kitty companiona

kitty companiona

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Thoughts and Theories...

At this time all my larger projects are completed.  And not wanting to start anything major before the Norma Batastini class next week, I've been working on what I call 'piddly stuff'.

I drew up a few small mats that are big enough to use as hot pads under a casserole dish, etc.

These are great for using up leftover worms (those strips we cut for hooking) and small pieces of wool from the stash.

I'm writing this in hopes that those of you just starting out in rughooking may learn from some of my mistakes.  I know many people don't care if they use 100% wool.  I do.  For the sake of my cutter.

While digging through my stash, I'm finding wools that I bought in the past that weren't very good choices.  When we start collecting, especially from thrift stores, we tend to grab anything that is labelled 100% wool.  Not always the best wool, but it's WOOL!  Well, maybe....

That cute little label that looks like a skein of wool and says 100% is not always accurate!  One day in at Grant Street Woolworks, Linda and I went through some of the fabrics she had bought that were labelled 100% and you would not believe how many did not pass the burn test.  What is the 'burn test' you may ask???  When you burn a piece of natural fiber- wool, cotton, or linen- you get an ashy residue.

When you burn a synthetic, you get hard little balls of plastic!

This was yarn I recently bought to make a sweater.  It is 80% acrylic and 20% wool.  When I burned the ends of the yarn, they got hard like the plastic ends on shoelaces.

Now I am not advocating getting our your matches and setting fire to the clothing you find in the thrift store!  LOL!!!  But if you can discretely pull a thread from the edge of a seam or hem and take it outside...  NO!  I didn't say that!

Once we have established that we have WOOL, there is the consideration of 'is it good wool for rughooking'.  Twills are weave structures that should be carefully considered before purchasing.  A loosely woven wool twill can cause tearing out of your hair!!!

Check the edge of my star mat.  I am using leftover worms from past projects.  See how the dark brown and the golden brown loops look like loops are supposed to, standing all lined up straight like little soldiers.  Then check the outermost two rows where the loops look like little messy lumps.  The little mussy lumps happen because I am using a loosely woven twill.

This is what a loose twill fabric looks like.  See the subtle diagonal weave in the fabric. This is created by threads going over two and under two, making a nice drapable fabric for clothing.

A better choice for hooking is a plain weave fabric.  This piece of linen backing is a plain weave.  You can see how the threads go over and under each other to make a firmly woven, stable fabric.

This is a plain weave wool.

What happens when you cut your strips and try to pull them through your backing?  Why do I hear hookers say, 'this stuff is awful to work with!  It keeps raveling!!!'.

Because when you pull on a strip cut from certain twills, the strip stretches (because of the diagonal BIAS weave structure) and your strip ravels and falls apart.  In the next two pictures I cut #5 strips.  The dark brown is the plain weave strip.  I pulled with the same pressure on all of them.  This is what happened.

I am not saying ALL twills are bad!  Just be aware of what you are buying!

The next pictures will show two twills that I bought.  One is a perfectly wonderful wool for hooking.  The other will cause you grief.  The difference is in the size of the threads used to weave the fabric and the washing and fulling that makes it tight and firm.  Can you see the difference in the coarseness of the fabric in the brown sample.  That's the unsatisfactory one!!!

Look what happens when I try to pull threads from the edge of the fabric!

I could easily pull threads from the brown fabric.  I couldn't pull any threads from the edge of the gray plaid, which hooked up very nicely.

That's the Those are SOME of my theories about choosing wool for hooking.  Yeah, I got more!!!  LOL!  Maybe another time.  I can only preach for so long before I run out of blabb!

Happy Hooking!


  1. Pat, what a great post! Very educational! Those looser weaves can be problems. Cutting on a wider strip could help, but not always. Love all your pic's. Great for all who want more visual explanations. And your star rugs are gorgeous. Love the colors you chose!

  2. What great information!!! One question. What is a worm? Is it the strip of wool you've cut from a piece of fabric? How long ddi it take you to make this project? So cute!!!

  3. Hi Barb,
    These are finish-in-a-day mats!
    Yes, a worm is the strip of wool cut for hooking. Should have explained that better.
    I'll go back and revise!

  4. Pat ~
    Finish in a day? For me, they might be finish in a week mats!
    Very informative blabb, even for those of us with some hooking experience.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Happy Easter!
    Pug hugs :)

  5. You explain things so wonderfully! I think back to the time when I was buying wool before doing a lot of hooking. Ay Yi Yi!! I could have used this info then! It's interesting that you say things with the 100% wool tags aren't always 100% wool. Have you ever tried the bleach test? Those star mats are great! Could think of a thousand places around the house to use them! Great post Pat! Cathy G

  6. Thanks for all the awesome tips on choosing good wool! Good stuff! I absolutely LOVE the shading on your star! Simply beautiful!!!

  7. Since I am new to rug hooking, your post was WONDERFUL. I don't think we should be allowed to buy wool until we've learned to hook!

  8. Great information - how true is that - when we start "collecting our wool" we make so many mistakes! Wish I khad this info years ago!

  9. WOW what a great lesson for new hookers. I wish I had thought of it. I can't tell you what a wonderful post this is - I can only hope that all new hookers take a look and take heed from what you have to say. Thanks, thanks, thanks for being such a good mentor for new hookers.

  10. I'll join the rest in saying what an informative post this was- Makes me want to hook. Or maybe just think about hooking...


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