When I was growing up, I loved to visit my Grandma Betty’s house. In fact, it was more than a house; it was the family homestead and included a century-old farmhouse, out buildings, 72 acres of sage brush and sandstone hills, a creek, fossils, artifacts, and when I was quite young, the remains of a permanent mining camp. Part of my visual context for that home was the ubiquitous rag rugs. They were the type purchased for almost nothing at Pamida, woven of mill-ends from garment manufacturing and probably made mostly of polyester blend shirt scraps left over from the 70s. They were a riot of color, and I’d sit at the kitchen table or on the edge of the bathtub and just look at them; they were so interesting.
They can also be quite beautiful, in addition to being easy to create and inexpensive. In their purest form, they’ll be made out of, well, rags; long scraps of fabric left from worn-out garments and housewares. Simple looms are easy to make and easy to buy. The rugs I remember were random, but if you’re like me and gravitate to certain colors, your palette might be more sophisticated just by virtue of the fact that your rags are better-related. Or then, maybe not. Of course, rag rugs don’t have to be woven. Braided rag rugs that are then sewn into circles and ovals with planned gradients are also a popular country-style choice, and rugs crocheted in single crochet are also very traditional. Bathroom rugs knitted of absorbent cotton jersey from worn-out T-shirts are a popular modern choice.
And best of all, you don’t need to make a rug in order to get that riot of color! I’ve been looking at attractive ways to use up yarn scraps, and came across some really beautiful patterns that are reminiscent of rag rugs, but actually wind up as blankets.
Karen Janine from Mittens and Makings created a simple scrap blanket with double-stranded crochet. It’s beautiful and easy and HUGE, and I think it’s amazing.
The Beekeeper’s Quilt from Tiny Owl Knits uses tiny knitted hexagonal pillow motifs to create a quilted blanket out of sock-weight scraps that is just to die for. A more significant undertaking than the granny-style scrap blanket above, but stunning when finished.
Last, but not least, a sort of cross between a rag rug and a string quilt; an afghan from Ulli Stuttgart made of bias-knitted squares. Granted the website isn’t in English, you CAN click to a PDF that has instructions in both English and German. The finished afghan is beautiful.
So there we have it. Bringing the beauty and thrift of rag rugs back into the home, one scrap at a time! Go forth and save.