Almost every rug hooker has a preferred cut they use, but not every pattern calls for the same cut. So how do you decide what cut to use and when to use it? There's not always a simple or obvious answer, but it's a question we get all the time! Here are a few ideas and tips to help you get the creative juices flowing.
If you're new to rug hooking you might be wondering, "What in the world is a cut?" A cut refers to the width of the strip of fabric you're using when hooking. Cuts for rug hooking can range from a #2 cut (2/32nds of an inch) to a #10 cut (10/32nds of an inch) and beyond! Some people even hand cut their strips in order to get the widest cuts.
When thinking about what cut to hook in, I keep a few things in mind.
First and foremost, I think about the pattern I am working on. If there are small objects with a defined shape I know I need to hook those in a smaller cut or risk them looking like blobs. If there are objects with lots of very particular detail like a face then I know that I want to hook those in a smaller cut in order to have more control over the effect. If there are objects that are close together, you are going to want to think about using a smaller cut and hooking inside the line (instead of right on the line) to keep the detail.
Think about the wool you want to use. Many plaids, tweeds, and herringbones fray when cut in a #3 or #4 cut, but are beautiful on a #5, #6 cut or anything larger. If you are hooking in a small cut solids tend to be better (dyed wool counts as a solid because it started out as a white or natural). If you are in doubt, test a little out on your cutter to see how it will actually work. (there are exceptions to every rule, so don’t take this as gospel).
Think about the time you want to invest. The bears border pattern below can support a size 8 cut or a size 3 if you prefer, but the size 3 will take you three times as long to hook. How much time do you want to put into it and how much time do you have? For some people, like my sister Lindsay, it is very important to finish rugs, if she had hooked this bear rug in a 3 she may have never finished it and been discouraged and may have never hooked again! I am hooking a rug right now that’s about 3’x4’ and I am hooking the whole thing in a 2 – I have been working on it for a year and am only a third of the way done. It takes longer to hook in a small cut… keep that in mind when deciding what cut to hook in.
Think about the effect you want. Sometimes I want every detail of a portrait captured in which case I use a small cut with a finely shaded swatch, but sometimes I want a more primitive, folk inspired look and so I use a larger cut. Often times I mix cuts in my piece so that I can achieve different effects in different places.
Don’t be afraid to mix sizes in a rug! Don’t think you have to hook your entire rug in the same cut. The one thing to remember when mixing cuts is that smaller cut loops need to be pulled a bit higher or larger cut loops may need to be a bit shorter so that they all reach the same height.
Does anyone else have tips they use for decided what size to hook in? Please share your thoughts by clicking on the title of the blog post and entering your thoughts in the comments section. Look forward to hearing from the community!