Sunday, February 26, 2012

Rag Rugging It

I grew up around rag rugs. My mom made several-- one in the room my sister and I shared, one in the hallway, one in front of the door...  My grandma was a big believer in keeping idle hands busy, so Mom and her sister learned a lot of crafts growing up.

I always admired the rugs, though. I have fond memories of the one in our bedroom-- large oval in those typical 70's colors- brown, mustard yellow, and white. I remember it being huge and running into the room, landing on the rug and sliding a few feet.  I saw it years later, as an adult, and was shocked at how small it was!

I asked my Mom to teach me how to make my own rag rug a few years ago, and I hit the ground running, making several one year, but something always bugged me-- they didn't look like how I remembered Mom's rug looking like.  I had no example to compare notes to, so I just kept making them.

Then I found an old rug at a yard sale-- in decent shape and she let me have it for 50 cents. I grabbed it so I could at least have an example to refer to.

Here's the vintage rug.  It's a nice example, shows some wear, but it's still in pretty good shape.

Folded over to show the back side.

Here's the one I made several years ago, I meant to make this room-sized, but I didn't finish it because I couldn't shake the feeling I wasn't doing it right.

See how up close, the stitches look different? The vintage rug has nice, chunky, fat stitches. Mine are thin, plus mine is stretchy, as if I made it with elastic instead of cotton. I have a very hard time getting the edges to stay flat instead of rolling up, too.

So I studied the vintage rug. And studied it some more. The edge was kind of worn and starting to unravel, so I kind of picked at it, hoping to figure out how to make those fat, chunky stitches. Mom couldn't explain why the rug I made was so different from the one I found-- it's been nearly 40 years since she last made a rag rug, so she can't remember how she did it. She pulled out one of her rugs and sure enough, it matches the vintage one!

We both studied it, tried to decipher it, I crocheted a chain, tried a stitch, unraveled it and tried another one. I went online and looked up rag rug directions. I sent an email to a fellow blogger that posted a picture of her rug that also had chunky stitches. I couldn't sleep! I went through all my books looking up stitches. My mind just wouldn't let it drop!

Then, while lying on the bed, resting, talking with Andrew, my mind making imaginary rugs, I had a sudden image of how to do it! I ran for the needle and started stitching a chain.  I turned and made the stitch I saw in my head and I did it!! I got nice, fat, chunky stitches! Eureka!!

This is the result of one afternoon, frantically crocheting, making sure I commit that stitch to memory. I received a response to my email and she described it just the way I was doing it-- It's called a Double Chain Stitch!

Walter the Kitten approves!


Amandeep said...

Wow Jenny! You are so creative... Since I have always been so poor in art and craft, I really admire people who are good at it.

Btw, I really like your rug with the thin stitches even better! It looks different from the standard rag rugs, but I found it kinda more chic! :)

Had I been on the same side of the globe as you, I think I would have become your student and learned so many thing from you... :)

Be good. Stay blessed!

jenny said...

Amandeep-- Thank you!! I grew up in a crafty family, but I never felt like I found my groove until late high school.

The thin stitches is pretty, I agree, but I think it's no good as a rug, maybe if I kept going it would make a nice, thick, heavy quilt! But I'm already taking it apart and using the fabric for my new "proper" rug!

I love meeting new people, and maybe someday we'll meet in person! Who knows? :o)

Amandeep said...

Yes Jenny... I'd love to meet you in person some day! Hopefully I will be making a trip to US sometime later this year, and if I do, I would surely want to get in touch with you, if it's okay with you... :)