I’ve been buying every used Rug Hooking Magazine I can find. They’re in Goodwill and thrift shops though you have to look closely and dig deep. You can also find them on Ebay. The new ones are cheaper than the Ebay ones, so I’m now a subscriber. Niche magazines give in-depth information on new patterns, techniques, tools, and what’s trending. But the older ones from the 80’s, 90’s and beyond are just as comprehensive, so I won’t pass one by just because the cover is a dull.
But I was really in the thrifts gathering wool skirts, pants and jackets to cut into wool strips for my next rug. I have some woolens but they are mostly dull winter colors. I thought Florida might provide something brighter, and I wasn’t disappointed. The thrift shops here are rife with pinks, purples, chartreuse, lime, yellows and blue-greens of every imaginable tone. Almost all are pure wool, but some have 20% cashmere and 10% nylon. The literature indicates this small amount of nylon is OK for rug hooking, and in fact strengthens the fabric. I found plenty of that combination and now realize the cashmere softens the fabric and brightens the colors.
Why I’ve been waiting to try this, I don’t know. Fear, perhaps. Not being ready for a disappointment is more like it. But I squared my shoulders, hand cut a few strips: 1/8th, 3/16th, and 1/4th. Since my greatest worry was about the 1/4″, I tried that. I didn’t even hoop it, but just held it in my hand, skipping one stitch with each punch.
It was like scratching off a lottery ticket. I just looked at the little row for a few seconds, knowing this was the moment of reckoning, then flipped it over with an instant sigh of relief. A couple of the loops were folded in on themselves but easily evened up with the slip of the needle through the loop on the right side. I pulled it all out to try again and made sure the needle was uniformly slanted while this time pushing and pulling it more slowly through the cloth. The results were perfect. The needle and monks cloth worked well together, and the fabric did what it was supposed to do: slide through and then stick.
The photo shows a bit of fray on the edges, but remember I punched this twice and pulled it out once which would fray anything. So now I’m really amped and anxious to get my first wool strip rug done. This short exercise taught me just how far strips will go, (which is FAR!) and I think, once again, I have enough wool fabric in this house to last me a life time. I have a lot to say about reclaiming wool and have learned much from the process of disassembling that pile of old clothes. Stay tuned.