Bird In The Hand Primitives

Primitive Folk Art Designs and Finished Items
By: Robin Leuschen

" Who you are is God's gift to you........ What you do, is your gift to God !"

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Another try at Rug Hooking....

I am not too happy with my progress so far. I don't want to be too hard on myself. I don't feel like giving up. Every time I grab ( or cut ) the next wool strip I'm hopefull this row will turn out better. I'm still trying to get the hang of going through small curves and not making my loops too tight. Ok, so, seasoned rug hookers, tell me this ...Am I breaking some unspoken rules here ? I almost feel as though not having a class or any proper " learnin' " in this, that I'm doing things wrong and I'll never really know #1 I don't have a cutter, and I can't seem to find a ruler in my stash that is actually STRAIGHT ! all of them seem to be warped or something...grrrrrrr...I can't seem to get strips that are even in width, and I hate to waste the ones that are too thin or too thick or thin on the ends and thicker in the middle.
#2 I found outtoo late that my hoop is just a little too small.Or...that I drew out my design just a hair too very ends dont all fit in the hoop, so I am going to have to move the piece on the hoop, squishing what I've allready hooked, in order to finish the outside. #3 I'm not happy with the strip of off white I did around the bird, hoping to " highlight " it . I was going to do that to the flowers also, but after I did it, I don't like it. I think it looks too ??? Cartoonish ?? Soooo...rather than pull the loops out and re-do, I'm thinking of just staining that just a tad to tone it down ??? #4 I hooked the area inside the lare flower with a checked blue wool. The more I look at THAT, I'm not happy with it... #5 The numbers came out horrible ( how do you all do it ??!!) #6 The square that the numbers are inside came out all whacky and not square...Do I tear that out and re-do? #7 Almost forgot...I only have a hoop, no frame, so do I spend the money on a frame ? I don't see myself givng it up anytime soon so...?? Ok, like I said, I don't want to beat myself up toooooo bad , but at the same time, where do I draw the line at being particular, and giving myself a pass on perfection for the sake of enjoying the self-teaching/learning process. ?? There you have my Off to cut more strips and trudge on. I am enjoying it, don't get me wrong, I just wish I could figure some of the finer points of the art out... Hugs, Robin


Kim said...

I think what you've done so far looks great. Don't worry about "perfect" - it doesn't exist. Get yourself a frame. It doesn't need to be fancy or expensive. You won't be sorry!

Rhonda said...

I too am a new "hooker".LOL I think what you have done is fine. I wish mune looked as good. Can you find a rug hooking guild around you anywhere? It has been helpful to me for the very same questions. Hope someone answers them for you. I think you are being too hard on yourself. I love your designs.

Keep hooking.

Raspberry Lane Primitives said...

I think it looks great Robin. Kudos to you for cutting your own wool with a small ruler. I have stalled on my hooking cuz I don't want to use my rotary I'm waiting to find a wool cutter and will get a lap frame soon. I think you should at least get a lap frame too. I have swapped & ordered precut wool strips from Margie over at hungry hook primitives blog. She has great colors for a great price.
Keep on hookin'

Katherine said...

I think it looks good too. I love your design. I am teaching myself as well, since there are no classes anywhere near me. I don't have a cutter either, and am not happy with my hand cut strips. I'll be checking back to see what advice the seasoned rug hookers have for you.:)


Susan At Glen Oaks Primitives said...

I know what you're saying but I can't see anything wrong. I think it's beautiful. After all, it's a primitive craft and they don't have to be perfect. That's just my opinion. I think you're doing a great job.

Orange Sink said...

I know other rug hookers will say invest in a frame. Eventually you'll want a cutter...... oh and a better hook etc etc etc...... but what you have hooked so far without benefit of either looks pretty darn nice!!
Keep going and the elements like the square with numbers will look better after you get the background around it!! You can always go back anytime and change the outline around the bird. Breathe deeply a few times and relax your shoulders...... enjoy each loop!!
Cathy G

Orange Sink said...

oops! Forgot to tell you...... there are no rules that you need to worry about right now...... I'm sure later on you might want to follow a couple!! :-))
Cathy G

Raymond Homestead said...

I don't know anything about rug hooking, I wish I did but I don't but I think it looks great!

Sassafras and Winterberry said...

I still agonize about my strip width. Even with a cutter, you can cut unevenly. As long as it isn't fraying too much, I'll hook with it! Otherwise, cut a small cut in the remaining wool, then tear to get it straight again. Your rug looks great. I have a frame I don't really use if you'd like. Just email me. It's a hoop lap frame, but it'll do you until you get one you like better. I still hook too tightly, especially around curves. Just try to skip every other loop. Make yourself do it. If it's too loose and you see foundation, then pull it out and hook more closely together. I'm much better about changing things after I've seen them hooked. One rug, I had to unhook a lot of was so tight. But, when I did, it was better. Again, I love what you have so far.
Happy hooking!

appleberrycottage said...

I'm still learning, too! I LOVE the blue plaid in the flower. It adds some interest. I'm just learning about plaids, but can't visualize how they hook up. I ended up buying a cutter and now a frame. I could cut your wool for no charge if you just send me the fabric. I, also, tend to hook (and punch) tightly. I'm using weavers cloth, so I hook in every other hole. Keep up the good work, Robin!

woollylottrugs said...

Robin, Robin, Robin.......LOL....don't be so hard on yourself. I think it looks awesome for a first attempt. It takes practice. Forget perfect, if you're going for perfect you'll drive yourself nuts! I love the flower with the plaid. You're just not used to seeing the difference between that and the solid wool. If you keep on hooking in the primitive style you'll learn you love the plaids, herringbones, etc. It gives a different texture to your rug. Your numbers are very good. There's a lot of different opinions out there about letters and numbers. Some say hook them a little higher so that when you fill in the background they show up. Some say hook them and then do the background and then re-hook them so they pop. Now what I do is I hook the numbers or letters and then do the background and then I pull out all the lettering and numbers and re-hook. I think they then show up better or look more crisp but I am very particular. Probably too picky. Everyone's different. Each person also has their own unique hooking style. It's very hard to pick up someone else's rug they have been hooking and work on it for them. You will see the difference almost always. The white around the bird might be a bit stark, you can either use something else or you can tone it down with some strong coffee or tea. I've been hooking for a long long time and I still learn new things. I still sometimes will hook too tight, relax and enjoy it. Just get into a motion and soon you'll be fine. I also am self taught. I learned a lot on the Rughookers yahoo group, there is a wealth of information there. Also books, maybe your library will have some. I would say get a frame if you plan to hook more, it doesn't have to be a high end frame and cost a lot of money just to start and see that you like it. A cutter I would wait until you decide if you want to continue hooking, cutters are expensive. Finding a hook is also a personal preference. If you have a guild around you or a local shop it would be great to try the hook before you buy it. The hook I started with was a moshimer hook and they are around 8.00 I think, nothing wrong with them either. I know a woman over 80 years old that has been hooking all her adult life and she still uses the cheap moshimer hook.
Do go to rug hooking sites and check out the things available. If you google "rug hooking" it will also bring up some you tube sites where you can actually get a little lesson in rug hooking. Hope I didn't babble too much here. Good luck and have fun. Any questions, feel free to contact me and I'll try to help you out.

Happy hooking!

Michelle~Sugar House Creations said...

Yay! Happy to see you give it another try. Rug hooking is playing havoc on my OCD tendencies to want it perfect or not at all. I think you are doing great! I have had good success since switching to a large shank Hartman hook since I like wider cuts (8 and 9), but you might not need one just yet. You have gotten some great advice to run with. Can't wait to see the finished product! :-)

Rugs and Pugs said...

Robin ~
You are MUCH too hard on yourself!!! I am self taught and it took me a lot longer to get where you are already. I still don't like numbers or letters so I avoid them when possible!
If you think you will continue hooking, a frame is a must (in my opinion). I never hooked with a hoop, but the tighter the backing on the frame, the easier it is to hook.
Keep up the good work!
Hugs :)

Kathy Simpson said...

I too hook tight and try to relax but tense up for some reason! Your rug looks great to me! I am a cross stitcher and love it but it is so exact where hooking isn't. If you can send me your wool I would be happy to cut it for you. Cutting it by hand is too hard and takes so much time. Don't think I would want to tackle hooking without a frame. I am just a begining hooker and hope to improve myself because I just love the finished product!
Keep up the good work, Kathy

BumbleBeeLane said...

I don't hook yet.Got my kit ready to start when I feel brave enough to will say yours so far looks as good as any I've purchased from the "seasoned" crafters.Keep going it will look alot differnt when it's finished.Warm Blessings!~Amy

Mugwump Woolies said...

Robin you are doing great! Keep going and you will find your rhythm and tension. The right "tools" help make the job easier. Hooks are a personal preference...I use a Hartman because I use a wide cut. The right hook made a big difference for me...and linen...only linen for me.
I too "pack" my's how I hook and it all comes out o.k. in the end. Relax ...enjoy it...there are no rules...just keep going.

Kathy (woolfind) said...

Oh Boy, I agree with everyone else. You are MUCH too hard on yourself. Your piece looks great, and I like your idea of just staining the outline around the bird if you want too.
If you want "perfect", go buy a machine made rug lol. You are making a handmade piece :)!! So much more meaningful.
From what I can see, your numbers look good. Keep going with it. The only thing I can suggest is to make sure there are no cross overs on the back. And if you want a straight ruler, go to the hardware store and find a metal straight edge. But I agree with everyone else, a cutter will be a great investment. And it's ok to smoosh your loops with your frame. Other hookers who use hoops to hook do very large rugs!
Have fun with it and keep going!!

Prims By The Water said...

I am no rug hooker...would like to be some day, but what you have accomplished so far looks great to me. Take care, Janice

Anonymous said...

I'm a very new hooker too. I have to tell you that what you have done is exellent. Rug hooking should look primitive. If it's too perfect it just won't look primitive. Keep up the good work.

Alice ~ Folk Art Primitives said...

Your hooking looks great for a first time hooker!! I agree that a frame and good primitive hook is going to help you a lot! The Hartman hook is the best in my opinion ~ and a cutter would help but handcutting is fine. The most important thing is to keep going ~ and don't judge every loop!! Your loop heighth should be as high as loop is wide and you should be able to see daylight through it ~ like the eye of a needle. Keep going ~ you're gonna love it!

Joanne said...

I won't add anything else - you got a lot of info and a lot to think about - but personally I think what you are doing looks great! Things always look so much better after background gets added also!

newburyarts said...

***** to do what you asked
and that is answer your questions:
1) cutting strips...NO, you do not need a cutter. what you do need is a good pair of scissors and practice by cutting a textured peice with woven lines. this will help you practice and until you really decide if this is a craftform you like, scissors are the best way to go until that time. the strips DO NOT have to be perfectly straight, but they shouldn't be all over the place. a few minor dips here and there are
fine. cutting by hand DOES however change the look of the finished becomes much more primitive as opposed to strips from a cutter. a good pair of black handled ginghers are wonderful and inexpensive. check for sales both at your area joann's or on line.
2) forget ever having a wooden have found out the hard way that metal or plastic are
the only ones allowed. there are people out there that are very happy using a rotary cutter, just take your time and get used to the feel.
3)the white surrounding the bird is too stark...that you will always find with white and black
in rug hooking. they either have to be toned down as with the white or bled as with the black.
4)when staining a piece that has already been hooked the results isn't very appealing to the eye. you be the judge in this case since you are staring at the obeject and can readily see the end result.
5)both flowers are great...leave them as such.
6)hooking letters, numbers and circles:
a)all of the above aren't difficult when you use some of these guidelines...since you are hooking with a number eight strip,
skip only one space instead of two
and you will fine tune the image. the weight of the wool has a great impact on this procedure. should the wool be closely woven, fluffy or a texture you can use the rule of skipping two spaces in between
the loops. should your wool be light weight, no matter what cut, than skipping only one space as you hook a letter, circle or number should make a pleasing result.
7)the square looks great...just redo the numbers if you want, but so far thay look fine. again, this is sitting in front of you...if you don't feel good about something
than redo that part. don't let anything nag at's a simple
process to redo it, but also don't be too quick to take everything out. let the piece go a bit further or complete it..anything can be adjusted at anytime with a
hooked rug.
i will hook up a demonstration piece for you and send it so that you can see the various particulars about this craft.
as for hooks...they are a very personal thing. i happen to think that the hartman is one of the poorer ones out there. my personal preferance is either the woolley fox 8mm, the ligonier 8mm, or any
of the aults hooks. really is very personal and you can tell be the various hooking done on some of these blogs on how they don't understand the hook and how to hold one...some are even teaching!
good luck...a one hundred percent change from the heart that you were
hooking. remember...WE ALL WERE BEGINNERS at one time. the difference is when to ask for help and to always be the student and try to improve your skills. i think that once you get the right tools and the hang of will be a nautral.

newburyarts said...

*****p.s...when someone tells you at this point that there are no rules to follow...ignore them. that ignorance is what causes frustration and they don't know what they are talking about. one of the MOST IMPORTANT rules for a
novice to remember is that spacing of your loops...number eight skips
two spaces, number nine three spaces. soft and squishy should always be the end result and in the beginning you should count these spaces. the end result will
always show. another thing...don't hook to the end of a row and cut...that is incorrect. the end result is this group of lines that are very noticable. you hide the cut end unde another loop...we can
discuss this later. good luck!

Diane said...

Hi Robin, I'm new to rug hooking too and have some of the same questions you posted so I read all your comments eagerly! Wow! I'm on the look out for a 'less expensive' lap frame myself. I'm a quilt maker so I had a hoop but it is awkward and getting harder to pull loops now that the rug is about 1/2 done.

I love your rug, I've become a follower and hope to see how yours finishes.
I can't wait to get this first rug of mine finished, (it's a kit I bought in the 90's) and try my hand at drawing something myself to hook.

White Sheep Farm said...

Hi Robin,
I to am a new hooker ... And I am still where you are at ... There are so many "catch 22's" in rug hooking ... At least for me, I started out cutting my wool with a cutter just like you. It was VERY hard to get them uniform. So I bought a cutter ... and then blades. Did it improve my hooking ... I don't think so. Then I also stated on a hoop ... and bought a frame ... I will say this I LOVE my frame ... did it improve my hooking ... I don't think so. Then I bought the right hook, fabric, wool and so on ... Did it all improve my hooking ... I don't think so ... But what all of those things did do, was make hooking a heck of a lot EASIER!
I still am not a great hooker ... But my thing was I didn't know what I was doing ... And what happened was I developed bad habits. I am a low hooker and I still pack my loops!
Best thing I can say to you is go to classes ... find them if you really like this craft. You won't be sorry ... Because all those tools are a BIG investment.
Good Luck. Oh and BTW, we are all critical of own work when we are out of our comfort zone.

yorkie's primitives said...

It looks great to me!! I think you might be being a little too hard on yourself.LOL Hugs, Valerie

Rainbows in Wool said...

You're doing fine. I never did and never will finish my first pieces.

As for a frame, a sturdy picture frame with the pattern thumbtacked to it was my first frame.

As to cutting, find yourself a group near you home, I've never heard of anyone being unwilling to let a new person use their cutter to cut wool. The only reason I took my first lessons, after the first one, was it was $5 a week and the "teacher" (term used sarcastically) let you use her cutter when you were there.

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