A couple of years ago I attended a workshop on rug making. It was a somewhat random decision, inspired by fabulous display of rag rugs at the annual Perth craft fair, and by the people actively working on rugs to show how it’s done. The workshop was organized by the Rugmakers Guild (yes, it’s totally a thing) and was held in Mandurah. I opted to avoid a hour of driving each way by catching the train from Perth and then the free shuttle bus to the venue and felt just a little smug about that as the train whooshed past the peak hour traffic…

The Guild President, Judith Stephens, was over from South Australia to attend the craft fair, show off her beautiful hand made rugs and to run some workshops in conjunction with the local chapter of the Guild. She told us that it was common practice for Australian families to recycle old clothing, blankets and left over fabric back in the 1880s, turning them into rag rugs to warm their homes. Although the craft petered out over the years, there has now been a huge resurgence of interest in rag rugs worldwide – both as an art and craft.

rag rug workshop_27may13The workshop was fun, as was learning some of the very peculiar terminology used by rug makers, e.g. proddy, proggy, hooky and clippy. It’s a whole other language! We learned a few different techniques and most people managed to complete a sample – a sort of mini-rug. I came home super enthusiastic about taking up rug making as my new hobby. The idea of recycling old t-shirts and the like into something useful had enormous appeal.

It also sounded like a plausible pastime for someone planning on moving out to the back-of-beyond. It ticked the craft, recycling and creative boxes perfectly. So, when DaughterDearest’s birthday arrived not long afterwards, I purchased her all the gear for her to get started. Did I ask her if she’d like to do it? Of course not! Motherrrr knows best…

Yeah. Not so much. This was one of those times when I was actually buying something I wanted. What she really wanted bookshelves. So, since I hadn’t bought myself any of the gear, we swapped: I simply reclaimed the gear (so that I could start a rug) and purchased the shelving (so she had somewhere for her overload of books). Everyone was happy.

But somehow time passed. Lots of things happened. More things happened… and my roundtuit didn’t ever quite manage to fit unpacking the gear and using it.

Finally (yes, getting to the point at last), inspired by a desire/need to come up with a craft-related #blogjune post, I hunted all the paraphernalia down over the weekend… and started my first fledging bedside rag rug! It’s still fun, still easy and Himself had a couple of t-shirts he didn’t need anymore…

Rag rug started June 2016

I haven’t quite figured out how to use the rug hooking folding lap frame effectively, finding it easier to just hold the hessian in one hand as I hook the strips of t-shirt fabric through it. I may have to attend one of the Guild meetings to get some tips on that.

Lap frame for rug making

4 thoughts on “Rag rug experiment

  1. Good Swap ! Lovely to hear from you again and that you’ve finally managed to pull some loops. Wish I’d had more time to better demonstrate the frame at Greens in Leederville. I’m working on an article about internet/networking for the next Guild Newsletter – can I include a link to your blog – telling how you’ve come in a round-about way to be a rug hooker? Cheers Jo

    • nikmacd on June 14, 2016 at 12:29 pm said:

      More than happy to be linked, Jo – delighted that you found the post. My hooking is a little uneven and my strips of tshirting are probably a bit narrow, but I’m having fun 🙂

  2. Would you believe I’ve just discovered your answer to my question about sharing your introduction to rughooking (lol) This website has become an orphan as I’ve been so caught up with the Australian Rugmakers Guild website and Facebook pages, networking and “virtual” rug hooking – you might want to check us out on artspaces.kunstmatrix.com/en/exhibition/121832/re-imagined and of course the Guild Blog https://www.rughookingaustralia.com.au/unusual-times/ If you’ve developed a style where you no longer need the frame with grippers let me know as there is someone in Canberra desperate to purchase one and I no longer have them made here – grippers are too expensive to import. Cheers Jo

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