Rag Rug Making – well it’s been quite a while since there’s been much of that around here. But after a frenzy of yarn dyeing and sock making leading up to Christmas there was time in that limbo over the ‘holiday’ period to finally get down to it in a big way.
So there is at last a pile of these rugs back in stock on the website.
Amish Knot or ‘Toothbrush’ rugs originate in America – named because the tool used as the needle was often a wooden toothbrush with the brush part cut off. They came with a hole at the end of the handle which made a useful eye for the needle. We don’t use wooden toothbrushes any more, but a needle is easy to make from a piece of dowel about pencil thickness, shaped with a pencil sharpener at one end (but not too sharp) and a holes drilled through to make the eye at the other.
This post isn’t a tutorial as such. There are plenty online e.g here and here. But the basic principle is that you tear strips (2 – 3″ wide) and use buttonhole stitch to sew them round and round – stitching each round into the previous round. You have a working strip which you use to sew the stitches and a padding strip gets bound in as you go along to create body. You join new lengths onto the strips as you go along so there are no loose ends to worry about. Making the foundation row is the most tricky part, but once you get going the process is really straight forward, just working round and round, making 2 or 3 stitches into the same space to make the corners. You could also make a round or oval rug if you distribute the double stitches as you go (as you would crochet a circle).
These rugs just eat up fabric. Old curtains or bed linens work best, being nice large pieces of fabric. The most unpromising looking old printed duvet cover can look amazing when the strips are scrunched up and stitched together. One way to check if you have enough fabric is to weigh it. A rug about 60 x 80 cm will weigh about 1.2/1.3kg. So if in doubt weigh your raw materials (allowing 5% for waste).
Charity shops are a good source – especially when they have a sale rail! Don’t worry about the pattern itself, think about the overall colour and how much fabric you are getting for your money.