Category Archives: Pillows & Rugs

Jute

Jute is a fiber obtained from a tall slender family of reeds known by the unlikely name Sparrmanniaceae, which are indigenous to India and Bangladesh. Up to 13 feet in length when harvested and incredibly strong, the fiber is spun into thread and then woven into a variety of fabrics with a variety of purposes.

Even if you don’t have a jute rug or a ball of jute twine laying around, you may be more familiar with jute than you think — among other things, it’s what the fabric known in North America as burlap is made from. In fact, it’s cited as one of the most versatile natural materials in the world. Its broad, coarse base is used to make rough, inexpensive fabrics used in erosion control, while its tip is so fine that it’s often used in making artificial silk.

It’s sometimes called the “golden fiber”, and that is for two distinct reasons: firstly, its rich off-white to bronze coloring with a natural sheen, and secondly, its high rate of profitability for the farmer. Many would argue that it could be called “golden” for more reasons than that, as well as that “golden” could easilly be replaced by “green”.

What’s so eco-friendly about jute? Like cotton, it’s a natural material, completely biodegradable and recyclable. Unlike cotton, however, it can be grown in vast amounts without the use of pesticides or herbicides. Its cultivation in the river delta environment doesn’t involve the destruction of forest or wetlands that other materials do. The process of extracting the fiber from the plant — called “retting” — can be done chemical-free, and typically requires only naturally running water and human effort.

Harvest Table Set

Harvest Table Set

At Relaxed Cottage Living, we offer a variety of quality jute products, all manufactured in the U.S.A. and including the Harvest Collection seen above (not seen is the Harvest Rug). Find them in our new Eco-friendly Theme Category, as well as:

Penny Rugs

Coin Rug

The Penny Rug emerged as a folk art tradition in the mid-19th. century, one of the many products of resourceful American homemakers.

At a time when little went to waste, every left-over scrap of fabric — from other crafts, as well as worn-out clothing — was kept, and put to use. Tiny, oddly-shaped tidbits of cloth could often only be formed into circles, with the aid of a handy penny or other coin as a guide.

More and more concentric circles of wool or felted wool would be embroidered in repeating patterns onto a piece of burlap-backed wool to compose the classic Penny Rug design. Of course, other shapes such as diamonds and stars made their way into the mix.

So admired was the Penny Rug that, in some cases, they were used as table runners or wall hangings, though the term “rug” was still applied. Now, as in the past, the same Penny Rug piece could be laid on the floor or hung on the wall without being out of place. At Relaxed Cottage Living, our assortment of Penny Rugs — all handmade in the authentic style — are appropriately dispersed throughout multiple categories. That’s why we’ve assembled them all in the Penny Rug Collection as well.

Or, if you’re the handy type, you can read a how-to on crafting your own folk art classic at Penny Rugs and More.