The new issue of the Norwegian Textile Letter is out, and features a translation of a wonderful cultural history article about rag rugs in Norway: The Aesthetics of Reuse: With a Starting Point in the Rich Rag Rug Tradition. The article is by Anne Grete Sandstad and was originally published in By og Bygd, the yearbook of the Norsk Folkemuseum, in 2006.
My favorite section of the article is “From the History of Rag Rugs.” Like this paragraph.
If one had the means, rugs were laid together closely so they nearly covered the floor. In this way they insolated better against drafts. Statements from weavers confirm this: rugs should be laid 5 cm over each other to block drafts through the floorboards. Some laid several rugs on top of each other and also sacks on top of that. It was also related that one person around the turn of the previous century put straw and newspaper under the rugs to reduce drafts. When rugs lay edge to edge so they overlapped each other like roofing, it was easier to sweep them off. But the most common practice was to lay them side by side with a hand’s breadth of space between.
I just hadn’t thought about the aspect of using rag rugs to block drafts in the floorboards. That isn’t something we worry about these days.
In my current flurry of home renovation, in anticipation of the perfect spot for my new tapestry loom, I ran across a small book of weaving photos (you know, photos like you took with a camera and had to take to the drugstore to get developed). I tried to keep a record of items I wove, which were so often rag rugs. I didn’t sell them–I never reached that production level; I gave them away to friends and family.
It was really fun to look at those 1990s photos I hadn’t seen for a long time. Here’s a rug I gave to my sister. I remember the rug at her feet, too, made from an old chenille bedspread.
The combination of working with the great article and seeing my old photos make me want to go make a rag rug, right now.