Monday, 9 July 2012

Rag Rugging is Addictive!

Welcome to a peek at our latest craft adventure- rag rugging (not sure if that is the proper term but that's what we call it!). A friend introduced us to the joys of Blists Hill Victorian Town two weeks ago, an amazing place of Victorian shops, houses and amusements where you really can live the history! I have no pictures of the day as I chose to leave the camera at home and just enjoy the time with my children! As we explored, I was struck by how many creative pursuits people (mainly women in the home) followed back then - everywhere we went we saw embroidery, rugs, lace, paper cutting, peg dolls, the skills the women had back then seemed endless. It touched me how much of that is sadly lost now that every convenience can be bought and replaced when the desire strikes. Many of the crafts were from cheap, recycled materials where waste items were re purposed into beautiful, cheerful decorations that made their simple homes snug and cozy. I quizzed the lady making rag rugs very carefully and decided we could manage to have a go!!! My friend stood us the hessian for the bargain price of £2.50 (as we'd spent ours on candles, the swing boats, and lacy handkerchiefs!!).

This is a picture of the back of the corner of the rug that I have started - we chose a pattern of circles, made by drawing around various cups, bowls and plates with a felt pen!! I'm not sure if I am doing it exactly right but it looks effective and once you have done a few, you get into a rhythm and it goes along faster!

Above, you can see us all working on the rug together, using tools made from a dolly peg snapped in two and then with a point formed carefully and blunted.

I chose two old duvet covers given by another friend - one brown with little flowers and one in yellow spots and stripes - I am not sure if they will be enough to do the whole rug but I'm hoping! I cut them up into small strips about 1 inch by 3 inches and put them in a soft bag for easy access, the rug and tools can be stored alongside them!

The technique is to poke a hole in the hessian with the point of the tool, push one end of the strip through, then move about four fibres down and make another hole and push the other end of the strip through, then pull it taut with your other hand from the other side of the fabric. I found it easier to work in a block, and to work from right to left so you aren't trying to hold the bunched up fabric you've already put in, out of the way!

This shows some of the circles we made for the pattern - I've done more than is in this picture and finding it very therapeutic! It's a bit like the wet felting we tried in that it doesn't require a precise finish so it is very forgiving to the beginner or serial multi tasker like myself!! I'm also impressed that, as we cut the hessian in half, this has so far cost £1.25 - the cheapest craft we have ever tried I think!!! We'll be back to Blist's Hill soon as it was so lovely - I may even take my rug to show them what we've been up to!

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