By Diana Reese

The Kansas City Star

Hooked rugs evoke a feeling of yesteryear, of Grandma’s house and simpler times. No wonder that in this period of economic uncertainty, hooked rugs are making a comeback.

What’s not to like? They’re attractive, long-lasting and feel nice on the feet, say decorators and textiles experts.
They’re part of a “wonderful tradition,” says Larchmont, N.Y.-based decorator Libby Cameron, co-author of “Sister Parish Design: On Decorating” (St. Martin’s Press, $35).

“Hooked rugs were generally handmade by women and designed by women,” Cameron says, and were usually quite colorful.
Strips of fabric were cut from worn-out or stained clothing or leftover cloth. A special hook was used to form loops with the strips in a backing of woven cloth, which could be burlap, linen or another material.

The strips were dyed in various colors and used to make patterns, often floral or geometric designs. Those colors and patterns are still part of the appeal.

“Hooked rugs are very colorful, and they’re good rugs,” says Michael Richardson, co-owner of J’adore Home and Garden in Kansas City. “They’re much more fun.”

He adds that certain patterns will pair with any style of decorating. “It’s all personal preference.” The Tapestry rug from Company C is their biggest seller, he says.

Today’s rugs are sometimes made with leftover fabric from the apparel and upholstery industries, says Jo Randolph, adjunct professor of textiles in the interior design department at Johnson County Community College.

“It’s a great way to use up wool,” Randolph says. Today’s rug hookers continue that tradition by using wool clothing that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

Commercially made rugs are available in more sizes — even as large as 10 feet by 14 feet — than their antique counterparts, which were often small throw rugs. Most are made of wool or sometimes cotton.

“Cotton is more fragile and not as stain-resistant,” Cameron says.

Wool will last longer.

“Wool is a forgiving fiber,” Randolph adds.

The thickness of the rugs makes them comfortable as well. “They feel soft under your feet,” Cameron points out.

Hooked rugs are a practical choice, too, “able to withstand traffic, kids and dogs,” Cameron says. “They last and last.”

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