Happy New Year!


Edeldal Farm Rug, 3’x3′ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

Since this is the start of a new year, I thought about my very first rug, hooked in 1991. I had just learned to spin yarn from my brand new flock of Jacob sheep and Angora goats, but hadn’t yet discovered what I wanted to do with the yarn. I like knitting and crochet, even dabbled in weaving and macrame, but I was still on the lookout for a yarn craft that I loved as much as handspinning.

Then I found Claire Murray, a little shop in a little town called Poulsbo, WA. I walked in and saw all these lovely rugs made with YARN!!! I took a class, and as the corny joke goes, I was hooked. The rug above was my first attempt to design and hook a project of my own. I used it as my farm sign when I showed my sheep at the fair. It is imperfect; I hooked it on burlap (I didn’t know about linen then), and I still was not convinced that the yarn would stay in place, so I crammed too much yarn into the rug. I soon learned that the yarn needs more room, so I avoided that problem later.

(By the way, that is a very old phone number on the rug! You’d be better off to email me!)

My point is, this is a learning process. While the technique is fairly simple to acquire, it does take practice and experience to really get the hang of it. And some 125 rugs later, I’m still learning!

This month, blog subscribers can get 20% off on linen, so no excuses to get started on your new project for 2017! Order your linen now at http://hstrial-jtaylor9.homestead.com/blog-special-linen.html?_=1483657216119


Whale Rug 35″x26.5″ Designed and hooked with handspun Jacob wool by Judy Taylor

Remember that between now and November 25, 2017, for every $50 you spend with Little House Rugs, you will be entered to win the Whale Rug (a $450 value!). (If you order $100 worth, you’ll be entered twice, etc.)

Happy hooking everyone and happy, happy new year!

Judy Taylor



Specials at Little House Rugs for December 2016

For all orders until December 31, 2016, you will get FREE SHIPPING (please note that Paypal will charge you for shipping, but that will be quickly refunded!)

And you can also get our award-winning Book Combo for an additional 25% off until the end of the year (plus free shipping!) At that price, you’re actually getting Rug Hooker’s Guide to the YARNIVERSE! for FREE! Click here to order: http://hstrial-jtaylor9.homestead.com/book-joy-of-hooking.html?_=1481066069394

Okay, enough business! The Featured Rug of the Month at Little House Rugs for December is the inspiring story of Jonnie Rogers, a stroke survivor who found that she could still hook rugs for her grandkids. Click here for the story: http://www.littlehouserugs.com/featured-rug-radtkes-mom-dec-2016.html


Jonnie Rogers Pillow

The winner of the Good Dog rug this year was Denise Halloran of Olympia, WA. Congratulations!

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Irish Terrier rug, re-hooked with new background

I bet you’d like to know which rug we’ll be giving away for 2017…


Whale Rug 35″x26.5″ Designed and hooked with handspun Jacob wool by Judy Taylor

Ta dah! It is the Whale Rug, which I hooked from our own Jacob wool. It is hemmed with a casing on top, so it can be hung on the wall. It is a $450 value! For every $50 you spend with Little House Rugs between 1-1-2017 and 11-25-2017 you will be entered (so if you spend $100, you will be entered twice, etc.)

I often hear from my customers and students that it’s difficult to get information, instruction and inspiration about hooking with yarn. Some areas don’t even have a decent yarn store, let alone a store that specializes in rug hooking. Wouldn’t it be nice if hooking rugs with yarn was given more attention by Rug Hooking Magazine? How great would it be if RHM had an article on yarn in every issue, instead of once a year (or less)? And maybe we would see more yarn-hooked rugs in the Celebration books if they had a judge that specialized in yarn hooking? If you agree, why not send them an email? Go to http://www.rughookingmagazine.com/ and scroll down to the bottom of the page to the Contact Us link. Just sayin’.

Happy hooking everyone, and a very happy and peaceful new year!

Judy Taylor


Details… Details…

One of the best things about hooking rugs with yarn is that you have so much control over detail. Your rugs can be simple, primitive and homey, or packed with intricate detail and shading.

I wrote in the previous blog post that I was taking on a project challenge: to try to hook my version of the Lady and the Unicorn tapestry. The project is coming along, and I thought I would share one of my techniques for sharpening up details.


Lady and the Unicorn, in progress

In my book, Joy of Hooking (With Yarn!), I likened rug hooking to coloring with crayons, partly because we all share fond memories of the uninhibited freedom that coloring with crayons gave us as kids. Crayons make a mark that is very similar to the width of a strand of yarn, so that is one reason for the comparison, but what I really meant was that we don’t second-guess our artistic efforts when we color with crayons. We are just like “Harold and the Purple Crayon,” we just let our imaginations go.

So crayons are well and good, but sometimes you really want a pencil. When you are hooking with yarn, you can always add more detail. Here’s an example.


Detail of the blue underdress, first attempt

The Lady’s light blue underdress has some shading, but it also has some sharp lines where a fold of fabric is resting on another bit of fabric. I hooked those lines between the folds first, then I hooked the shading (above). You can see that by hooking the lines with yarn that is the same thickness as the surrounding loops, the lines look like I drew them with crayons. But what if you want those lines to be a bit more subtle?


Underdress rehooked

I consider those first lines that I hooked as placeholders. I unhooked the grey lines and rehooked them with a single strand of embroidery thread, because I know that it is much easier to hook fine lines after the area surrounding the line is already hooked. Because the embroidery thread is so much finer than the original grey yarn, I added some of the background yarn alongside it, so the embroidery thread showed up.

Hopefully, you can see the difference. The first example looks like the lines were drawn with crayon, the second looks more like the lines were drawn with pencil. The basic shading remains the same, but I got a sharper line separating the folds. The great thing about hooking with yarn is that you can always add more detail! For more techniques on adding detail to your rugs, check out Rug Hooker’s Guide to the YARNIVERSE! at http://www.littlehouserugs.com.

This month’s Featured Rug at Little House Rugs was made by Lisa Ballou.


Lisa Ballou with her Stars Rug

Lisa is new to rug hooking. She started with a small beginner kit, and produced this lovely first rug! You can read all about it right here: http://www.littlehouserugs.com/featured-rug-stars-november-2016.html.

Don’t forget the drawing for the Good Dog rug!

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Irish Terrier rug, re-hooked with new background

For every $50 you spend with Little House Rugs between now and November 26, 2016, you will be entered to win this rug! If you were thinking of shopping for Christmas or treating yourself to anything from the website, now’s the time. You might win the rug!

Happy Hooking everyone!




Challenging Yourself

lady unicorn photo for webI love rug hooking. It isn’t at all unusual for me to knock out a small, simple rug in a month, and I never get tired of it. But sometimes, you really want to  challenge yourself, to take on a project that will force you to summon up all your skill and creativity. I’m finally ready to tackle the Lady and the Unicorn.

You will no doubt remember these iconic images, from a series of Flemish tapestries created around the year 1500, and now on display in the Musee national du Moyen Age (forgive my spelling!) in Paris. My daughter and I had the great good fortune to view them in person, an experience I will never forget.

They are on display in the museum in a small room in relatively low light, to preserve their vibrant colors. It’s a little like walking into a chapel. The six wool and silk, hand-woven tapestries fill the walls of this circular room, from floor to ceiling. By some lucky chance, we were fortunate to view them all by ourselves.

They were woven in a style called mille-fleurs (thousand flowers), and five of the tapestries depict the five senses, sight, taste, hearing, smell and touch. I decided to focus my project on the sight tapestry, where the unicorn is sitting in the lady’s lap, while she holds up a mirror, showing the unicorn’s reflection.

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Lady and the Unicorn, 35″x44″, drawn out on linen. My first crack at it!

Rug hooking for me is all about trial and error. I have to hook something before I know if it’s going to work. I decided to start with the unicorn, because believe it or not, it’s the easiest part of the whole design! I’ll keep experimenting with the shading until I get something close to the photo, then I’ll move on to the lovely lady. Stay tuned!

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Love on the Run, 27″x53″ Designed and hooked by Heidi Wulfraat

This month’s featured rug at Little House Rugs is Love on the Run, designed and hooked by Heidi Wulfraat. You will be amazed to learn that this was her first attempt at hooking with yarn, and she used her own handspun yarn to boot! Her story is so inspiring, please check it out at http://www.littlehouserugs.com/featured-rug-heidi-wulfraat-sept-2016.html.

This month I’ll be at the Oregon Flock and Fiber in Canby, OR (http://flockandfiberfestival.com/). I’ll be teaching a beginner class on rug hooking, as well as having my booth. If you’re in the area, come and say hi!

Paradise Fibers is having a sale on Cascade Yarns this weekend. Look for Cascade Eco, bulky and any other offerings that are worsted weight-bulky for your rug hooking! https://www.paradisefibers.com/collections/cascade-yarns?utm_source=rare&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=cascading-sale-30-day1. Use the code CASCADING30 to get the discount.

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Irish Terrier rug, re-hooked with new background

Don’t forget that for every $50 you spend with Little House Rugs between now and November 25, 2016, you will be entered to win the Good Dog Rug (a $385 value!). To read the story on this interesting project, go to http://www.littlehouserugs.com/featured-rug-good-dog-april-2012.html

Happy hooking everyone!

Judy Taylor


Who Let The Dogs Out?

Dogs do seem to be the perfect subject for hooked rugs somehow. Is it because they are always found on the floor, so when we gaze at the portrait, it’s like we’re looking lovingly at our dear pet? The rug can be a depiction of a favorite photo of Fido being particularly cute, or the memoriam of a departed darling. Either way, dogs and rugs seem to go together.

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Buster, 19.5″29″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

I like to take a photograph to the copy place and have them blow the picture up to something rug-sized, which can take many attempts. As soon as I have something in the size I want, I begin to outline the features with a sharpie pen on the paper copy. I can then transfer those exact details to a window screen by laying it on top of the paper copy and redrawing all the lines again with the permanent marker. Then I put the window screen over my linen, and re-draw all the lines again with the sharpie. Last, I go over my lines directly on the linen backing so they’re clear and easy to follow. It’s the most fool-proof way I know to transfer exactly what I had on paper to the linen backing.

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Lenore, 15.5″x18.5″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

Then I need to gather the colors. I go first to natural colors, that is, undyed wool in natural shades of black, white, brown, red and grey. Since sheep and dogs pretty much come in the same range of colors, I can usually find shades that will work in my stash. If I need to dye colors, sometimes it helps to start with a grey or light brown yarn, because I tend to get something that looks more natural.

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Charlie, 12″x17″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

The eyes first. It is nice if you can get a really pure black for the eyes (if the pet’s eyes are black) as opposed to a charcoal grey. Commercial yarns can get much closer to pure black, and if you find a yarn with a bit of luster, like Halcyon Botanica, you can make the eye seem shinier than the other colors in the body. A loop or two of bombyx silk for the reflective dot in the eyes provides the finishing touch. You have to get the eyes right, then the face. Once you get the expression right, the rest of the animal usually comes pretty easily.

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Tess, 19.5″x29″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

Think about how much detail you want to include. If you want to do lots of realistic shading, consider making the dog larger.

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Penny, Pasha & Jezebel, 19.5″x29″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

I can help you with every step in the process, from enlarging and transferring your photo to linen, designing the yarns so you can hook the rug yourself, or I can create the rug for you. Blog subscribers can save 20% on custom designs, custom kits or custom hand-hooked rugs if you order during the month of August. Email me for more info.

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Lady Teasle, 18″x18″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

What? We love our cats too!

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Irish Terrier rug, re-hooked with new background

Don’t forget that for every $50 you spend with Little House Rugs between now and November 25, 2016, you will be entered to win the Good Dog rug (a $385.00 value)!

Happy Hooking everyone!

Judy Taylor



Optical Illusion?

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Tree of Life/Green Man 22″x30″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

I just got done with the Wedgewood Arts Festival, and am now looking forward to a blissful nine weeks of no shows or classes! Time to tidy up the farm and get caught up on projects.

The latest project, Tree of Life/Green Man is my attempt to create an optical illusion in a rug. I got the idea from a ring I used to wear. From the point of view of the other person, the ring looked like the Tree of Life, but from my vantage point, it looked like a bearded old man.

For the Tree of Life, I used a range of colors for the leaves, symbolizing all the greens in nature. Then from the other point of view, I tried to create Green Man, the character in Celtic mythology, who symbolizes the connection between man and nature, and is often depicted in carvings in buildings, gardens and woods. The trick was to make the grassy area look like a forehead. That took many re-hookings, but I settled on adding some grey to the “eyebrows” like the color of bark. Don’t know if it did the trick, but it was a shot!

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Green Man/Tree of Life 22″x30″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

Blog subscribers can order the Tree of Life/Green Man pattern on linen for 20% off at http://hstrial-jtaylor9.homestead.com/blog-special-tree-of-life.html?_=1468270414665

Registration is now open for my beginning rug hooking class at Oregon Flock and Fiber in Canby, OR on September 23, 9:00-noon. http://flockandfiberfestival.com/shop/ws-613beginning-rug-hooking-dont-trash-your-stash/

Registration for my classes at Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival (October 28 and 29) will begin July 13. Click here to sign up: http://columbiagorgefiberfestival.com/2016-workshops/

Remember that for every $50 you spend with Little House Rugs (including taking a class!) you will be entered to win the Good Dog rug.

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Good Dog, Refurbished by Judy Taylor 22.5″x36″

Happy Hooking everyone!



How Long Does it Take to Hook a Rug?

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Celtic Love Knot, 48″x52″ Designed and hooked by Judy Taylor

When I demonstrate rug hooking, this is the first question people want to know. The above rug, Celtic Love Knot is one of the largest rugs I’ve made, and this is the fifth time I’ve hooked the design, so I have a pretty good idea of how long it takes to make it.

(Drumroll, please…) It takes me approximately 100 hours to hook a rug of this size (around 14 square feet), and at about 81 loops per square inch, that comes to around 72,500-some individual loops!

What do members of the public do with that info? Understandably, some walk away shaking their heads, remembering a root canal they meant to do that day. Others hear that and gain an appreciation for the prices I charge for my work. Still others are mesmerized by the hypnotic rhythm in the process, the tactile experience of drawing fiber through your fingers and creating patterns of color and texture.

Hooking rugs with yarn is not unlike the coloring books for adults that are all the rage these days. Many people love to lose themselves in color and design, not just for the end product, but for the pure satisfaction of the doing of it.

I don’t usually hook such large rugs, most are around 6 square feet in size, and it’s not unusual for me to hook an entire small rug during a weekend show, while sitting in my booth. People who are at the show for the whole weekend (other vendors, usually) get to see a rug hooked from start to finish during that time. Rug hooking is something I can do while doing other things, so I can answer questions and help customers without a break in the rhythm. I can also watch TV or attend meetings where a different part of my brain is required.

You might be wondering how I could do something over and over, even 72 thousand times, and still be excited about the next rug I’m going to make. It’s just the process, it is gosh-darned theraputic, without the assistance of pharmaceuticals or psychiatrist fees, plus I have something to show for it at the end of all this meditative grooving.

If you would like to try your hand at the hypnotic benefits of hooking the Celtic Love Knot rug, blog subscribers can save 20% off the price of the pattern on linen, at http://www.littlehouserugs.com/blog-special-june-2015,html

The Featured Rug of the Month at Little House Rugs for June is a set of two rugs hooked by Phyllis Fitzgerald of Valley, WA. Both are hooked with handspun yarn, including some of her own camel’s wool (she has her own CAMEL!). You can find the link for that page at http://www.littlehouserugs.com.

This month I will be down in Eugene, OR for the Black Sheep Gathering (June 24-26). I will have my booth the whole weekend, and I will also be teaching a Beginning Rug Hooking class on Sunday morning. For info on the class, go to http://www.blacksheepgathering.org/workshops.html#Sunday_morning.

I will also be teaching a class in Seattle on June 30 at the Weaving Works. You can sign up for that at http://weavingworks.com/collections/classes/products/16q2-rug-hooking

Both of these classes are filling up fast, so grab a spot if you can and I’ll see you there!

Happy Hooking Everyone!