From jungles and wild monkeys to mountain tops, Nepal weaves a magical spell

Written by: Lynn O'Rourke



Time to read 4 min

‘Nepal is a truly special place. I feel very at home there, at ease. Perhaps because there is lots of greenery, or maybe because the people are so welcoming, but I feel comfortable there. I could imagine myself spending a lot of time in Nepal,’ says Wendy Morrison of her recent trip to the country renowned for its hand-knotted rug making.

Nepalese rugs are recognised worldwide for their quality and craftsmanship. The labour-intensive, hand-knotted technique Nepal weavers specialise in results in beautiful, long-lasting rugs of the highest quality.

Wendy travelled to Nepal to visit the rug-making workshop that produces all her hand-knotted designs and to catch up with the people behind the business, which last year became the sole supplier of our hand-knotted rugs. From a workshop nestled at the foot of the Himalayan mountains, owner Raj heads up the small, second-generation, family business, while his wife Bhawana manages the office. They share a home with his parents – Raj’s father established the business – and two young daughters.

Wendy, husband Gregor and teenage son Harvey made the trip to meet the family and experience first-hand how the intricate hand-knotted designs are brought to life. ‘I was really excited to be in Nepal,’ Wendy says. ‘My son Harvey has travelled with us to India before, but he was keen to see the new workshop, understand the working conditions and meet the people involved in this aspect of the business.’

Kathmandu is the capital and most-populated city of Nepal. Located in the Kathmandu Valley, which sits at an altitude of 1,400m in central Nepal, the city is one of the oldest, continuously habited places in the world, founded in the 2nd century AD.

‘Nepal is a fascinating country, inspirational, as is Kathmandu,’ Wendy says. ‘The city roads are busy, but when you look up and around, beautiful tall houses with coloured wood cladding and small square glass windows line the sides. It’s unexpected. Almost like coastal American homes. 

‘There’s also lots of greenery. We stayed right on the edge of the jungle, which was full of birdsong. And monkeys. Lots of monkeys around – which are pretty bold; bold enough to try and snatch things from your bag. So it’s a real feast for the senses.’

Nepal’s history of hand-knotted rugs

Nepal’s rug-making tradition is rooted in Tibetan history. As Tibetan refugees settled in Kathmandu in the 1960s, they brought with them age-old weaving skills. The unique hand-knotted process has been passed down through generations and remains unchanged. Exquisite, hand-knotted rugs are still produced in Nepal by traditional methods, even in a world that has been largely mechanised. 

Traditional looms became widely available and a weaving community was established. The industry grew, but too quickly. As it did, the problem of child labour became evident. Fortunately, things have changed. The rug industry in Nepal may be much smaller now, but it is trying to grow sustainably, and many of those involved are determined to ensure ethical practices are in place.

Wellbeing of weavers in mind

‘One of the many reasons I was keen to visit the Nepal workshop and meet with Raj, is that we both want complete transparency in how much weavers are paid and the conditions they work in,’ Wendy explains. In partnership with Label STEP, the fair-trade, non-profit organisation committed to the wellbeing of weavers and workers in the handmade carpet industry, Wendy Morrison Design is dedicated to fair pay and good working conditions.

‘Spending time with Raj and his family was an absolute delight,’ Wendy says. ‘It gave my family and I such a wonderful insight into Nepalese culture, and we were made to feel incredibly welcome. We were even lucky enough to be included in a traditional birthday celebration for Raj’s eldest daughter, who turned seven while we were there.

‘Aside from meeting the people, I was so happy to see the workshop space,’ Wendy says. ‘I felt very relaxed there. The surrounding area is lush and green, set in a valley bordered by the Himalayan mountains. People were incredibly welcoming and happy to show us around. 

‘Both Raj and I want to make the weaving industry attractive again,’ Wendy explains. ‘We want to share the importance of the craft, the skill involved in making a hand-knotted rug, and promote a return to a way of thinking that appreciates artisan tradition. We hope more people will want to become weavers because it is a good industry to work in, one that pays well, and offers choice and independence.

The heart of our hand-knotted process

‘All of our hand-knotted rugs are made here, with around eight in production at any one time. Four weavers work on each rug simultaneously as a team – if someone is ill, work stops until they can resume. Both men and women work as skilled weavers. I spied a very special, custom-size, Arc en Ciel on the loom, as well as A Mughal Painting, Eternal Toile and Pink Moon. 

‘It is quite something to see one of my designs slowly come to life on the loom, and I loved having the chance to see the washing and finishing processes. It was so nice just to be at the heart of where our rugs are made.

''We were so lucky to be able to immerse ourselves in the Nepalese culture. I let myself soak everything in. The colours, scents and sounds. The incredible people. So many contrasts and so much to enjoy. ’'


‘The workshop is sited in an amazing area. We were taken on a guided forest walk to a beautiful temple and a drive through the foothills of the mountains. A cable car ride ended with an amazing view of Mount Everest across breathtaking mountain tops.

‘In one of the main temples I came across hand-crafted ‘thangka’ paintings, which were stunning. The scroll-like works of art are made up of a painted panel with textile surround painted in vibrant colours. Many of them share stories of Buddha and are entrancing. I was able to chat to one of the artists and watch them painting, which was an absolute joy.

‘We were so lucky to be able to immerse ourselves in the Nepalese culture. I let myself soak everything in. The colours, scents and sounds. The incredible people. The temples and architecture. The bustle of Kathmandu and the beauty of the jungle. The cheeky wild monkeys. The peace of the mountains. So many contrasts and so much to enjoy. 

‘As well as the opportunity to meet the fantastic people making our hand-knotted rugs, this was a trip that I know will lead to new designs. All inspired by a truly wonderful place.’