Arraiolos Rugs

I can’t remember where I first saw mention of these rugs. I think I was researching long armed cross stitch for an SCA project at the time. But I know I fell in love with them as soon as I did. The needlework form is originally Portuguese, and currently they are also created in Brazil, which being the only South American country that speaks Portuguese, probably shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. There is a picture of a 16th century rug at Britannica Online.

The rugs are created using a long-armed cross stitch on an evenweave jute (historically it was linen) base. The fabric is usually ten threads to the inch, stitched over two threads so that there are five stitches to the inch.

The idea of having a hand stitched rug is luxurious to say the least. Last year I finally rummaged up a copy of Portuguese Rugs: by Patricia Stone (it took me 8 months to find a copy, but I jumped at it when I did), and started playing. I’ve finished a small pillow-sized pattern from the book, which I did as a test of the technique, in something I had on hand instead of the original materials. I did it on 14 count cotton aida cloth with DMC floss. It came out beautifully at about 8X8 inches (Click the thumbnail for a larger picture).

Miniature Arraiolos rug

Now I need to figure out how to finish it “I’ll probably put it together as a doll’s house rug. There is, after all, still that doll’s house in my closet that needs finishing. (Have I mentioned that I have too many hobbies?)

The technique is easy and quite fun. It’s worked in long-armed cross stitch, all from the top of the fabric, weaving in ends under the stitching (and still on the front). Finding the evenweave jute for the base fabric has, however, been a bear! (and I haven’t succeeded yet, although I know it’s out there–any suggestions are more than welcome!)

38 Responses to Arraiolos Rugs
  1. Linn
    June 14, 2007 | 7:59 pm

    Oh dear. Wish I’d kept more information when my friend Leon Conrad was stitching away on one of these several years ago. He had visited Portugal and found a shop that sold the ground fabric, charts and the wools required. Long arm cross is such an elegant stitch and very appealing to folks who love order.

  2. Marilyn Allen
    October 1, 2008 | 10:12 am

    Now, I am looking for a US connection for Arraiolos rug making. We have a neighbor who has one. She learned it in Portugal. I found a website (http://www.rosarios4.com/), but it would be so nice to have a US connection. Anyone know of any?

  3. Custodio Matos
    January 6, 2009 | 10:37 am

    It was a surprise to us to see the interest in Arraiolos tapestry.

    We are still looking for the right partners in the US to work with our Arraiolos wools and handknitting yarns.

    We are currently selling directly to end user in the US our arraiolos kits.

    You can visit our webpage and see our Arraiolos do-it-yourself kits.

    http://www.rosarios4.com

  4. Clare O'Keeffe
    March 24, 2009 | 6:23 pm

    I began a largish arraiolos rug (6ft x 6 ft) many years ago in Lisbon and have now determined to complete it.I bought the Oliveiro book(I do not speak portuguese!) and then the Patricia Stone book. The rug is a copy of a very beautiful one in a lisbon house. I laborously copied the pattern one wet day!
    I now need to find a stockist of authentic arraiolos wool (I need one other colour) who would be able to post it to me in Ireland.

  5. Maria
    June 16, 2009 | 10:10 pm

    If you are looking for supplies for the Arraiolos there is a shop in Lisbon which will ship out to North America. It has the jute and the Arraiolos wools they are called…Seranofil… they are great there. I do think I spelled it correctly …Seranofil or then Serranofil… if you google them it will come up on the web… they told me they ship anywhere.

  6. Shirley
    October 19, 2009 | 4:27 pm

    Where can I get the material to make the rugs. Is there anywhere in Canada?

  7. deRomilly
    October 19, 2009 | 8:10 pm

    I don’t know of any sources directly in Canada, but there are sources in Portugal that export.
    http://www.rosarios4.com from an earlier comment is one, as is Serannofil (http://www.serranofil.pt/cgi-sys/cgiwrap/serrano/sc/productsearch.cgi?storeid=*1a4e255c80049d2b13c0662e795a95) is another.

  8. Clare O'Keeffe
    December 6, 2009 | 5:16 pm

    Thank you Maria. Delighted to get that information and hope to go to Lisbon sometime this year to buy the rest of the wool.

  9. Rebekah
    December 29, 2009 | 1:21 am

    All – I’m so excited to stumble upon a community of ruggies (as Pat Stone calls them)! I stumbled on Arraiolos in 2004 thanks to a friend who lived and learned in Portugal. I’m now on my third full-size rug!

    I’ve used Serranofil for all of my materials…nothing beats evenweave jute and rug yarn; I ordered a dozen or so pattern books and generally request pricing for kits rather than trying to figure out how much yarn I’ll need for each pattern. Kits run about $100 U.S. for smaller rugs (3×5) and $200 for larger rugs (5×7). They include the rug base, yarn, and pattern.

    My biggest frustration is that in my last rug kit, they subbed out one of my yarn colors but didn’t send enough of it. They didn’t respond to my request for the rest of the yarn, so I finally broke down and bought several skeins of the color called for in the pattern — when it arrived, I was very disappointed to see that it wasn’t the color I had stitched 75% of my rug with! I’m working on my back-up rug while I get that issue sorted.

    I’m curious about the Oliveira book – are there any patterns given in it?

  10. Terry R. Webster
    September 9, 2010 | 4:19 pm

    This IS exciting. I just found Patricia Stone’s book on Arraiolos rugs while on vacation in San Luis Obispo and am now practicing on #10 interlock mesh canvas. I was so excited to find this, partly because my grandmother was Portugues and there is a big community still near Sacramento; I shall check and see if there is anyone there who can check what I do and answer questions. I looked at the Rosarios4.com site and was stunned at the round rugs- talk about a challenge. I love the idea of being able to make a rug or pillow or whatever and not have to have it on a frame, as I do with some of my larger needlepoint pieces. Too much fun!

  11. Clare O'Keeffe
    September 30, 2010 | 5:01 pm

    Going to Lisbon on Monday 4th October to buy more wool for my large rug but cannot find the current address of Serranofil. Thought it was in the centre, at Rua da Assuncao but am having problems seeing their products. Hope it all works out on Monday! Wish me luck! Will post a reply as to success or failure!
    Replying to a comment. There are patterns in the Oliveira book. Can send photocopies to people if thwey leave me an address. Can learn maybe to send over the internet!!

  12. deRomilly
    September 30, 2010 | 7:08 pm

    Good luck on finding Serranofil, Clare! :D I would love to see photos of your rug in progress at some point. What is the name of the book by Oliveira? I think I would love to find a copy of it, even though I don’t speak Portuguese, either! :D

  13. Marlene
    November 7, 2010 | 3:34 pm

    Hi I live in New York and I’m looking for an Arraiolos rugs teacher.

  14. deRomilly
    November 8, 2010 | 1:51 pm

    I wish I could help you with that, Marlene. I’m afraid my little attempts have been limited to what I’ve learned from Patricia Stone’s book. I’ve never had nor seen a teacher, which is too bad, because it’s a beautiful art form! Maybe someone else in the comments can give you a hand with finding someone.

  15. Gwynne Edmund
    December 13, 2010 | 5:38 pm

    My Mother Marylou Williams sews arriaolas rugs. She learned the technique when she slivedin Brazil. Her good friend was Pat Stone. I’m looking for a source of jute and yarn to get her back into the craft since my father’s passing. She will trade for directins on how to finish – even I can do it!! Such great fun. Gwynne Edmund

  16. Victoria Frank
    December 18, 2010 | 3:31 pm

    My company is offering a trip to Portugal to study Arraiolos. The trip was originally scheduled for early February of 2011 but we have recently received some bad news about my husband’s health that has necessitated a change in plan. Work in progress to change the dates to coincide with festival in the town of Arraiols held in late May.
    You can visit my website (www.vcfinc.com) to see itinerary which will remain similar despite the change in date.
    I have found a woman who used to teach the technique who lives in Virginia.

  17. Clare O'Keeffe
    February 8, 2011 | 8:56 am

    Went to Lisbon-twin purpose-to buy the wool and to revisit Lisbon. Serranofil was still there and was where I thought it was. They don’t speak english and I don’t speak portuguese-nothing had changed! The man I communicated with may have been the same man whom I met in 1980!!! He began working there in 1976 I think! I was successful in buying the wool -not quite the same colour. I was able to rip out what I had done and redo. They gave me two magazines with patterns. And I bought though jute for another rug(madness!) for 18 euro.But I do need to repair some of the jute in my rug. Time consuming! If you send a fax of the pattern of the rug you wish to make with dimensions Serranofil(www.serranofil.pt) will send you the wool you need for it. Telephone no is 21 881 00 53. The Oliveira book is Historia e Tecnica dos Tapetes de Arraiolos. There is no ISBN number and no printer. It seems to have been subsidised by Fundacao Calouste Gulbenkian in 1973. Try Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon.
    Rug is almost finished. Not perfect by Patricia Stone’s standards but I like it! Would be wonderful if you could wander into Serranofil and choose the colours but!
    Still havn’t worked out how to send photos but now that I have found your website again I will do so.
    Does anyone know what they sell for? Curious! We did go to the Museum in Lisbon where they have 10+ very old rugs but only found the addresses of shops in Lisbon where they sell the rugs when we got back.

  18. Vicki
    March 1, 2011 | 10:54 pm

    Hi, I also have Pat Stone’s book and now I have done 3 pillows and 2 rugs. Here is what I do. I tried some of our jute here in the us, mono canvas and penelope canvas. My best results are with 5 threads to the inch penelope canvas. I use Paternayan yarn. I do not strip the yarn but use it as it is twisted, 3 strands=1 thread. It covers very good. I’ve adapted one of the sunflower designs in pat stone’s book for a teaching piece and I have taught it to my ANG group. I now have 2 ladies who are making rugs. The canvas is really stiff when you first begin stitching but after some time it is very soft and pliable. There is no need to get jute or yarn from Portugal, unless you want to. You can find the canvas on line or have your local needlepoint store order it for you. I called Pat Stone and was given permission to adapt her design for teaching. she also gave me some pointers on what to do. She did mention that it is hard to find the right material in the US but my experiments with different ground gave me a good feel for the best ground, 5t per inch penelope. Not mono, not interlock. You need the Penelope because when you make the corners on the borders you need that extra hole to make the miter. I have some pictures of my work on webshots. I’ll get the link and post again. Please contact me if you have any questions.

  19. Lynn
    March 10, 2011 | 4:56 pm

    I’m so happy to find this blog. And the most recent postings are current. Yeah! I need some inspiration to finish my rug started the year my daughter was born and we lived in Portugal with my in-laws. Anyone know if Patricia Stone is still living in Northern Virginia or if there are others in the area who want to get together and talk arraiolos? I live in Springfield, just south of DC.

  20. Susan
    March 22, 2011 | 3:14 pm

    I have two Arraiolos rugs that we bought on our honeymoon in 1982. Both are in need of repairs. If anyone knows someone in the US who could do this, it would be great. Help!!

  21. Isabel
    April 13, 2011 | 12:51 pm

    Hello! In Newark NJ we have started an Arraiolos Club, so far we have 10 people who meet a few times a month to learn how to stitch. We have fabulous teachers who are a group of friends that started their own little club – their website is http://www.arraiolosregados.com. The challenge of course is getting the materials. We have been able to get materials through people we know who travel to Lisbon regularly. I sent my husband to Serranofil to get me supplies – lol!!! They do ship to the US – but shipping costs are expensive $50+ depending on the amount of supplies. I will try to find the supplies Vicki suggests, anyone know if a store like Michael’s or AC Moore or Jo Ann’s up here in the northeast carries these items?

  22. Clare O'Keeffe
    June 8, 2011 | 5:50 am

    Finally finished the rug! And the repairs are done. I decided to line the border with linen canvas so the repairs are virtually undetectable. (Repairs in the middle are quite easy, edges more difficult) But I have a lot of wool left over-colours from 30 years ago. A lot of cream and blue. Would be wonderful to pass them on to someone who needed small amounts of those colours but have racked my brains as to how this can be done safely without screaming my address / phone number to the entire internet! Can’t think of a way.
    And after all this time the cream background is slightly grubby so i think it needs cleaning. A woman in London inports and commissions rugs so I phoned her for advice. She has, I think, a factory in Portugal, and a showroom in London open by appointment.Small rugs are dry cleaned and the larger rugs are sent back to portugal. Her name is Patricia Rolt.
    Still trying to post a photo!

  23. deRomilly
    June 8, 2011 | 12:15 pm

    Congratulations, Clare! It must feel really good to have such a large project completed!
    As for photos, you can’t really post them in the comments on a blog — but you could post them to a flickr account and post the link here! :)

  24. Clare O'Keeffe
    July 31, 2011 | 12:45 pm

    Absolutely delighted to have finished and the repairs that I had to make are only noticable to me! But I was able to do this successfully since I had the original colours.
    Still grappling with the problem of the left-over wool and I am very reluctant to throw it out.
    And do I want to do another rug?
    Will keep in mind your suggestion about the photograph and ask a junior expert to show me how to do it. You may have to wait a while!
    My latest project (projects!)is Irish crochet lace,cut work embroidery, Carrickmacross lace and Limerick! All are much less time consuming than the rug! And won’t take the 30 years!

  25. Carol Rose
    December 8, 2011 | 9:13 pm

    Hi all, I lived in Portugal in 1997 and became friends with my Portuguese landlady. She turned me on to these beautiful rugs. I made one, bought a larger one and have not completed it as yet! I’m wanting to sell it and would like to let you know that you can see the design and the info on craigslist.org. Look for the San Francisco, CA listings, SF Bay Area. Search for Portuguese Needlework rug. I’m also selling my Patricia Stone book and other pattern books. The rug and wool have been packed lovingly away and is in perfect condition.

  26. Clare O'Keeffe
    February 23, 2012 | 3:06 pm

    A return to your website!
    I am hoping to buy a kit for another Arraiolos rug but am daunted by the Serranofil site in Portuguese! I like one of the kits very much indeed but it is not on the English site.
    I believe that you can buy some of the kits through the rosaries site but I can’t access it.
    A return trip to Lisbon is not planned!
    Does anyone have suggestions or ideas?

  27. deRomilly
    February 23, 2012 | 4:19 pm

    Email them in English and see what they say? Phone call? I think I’ve been told that people at Serranofil speak very good English, but there is no way to know for sure without trying. :)

  28. Ivone
    May 17, 2012 | 10:36 pm

    Hi Lynnsays, I live in Fairfax, Virginia, not far from Springfield. Let’s get together and talk arraiolos? I just got one that need to be finished. Ther is anybody that know how to finish arraiolo rugs?

  29. Ivone
    May 17, 2012 | 10:38 pm

    I forgot to say that I speak portuguese and if anyone wanna learn how to do arraiolo let me know. I love to do t and it is very fun.

  30. Brenda Banfield
    August 8, 2012 | 6:37 am

    Hi. I am presently working on an Arraiolos rug here in the UK. I have already completed one rug and am now doing my second.
    I learnt to stitch the Arraiolos in Portugal. I did not speak Portuguese and the young lady that taught me only had a few English words but we managed and laughed a lot. Alusitana in Portugal sells the jute canvas, that is where I bought the canvas I am using at the moment.

  31. Patricia Francosi
    September 9, 2012 | 12:10 pm

    Hi,I would like your help . I am Brazilian but I live in England and I would like to know where to buy the materials for me to make a arraiolos rugs. Thank you for your help.Patricia

  32. Barbara Prentice
    June 4, 2013 | 5:30 pm

    I live in Springfield, too. I love these rugs.

  33. Barbara Prentice
    June 4, 2013 | 5:31 pm

    And I want to learn how to make them.

  34. deRomilly
    June 6, 2013 | 10:13 am

    Hi Barbara – If you’ve ever done cross stitch embroidery, I think you’ll find it easy to learn. I highly recommend Patricia Stone’s Portuguese Needlework Rugs for clear stitch and design instructions. :)

  35. Leslie D.
    August 15, 2013 | 8:57 pm

    I live in Fairfax, VA also and lived in Lisbon for 3 years. Have books and patterns but never tried to make a rug. Would very much like to learn from someone nearby, couldn’t find any teachers on internet. Seems there are others in the area, could we get together and have a rug making circle?

  36. Barbara Prentice
    September 28, 2013 | 11:58 am

    yes, we could!

  37. Kathleen Lockhart
    February 24, 2014 | 1:37 pm

    I live near Washington DC and wonder if any of you ladies from No. VA have been successful in finding a teacher of this technique in our area. I am willing to travel some. Would also love to meet you and see what you’ve been working on.
    I love these rugs and make british tapestry rugs but really want to learn this new type (to me anyway).
    I have Pat Stone’s book. Does anyone know if she is still in Bethesda area? If so, she is very close to me.

  38. Neysa
    September 15, 2014 | 9:02 am

    I learned the Arraiolo type stitch about 20 plus years ago in Brazil. I simply love this type of work! I have another project I’m starting to work on soon. Haven’t been able to find the material here in America though… It would be great to find a group of people who share the same interests!

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