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Sunday, 20 April 2014

Rug Making Tools

I read an interesting thread in the Folksy.com forum recently asking about what people's favourite art and craft tools were.

For me (at the moment) it is my rug making tools.



This shows the assortment that I have accumulated over the years.

The yellow crochet hook is for making crochet and fabric tapestry rugs. I got this one from the Rug Maker's Homestead on Etsy.

The large, two-piece wooden shuttle hook is for making hooked rugs, working from the reverse of the base fabric. The pictured one comes from Debbie Siniska's Rag Rug Shop. My first rag rug (shown below) was made using this hook and four wool blankets from charity shops, which I dyed for the purpose.


The metal hook is a hand operated punch needle, made by Rumpelstiltskin in the US. I am not sure that anyone still sells these in the UK.

The little metal one with the black stem is a Craftsman's punch needle and I am currently using that on the piece you can see under the tools. You work from the back of the fabric and can use the tool to form loops of yarn, or fine strips of fabric on the front of the work. They are available from The Ruggery in the US. I bought this one from a UK seller, but I don't think they stock them any more. However if you search for 'Punch Needle', there are all sorts available.

The two spring loaded hooks are called bodgers and the modern one is available from Debbie Siniska. The other one was found on Ebay. You use this tool to pull shortish fabric strips through a pinch of backing fabric (working from the front) to form a plush, shaggy rag rug. There is also a latch hook tool shown, which I haven't yet used. You use it to pull short lengths of rug wool through rug canvas and knot them in place.

There are three simple rug hooking hooks that look like a crochet hook mounted in a wooden handle. These are used to pull loops up through a backing fabric, working from the front of the piece. You can use yarn, fabric strips, wool roving or whatever takes your fancy! Ribbons, strips of plastic, and even wire have all been used. They are widely available: The Rag Artist Studios do a nice assortment. The primitive rag rug below is made using a simple hand hook, and various woollen fabrics, including a tea-dyed blanket, a jumper, assorted tweedy skirt lengths and another bit of blanket that I dyed orange. As you can see, it attracts small creatures.


And this is my absolute favourite! The brass tool with the darker wood handle is a prodder, used for making rugs with a shaggy finish; you prod lengths of fabric through a base material, working from the back. This particular tool is beautifully turned and smooth to hold. Similar tools are sold by Rag Art Studios. The wall hanging below is made using this tool. The second photo shows the reverse.



Another tool, which missed the original photo shoot, is the toothbrush needle (so called because these were originally fashioned from the handle of an old toothbrush). It is like a big flat needle with a large hole that you thread thick strips of fabric through, then working like a blanket stitch you build up rows or circles of stitches to form your rug. This one came second hand from Etsy, but Aunt Philly's in the US sell them. They also show a demo video of the process and sell instruction booklets.

Here is a rug I made, from some second hand batik fabrics that my Mum gave me, using the toothbrush needle.

What is your favourite art or craft tool, and why?

Posted by Julia of * Fire Horse Textiles * Love Buttons HQ *

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