In North America,
the early colonials found it difficult to get materials and
comforts for the home, and many could not afford them. Hooked
rugs, to soften and warm the floors, were made with materials
from worn out garments and other household textiles, which
were colored with local natural dyestuffs such as powdered
bricks for pink, goldenrod for yellow, as well as onion skins,
blueberries, and hickory bark. The designs were naturalistic
and not stylized, and marine designs were sometimes created
by sailors or their wives.
French settlers in Quebec
and Nova Scotia specialized in elaborate floral designs. Animal
designs were also popular, with mottoes often included. The
cottage industries of New England produced small amounts of
the different types of basic, flat woven carpets known variously
as English, Scottish, Kidderminster, Kilamrnock, ingrain,
Venetian, spotted, or motthed.
The precursors of these floor
rugs were American bed rugs, using similar techniques of manufacture,
which seem to have been used by a great many colonialists
in the 17 Century as a guard against the cold. In 1630, Governor
John Winthrop wrote from Massachusetts to his son in England,
"to bring a store of Caorse Rugges, bothe to use and
The word rug may be directly descended from the Swedish "rugge"
and in Finland rugs were used as bed and carriage covers.
North American rugs were made with whatever materials were
on hand, and some are knotted, like the rag floor rugs of
the late 19 Century. Most were created with a hand spun wool
and were coarse and nubby, somewhat like the hooked rug that
was to follow more than 100 years later.