The History of Swedish Rag Rugs

Rag rugs have lain on the floors of cottages, farmhouses and manor houses throughout Sweden for more than 150 years.

The story of the Swedish rag rug (‘trasmatta’) started around the mid nineteenth century. It began, not in the small cottages and farmhouses, but in the manor houses where there were large rooms and spaces to be decorated. Old rugs contain the family history and provide opportunities for reminiscing about the past.

The rag rugs became a status symbol. However, as living standards improved in Sweden in the second half of the nineteenth century, many one-room cottages with simple clay or earth floors were extended to include an extra 'best room' that was used for special occasions in the year and in the life of the family. Rag rugs were used in this room and by the end of the nineteenth century, the rag rug was to be found in almost every home in Sweden.

Rag rugs were woven in a variety of patterns and colours using the material that was available to the household at the time, much the same materials as went into British patchwork. These would have included old clothing - shirts, threadbare dresses and gowns that had been washed many times before. You would see blues and reds, some yellow and green, maybe even beige or grey. This practise of re-cycling, as well as being wholly in tune with today’s ecological thinking, accounts for the great subtlety of muted and varied colour to be found in these ‘trasmatta’.

Weaving skills and knowledge were passed between generations, from mothers to daughters. Weaving was work that was performed in the 'varvinter' ('springwinter', the period after Christmas and before Spring). During this period, the women of the household would set up the looms. This was a seasonal occupation because not much space was left in a room which contained often several looms and the weavers!

Nowadays, the Swedish rag rug is again becoming popular and the fine, vintage pieces, such as those available at The Northern House are highly sought after. 

Swedish Rugs

Swedish Rugs

About Swedish Rag Rugs

About Swedish Rag Rugs

The rag rugs available at The Northern House have been woven in the past 100 years. No two of these unique pieces are the same: each rug is a one off.

The History of Rag Rugs

The story of the Swedish Rag Rug

Rag rugs have lain on the floors of cottages, farmhouses and manor houses throughout Sweden for more than 150 years.

Caring for Your Rag Rug

Caring for your Rag Rug

Guidance on caring for Swedish Rag Rugs.