Proddy Rugs and “Hooky” rugs
By Deb Palmer
I love all things fiber. I look forward to FIBERuary every year to see some things I may never have seen before, or learn something new. I am lucky to have been a knitter (from age 6), spinner (from 1981), and basket maker for years. I also love to make practical things most of all- I use everything I make for everyday life. Scarfs, rugs, placemats and most loved of all- hand towels.
One of the fiberarts I love is rug hooking. I have made many traditional hooked rugs, where you pull the cut wool strip up through a foundation cloth (usually linen with a very loose weave). I was given a rug when I was born, featured in last year’s FIBERuary blog, of Mary Had a Little Lamb. That type of hooking uses very fine, shaded strips. I love the look, but myself usually use a more “primitive,”wider strip for hooking. Like this:
Even these traditional rugs (which are called “hooky rugs” in Great Britain, are fine compared to “Proddy” rugs, also known as Proggy, Clippy, Peggy, and even Bodgy” rugs in England, where in the northern area, they have been used for years and years to make a warm surface to have on the stone floors. The Beamish Museum, located in County Durham, has a wonderful collection. They also sponsored a book titled “From Rags to Riches,” by Rosemary E. Allen. The Beamish museum site can be found at: www.beamish.org.uk Rosemary E. Allen’s book is available online (https://www.amazon.com/Rags-Riches-North-Country-Rugs/dp/0905054121) . For a great primer on making them, from Gene Shepard, also available online ( Prodded Hooking for a Three-Dimensional Effect) Proddy uses very wide strips of wool cloth- up to about ¾ of an inch, and the strips are about 3-4” long. A large hole gets made in the foundation (between threads of the weave) and the strip gets poked, or “prodded” through with a hand held tool. There are great videos and blog entries online for different methods. Just Google Making Proddy Rugs and you will find great pictures and instructions.
I make one of these every few years or so. I was taught to make them by Mary Jane Peabody, my friend in New Hampshire who has a wonderful blog, called “Mary Jane’s Rugs.” This is my favorite rug hooking blog. Here is a blog entry from her archives on finishing a very beautiful proddy rug: http://www.maryjanesrugs.com/?p=3822 Mary Jane taught me to make the rugs without a frame, using a proddy stick- she carves them out of apple wood, but you can use any wide shank-to-pointed stick or tool. There are many types of tools that people use or make. There are also several methods- either “prodding” them into the hole, where you work with the back of the rug on top of your lap, or pulling with a proddy grasping tool. Mary Jane lived in England and learned to prod there. What I love about her blog is that it is about the intersect of art, design, and rug hooking and rug making. Don’t miss it! (MaryJanesRugs.com)
Not surprisingly, a cat will gravitate to these rugs like bees to honey. When I have been making them, the cat will get on my lap and try to stay on top of it, or if that isn’t possible, go right under it as I work on it!
Below is my most recent proddy mat. I made it for my daughter. It’s the second one I have made her. The first was for her cats, Hadley and Hobbs. They, of course, love it. Now, her desk has a cold spot on the floor where her feet are, and she took the cat’s rugs and moved it there this winter. The cats, however, did not like this, as they preferred its previous location in a sunny spot. (They were “hissed off,” as I say!)
So, I made her a new one for her feet, to save harmony in the home. It is a style called “mizzy-mazzy” in England- a kind of confetti like effect. I used some yardage and some leftover fabric from previous traditional hooked rug projects, and some sale-bin polar fleece. (Weird, I know! But it lightens up the weight and gives it some glints that I find interesting in texture).
Here is a picture:
Mine are quite utilitarian and simple. But really, there is no limit to design and color for these rugs. Like many of my projects, they are great users of upcycled materials. You can make beautiful ones out of wool clothing found at Salvation Army or Goodwill stores. I won’t get into the full instructions here- but they are easily found online. Cilla Cameron in England is a well-known rug hooker and designer who does lovely rugs. My friend Heather Ritchie, in England, (http://www.rugmaker.co.uk/) has a wonderful site, and I just love her YouTube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WW6irT_GwDg) Heather is a truly amazing artist and a wonderful human being. She runs a charity in the Gambia, in Africa, teaching blind people to make rugs, and facilitating the sale of them to improve their lives. It’s called Rug Aid. Check it out! http://www.rug-aid.org/
You never really know where your art or craft will take you!