Standing Wool

by Diana Blake Gray
Master Rugmaker

Traditional standing wool rugs were made by stitching narrow strips of thick woolens together so that the edges form the top and bottom surfaces of the rug (detail shown to the right). There are many ways of assembling standing wool rugs including coils, multiple centers, freeform shapes and combinations with shirred wool. Traditionally a linen cord was used for the stitching.

Whether using woolen fabric or wool felt, standing wool rugs allow for an infinite variety of shape and texture. The technique combines easily in a single rug with shirring or faux shirring for additional interest.

Beaded rugs are the standing wool technique that is the most fun, hands down. Tiny pieces of wool are rolled and strung on a stout linen or cotton thread and then stitched together to form rugs. The effect is similar to a mosaic and regular geometric designs are easy to achieve.

As the name implies, wool is the fabric of choice for these rugs, but modern materials can also be used such as cotton or acrylic sweaters, sweatshirts and heavy flannels. Fleece tends to resist the needle too much for this construction however.

Traditional standing wool rugs were made by stitching narrow strips of thick woolens together so that the edges form the top and bottom surfaces of the rug. There are many ways of assembling standing wool rugs including coils, multiple centers, freeform shapes and combinations with shirred wool. Traditionally a linen cord was used for the stitching.

Whether using woolen fabric or wool felt, standing wool rugs allow for an infinite variety of shape and texture. The technique combines easily in a single rug with shirring or faux shirring for additional interest.

Beaded rugs are the standing wool technique that is the most fun, hands down. Tiny pieces of wool are rolled and strung on a stout linen or cotton thread and then stitched together to form rugs. The effect is similar to a mosaic and regular geometric designs are easy to achieve.

As the name implies, wool is the fabric of choice for these rugs, but modern materials can also be used such as cotton or acrylic sweaters, sweatshirts and heavy flannels. Fleece tends to resist the needle too much for this construction however.

A variety of beaded rugs demonstrating their mosaic-like character.

t left is a standing wool wall hanging, “Islands in the Stream.”

Elsewhere on the Rugmakers Homestead
Preview Handbook #4 which includes all of the standing wool techniques.

Publications in our catalog:
Rugmakers Handbook #4: Traditional Shirred & Standing Wool Rugs

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