Heather’s new hobby has her hooked

Truro Daily News - - HEALTH AND WELLNESS - Heather Laura Clarke Heather Laura Clarke is a crafty maker who per­pet­u­ally has paint smears on her hands, saw­dust in her shoes and bits of thread stuck to her leg­gings. She lives in Truro with her hus­band, son, and daugh­ter. Fol­low her adventures at Heat

I guess you could say I’d al­ways been in­ter­ested in hook­ing (tee hee).

Rug-hook­ing, that is! It’s the art of mak­ing a rug by pulling loops of yarn or fab­ric through a stiff base, like burlap.

My aunt once hooked a truly amaz­ing life-sized book­shelf rug for my mom, com­plete with plants, knick-knacks, and book spines with the names of her fam­ily mem­bers, friends and hob­bies. It seemed in­cred­i­bly com­pli­cated, es­pe­cially when she told us she got most of her ma­te­ri­als by cutting thrifted wool coats into tiny strips. Woah.

Over the last year or so, rughook­ing pho­tos started pop­ping up in my Face­book news­feed be­cause one of my friends is a “hooker.” It looked like so much fun! Although there is a drop-in group that runs near my house ev­ery week, I felt shy about just waltz­ing in, so I asked her to let me know if she heard of any begin­ner classes.

Not long af­ter­wards, I was all signed up for a six-week class taught by a lo­cal rug-hook­ing ex­pert. We would meet once a week for two hours at her home, and all I had to bring was a large em­broi­dery hoop.

Dur­ing our first class, I was sur­prised by how much I strug­gled. I’m not used to strug­gling at creative things. I felt a lit­tle like pout­ing. De­spite hav­ing quite a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence with hand-sew­ing, it didn’t come eas­ily for me.

The lit­tle wooden and metal hook felt awk­ward in my hand. It was dif­fi­cult to hold a strip of wool un­der my em­broi­dery hoop, poke my hook down into the burlap, and tug the strip back up through the hole — leav­ing a loop that wasn’t too tall, nor too short or crooked.

Some­times I’d crowd my loops too close to­gether — a hook­ing sin known as “packing” — and other times they’d be too spaced out, leav­ing vis­i­ble burlap. I worked too quickly and made mis­takes. The back of my work was sup­posed to look as good as the front, but it was such a wreck that some­times I had to pull out en­tire sec­tions.

Week by week, I toiled over my lit­tle rug — tech­ni­cally it’s a trivet — and slowly I started to get the hang of hook­ing. My loops were more even. The hook felt nat­u­ral in my hand. I wasn’t “packing” as much, or leav­ing waste­ful “mil­lion­aire ends” of wool at the end of each piece.

I felt proud when it was fin­ished, and even prouder af­ter I’d trimmed and basted the around the out­side, whipped it with black wool, and stitched on a circle of black wool back­ing. It was a real lit­tle rug, even though it was im­per­fect and crooked and wonky in quite a few ar­eas. I even stitched a la­bel on the back that says “Heather’s 1st Hook­ing” and the date.

Once I learned the ba­sics of hook­ing, the pos­si­bil­i­ties ex­ploded in­side my brain — and my Pin­ter­est boards.

You can draw any­thing you want on a piece of burlap and hook it into a comfy cosy re­al­ity. You can use wool strips (pur­chased from a rug-hook­ing shop, or cut from thrifted wool clothes, blan­kets, etc.) or use reg­u­lar ol’ yarn. You can even use strips of fab­ric, lace or rib­bon. You can colour your own wool with tiny cap­fuls of acid dye, and de­sign the most beau­ti­ful colour vari­a­tions — like a mix­ture of dif­fer­ent blues for hook­ing a re­al­is­tic sky.

I’ve al­ready com­pleted a small se­cond hooked project — a Christ­mas tree or­na­ment — and I have a chair pad well un­der­way. I’m dream­ing up dozens of rug de­signs (for when I’m a bit bet­ter at it) and def­i­nitely want to try wall-hanging at some point.

My hus­band is a lit­tle nervous that my wool col­lec­tion might start to ri­val my out-of-con­trol fab­ric col­lec­tion, but he should be thinking about how our rug-shop­ping bud­get will be zero since I’ll be mak­ing them in­stead of buy­ing them.

Although it’s hard for me to imag­ine, per­son­ally, I know a lot of peo­ple who strug­gle to find a hobby they love. If that’s you, I en­cour­age you to try some­thing creative — even if it scares you. If there’s some­thing that’s al­ways in­ter­ested you, sign up for a work­shop or a class in your area. Ask some­one who’s al­ready doing it how you can learn more.

It might give you a re­newed en­ergy and a won­der­ful source of hap­pi­ness.

HEATHER LAURA CLARKE PHO­TOS

Heather com­pleted a six-week rug-hook­ing class. Here’s her first piece, a weeks into her les­sons.

When Heather fin­ished hook­ing her rug, she hooked a sin­gle row of black around the erime­ter.

Heather’s fin­ished rug may be tiny, but it’s in­spired her to keep go­ing with her new hobby.

A prop­erly-hooked rug looks just as good on the back. Heather is still work­ing on that skill!

Then she trimmed the burlap, rolled it tightly and basted it all the way around the edge.

The clouds in Heather’s first rug were hooked with raw sheep fleece to make them fluffy.

The fi­nal step was whip­ping black yarn around the raw edges to hide them.

Heather em­broi­dered a la­bel for the back of her first hooked rug.

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