I am really excited to discover that as part of the Turku City of Culture Celebrations there will be a ‘happening’ to do with traditional Finnish rag rugs. Here in the UK, the tradition of making rag rugs was supposed to have been brought by Viking invaders in the 9th and 10th century. As I wrote to Angie Wyman:
“I know of the connection of rag rugs with Scandinavia very well. It has been argued by Ann Macbeth (Glasgow School of Needlework – but also lived in the Lake District) that Viking settlers in the 9th and 10th centuries brought looped Rya rug weaving techniques to the north of England via the Shetland Islands, Scotland then Cumbria. The shaggy, looped pile was eventually translated into the British rag rugs we know today once industrial production and availability of Hessian and wool cloth reached a critical mass in the early to mid 19th century – Britain’s domestic weavers were forced out of business at the same time.
I think that in 19th century Scandinavia domestic weaving continued, since their industrial revolution was later than ours but eventually with access to industrially produced cotton hence their woven rag rugs. Wouldn’t it be great to join the circle back up again and show them where the tradition ended up?”
This is the link to the Story Mat project webpage – hope it work! I would love to run some workshops or talk about the history of rag rugs in the UK