Rag rugs are fun and easy to make; they're eco-friendly as well. Instead of throwing out worn or outdated clothes and other items, you can turn them into something useful, decorative and unique.
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The exact origin of rag rugs is not known, but they were brought to the United States by early immigrants. As the immigrants became pioneers and settled the frontier, they brought their own style of rag rugs with them. Those who stayed in the East had access to new fabrics, while those on the frontier made their rugs from old clothes and any other fabric they could find. Rag rugs became very popular from the end of the 19th century to the first decade of the 20th--and again during the Great Depression, when people had to make do with what they had. Today there are commercially made rugs called rag rugs, but true rag rugs are still homemade.
There are four basic types of rag rugs that the home crafter can make: knitted, crocheted, braided and loomed. You can also use rug canvas and make a half cross stitch needlepoint rag rug. All of them start out the same way, with strips of material about 1 inch wide. Tie or sew the stripes into as many long strips as you need for the type you are going to make. You can add strips as you go to make them as long as you need.
For knitted rag rugs, use large size needles, 10 or 11. Do a test with each one to ensure the stitches are tight enough. Knit in either a stockinet stitch--knit one row, purl one row--or seed stitch (knit every row). You will have either a square or rectangle rug. There are two ways to do a crochet rug. You can do it the same as with the knitted, or braid three strips of material together and then crochet with them. Crochet rag rugs can be made in any shape. Braided rag rugs are simply braided strips that are sewn together to make round, oval square or rectangle shapes. Rag rugs can also be made on any type of loom. Just substitute the strips for the regular yarn.
There are ways to get material for a rag rug very cheaply if you don't have any old material or don't have enough for the project. Fabric stores will have odd pieces left over from bolts of material that they will sell for practically nothing. Second-hand stores and consignment shops are also a good source. Make sure you take into consideration the type of material. Everything you use must be able to be washed in water of the same temperature, or you could end up with a ruined project.
No two rag rugs will ever be exactly alike. With a little time and effort, you can create a rug that is not only unique and beautiful, but sturdy and easy to clean and maintain. Just throw it in with the rest of the wash.
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