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The Hooked Rug In Cotton

( Originally Published 1914 )

In the plan for the hooked rug in cotton the design is of the quaint old-fashioned kind, suggestive of the Colonial times and suitable for a bedroom furnished in that style. It represents a basket of gayly colored garden flowers. The border is blue and surrounds the oval panel reaching to the edges of the rug. The colored figures of the center oval panel fall on a back-ground of cream-white. The dye recipes used to get the colors are reliable old formula dating no doubt as far back as those used by our great-grandmothers. The blending of these soft yet clear colors is most charming and thoroughly appropriate for a rug of this design.


The material for the hooked rug in cotton is prepared almost in the same manner as for the other handmade rugs. Sixteen yards of unbleached cotton muslin are needed. After this is washed and dried, tear off into these lengths: First seven yard lengths and mark them with an indelible pencil, indigo blue; one length of one and one-half yards and mark it iron buff; one and one-half yards and mark catechu brown; and one-half yard marked peach-leaf yellow or quercitron yellow. Leave four yards of unbleached muslin color to be used for the cream-white.

Now tear these lengths into strips one-half inch wide and tie into hanks for dyeing. The larger amounts may be subdivided into two or more hanks as the smaller hanks are easier to handle. Do not mix the hanks up which are reserved for. each color. A safe and practical way is to mark a linen tag with indelible ink with the name of its color and tie it on the hank. There is then no danger of confusion when the hanks are immersed in the dye vat.

The size of this rug is twenty-four by thirty-six inches when finished. The entire surface measures six square feet. It takes two square yards of material to one square foot of hooked surface, so by actual count it would take twelve yards of muslin, but as there is apt to be waste in tearing the material and as some workers use up more than others, it is wise to have a surplus and be on the safe side. If any odds and ends are left over they can be kept in case at some other time these same colors run out. Then too scraps of hand-dyed muslins are often very suggestive in planning a color scheme for a new rug.

The different parts of the design are carried out in the following colors: Indigo blue for the border around the oval, the outline and for the morning glories in the flower basket. The en-tire design is outlined in blue, as blue when introduced in this manner brings a certain soft bloom into the general coloring of the rug. The unbleached muslin as cream-white, is used for the entire background of the oval central panel. The body and handles of the flower basket are in the iron buff. The squares which come in between the interlacing of the basket are in a catechu brown. All the flower leaves are in a quercitron green. The morning-glories have a star-shaped figure of cream-white in the center and a dot of the peach-leaf or the quercitron yellow.

Dye Recipes and Chemicals: The dye recipes and chemicals also the utensils needed are found in the following chapters: Indigo blue in the chapter on the knitted rug (page 72). The recipe for indigo and quercitron green in that same chapter. The iron buff in the chap-ter on the needle-woven rug (page 155). The peach-leaf yellow in chapter on the crocheted rug or if the quercitron yellow is substituted for it, this will be found in the chapter on the knitted rug.

The Rug Frame and the Hook: The tools used in making the hooked rug are only two. The hook and the frame. The rug hook or the rug needle as it is sometimes called, is not a commercial product and must therefore be made to order or one must make it one's self. If one has a. small forge this can easily be done; other-wise it can he made by a toolmaker or a blacksmith. Get a forty-penny wire nail and after having heated it to a white heat, flatten out the head with a forge hammer. Then bend it into shape by curving it slightly outward. File the flattened head into the hook and set the pointed end of the nail into a tool handle while it is hot or heat it for that purpose. When all this is done, finish the hook by giving it a good rubbing down with emery paper. To work well it must have a smooth surface; an old and much-used hook is much pleasanter to work with than a new hook. It is much more easily pushed through the foundation. The metal portion of the hook should be about five inches long when finished. The handle is three inches long.

The Wooden Rug Frame: The frame is made of soft wood either pine or locust. There are four pieces: two side pieces, forty inches long, two end pieces eighteen inches long; the wooden strips from which they are cut are one and one-half inches in thickness and two inches in width. These four pieces are made and fitted together to make the frame. The side pieces which measure forty inches have augur holes at either end, spaced one and one-half inches apart. The end pieces which measure eightecn inches have a fixed peg at each end, one and one-half inches from the end. The pegs in the end pieces fall into the holes in the side pieces and little iron shutter catches are added for greater steadiness. The size of the frame may be regulated by moving the pegs up or down into the holes.


The piece of burlap which is used as a foundation for the hooked rug whether made of cotton or wool, is a material which is commercially known as raw jute. It is also sometimes called "gunny sacking." It is a fabric woven of a coarse hempen or jute thread. As it is sometimes wrapped around large bales and bundles for packing, it may be on hand but if not it can be procured at a furniture shop or in the furniture department of the larger dry goods stores.

As the size of our cotton rug measures twenty-four by thirty-six inches we shall need a piece of burlap measuring twenty-eight by forty inches or two inches larger all around than the size of the rug. The two extra inches all around are turned under into a hem of single thickness and stitched down on a sewing ma-chine, one-quarter of an inch from the edge.

The sewing machine stitching stays and strengthens the foundation at the edges of the rug where it gets most wear and tear. The extra thickness of burlap at the corners where the hem is turned under double, is cut away and the raw edges over-handed. It is wiser to over-hand the whole piece of burlap before be-ginning to make the foundation. The loose flap of the hem is caught down and held in place by loops of material when the rug is hooked. The old-fashioned method of finishing a hooked rug was to hem it after all the hooking was done. Then the hem of burlap was sewed down on top of the under-side of the rug over a hooked portion. This left the burlap outside exposed to rubbing on the floor. Since jute is apt to fray out, by hemming the foundation, before it is hooked, this is avoided, and the under-side of the rug has a neater appearance, by being uniform to the very edge. There is little difficulty in hooking the strips through two thicknesses of burlap.

Transferring the Design to the Rug Foundation: The design can be transferred to the foundation by one of two methods. It can be drawn on or printed with a stencil. If the rug design is to be repeated several times, it is more convenient to have a stencil. If on the contrary, the design is only to be used once it is as well to draw it on the, foundation. But in order to get acquainted with the two methods we shall draw the design on the foundation for the hooked rug in cotton and stencil it on for the hooked rug in wool.

With a piece of white chalk mark off the foundation into squares of eight by eight inches. There will be three squares in the width and four in the length, making twelve in all. Number these from one to twelve so they correspond exactly to the cross lines drawn on the design in the illustration. The scale for the drawing is one inch to one foot. Now copy into each square with the marking chalk, that portion of the design which falls into that particular square. Thus section by section the design will become enlarged. With a medium-sized paint brush and liquid bluing, trace over all the chalk marks of the design omitting the lines of the squares which were used for the enlargement only. After the bluing has dried, brush off the remaining chalk and the foundation is ready to stretch on the frame.

Stretching the Foundation on the Frame: Take the frame apart and fasten the corner of the foundation with a strong cord to the side bar of the frame. With the rug hook pull the cord through the edge of the foundation just inside the machine-sewed hem. Wind the cord around the bar and through the foundation at intervals of not more than three inches. Then fasten the opposite side of the foundation in just this same way, to the other side bar. These side bars, remember, measure eighteen inches. The foundation should be centered in the middle of each bar. Wrap the foundation around one of the bars to which it has been fastened until the width of the foundation between the bars measures four-teen inches. Fit the frame together stretching the foundation as taut as possible between the two side bars. Stay the edges of the rug at the ends. When the foundation is stretched on the frame, there should be no creases or folds. It is much easier to hook the strips through a foundation which has been well stretched on the frame. If the work on the rug is to go ahead smoothly, all these relative and minor points must be attended to accurately.


Get yourself comfortably settled at your rug frame before beginning to hook. Do not stoop over the frame. Stooping contracts the chest and one tires easily in a cramped position. Resting the frame on the top of two chairs or a table at a proper height is the best way to work. Each rug-maker must adjust the height of the frame to suit herself. The arms and hands however must be in an easy position as the movement of the wrist must be free.

Take a strip of indigo blue reserved for the outlining and hold it under the foundation with the left hand. With the right hand take the rug hook in exactly the same manner as one would in crocheting. Push the hook through the meshes of the foundation and pull up the strip by drawing an end through first. Hold on to the end from underneath so that it won't slip back again. Then put the hook down again through the foundation, draw up the strip which will this time be a loop, make the loops three-eighths of an inch high. Hook in all directions and for the cot-ton rug pull the loops up just as evenly as possible. When beginning another strip, draw the end up into the same hole occupied by the end of some other strip. Leave from two to three meshes of the burlap between each loop and be sure not to split the threads of the foundation as this weakens the fabric of the rug.

Begin hooking the rug pattern by first out-lining that part of the design exposed in the frame. Outlining is easier than filling in and it gives one a clearer idea of the design to first outline it. After the outlining is completed fill in all the spaces of the design with the colors assigned. Always hook from the edges toward the center of each frameful. The very most central spot should be the last to be filled in. Change from color to color just as the spaces in the design come, and do not leave the background the last to be filled in. When changing the color of the strip, and going from one part of the design to an-other, do not double the strips on the under side of the rug. Cut them and begin over again. Overlapping the strips on the under side of the rug makes a clumsy lump that is apt to cut through before the rest of the rug. Hooking the rug from the sides toward the center prevents the edges of the rug from ruffling up. There is always a certain amount of fulness which comes from the stretching of the burlap. This extra fulness may be pushed by the hooking toward the center of the rug where it is taken up and the edges of the rug remain flat. When hooking, push the new row of loops against the rows already hooked. This method prevents wide spaces from coming in between the rows. After one frameful has been hooked, wind it round one of the side bars and begin again by tying in another frameful. The rug is hooked frameful by frameful.

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