Rhoda Woodward and Muriel Wells
Dad and I had the job of cutting the snips for the rugs, while Mam pegged. I remember once at a jumble sale two women got to almost a punch-up over a bright red garment. It might have been a coat as they wanted to add some colour to their rugs. In the end the lady behind the stall cut it in half so they both had a piece to cut up.
Underwear and old passion killers were cut up round and round then laid in lengths across the hessian and pushed through at short intervals with a pointed stick leaving a small loop. My step-Gran made a whole paisley patterned stair carpet in this way. I was told my Grandad carved the "brogger" as it was called, and used to draw the design. This was in Lincolnshire.
Mam used to cut lyle stockings in the same way, wind them into a big ball or maybe I had that job. Then with big needles she knitted oval mats to stand the jerry pot on as they could be washed if we missed. I seem to remember she knitted big squares in the same way to put across the bed to keep our feet warm.
Rhoda, your family obviously made their rag rugs with the continuous strip method. I was aware of it as others in our neighbourhood made theirs that way. I never knew any others that made their rugs by our family method. But it was obviously wasn't just a "family" thing, because there were the latchhooks!
I have just had the thought --- did the family bring it down with them when they migrated from Leeds to Bedworth? Was it a North Country thing?
The small strip was gripped firmly in the latch and pushed through the sacking or hessian. It was released and the closed "hook" pushed through again, a short distance along --- the end of the strip was seized and pulled through. Not too vigorously, mind you or you pulled it right through --- and you didn't want that!!!
Similarly, Gran --- and the family, knitted individual squares for blankets. Others would do a long strip, changing wools, (colours), as they went. Some even went to the trouble of making diamond squares! But ours were of the variety you could set little children to do --- and we did!
In New Zealand, blankets, particularly cot sized, and pram covers, are still crocheted. The squares are gay and flower-like. You see them on stalls at fetes and they --- and knitted squares, are made for the needy, at home and overseas. The "old" are often the chief contributors, especially from the rest homes. Or you see a photograph of some energetic elderly lady in the community newspapers almost swamped in her prodigious contribution of rugs, blankets, dolls and soft toys which were to be dispersed to the local and overseas charities.
There was one in "The Blenheim Sun" and "Marlborough Midweek" only a couple of weeks back. Very commendable, but are these skills being passed on?
Well there has been an upsurge in knitting amongst the young, even if only to make pashminas or those delightful "feathery" scarves that are still the rage here! I think that all these skills survive in "pockets" and emerge when the need arises.
Can you blame anyone for not labouring over the sewing machine making their children's clothes when imported items are so much cheaper than their cottons and thread?
Hereabouts we have news and pictures of students with flair, winning prizes in the numerous competitions for clothing design. Wearable Art is a big thing now, and the presentations of some events are fantastic. Innovative design is far from dead, so we should not worry too much about the future. It will take care of itself, I'm sure!