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You are here: Crafts / Yarn and Needle Crafts / Latch Hook / How to Latch Hook

My love of scatter rugs has been well documented on this blog here, here and here. In fact, this has been a thing with me for as long as I can remember… When I was a kid, we had these gigantic pillows that acted as floor cushions that we’d use to rest our head on the ground, or curl up on for a nap. We even took these big things to the drive in movies where my dad would pop open the back of his Bronco and we’d recline in comfort and watch the flick.

Those cushions Momma made herself, out of carpet remnants. I remember running my fingers through the shag absentmindedly while watching The Smurfs, cuddling up with one when reading a book and once when I was really little, snuggling up on one with a mug of hot chocolate, crying because I didn’t get my way (and thinking that I must look very grown up with my steaming mug in my hands). I have a ton of memories where those gigantic brown pillows are included in the background.

When I got my first place as an adult I purchased cheap sheets, cheap towels, cheap dishes but I splurged on an ivory 2 inch shag throw rug. I’d lay on the floor with my new puppy, Virgil, and run my fingers through that rug. I loved that rug.

And then a few weeks ago I was cleaning out the garage and I found that very rug in my keep boxes and I ran my fingers through and set it aside to wash and bring into my bedroom. But somehow things got confused and I found myself crying outside of a house wares donation box in the rain when I realized that, in the flurry of making my second or third trip to the box that day, I had accidentally donated that very rug.

Learn how to latch hook and make your own custom rugs. Woohoo!

It’s silly to cry over a rug, I know it, but I decided that I would learn to latch hook so that I could make one very similar. Today I’m sharing with you the basics and in a bit, perhaps a week or so, I’ll share with you the pattern I created for the rug I’m currently working on.

To work on latch hook you need:

Learn how to latch hook and make your own custom rugs. Woohoo!

This is a latch hook tool. They cost between $3-6 and feature a variety of handles. I purchased the one shown above and a wooden handled one but I greatly prefer the plastic handle shown.

Learn how to latch hook and make your own custom rugs. Woohoo!

And here is the “latch” on your hook. It fits loosely up against the upper hook when raised and rests on the metal shaft when in the lower position. It moves freely and easily between the two positions. 

Learn how to latch hook and make your own custom rugs. Woohoo!

This is pre-cut rug yarn. Since this was my first rodeo, I decided to use the precut so that I’d have one less thing to worry about. That worry being that I jack up a bunch of rug yarn by not cutting the pieces evenly. I’ve been through about 10 packages at this point and I’ve found that there are going to be some (and sometimes entire packages) where the length is different but it’s still surely better than if I cut all of these pieces by hand.

Learn how to latch hook and make your own custom rugs. Woohoo!

This is mesh rug canvas. I purchased the 30″ x 36″. When working up your rug, you need at least 1 inch of canvas on all sides when done latching.

Let’s get to it.

Learn how to latch hook and make your own custom rugs. Woohoo!

The canvas is stiff and kind of scratchy and looks like it is made of rope. In one direction the rope looks solid and in the other the rope looks twisted. When latching you’re always going to work off of the rope that isn’t twisted, or the one that appears to be a more solid piece.

Push your latch hook up underneath the first section where you want to place your yarn. See how the canvas makes a line across the tool? Push the tool up high enough that the latch mechanism is above that line.

Learn how to latch hook and make your own custom rugs. Woohoo!

Take a piece of your rug yarn and run it underneath the tool UNDER the line the canvas makes on your tool.

Learn how to latch hook and make your own custom rugs. Woohoo!

Pinch the two ends of the yarn together and wrap both pieces into the open mouth of the hook. The latch will stay in the downward position.

Learn how to latch hook and make your own custom rugs. Woohoo!

And just because I couldn’t decide which picture best explained the step above, here is this one, too.

Learn how to latch hook and make your own custom rugs. Woohoo!

Hang on to the yarn and begin pulling the tool downward, back out of the canvas. The line from the canvas that runs across the tool will push the latch up and lock in the two ends of the yarn. Continue pulling and you’ll get a knot with the two ends sticking out. Use your fingers to tighten the knot (this makes the yarn look longer).

After you get going, you can pull the knots tighter and have to do less adjustment with your fingers as you go. For the sake of consistency I am tugging on every looped bit of yarn to make sure it is nice and tight.

And that is all there is to working on latch hook. It’s really, really easy and something that I’ve been doing for about 4 hours every evening the past 4-5 nights. You can easily watch TV while latch hooking as long as your pattern isn’t crazy involved.

For the most part I really don’t like the latch hook kits I’ve been finding at craft stores. This is why I decided to make my own pattern my first ever go of it (and I actually said that first night – why can’t I do things the easy way?) BUT, there are some neat vintage patterns that you can find online. I especially like these two on Etsy. And since you’re just buying a pattern rather than a kit, you can pick your own colors!

Learn how to latch hook and make your own custom rugs. Woohoo!

60s Art Decon Diamonds Rug Pattern

Learn how to latch hook and make your own custom rugs. Woohoo!

60s Garden Pathways Rug

Or use the free pattern I made just for you :) Happy Friday – hope your weekend is fantastic!

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  1. I would like to know if you should wash the canvas before working on putting the yarn in , & how would you wash it

    1. Washing the canvas isn’t advised. It would likely fray and ruin the material.

  2. Love these two rugs, especially the first one. It’s one I could see making. Really like both of them, I know it’s a lot of work, but working on while watching TV, is a good plan. I sold the one I made in the 80’s to a mom for her daughter’s room. Of course I couldn’t charge much but she love it so much and the colors were totally 80’s. Pink, Lavender, Turquoise, & hot pink. I’ve grown way past that now and it’s 2020 so want to make something a little more sophisticated. Thank you for your showing us your creations.

  3. Erica Cooper says:

    I just came across your tutorial and you made latch hook so easy. I recently bought a kit on a whim but I have never done one before! I know I’ll love it and now I want to do a rug like you showed! Thank you! I’ll be sure to look for more of your ideas!

  4. Do you think the end result is a soft/durable rug? Or is it more of an art piece?

    1. Most of the rugs that I have made have not been soft, but I use the pre-cut yarn which is typically cheaper acrylic stuff. I have used some soft, fluffy and fat yarn and that rug was amazingly soft. You’ll get out what you put in on this one. :)

  5. I have a problem of my canvas breaking while pulling the hook through is there anything I can do about this?

    1. Hmm. Is your canvas old? I’ve never experienced that before. Perhaps if your canvas is brittle it might be a good idea to start fresh with a new one?

  6. I just found this today, while looking up instructions for latch rug hooking. My girls started many a kits back in the day (20 years ago) and now, I find myself making a rug. I am restoring a 1976 vintage travel trailer and want a funky shag rug for it. They are so expensive now that vintage is in. I couldn’t remember if I needed to wash to rug hooking canvas before starting as it’s so stiff. I guess not. I hope my hands survive the roughness! :)

    1. I have never heard to wash the canvas but it would definitely soften it up a bit. Hmm…

      Good luck!

  7. I decided to try latch hooking again after 45 years and was so happy to have found your site to get me going again! I’m sure it’ll be like riding a bike! (Although at almost 61, I don’t think I’m gonna try THAT again LOL) I sit and watch a lot of TV lately and I’d rather busy my hands with a craft than an entire tube of Pringles :)

    Is it your opinion that getting a blank canvas with “instructions” for the pattern is better than buying a pre-stamped patterned canvas? It seems to me I was following pre-printed lines back in the 70s and early 80s when doing this. I would think having to go back and forth to “instructions” would leave too much room for (my) errors?

    I also remember the hooking tool being wooden handled. So wondered why you prefer the plastic?


    1. Probably because it’s a bit lighter for me. I have grip problems and my hand easily tires. The less something weighs the better for me, even if it’s just at tiny bit :)

  8. It’s cool to see you venture out with your own pattern :) I eventually want to do one with all my dogs and cats, recent and deceased. I figured I’d make a nice big floor pillow :)
    I’ve done latch hook before. However, I just bought a new kit, and the CORRECT way to have the canvas (twisted on sides of squares and more solid on top and bottom) does not have enough squares across for the pattern. I would have to rotate it and do it incorrectly to make the pattern fit….is this okay? Do you have any suggestions? I’d greatly appreciate it!!

  9. Thanks so much for the advice, I have just started latch hooking and was not impressed, then I read about the twisted and solid parts of the canvas which I had never seen on other help pages, now I am very happy, doing my own pattern as kits are so expensive, I usually do tapestry rugs and cushions, so this is very new to me, but the cushion is shaping up and if it hadn’t have been for your page I think I would have got fed up quickly. Thanks

  10. buen dia necesito comprar la aguja esmirna donde la puedo conseguir soy de barquisimeto VENEZUELA gracias dios los bndiga

    1. I’m not sure if you have craft stores but that would be the best place to start. You could also purchase one through an online store like Amazon (not sure if they ship to Venezuela, though!) and you can find some great deals that will ship anywhere in the world through Ebay!

  11. `Hi there was just wondering how many packs of the yarn you used?

    1. I used pre-cut yarn, the brand was MCG Textiles in the colors 301 white, 302 black, 304 yellow, 360 blue, 368 ruby. You can buy directly from them online if you cannot locate them in a store around you:

      FYI there are 320 pieces per package.
      Blue – 2 packages (need 619 pieces – you’ll have 640)
      Yellow – 5 packages (need 1523 pieces – you’ll have 1660)
      Red – 5 packages (need 1448 pieces 1660)
      Black- 5 packages (need 1338 pieces 1660)
      White – 10 packages (need 2959 pieces 3200)

  12. Do you have any idea why the knots would be working loose? I have done latch hook rugs before and never had a problem, but now the knots are loosening and have even worked all the way out. They have been pulled tight to start with, so I can’t imagine why it is doing this. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

    1. Hmm. I don’t know why they would be pulling loose. I think a good solution would be to glue a piece of felt or backing onto the backside of the rug. It will hold all of those yarn bits in place so they can’t wiggle loose on you.

  13. Allison Murray says:

    It really is a lot more work than I bargained for, Mid – but every time I look at my rug in progress I'm so proud that I think it's worth it. I am a bit burnt out on it and I think that I'll be taking a bit of a break from latch hooking for a few days!
    And I called the number on the box but they informed me that they had no way of knowing where the rug was and if or when it would be sold in a thrift location. I didn't cry on the phone, but I had no shame in letting them know that I was really upset! You have a fantastic weekend, too!

    1. Hello, I made latchhook rugs from kits back in the day. I just washed my first “from scratch” rug and it loosened up and kinda fell apart. I have 2 more rugs to make but will hook on the solid and not the twisted portion of the canvas. I found this post looking for a possible reason for the fail as I have washed a 30 year old hook rug without any issues. The rug in question was hooked on the twisted portion. I will let you know how the other rugs go! Thank you for the suggestion.

    2. If you are worried about your next rug coming undone, because I totally would be, I’d probably glue a piece of felt to the back of the rug. The adhesive and felt will stick to all of the yarn pieces so they can’t come out in the wash.

  14. Woah! That seems to be a lot of work, but is sure really great to have afterwards!
    An self made rug is something really special I think… but I don't think, I would be persistent enough.
    And if I would have accidentally donated my rug I would have gone back and cried there until they are annoyed of me and would give it back to me. (Yes, I'm a legal adult.)
    Have a wonderful weekend!