Thursday, April 06, 2006

A Look at Rug Hooking

By Christina VanGinkel

The first time I ever made anything with the technique known as rug hooking or latch hooking, I was about sixteen years old. My then boyfriend, who a few years later became my husband, was a fan of the NFL team, the Dallas Cowboys. When I came across a kit to make a pillow form with the Dallas Cowboys name and signature star hooked on it, I knew I had to try it at least. While that was just a few short years back (twenty-seven years ago to be exact), it was not so easy to find items with team logos and the like on them. The hooking part ended up being quite easy to make, fun even, and I was thrilled when it turned out to look like the picture on the box, as too often, when I would by a kit, the finished product often turned out looking nothing like the pictures that came with the kits. The assembly of the pillow was also simple, though my mother did help me with that part, sewing the final seam for me so that you could barely see where it was!

I ended up making a few different hooked rug projects through the years, including a pillow of my own that was a figural shaped design of a mermaid from a kit, and a tie dye looking rug for our bathroom that I made without a kit from leftover yearn from my many crochet projects. However, I had not made anything in some time. Then, when browsing the Internet I came across a site that sold kits similar to the ones I had made years before. The kits were of a style that would be fitting for a kid's room, playroom, or maybe a family room done in a kid friendly theme, but not stylish in a way that they would fit into a typical living room or adult's bedroom for example. This got me to looking further though, and I came across several sites that had both kits and patterns in styles and designs that would be very appropriate for any decor you might wish to match. They had selections of kits unlike anything I recalled from when I had first been introduced to this hobby. Some of the designs were so stunning, that they rivaled works of art. One could hardly imagine that they were fashioned with something as basic as yarn, a hooking tool, and a piece of even weaved base fabric! Others were actually the opposite; they were simple, fit my style perfectly. I fell in love with these designs!

The kits that were quite intricate in design featured detailed patterns such as a clipper ship with sails and a whale, Currier and Ives' prints, farm scenes, birdhouses replete with birds, etc., and looked almost painted! The simpler designs were actually, what caught my attention. Perfect for a country style decor or a more rustic look (my favorite if I had to define the style my rooms tend to lean towards), and included pictures of moose and bear shapes with evergreen backgrounds, angels, simple flower shapes and hearts, flags, sheep, and simple quilt patterns. The designs were made and the kits assembled with hand dyed wool yarns, so the colors of the yarns were as fitting a match for my likes as the design shapes themselves.

Even though it has been several years since I had made a hooked rug or item with this technique, the process is so simple, that I never even hesitated to order one of the kits that I knew would be a perfect fit for my home. I chose a black bear walking in front of a stand of trees with a star and moon in the overhead sky. The kit stated that it would make one wall hanging, small rug, or pillow cover, and it was available in three different sizes. I ended up ordering two of them in different sizes, the largest one, 16 1/2" x 20 1/2, to make a rug for next to my bed, and one size smaller, 14 1/2" x 16", to make a wall hanging for over my bed to match the rug. If you are looking for a new hobby to try (or even if you have tried it in the past), give rug hooking a look, as it is easy and fun, and with all the patterns and kits available, you will be pleasantly surprised at all the items you can make for your home.

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