A quiet weekend here at the Blog . . . so I figured since some have asked for help with rug hooking, I will just post a few bits of info on some of the basics. For you experienced rug hookers reading this, post a comment or question that would be of more interest and we can get some chatter going for you, too.
One common question from beginning rug hookers is about strip widths. Traditional rug hooking uses strips of wool, not pieces of yarn – that’s latch hooking (totally different technique and tools.) The strips of wool are pulled through the rug backing to form loops which create the design of the rug. Strips of wool can be cut very fine or very wide, or anywhere in between. When a strip cutter such as a Rigby, Fraser, or Townsend cutter is used to cut the strips, you select the cutter size to use. Cutters cut the strips in widths measured in 32nds of an inch. So if you are using a #8 cutter size, you will get strips cut into 8/32 of an inch (or reduce the fraction to 1/4 inch.) If you are using a finely cut strip, which would be considered anything in a #5 or lower, you are working with quite a narrow strip of wool (5/32 down to 1/32), which is used to achieve finely shaded designs, such as florals and scrolls. Primitive rug hooking uses a wider strip (#6 and above) wherein the shading is achieved through the use of textured wools, such as herringbones, checks and plaids rather than the graduated colors in a finer cut rug.
So, depending upon the style of rug hooking you wish to do, you will cut your wool strips accordingly. My favorite strips width is 3/8 inch, or 12/32; however, depending on your cutter, this will not always be a #12 cutter head — now it can get a bit confusing due to inconsistencies in the cutter manufacturers use of the numbering system when you get above a #8 cut. My Rigby defines the 3/8-inch cutter head as a #9, which technically is not or it would be 9/32 rather than 12/32. So, check with the manufacturer if you want to use a specific strip width above #8 to see which of their particular cutter heads match what you need.
Depending on the strip width you choose, you should match your rug hook to that. If you are hooking with a wider strip, use a Primitive hook, or if you use a fine cut, use a hook that matches the strip width you are using. My favorite hook? A Hartman, by far!! Especially for primitive hooking with wider strips – Cindy Hartman’s hooks have a larger diameter shaft that opens the backing holes enough to easily allow the strip to be pulled through (no straining and tugging), which also helps those loops lie open and full. the handles are very comfortable in my hand as well. Be sure the hook you use is comfortable in your hand and does not make you tug and twist to get the loops pulled up. If not, get another hook!