About 45 years ago, my mom and dad started a project together creating a wool braided rug. My mom cut and sewed the wool strips and my dad braided them together. I was about 8 years old at the time and I have no memory of the discussions that must have led up to this. My mother was very talented and crafty but my dad's passion was playing golf. Knowing my parents it probably went something like this: we have a bunch of wool from somewhere and we need a rug. The wool was clothing in its former life, pants, coats and the like. My mom's sewing machine was in the kitchen and I have a clear memory of my mom sitting at her machine and my dad sitting in his favorite chair, both of them working on their part of this project.
After many months of work the rug was done. It was a large oval, about 6'X8'. Vibrant reds, blacks, grays, golds, an occasional orange here and there and I hated it. These colors were not on the top of my 8 year old girl list of colors.
Every dog that our family ever owned (and there were quite a few... Tippy, Elsa, Elmo, Quincy, Max, Allie, Dinah, Pearl, Kitty, Cletus and dear old Brandy) rolled and played (among other things) on that rug. The grandchildren, as they arrived, did too. That rug moved from Wheeling WV to Pine Bluff, AR and back. It moved from room to room on the whim of my mom and it always seemed that where that rug was, we were too. If a rug can represent the heart of a house then this rug was beating loudly.
As my mom got older she began having difficulty with her gait and my dad worried that she would trip on the rug and fall. So, the rug made it's final journey to our farm in Maine. We were thrilled to have it. We had just moved to Belfast and we did not have extra money for rugs.
The years had taken their toll on the rug and the linen thread that my mom had used to sew the braids together began to fail. Every summer when my parents made their annual trip north to Maine my dad would spend the evening on his hands and knees repairing the rug. He just couldn't understand why they had used linen when obviously clear nylon fishing line was the perfect thing to use! The fishing line repairs continued for years until one day when my dad proclaimed "I think you need to throw this rug out."
Well, this rug that I had once hated was now near and dear to my heart. I could not imagine throwing this heirloom on the heap at the dump.
Fortunately, about this time we found our first loom. It was an old barn loom that had been weaving rag rugs for years.
I had an idea.
I began taking that dear old rug apart, unbraiding the pieces that my dad had braided, cutting the long strips that my mom had sewn. I discovered immediately that there is nothing filthier than an old braided rug! Washing the old wools strips revealed those vibrant colors that I remembered.
Other than pot holders, I had never woven anything in my life! Now what? Turns out that weavers are the most giving of all artisans. Every weaver I met was encouraging and taught me something new. Our lives here are busy beyond belief but over the last 3 or 4 years I've managed to salvage, wash and weave enough old rug to make two 4' X 8' throw rugs.
I'm now down to the last of the old rug and I have one last rug to make. My parents have both passed away in the last 5 years and so this is a very bitter sweet moment for me. The last rug will be a wedding present for one of those grandchildren who crawled and played on that old rug. Here's hoping there will be more dogs and children to enjoy it.