Rafter-four Designs
Rugmaker's Homestead
the resource for traditional rug makers since 1984
What's new at the Rugmaker's Homestead

New! On the etsy version of the Rugmakers Homestead: Pre-folded cotton fabric strip, hot pad kits and PDF files of out of print books for instant download--Good News for our International Customers. You’ll also find all of the same items in our regular catalog in a mobile-friendly environment. Just click on any of the photos shown.



New Rugmaker's Handbook: The Lost Bohemian & Swedish Braids


Rugmaker's Handbook No. 6: The Lost Bohemian & Swedish Braids, Rugs, Baskets & Variations is now available--AND in full color with tons of new information for the textile explorer.

bohemian braid handbookIt's been 30 years since I wrote about Bohemian braids for the first time and I've never did manage to get the directions for the Swedish braid in print until now. I know it doesn't seem fair to some of you that I'd had photos of the Swedish braid on the website for 20 years and still hadn't written the instructions. So to all of you--Thanks for your patience!

So what exactly are these rugs? Bohemian and Swedish braids represent a whole new family of techniques for the textile explorer. Made with a hook, but not crocheted—looped and laced, but not nalbinding.  They are ideal for rugs, baskets and more. (You can learn more about them on the Rag Rugs Tour.)

These rugs were documented for the first time in my small book "Bohemian Braid Rugs for the Beginner" in 1986, which included only the most basic instructions for the Bohemian braids and only for right-handed rug makers. With this book, the braids come to life with simple step-by-step color photographs for the beginning rug maker with both left- and right-handed directions.

bohemian braid basket

The Ancient Stitch, Traditional Bohemian Braid and Modern Bohemian Braid are included along with the never before published Swedish Braid and Fool-the-Eye braid. These stitches create unique textures with very different appearances on the front and back. The rugs and baskets are so sturdy people think there is an artificial stiffener, but it is just the stitches themselves whether used with fabric strip, yarns or cording. The Bohemian braids are so ideal for baskets that there is an entire chapter covering making baskets and hats.

And for the first time, directions for how to create patterns and designs in the rugs let the rug maker create really eye-catching projects. No special tools are required—you can make your own hook from a clothes hanger.

The book is in the final stages of production and should be available shortly. In the meantime, you can preview the contents and introduction.The new book is over six times larger than the 1986 version. It is 8.5" X 11", with 120 pages and in full color. It has a list price of $24.95 and is available in our catalog.

bohemian braid rugbohemian braid supernovaswedish braid rug



In the catalog you’ll notice that the smaller publications are flagged as going out of print soon. That is because we are in the process of publishing these rug making methods in book form with more detailed instructions and color photography. The bulletins were conceived as a temporary vehicle to make basic directions available. It turned out to be a 20-year temporary.

The new Rugmaker’s Handbooks that will cover the bulletins (and other) rugs and will also be more economical than purchasing the separate bulletins. We’ll keep the bulletins in print until the new books are available for those who just can’t wait, but we wanted to let everyone know what is happening.

fool the eye braid

And, just as an aside, there are more undocumented rug making methods that we have not put on the website. We learned from our experience with the Swedish braid that it is easier on us if we don't mention rugs that don't have instructions yet. Not that we mind being asked "When is the book coming out?" it's just that it can sometimes take years to get to a particular method. An example of this is the Fool-the-Eye braid (shown at left) that is included in the new handbook on Bohemian & Swedish braids. It's been on our list for 15 years or more, but it hasn't ever appeared in the Rag Rugs Tour.

Since the above announcement, we have heard from many directions that the small booklets are ideal and to please keep them so, as they go out of print, we will also make a PDF file of the bulletin available on our etsy site RugmakersHomestead.etsy.com

Naalbinding Rugs

Recently, I’ve noticed an increased interest in naalbinding rugs with inquiries like Susan’s:
“As a child I used to watch my grandmother "braid" rugs. The rugs she made were beautiful and looked "braided" but not like the ones where the braid is made and then sewn or laced into a round. I've been trying to find instructions for what she did ever since and was so excited today to find several rugs described in your Rag Rugs Tour that seem very close to what she was doing, but the pictures of the resulting rugs did not look the way her rugs did. I'm hoping you may be able to help me solve the mystery.

She made up her rags into a long strip that she sewed folded and ironed very carefully to avoid any raw edges. To have made the strip long enough to make the entire rug would have created a "thread" too long to pull through at each stitch, so she would make up a few yards, work it and then carefully add more rags to the strip. I think she may have actually made a very short braid to start her rug, but can't remember ever seeing her do that. What I do remember seems much like the Amish or toothbrush rug process. She had a big fat red plastic "needle" which she threaded with her rag strip and then worked each round of "braid" through the loops of the previous round. … the closest thing on the tour to the appearance I remember these rugs having is that of the Pjonging or chain braided rugs. Do you have any idea how she might have been working the rugs? Are there any patterns or instructions to help me learn to do it? Thank you so much for all the detailed information you have posted. Yours is the first site I've seen that showed the great variety of ways these wonderful old rugs were made! Thanks for any help you can give me. Regards, Susan Becker”

Hello Susan
You've done a good job describing your grandmother's rugs so we can tell you that she made "naalbinding" rugs--and the elaborate preparation of the rag strip was the hallmark of a sturdy and beautiful rug. You didn't see a picture of one on the website since we don't have one up, but there is quite a lot of information on the internet. The biggest problem in tracking it down is the various spellings of the technique. nalbinding, nalebinding, naalbinding, etc. There is also a gal on etsy who makes beautiful rugs, but calls them a "Viking Braid". Take a look at her rugs and I think you'll recognize the method.
There are various groups and websites on naalbinding and some even have videos, but 99% of the information is for using yarns, not making rugs, so that may take some digging.

Naalbinding rugs have been on my list to document for a long time, but they keep getting pushed back on the list of books for ones that are lesser known--which is why Susan couldn't find a photo of one. About two weeks after Susan's letter, I received this one from Jackie Fish along with photos of her naalbinding rugs.

Jackie also TEACHES the rugs at the University of Oregon Craft Center in Eugene, Oregon!

Jackie Fish's Nalbinging RugsHi,
I was taking pictures of my collection and thought you might like to see it. My rugs are made with polyester double knits and interlocks or torn cotton chintz.
I teach this technique at the University of Oregon Craft Center in Eugene Oregon. For class we use the Eco felt which comes in many colors and is made from recycle water bottles.

Thank you for your wonderful resource online! A friend just came by with a rug to be identified and we had fun looking at your tour. Hers was a lovely combination of cotton knitted and braiding. Feel free to share my photos. There are not many pictures of naalbinding rugs online!  JACKIE FISH

For information about her rugs and classes, you can contact Jackie at: jkalmia07@gmail.com

My thanks to Jackie for sharing her photos. For more news about naalbinding rugs see the Toothbrush Rugs page on the Rag Rugs tour.

Jackies naalbinding rugs