Friends + Fiber = Fun!

Last Friday I had the opportunity to spend a little girl-tyme with a friend who’s also a fiber enthusiast, handspinner and knowledgeable goatkeeper!  So, what could be better than spending the day with a girlfriend, lots of good conversation, fOOd (of course…) and warm wooly FIBER!!! We decided earlier to do a locker hooking project ~ why not another SHEEP!?? ha ha

My locker hooked sheep in progress…

From the pic, you can see  the ‘unfinished’ canvas (the same canvas that’s used for latch hook). I used my moorit Shetland’s (Testiamo’s)  roving for the background. The sheep was hooked with white/natural Shetland and staples of curly Leicester (for added texture) and black for the ears, legs and tail.

Let me explain the process. Locker hooking is a craft from the 1920s-40s that was practiced in Great Britain and America, using strips of fabric to make rugs, using heavy, six-ply wool yarn. Similar in some respects to rug hooking, locker hooking involves pulling yarn through a rug canvas in loops that are then “locked” into place with a hidden strand of wool.


Australia’s variation consists of a small, but very significant, change in the type of wool used, rather than any alteration of the basic procedure. This change came about when Australian Brian Benson, on tour in Ireland in 1972, saw demonstrations of locker hooking, became fascinated by the craft, and took several hooks home to his mother. A well-known fiber artist, Patricia Benson quickly mastered the craft and completed a handsome rug of heavy, handspun yarn. The piece commanded a great deal of attention when displayed; but Patricia quickly realized that if locker hooking was to become popular, something would have to be found that could be substituted for the heavy yarn required. Commercially prepared six-ply wool twist was expensive, and few people had the time or inclination to spin their own. So, Pat began using unspun, freshly sheared wool …and Australian locker hooking was born.

Patricia Benson discovered that lengths of combed wool, forger-thick but unspun, could be hooked through the holes of canvas and held in place with a strand of spun yarn. The resulting rugs were beautifully soft and springy underfoot, and they wore well, too. The craft was enthusiastically received in Australia, where sheep breeding and the production of wool are major industries.

In 1980, Marj Boyes—teacher of locker hooking—came to the United States and introduced Benson’s technique. Here was a chance for American crafts people to work with unprocessed wool without having to invest in the lengthy training and expensive equipment required to master spinning and weaving.

My completed locker hooked sheep (and the tool used for hooking)! To finish, I whip stitched around the  sheepy ‘trivet’ perimeter  with wool yarn.

…and a few earlier locker hooked pieces.

HINT: Needlework/cross-stitch patterns are easily adapted to locker hooking…or, make your own pattern!

All that is needed is some fleece, roving, or yarn, rug canvas, a locker hook, and locker thread/yarn. The locker hook looks like a crochet hook with a needle eye on the end. The roving is drawn up through the hole in the rug canvas, and after several loops have been pulled up, the locker hook and attached locker thread are drawn through the loops, locking them in place. The technique can be used to make rugs, wall hangings, jackets and bags.

Hmmm…I think I’d like to hook a sheepy rug for my spinning wheel when I’m on the road traveling…

Read more about locker hooking:

1 thought on “Friends + Fiber = Fun!

  1. Pingback: Wool Felt Project [Day 2] | Sheepy Hollow Farm Life

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