Anchored Loop/Locker Hooking

by Diana Blake Gray
Master Rugmaker

These two closely related techniques were both developed to solve the same problem. With traditional hooked rugs, the only thing holding the pile loops in place was the tightness of the threads in the base fabric. Pull on a loop of a hooked rug and the whole line of loops comes right out.

n North America, this problem was solved by lacing another strip of fabric through the hooked loops. This strip “anchored” the loops (hence the name). An anchored loop rug was made in two steps: first using a rug hook to make a standard hooked rug; then using a lacing needle to pull the anchoring strand. These rugs were made on burlap (hessian) with narrow strips of wool, linen or cotton fabrics. Occasionally, I run across a quote from antique dealer talking about a rug and marveling at how the fabric was “hooked over” a cord inside. The actual process is the reverse: the rug was hooked first, then the loops were laced with the cord.

In Britain and the Commonwealth (especially Australia) a specialized tool was developed that could perform both processes in one step. The “locker hook” sports a hook at one end and an eye at the other. Locker hooks for rug making on rug canvas are typically about six inches long and made of steel. (Rug canvas is an open square weave with three to four squares per inch.) Typically locker hooked rugs in these countries were made with yarns or roving rather than fabric strips. Small locker hooks are currently being made to use with yarns on a monkscloth base as well.

More rarely, locker hooked rugs were made as a non-tensioning method using rug frames with a closely spaced warp. This technique allows the loops to be slid along the warp for freeform designs. Two examples of this are shown below, from the book Fabulous Rag Rugs from Simple Frames.

Problems Beginners Encounter
Locker hooking on rug canvas with either yarn or fabric strip is a pretty straightforward process as long as the filling strip or cord is of the same weight and bulk as the material used for hooking. I have heard from a number of discouraged beginners who bought a “kit” at a craft store and were appalled that the rug fell apart. The kit included only a string as a filling cord but cotton fabric strip for the hooking. Just substitute fabric strip of equal weight and width for the filling strand and the problem disappears.

The other mistake that beginners often make is to wait to put an edge finish on until the rug is made. It is easier (and more pleasant to handle) if the edge is finished first. Likewise, when doing a sizeable rug, work the pattern from the center rows first. Note in the photograph how the sketch of the dog was drawn directly onto the rug canvas.

Tools and Materials
For an anchored loop rug, use rug yarns (100% wool) or fabric strips prepared as for hooked rugs. A standard rug hook is used along with a large-eye needle. For locker hooking, buy a 6-inch steel locker hook if at all possible (see the suppliers page elsewhere on the site) and use good quality rug canvas. The rug canvas sold for latch hooking is often too flimsy to hold fabric strip solidly. On rug canvas, light woven cotton fabrics (quilt fabrics) work well as do jersey fabrics, but light weight wool fabrics also work fine but you may need to skip a row of squares occasionally.

Compatible Techniques
For locker hooked rugs made with either yarn or fabric strip on rug canvas, the edge finish can be problematic. Sometimes rug binding is used (see the Scotty dog rug photo at the top of the page) but simply lacing a strip around the edge is more common.

For a fancier edge, or for a different texture, the family of tambour braids are very compatible with locker hooking. The photo at the left shows a locker hooking progress inside a border of a single-strand tambour braid of the same material.


Anchored loop and locker hooked rugs are fairly easy to identify since the upper loops stand above the base fabric (or rug canvas) and separating the loops exposes the strand of

Elsewhere on the Rugmakers Homestead:

Making your own rug binding (pdf file)

Shaping rugs on canvas with rug binding (pdf file)

Publications in our catalog:
Rugmakers Bulletin #6: Anchored Loop Rugs, American Locker Hooking with Rags (covers the basics of both the anchored loop technique on burlap and locker hooking on rug canvas with basic directions)
Rugmakers Handbook #2: Fabulous Rag Rugs from Simple Frames (covers the locker hooking technique for freeform designs on a rug frame)

Other recommended publications:
Locker Hooking: An Introduction to the Craft, by Leone Peguero (a good basic guide to locker hooking on rug canvas with yarns and roving)



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