Rug Hooking Basics

Rug hooking goes back hundreds and thousands of years. Everything from intricate tiny designs to big folk art style designs. What they all have in common is some sort of material that makes the 'pile'. This might be loops or cut loops. I'm not the expert on this, other than appreciating the beauty and skill it takes to make a rug.

This is the basic information that I provided when I used to teach this class to beginners. Other articles will go into more detail. After trying many styles and methods of hooking.

How to Calculate Wool for a Rug

  • Find the square inches of your desired rug
  • Multiply by the size of your cutter head.
  • Divide by 2052 (the square inches in a yard)

Find the square inches in the rug you are going to hook (width x height).
If your pattern is 24” x 36” you have 864 square inches. ( 24 x 36 = 864)

If you are using a #3 or #4 size cutter head you need four times the area to be covered.

Using the above size rug as an example multiply 864 x 4, which equals 3456 square inches. There are 2052 square inches in a yard of rug wool, so divide 3456 by 2052 and you will need approximately 1 5/8 yards of wool.

If you are using a #5 size cutter head you need five times the area to be covered. Using the same example, multiply 864 times 5 (4320) and divide by 2052. You will need approximately 2 1/8 yards of wool.

Remember - this is only a guideline - everyone hooks differently.

Cutting Wool for Hooking

Example is based on a 1-yard piece of 57" wide wool off of a bolt.

First, notch and tear the wool every 12 inches. Notch on the selvage. This will give you 3 pieces of wool measuring 12" x 57".

Then notch and tear the wool every 3 inches.

Now, run the 3" x 12" pieces of wool through the cutter (or to cut it by hand). Cut as straight as possible. If the fabric goes on the bias even a little, hooking can cause the loop to break.

If you are cutting by hand and are using 1/4" strips of wool for hooking, notch and tear your 3" x 12" piece of wool every 1/2". Then use your sharpest shears to cut the 1/2" strip in half.

Basic Instructions for Rug Hooking


Traditional hooking is the process of making continuous loops with strips of tightly woven fabric and packing them tightly to form an even pile on a foundation material.  The work is done on the right side, using a tool called a hook, best described as a crochet hook with a handle.

How to Hook

  • Stretch foundation fabric on a frame or hoop, design side up, keeping taut.
  • Sit comfortably, resting frame on table or lap.
  • With left hand, hold end of wool strand between thumb and forefinger.
  • With right hand, hold hook as pencil with fingertips on the metal collar.
  • With left hand beneath foundation, push hook through weave, catching wool.
  • Guiding hook and strip with left thumb, pull end of strip through weave to height of 1/2”.
  • Push hook into next weave, catching wool and pulling to form loop 1/8” to 3/16” high, pulling loop back toward previous loop to prevent pulling out.
  • Working from right to left, make even loops which touch each other so that the foundation fabric is not visible.  You will need to skip some rows or holes in the weave so that your hooking does not buckle (when wool is packed too tightly your piece will roll).
  • At end of strip, pull end through weave.  All ends should be pulled to surface throughout looping process.  Tails on back are easily pulled out.
  • Start second strip in same weave in which previous loop ended and again end on the surface.
  • Trim ends even with loops after completing a section.
  • Continue looping process until pattern is complete.
  • Do not cross a row of hooking with another row on the back as it creates lumps.