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  • World's Smallest Hooked Rug Found!

World's Smallest Hooked Rug Found!

After Sauder Village I spent a day wandering around the Art Institute of Chicago looking for inspiration in the form of great paintings and guess what I found? Tiny hooked rugs! In the Thorne Room are 12 inch tall, painstakingly detailed representations of rooms from different eras. It wasn't until I reached the American rooms that I noticed what was undoubtedly a braided rug, and then what looked shockingly like the world's smallest, most finely detailed hooked rug! These "hooked rugs" are done with threads. Literal threads. I finally found someone who hooks in a smaller cut than me! Below is a picture of the "Cape Cod Living Room: 1750-1850" Note the braided rug in the center and the hooked Welcome Mat in front of the door and keep in mind that this room is less than a foot tall, so that chair? Probably two inches tall. That painting of a boat over the fireplace? Less than an inch tall. Incredible right? But that hooked rug must have been done with something less than a #1 cut. Is there even such thing as a #1 cut? I've heard of people hooking with embroidery floss before, but this is even finer than that. 

Below is a picture of a "New England Bedroom: 1750-1850" Both the oval rug and the rug in front of the fireplace appear to be hooked, and is that a whip stitched edge I see?? If that person wasn't crazy before creating that, they are now.

After seeing proof of the existence of rug hookers as far back as the 17th century I'm amazed at how much had to come before me in order to allow me to do what I do. These tiny rugs represent the work of women who were pioneers. Women with very little money and few luxuries. They cut up old clothes and used burlap sacks to create rugs to help warm their homes. They created rugs that were not only useful, but also beautiful... beautiful enough to allow this artistic tradition to flourish into the burgeoning art form it is today. We're going through a rug hooking renaissance if you ask me and it's all thanks to these ladies! So this is my moment of thanks to all of the women who have come before me to keep this tradition alive. We should never forget where we come from and we should never stop singing the praises of the rug hookers who paved the way for us! Hooray for hooked rugs in museums!

Comments on this post (5)

  • Sep 27, 2015

    I’m not familiar with the Cheticamp style, but I’ll have to look into it Joe! Any good suggestions for where to start? And I can’t imagine what backing they would use, Cate. A tight weave fabric I’m sure. I can’t imagine trying to create those tiny things with burlap, linen, or even monk’s cloth. They certainly were made with threads though.

    As a fifth generation rug hooker I’m consistently reminded of the history of this wonderful tradition. I feel so connected to the past and seeing the proof of it in person is so special. I never thought I would be so interested in primitive designs, but lately I have been thinking about hooking a primitive design… I feel another project coming on!

    — Mariah Krauss

  • Sep 03, 2015

    Those rugs made of :threads, seem to me to be of the Cheticamp style . When we were up there this summer, we took a lesson in their style and we used thread.

    — Joseph Toubes

  • Sep 02, 2015

    I wonder what they used for a backing when they hook that tiny?

    — Cate Wyss

  • Sep 02, 2015

    I like your post and am so pleased that you focused on the beautiful tiny interiors of the rooms in the Thorne Room. I think that they are one of the best things in the whole museum. Good for you for spotting the hooked rugs and bringing them to the attention of hookers everywhere.

    — Kathie Barbour

  • Sep 02, 2015

    A welcome message Mariah, your generation joins this traditional “thread” over centuries. We will add this information to The International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers list featuring public places to see hooked rugs worldwide. See

    — Susan Feller

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