Vintage Rug Maker

Apologies for being so rubbish at this but I have been much distracted by a Very Good Cause, more of which another time.

At an auction last week I can across a rather curious contraption still in its original box and proclaiming itself “Airlyne” The World’s Fastest Home Rugmaker. I hadn’t a clue what it was or how it might work but took a punt and brought it for a few quid. I don’t know how old it is, but 1940s/50s.

Fortunately there was an instruction leaflet buried at the bottom of the box and setting it proved a doddle. A metal bar attached a webbed strap to a central needle, and two screws clamped the device onto the end of a table. I put a towel under the plate not wanting to risk scratching the surface.

By pulling the foot strap the central needle pushes up and down through an opening on the plate and through the fabric. A small sprung screw to the left of the needle lengthens or shortens the amount the needle pushes upwards, changing the length of the pile. By pushing a wire supplied through the eye of the needle and along the length of the needle’s shank, it is effortless to pull up the thread. I used some thick wool I had lying around and a scrap of hessian.

It is very easy to use, very fast and very addictive. I thought it might be unsteady, pulling at the table, but not at all. Your hands are free to move the hessian as the needle goes about creating a series of loops which you can leave as they are or cut to form your pile. I’ve only ever made one rug before and that was with a latch hook, so I am a complete novice and suspect I am making too many loops per inch, but that is only a matter of experimenting.

I’m very glad I got it and can’t wait to start a proper project, it’s just a case of finding one; in my typical ‘running before I can walk’ scenario, I already have high hopes of ripping up the carpet on the stairs and replacing it with a handmade runner…

30 thoughts on “Vintage Rug Maker

  1. Hi there!

    Thanks for your blog. I got bought one of these as I am an avid crafter…. avid but very new! I am having trouble making the loops…. have you anymore pics of how to make the unbroken loops. I’ve got some hessian… looking forward to your help!

  2. Hey! Glad you found it useful! The other pics I’ve got are all a bit rubbish but I’ll have another look and if you give me some time I’ll see if I can take a video of it in action. It seems the trick is making sure the eye of the needle is consistently behind the direction you are making the stitches – ie if you are making a line of loops to the left, make sure the eye of the needle if facing the right – if that makes any sense! Do you have the instructions? If not I could make a copy and post them on here if it you think that might help.

    1. Oh thank you so much!! A video would be amazing.. I dont think that I have the full instructions… but you’re right, it looks like so much fun 😀 If you ever need anything, please don’t hesitate to ask…. I have Ireland contacts…shoudl you ever wish to utilise them!


  3. Fascinating! I picked up one of these years ago – possibly a later model as the box is a little different – and have always wondered how they worked (mine is minus instructions). Thanks for the demonstration!

  4. Hi, My name is Lorraine and i have had an Airlyne Rugmaker for about 20yrs and have
    never used it.An old neighbour gave it to me. I was wondering how much it would be worth.does anybody know?

    1. Hi Lorraine – alas they are not worth very much – I got mine for less than a fiver! I just checked and there’s one on ebay at the mo – you may want to keep an eye on that and see how much it goes for. Alternatively – blow the dust off it and get rug making! Good luck with whatever you choose.

  5. Hi dizziebhooked
    I’m smitten by your wonderful rug making machine and would love to have one of my own. I’m getting arthritis in my hands and my hooking days are nearly over before they have hardly begun – I have come rather late to the craft. I do rug punch needle with ‘needles’ of considerable size, which is great, but to have a foot-operated version would be bliss. Your kind postings and videos are an excellent guide to ‘how to’.
    I’d be so grateful if you or anyone who reads your page has one they’d like to sell, and would be happy to negotiate a fair price, including for your time and trouble. We have very little of this kind of thing in the south east of England, as you might imagine! Many thanks and all good wishes, Anne

    1. Hi Anne – thanks for getting in touch and for your comments – best of luck with your search – I’ll keep an eye out, but do also keep checking in on ebay – they do come up sometimes!

    2. Hi Anne,

      I’d be happy to sell you mine, with a commission going to Dizzie, of course! It’s the Auto-cut version (with integral snippers) and it has instructions on the box (which I somehow overlooked when I posted my previous comments – guess I wasn’t thinking outside the box!). Would you like to get in touch with me at eirlysATscrapianaDOTcom? Then I’ll send you some pictures.

  6. Hi Dizzie
    Just want to report that Scrapiana and I have completed an excellent transaction and I am now the owner of an Airlyne automatic cutting rug making machine. Can’t wait to get cracking on it. Thank you Scrapiana, and thank you dizziebhooked website. You have another fan.
    Very best wishes, Anne

      1. I’m so pleased to have found this machine its rightful owner! And I also want to offer you something for your part in the transaction, Dizzie; I tried emailing you to this effect but my message bounced. Could you possibly try emailing me so that I can sort things out? eirlysATscrapianaDOTcom. Thanks!

  7. Oh please, nothing doing, you’re more than welcome, I’m just glad you’re both happy! I will check my email link though, thanks for the heads up, I’ll have messed it up somehow! x

  8. Thank you so much for posting this.
    I’d just come across one for sale on a local auction site here in New Zealand and was searching Google for information when I came across your site.
    I’ve copied and pasted another post I found that has some information about the inventor and the date it was invented. Might have to seriously consider taking up another hobby. (;

    Glyn Jones, Bangor.
    By way of reply to Sammy from Brackley(Nov. 14th 2006) Ted Jones (William Edward Humphreys Jones) invented the home rug making machine whilst at Airlyne Products,Abergele in the 1950’s. As Sammy from Brackley implied in his entry, the firm formed part of Slaters and Wheeler. The company was later sub divided and Ted produced further inventions including one with a worldwide master patent. His inventions were put into production at the factory in Rhuddlan Road. He also built up close relationships with De Havilland of Chester(later Hawker Siddley), AV Roe, Ferrantis (Blue Steak and Bloodhound missil! es), Smiths Instruments, Rolls Royce etc after origininally manufacturing aircraft parts during wartime. He kept between 50 and 60 people employed at the factory. Slaters of Abergele still have some of this history including probably an example of the Airlyn Rug Machine. Ted finally crash landed last year aged 94.
    Mon Oct 15 09:52:50 2007

  9. I’ve had one of these for years and have just dug it out to speed up a rug that I’m hooking with thrums-as I have rug hanks as well I thought I would incorporate the two methods on a standard rug canvas. Seems to work well but the sample thrums that came with the machine are not much more than double knit thickness so hoping that the thicker rug wool will work-anyone tried to get this up the needle?? Chunky wool fine so far….wonder if anyone actually made a stair runner from the Wilton carpet original wool?

    Must come and see you weaving etc next time am in Saltaire for belly dancing!

  10. How much r these machines worth as I have one in origonal box and a letter from the man who designed them and made them any replies would be great full or offers

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