What in the World is Mat Making?

mat in progress

A Work in Progress

Written by Lynne Hunt

When I tell people I am a rug hooker I receive a variety of responses.

A common one is, “Oh, I did a rug from a kit years ago.” Often it’s a polite, “oh.” Very few people are familiar with rug hooking as it began in early Canadian and American homes.

In the beginning rug hooking began as a response to a need, a need for warmth on draughty log cabin floors, a need for something colourful to brighten gloomy rooms and to provide a place to wipe feet and to sit on in comfort.

Our pioneer sisters made mats for floors, for tables, for chairs and even beds. Fancy ones were made for parlours, everyday ones for kitchens and chairs and tables. When they became worn, new ones were made using burlap sack backing and worn out clothing.

Much has changed in the world of rug hooking over two hundred years or so, but the technique of pulling a loop of fabric through a backing to paint a design is the same. Once you learn this technique, the possibilities are limitless for creating your own family heirlooms.

What You Need

  • To begin the process, you will need a sturdy backing, either burlap or linen to create your design.
  • You will need strips of wool fabric or yarn or a combination of the two.
  • For pulling the wool or yarn you’ll need a hook designed for mat making.
  • Finally you’ll need a sturdy hoop to hold your backing taut.

How It Works

Using the hook, strips are pulled through the backing from underneath to form a loop on the top. You continue this process until you’ve ‘painted’ the whole design drawn on your backing.

If you’d like to experience the fine art of mat making, please check out the class here.

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