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…

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