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swallow rug small

I remem­ber my Dad mak­ing one of those!”

We still have the one that Nana made 40 years ago as good as new!”

I won­der what happened to the flat one we made?”


Every­one seems to have a nos­tal­gic story when they see Mary Self and her staff at Nancy’s hook­ing a pure wool rug with a latch hook and pre-cut yarn.

            The story for Nancy’s starts in the early 1970s, when founder Nancy Robb, who started the business back in 1967, worked with a company that moved the manufacturing of their pre-cut pure wool plugs from England to New Zealand. She helped design the colour range and went on to hold exhibitions and to write a book on the subject: Make Your Own Rugs. Nancy even organised a publicity stunt here in Wellington, placing a rug at an intersection on Cuba Street for people to walk over to show how well it would last.

In Eng­land, the yarn was known as Tur­key Rug wool, Mary tells me, but the brand­ing here changed over time to Semco. Down the years, pro­duc­tion has been affected by the rocky situ­ation of the Alli­ance tex­tile mill in Mos­giel. When the com­pany that owned the Semco brand closed its New Zea­l­and office, a former employ­ee, Bruce Pick­ford, bought the ori­gin­al machine that man­u­fac­tured the pre-cut plugs of yarn. He is now using pure New Zea­l­and car­pet wool to pro­duce the plugs again, and is slowly build­ing up the range of colours.

Mary, a tex­tile design­er, is pas­sion­ate about adding value to New Zea­l­and wool through loc­al design. To that end, she is intro­du­cing new rug designs with a con­tem­por­ary edge that would look good in a mod­ern home but are also appeal­ing for chil­dren to make.

I have kept to a small num­ber of col­ours in each design, adding to the range as more col­ours become available.”

Her icon­ic swan rug design has been very pop­u­lar, but the latest trend is for swal­low rugs — blue­birds for luck! These are avail­able as kits, or just as pat­terns so that cus­tom­ers can choose the col­our com­bin­a­tions they like. The chart has been repro­duced here for you to have a go. Nancy’s also offer a free beginner’s rug-mak­ing class to get you star­ted, so there are no excuses not to bright­en up your own floors with a home-made rug!