Rugs from Rags: Rags to Richness
A rug made by hand, from recycled tshirts, repurposed, or otherwise reused clothing, sheets, blankets and waste fabric is called a “rag rug.” Rag rugs can be woven on a loom, crocheted, knit, and made with several other techniques. Mine are either hand-knit, or hand woven on a antique floor loom.
The rugs below are hand knit.
The rugs below are hand woven.
The classic rag rugs, woven when times were tight and $0.50 / day made a difference in the quality of a family’s dinner, were simple stripes woven in plain weave (over and under), using faded hand-me-downs that had run out of life. Weavers charged 50 cents / yard for the rugs. My rug loom cost $100 when it was new. I paid that much for spare parts to bring it back to life.
Today, people who know how to make a rug from “rags” have color and pattern choices unknown to those farm women. Multi-shaft looms make dense twills possible. A twill weave (blue jean fabric) protects the warp and makes the rug last much longer. Knitted rugs provide a soft textured surface that is a delight for bare feet at the side of the bed. Colored sheets, bright tshirts, and a (perhaps unfortunate) tendency to discard clothing earlier in its life cycle mean that rag rugs hand made today are much more colorful, even when the colors are muted and quiet, than they used to be.
My rag rugs serve two major purposes in your home:
- as a contemporary area rug at the side of a bed or favorite chair, protecting a larger carpet or hardwood from wear and providing decorative color
- mounted on the wall, particularly in rooms that have reverberation or echos. The high ceilings and great rooms popular in newer homes have large areas of wall which reflect sound, causing distracting echos and reducing privacy. Functioning similarly to an acoustic wall panel, these rugs will soften the harsh edges of sound waves, making it easier to hear conversations in the room, and harder for your children to hear your private conversation from the next room.
Rugs mounted for wall display do not have a noise reduction coefficient rating; those tests cost several hundred dollars and would need to be repeated for each rug separately.
However, the waitstaff at the Carolina Brewery (a restaurant built from concrete block, with almost no upholstered surfaces) in Pittsboro, NC, noticed the difference immediately when I hung a show with Joel Howell, filling the room with his paintings and my rugs displayed in pairs. “You can hear yourself!”
Knitted rugs are made from 100% post-consumer, locally-sourced upcycled fabric which is washed, dried and then sliced. Knit rugs can be machine washed in cold water and tumble-dried. We recommend a front-loader for the larger rugs.
How to Buy a Rug
Currently available rugs are shown on the Karen Tiede Studio store, which is a different site than the one you are on. On that site, I also offer a number of home decor items, printed with images of my rugs and other hand knitting.
Sales tax of 6.75% is collected for rugs delivered within North Carolina. Buyers in the trade should contact me before purchase.
Please feel free to call me during business hours at 919/395-5148 (Eastern time zone = New York City) if you have any questions.