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. A 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
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!
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.
Again, use your clamps on this set up just as you would on the embroidery hoop….Or…..…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.
Make 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.
A 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.
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)
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.
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,
Avoid 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!