field notes from the woolworks
... working at making and other joyful life strategies
Heidi Wulfraat • woolworker • maker • dreamer
I often have customers who ask about how to get started in rug hooking. It's a great question. Newcomers to rug hooking are faced with navigating a myriad of different hooks, hoops, frames, backings and then need to decide which materials to actually HOOK with. In all of this rug hooking can become financially daunting. It doesn't take long to start ringing up a $400.00 frame, a stack of hand dyed artisanal wool fabrics, a custom carved hook, and a week's worth of designer rug hooking lessons. Whoa, let's rewind. Are you starting to think that maybe this rug hooking thing might not be your cup of tea after all?
Let me tell you, in my opinion, what you REALLY need to get started in rug hooking.
You need to really WANT to do it.
At the heart of rug hooking were primarily women who used any and all materials at hand to produce decorative mats and hangings that would cover draughty cracks in floors and walls.
To start rug hooking I would suggest, above all, a good quality backing. This is literally the foundation of your work. A poor quality, loosely woven backing that splits, doesn't hold your loops and makes you snuffle and sneeze the entire time that you're working with it just doesn't spell FUN. My backing of choice is a premium linen with a good sturdy structure.
On to frames. I'm not going to lie. I hook rugs using a high end Snap Dragon frame which is an absolutely stellar piece of equipment. You can hook on a snapdragon too but you certainly don't need to start with one. I started rug hooking on a simple hoop and I still use a hoop on many occasions. The hugely talented Rug Hooking artist Rachel Leblanc uses no frame at all.
You'll need a hook or a punch to make rugs. This can be be a very simple tool. Your collection of hooks can be developed over time if you feel the need. I use two hooks faithfully. One has a fine shank and a rather small tip while the other has a wide, primitive shank with a larger tip.
The materials that you actually hook with can be many and varied. Wool fabric can be recycled or taken from a crisp new bolt of cloth. You can also hook using yarn, cotton strips paper and plastic. Your creativity is the true currency of rug hooking.
Regardless of your finances, time, and level of interest I would suggest that before you engage in rug hooking classes purchase a good book and try it on your own. This way, if you do decide to take a workshop you'll surely have some great questions to bring to class and most importantly you'll be bringing your own personal style.
Happy hooking! You really don't need to break the bank. Here are some great books to get you started ...
or does it? Over the past year I have made some knit pieces ... from scratch. That is to say I have been drafting patterns on graph paper with pencil and eraser, sampling, dabbling, sampling some more. Eventually these thoughts and jots and doodles developed into a small collection of knitted accessories. It's been super-fun to knit up these homegrown pieces, but I have knitting-circle pals and I have a wool shop and I wanted to share my shiny new patterns! Onwards to formatting, adding text, charting, recruiting test knitters and an editor, photography. You get the picture. I started designing knitwear.
Now, for the record I'm the first to dive into the latest Stephen, Jared, Ysolda or Kate design. In fact there are more talented knitwear designers tempting us with gorgeous patterns than ever before. This is why designing your own, starting from scratch, reinventing the wheel just doesn't make sense. Right?
It's true, knitting is in it's heyday and we, as knitters, are spoiled for choice with top notch designers, producers, processors, indie dyers, tools and accessories aplenty. Even the healthy lifestyle set has deemed knitting to be of benefit (thanks for telling us).
And yet, with all this at hand you still have a yen to go it on your own and create something altogether new?
So did I, and here's what I've discovered; the simple pleasure of seeing a design transition "from a thought to a thing" will never get old. Sharing your ideas with other knitters is immensely satisfying. It's what knitters do. Designing your own is allot of work. You'll develop a new appreciation for the work of others. Oh, and you'll still want to knit all the "hot right nows" on Ravelry. No worries there. So when it come's to creating, just do it. If it feels right it makes sense. And if you've checked out my patterns, knit from them, worn them or gifted them, thanks a million. I think I'll make some more!
I am settling in to this. My new space on the internet. It's nice to have a freshening up in all aspects of life and to be honest I am one who thrives on change, a new project, a new challenge, a new task at hand. These are the irresistibles to a maker, after all. For the most part, over this past year, I have been away from blogging as a new website was being created and the farm wool shop was being added onto and freshened-up in it's own right.
It does feel nice to be back. All moved-in and ready to carry on. I've missed writing, perhaps only for myself. However if you have made your way here, I'd like to welcome you. Thanks so much for visiting! I hope that we can continue to talk about being makers, creative business and joyful life strategies.
Everyday I try to find a little something that makes life interesting. A good book, a wagging dog, a cool breeze, tea with a friend.
Here are my field notes about making, discovering, and enjoying a simple, slow, handmade life.
Thanks so much for visiting. I appreciate your spending time with me.
STITCHER, MAKER, DREAMER, BOOK REVIEWS summer 2016