The use of rugs as floor coverings dates back farther than recorded history. Animal skins were first used, and later, coarse fabrics of a plain weave. In colonial homes only the wealthy could afford tapestry rugs. These were too precious to walk on and were displayed as wall hangings. Because of the time and money invested in weaving, fabric was reused for making rag rugs and braided rugs. Rag rugs were made from continuous strips of wool, cotton or linen cloth sewn together. They are still produced in Appalachia today. Gradual improvements in weaving, along with the introduction of traditional designs from immigrants through the years, has developed into modern floor coverings.
A legend in the Appalachian mountains is that the hand knotted rag rug was traditionally made by recycling the handle of an old wooden toothbrush, shaved into a needle, when the bristles wore out. And using discarded clothing along with other old fabrics torn into strips.
Our tool is designed for cloth knotting to make traditional rag
rugs. The exciting idea about working with fabrics are the beautiful
colors and prints. Most are inexpensive and easily available. Even
recycled or unused fabric items can find a new purpose as creative art
Knots are made using the rag rug needle to
design items in either oval, round, rectangle or square shapes. Just
a few suggestions would be bowls, baskets, place mats, pot holders and
free-form works of art. Other usable materials are rope, rug yarn and
raffia. The possibilities for creating your own project ideas are
Information on the primitive wooden toothbrush:
Click on image to view Vicksburg's National Memorial Park exibit and an article from the Smithsonian Magazine.