Hit and Miss table mat. banner detail.

East Coast rug hooking

I am a knitter. Mostly, but I enjoy all manner of textile and fibre arts. East Coast rug hooking is my most recent endeavour.  Previously, my only experience with rug hooking was as a child. It was a latch hooking kit. It wasn’t pretty, no recollection of what the pattern looked like, although I clearly remember the squirrel cross stitch that I did when I was 8 or 9. The fibre was likely acrylic and the kit didn’t come with enough materials so the project was never actually finished. Perhaps the companies ( yes plural, the squirrel was skint of supplies as well)  knew that most people would give up part way through and never notice that they had been short changed on the amount of yarn needed to complete the project? Or is that just my slightly cynical side?

For purely aesthetic reasons, I never really considered rug making again, until our move to the East Coast of Canada where it is huge. Not your latch hooking kind of rug making; it’s not all fuzzy and scary like a bad shag carpet. Not as refined as tapestry or needlepoint, but definitely worth a go.

I picked up a kit (yes, a kit!) at the Wool Gathering booth at the Creativ Festival in Toronto when we were still living there. It was for as simple table mat in a random pattern referred to locally as ‘Hit and Miss’.  The kit came complete with the burlap backing (with the pattern marked on it), strips of wool, the wood handled hook, and instructions (which I kind of followed!).

East Coast rug hooking.

East Coast rug hooking.

I attached strips of cotton to the edges of the burlap so it would fit better into my Q-Snap frame. Holding the fabric taut makes for easier hooking.  With the additional help provided by some online video tutorials, I managed to complete the basic pattern with (gasp) more than enough wool left over to widen the borders!

The process is relatively simple. Loops of the pure wool fabric that have been specially cut for this purpose, are pulled up through the holes of the even weave fabric base with a plain little hook.

Hit and Miss table mat in frame

Hit and Miss table mat in frame, you can see the pattern marked on the burlap here.

In fact, however, there are so many intricacies and variations available to ‘hookers’ as they are affectionately known.  Wool strips can be cut in many sizes, by hand, by machine, or with a ruler and rotary cutter. Hooks come in different sizes and with handles of metal, wood or bone. Hooks themselves can be large or small, straight or bent. Backing options are made of burlap, cotton, or linen. Oh, and you don’t have to use strips of wool fabric either, wool yarn is the preferred medium of some. Or mix them up. Then there are the many ways to finish and bind a rug.

A comprehensive video showing rug hooking with woolen yarn from start to finish can be found here.

This  video is a good introduction to rug hooking and it show what happens underneath the hoop as well!

In the next photo you can see the reverse side of the work.

Hit and Miss Table Mat, reverse.

Hit and Miss Table Mat, reverse.

Random colours and textures come together magically. Some fabrics were solids, some plaid, others were herringbone, all wool.

Nova Scotia rug hooking, table mat. Hit and Miss pattern.

Nova Scotia rug hooking, table mat. Hit and Miss pattern.

I have joined a very local rug hooking group that meets up weekly during the summer. Talk about a great resource for inspiration, encouragement, and general help with techniques.. not to mention lovely conversation, tea and treats!

My little mat still needs the edges bound, think I’ll do a whipped stitch edge next week. In the meantime I have been inspired to create my own design; something much bigger, and on linen!

Here’s a peek at the design in process:

Next project.. full size rug with a Celtic theme.

Next project.. full size rug with a Celtic theme.

Wishing you a beautiful and creative day,