Karen Barbé Workshops

12 Nov 2008

Latch hook rug making or the realm of kitschiness

There was this time in Stockholm when I saw a subtle green latch hooked rug in a weaving loom and decided I should try making a rug like that one. Apart from some basic knowledge from design school, I can't say I know how to weave so I started looking for lessons and tools. I was immediately discouraged when I found out how expensive it was to pay for a medium-sized loom of my own, some quality yarn and the weaving classes (besides having to carry the loom for each lesson). So, if my final objective was a hooked rug, then I could try a simpler but somehow less noble version: using rug canvas.

So here's my first attempt. Inspired by a crocheted bedspread, I created this geometric and very easy to follow pattern. The technique is rather slow so I'm not sure when I'll be posting the finished rug (I do hope to finish the nine squares originally intended and not give up on the way).

What's been really fun with this technique is that I've discovered the realm of bad taste and kitschiness. Just search around the web and you'll find sheer kitsch in pillows, rugs and wall hangings. I wouldn't like to offend anyone's work, but for one reason or the other, hand latch hooked rugs have ended being the canvas of cartoons, animals' portraits or holiday themes. Has it something to do with its resemblance to bathroom rugs that this technique has totally fallen from grace?

I'm always intrigued by cultural and social connotations given to some crafts (tie-dye will always be hippie, latch hooked rugs will always be kitsch) and how they can really change when approached to with an original focus. Sandra Backlund's knits never feel unflattering nor Subversive Cross Stitch embroideries look boring. So, is there any future with latch hooking?


ewserk said...

I think you're creating the future of latch-hooking! It looks really splendid so far, and not at all kitschy.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to see the finished work! I used to latch hook back in the day... and had to give it up because I outgrew the patterns... When you hit your teens - you really don't want to be doing pictures of cartoon teddy bears and rainbows... I want something that looks like an adult would actually want to own/use it! I hope you start a revolution!!

TRT said...

I've been latch-hooking rugs on and off since I was 10. The thing that's always got me, though, is the various ways of finishing. Some tuck under rows and hook through, some whip the spare rows to the underside, some use backing cloth, others use backing braid.

Perhaps you could share some thoughts on that side of things.

GitteB said...

I totally agree - I have a wish to latch hook or rya as an artform and make some good designs - thats how I stumbled over this - it looks really good - would make a good wall piece.

But it is awfully slow, looking for a technique, that could make it quicker.

The other thing, that I think made them kitchy was, that they were collecting dust big time, and with dust-allergy the just were thrown out of many homes. Perhaps washable versions would make the trick ;)

Alicia Duduá said...

estoy totalmente de acuerdo contigo, es increíble las horteradas que hay hechas con esta técnica. Yo tb me puse a hacer cosas pero son tan grandes que nunca acabo. Empezaré una pequeña a ver que tal.

Anonymous said...

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