Thursday, March 1, 2018

Rag Rug Inspired

I've always been attracted to rag rugs. Woven rag rugs, hooked rag rugs, braided rag rugs. in fact, one of my earliest textile art crafting memories was helping my grandmother braid fabric strips which she then would curl around and around, stitching the braided cords into chair cushions. I liked how one color of fabric in a braid would end, and a new color would take over. My eyes would flit from this color to that color marveling at how they played off of each other. When I think back all those years ago I can still see a baby blue fabric, a dark green fabric, a brick red fabric, a bit of yellow fabric, and then some dark grey fabric, all twisted and spiraling around together. Pure magic it was, this making something from almost nothing.

So I thought it would be fun to use that love of rag rugs as inspiration in making my own version with yarn and punch needle. I've done some other posts about punch needle, (also known as needle punch or punchneedle) here on the blog, but if you are new here or missed those posts and  don't know what punch needle is, I will tell you...

Punch Needle is an old technique that falls into the family of embroidery. It is done with a pen like apparatus that has a hollow needle inserted into it. Yarn, or floss is threaded through the pen and the needle. Special fabric, (not all fabrics can be punched on, and different forms of punch needle sometimes require different types of fabric) is stretched very tightly either in a locking hoop or over a frame. The needle with the threaded yarn is then repeatedly punched into the fabric on the wrong, that is to say back, side. With every punch a little loop of yarn is formed on the front of the fabric.

Punch by punch, loop by loop, the design emerges. And I marvel over the magic of it the game way I marveled over my grandmother's braided chair rugs all those many years ago.

When making this I collected the 8/2 cotton yarns in the colors that came to my minds eye when thinking back to my youth, standing in my grandmother's kitchen braiding rug strips. I started with the outermost rim of dark grey and worked my way in. I would love to know how many  little punched loops it contains, but counting would have been madness. I even lost count of the hours I spent punching, but I would guess somewhere around 30.  A labor of love and memory and curiosity. Wonderful, wonderful curiosity... she has been my constant friend.

And then I decided to make something else rag rug inspired, so I made some little brooches...

They were also done in punch needle, but with some beautiful Valdaini hand-dyed cotton threads that I was seriously tempted to horde as they looked so lovely in their little box... 

Along with being inspired by rag rugs, 
I also took inspiration from old utilitarian quilts that built their design 
based on the "house-top" block, (think Gee's Bend). 

It's my absolute favorite quilt block as I love it's simplicity and never ending design possibilities.

Each brooch is backed and stitched with some grey wool-blend felt that I had on hand, 

and is mounted on a little card with a short intro description of punch needle on the back side...

I think the next time I print some up though 
I will add a bit about the pen like tool with the hollow needle... wish I had included that on these. 
Sigh... I can always find something that I wish I had done differently!

These are now available in my Etsy shop