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Story Time: From Rags to Ribbons

Posted on Tuesday, June 4, 2019 at 12:45 pm

By: Lorry Myers

Lorry Myers

Lorry Myers

It was once a remnant dug from the sale bin in the fabric aisle. My mother-in-law bought it and when she got home, she tore it into strips and rolled those strips into balls. When rolled, the strips of pink fabric resembled a ball of yarn except the fabric were frayed on the edges of the ripped material. My mother-in-law, Lucille, used balls of torn fabric like this one to create colorful rag rugs.

Just like her mother did.

When Lucille passed away and it was time to clean out her home, we stood in the oddly quiet house and looked around. Lucille lived a simple life so there was simply not much that wasn’t thoroughly used or used up. Much of the furniture had seen better days so much of what was inside had very little value. Still, each family member had the opportunity to pick something from Lucille’s belongings as a memento.

I chose her rag rug ball; the last one she’d rolled but never used.

Lucille showed me once how to twist and tie the rag strips in a way that made them stronger together. Those braided strips were then shaped and sewn in a circle to make a rug. Lucille had a passion for rag rugs, like she was trying to save something that was almost gone. Her rugs were always colorful but never planned because they depended solely on the fabric pulled from the discount bin or the rag bin. I sat beside Lucille and watched her fingers tug the ball and weave the strips into a coil that would become a one of a kind rag rug. I have one on my back porch and my front porch and several small ones that I use as cooking trivets. The rag rugs wash easily and wear well and from Lucille, I learned to love everything about them.

Everything except how to make one myself.

That’s why I brought home that last roll of rags because when I held that ball, I thought of Lucille’s hands and the magic she created out of torn fabric. Her face seemed to softened as she worked, as if making rugs calmed and settled her. Lucille told me once that when she worked on a rug, it made her feel closer to her past. Sometimes as she worked, Lucille talked about other rugs she had made from faded dresses or stained aprons or blankets worn too thin. She remembered stories from her grandmother and re-told tales of women sitting together tearing rags, laughing while their hands worked.

For the complete column please see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.