The craft and origin of braided rugs has been the subject of some debate over the years. Some say braided rugs have roots in the Native American culture. Others contend that the braided rug came to the New World with early European settlers, originally as rag rugs. Most agree the appearance of braided rugs in the US can be traced to the early 1700’s in New England. Regardless of the how the braided rug arrived in North America, the popularity of these rugs has not diminished over the years.
Rug making has long been considered a folk art that is still widely practiced. Like many other types of weaving, rug making was a home-based craft, borne out of necessity.
Similar to quilting, the practice of utilizing available materials meant that color schemes and patterns were a secondary consideration. In essence, form followed function. One of the more unique and beautiful characteristics of braided rugs is color. Makers of early braided rugs might have used whatever fabric or yarn was at hand. The result was a blend or variegation of many colors, often resulting in random patterns. The variegation in color made every rug unique much like patchwork quilts. Variegated rug patterns are perennial favorites among those folks who prefer a traditional look.
The practice of dyeing fabrics and yarns allowed weavers to create patterns of more uniform color. The choice of styles and patterns available today is quite diverse with some rugs following thematic patterns.
Traditional braided rugs can be found in a wide variety of weaving styles and construction. Regardless of the fabric, weave or construction, properly made braided rugs share one common feature. Simply put, a proper rug must lay flat on the floor. Flat braids are sometimes referred to as tape braids. Weaving around at least two parallel center cords makes flat braids. Many round braids are made by weaving around a single, round center cord. The practice of round braiding is a technique that can be found in more modern rug construction.
Braided rugs can be made from almost any material. Today’s country rugs are mostly wool, cotton or nylon. Among the most popular shape is the round area rug. There is a richness that is associated with these country rugs that makes them exceptionally appealing.
Quality braided rugs are easy to care for. Remember that these rugs have been around since before the introduction of such modern conveniences as the vacuum cleaner. Tightly sewn and woven braided rugs could be swept clean with stiff broom. Braided rugs are reversible and regularly turning the rug over greatly extends the life of the rug.
Braided rugs are very adaptable in their ability to add a sense of beauty and warmth to your home. These rugs have been around for generations and have carved their own place in modern home furnishings. What began as an American pastime and necessity, braided rugs have withstood several centuries. Though the creation process has changed to some degree, they are likely to continue their popularity for many years to come.