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Rug Hooking Patterns and Styles

By Edited Apr 4, 2014 0 2

Rug Hooking Styles

Primitive, Geometric, and Pictorial sounds like a rating system for childhood drawings, but they highlight a variety of styles of rug hook designs.  With one basic technique to pull cloth through a netted sheet, you would be amazed at the variety of shapes and patterns that have emerged.  Let’s review a sampling of the styles that exist and consider which would be best for you as you sit down for a relaxing afternoon of hooking.


How To Latch Hook
As the name implies, these are basic designs, simple in nature, and sometimes can be as plain as changing tones of color as you migrate across the canvas.  A rainbow or wave of colors evolving as the scrap material finds its way through burlap might give the appearance of order, but not necessarily a pattern. A common design for a primitive hooked rug would be the outline of a plant or a rough depiction of a harvest scene. Another example you might find would be a silhouette of a cat, dog, or more likely a farm animal like a cow or chicken/egg attempt.


A common design you will find is a geometric display with a series of lines, squares, replicated shapes, or a pattern that illustrates orderliness.  A stoic farmer of the 1800’s is known for their tenacity and mundane daily effort, orderly through replication. A series of triangles, much like a patch work pillow or quilted bed sheet, would be a common pattern to consider for a rug hooking design.  Much of the layout would be dependent on what quantity of color the scraps are available.


Green Mountain Rug Hooking
A simple outline of an animal with shading to create depth to the image would be an example of a Pictorial design.  A rug hooked to show Elvis would be an example of a Pictorial design, though wouldn’t be typical of the period.  A farm scene with detail highlighting a harvest or a landscape scene would be more fitting. A rug of wool material would more likely be a primitive, whereas, colored cotton presents a more defined texture.  The level of detail distinguishes between the two styles.


Original drawings can be outlined on netting cloth, but unless you are a skilled artist, the images once completed don’t tend to be proportional to the original object or individual (if a portrait).  An additional issue can be creating depth to the image by not having an appreciation for color palettes and/or toning through shadowing techniques.  I also find that working from a printed image or pattern, rather than memory, helps to simplify the process and reduces frustration and image distortion.  Inspiration by observation seems to be a nice slogan to follow.


If you are new to rug hooking, I would suggest starting with a primitive design to become familiar with the tools and the process.  After some practice, I would suggest joining a social group that meets monthly and expand your skills by learning from others.  In a short period of time, you may find the process routine and will look to express yourself with pictorial and original works.  Each step creates new challenges and local events are a great way to socialize and relax.

Further Reading

Rug Hooking Patterns and Tools

Rug Hooking Frames



Dec 1, 2011 12:02pm
Good to see you back. I don't think I've seen you around IB for at least a year.
Dec 1, 2011 1:59pm
JC -

Great to hear from you.

Yes, been asleep for the past several months. I had been glancing at the IB Forum post recently and, after reading DKrunner's interview, realized it was time to pop out of the slumber and hit the keyboard again.

Hope all's going well for you.

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