“I have cabin fever,” Mom sighed as we finished our Sunday dinner of baked pork chops with mustard-cream sauce and cumin-seed cabbage. “Then let’s go for a ride,” I offered. Mom would have been satisfied with a brief ride around the neighborhoods, but I drove the Mighty V8 toward Little Cottonwood Canyon, glacier gouged and gorgeous, boasting pine forests, enormous slabs of granite, and a cascading river. We commented on the incomparable beauty of these mountains as we drove up the narrow winding road, and expressed our gratitude at having these scenes so close to home. “That’s enough for me,” Mom said as we passed the Snowbird resort. “I’m ready to go home. I don’t have cabin fever anymore.” Back at home, I pointed out how multiple consecutive triple-digit days, and some active hummingbirds, had emptied the hummingbirds’ sugar water quickly, and the feeder hung empty. We watched a tiny Black-chinned hovering, testing, and not finding liquid food. Google says the correct mix is four parts water to one part sugar—and not to add red dye—so I refilled the feeder and brought back the birds. The doorbell rang, and Carolyn D’s daughter delivered a white Afghan, crocheted with time and love and tenderness, for Dad had compiled her husband’s World War II recollections before they died with him, just in time. Like Dad, Carolyn can no longer walk well, scooting along laboriously with a walker. But she can crochet. An hour later a violent summer thunderstorm blew and spat, teasing us unkindly with scant muddy drops that streaked the windows brown. Dad sat in his kitchen chair, watching the wind whip the trees, and hazarded to Mom, “If you were to wander over here, I would give you a hug.” In other words, I want to hug you, so please come to me, since I cannot come to you. In his hoped-for embrace, he expressed to Mom, “You’re such a wonderful person. I just love you.”
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:
(Large rag rug crocheted by my mother for my kitchen–October 2015.)
When my mother, Dorothy Lucille Bawden Baker, was a child, perhaps age 6 or 7, she accompanied her mother, Dorothy Erma Evans Bawden (born 1915), and her grandmother, Dorothy Ellen Beagly Evans (born 1895), to visit her great-grandmother, Elizabeth Esther Pierce Beagly (born 1875). Grandmother Elizabeth was crocheting an oval rug from strips of cloth cut from old clothing. My mother noticed it and told them she liked it. Looking back, what caught her attention most was the notion of making something so beautiful from practically nothing: rags. My mother’s matriarchs encouraged her interest and offered to give her a crochet hook and strips of cloth. Grandfather James Edmund Evans (born 1889) carved for her an oak crochet hook. Her mother cut some cloth strips from old clothing for my mother, and taught her the crochet stitch. After my mother’s marriage in 1962, she began her serious crocheting of rag rugs, for she and her new husband, Owen Nelson Baker, Jr., had no carpet or rugs in their home. For her first project, she sat on the floor and crocheted an enormous round area rug. After retiring and moving to Utah in 1998, she began crocheting again in earnest. She found her sheets at the Deseret Industries thrift store, and bought a cutting board and cutting wheel. Her rugs can be found throughout her home and the homes of her children. She has given away many rugs as gifts to family and friends. I recently asked her to teach me to crochet. These small rugs, intended as prayer mats, are my first efforts to crochet something from nothing. I made them for my three daughters and my daughter-in-law for Christmas (2015). I hope that my girls find enjoyment in them, and in knowing that they hold a humble work of art six generations in the making.
The beginnings of Hannah’s rug, with a sun at the center.
Ringed with a light sky, ready for a darker ring of sky.
The sky is complete.
Ready to be circled with dark, rich earth.
Hannah’s rug completed.
Laura’s rug: blue evening sky trending toward sunset and night.
Erin’s rug: sun, sky, and atoll surrounded by ocean.