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Here’s a little rug-hooking 411

Fabric is usually hooked into a burlap base, although cotton and linen are also used. The process starts with a pattern. Pre-drawn designs are available online, or at speciality stores, or can be hand-drawn. The next step is to choose the colours, which isn’t as easy as one might think, said rug hooker Sheila Mitchell. Colour theory plays a large role in knowing what colours complement each other, she said. The designs are then transfered onto the backing by drawing themfree hand on or by using a special tracing paper that allows ink to bleed onto the fabric. Each painstaking loop helps to paint a picture out of wool, yarn or cotton.

Getting those desired colours isn’t as simple as going to the local wool store. Most often the fabric has to be hand-dyed to get the right shading and variety, said rug hooker Sheila Stewart Blair. That process can be done in the kitchen with a pot of hot water and store-bought dyes.

The one stitch you need to master can look deceptively simple. The technique is easy to learn but it takes some practice to keep the stitches consistent in height and width, Blair said.

“Wool is the favourite because it is resilient. It bounces and fills in places,” explained Bev Higgins, a hooker for four decades.

When the patterns are complete, each piece is finished with a fabric frame. There are a variety of options to do that, Blair said.

The process is similar to framing a picture; you have to pick materials that best complement the image.

Most larger pieces take at least a year to make, Blair added.

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