This is a letter that was sent to me updating me on the progress of this amazing group of women doing charity work in China including rag rug making as one of the ways to help others. Thought you might enjoy reading the letter first hand. I have included a couple photos and the rest of the photos I will post to my Facebook page Rag Rugs by Erin. Thanks, Molly for sharing!!!
We've been working on the rugs for a few weeks now and the first one was finished today! I'm attaching a variety of pictures for you, and everyone has given permission for you to use these however you'd like on your blog or videos. The first week we met at one lady's home to start ripping the strips and she provided an amazing food spread. I've included those pictures too. (She's from Romania). Nationalities of the women pictured include Brazil, Great Britain, Russia, Wales, Ireland, USA, Colombia, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, and Italy.
I forget what I'd told you before, but here's the background.
I'm a former massage therapist and during the past 13 years I've lived in China I've attempted to keep a practice going, but it's time for me to hang up my sheets and retire. Although I've worked hard to keep the sheets in good condition, there's always a bit of build-up of the oils in the sheets over the years which makes them unsuitable to just give them away to be used for sleeping, and I didn't just want to throw them out, so started looking for ways to recycle them. I know my grandmother made rag rugs so started Googling and found your videos. Your title "Lost Art" intrigued me so I choose you over the other videos, loved your teaching style and started making plans to do my own rug.
At almost the same time I was researching, I started getting messages from a couple of different dog rescue groups asking for donations of old pillows, towels, or blankets. A large number of these dogs were rescued from the Yuling Dog Meat Festival las year, and most of these places are in old warehouses with cages set up or large fenced areas inside, but concrete floors. We're technically in the tropics here, (the marker for the Tropic of Cancer is just north of town) and indoor heating is unheard of. We've had some unusually cold weather the past couple of winters ( in the low 40s which is quite cold here) plus it's often quite damp. I realized we could solve three problems with one solution. Many of the ladies in our craft group are not crafters per se, but love to socialize and enjoy learning some new skills. Anytime someone can provide a project that lots of people can do, we have a lot of fun and usually sell the items for charities. By using my sheets for rag rugs, we'd not only be recycling, but helping a charity, and giving the gals something to do.
The ladies are loving it! We already raise a lot of money for a group that provides heart surgery for children who can't afford it otherwise, and other groups, but sometimes it's nice to do something where you can yourself provide something a charity needs without just giving money.
We have had some problems with the curling up, as you can see in the picture where the one lady is wearing her rug as a hat! Since I only see them once a week and they work (or don't) on them at home in between, and I forgot to tell what to do to try and prevent that, a couple of them have had that problem. One lady though, early on sort of folded her oval together and tacked it in place, making it a circle. She's then been using larger and larger loose stitches, weaving it flat on a table to get the one finished rug we have so far. She's had no problems with curling. However, besides sheets some of the ladies are using a fabric I'd been given several yards of, that's a stretch knit with the design printed on one side (it's navy with pandas and bamboo). While it some ways it wouldn't seem to be good for this (sometimes the white side shows, sometimes the print; it STRETCHES. A LOT) it seems to have given a little give to the braiding that's preventing the curl.
Our mantra throughout the process here has been "It"s your first project. Make all the mistakes you want, use all the different colors you want. The dogs won't care!"
Thank you so much for sharing your love of rugs with us. We're really glad we met you, and the dogs will be too!
Oh, and if you want to know more about the group, we're the Guangzhou (pronounced Gwan Joe) Women's International Club or GWIC and you can Google us or find us on Facebook.
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Until next time happy rag rugging!