I am always amazed at how many different ways there are to finish our rugs and how many new ideas we can come up with. Years ago I would finish all my pieces by whipping the edge with yarn over a cord inserted on the back of the rug – it is a wonderfully strong finish for the edge but I have a very short attention span and this method I found very lonnngggg… So being somewhat lazy! and much preferring the hooking part to the finishing part I thought I had developed a unique way of finishing my rugs – only to find that it had been around a LONG time! I do a showbinding finish on most of my rugs. I do it 2 different ways but the easiest is to take a long (long enough to fit all the way around the outside edge of my rug and overlap by about an inch at either end) strip of wool that is about 2 1/2 inches wide (make sure it has been felted – I usually dye mine to match the last row of hooking). I then press under, along one long edge ONLY, 1/4 inch. Then I pin this strip to my hooking all the way around my rug and stitch the 2 ends together (rightsides together) and trim and finish pinning. Next I hand stitch this to my rug making sure that I get as close as possible by stitching down in between the loops and tugging – use doubled GOOD thread so that when you tug it does not break. Once you have stitched all the way around fold this to the back of your rug. (Oh, of course I do zigzag the backing of the rug about 3/4 inch from the last row of hooking and I stitch diagonally across the corner and then trim off the excess.) When I fold to the back I leave about 1/4 inch ONLY of showbinding showing on the front – therefore the backing – whether it is burlap or linen etc. – also gets folded which gives me a nice thick rounded edge that almost looks and feels like there is cording inserted inside. I then hemstitch the strip to the back of my rug. This is such an easy, fast and strong finish to the edge – protects that last row of loops and backing wonderfully.
I do like to experiment with different finishing techniques and different uses for my hooked pieces – love to make pillows and finish them either with a sashing, flange or prodded edge(courtesy of Karen Kahle’s flickr site). Have attached a penny rug edge to table runners, framed smaller rugs with primitive chippy frames. My husband used to make benches with a recess for hooked rugs. There are so many different ways of finishing and using our rugs – tote bags, purses, pillows, table runners, wall art, floor mats, chairpads, tea cosies – a few years ago I even saw a woman at the Shelburne rug show in Vermont who had hooked a vest! It was stunning – but she certainly could not have been in her 50’s!!!!
Example of prodded edge on pillow – a really fun finish! (this pattern or kit available through my online store)
Example of a penny rug finish on the edge. This is a pattern by Bea Grant although the bird was changed. Completed this in a class with Bea that we held at the “cottage” a few years ago with a great group of ladies. Full weekend of hooking till midnight, eating way too much (as usual) and having fun… Bea was my first primitive teacher and is a super lady and wonderful teacher! If you have a chance to take a class with her – do so! She teaches regularly at the Trent School of Rughooking in Peterborough in June every year.