On Friday, our winter session of the Family Learning Program began. I was excited to see so many familiar faces from the fall. This week, the students began a project that will spill over into our second session. In a time when clothing was costly and often handmade, families were very frugal with this precious commodity. When clothes could no longer be mended or refashinoned, the fabric was repurposed into braided rugs. My husband’s grandmother was skilled in this craft and I was fortunate enough to inherit a bin of woven wool, already torn into strips, ready to be braided into a warm floor covering.
The students selected several strips of fabric, sewed the overlapping ends together to make longer strips, then braided three sets together. When their braid was long enough to suit, they coiled them into a spiral. This was the stopping place for most students. Next week they will pick up their projects where they left off and finish sewing the braid to itself. The finished product can be used a trivet for the dinner table, a coaster for the coffee table or a small carpet for imaginative play.
I brought a small braided rug from home as a sample. While working on their own pieces, they quickly understood just how long it would take to create something as small as my hearth rug, let alone a large piece to fill a living room.