A week or so ago I went to a rag rug workshop at the Museum in the Park in Stroud led by the uncrowned queen of rag rugs, Jenni Stuart-Anderson. I met Jenni at Wonderwool this spring and was fascinated to watch her working on a progged rag rug with a curious sprung tool called a bodger. Only when I got home did I realise I’d picked up one of her workshop leaflets at another event years before and crammed it into the back of a rag-rug book. The leaflet was dated 1993. How time flies when you’re having fun a family! So I decided I’d better try this fantastic scrap craft fast, before something else conspired to distract me for another two decades. And nothing beats a good workshop for learning a new technique, I reckon.
Happily, Jenni was visiting the Cotswolds for the Stroud International Textiles festival, leading a workshop at the Museum in the Park. The museum itself was a delightful surprise; I’d never been there before, but hope to again. The location, once you find it (my sat-nav wasn’t playing), is lovely and tranquil, and the facilities for classes are excellent (spacious well-lit rooms, nice tidy loos, and just look where you can have coffee!).
Jenni showed us a couple of techniques: progging and plaiting. Here are some of her progged examples:
And here’s what one of the other workshoppers made from old tea-shirts.
I love the way the t-shirt pieces curl like that, like a textile Vienetta. Progging produces a similar result to prodding (have I lost you?), though differs in the execution: it’s worked from the right side of the fabric and is much quicker.
I had a go at plaiting too, so had two rather bitty samples to show for my day. You can see there was a general gent’s textile theme working in my head (old pjs, jeans, plaid shirts etc).
The little circular mat in the middle there was made by my grandmother for a doll’s house. I’m not sure when, but probably mid-twentieth century, if not earlier. It’s made from what looks like striped shirtings. My plaited attempt is supposed to be a kind of homage to that. I’ll let you know when I’ve finished it.
Pretty much as soon as I got home, the cat found the proggy. Jenni assures me that this is quite normal feline behaviour.
I haven’t finished the plaited one yet, but just completed the proggy. It’s a rough beast. I decided to make it very irregular (and succeeded!) throwing all kinds of odds and ends into it, leaving the seams on the denim and not measuring the pieces at all. This sludgy flight from perfection is good for me, I reckon.
Some of these scraps are significant: my dad’s old dressing gown, gingham left over from my wedding bunting. I quite like the out-in-the-woods lumberjack feel of the end result. It’s what I’d call a hap rug, after hap quilts. These were pieces that were not really designed, just worked for utility however they happened to develop. In the case of my proggy, from the outside edge in ever-decreasing circles.
Yes, the result is a bit of a mish-mash, but I’m sure the cat will enjoy it.