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CROCHETED RAG RUG PATTERNS
We get a lot of questions from people who have purchased rug patterns (from other folks) and wonder why they can't get them to work. So here is a primer on how crocheted rag rug patterns developed and how they work.
Back-and-Forth Crocheted Rug Patterns
In back-and-forth crochet patterns, the only trick is to size the hook to the weight of the strip, and not work really tight stitches. Heavy fabrics and wide cotton strips don't work well for these types of rugs, since a prominent ribbed effect is created.
Radial Crocheted Rug Patterns
Some early crochet patterns used the device of working rag strip over clothesline. This was done for two reasons: the stiffness of the clothesline helped to force increases which helped the rug lay flat; and/or the fabrics used in the rug were so worn that the clothesline was needed to give the rug body. Unfortunately cotton clothesline used in rugs shortens the life of the rug. It holds water when the rug is washed (leading to damp rot), and the clothesline itself has a harder texture than the fabric, so that the fabric wears through faster.
By the 1920's, several crocheted rag rug patterns appeared where someone with the "feel" of rug making wrote down the stitches they added as they worked. Unfortunately these old patterns most often did not work for someone with a different touch in crocheting. For that reason, patterns in the 1930s and 1940s often called for the fabric strip to be cut on the bias so that it would have enough give to work with the written patterns.
So two schools of thought developed-one which called for bias cut strips of cottons, and the other which used straight cut (or torn) strips. Of course in moving away from the traditional straight strips, the rugs were supposed to be easier to make, but unfortunately the resulting bias rugs continued to stretch, even after they were made, and didn't hold their shape well.
In the 1930s and 1940s crocheted rugs were also made with recycled stockings, instead of rags. The stockings had a built-in stretch and resilience so that they acted like yarn, and the rugs were made from regular yarn rug patterns (which will not work with fabric strip).
Even through the 1970s, when I began researching rug making, such venerable sources as Better Homes and Gardens were still publishing directions for radial crocheted rag rugs saying "increase as necessary" which is not very useful to a beginning rug maker.
Research on Crocheted Rag Rugs
Working with the traditional straight-cut fabric strip, I experimented extensively to develop an increase pattern which would work for radial crocheted rug patterns. That increase pattern worked so well that it was adaptable to crocheting rag rugs in all sorts of shapes all of which laid flat, every time, no matter who was handling the crochet hook. The pattern was the breakthrough which allowed the full development of fabric tapestry rugs. In 1984, the increase pattern was first published (under formal copyright), and again in 1997 in the book "Crocheted and Fabric Tapestry Rugs".
So, while our books all deal with traditional crocheted rugs (e.g. made with straight cut, not bias, strips), the directions are based on the increase pattern which was only recently developed. That is why our rugs are so consistently shaped, and the fabric tapestry patterns are so symmetrical. Because of the copyright protection, we are the only source for books using this increase pattern.
Old Rug Patterns Available on the
Finding Crocheted Rug Patterns that
Be cautious of crocheted rug patterns that call for fabric
be cut on the bias. These are most often derived from older patterns
require the fabric strip to stretch in order for the rug to lay flat.
patterns which call for fabric strips to be cut very wide (over 2
create a very lumpy look. These are most often touted as being "quick"
to make, but in reality, are mostly a device to sell patterns, not
people how to make functional and attractive rugs.
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