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Story Time: Rags to ribbon

Posted on Tuesday, March 26, 2024 at 4:36 pm

By Lorry Myers

It was once a remnant dug from the sale bin in the fabric aisle. Unfolded on her kitchen table, my mother-in-law snipped the edges, then physically tore the pink material into long strips, tied the strips together, and rolled them into a ball. Lucille used these balls of frayed fabric to create colorful rag rugs.

Just like her mother did.

After Lucille passed away, we stood in the too quiet living room and looked around. Lucille lived a simple life so there was simply not much that wasn’t thoroughly used or used up. Nothing had much resale value, but the sentimental value was real. Each family member had the opportunity to pick something that belonged to her.

I chose that pink 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 fashioned and fixed, shaped and sewn, twisted and tied to make a useful rug.

Lucille had a way with rugs.

Her rugs were never planned, or color coordinated because they depended solely on the discount bin. I sat beside Lucille and watched her fingers weave the strips into a braid that would become a one-of-a-kind rug. She made one for my back porch, my front porch, and small ones that I use as cooking trivets. Her rag rugs wash easily, wear well and from Lucille, I learned to love everything about them.

Everything except how to make one myself.

Lucille told me once that when she worked on a rug, it made her feel closer to her past, like she was talking to her mother. Lucille shared stories about the days when rag rugs were made from faded dresses or stained aprons or blankets worn too thin. Tales of women sitting together tearing weary fabric, surrounded by rags and each other. That’s why I brought home her unused roll of rags because when I held that ball, I thought of Lucille’s hands and the magic she created in my life.

The first strip I cut off that last rag ball, I used as a ribbon on my daughter’s birthday gift. She knew exactly what it was. Then, I cut a piece and used it on my niece’s shower gift, and another one tied to a present for my son.

It was almost like Lucille was in the room with us.