Basic Hooking Instructions
If you have purchased a Whimsy Rugs Rug Hooking Kit, the rug foundation (pattern), wool fabric, and all binding materials are included.  However, a
rug hook and either a heavy duty hoop or a specially designed frame are needed to complete your project.  Hooks and hoops may be purchased from
this site.  There are also a growing number of hooking "frames" designed specifically for rug hooking.  Although they are usually superior in
performance to a hoop, they generally cost much more.   In addition, your wool fabric will need to be "stripped," or cut into long, thin strips for hooking.
 This can be done with scissors (although it's difficult to get even strips with this method, and it does take some time), a rotary cutter (like quilters use),
or a cloth stripping machine (used by most rug hookers, and by far the easiest method).  If you are a beginner, or just someone who does not like to
spend time cutting, you may request the cutting service with your kit (20% fee applies) and receive your wool pre-cut with your kit.  Below are basic
rug hooking instructions to assist those who are completing their first rug hooking project.
STRETCHING:  Whether you're using a hoop
or a frame, the foundation/pattern should be
stretched tightly on it.  A taut surface will allow
you to better see what's going on with your
piece and also allows for easier hooking.  

TIPS:  Do one row of hooking at the edge of
the piece first to be sure your piece stays
"square."  Be sure to follow the same row of
holes as you go down each side.  Once this is
done, then hook smaller items first, outline of
larger objects second, inside of larger objects
third, and background last.
Figure 2
Figure 1
STARTING:  Beginning at any point you
choose, insert your hook down through a hole
in the foundation a row or two from the pattern
outline.  (See Figure 1.)  Push entire length of
the hook through the foundation, down to the
handle, to open up the hole so the strip will
come through easily.  Hold the hook in this
position and place your other hand
underneath the foundation holding the wool
strip.  Hold the strip in a taut position with one
end between your first two fingers and your
thumb and ring finger a couple of inches
further down.  (See Figure 2.)   Place the taut
section of the strip (the area  you're holding
between your fingers) on top of the hook (See
Figure 3.) and use the hook to pull the end of
the strip up through the foundation. (See
Figure 4.)  This is called a "tail."

MAKING  A LOOP:  Insert your hook into the
same row as the tail but a couple of holes
forward, again placing a taut section of the
wool strip over the hook with your other hand.  
(See Figure 5.)  Pull this section of the strip up
through the foundation until the slack between
it and the tail has been pulled through.  This
will result in a really long loop to begin with.  
(See Figure 6.)  Leaving your hook in the
loop, use your other hand to pull the strip from
the bottom, tightening the loop until it is the
appropriate size.  (See Figure 7.)

TIPS:  When forming your loops, do not
remove your hook until the loop is the correct
size and in the correct position.  Although it
may seem difficult at first, using your hook to
position the loop is important.  You will need
your rows of loops to follow the lines of the
pattern -- so most of your hooking will not be
in straight lines.  Therefore, you must learn to
"turn" your loops with the hook before
withdrawing it.
Figure 3
Figure 4
Figure 5
Figure 6
Figure 7

TIPS:  For the best results, keep your loops
as close as possible to the same height.  
Generally, the loop should be as tall as the
strip is wide.  Therefore, a wide cut (such as
you'll find in a Wool Baasket Rug Hooking Kit)
would require loops to be about a quarter of
an inch tall.  Stop occasionally to look at and
feel the surface of your loops to be sure they
are consistent.  

HOOKING A LINE:  Continue this process of
using the hook from above to pull loops
through from below.  You'll be working the
hook with one hand above the foundation and
the wool strip with the other hand below the
foundation.  Continue hooking the strip around
the edge of the design, forming a row of
loops. (See Figure 8.)  When you get near the
end of the strip, pull the end through to the top,
forming another "tail."  (See Figure 9.)  To
begin with another strip, pull the new tail up in
the same hole as the tail you just ended with.  
(See Figure 10.)  Then continue with more
loops, as before.  If you need to end a strip
before it "runs out," simply bring up a loop and
cut it, pulling the rest of the strip out from the
bottom.  (See Figure 11.)
Figure 8
Figure 9
Figure 10
Figure 11
TIPS:  Be sure to not hook loops too close
together -- you're goal isn't to use all the holes,
but to put enough loops in that you can't see
the foundation.  Too many loops can result in
a rug that "puckers" or won't lay flat.  It may
also cause a rug to look crooked, or not

HOOKING CIRCLES:  Circles, especially
small ones, are sometimes difficult because
they are a true test of your ability to turn the
loops to the correct position with your hook.  
(See Figure 12.)  When making loops in a
circle, or any tight angle, you must remember
to use the hook to turn the loop to the direction
you want it to rest as you're pulling the excess
strip from the bottom to make it the proper
height.  (See Figure 13.)  When the outside of
the circle is hooked, begin hooking the inside
of the circle.  Make loops in any configuration
you need to fill the space, just remembering to
turn each loop with the hook as you're making
it.  When the middle is almost filled and it
looks like there's only enough room for one
more loop, pull up another loop and cut it,
making a tail to end the strip.  (See Figure
Figure 12
Figure 13
Figure 14
Figure 15
TIPS:  It also helps when doing circles and
small areas, to stall well within the outline.  It
will appear you are making the area too small,
but you will find that small areas usually take
less loops than you think.  

CUTTING THE TAILS:  At some point, you'll
want to cut the tails off even with the loops.  It
is best to wait until the tail is surrounded with
loops before cutting it off.  (See Figure 15.)  
However, this may mean that you must leave
tails that fall within the outline until you get the
surrounding background hooked in.  Some
like to cut the tails off immediately just to get
them out of the way. (See Figure 16.)  Either
way, be sure not to pull on them too much as
you're cutting -- this could result in a tail that
gets cut too short.  Tails cut too short can get
"lost" in the loops and cause your hooking to
look uneven.  

TIPS:  An advantage to leaving the tails until
hooking is finished is that you may use a tail
to pull a loop or a series of loops (with the
help of a hook) tighter if they turned out too
tall.  By the same token, if a loop or series of
loops turns out too short, you may use the
hook to pull loops taller and may need the
"extra" length provided by the tail.  

background area of your pattern provides
great opportunities to be creative and achieve
a unique look.  You may fill in backgrounds
and larger objects in any fashion you like,
although it is advisable to hook at least one
row to outline the area.  Fill in by hooking rows
that contour the area, going in a zig-zag
pattern, or dividing the area up into smaller
and smaller sections by hooking across it
over and over in a "bumper car" fashion.  One
of the great aspects of rug hooking is that if
you don't like how something's looking, you
can just pull the strip(s) out and start over.

TIPS:  When you have finished hooking the
piece and all the tails have been cut, it is a
good time to do the "clean up."  Trim any
loose threads (fraying yarn from the wool
strips) that are sticking up on both sides of the
piece.  A lint roller does a fabulous job of
picking up many of the loose stuff, but you
may need to cut some off with scissors.
Figure 16
A finished circle with tails cut.
You've finished hooking your
piece . . . now move on to
steaming and binding!
Click Here For Binding Instructions
For assistance or to place an order, call 1-573-308-0127 or email
All patterns, images, and designs are copyrighted 2005 - 2012 by Debbie Gaines and Whimsy Rug Hooking.  No part of this site may be
reproduced or copied in any form without permission from Whimsy Rug Hooking or Debbie Gaines.  Purchased patterns are for one time use and
may be resold as is or as a finished piece.
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Debbie Gaines


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P.O. Box 567
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