Natural Braided Rug Materials
When most of us think of the classic braided rug, we think of various weaves made up of yarns and fabrics. Woolen yarns and cloth scraps were the materials most widely used by early rug weavers. While it is true that rag braids and yarn weaves are the most popular and most available, there are beautiful braided rugs that are made from a wide variety of plant based materials.
In no small part, the environmental movement has spurred the use of renewable materials in many aspects of our lives. The tradition of braided rugs started out using left over materials such as scraps of cloth. The modern use of renewable materials can be seen everywhere. Flooring made from renewable materials such as bamboo and cork is gaining in popularity. Bamboo, hemp and jute fibers are used in a variety of fabric blends and you can find beautiful woven and braided rugs made from these versatile materials.
One material that is widely used for braided rugs is jute. Jute fiber has been used for thousands of years for everything from rope and twine to paper and other commercial uses such as backing for carpet. Unlike synthetic materials, jute has a tremendous advantage since it is completely biodegradable. When it is processed in various ways, jute can be fashioned into fabrics and yarns that can then be and woven into beautiful braided rugs.
Jute can be dyed and colored in several ways, including the use of vegetable and other types of plant based dyes. When dyed properly, jute will retain the color quite well. It is color fast, meaning the color will not fade with use. Jute can be treated with certain chemicals and compounds that can improve qualities such as softness and workability. This is important when jute is used in yarn applications. To make yarns, jute is often blended with cotton, wool or other fabrics adding strength and durability.
Like other widely used plant fibers like bamboo and hemp, jute is a renewable fiber source that grows prolifically without the need for chemical fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides. Including the fibrous inner material of the jute stalk that is used to produce the fiber, virtually all of the jute plant is used. Even the leaves are used as a food source.
Bamboo is another renewable plant fiber source that is being used more and more as a fabric. Bamboo is fast growing and requires very little in the way of cultivation. Bamboo has several very interesting properties that make it an excellent fabric. Bamboo contains a long lasting, natural antimicrobial compound. Bamboo fiber retains this antimicrobial property throughout the life of the fabric, even after repeated cleanings.
Like jute, bamboo has a very high tensile strength so the fabric has good wear properties. Bamboo fabrics are lightweight making it an excellent choice for clothing, from shirts and pants to socks. Because it has a very high absorbency rate, bamboo even makes for soft and absorbent bath towels. Quality bamboo fabric is so soft that it has been compared to cashmere wool. Bamboo fabrics can be dyed and can be bleached using processes that are environmentally friendly.
No wonder that bamboo fabric is being used to produced quality braided area rugs. Easy to clean, and with its antibacterial properties, bamboo and bamboo blends make an excellent choice for making unique braided rugs.
Last but certainly least is the use of hemp fabric in crafting of braided rugs. Like jute and bamboo, hemp can be cultivated with little work and without using harmful chemicals. Strong and versatile, hemp fiber can be made into a variety textile products including braided rugs.