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What is the difference between punch needle rug hooking and traditional rug hooking?

Traditional rug hooking started in around the 1830’s and uses a rug hook, which is a short crochet-like hook in a wooden handle. A rug hooker pulls their loops up with their hook. Punch needle started in the 1880’s and is done with a punch needle. A puncher punches their loops down with their punch. Basically, hookers pull loops up and punchers punch loops down. Because punch needle isn’t done with a hook it isn’t technically “hooking.” Many people call punching “hooking” because it forms the exact same running loop stitch.

Is this the same as latch hook?

No. Latch hooking is done on a mesh backing with 1/4” wide square holes. Rug yarn is precut into 2 1/2” lengths. The yarn is knotted into each square of the mesh with a latch hook. This tool has a little hook with a catch at the end that makes it easy to knot your yarn. A shag effect is created because both ends of the yarn stick up forming a pile approximately 1 1/4” tall. This rug method is not technically considered rug hooking. It is however one of the more well-known methods of home rug making. The main differences are that latch is knotted and has a cut pile and punch is a running stitch with uncut loops and no knots.

I’m a traditional rug hooker. Can I make part of my rug with a rug hook, and the rest of it with a punch needle?

Yes. Just remember that you use a rug hook on the front side of the rug and the punch needle on the back. You might want to have your design on both sides of your backing. Some people like to do the punch needle part first, and then do the actual hooking to match the loop height of the punch. Others prefer to do the hooking first and to then choose a punch needle size that matches their hooking.

Star Flower Rug. Made by Celia Oliver, Shelburne, Vermont. Design adapted from an antique rug at Shelburne Museum. This rug combines traditional rug hooking and punch needle rug hooking First Celia worked the stars, flowers, leaves, and stems with a hook, then she filled in the background using a punch. Celia used a #10 Oxford Punch Needle.