Rag Rugs


Glasshouse Mountains-detail… in the late eighties, while still papermaking, past traditions united with the colour and texture of modern-day fabrics, the environment, and the prospect of preserving it, albeit in a small way, provided on-going inspiration as I drifted into Rag Rugging using the hooked & shirred method. By 2001 I was totally immersed in the art & won the Best Entry Fibre Art Award at the Caloundra Arts & craft Festival. Workshops & weekly classes in Rag Rugging began the same year at Spotlight Kawana, Qld, before changing direction, once again, & becoming totally absorbed into the freeforming world. I envisage that the exploration, discovery & learning will go on for some time yet….Banksia

Where it all began.

Around 2000 BC, the Copts in Ancient Egypt were possibly the first to use a pulled-up weft loop in a base material. However, textile historians generally agree, the art of rag rugging evolved from ‘ryer’ or ‘ryojs’ (meaning rag/cloth) ~ a particular type of Scandinavian rag weaving. It is thought the Vikings introduced this technique to the British Isles. English & Irish settlers then took the skill with them to North America.

Rag rugging ~ that is: poking or looping cut strips of old clothes, rags & fabric scraps into a mesh base ~ grew into a working-class craft. It was always associated with poverty & hence, unworthy of mention even as a craft, let alone, as an art form. Little is known about its development but the earliest examples date back to the 1700’s.

Rag rug making reached it’s height in popularity in the late 19th & early 20th & again, during World War II as a thrift craft. However, as people became more affluent & the introduction of cheaper, ready-made alternatives, except in the most depressed areas of Britain & America, the technique almost died out.

Today, the growing awareness to conserve natural resources & the resurgence of recycling old into new, rag rugging is making a comeback. It is no longer seen as a poor man’s craft but as a unique medium, within which one can explore colour, texture & self expression.

Outback ~ 80 cm x 1.3 m


Caring for your Rug:


·      Never saturate.

·      Sponge with foam carpet cleaner, brush with a clean hand-broom or gently vacuum when dry.


·      Never fold – always roll with loops on the outside.

·      Do not store in plastic.

When storing for any length of time Rugs should be rolled into an old sheet and/or placed into a cotton calico bag

Recommended reading: The following are my favourite Rag Rug publications. Although I cannot guarantee they are all still in print, each overflows with information & inspiration & are well worth the search.

How to make Hand hooked Rugs – Ann Davis – ISBN 0855 32 807-X

Search press

Contemporary Crafts. Rag Rugs – Ann Davis – ISBN 1-85368-860-6

New Holland (Publishers) Ltd

The Art of Rag Hooking – Anne D Mather – ISBN 0-8069-1801-2

Capricorn link(Aust) P/ 2153

Sterling Publishing Co, inc

Rag Rugs – Techniques in contemporary craft projects – Juju Vail – ISBN 1-875986-95-2

Apple Press

Rag Rugs – Juju Vail – ISBN 1-85974-879-1

New Holland (Publishers) Ltd

Rag Rug Inspirations – Juliet Bawden – ISBN 0-304-34909-7

Capricorn link(Aust) P/L

Sterling Publishing Co, inc

Classic Crafts – Jacqui Hurst – ISBN: 1-85029-208-6

Cornran Octopus

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