Rug making at home has long been practised in Australia, but it enjoyed a spike in popularity between the 1920s and the 1950s.

Considered a practical pastime, it was encouraged by organisations like the Country Women’s Association, and through articles in magazines and newspapers, and talks and demonstrations at community halls and city department stores.

Rapid rug needle c1930

‘Rapid’ rug needle, W G Tappenden, Merrylands, NSW, c1930. Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, Sydney Living Museums. Photo (c) Joshua Morris.

The most common rug construction method was hooking. In this technique, narrow lengths of fabric were threaded onto a large crochet hook or similar and then looped through a hessian or canvas backing. Thrifty homeowners could create rugs, often known as ‘rag rugs’, from scraps of fabric, worn clothing and other recycled textiles. However, specialist companies also produced rug-making kits with patented needles, branded woollen thread and even design templates printed on hessian backing for easy construction.

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