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A Short Introduction to the World of Rug Hooking

When you think of rugs, it’s easy to picture just the mainstream offerings like those at Rugs Direct, but there’s a sub-culture of enthusiasts who actually make their own. The technique, known as rug hooking, dates back to the 19th Century and it really is a fascinating craft. With that in mind, here’s our short introduction to the world of rug hooking.

The basics of rug hooking

Without getting into an in-depth tutorial, the basic technique behind rug hooking involves pulling loops or fabric or yarn through a stiff base such as linen, burlap or rug warp. In a method that’s actually quite similar to crochet, these pieces of fabric or yarn are pulled through using a hook attached to a handle. The strips of yarn can either be hand-torn for a rustic effect or precision cut with a machine. Purveyors of rug hooking are able to create hugely intricate designs by creating a basic sketch on the backing, then hooking through any number of colourful yarns.

Where rug hooking began

The roots of the rug hooking technique seems to begin in Yorkshire around the 19th Century. At this time the workers in the weaving mills were sometimes allowed to keep the offcuts of fabric, which they would then take home. Because they didn’t have looms at home, the manual method of rug hooking was born. There’s also some evidence that the technique was also used by the Vikings who came to Scotland – or at least the idea of pulling fabric through a base layer. The practice of rug hooking is also very popular in the United States and Canada alongside such creative pursuits as quilting and embroidery.

Rug hooking as an art form

Today, despite the fact that most commercially available rugs are produced through large-scale operations, rug hooking remains a niche interest. There are plenty of people across the world who push the limits of what can be done with the basic rug hooking technique. For example, rather than simply settling for a regular geometric design, many rug hooking enthusiasts will attempt to create realistic pieces of artwork such as portraits. In this way, rug hooking really is an art in itself.


If you think rug hooking seems like a lot of work, why not check out our huge selection of ready-made rugs? There’s something for everyone. Or if you have questions about rugs (or anything else) just call 0845 838 8638.