and Persian Carpet Guide
American Hooked Rug 2358 from Nazmiyal
by Jade Davenport
was very interesting subject, to learn that at one time this was
considered the pass time of the poor and now in today’s world it is
considered fine art. The hooked rugs were thought to have
in England, but with more research the hooked rugs originated with the
Vikings and moved down the coast to Scotland and even as far as
France. The early hooked rug was used for floor mats in the
19th century in England. It started when the workers of the
weaving mills could take home the scraps or "thrums" from the mills,
usually these scraps were not large, general length was about 8 inches
and pulled through backing to create the hooked rug.
was then brought to the early colonies of the United States from
England, mainly in the New England states and Canada. In the
early days this was the craft of the poor, due to the fact that the
rich had rugs made in factories therefore the "handmade hooked rugs"
were looked down on. The women that created the rugs would
scraps of material to create the rugs. The rich girls were
to school to learn mannerism, language, quilting and embroidery, but
they never learned about hooking rugs. Also to show that
rugs were of the poor is that there were no articles ever written in
newspapers or magazines about the skill of hooked rugs, because is was
from the "country". The rugs were created using material that
found on farms or in country homes. Burlap from old grain
feed bags, scraps of material no longer used for clothing were put into
the rugs. Yarn was not used due to the fact that it was very
expensive so in turn scraps were used in the beginning. As
progressed the weavers started to use wool, this started in Cheticamp
located in Nova Scotia. In Cheticamp they used high quality
to do the weavings and also became highly collectible. The
that were developed in Cheticamp were made from everything from yarn to
scraps of clothing, the highly collectible rugs are known as Grenfell
mats, which were made in the Grenfell mission located in Canada.
rug hooking has evolved to an art. The rugs are very detailed
can be found showing all types of designs. Hooked rugs can be
found in stores like Crate and Barrel and even famous designers like
Vera Bradley have added them to their line of design. The
are made from wool and usually have a linen backing. The rugs
still quilted by hand and some rugs are factory made. Either
I found myself drawn to these rugs from the history and how far they
have come in the centuries. The detail the designs
materials, absolutely amazing,
I found a good article on how to make a
hooked Rug and I think it helps us to understand these rugs if we know
how they are made. JBOC
The Old-Fashioned Hooked
There is no homemade rug more
durable, more useful or
prettier than the hooked rug
of our grandmothers'
days, if made along modern lines.
The best materials for these rugs are
flannels, cashmeres, worsteds and other wool dress goods, gathered from
discarded gowns, though men's lightweight suitings may he used if cut
For one rug select, if
possible, the goods all of one
weight, but if you must use two put the heavier in the border.
For the foundation of these rugs use
twelve or fourteen-ounce burlap, which must be cut three inches wider
than you wish the finished article. If the burlap must be joined,
selvages with strong, double thread, leaving the stitches loose enough
the seam may be pressed out perfectly flat.
Stretch this foundation
securely on quilting frames and
outline the size of your rug an inch and a half from each edge. This is
hem, when your rug is completed.
Now, stamp on your pattern.
Avoid ornate designs.
Conventional geometrical designs are much more satisfactory. Those used
stenciling are usually good and may be stenciled directly on to the
Nothing is prettier for the
body of the rug than shades of
one color applied hit or miss. These shades are easily obtained by
the material prepared and dipping it in the required color. The
will influence the shade, but thev will all harmonize.
Outline your pattern in the
border with black or a dark
shade of the color that is to be used for the figure. Three rows of the
round the outside and two next the body are effective.
Cut your rags about
three-fourths of an inch wide, fold
half over and roll, but do not sew. It is much easier to handle short
regards the actual work of
making the rug, first procure a well pointed, heavy crochet needle
to hold the rag while you draw it through the burlap. 1 fold the rag
left hand on the under side of the burlap and with the righthand thrust
hook through the burlap and draw the rag through, making a loop a
long, then again and again, straight across the rug as you see the pile
Brussels carpet. The closer you can place the loops the more beautiful
Every two threads is about right. You may put in pattern or filling
have the loops in both run the same way.
you work roll the rug as you
would a quilt; when the rags are all in, the rug may be sheared or not.
please, but make your loops a little longer for shearing. When the
of the work is finished, remove the rug from the frame and hem it. Then
it and size it, using paperhangers' sizing just strong enough to feel
between thumb and finger. Apply with a paint brush to the wrong side
in the frame to dry. Do not let your glue be too strong or the rug will
This work is not fatiguing nor
difficult, and the designing
of special patterns and color schemes for particular rooms is
THE HOOKED RUG
IN COTTON AND WOOL
We may safely say that the hooked rug or the pulled rug, as it is
sometimes called, is the most important of the handmade rugs. It has
been more successfully developed under new conditions of craftsmanship
than any other of the old-fashioned rugs. In nearly all the show rooms
of the Arts and Crafts Societies there are examples of it in charming
colors and appropriate designs. Two village industries have been
started to make it; one in the mountains of New Hampshire and one at
Cranberry Island, near North East Harbor, Maine. Besides these two
industries there are many isolated workers making successful hooked
rugs. The larger industries have been placed on a sound financial
basis, and the workers who are mostly women are extremely well paid.
These women of the New England farms have been associated with this
style of rug and its traditions for several generations. They are
nearly all familiar with the gentle art of hooking and have therefore
helped to revive this branch of craftsmanship in this section of the
country. While they are familiar with the technique of hooked rugs,
they have not been able to give their products a market value, because
they could not plan them from the standard of modern craftsmanship
without the knowledge of design and color arrangement.
I remember the first time I saw a hooked rug. I at once realized that
in its technique were the possibilities for the development of a
craftsmanlike rug. Though certainly the appearance of the one I first
saw was anything but hopeful. It came from Prince Edward Island,
Canada. The maker had evidently been carried away by the enthusiasm for
her skill in hooking and had ingenuously and likewise ingeniously,
worked in a pattern of raised roses in the center panel of her rug.
This pattern was padded from underneath to give the roses the
appearance of reality. It was very solidly constructed and much above
the average level of the rug's surface. It was a real obstruction, but
there its reality ended. It made the rug inartistic and unserviceable.
First of all, inartistic because nature cannot be reproduced in woolen
thread. It can be represented only in any medium with artistic reality.
Second, because of this inappropriate plan the rug could not last well.
The raised portions being more exposed than the lower portions would
wear out sooner.
One of the greatest benefits which come from founding village
industries is raising the standard of public taste. This influence
comes directly through the individual worker, who in connection with
rug-making begins to study a little design. So besides the benefit to
the community, the individual worker has a keener interest in the work
because of being able to plan it well.
The study of design is not a matter of technical complications. The
workers are taught the application of decorative principles, learn line
arrangement, placement of masses and the relation of tone and color
values. They are also taught the use of reliable dyes which produce
permanent and artistic colors. The workers themselves sometimes know of
valuable old dye recipes. These can be made serviceable by a systematic
revision replacing the rule of thumb by exactness in chemical
proportion. One can never be too exact in chemical combination for even
with the greatest precaution the unexpected is likely to happen. There
are always factors present which produce unforeseen results; it is
therefore wiser to exclude all possible elements of chance. The results
of experiments are not always practicable and may be costly.
One of the dye recipes which I found in use among the women of
Cranberry Island, is the iron buff given in the chapter of the needle
woven rug. There it is called copperas yellow, and is used in the form
of salts of iron and homemade soft soap. In the revised recipe with
more exact proportion it will give better results.
Hooked rugs are made from either cotton or woolen materials. The same
tools are used with both kinds, for there are only slight differences
in their technique. The main point of difference being in the manner in
which the loops of material are pulled up through the foundation on
which the rug is made. The foundation is first of all stretched on a
wooden frame. It is made of burlap or raw jute as it is sometimes
called commercially. The principal technical feature of the rug is the
hooking of the strips of material into the foundation, where the
collective loops form the textile. The loops are crowded in between the
meshes of the burlap and held by pressing one against the other.
The actual difference between the methods of making the two kinds of
rugs is that in the cotton rug the loops are pulled up evenly; in the
wool rug, unevenly. The woolen rug is clipped after it is hooked.
Clipping improves the pile for the color in the flannel loop deepens
when it is cut, and becomes velvety in texture. Another way to add
variety of tone value or to get incident in color in the surface of the
rug, is to dye the cotton and woolen strips somewhat unevenly. The cut
ends of the loops in the woolen rug mat together and this makes the
pile more uniform. This is due to the nature of wool fiber; its
physical structure might be compared to that of an elongated pine cone.
The outer cells are placed in one direction only and appear as horny
scales of irregular shape overlapping each other in the manner of roof
tiles. When a number of wool fibers lying in all directions are brought
together in close contact, the opposing scales become interlocked,
causing the operation which is technically known as "felting."
Cotton rugs are not clipped because the cotton strip has no tendency to
felt; it only frays and fraying would weaken the texture of the rug.
Cotton rugs, however, have the advantage of being washable.
Consequently they can be made in light colors and used in bedrooms and
bathrooms where darker rugs would not be as appropriate. Then too, the
cotton rug is cheaper than the woolen rug.
The wool rug in dark tones of blues, reds, or greens is sufficiently
substantial to be used in dining-rooms and living-rooms especially if
the rooms are paneled with wood in a simple style and furnished with
Norwegian painted furniture or in Mission furniture. In fact the woolen
rug can be used in almost the same places as the Oriental rug, for in
its revived form it is a dignified and artistic product. As it is not
made with the fine silky woolen thread of the Orient it necessarily
lacks a certain elegance and texture which is found in all Eastern
The cotton and wool rugs can both be made in large sizes; as they can
be hooked in sections and sewed carefully together afterwards, the
seams do not show. Hooked rugs can also be made of odds and ends of old
materials. If there are not enough of some colors, whites and gray can
be dyed in brighter shades to help out. It is wise to plan the rug
carefully in the beginning and find out as exactly as possible just
what quantities of material are needed for each color in the design. It
is trying to stop work and hunt up material to dye some special color
which has unexpectedly given out, before the rug is finished.
Perhaps it is less limiting to one's inventive faculties, to start out
to make a rug of entirely new materials; to make an attractive plan and
buy the materials to carry it out. With old materials one must cut
one's coat to fit the cloth and it requires much patience and skill to
work out a scheme to fit the different amount of colors on hand. Then
too, it takes a great deal of time to prepare old materials whether in
cotton or wool, for they are usually more or less tender and must be
cut or torn strip by strip. The hooking cannot be done as quickly
either, for old materials are liable to break when hooked into the
foundation and must, therefore, be carefully handled. However, some
interesting and original rugs are made in this way and if they are for
home use all trouble is repaid.
A plan is given here for a rug made of old materials, though it does
not pay to make rugs usually of them if one is pressed for time on
orders. It takes longer to prepare them, and then rugs made in this way
cannot be duplicated. When rugs are made professionally, orders for
duplicates often come in. A customer has seen a rug in the house of a
friend and must have one exactly like it, or wants to match a piece of
furniture already in use. When told that the rug cannot be duplicated,
she is quite naturally disappointed and not likely to come again.
There is so little essential difference in the technique of the two
kinds of hooked rugs, that the same type of design can be applied to
each, but in order to have as much variety as possible between the
plans, a design of a quaint-oldfashioned kind has been chosen for the
hooked rug in cotton. This design has a blue border and a basket of
gaily colored flowers, falling on a background of cream-white.
Practically the only limitation in the technique of the hooked rug, is
the coarse strip of woolen or cotton material which forms the thread
which makes the loops. In this medium designs with much fineness of
detail cannot be successfully carried out. The loops make the pile of
the rug and while they are, decoratively speaking, the units of its
structure, they are not particularly constructive in character, for
they suggest surface ornament rather than line action. "With the medium
of the coarse strip, therefore, arrangement of large masses of color
can be used successfully. These masses of color should be as nearly as
possible the same degree of tone value. If there is much contrast, the
effect of large masses of different colors is too striking.
If the design is to be carried out in several colors, an outline will
help to harmonize and bring the various tones together. Sometimes two
outlines may be used with good effect: One in a lighter tone value and
the other in a darker tone value, than any of the other colors in the
The treatment of the hooked rug differs radically from that of the
Oriental rug. The Oriental rug is made on a loom and is really a woven
fabric. The fine woolen thread of which it is made is knotted piece by
piece into the woof which forms the foundation of the rug.
In this medium, designs with great intricacy of detail can be worked
out. Formerly the Oriental rug-maker used only camel's hair and goat
hair in rug weaving, and to this fine silky hair is due the great
elegance of texture in the Eastern rug. It is also said that these rugs
grow more lustrous from the clay dust which is trodden and rubbed into
their surface by the bare feet of the Orientals. These facts make the
antique Oriental rug vastly superior to the modern Oriental. The effect
of hundreds of years of wear cannot be artificially reproduced in the
texture by commercial means.
American handicrafters cannot produce rugs similar to the Oriental
unless working under like conditions. Neither can the modern Oriental
do it. Each must take advantage of his circumstances. Oriental design
cannot be successfully applied without using Oriental material and
methods of working. The long and tedious process of knotting each
little bit of woolen thread into the woof of the rug, does not appeal
to our handicrafters especially because , they are not familiar with
the conditions which, produce this method. Conditions in this country
are not conducive to years and years of work on the same piece of
handicraft. We are not living here from the Oriental standpoint.
Besides, a rug like the Oriental cannot be made in this country at a
cost which could sell with profit. The experiment to make them in a
village industry established for the purpose made the cost $5.00 a
square foot of rug. This fact alone makes this variety of rug
There are minor rugs, the rag-bit rug and the raveled rug which might
be called forerunners of the hooked rug. These rugs are chiefly
interesting because they show how a real technique may grow out of
small beginnings. They deserve mention in this connection only, for
their methods are far too crude to suggest constructive design.
The rag-bit rug is the most primitive and is made by sewing small bits
of woolen cloth on a foundation. This foundation is frequently made of
a piece of old carpet with the nap worn down. Odds and ends of cloth of
all shapes and kinds are used and consequently no effect of texture or
design is produced. These minor examples of rug-making demonstrate the
idea of using what one has on hand carried to an extreme of
thriftiness. Though no doubt it was in this same way that the more
important handmade rugs were developed.
In some instances the center of the rag-bit rug is found surrounded by
a border made of narrow strips of carpet.
The raveled rug is made from thread raveled from old pieces of carpet.
These threads are drawn through the meshes of a loosely woven
foundation with a crochet hook. The crowding of the threads between the
meshes of the cloth holds them in as in the hooked rug. Sometimes the
groups of thread in the raveled rugs are merely caught down with a
thread and needle on the foundation.
There are several other instances of these simple methods of rug-making
but they are quite similar to the ones here mentioned, and only serve
to emphasize the origin of the hooked rug.
The craft of
hand-made rugs byAmi Mali Hicks, McBride, Nast & Company, 1914
Tabriz Haji Jalili Rugs