Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Rag Rug Class With Rachel Phillimore

I am brimming with enthusiasm after a weekend spent learning the rag rugging techniques of 'prodding' or 'progging' and 'hooking'. The course took place in Featherstone Village Hall in Northumberland and was run by Rachel Phillimore. You can see some of her beautiful rugs and wallhangings at the following link:-

The event began with a talk from Maureen Morano about the history of rag rug making, from its humble beginnings as a craft of poverty, with the need to reuse precious pieces of fabric, to its more recent resurgence with the renewed interest in recycling. Maureen had brought along examples of some early rugs, with their typical dark borders, with 'hit and miss' inside, sometimes surrounding a circle or diamond of a more colourful fabric. One of the women attending the course had found a similar, very large rug, wrapped around her cold water tank in the loft! Maureen had some other rugs which had been more finely worked, using a hooked technique and showing a scrolled design or 'brickwork' pattern of different coloured fabrics.

After a pleasant lunch in the nearby pub, we got down to having a go ourselves. Some students had decided to try a simple pattern, like a row of knitting, or a heart shape within a border, others opted for a rose or a tree, a view of earth from space, and, in my case, a simple landscape of hills, water and sky. My aim was to try and make as many different looking areas as possible using the two techniques of 'hooking' and 'progging'. Hooking involves drawing a series of loops from a thin strip of fabric through the hessian background to the surface. When progging, you poke the two ends of a long thin rectangle of fabric through two different holes, from the back to the front of the hessian, producing a shaggy effect. All sorts of textures can be produced, depending on how long you make your loops, whether you shear them, which fabrics you use, how tightly packed they are and so on.

On the second day, we continued to experimented with a variety of fabrics, from fine silks to thick, textured tweeds and produced an astonishing range of textures. Everyone was delighted with their efforts and we were amazed at the variety of designs and effects that we had produced: no two alike!

Many of the participants bought tools, frames and hessian to continue their new hobby at home. I returned to my already half-finished hooked rug at home, with some good advice on how to straighten up the rather lop-sided edges, and how to finish it off properly.

We all look forward to the 'catch-up session' in January 2007.

I recommend the following website called Rugmaker's Homestead, which has a wealth of information about making many different types of rag rugs:-


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