Fold Forward Rug Finish: Whipping the Edge

June 29, 2012 15 comments | Updated December 30, 2020

Written by Cindi Gay

There is an updated post here: ⬅️

Be sure to steam you rug before whipping:

The first step in whipping the edge on a hooked rug
Do NOT whip your corners this way

For many, finishing a hooked rug is the least favorite part of hooking a rug. I’m not crazy about the prior preparation steps, but I do enjoy this part, the whipping. Take your time. Keep the rug handy so you can pick it up at odd moments and you will be done before you know it.

If the corners are the hard part, keep reading for several tips that will make the corners easier.

What needle to use for whipping

Use a needle that is comfortable in your hand. I like a large (4″ – 5″) needle that is relatively sharp. Over time it will become less sharp and that will make it even easier to use. You can buy these needles as doll maker needles. I prefer a thin needle, but a large eye. Keep trying different ones until you find the one that fits your hand. The doll needles are usually sold in an assortment pack so you will have several to try.

Needle I use to whip the edge of a hooked rug
I prefer the largest doll needle.

Many rug hookers prefer the curved gold needle in the photo. I don’t use this one because I think I can aim better with a straight needle and I’ll need a sharp point for the corners. If you prefer this needle, use a sharp one for the corners and the gold one for the straight edges.

Yarn to use for whipping the edge

Use 100% wool yarn. Read my post about the yarn to use. Use the calculator below to determine if you have enough yarn BEFORE you begin whipping. Visit the link above for more details about the yarn and this calculator.

Double or single strand for whipping?

I like to use a single strand. I don’t have nearly as much tangling and even though I may need to go into some of the holes twice, I think I can whip faster because there is less frustration.

Secure the end of the yarn

The first step in whipping the edge on a hooked rug

I usually start the whipping about an inch away from a corner and head toward the corner. Start with a long strand of yarn so you will not run out before you can complete the corner. Bury the yarn into the thick edge of the backing you prepared in the prior steps. Bury it again going in the opposite direction. This will help to ensure that the end will not work itself loose later when the rug is handled. I usually leave the tail sticking out until I make a few stitches then I cut it flush.

You will begin and end in the same way, by burying the yarn in two different directions and then cutting the tail flush.

Begin whipping the edge of your hooked rug

You will need to make a stitch in every hole and may need to make two in one hole every now and then. You want to make the whipping thick enough to completely cover the backing. Pull firmly and evenly for a neat edge. Pick a channel in the threads and follow it. I usually go one thread away from my loops. Whip up to the point where the row you are whipping in is in line with the row on the opposite edge — this is the hole that is common to both sides. At this point you can use Susan’s tip below and skip the corners for now and whip them later.

Susan’s Corner Strategy: Whip the edge up to the point where both sides share the same hole. Now skip the corner. That’s right, just ignore it for now. Continue whipping down the next side. Later when all four sides are whipped return to the corners and whip each corner. You have better odds of making each corner similar because you are doing one right after the other. This tip comes to me from Susan Adams of Lima, Ohio, one of my at home studio students. Thanks, Susan.

I like to eat my vegetables and then enjoy desert guilt-free so I whip all four corners first and then attack the edges. I find this easier to bury the yarn also. What is important is that you find the method that works for YOU.

How to whip the corners of your hooked rug: The Corner Trick

Do NOT whip your corners this way

As you whip in the ditch that is one thread away from your last row of loops, watch for that same ditch going in the opposite direction. I’ve marked it with a black dot in the illustration. Make only one stitch in each direction. Two passes of yarn will be in this hole. Your corner will get quite large and bulky if you stuff dozens of stitches into this one hole. It will significantly weaken the corner of the rug, a spot that is already vulnerable.

Begin whipping corner of hooked rug
Whip a few stitches until you hit the intersection hole.

Now make several (5 will usually do it) small stitches right at the corner. This is where you will need the sharp needle. Pierce the bundle about a 1/4″ or so from the edge. Lay the stitches down in a row. Because the stitches are short they are not going anywhere. Long stitches that span from the tip of the corner to the intersecting hole will move and expose the backing. As a result, most rug hookers add more stitches, further stressing the backing, to keep everything covered.

Small stitches at the corner is the secret to "small" corners
Small stitches at the corner is the secret to “small” corners

Imagine a line running from the intersecting hole and the tip of the corner. Start whipping one side of the corner. As you whip your stitches will get shorter and shorter until they cover the short stitches you made previously. When you have it all covered stop and start the other side picking up after the short stitches.

Begin whipping the main part of the corner on one side
Begin whipping the main part of the corner on one side

Whip up the second side, double checking the back of the rug as you go to be sure you are covering the backing.

Completed whipped corner on a hooked rug
Whip finish on a hooked rug

If the miter does not come out as neat as you would like, (your corners will improve with practice) take one large stitch over the corner to hide the mess if you need it.

Corners are tricky, but they are important for a neat finish. If it doesn’t work out the first time, carefully snip the yarn, pull it out and start over. Be very careful so you do NOT snip the backing.

Now your whipping is done, but don’t quit yet. Be sure to steam the rug again – all over or just the edges depending on what it needs – and create a label for your rug. See the instructions at Don’t Miss the Last Step – Label Your Rugs!

To cover bald or thin areas

Whip finish on a hooked rug

The small white spots on the finished whipping are loose threads from the binding and will be snipped later. If you have white spots because your whipping was not close enough, use a single strand of yarn and touch up the areas that need more coverage. Also try moving the yarn with your fingers to cover up the open areas. Just review the last inch or two on both sides and you can touch up anything that looks thin as you go.

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