Sunday, 28 August 2011

Rag rug

"Flower Garden" - a prodded rug by Isobel Waterhouse

There was a time when no working-class home in this part of the country would be complete without a rag rug or two. We had a big one on the tiled floor of our kitchen when I was a child and I used to love its colours and patterns - and the way it kept my little bare feet off the cold floor!  It seems this traditional craft is having something of a resurgence, now that recycling is fashionable and people are enjoying crafts as a hobby.  I came across a lovely little exhibition recently in the Bracken Hall Countryside Centre, up on Shipley Glen, showing a variety of rag rugs and panels made by members of the Airedale Ruggers.  The group came into being 5 years ago and they meet monthly at Cliffe Castle Museum in Keighley.  Their aim is to promote, encourage and develop rag rug making as an art form and to ensure this traditional craft doesn't become extinct.  They are currently making rag rugs for the Ladies Waiting Room at Oakworth Station on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway (see my other blog).

There are two different ways to make a rag rug - prodding and hooking.  With both methods, strips of fabric are pushed and looped from the back through a close woven hessian or sackcloth backing. They are made from remnants and recycled materials - old T shirts and sweatshirts, woollen fabrics and tweeds.  The skill is not so much in the loop-making itself but in blending colours and fabrics to make not simply a rug but a unique piece of folk art.  As with quilting, family memories in the shape of significant pieces of fabric can be woven into the piece.

13 comments:

  1. I vaguely remember my Granny showing me how to make rag rugs when I was little. I'd forgotten all about it till today. Thank you for awakening old memories.

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  2. Beautiful. Woven, striped rag rugs are the most common (traditional) here.

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  3. That is so pretty! What a wonderful way to use up rags.

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  4. Haven't seen one of these for years. This one is particularly beautiful.

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  5. What wonderful colors!Strangely, in France, we never had such rugs, and quilting was not in our traditions..It's arriving now, with the wave of recycling. i'm happy of it, because I love and practise handcrafts.

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  6. I have started seeing more of these at craft fairs - much more elaborate designs than the ones I saw in my youth, which were mostly random or striped.

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  7. What a beautiful example! We had a rag rug at home and my Gramdma had a large one in her living room.

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  8. A great way to recycle and to spend some creative hours. I used to do hook rug making with wool not rag.

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  9. Oooh...this one is exceptionally beautiful! How cheerful that would be at the kitchen sink!

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  10. I would love to learn to make these...like having a garden at your feet each morning! beautiful!

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  11. This rag rug is so much more detailed in design than the plain striped ones I have in my home!

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