Dateline: 31 January 2014
I recall buying an oval rag rug from an aged Connecticut farmwife. Tears came to her eyes as she contemplated the rug and its sale. “I started that center part, “she said, “when we first started farming; you can see the dyed flour sacks we used for curtains. Then farther on there’s some blue gingham—that’s from the first dress Bob bought me.... and even a bit of the baby’s pink crib cover!” The continuous cord of rag material, probably a quarter of a mile long, spelled out a large piece of her life, all made from rags such as most people throw away. She had saved a lot of memories. “I’ll come back another time,” I lied to her, “when I have the cash with me.” of course, I didn’t return.
From, The Spirits of '76 (1976)
I asked my wife today if she ever made a rag rug and she said, "Yes, I used to do things like that when I was a kid. Now I just do laundry and try to keep the house clean."
She actually does a lot more than that, but her life is, indeed, busy with all kinds of responsibilities these days. And there is little time to pursue crafts.
Marlene says her mother (now 99 years old) told her there used to be a local woman who made rag rugs for people. They would take their rags to her and she would make them into a rug.
So the historical progression for rug making appears to be something like this:
1. People once made their own rugs using old rags (because they were frugal and didn't waste anything).
2. People got too busy to make their own rugs and took their rags to a local rug-making craftsperson.
3. The local rug-making craftsperson, couldn't make any money at rugs, or got too busy with other things, or something like that.
4. People now have so many clothes, they spend hours and hours trying to keep them clean and organized. Then they donate them to Goodwill or throw them out. And they buy machine-made rugs from China.
Have you ever made a rag rug?