Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Progging and hooking in the wintery sunshine

I heard once that if you find a job you really love you never have to work again. I've been working since I was 15, and have had tons of jobs of many and varied types, but it wasn't til I started doing bush regen that I realised the truth in the aforementioned statement. Bush regeneration was supposed to be a fill-in job after I finished my PhD. It was the perfect antidote to 4 years of very intense intellectual research and writing, basically alone, in a tiny little, poorly-oriented (ie dark and cold) 70s-built university office. Bush regen was physical, outside, repetitive and social. I absolutely loved it, and ended up getting a qualification in conservation and land management and doing the work for more than 3 years, right up until we moved to Bega. Of course, there were days when I wished it would rain so I didn't have to go to work. Of course there were days when I would have rather been doing something else. But there were other days - a lot of them - when I had so much fun I actually felt guilty about getting paid. It just didn't feel like 'work'.

That's how I felt on sunday.

The job I have now comes a pretty close second to bush regenning in the rewarding-and-mostly-fun job stakes, and sunday was the funnest day yet. I hosted a rag-rug making workshop at the Quaama hall, facilitated by an awesome and crafty local lady called Patto.

The under-side of one of Patto's proggy rugs, which has been used on the earth floor in her shed for more than 6 years!
Basically, the day consisted of a bunch of awesome women sitting around in the glorious winter sunshine sipping tea, chatting, and learning the rudiments of making rag rugs using a piece of hessian and strips of scrap fabric.

I've made a braided rag rug before (and am in the process of braiding and braiding for another, much bigger rug) but had never before encountered hooky and proggy rugs - the kind we learned about on the weekend. I'm pretty into them, and can't wait to get started. Just have the small matter of a dwelling for my family to attend to first. But I'm telling you now, our front door rug, and possibly many other rugs in our house, are going to be of the hooky variety.
One of Patto's works-in-progress - an enormous hooky rug made using old tracky-dacks and t-shirts.
The main reason I started my braided rug, and got interested in making more rugs myself, from recycled materials, is because a. bought rugs are really expensive, b. bought rugs that aren't made by really poor people in sweatshops are even more expensive and c. even though I do a lot of fabric re-using, there are still bits and pieces that are just too worn/stained/crappy to use for sewing, but still good enough to make me feel weird about sending them to the landfill (believe me a lot of fabric and clothing goes into landfill). Rag rugs, braided, knitted, crocheted, hooky or proggy are perfect for using up this kind of fabric. And once you've spent about a year making one with your own 2 hands, you won't mind spending more than a thousand bucks on a fair trade rug.
If you're interested in learning about proggy and hooky rugs, I can highly recommend this book by a kind-of local lady called Miriam Miller.
She even has a bit in there about using strips of plastic bags to make a bath mat. Awesome! And it's a super-easy thing to get started on, too. We had a 9 year old in the workshop, who is now totally obsessed with her rug - I got an email from her grandma today to tell me she hasn't put it down since she started it on sunday morning. Beautiful.


  1. Looks like you had a fabulous day Annie...those hooked rugs are gorgeous. I'm inspired to finish off my crocheted version xxmm

  2. Dang it!!! I so wish I coulda been there. Oh well, I reckon the son's birthday was a lovely reason for my absence. Will try and get some private tuition instead.
    C x

  3. I want private tuition as well. We have another copy of the book in the bookshop too.

  4. Oooooh... what a wonderful looking/sounding day! And in the sunshine too! So wish I could have been there Annie. Please let me know about any upcoming workshops and hopefully I can schedule in a Bega visit sometime soon.

    Much love to you four.

    Clairey x

  5. How do I not hear about these things when they are on dammit? Must stop being social recluse and get out there!!! :-)

  6. Wow this information is just what I'm looking for!

    Thanks for posting about the rug making, and the Proggy and Hooky Rug Book link, I just ordered one.