Vintage American Hook Rug
The traditional folk art of rug hooking reached its zenith from about 1850-1920 in the coastal communities of Maine. The craft rapidly spread north through the Maritime provinces of Canada and south to the Cape and Islands of Massachusetts.
It is thought that a process similar to rug hooking was employed as early as the ancient Coptic and Egyptian cultures, and of course now rug hooking is a popular craft for children and adults everywhere.
Rug hooking is both an art and a craft where rugs are made by pulling loops of yarn or fabric through a stiff woven base such as burlap, linen, or rug warp. The loops are pulled through the backing material by using a crochet-type hook mounted in a handle (usually wood) for leverage. In contrast latch-hooking uses a hinged hook to form a knotted pile from short, pre-cut pieces of yarn.
A crafts person creates a hooked rug by pulling lengths of cloth, usually wool, through a woven fabric, usually burlap.
Wool strips ranging in size from 3/32 to 10/32 of an inch (2 to 8 mm) in width are often used to create hooked rugs or wall hangings. These precision strips are usually cut using a mechanical cloth slitter; however, the strips can also be hand-cut or torn. When using the hand-torn technique the rugs are usually done in a primitive motif. Sarah Nickerson is a famous rug hook-er from Maine who uses this technique.
Designs for the rugs are often commercially produced and can be as complex as flowers or animals to as simple as geometrics. Rug-hooking has been popular in North America for at least the past 200 years.