Woven Coverlets, Quilts and Hooked Rugs, Part 1, The Lecture

On February 7, 2015, Amy Rispin


Amy2 and John Howe,



gave a Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning program on


Closer images of textiles in title slide.


Woven Coverlets,




and Hooked Rugs.



Tom Goehner,


the Textile Museum’s Curator Education, did the introductions.

He said that John has been a collector and student of textiles since the mid-1980s and is active in the local textile community. He started as a Turkman textile collector, but has gradually become increasingly eclectic.

He is a member of the TM Advisory Council, and, since later 2007, has written two textile blogs, one of which, Textiles and Text, is devoted exclusively to providing these Rug and Textile Appreciation programs with the larger audience they often deserve. (There are currently 103 posts in the Textiles and Text site archives that you can access at your leisure.)

John is a champion of the RTAM programs and believes they are one of the important outreach programs the TM offers.

He claims no particular expertise or authority, saying that he is better described as very interested in – perhaps too interested in – textiles. He tries to get things right, but would never claim to have done so.

John is retired, but was for over 40 years an instructional designer in business, university and government organizations.

Amy Rispin is a docent at the Textile Museum and a textile and rug collector with eclectic tastes.

In the course of the last 20 years, she been collecting quilts to brighten up her beach house in Southern Maryland and has made the acquaintance of some of the Amish in St. Mary’s County, including Ms. Magdalena Stoltzfus, from whom she commissioned a quilt.

Amy has drawn on the collections of collector Marsha Swiss and local quilter, Floris Flamm, who are in the room.

Amy holds a doctorate in bio-physics and is retired from the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

John began:

The first thing I need to do is to call attention to the word “varieties” in our title for this session.


“Varieties” signals that Amy and I are going to treat aspects of these three textile groups.

We will, together be looking a bit at “Coverlets, Quilts and Hooked Rugs” three textile types that have been prominent in U.S. textile history.

They are also textiles that you can rather frequently encounter today, at prices that are, mostly, within the reach of even of those of us who collect on a budget.

I am not expert with regard to any of these three textile types, but they are among those that interest me. And I own a few of each.

What follows in my treatment of coverlets, and then later of hooked rugs, is a kind of introduction, more useful to you if you don’t know much about them.

Amy Rispin will treat the quilt part of this session. Her treatment will move in another direction. She and I will pass things back and forth.

Let’s start with coverlets.



(click on image)


Coverlets have been woven for a long time. An English will in 1465, noted “a coverlyte of whyte.”

The term “coverlet” and its variations are rooted in French. The words “courve” (cover) and “lit” (bed) occur as far back as 1301 and are straightforward.

As a general term “coverlet” referred to any “top, outer covering of the bedstead,” but it has come to mean

a woven, patterned bed covering, woven in one of four, particular structures.

the “overshot” structure,


the “double-weave,”


(The “doubleweave,” the “summer-winter” weave and the “beiderwand” structures all have a dark side and a light one.  The image above is of the dark side of a “doubleweave.”  Here, below, is the light side of the “doubleweave.”)


and the “summer-winter” weave.


Some sources talk about another coverlet structure:


This latter is a double woven structure with two layers of plain-woven cloth joined only at the edges of the pattern. It has a dark and a light side and a ribbed appearance.  There are two varieties of it: the “tied” and the “true.”

Coverlets may seem, potentially, at least, conceptually, previous to quilts since some quilts used a coverlet for the top layer. Adding layers, and then quilting them turns a coverlet into a warmer cover.

Coverlets begin to appear in colonial North America in the early 18th century. The weaving of U.S. coverlets seems to have started in New England and moved south and west with settlement.

Melinda and Laszlo Zongor, who head the National Museum for the American Coverlet in Bedford, Pa. report that the oldest known overshot coverlet to be dated in the weave is this one.

WC8(click image)

Most coverlets are woven in two pieces and then sewn together, usually, so that the patterns in them match.

This is such a coverlet with an unusually visible seam seen from the back.


Some coverlets could be woven on the family loom.

but itinerant weavers sprang up about 1830, by which time steam looms in Europe had made hand-weaving, and hand weavers, largely redundant. Many came to America.

These were skilled weavers who carried their own looms.

About this same time, Jacquard looms also became available.

WC11left(click image)

Jacquard looms had a punched card component that performed the functions of a “draw loom” but with only one weaver (a draw loom required two weavers). Jacquard looms also appeared in the U.S. in about 1830 and made it possible to weave more complex weaves and patterns.

Jacquard looms increased greatly the number of “pixels,” so to speak, available for a coverlet design. An itinerant weaver could buy and use a Jacquard attachment to his loom.

The punched card system used in the Jacquard loom was an important step in computer hardware


We know more about most coverlets than we often do about other textiles we collect.

We often know precisely what a coverlet’s structure and design are, and how to produce them. There seem, from early times, systems of notation, indicating how to weave a particular coverlet design.

WC13(click image)

These written guides are called “drafts.” One coverlet design is recorded in a weaver’s draft book dated from 1723.

There are a myriad of coverlet patterns. The literature seems most broadly to divide the universe coverlet patterns into those that are “geometric”

and those that are “figured.”


Geometric patterns


could usually be woven on a home loom.  Home looms tended to have up to four shafts (four different sets of warps).  A loom with four or fewer shafts did not require much strength to operate.

So many geometric coverlets were woven by women.

Most geometric patterned coverlets were woven in the overshot structure. A remarkable number of geometric designs were made on home looms, but none that treated realistic “buildings, flowers and animals.”

“Figured coverlets

WC15were woven by professionals, usually men…”

They usually had, or could resort to, a Jacquard loom that could, readily, weave the double weave, summer and winter weave, and the Biederwand weave.

And as we said above, there were a great number of patterns to pick from. Most professional weavers had pattern books from which their customers picked.

Weaver Rose in Rhode Island (who lived to be nearly 100) collected coverlet patterns and wove 300 of them himself.

Coverlet patterns have names, they vary widely and often different names were, and are, assigned to the same pattern. The names are often colorful.

Here is one two-page listing.


Pattern names do seem to be treated seriously by contemporary coverlet weavers. They often use them talking to each other.

Coverlet patterns travel, are adapted, given new names, and you can see, as is often the case with oriental pile rugs, pattern alone is not usually a basis for attribution.

Some students study how coverlet patterns have developed. They construct taxonomies of those that seem similar and propose developmental sequences. Such “development” surely happened but, for me, most of these efforts are speculative, even when plausible in appearance.

Coverlets are often inscribed, indicating, who wove a given one, the date and place of its weaving, and/or the person(s) for whom it was woven.

coverlet_american_heilbronn_LacasterSignatureBlockYou’ve seen some of these.

WC2LowerCenter(click image)



Coverlet inscriptions may, in part, be frequent because they were a form of advertising for professional weavers. This may also be why inscribed overshot coverlets (which would tend to have been woven by a home weaver) are rare.

I have found an occasional signature block with a woman’s name.


We cannot attribute an unsigned coverlet to a particular part of the country on the basis of pattern. Both people and the drafts moved widely and rapidly.

Experienced coverlet folks, though, can sometimes reliably recognize a particular coverlet weaver’s work.


The coverlet above is unsigned,but attributed to Henry Stager, and is thought to have been woven in about 1850 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Some writers indicate what ethnic backgrounds American coverlet weavers had. And where they were located. One effort of this kind was by Pauline Montgomery, who studied professional coverlet weavers in Indiana closely.

Here are two pages she presents from the 1850 census that indicates each Indiana weaver’s residence and birthplace (only some of these weavers wove coverlets).

WC19(click images)

Birth place and residence give us an idea of the relationship of ethnic background to weaver location then in Indiana.

WC20You can see that a remarkable number of these Indiana weavers were born abroad.

And here is a map indicating how professional coverlet weavers in Indiana were distributed over the state.

WC21For some reason there seem not to have been any coverlet weavers in the southwest corner of the state.

Now let’s look at some different coverlet patterns.


This is a jacquard coverlet woven by Edna Jane Howell on Long Island, N.Y. in 1838..

Detail of the piece above.

The piece below is a corner detail of a figured, doubleweave (done on a Jacquard loom) woven in Indiana by Samuel Balantyne.  Balantyne was a famous Indiana coverlet weaver.


The coverlet below has a Beiderwand structure and was woven by Andrew Dump in Hanover, York County, Pennsylvania in 1849.

WC24(click on image)

The piece below is described as a “four-block overshot antique coverlet” without further attribution information.


I’ve retained it because I think it is so striking.

Notice that “Escher-like,” seemingly, curvilinear effects can be achieved in coverlet design that contains only rectilinear devices.


The trick is to vary, slightly, the height, width or placement of rectilinear devices next to one another.

The coverlet below is signed and was woven in Pennsylvania in 1840.


Below is another Pennsylvania coverlet, this time woven by S. Kurter in Trexler Town, Lehigh County again in 1840.


Detail of the coverlet above.

Below is an Ohio coverlet woven in 1854.


Closer look at the signature block on the darker side of the coverlet above.


One sees coverlets with dates in the 1840s and the 1850s so frequently that one begins to wonder.

But Melinda Zongor, the Director/Curator of The National Museum of the American Coverlet in nearby Bedford, Pa., says that there is nothing suspicious about this because the 1840s and 1850s were the acme of American coverlet production.

About the time of the Civil War, coverlet weaving fell off sharply and, despite there being lots of weavers about, it has never returned to its heyday.

There were, however, still some coverlet weavers who learned their skills in the 1840s, and who were still weaving in the 1870s.

Below is an accomplished, jacquard-produced, doubleweave example, woven by Absalom Klinger in 1871 in Berks County, Pennsylvania.

WC30(click image)

Klinger learned to weave in the 1840s but as his signature block in the detail below indicates, he was still at it in 1871, although his example is infrequent.

There was also a brief flurry of coverlet weaving for the Centennial in 1876.

WC31(click image)

There are still some active coverlet weavers, and two are on the board of the Coverlet Museum.

And while working on this session, I made the acquaintance of Beth Wilson, a weaver and teacher of weaving, in nearby Virginia, who collects coverlets and weaves some of the structures used to weave them.


The overshot detail above is from her web site.

One wonders why U.S. coverlet weaving fell off so precipitously after the Civil War and the general answer seems to be that it was part of the rapid spread of industrialization. The itinerant weavers who came to the U.S. in the 1830s had already been displaced by power looms in the U.K. and in Europe.

Industrialization spread rapidly and extensively in the U.S. in the last third of the 19th century.



It became easier and much cheaper to buy machine-made blankets than it was to weave a traditional coverlet or to have one woven.

Even in more remote areas,



the itinerant weaver was replaced by the “Yankee peddler” who offered cuttings from bolts of machine-made cloth.


 (Amy will talk about one instance of this that affected Amish quilting.)

Many traditional coverlet weavers worked in family groups.

One coverlet weaver father taught his five sons and they, subsequently, formed a small company to weave coverlets.

Something like this may still, occasionally, be going on.

Nowadays most coverlet weaving is done by individual weavers, but there is, or at least was, in 1993, a small company, in Red Lion, Pa., weaving traditional coverlets in traditional designs and in, apparently, traditional ways.



That is the end of my little introduction to woven coverlets.

Amy Rispin moved to treat quilts.

Quilt 20a Howe Rispin


Three Varieties of Quilts

which Evolved in Culturally Uniform Groups


Quilts are generally made in three pieces: quilt top, batting, quilt back.

(in the image below, the checkered, with purple border is the top; the white area underneath that is the batting; and the dark area outside that is the back)


The “sandwich” is stitched together, with quilting stitches close enough together to keep the batting from shifting during use.


The quilt top carries the design of the quilt and can be:

  • pieced using squares, rectangles, triangles, hexagons and in some cases, curves (flower basket handles)



  • applique, a technique which is most suitable for pictorial designs such as flowers.



Colonial quilt patterns evolved regionally and were inspired bywhat people knew in their everyday lives, for example:

  • the bible: Jacob’s Ladder, Star of Bethlehem, Joseph’s Coat
  • trades: Mariner’s Compass, the Spinner, Ship’s Wheel
  • nature: Flying Geese, Flower Garden, Savannah Star
  • buildings: Log Cabin, Schoolhouse
  • love and courtship: Double Wedding Ring
  • household images: Dresden Plate, Flower Basket

We’ll see some of these patterns when we display quilts later.



In 1689, after the thirty years war in the Palatinate (ed. district) of Southern Germany, Germans began to immigrate to America, where they settled in Pennsylvania.

Many early German immigrants later moved to Baltimore, Frederick and Washington counties nearby in Maryland, where the farmland was similar to that in Pennsylvania.

They brought with them a tradition of folk designs.

Q40The quilt, above, from Baltimore in 1783, shows a variant of the fylflot design, which is painted on the clock case.

“Frakturs” were also a source of quilt designs in the Pennsylvania Dutch/German communities.  Frakturs were embellished birth and marriage records, drawn in ink and colored with watercolor.


Their designs were characterized by symmetry, with birds, hearts, tulips, and flower baskets. They were often bordered by scallops or vine-shaped borders.

Here are images of additional frakturs.


(John Howe: Notice that the drawing of some of the flower forms in the image above are similar to that of some that appear on Ottoman textiles.)

Q43Note the scroll-shaped appearance of the leaves in the franktur below.


The 1782, ink and watercolor, birth certificate (image below) from Washington County gives the name of the child, Magdalena Schmitt, framed in a heart. This fraktur, like many, was in tones of green and red, a favorite color scheme among people of German extraction in the area. (Fading or poor reproduction limit our perception of color here.)

The Baltimore album quilt (below), from 1850, echoes the style and images which we have seen in some frakturs, with an emphasis on use of red and green in the border and squares. The quilt is made of cotton, silk and wool. The technique used is applique.

Q46The Flower of Paradise quilt square, below, from Washington County, Maryland, is in tones of red and green.  It is dated 1858-1878

Q47Below are some additional early Pennsylvania quilts showing typical flower or vegetal designs, emphasizing red and green. (In some cases, the green fabric has faded).






The Amish movement originated after the Reformation in the Palatinate (Southern Germany), Alsace, and the Switzerland, where the followers of Jacob Amman were persecuted for their beliefs.

They appear to have immigrated between the 1720’s and 1760’s and were part of the Pennsylvania Dutch-speaking people in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Their way of life was and still is communal and disciplined.

Because of persecution the Amish did not build churches in Europe, but worshiped in secret in homes within their communities. The practice of worship in homes within each Amish community continues in this country.   Each house has a family bible and an Ausband or hymnal.


The leather covers of such treasured books were embossed and sometimes studded with brass.  This leather-bound book from Ireland  is similar in style to Amish family books.  It was published in 1840.

For many years after their arrival in America, the Amish used typically German bedding in their homes:

  • feather beds,
  • coverlets in simple designs, and
  • homespun woolen blankets.

By 1880, Amish bedding shifted away from these traditional types to quilts.  Although they had not made quilts previously, Amish women appear to have learned quilting from their “English” neighbors.

Note: The Amish speak a species of German and refer to people outside the Amish community as “the English.”

They produced homespun textiles for their own use until the Civil War. Industrialization after the Civil War made textiles in wool and cotton available for home use – later rayon and other synthetic materials.  In the 1850’s, commercial sewing machines became available and they were embraced by the Amish for use in making the family clothing.

The first Amish quilts were made after the 1860’s from single pieces of commercial woolen fabric.

Here is an image of a simple blue and orange medallion quilt made of commercial woolen cloth in 1875 in Lancaster County.


Notice how closely the design on the quilt below resembles that on the cover the Amish family bible, Ausband or hymnal, shown above.


From about 1880, Lancaster quilt tops were pieced by machine. The earliest Amish pieced quilts were very simple.

Quilting stitchery was always done by hand and included geometric patterns such as diamonds and lines. In addition, they used designs based on frakturs and other Pennsylvania Dutch folk art including hearts, stars and flyflots and were often bordered with feathered wreaths and vines.

In the 1920’s wool quilt below, the Diamond in the Square pattern is a medallion style format, characteristic of Lancaster County.


As noted above, hymnals and bibles printed in the 17th, 18th or nineteenth century were bound in printed leather with bass ornamentation placed to protect the binding. The shapes of embossing and brass ornamentation on these books was often echoed in the simple medallion patterns seen in classical Lancaster quilts. (R. Bishop and E. Sofands)

Toward the end of the 19th century, Amish quilt tops were dominated by geometric pieced patterns. The quilt below has a Triple Irish Chain pattern.  Made in Lancaster County 1915-1925.  Wool.



If we look closely at the images of these classic Amish quilts in their sober colors and geometric patterns, we see elaborately conceived and developed stitchery motifs.  Note the the elaborate flower basket quilt stitchery in the lower border of this “bars” quilts from Lancater County, ( 1900-1925)

Amish quilts for home use, today, are made from the typical fabrics used for making their clothing, such as cottons and polyester-cotton blends in plain colors.

Amish drygoods shops now stock plastic quilt stitchery templates in traditional Pennsylvania Dutch motifs.

Their quilts for home use today use synthetic batting, and are made from the typical……in plain colors.

However, for sale to the “English”, Amish shops now stock printed cotton.

They might introduce pattern in the quilt top using colorful embroidery. For quilt stitching, plastic templates in traditional Pennsylvania Dutch motifs are often used.




Before their contact with Western culture, Hawaiian women made tapa or bark cloth for clothing, bedding and ceremonial uses.

After Hawaii was discovered by Captain Cook in 1778, Western cloth became available and gradually replaced the use of tapa.


Missionaries’ wives introduced sewing in about 1820. They also showed the Hawaiian ladies how to use leftover fabric scraps to make patchwork quilts.

Many patchwork and applique quilts were made in the design of the nineteenth century Hawaiian flag.


The quilt below is cotton, machine pieced, with applique, late nineteenth century.

Q60Quilting styles were those taught by the missionaries’ wives: parallel, circular, or diagonal lines.


In the 19th century quilt above, quilting is in parallel lines, with some contour quilting around the coat of arms.


Ultimately the Hawaiian quilt technique evolved.  Hawaii ladies had worked with tapa and the methods associated with that kind of medium and textile.

Stella Jones, a quilt historian, has written:

“To cut new materials into bits to be sewn together (for a patchwork quilt) seemed a futile waste of time. It was quite natural, therefore, that these women, accustomed each to design on her tapa beater and her own individual woodblocked patterns, should produce patterns of their own.

Here’s how Hawaiian quilters made their quilts:

As shown in this floral quilt from 1900, a single brightly colored fabric was folded into quarters and the design cut through all of the layers.

The cutout design was unfolded and basted from the center outward to a plain white cotton topsheet – and then appliqued to it. After the quilt “sandwich was laid out, the three layers were stitched together from the center, working outward. Quilting frames were set close to the ground so that quilters could sit on mats.


Eventually, Hawaiian ladies evolved their own stitchery patterns. “Echo quilting” consisted of successive rows of stitches, which paralleled the edges of the appliqued design, resembling ocean waves, and giving the quilts a three-dimensional quality.  The narrow range of colors in each quilt may come from the tapa tradition in Hawaii.


This distinctive type of quilting continues today.


You’ve read about and seen three snapshots of three varieties of quilting.

By the end of the 19th century, American quilts reflect a national rather than regional style, due to population movement Westward as well as publication of quilt patterns in magazines with national circulation.

The world of quilting is robust, even burgeoning in a great many directions.  There are relatively humble, but accessible “kit” quilts, there are quilt “challenges” that stimulate creativity. and the world of “art” quilts seems to have no end.  Today’s quilters and quilt collectors are in a position much like that of Alice in the illustration below.

(click image)



Hooked Rugs

HR66John continued with hooked rugs.


 You can readily find a number of stories about the origin of hooked rugs, but an obvious fact should make you cautious about some of them. It is that the hooking involved “is a form of folk art that almost anyone can carry out.”

The simplicity of pulling a strand of fiber through a fiber background suggests that hooked rugs likely have deep roots.


We have the far more complex pile rugs that were woven 500 years before Christ.

How could crafts people of that time and earlier not notice this simple structure and method and have found it an easy one to use?

But this is not just a matter of concepts and logic, there is evidence that Copts employed the hooked-technique.

A sixth century Coptic example of a hooked textile is part of the collection of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

And there is even a Met, Coptic candidate with looped weft pile from the 3rd or 4th century.

This should put to rest claims that the hooked rug originated either in America or Great Britain, but it is likely that it came to us from the British Isles.

Although it is plausible that early American settlers knew how to make hooked textiles, it unlikely that they were used on the floor.

American floor coverings in the 17th century were sand coatings, painted floors or painted canvas. Often the wood of the floors was bare and undecorated. The use on the floor of what we call “rugs” did not begin until the early 18th century. “Rugs” and “carpets” before about 1725 were mostly used as table covers and, perhaps, wall or bed decorations.

Whatever the specifics of the origin of hooked textiles, it seems likely that the basic elements and processes of making them were present at its beginning.

Another thing to notice about hooked rugs is that they are “digital,”

that is, composed of dots of color.

Think of and look at two paintings done in the “Pointillist” style.  First, the one below.


And, then, this one.


The fact that hooked rug designs are digital provides great flexibility and nearly any pattern can be made as a hooked rug.

There are none of the structural limitations on the nature of possible patterns that we see and experience in many other kinds of textiles.

The digital character of hooked rugs is another reason why making one is more accessible.

It is easy to pull the loops of different colors through the backing, and

and, it is, relatively easy, to use the resulting dots of color (the individual loops) to draw with great flexibility.







I do not mean to indicate, by what I have said so far, that there are no skills in the hooking of rugs.

There are a number of them, and Michael Heilman, who teaches rug hooking could tick off a number of mistakes that beginners tend to make.

But it is still true that rug hooking, like macramé that I once indulged in seriously for five years, is very democratic.

If you like hooking the next stitch you can become pretty good pretty quickly.

There are frequent indications in the literature that rug hooking was mostly an art practiced by the poor. Scraps of nearly any kind of cloth could be saved and ultimately utilized. the materials were accessible to nearly anyone.

Finishing schools, for the more prosperous, taught embroidery and quilting, but not rug hooking.

HR73And hooked rugs were not treated in the women’s magazines of the 19th century.

The poor could emulate the oriental rugs of the rich by making those like this, sometimes described as a “poor main’s rug.”

HR74(Also similar to some of Amy’s Amish quilt patterns)

 The maker of this rug seems to have been able to pick up any strip of hooking material from a random pile and produce this general, marbled effect (although an experienced textile person has said to me that “marbling” requires more intent than one might think).

By using black dividing strips, the maker has been able to create seeming borders and a central medallion, displaying her or his envy of those who own a real oriental rug.

The literature suggests that American rug hooking began in Canadian maritime areas, and what became the states of the U.S. northeastern coast, and, then, spread south and west.

The earliest image of an American hooked rug I have been able to find is this fairly sophisticated “leopard” rug, woven in Vermont about 1820.

One sign that this is an older hooked rug is that it has a linen backing.


Burlap or jute material, that became the most frequent backing for hooked rugs,


 was not commercially available in the U.S. until about 1850.

Here is another old U.S. hooked rug.



And another from the Civil War era.

The oldest known Canadian hooked rug, I’ve found

was designed by one teen-age sister and hooked by her younger one in 1860. As you can see it is inscribed. It has a burlap back.

Below is another older Canadian hooked rug. 1898.

In the 20th century moves were made to standardize the quality of both the materials and the work.

Devices for cutting cloth into strips for hooking were sold and even the hooking strips, themselves

Distinctions were made about hooked rugs made from “wide” vs “narrow” strips of cloth (a distinction that still exists in some hooked rug books).

Yarns began to be used


(although strips were still used and sold).

Designs were captured on paper


or printed on backing material.

The creativity visible in some earlier hooked rugs designed by the maker, as with this one


and another (below), at the Smithsonian, were was reduced sharply in favor of uniformity.


The Grenfell rugs illustrate many features of what went on.

The Grenfell organization chose the materials, the designs, the colors and the standard of quality desired.

Hookers were given a design and the materials to be used and were sent off to hook this particular rug.

When the finished rug was brought in, the Grenfell managers decided whether it was at the level of quality that merited a Grenfell label.

If so, the hooker was likely assured of a future Grenfell hooking project.
Most hooked rugs I have seen are smaller sizes, but a remarkable number of room-sized hooked or tufted rugs have been, and are being, made. I thought you might like to see a few.

Here, below, is a room-sized hooked rug made in a Connecticut WPA project during the Depression of the 1930s.

And here is another room-sized hooked rug, currently visible in the market.



The square-ish hooked rug, below, (about 10’ x 10’) was made in Europe.

I, also, have here, in the room,




a usable hooked runner that is 17 feet long and still a fragment because it is missing a border on one end.

The wonderful room-sized hooked rug, below, is very impressive indeed. Its design recalls Persian “vase” carpets. It was made in Germany.




In part, because they are relatively easy to make, hooked rug designs have gone in many directions and it might be useful to give a few examples.

One writer suggested that hooked rug designs might be usefully treated using the following categories.





Designs based on everyday life

Star designs





Abstract designs


One area of possible controversy in the hooked rug community has to do with the degree of mechanization of the hooking process.

The original hooking tool was a simple hook with a handle.



But pretty quickly a variety of mechanical improvements made it possible to put hooked stitches in faster.

The hooking material was threaded through a hole (an “eye”) in the tip of the “hook,” which now became a needle.


“Tufting” had arrived.

Once the material to be hooked did not have to be picked up individually for each stitch things went much faster.  The tufting tool below lets you put hooked stitches in as fast as you can pull and push the top half back and forth.



In the commercial world of today, tufting has far out run both conventional hooking and woven pile rugs. The commercial tufting tools can look like sub-machine guns.

Cheaper and faster are the controlling objectives.

But traditional hooking has not been lost.

My wife bred and exhibited collies for a number of years and last April we went to the National Collie Specialty Show.

Vendors of various kinds are permitted and one at this year’s show was a lady making hooked rugs with collie images.

This lady had a demonstration table and rug that she used to show how these hooked rugs were made.


She was using the simple hook, but told me she was looking for a more mechanized hooking tool on eBay.

I offered to put her in touch with Michael Heilman, but she was confident that she could find what she wanted on eBay and she may well have been able to do so by now.

But in April, last year, she was still hooking rugs with the original simple hooking tool.

Now this may not be a very satisfying place to stop, so let’s look at a few more colorful hooked rugs.


The 5′ x7′ hooked rug below is done in the design of a paper Metro card for use in the DC subway system.



Someone has hooked a decent Sewan Kazak medallion.


I think this is the kind of collie images the lady at the show should have been making.


HR111lowerleftGood color usage in the landscape below.



I think the piece below is very well composed.  Good color usage, too.





The last piece is another room-size. About 6′ X 11′.  Compartmented with somewhat different designs in each one.


That’s the end of what Amy and I want to say about these three textile varieties.   We provided a handout that you will find below the link to Part 2 below

To see the material brought into the room, click the link below:



Apply to More Than One of the Categories Below

• Nancy Dick Bogdonoff, “Handwoven Textiles of Early New England: The Legacy of a Rural People, 1640-1880,” Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, Pa., 1975.
• Alan H. Eaton, “Handicrafts of the Southern Highlands,” Russell Sage Fountain, New York, 1937.
• Alan H. Eaton, “Handicrafts of New England,”Bonaza Books, New York, MCMXLIX.


• Melinda and Lazlo Zongor, “Coverlets at the Gilchrist: American Coverlets 1771-1889, Bedford, Pa., Sprocket Press, 2009.
• Gaye E. Elder, “A National Museum of the American Coverlet – We Have One!.” Shuttle, Spindle and Dyepot, Handweavers Guild of America, Inc. Volume XLI, No. 3. Issue 163, Summer, 2010, pp. 30-34.
• Pauline Montgomery, “Indiana Coverlet Weavers and Their Coverlets,” Hoosier Heritage Press, Indianapolis, 1974.
Note: Some Commercial Sites in the links below.


• Eva Wheatcroft Granick, “The Amish Quilt”, Good Books, Intercourse, Pennsylvania, 1989
• Reiko Mochinaga Brandon, “The Hawaiian Quilt”, Kokusai Art, Tokyo, 1996
• Dennis Duke and Deborah Harding, “America’s Glorious Quilt”, Quilts: The Art of the Amish, Beaux Arts Editions, 1987
• Phyllis George, “Living with Quilts”, GT Publishing, New York, 1998
• Patricia Cox Crews, “A Flowering of Quilts”, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London, 2001
• M. Joan Lintauylt, “Connecting Quilts, Art, and Textiles”, Dragon Threads, Worthington, Ohio, 2007
• “The Magazine Antiques, Brant Publications, New York, February, 1996: Nancy Tuckhorn, “The Assimilation of German Folk Designs on Maryland Quilts” and Irene N. Walsh, “The Frakturs of Susannah Heebner”

Hooked Rugs

• Anthony N. Landreau, “America Underfoot: A History of Floor Coverings from Colonial Times to the Present, Smithsonian Institution, 1976.
• Joel and Kate Kopp, American Hooked and Sewn Rugs Folk Art Underfoot, E.P. Dutton, 1975:
• Jessie A. Turbayne, Hooked Rugs, History and the Continuing Tradition, Schiffer Publishing, 1991:
• Nina Fletcher Little, “Floor Coverings in New England Before 1850,” Old Sturbridge, Inc., Sturbridge, MA, 1967.
• William W. Kent, Rare Hooked Rugs, The Pond-Ekberg Company, Springfield Mass., 1941:
• William W. Kent, The Hooked Rug, Dodd, Mead & Company, 1930.

Note: Many of the links below are to commercial sites, but are sources of images I have used, and/or, can have interesting information and further examples.

http://shelburnemuseum.org/collections/quilts/ Also two hooked rugs

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