1.8.14 Hand-Woven Rugs A “Knotty” Business For Our Rug Guru

Guest Guru | Susan Brunstrum

Julie Dasher of Julie Dasher Rugs in Minneapolis is my go-to gal for gorgeous, custom, hand-woven rugs, and she’s a kindred spirit as well. Like me she got into design as a “second act” career, and we are both women entrepreneurs, of course!   Julie was a career counselor for 15 years when she finally decided to take her own advice: Get a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. She opened her business in 2008 in the depths of the recession and now has showrooms in Naples, Fla. and Minneapolis, plus sales reps in four states and Washington D.C. I love her dedication to quality and her ability to take a snippet of a photo, piece of wallpaper or art from one of our projects and translate it into a gorgeous rug.   

S.B. Let’s talk about our latest collaboration, the “lily pad” rug. 

J.D. That was the most spectacular rug we have done! We took a portion of a painting you provided and blew up a small part of a lily pad. From that we selected 21 colors, and each of them was dyed in 6 to 8 lots, or roughly 150 different shades.

S. B. Why so many? 

J.D. Our weavers use a technique called “abrash.” From a basket of all green shades or purple  shades, for instance, the weavers sit at the loom and select individual fibers based on what they think will look pretty together. The variation in tones creates a rich, complex depth of color.

S. B. Where are your rugs made? 

J.D. Many, like this one, are made in Nepal. Others in Turkey and India.   

S.B. Why go so far away?   

J.D. Their weavers are talented, they have been doing this forever and the labor rates are less expensive. I am proud that we only use workshops that are certified to be child labor free.

S. B. How do you ensure that? 

J.D. We are a licensed importer with Good Weave in Washington D.C. http://www.goodweave.org/home.php  It is a nonprofit organization working to eliminate child labor in this industry.    

S.B. What type of fibers do you use? 

J.D. The lily pad rug is all wool, typically from Tibetan or Himalayan sheep. It has a beautiful lustre and long fibers that won’t shed in your house. We also use Chinese silk, hemp, nettle and linen.

S.B. How do you get such detailed rugs? 

J.D. Lots of knots! For the lily pad rug the weavers tied 100 knots per square inch. That’s 1,440,000 knots for this 10-by-10-foot rug.     

S.B. How long did it take? 

J.D. Fourteen to sixteen weeks, but it’s worth the wait, and the cost! These rugs are not only beautiful and durable, they are one-of-a-kind works of art.

Photos Courtesy of Julie Dasher


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About the Author: Susan Brunstrum

Susan Brunstrum is principal and founder of award-winning Sweet Peas Design, which she launched in 2003 as a one-woman firm. Today she heads a full-service studio with a staff of six in downtown Libertyville and an office in Chicago. Susan is known for her versatile LivableLuxe(TM) style, which is relaxed and elegant, comfortable and refined. She considers it the “little black dress of interior design(TM)” – custom tailored for each client, perfect for any occasion. If you have questions or want to schedule an initial consultation please contact the studio at 847-816-1296. Or contact Susan at Susan@SweetPeas-Inspired.com.