Craft a Rustic Rug

Get acquainted with the art of traditional rug hooking, and create a country rug that’ll become a prized possession.

| Fall 2019


Handmade rugs have been around for a long time. For example, Oriental rugs have existed for centuries. These gorgeous silk rugs are dyed, knotted, and clipped to perfection in the most intricate patterns, and are often high-priced, sought-after items that become family heirlooms. Another handmade rug, the traditional hooked rug, is the country version of an Oriental. What it lacks in refinement it makes up for in its simple crafting and maintenance.

Traditional rug hooking saw its heyday in New England during the 1800s. People wore 100-percent woolen clothing because synthetics hadn’t been invented yet. Wool that's properly cared for lasts a long time, and, being the frugal folks they were, people back then found new uses for old, worn-out clothing: They created beautiful hooked wool rugs that we now treasure.

Traditional rug makers use a plain hook and long strips of fabric. The long strips are pulled through the backing, and tension keeps them from pulling out under normal circumstances. Back in the day, people repurposed old items to make their hooking supplies. Burlap feed sacks lent themselves for backing; a handy person could take a bent piece of iron and add a wooden handle to make a hook; embroidery hoops were plentiful for small creations that were displayed on the wall; and stands for larger floor rugs were homemade from materials on hand.

I’m going to show you how to make a traditional hooked rug similar to those fashioned by people in the 1800s.

Before starting, you’ll first need to decide what you want your design to look like. Start where you feel comfortable, keeping in mind that beginners do well with simple designs. Pick fabric colors that complement your design. Most wool fabrics are made for men’s suits, so the colors likely will be neutral.



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