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Oodles of Noodles

What is a rug hooker to do?

By: Story and Photography by Susan M. Cunningham
Updated December 14, 2018

Diamond Oak Leaf, 25 1⁄2" x 25 1⁄2", #5-cut hand-dyed wool. Inspired by a Pennsylvania quilt and designed and hooked by Susan M. Cunningham, Laramie, Wyoming, 2012.

Every rug hooker accumulates leftover strips, often referred to as “noodles” or “worms.” It’s hard to use up all those strips as I make even more rugs. After hooking for more than a dozen years, I’d accumulated oodles of noodles. 

I used up some leftover noodles after learning a technique for a mottled background in a beautiful crewel rug by teacher Vivian Eyford. My Diamond Oak Leaf design was inspired by a Pennsylvania quilt in my antiques collection. I thought the quilt’s “princess feather” motifs would be annoying to hook, so I substituted an oak leaf motif instead. For background, I dyed Cushing Seal Brown over leftover noodles. After calculating yardage needed for the background, I converted that to weight based on good hooking wool weighing about 11 oz. per yard. I doubled that weight so I’d surely have enough wool. However, some noodles shredded in the dyeing process and some turned out just “off” in color. So I dyed another batch of noodles sufficient to finish the piece. The result was a harmonious background, with movement and interest, instead of a plain background of one solid color wool.

Time passes. My mountain of noodles keeps growing. Leftover scraps keep filling small boxes. What to do?

I designed Log Cabin Diamond in a Square, inspired by an antique rug. As I hooked this rug, I selected colors harmonious with what had already been hooked. I learned that some parts of a log cabin block need much longer strips versus the diagonally opposite end of a block. So colors had to be chosen somewhat by length. A marbleized wool piece worked well in the border.

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