Saturday, September 1, 2012

Rug Hooking & Punch Needle... the best rug hooking hoops and gripper strip frames?

Just a few years ago, if you told me I would be building some of the finest rug hooking frames on the market I would have said..."What's a rug hooking frame?"  I kind of stumbled onto this frame by accident.  While selling my Original Design Barnett's Laptop Hoops, customers would email me asking for a longer bolt to be installed on the hoops.  When I asked why, they explained they were rug hookers and needed it for the wider materials.  As I asked more questions, I found out more and more about this rug hooking art and even visited a local shop, American Folk Art & Craft Supply in Hanover, MA..  Michele the owner was so helpful showing me the many styles of frames on the market and how each one differs.  I even made a simple version of the Original Design Frame exclusively for her shop. 
Rug Hooking Hoops
For my online store,  I added my own version that includes our unique magnetic bottom, allowing you the ability to attach it to any of our Sit-On, Bean Bag lap bases or our floor stand.  Another difference is the hoops.  I am now steam bending my own round hoops.  These Custom Steam Bent Barnett's Hoops are extra strong!  This is needed for the extra weight of the rugs vs. a lighter weight quilt.  These rug hooking hoops, 12", 14", 16" and 18" are now 2" deep vs. your standard quilt hoop that may be only 3/4" to 1" in depth.  The added depth allows the "hooker" to use just a  hoop on their lap.  That extra depth is just enough space to keep the hook from poking you every time you go through the linen cloth. Polly Minick, a well known instructor and published author asked me to duplicate the hoop she uses in her rug hooking classes.  Hoops of this size were discontinued about 15 to 20 years ago when the Norwood hoop company in Michigan closed its doors forever.  I am happy to resupply the market with this unique size hoop once again.  You can purchase any of my hoops installed on our unique "Laptop Hoop Base" or just by itself. 
Gripper Frames
Another rug hooking frame that is commonly used is the gripper frame.  They come in a variety of sizes, styles and materials.  If you should do a google search, you will find hundreds of varieties available, from the most expensive high tech models to the "homemade" box frame.  Let's just say most of them are poorly constructed by shops that are more concerned with how fast they can make a buck and very little attention to detail and the needs of the customer. 
As I began my research into gripper frames, I wanted to design frames that would be of the highest quality, versatile, adjustable, and offer a wide variety of choices. What I discovered is many of the cheaper or inexpensive gripper frames is the quality is just not built into the product.  Take a close look before you buy.  Many of my gripper frames utilize a "channel", allowing you to replace the strips easily or switch them out to a different grade strip if you should change up the materials you are working on.  Rug hooking is typically done on burlap or linen and requires an EH3 Howard Brush Gripper StripEH4 is for Monks cloth and EH5 is used when you punch needle.  For punch needle you need a finer grade of grippers since the materials are more delicate, typically using embroidery floss or silk ribbon.  Building the channel strips into the design has been a wise decision, allowing versatility in use and adding a higher level of quality to the frame.
Adjustable and a wide variety of choices was also very important in the design stage.  Many companies offer just one size that does it all.  From my experience working with quilter's, I know better.  Each person has their own unique needs and the frames must accommodate the many different body types and sizes.  A person who is 5'-2" will need a different size frame from a person who is 6'-2".   Our unique lap bases and the floor stand allow you to position the frames into the most comfortable positions possible.  The most comfortable size frames so far are the Barnett's 14" & 16" Octagon Frames.  These are not easy to make, especially with the channel strips! Another new item that we just added is the Adjustable Angle Frame with a 13.75" x 16.75" outer dimension, ( 11.75" x 13.75" inner work area), as seen above here.  It is our largest frame so far and I personally think it works best on our floor stand.  Two large knobs quickly and easily adjust the frame into the perfect work angle.  The larger table-like base adds stability and a great spot to store your scissors and tools when not in use.  A customer of mine pointed out the magnets that are installed on the underside actually work through the wood and hold her scissors in place.  She thought this was a neat little benefit that should be shared. This list of creations has grown even larger, with the introduction of a Collapsible Rug Hooking Frame, now available in 14" and 16" sizes.  I am sure more sizes will follow.  Each leg is held in place with super strong magnets and goes together in seconds.

I thought I would share this video from youtube that explains the basics and a bit of history of rug hooking.

Custom Orders
If you should ever have a specific need or size, just email me at and I can build it for you.  I never add a "custom order" charge but it may take a bit of time for me to design it and build it. 
Help needed...  
On a parting note, please remember I am a one man shop, stay at home dad with 4 beautiful children, who is trying to launch a new product line / business.  This is no easy task.  Many of you know other rug hookers or share links on facebook, twitter and now Pintrest.  Please share this link, spread the word and help us out.  Thank you in advance and please email me with any feedback or post your comments below.
Thank you,
Harry Barnett


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