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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Rug in Attic: Cleaning Advice from Jessie Turbayne

After a member found this rug stored in her attic, we emailed Jessie Turbayne, an author and expert on antique rugs and rug restoration:
Hi Jessie,
A member of our group recently found this rug, which had been stored in an attic. We don't know the age or history of this piece. The backing is burlap, while the hooking appears to be done with a knit fabric. The rug is quite dirty, but not badly worn. We have heard of using snow or soap bubbles for cleaning. Can you suggest the best way to clean a hooked rug or can you refer us to a source of this information? Have you seen this rug pattern before? Thank you for any suggestions you are able to provide.

Jessie replied today with the following detailed and helpful message:
Hi Rita,
... Your rug is most likely 20th century ( 1930s-1950s? ) but it is difficult to get much closer on the dates without me actually seeing and touching the rug. I believe it might be an original design perhaps inspired from a pattern or copied from a pattern. Again it is hard to tell without seeing the actual rug.

As to cleaning I did write about the process in two of my books. Whatever you do don't send the rug out to a cleaner or put it in the washing machine or hose it down in the bath tub. Air the rug out and broom sweep both sides. Mix up some cool water and a very small amount of dish washing liquid -7or 8 drops in a gallon of water. Also add about 1/4 cup white vinegar. With the back side facing you... take a white cloth ( like an old washcloth) and dampen the cloth with your soap mixture. On the backside of the rug daub the different colors (1" areas ) with small amounts of the liquid. DO NOT saturate the rug. This is done to check for color fastness. Leave the rug flat for 48 hours and check the areas that you have daubed for any running of colors. If none of the colors have run then you can proceed to surface clean the front and the back of the rug using a soft brush and gently clean using circular motions.

Leave the rug flat to dry. The rug should be barely damp when you
finish cleaning. You do not want to get that burlap foundation soaking wet.

Cleaning with snow is also a good method. Broom sweep the rug clean
and if available take light fluffy snow and cover the rug. Let it stay for a few minutes than sweep off the snow. This method really works and won't harm the rug. Just don't leave the rug out in a blizzard!!!!!!

ou can repeat these methods of cleaning several times until you have achieved the desired effects. Just let the rug thoroughly dry between cleanings. Also you may have to put a little more effort into spots but just take your time and proceed with a gentle hand.

I hope this helps you out. If you need more advice please feel free
to call...


Jessie is the author of several books, some of which are available from the Saskatoon Public Library
(see the list of "Hooking Resources" at the bottom of this blog page).

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