Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A pair of rag rugs

As I've often mentioned in the past, my mom loved to make things. A Christmas angel. Her own wedding dress. A toy dog. A ceramic frog. My clothes. Slip covers for an old sofa. Drapes. You name it, she made it. Rag rugs are no exception. One year was the year of the giant crocheted rug of many colors. No, the rug pictured here was not made by Mom, but by my ex-sister-in-law (we're divorced) who saw Mom's work and made her own which I photographed on my visit to Memphis this past summer.

Back in the early aught-40s, there was no Internet, chockablock full of instructions and Mom was on her own. At that time, most homemade rag rugs were braided; Mom figured, why not crochet instead. That way she wouldn't have to take the extra step of sewing the plaited strips together. It worked quite well, though washing that heavy, 6-foot-diameter monster was a big of a problem.

One day at her favorite fabric store (Phelps by name, back in Jax Florida), she came across a new rug-making gizmo that enabled her to use small pieces of cloth for a type of knotted rug. We both worked on this project, though it wasn't nearly as rewarding as the crochet. Took a lot more time to cover the same amount of floor and the result was really quite shaggy. I had never seen another such rug until this summer over on McCormick Street in an antique shop (above, below). Mom's rug was much more colorful, BTW; as I recall, it didn't hold up as well as the crochet.

My own rug-making was limited to a series of pictorial hooked rugs, but that was in another time and another world. I do have pictures however and might just post a two or three one of these days. In the meantime, if you are interested in rag rugs in their many manifestations, a visit to the Rugmaker's Homestead is a must.


Anonymous said...

My mom-in-love makes rag rugs also.

In this economy, I may make a few of my own.

~Anon in AV.

Antipodean Curmudgeon said...

A feature of Mom's rugs was that they provided a sort of historical record. One might note the remains of an outgown set of pj's or a set of curtains long since discarded.

They were most difficult to launder--me as a teenager with a scrubbing brush scouring them on the grass in the backyard, then hoisting them onto the clothesline where they were rinsed with the nozzle at the max.


Granny J said...

anon av -- I wish you the best from rags to riches!

bro -- thanks for filling me in; I don't believe I ever saw the process. I can imagine how much one of those rugs weighed when wet!

pb said...

My mother also braided rugs, using wool strips from old winter clothes.

They couldn't hold up long against a houseful (7) of kids, though.

After seeing that, I've never had the itch, although I sewed everything for years and years.

Granny J said...

pb -- that's one thing about the crocheted rugs -- they were tough as nails. I think Mom used only cotton items.

Lucy said...

My dad used to make knotted wool rugs, he even made stair carpets, all one colour - he was a patient man!

Granny J said...

lucy -- one would have to be patient indeed to make stair carpeting in one color! I'll bet it was beautiful, though. It's the same with knitting -- the most elegant sweaters are one color, but I'm the impatient sort and find them b-o-r-i-n-g to knit.

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