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The Hooked Rug In Wool

( Originally Published 1914 )

The design for the hooked rug in wool is called the " Tea Chest Pattern " because it was suggested by the design on an old Chinese tea chest. The wide-awake designer is always on the lookout for some interesting motif, and is ready for a suggestion from any quarter. The tea chest pattern is to be carried out in two tones of brown one of dark blue, one of bright scarlet' and one of the cream color of the undyed flannel. The size of the pattern is three feet twenty-seven inches by six feet nine inches or twenty-three and one-half square feet, there-fore, forty-six yards of flannel will be needed to make the rug. The allowance of material is from two to one and one-half yards of flannel to one square foot of hooked rug surface. Divide the flannel into the following amounts: Twenty-four yards for the light brown used as a center or the ground of the rug pattern; six yards for the border, dark brown; four yards for the cream color for the fret. The scroll and the floral motif in the scarlet, ten yards and two yards of dark blue for outlining the scroll and floral motif.


The material which is used to make the woolen rug is a good quality of unbleached twill flannel. It costs retail, from thirty to thirty-five cents per yard but by buying it wholesale in the bolt of sixty yards or so, it comes considerably cheaper. All the colors for the rug are to be hand-dyed except the blue, which can be bought commercially dyed. This color is of the dark blue of dark blue flannel shirts and can he procured by the yard at any dry goods store. The directions for the treatment of commercially dyed flannel, are given later on in this same chapter.

The flannel for the wool rug is dyed before it is cut into strips. After it has been divided into the desired amounts and dyed, subdivide the lengths into single yards. Roll each yard into a tight roll and tie the roll at four inches from the selvage and in the middle firmly with a cord. Out the flannel strips off the rolls with a very sharp knife just as if yon were slicing a loaf of bread. Make the strips one-fourth of an inch wide and cut them as evenly as possible.


The ingredients needed for dyeing with catechu brown are two ounces of catechu paste, two ounces of bichromate of potash and two ounces of copper sulphate.

Catechu for Wool: Catechu brown has been given once in the chapter on the crocheted rug but there it is to be used to dye cotton. There are very few dye recipes which can be used in the same way on .silk, wool or cotton. While there is very little difference in the recipe for catechu brown on wool, there is quite enough to make it worth while to use a special treatment for each material. Catechu comes in the form of a dried paste and is the sap of several East Indian trees preserved in this way. It is a permanent dye, very fast and comparatively little affected by light and washing. It is used with two chemicals as mordants, copper sulphate, commercially sold as blue stone and bichromate of potash. The chemical action of these mordants is similar to those used in indigo and in iron buff. The catechu becomes de-oxidized in the first dye bath with the cop-per sulphate and reoxidized in the second dye bath with the bichromate. In oxidizing the Japonic acid is precipitated in the form of an insoluble brown dye on the fabric.

Soak a 2 ounce piece of catechu over night in an earthenware bowl. This softens the paste and makes the dyeing easier. Tie the paste in a little cotton , bag. In the morning when the paste is all dissolved, put the con-tents of the bowl into the dye kettle with four gallons of boiling water and one ounce of cop-per sulphate. Wet the flannel reserved for the darker brown, used in the border of the rug, in warm water and dip it in the dye bath. The flannel must be wrung out and shaken out be-fore it goes into the dye bath so that its temperature is as even as possible. The hotter portions of any material absorb the dye more rapidly than the cooler parts, and thus it may become unevenly colored.

Let the flannel boil from one to one and one-half hours keeping it as much underneath the water of the dye bath as possible. Keeping it under the surface of the water insures greater evenness of color. After the flannel has been boiled, take it out of the dye bath and pass it through a solution of bichromate of potash. It may stay about five minutes in this solution which is made of one ounce of the bichromate to one gallon of water. Do not wring out the flannel after it comes from the bichromate bath, but let it drain in a room of moderate temperature until it dries. Then wash care-fully to remove all dye particles. Do not rinse until it has been first dried and then treat it as one would fine woolen underwear. Hot water or excessive heat of any kind, or excessive cold, has a tendency to shrink flannel.

The flannel reserved for the lighter tone in brown is treated in precisely the same way. Keep the original dye bath. Do not add any more catechu but renew the mordant, one ounce of copper sulphate. Dip the flannel in the dye bath and let it boil for only an hour, then put the flannel through a fresh bath of the bichromate of potash and proceed as with the darker brown. Slight unevennesses of color tone are not unfavorable to the appearance of the rug, especially if large masses of the same color are used. But with the inexperienced dyer the material is oftener mottled than not, so it does not seem wise to work for a mottled effect until one has more command of dye processes. Then one can do it by a more intelligent method than by slipshod work. The method recommended for mottled effects is called dyeing by reserve and is found in the chapter on the knitted rug.

Scarlet with Cochineal: The only other color to be dyed for the tea chest pattern is the scarlet red with cochineal. The ingredients needed for this are two ounces of grain cochineal, four ounces of oxalic acid, four ounces of stannous chloride in the form of single muriate of tin, and one ounce of cream of tartar.

Cochineal is the coloring matter which comes from a dried insect found alive on a species of cactus and is largely cultivated in Mexico. The exact shade of scarlet which comes from cochineal cannot be produced by any other dye. It is a red of peculiar brilliancy and quality and it is also permanent.

Tie the grains of cochineal in a cotton bag and soak in an earthenware dish with cold water. Always use earthenware to soak dyes for it has no chemical effect on the pigments. And cold water draws out the pigment better than warm water or hot water. Now fill the dye kettle half full of cold water and add the cochineal and the other ingredients. Let them come to a full boil and boil for ten minutes; then fill up the kettle with cold water and put in the moist flannel. Let the dye bath come to a boil very slowly taking from one hour to three-fourths of an hour in the process. After the boiling point is reached, boil for half an hour. This is a rather difficult recipe to use so be very careful to carry out the instructions exactly. If the worker does not wish to use the cochineal scarlet, it is possible to get a fairly soft tone of salmon pink by boiling ordinary red flannel in washing soda. Boil until no more color comes out and the color is modified by this artificial method of fading. Do not use any more soda than necessary as it is an alkali and alkalis have a tendency to make wool very harsh and brittle. The dark blue flannel used in our rug pattern may be also boiled out in this way.


Enlarge the tea chest pattern by the same method as used for the flower basket pattern in the cotton rug, but instead of drawing it on the burlap directly first draw it on a piece of tough wrapping paper, three inches larger all around than the measurements of the rug. Draw it on with soft stick charcoal as it can be easily rubbed out in this medium. If the drawing has been well-done it need not be transferred to another piece of paper but if the paper has been weakened by rubbing out, the drawing must be transferred to another piece of paper the same size with carbon copying paper. After it has been transferred or drawn, saturate the paper with equal parts of linseed oil and turpentine and a little Japan dryer. Cover the paper to the very edge. The three-inch margin all around the pattern prevents the color used on the stencil from staining the rug pattern. Commercial stencil paper can be used but manila wrapping paper cuts more easily. A pocket-knife can be used to cut the stencil or a regular stencil knife can be bought at a painters' supply store. The commercial stencil knife is weighted and easier to use as it does not have to be pressed down as hard as an ordinary penknife. The regular stencil knives cost seventy-five cents.

After the oil on the paper has sufficiently dried out, lay it on a piece of moderately thick glass and cut out the stencil by following the lines marked on the paper. Do not cut into the background of the design and do not pull out the cut parts until all the cutting is finished.

Pulling out these cut parts weakens the stencil, makes it buckle up and more difficult to cut. Cut well down into the corners of the design, else the pieces are apt to stick when they come to be pulled out. After the stencil is all cut, pull out all the cut parts and shellac it with yellow shellac dissolved in wood alcohol. This stencil also can be made ,by the process given in the chapter on newer methods of making stencil.


The foundation for the wool rug is prepared in exactly the same way as for the cotton rug. Get a cheap shaving brush and cut off until it measures one inch long. Cut it as evenly as possible. These brushes cost about ten cents. To print the foundation, lay it on a large table, place the stencil on it and pin it down firmly with dressmaker's pins. Dressmaker's pins are steel and do not bend. Brush over the holes in the pattern with liquid bluing; rub it in well and be careful not to shift the stencil. After the foundation has been printed, let it dry thoroughly.


Mount the foundation on the rug frame in exactly the same manner as directed for the cotton rug. The processes in these' two rugs are similar except that the loops in the wool rug are pulled up unevenly and clipped. Draw every three loops up to a height of one-fourth inch and one loop to three-eighths inch. Thus when the rug is clipped, only every one in four loops is cut off.

After each frameful has been hooked, clip the rug until it is completed. Use a strong pair of shears and holding the left hand under the rug, lift up that portion of the surface which is to be clipped. Clipping the rug improves the texture and the pile. The old-fashioned hooked rugs were not clipped and consequently were not as attractive as those made by the newer method.


Martha's Pattern: Martha's pattern is a rug plan to be made out of old materials. It can be made in mixed tones of red, dark blues, greens and browns. With these colors, blacks, grays, creams and whites are also needed.

The tones may vary from very dark blue, red, green or brown to medium tones of the same colors. Too great a contrast is not good. There are some colors which, if one has not enough of the reds, blues and grays, can be bought to help out. All colored flannels are improved by a hard boil before they are used, that is, those which have been bought. If they have a tendency to bleed as running is called in dyers' terms, the artificial fading overcomes this tendency. In boiling the loose pigment comes away and the color that is left is permanent. The flannel need not be artificially faded if it has been in use for a long time.

The size of Martha's pattern is three feet eighteen inches by five feet eighteen inches. Prepare by drawing on the design in the same manner as in the cotton rug. As it is difficult to duplicate a rug made of old materials and one does not often make more than one of a kind, it is wiser to draw it on a foundation rather than to print it with a stencil. It is better to use all woolen materials for this rug but if one has not enough of black, gray, cream-white, stockings and underwear whether of wool or cotton, or cotton with a wool finish may be used.

Outline all the figures of the design with a double outline of black and white, letting the white outline come on the inside of the figures. First fill in the figures of the borders with the varied tones of red and brown, using the blues for the background. In the center panel of the rug, reverse this order and use the blues for filling in the figures and the reds and the browns for the background, or this whole scheme may be reversed if it better suits the amount of materials on hand. Thus with little expense an effective rug can be made and one of its charms is that it offers a field for invention; as a commercial product, however, it is not as successful as a rug made entirely of new flannel.

The Fret and Scroll Pattern: The size of this pattern is three feet by six feet nine inches. One advantage of the fret and scroll pattern is that it can be carried out in wool or cotton and looks equally well in either material. It is planned for two harmonizing colors and there must be considerable difference between their tone values. The scroll and fret should fall on the ground in either a very much lighter or a very much darker tone. For example, if this design is carried out in wool, a charming bedroom rug can be made with a cream-white ground and a medium blue fret and scroll. The materials for this scheme are easily procured as both the blue and the cream-white flannel can be bought. It is, however,- a more expensive rug than one made of hand-dyed flannel. Blue and white cotton can be used with this design to make a bath rug by using a background of mixed blue cottons and the fret and scroll in unbleached or pure white. The cheapest grade of blue cotton dress prints may be used. Or the blue can be dyed by the indigo blue recipe in the chapter on the knitted rug.

Another plan for a cotton rug is to put the fret and scroll in cream-white unbleached cotton musline and the background in the iron buff which is found in the chapter on the needle-woven rug. The worker can also work these designs in other color combinations by using the dye recipes given in some of the other chapters. These original plans will be found most entertaining when carried out.

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