Frame Options for Australian Hookers

The biggest frustration for rugcrafters (hookers and prodders) in Australia is the lack of locally manufactured frames, hooks and backing fabrics to support of this “lost” craft. In fact, the lack of readily available, affordable tools and equipment is THE major stumbling block for any of us who would like to promote this craft through crafts shows and public events since we don’t have an easy answer to the question: “where can I buy a frame and other materials for this craft?”  (Hint: NOT in Australia!) Although there are a few people scattered around Oz who are building frames, we simply do not yet have enough people to make and supply the number and styles of frames new rugcrafters need to get started with this craft. So…..with some ingenuity. rugcrafters have begun to “make do” with existing frames (with a few modifications) from other crafts while they decide whether or not they want to invest the money online and order a frame from overseas. Lets take a look at what some rugcrafters are doing with the standard embroidery hoop. How to attach clamp to embroidery hoopA standard embroidery hoop (10 in diameter is a good size) will handle a small hooked piece roughly 8 inches x 6 inches. With this “kup karpet” sized  work area. you shouldn’t need to move the piece once you have it centred and tightened into the hoop. The hoop above is without fabric so you can see how to set the clamps to hold the hoops – with the fabric – securely in place. I suggest you use at least 3 clamps (roughly placed at the 7-12-4 positions) and note that the clamps will need to sit at an oblique angle (lower right clamp) to hold the 2 hoops together. I often see the clamps placed straight on the hoops (lower left clamp) but in this position they will eventually slip off and only grip the fabric.

You can hold the hoop  in your lap

Judy Own (back); DIana Mikl (middle); Joy Smith (front)but to avoid back strain, and to keep two hands free, your best bet is to rest the top of the hoop on the table and balance the other end on the tops of your thighs. (If this still seems a bit low, try rolling a towel and putting it on your lap to lift the hoop to a comfortable position). This “frame” set up can work quite well for small projects and it makes your craft a bit portable.

If you have an embroidery hoop that already has a “free hands” base….all the better!

Phil O'Shea with Kup KarpetNow you can work on your lap and easily have both hands free. Keep in mind that embroidery hoops are for small, light weight projects so please don’t try to hook a 3M x 4M floor rug with this setup!

Some hookers in my group are also using quilting hoops. Again, the same principle applies with regard to clamps and how to use the hoops but there are a few differences to note.

Distance shot of hoops with clampsAgain, use your clamps on this set up just as you would on the embroidery hoop….Or…..Close up of hoops with clamps attached…note the inner hoop wrapped with masking tape to provide “grip”. I believe this is standard operating procedures for quilters BUT….keep in mind that you are using much heavier, thicker fabric so, if masking tape doesn’t provide enough grip and you have to keep re-tensioning the fabric, you might want to try tightly sewing a strip of the rubberised fabric to the inner hoop.

Rubber gripper fabric and hoopsMake sure your rubber fabric is long enough for you to cut one, long continuous piece wide enough so you can wrap it over the inner hoop and firmly sew it on. You may find that with the rubber fabric you won’t need to use clamps.

Bea Nitschke  first series of Kup KarpetsA few people are also using the lightweight small tapestry frames. Here you would sew your small project work into the frame just as you would with a stretcher frame. Try to find a tapestry frame that has extra holes in it so you can keep your workspace small and the fabric tension tight.

Small tapestry frame for small projectsKup karpet ready to be set in small tapestry frameBoth rollers can be tightened  to take up the slack.

NOTE: Tapestry frames are for “lightweight” fabrics and projects so please don’t try to use a tapestry frame for heavy rugcraft projects. The small frame will work for small hooking projects and you can balance them on a table and your lap if you decide to use one.

Members of the Sunshine Coast Rug Crafters have also been  using the two locally made frames: the small stretcher frame (used for both hooking and prodding) and the small lap frame (that does require the purchase of clamps to hold the fabric on to the frame).

The stretcher frame (braced on portable legs)

two people using sawhorse legs for prodding frame  Michelle Spark using portable sawhorse legs for proddy frameMichelle SpThe support legs for the frame in front are portable, hinged timber while the frame in the background rests on the metal legs.

Stella at workHere the stretcher frame is simply braced on a table and the arms of a chair.

The small lap-style frames may be used on a table or held on the lap but it will need clamps to secure the fabric.

Margaret making prodded flowers; Joy Smith with Bag ProjectNote the use of the embroidery hoop in the background, resting on the edge of the table.

Peggy HebblethwaiteLap frames can also be bolted to a small TV table to make a portable frame with legs.

More about clamps

Finding the “right” clamp to use with frames and hoops have been a real challenge! If you look at the archive section on the right-hand side of the home page of this site….go to the September 9 post – “Do you use clamps?” Here you will find the specific information on where to buy (and what product code to use) when asking for the clamps you need.  You will also find this same information under the tab “Supplies” > Australia > John Smith frames > Clamps that will work.

By way of a reminder,

Clamps to use and avoidAvoid the cheap clamps you find at various hardware shops that are black and orange, brittle plastic!  They are far too difficult to open with one hand and break if dropped. Try to find metal spring style clamps.

I hope this helps!



Happy Holidays!

The Gang at "Palimpsest"

Best wishes for a great holiday season from the “gang” at Palimpsest! [Yes…I’m the odd one – although I prefer  the word “eccentric” –  in the photo!]

Here’s hoping your holiday season is fun, safe and full of friends!

Warm Regards…Judi