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).
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!)
(Edited to add – there’s a new Arraiolos post up. Please join the conversation there…)