Rug Hooking - How tightly should loops be packed?

There are lots of options when rug hooking in terms of the look of the finished piece. Hookers also develop a natural rhythm when pulling up loops. Loops can be pulled high or low and can be packed tight or loose, and the different strip width sizes matter (more information on strip width here). All of these impact the amount of wool used (and the overall cost of the piece). But how much does it really matter?

 Here's a 3"x3" square, hooked with a #6 cut. The loops are pulled in a regular manner, where they aren't too packed together, or too loose. This piece used a total of 11 strips, in a #6 cut (6/32 inches wide), approximately 16 inches long, and pulled to an average height. There was also very little wastage when hooking this piece (little to no tails being cut off). 

One way of thinking of how much wool is needed is to take the area of the rug (in this case, 3 inches squared, or 9 inches), and use a multiplier of between 4 and 6 for the amount of wool needed (so if the rug has an overall area of 9 inches , you'd need a piece of wool that has an area between 36 inches and 54 inches to complete the piece). In this case, this piece, with the regular height, regular tightness, and little wastage, used 3.6 times the area.

#6 cut, regular tightness of loops

Here's the same 3"x3" square, but the loops are very tightly packed. This piece used a total of 16 strips, or 45% more wool than the first piece. Again, there was very little wastage of tails with this piece (beginner rug hookers tend to have longer tails and more wastage), and the loops were pulled up to an average height.

This piece used 5.3 times the amount of wool than the size of the project.

#6 cut, packed loops.

All of these variables can result in vastly different amounts of wool needed for a project, and different suppliers have different strip lengths, or uneven strip cuts, which adds even more variability when trying to calculate how much wool is needed for a project.


 In addition, strip width changes the amount of wool needed. This piece is done in a #5, with an average amount of tightness for the loops. This piece used 13 strips, which results in 3.6 times the amount of wool being used (piece is 9 inches, and total area of the wool used is 32.5 inches).

#5 cut, regular tightness of loops

This piece in a #4 used 15 strips, or a piece of wool with an area of 30 square inches, which results in 3.3 times the amount of wool needed.

When this piece is hooked tightly, it uses 21 strips, or an area of wool that is 42 inches, or 40% more wool.

#4 cut, regular tightness of loops

And with a #3 strip width (3/32 inches wide), a total of 19 strips was needed, and the piece of wool used has an area of 28.5 inches, or 3.2 times the amount of wool needed.



#3 cut, regular tightness of loops


As the cut size of the wool decreases, the amount of wool needed also decreases. So when working with a large cut, this should be factored in when deciding how much wool is needed. The Loopy wool calculator is based on a medium to tight hooking technique, average to high hooking height, and strips that could vary from 14 to 16 inches in length. 

In addition to using more wool, packing loops can cause the piece to buckle and have difficulty staying flat, which can be more likely when using a backing like monks cloth as compared with linen because monks cloth is a looser fabric that shapes more to the hooking. When hooking tightly, it can be difficult to bring up some of the loops as the piece gets filled in.

Overall, a looser hooking technique uses substantially less wool overall, and gives a different look to the piece overall. If you're running low on wool for a project, consider trying to hook less tight to save on wool.


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