When Dorothy Lucille (aka Mom, b. 1939) was a child, perhaps age 6 or 7, she accompanied her mother Dorothy Erma (b. 1915) and her grandmother Dorothy Ellen (b. 1895) to visit her great-grandmother Elizabeth Esther (b. 1875). Grandma Elizabeth was crocheting an oval rug from strips of cloth cut from old clothing. Mom liked that Grandma was making something so beautiful from practically nothing: rags. Mom’s matriarchs encouraged her interest with strips of cloth rolled into balls. Grandpa James Edmond carved for her a large oak crochet hook. Mom’s mother taught her the crochet stitch. After marrying Dad, Mom began her serious crocheting of rag rugs—they had no carpet or rugs in their first home. For her first project, in 1962, she sat on the floor and crocheted an enormous round area rug, one small stitch at a time. After Dad retired and the family moved back to Utah, Mom began crocheting again in earnest. She finds her sheets at the Deseret Industries thrift store. She washes and irons them, cuts them into strips with a cutting wheel, and rolls the strips into balls, which she crochets while sitting in her recliner. Her rugs can be found throughout her home and the homes of her children and grandchildren. When I come home from work, or when we watch movies or crime shows (she loves N.C.I.S.), Mom quickly and deftly winds the crochet stitch into a growing oval with multi-colored and patterned sheets. Each rug is unique, some understated and plain, others blaring and fun. Mom taught my daughter Hannah and me the rug crochet stitch, and we have made several rugs. Hannah’s rugs represent a humble work of art six generations in the making.
Here is a sampling of Mom’s rag rugs: