Traditional Braided Area Rugs
The craft and origin of braided rugs has been the subject of some debate over the years. It is said that the art and craft of braided rugs has roots in the Native American culture. Indigenous cultures the world over have long and well documented histories of rug making. Others contend that the braided rug came to the New World with early European settlers, originally as rag rugs. Regardless of the how the braided rug arrived in North America, the popularity of these rugs has not diminished over the years.
Rag 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. Frontier settlers did have the luxury of climbing into the family wagon and heading to the local rug store. If something was needed for the home, be it a warm blanket or a rug, a way was found to make it.
As the term implies, rag rugs were made from any available scraps of fabric. Like quilting, the practice of utilizing available materials meant that color schemes and patterns were a secondary consideration. In essence, form followed function. Fabric dyeing, if done at all, made use of local plants, berries and roots. Again, the practice of fabric dyeing was not limited to European settlers. For centuries, Native Americans understood the power of nature to provide beauty and color. This understanding can be seen in virtually every aspect of Native American life.
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 be made to lay flat on the floor. One sure sign of a poorly braided rug is curling and bunching. A properly made braided or rag rug will have a flat braid. Flat braids are sometimes referred to as tape braids. Flat braids are made by weaving around at least two parallel center cords.
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. Round braiding is a perfectly acceptable practice, though some less expensive round braid rugs have some problems. Use of a stiff center core in combination with a poor quality yarn will result in a rug that does wear very well. Cheap yarn abrading against a hard center core causes the yarn to wear prematurely, often exposing the center core material.
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 which did not rely on any particular pattern. Variegated rug patterns are perennial favorites among those folks prefer a very 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.
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.
Mitch Endick is a short article writer for the popular daybed site: http://www.daybedcovers.com. He provides informative advice on purchasing quality daybed covers and ensembles.
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