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Torn Blooms

Hooking a garden in torn wool strips

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Updated April 03, 2017
Photography by Brigitte Webb

Pansy Cushion, 23" x 23", torn wool strips on burlap, designed and hooked by Brigitte Webb, Dingwall, Scotland, 2016.

“I had not hooked hand-torn fabrics before or hooked large flowers,” Brigitte said, “so this was quite a challenge for me. Right away, I found it hard on my wrist and hand, as I only had burlap. All my other backing fabrics had been used up. Tamara advised me to pull up the loops at an angle, which helped a bit. But then I thought to use my metal prodder (which I use for rag rugs). This enabled me to make larger holes in the backing where I wanted them as I worked. I found this was the best way for me.” Brigitte’s torn strips were a half-inch to one inch wide.


Hooking with torn strips of wool harks back to the earliest days of rug-hooking history. Usually, we think of such rugs as primitive, with quiet colors and an antique, time-worn quality. Here is a story of eight rug hookers who accepted a torn-strips challenge, using colors that are anything but quiet.

Our story begins at a Sarah Giuliani workshop. “When I saw the primitive pieces people were doing with hand-torn strips,” Sarah said, “a lightbulb turned on. Why can’t we do the same with wild and bright colors?”

In the workshop, Loretta Scena took to her task with relish. She drew her oversized rosebud and began pulling the big squishy loops, combining Sarah’s hand-dyed woolens with her own in a surprising palette of intense and saturated hues. 

Tamara Pavich of southwest Iowa writes frequently for RHM. Her book of design ideas for rug hookers will be released in June 2017. She warmly thanks Sarah, Dana, and Loretta—and all of the Torn-Bloom Hookers for their inspiration. 

This article is from the March/April/May 2017 issue. For more information on our issues, check out our issues page.

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