The Different Styles of Rug Hooking

There are several different styles of rug-hooking.

One of the best things about "hooking" is that you don't have to spend a lot of time learning a lot of different stitches and skills.... learn one basic stitch and you've mastered it all.

The hooking "style" you choose will depend on your basic nature... if you're a perfectionist, you will probably not be interested in primitive. If you're impatient, forget trying to hook realistic. But, that's the neat part of hooking... there's something for everyone!

Primitive style...
For the beginner hooker, this style of hooking is probably the easiest to do. This style of hooking uses wide strips of wool, normally at least a 1/4" wide, and a very simple childlike drawing. It doesn't have to be realistic in style or coloring. Your child's coloring book has some excellent patterns for primitive rugs. OR, you can draw your own... that way if you aren't artistic, you can just say "hey, it's a primitive rug"!

A primitive rug hooked by Lola Law in 2002


Realistic style...
This type of rug is hooked using a much narrower strip of wool... about 3/23" up to 1/8" wide. The object is to make the rug as detailed and realistic as possible. You use several shades of each color and normally only use white wool that has been dyed to the exact shades needed. The rug actually comes alive before your eyes... (you can't tell it by the small picture below, but the little girl's eyes "look at you"!)

Cover of Rug Hooking Magazine Nov/Dec 2000 - hooked by Sibyl Osicka, Parma, Ohio, 1998


Pictorial style...
This style lets the hooker create a picture or scene such as a landscape. The width of wool the hooker uses may vary... it can be entirely wide, entirely narrow or a mixture. The object is to make the rug look real... whatever width is needed to accomplish that.

This pictorial scene is featured on


Abstract or Geometric style...
This is another good "beginner" style... it's made up of squares, circles, triangles, diamonds or whatever designs you want to come up with. Again the width of wool can vary.

This Geometric style rug is from website


Waldoboro style...
This style is named after the town of Waldoboro, Maine, where the women developed their own style of hooking. It's unique in a couple of ways. First, the rug is hooked on a wool backing rather than burlap, monk's cloth or linen. Secondly, after the design is hooked, the wool is cut and sculpted, creating a three-dimensional design. You can read more about this style of hooking at: