
Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival
September 27 1:30-4:30
Fiber Fusion
October 20-21 2019
Monroe, WA

Designer Frames?

Christmas tree cropped for web

Proddy Christmas Tree, 9″x5″, Designed and prodded by Judith Stephens

We’ll get to the subject of this post in a second, but first I wanted to share Judith Stephens’ darling Proddy Christmas Tree project. This fun design, along with some of her proddy rugs can be viewed at the Featured Rug of the Month at Little House Rugs. You’ll learn about the history of proddy rugs, and you’ll find the complete instructions to prod one of your very own!

And now to the subject of this posting. A creative customer of mine, Lizzy Palmer, shared a new skill with me that I thought was so darned interesting, I had to give it a try. Some time back, she had seen online instructions for making PVC pipes look like wooden dowels, and just filed that away in her amazing brain for a while. When she constructed my old frame design (Playing Hookey), she knew she had found the perfect project to try her new technique.

playing hookey wood style for web

Playing Hookey Frame, wool effect, by Lizzy Palmer

We tried the same technique using the DeLovely frame design, our new and improved version that lifts the rug up so you don’t have to look down at your lap. (You’ll find everything you need to make your own DeLovely frame here.) But if you want to go real fancy, try this first.

sanding pipe for web

With a power sander (or good old sandpaper and a dab of elbow grease), sand off the printing and barcodes.

scoring pipe 2 for web

Scoring the pipe: My husband Gary found that a coarse-tooth saw worked best for creating grooves in the pipe. He would drag the saw over the pipe, meandering so the lines were uneven, like the grain of a wooden doweling.

Just a note about cutting the pipes: Gary found it easier to do the scoring if the pipes were cut down into manageable lengths. So go ahead and cut up the longer pieces (27″, 22.5″, and 20″) before scoring the pipes, but you’ll want to combine some of the smaller pieces into workable sections before scoring (8″, 6″, 4″, 2.5″, 1.5″ and 1″). Then you can cut them into the suggested lengths after you’ve painted those pipes.

scored pipe for web

Here’s what the pipes look like after scoring (above).

sanding after scoring for web

Sand off any rough edges. Get rid of anything jagged that could snag your rug!

rubbing in paint for web

Then rub one coat of paint into the pipes (I chose Americana Dark Chocolate Acrylic Paint). It naturally appeared darker inside the grooves, adding to the wood look. After everything dried thoroughly, we tested it to make sure it could stand up to moisture, and it did just fine (I wouldn’t leave it out in the rain all night or anything, but if your frame gets a few raindrops on it from the car to the building, I’m confident it won’t wreck the paint job).

painting knobs for web

I used DecoArt Dazzling Metallics Acrylic paint for the fittings (I chose Splendid Gold, but there are other metallic colors to choose from). I found that they needed two coats, so I did it in stages, leaving the bottom section of each unpainted (so I could set them down on the cardboard without sticking). (In the picture above, the fittings have had their first coat, leaving some of the white fitting showing on the bottoms) I would do the next coat, starting with the bottom (unpainted) part, leaving the top unpainted so it could sit on the cardboard without sticking. In this way, I flipped them over each time so everything got two coats. Over time and use, I may need to touch up the fittings or the pipes, but that’s no big deal.

Here’s how the frame turned out. The instructions for making the DeLovely frame include the longer (standing frame) and the shorter (lap frame) legs, so you can switch them out easily. I don’t know if the wood grain comes out clearly online, but the pipes really do look (and feel) like wood (only quite a bit lighter)!

For the normal DeLovely frame, I glue white rubberized shelf liner on the front pipes, but the stuff comes in quite a few colors, so I chose a dark brown for this frame.

So… while we’re on the subject of decorating our frames, Google all the colors you can get that rubberized material in. If you don’t want to bother with the wood effect, there’s nothing saying you couldn’t paint your pipes and fittings any old colors you like! Bird’s egg Blue? Daglo Green? Rainbow stripes? Go for it!

t shirt cover scan for web

I made a dandy YouTube video on Rug Hooking With T-Shirts as a companion to the new book. Check it out. It shows close-up and step-by-step, the basic process of hooking with T-shirts, which is also helpful even if you’re hooking with yarn because we really went in for the detail on this one. You can also watch our award-winning DVD on YouTube called Hooking With Yarn! 

Happy Hooking Everyone!

Judy Taylor


How to make Jacob Sheep Ornaments

jacob orn in tree 1 adjusted

What’s a Jacob Sheep, you ask? They’re a rare old breed that’s still being preserved today. They are named for the biblical Jacob, who bred spotted sheep to spotted sheep and got (wait for it) spotted sheep! This was a pretty big deal in those days. It’s hard to dye colors if you live in a desert climate, so breeding colored wool was a boon to old Jacob.

geoffrey_charles 2

This magnificent Jacob was one of our first, named Geoffrey Charles.

Jacob Sheep always have horns, either two, four or even six horns. They are all uniquely marked, so you can always tell who’s who out in the field. They are intelligent (ahem, intelligent for sheep), curious and friendly. We’ve been raising Jacob Sheep on our farm for over thirty years.

These Jacob Sheep ornaments are quick and easy to make. They’re perfect for the tree, but can also be made up as refrigerator magnets.

This pattern is so easy, you could just freehand it directly on the burlap. Just draw an oval, about 2.5″ tall and 1.5″ wide, with a nose patch and two eye patches. If you want to make multiples, just leave about 3″ of burlap between ovals, so you’ll have enough selvage to do the finishing. And since Jacob Sheep are all individually marked, you can go for a variety of nose and eye patches.

Hook the ornaments with black and white yarn. When you’ve finished the hooking, cut the pieces out, leaving at least 1″ of burlap all around.

jacob ornaments cutting out

With a regular needle and thread, tack the burlap edge down in back, as close as possible to the hooked edge. Be sure to dig deep with your needle, so you’re grabbing the burlap backing, not a bit of yarn.

jacob ornaments tacking down burlap

Trim the excess burlap away, close to the stitching.

jacob ornaments trim burlap

At this point, you might want to press your ornaments with a steam iron.

Using a 12″ pipe cleaner, bend according to the photo below to create the upper horn, ear and lower horn, all in one piece. If you can’t get 12″ pipe cleaners, then make the horns and ear pieces separately. I hot glue the pipe cleaners to the back of the ornament, but if you prefer, you can sew them in place.

jacob ornaments glue pipe cleaner

If you want to make ornaments for the tree, cut a 3″ piece of ribbon and sew or hot glue it to the ornament. If you prefer to make your ornament into a refrigerator magnet, skip this step.

jacob ornaments ribbon

Next, hot glue (or sew) black felt to the back of the ornament. Trim away any excess felt. If you wanted to make refrigerator magnets, hot glue the magnet to the felt backing (you really can’t sew the magnets, you need to glue them).

jacob ornaments

Jacob Sheep refrigerator magnets

If it sounds like fun to whip up these ornaments but you don’t want to bother finding all the fiddly bits, you can order the kit. The kit comes with everything you need to whip up 4 ornaments (pattern on burlap, yarn, ribbon, magnets, pipe cleaners, felt backing, hooking and sewing instructions). Note: the kit doesn’t include a hook, but you can get that separately. However, if you want to throw in our award-winning book, Joy of Hooking (With Yarn!), you’ll save $15 (we call it the Special Package). And best of all, if you order the Special Package, you’ll be entered to win…

antique flower rug cropped for web

Antique Flower Rug, 33.5″x24.5″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

There’s still time to enter to win the Antique Flower Rug (a $550.00 value!). For every fifty dollars you spend with Little House Rugs between now and November 25, 2018, you’ll be entered to win (if you spend $100, you’ll be entered twice, $150, you’ll be entered three times, etc.). Somebody is going to win it this very month, why not you?

With the holidays fast approaching, what to give the yarnophile who has everything? May I suggest…

so much yarn for web

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

The So Much Yarn Pattern on Linen makes a great gift for the yarn lover in your life. You need about 1.5 oz. of leftover yarns to hook each of the colors, and I guarantee you, the yarn lover in your life has 1.5 oz. of leftover yarn! The pattern on linen happens to sell for $50, so right there, you’ll be entered to win the Antique Flower rug! The pattern comes with rug hooking instructions and a guide for how much yarn you need to hook the rug. It doesn’t include the hook though, (since you only need one hook for your whole life) but that can be ordered separately.

And if your yarnie already has our first two award-winning books, Joy of Hooking (With Yarn!) and Rug Hooker’s Guide to the YARNIVERSE!, I bet they don’t have the newest book, T-Shirt Treasures!

t shirt cover scan for web

If you enjoyed this blog, but aren’t a subscriber yet, just click the Follow button on the lower right hand corner of the screen. It’s free! If you become a subscriber, the monthly post, chock full of tips and techniques, web specials, upcoming shows and classes, etc. will show up in your very own email box.

Happy Hooking Everyone!


Turning a Hooked Mat into a Pillow

This month’s post is PACKED full of info, so keep on scrolling.

We’ve covered the basics for hemming your projects, but never gone over the steps for making a hooked mat into a pillow, so I’ll take you through the steps below.

Then you can read about our new Mushroom Rug Hook, the best one I’ve tried so far. Then other fun stuff like did you know you can order your copy of T-Shirt Treasures now (see link below)? You can read about this month’s Featured Rug and find out how blog subscribers can save 20% on the design. I’ve got a show in Monroe, WA this month, and don’t forget that for every $50 you spend between now and November 25, 2018 you’ll be entered to win the Antique Flower Rug (holiday shopping anyone?)! And I’ll close with some thoughts on contacting me via email.

finished pillow for web

But first, here’s how you make your hooked mat into a pillow. First I’ll show the basic way, then a fancier way, if you prefer.

trim edges and corners for web

Trim the backing away about 2″ from the hooked edge, and cut off the corners about 1″ from the hooked corner.

folding down corner for web

Fold down the diagonal, close to the hooked edge.

pin corner one for web

Fold down one side, close to the hooked edge and pin in place.

pinned down total hem for web

Repeat for all the sides, so the extra burlap is pinned down all around.

tacking down edge for web

With a regular needle and thread, baste the folded edge down close to the hooked edge. Be sure you are grabbing the burlap in the hooked side, not a loop of yarn. It isn’t necessary to baste down the cut edges of the burlap, but you can if you want. When you have basted all around, you can remove the pins.

trim backing edges and corners for web

Lay the hooked mat over the material you want to use for the back of the pillow. Trim to about 1″ all around, cutting off the corners about 1/2″ from the hooked edge.

fold backing corner for web

Turn your work over. Tuck the back material diagonal corner under, so you can just see the hooked corner of the mat.

pinning backing down corner one for web

Fold the back material under along one side. Pin down close to the hooked edge.

folding backing corner down two for web

Fold the second corner down, tucking the excess back material inside and pin down, close to the hooked edge. Repeat all around the sides and corners.

first stitch for web

With a regular needle and thread, stitch the two layers together. Come in from the back of the pillow, making sure you are sewing through the burlap (not a bit of yarn along the hooked edge). When you have pulled your needle through, come in from the hooked side to the back material. Stitch back and forth in this way (as opposed to stitching around and around). As you stitch, pull the back material tight against the hooked edge, so no burlap shows through along the edge.

stitching continued for web

This picture shows the back material closely stitched to the mat so the burlap doesn’t show.

the gap for web

Keep stitching the edge all around, leaving a 4″ gap for stuffing.

stuffing for web

Stuff with polyester stuffing. Put in small handfuls (hands full?) at a time to avoid lumpiness.

pinning gap for web

When you’re happy with the amount of stuffing, pin the gap closed, and stitch.

If you want to be really fancy, you can bind the edge of your hooked mat first, just as if you were making a floor rug. Then follow the steps above to sew the backing on.

hemming 1 rotated for web

For this method, wrap the backing around a cotton cord (cord shown on top).

hemming 2 for web

With a regular needle and thread, tack the cording in place, sticking out beyond the hooked edge.

hemming 3 for web

Stitch right up to the corner.

hemming 4 for web

Keep stitching around the corner.

hemming 5 for web

Here’s what the corner will look like from the back when you’ve tacked the cording down all around.

hemming 6 for web

Fold down the backing on the diagonal corner.

hemming 7

Pin down one side.

hemming 8

Pin down the other side. Stitch the mitered corner together and remove the pins.

hemming 9

With matching yarn and an upholstery needle, come in from the back to the front, leaving about a 1″ tail in the back. Whip stitch a couple of times around from back to front, sewing over the tail in the back.

hemming 10 for web

When you have established the stitching, come in from the front with your needle, instead of going around and coming in from the back. Do this once, and when you come to the end of the yarn, your final tail will be in the back as well. Then you’ll continue with another piece of yarn, coming in from the back to begin with, this time whip stitching around both tails.

hemming 11 for web

When you come to the place where you began, just put your needle through about 1″ of the whip stitching, pull it through and trim. Now all the tails are covered. Follow the steps above to sew the back material on your pillow.

Introducing The Mushroom Rug Hook!

mushroom hook cropped

I know what you’re thinking. “That’s the weirdest rug hook I’ve ever seen!”

It’s also the most comfortable, ergonomic hook I’ve ever tried.

There’s lots of hooks on the market, in every shape imaginable, from fancy wood handles to curved hooks (the metal part). They can get spendy, too (up to $40). Most of those hooks have longer, narrower handles. But this one is designed to be perfect for rug hooking. Why? Because the wider end gives me more to push against with my palm, and since my fingers are naturally curved around it, no effort is required to hold onto the hook when I’m pulling it up.

pushing hook in

Pushing the hook in with my palm is easy with the wider handle.

pulling hook out

My fingers are relaxed when I pull up on the loop.

The metal part is 2 mm, which is perfect for all types of backing. It’s my ideal hook. At only ten bucks, it’s a great deal.

T-Shirt Treasures is available now. It’s everything you need to know if you want to try hooking durable, machine-washable, beautiful heirloom rugs with T-shirts!

t shirt cover scan for web

Even though the book is out now, I’m still interested in adding new T-shirt rugs to future editions, so if you have hooked, are hooking, or are thinking of hooking a T-shirt rug, please send me your photos!

hearts hit or miss for web

Hearts Rug, 18″x30″, Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

The Featured Rug of the Month at Little House rugs is the Hearts Rug, done up here with the multi-colored hit-or-miss background. What a fun way to use up leftover yarn! Blog subscribers can get the Hearts Rug pattern on linen, custom kit (in your choice of colors) and the Special Package (custom kit, hook and Joy of Hooking With Yarn!) all for 20% off, but only until October 31.

I’m going to have a booth at Fiber Fusion October 20 and 21 in Monroe, WA. It’s my last show of the year, so come and say “hi!”

antique flower rug cropped for web

Antique Flower Rug, 33.5″x24.5″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

It’s not too late to get yourself entered to win the Antique Flower Rug (a $550 value). For every $50 you spend with Little House Rugs between now and November 25, 2018, you’ll be entered to win this rug. Good luck!

On E-mailing me: I have noticed over the last couple of years that when I respond to an email, sometimes I get another email from the person, wondering if I got the first one! Yikes! And those are the people who thought to ask. I assume there’s lots of other people who never heard back from me and just thought I was ignoring them!

So clearly, some of my responses are getting bumped because of spam filters. There’s two things you can do if you want to email me (or if you want my reply to get to you!): One, be sure you include your phone number on the contact form and two, add littlehouserugs@hotmail.com to your contact list. You’d think that a spam program could recognize that you sent me an email, and thereby realize that you kinda wanted me to reply, but I’m no tech wizard. Their magic is beyond my pay grade.

Whew! I guess that’s it for this month. Happy Hooking everyone!

Judy Taylor

Continue reading