Our May workshop was amazing – we enjoyed, very much, having a go at rag rugging:
Our tutor, Christine Birch, had set up a rag-rugging frame complete with this work in progress which was the first thing we saw when we came into the room. The colours and the texture immediately attracted attention – to what extent was easily judged by the number of people stroking it and peering at it and generally admiring her work.
Christine began by telling us a little about how she got into rag rugs in the first place, and then moved on to a clear and inspiring discussion of how to go about creating one. She showed us the two basic methods: hooking and prodding (both techniques can be combined in one piece for effect). Prodding is the traditional method, producing a shaggy rag rug which beds down when used on the floor. It’s worked from the back, with short strips of fabric pushed through the backing – we used hessian, but something like a potato sack might have been used in the past. Hooked rag rugs are made with longer strips, and are worked from the front.
Some of us chose to have a go at prodding:
and some at hooking:
and we all became addicted to the hunt for suitable fabric. Christine described the dangers – you start coveting people’s clothing in the street – and the advantages: it’s a great use for old sweaters (not handknits for floor rugs, they don’t hold together; but they’re OK for wall hangings, as are silk and chiffon and all sorts of other things). A lovely way to use or repurpose old fabric – Christine never buys new, and sees what she does as ‘rescuing colours’. Yes!
Thank you, Christine, for a wonderful workshop. Here’s a taste of the day and a selection of the work we produced; just click on an image for a slideshow.