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A Blonde's Perspective - Latch hooking

By Jan Stadtherr


Since the beginning of the new year, I have stepped back in time to the 1970s. It wasn’t my idea.


Remembering that I had done some latch hooking when she was a toddler, my oldest child, Kim, now in her 40s, gave me a latch hooking kit for Christmas. She was excited when I opened the gift and she reminded me that I had hooked a wall hanging of Bert and Ernie, two characters from Sesame Street -- a TV show all three of my children had watched.


Yes, I remembered the wall hanging very well. I had forgotten and was surprised when Kim reminded me that I had also latch hooked a wall hanging of a sunset that had hung in the living room. That was the end of my hooking career.


Now that I’m older, I believe my daughter is concerned that I’m not busy enough and this grandma should focus on crafts to maintain my mental and physical health. It wasn’t long after the gifts were opened that she and I were starting two-pillow covers as she bought herself one, too.


After goofing up the first few attempts, this grandma discovered that my arthritic fingers aren’t as nimble in trying to create a knot in a quarter-inch square with the latch hook. It wasn’t long before Kim had the first row completed on her pillow cover while I struggled in making a simple knot with the various colors of yarn and looping them around the latch hook tool.


Knowing that I was frustrated, Kim moved right in to help me with our heads bumping together as she, a college professor, instructed me as I tried to manipulate the hooking tool. When my younger daughter, Tracy, arrived, she caught on very quickly to the old craft that is becoming more popular today and she completed the entire first row of my pillow cover.


After the holidays, I picked up the 17-inch square canvas, and again, failed to create the knots after several attempts. Latch hooking is considered to be a therapeutic craft just like knitting, crocheting, and quilting are. It may be a while that I would consider it therapy, but I will keep trying.


During the early 19th century in England, weaving mill workers were allowed to collect the left-over pieces of yarn that were less than nine inches in length as the pieces were of no use to the mill. Burlap became the popular backing after 1850 for hooking rugs because the wider weave not only made it easier than other textiles for the yarn to be pulled through, but just as important, it was a way to salvage and reuse feed sacks. Yarn was not the loop material of choice because it was an important commodity used for mending, so scraps of fabric were used instead.


Such crafts surged during the hippy and flower power days of the 1960s and 70s. According to Google, tie-dye has been the more popular along with weaving, decoupage, needle point, and we can’t forget the plastic looms used to make covers for Kleenex boxes, polyester pot holders and place mats.


Remember macramé? Nearly every home in the 70s had a wall hanging or hanging flower pot holder created with macramé. I had a hanging orange pot holder that matched perfectly with my orange countertop.


I’m resolving that I will complete my latch-hooked pillow cover. In order to see better what I am doing in creating knots, Kim sent me two more hooking tools and a magnifying light. It will hopefully make hooking easier and that will allow me to become the happy hooker . . . with a latch hook.

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