Locker Hooking: Upcycling Dream or Ergonomics Nightmare?

Ok, so:

As I may or may not have mentioned, I am a member of the Charlottesville Fiber Arts Guild (for all of maybe three meetings, but hey, that counts!).

This month's meeting centered around locker hooking with fabric. Locker hooking is, as far as I can tell, not a very widely-known craft, so I thought that I would post about my experiences here.

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Starting materials:

Rug canvas

Cotton twine or yarn

I used white Lily Sugar'n Cream cotton yarn, but you have a fair amount of wiggle room here. You just want something fairly smooth, fairly strong, without much elasticity. The color doesn't matter much, since in theory, your yarn should be covered over completely.

Locker hook

These things look like a steel or aluminum crochet hook with a needle eye on the end. I couldn't find one in my local craft shops, so I made my own by drilling a hole in the end of a plastic crochet hook.

In hindsight, I would suggest ordering the real, dedicated locker hook tool. My DIY hook *will* work in a pinch, but the hole is a bit tricky to thread, and, as you need to yank pretty hard to pull your fabric through the canvas, the end of a plastic hook can quite easily snap off.

Tapestry Needle

Fabric Strips

1" wide strips, cut or torn, with the grain as opposed to on the bias. I quickly found that my fabric strips were a bit too bulky, and had to switch to 1/2" strips. I would say 1" wide strips for broadcloth, silks, calico, etc., and 1/2" for corduroy, woolens, home decor fabric, and such. Either way, 1/2" wide strips are suggested for whip stitching the edges.


C'mon. Think of a fiber craft that *doesn't* require scissors on occasion.

The Process:

Fold under about 2-3 rows of the canvas and whip stitch around the edges using your tapestry needle and 1/2" fabric strips. You want to secure your edges-- otherwise, the canvas will unravel over time.

If you would like to see locker hooking in action, the selection of is surprisingly good. Just do a search for "locker hooking."

The locker hooking itself is pretty freeform. You can work back and forth, or fill in sections in different colors. I've done a few rows, although I'm cheating and working a few rows in from the edge. Remember-- I have an easily broken hook and too-thick fabric! :) Ideally, you want to be doing your locker hooking all the way to the edge.

Here's an example of a finished piece of locker hooking done by our instructor. Notice that it is filled in on both sides (the photos with my hand in it shows the back side of the fabric).


The Pros:

Locker hooking is a great way to use up scraps, and could easily be converted to a good upcycling project if you used strips of fabric from old sheets or clothes. The finished project can make a quite strong and easily washed rug.

The Cons:

Hard. On. Your. Hands.

Seriously. You need to yank and yank and yank, particularly on the edges of any given project. Also, some of the project ideas out there are... unfortunate. I don't know who decided that Fun Fur was the One True Way to make crafts hip and appealing, but... no. A rectangle of yarn barf is still a rectangle of yarn barf if you add Fun Fur.

Other Ideas:

Word is that Old School locker hooking should be done with wool yarn or roving, and I think that this is a case where you want to stick with the classics. Also, something with a little bit more "squish" and elasticity might be easier on the hands than fabric.

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