In April, the guest speaker at the Tin Pedlar meeting was Rose Ann Hunter . In 2005, she became the artist in residence at Old Sturbridge Village in traditional rug making. She spoke about and demonstrated some of her adapted and developed techniques for knitting, crocheting, and sewing rugs. Her passion for the shirred and standing wool rugs caught my attention. Here was something I could use the blanket weight wool for! I talked further to Rose Ann after her presentation. She stressed the point that it was all about manipulating your fabric. Our fore bearers used whatever they had on hand, in whatever way they could, to get a finished and useful product.
To me this shirring looked fairly simple to do, with the added benefit of needing very little low cost equipment besides the wool. All I would need was a heavy weight thread (10 oz or button) and a very long needle (doll sculpture 3-5″). I started preparing the wool by tearing it into pieces about 1″ wide and as long as possible. Once I had a supply of each color I would be using, I started to play around – manipulating. I tried 1 layer of wool, I tried 2 layers of the same color, and I tried 2 layers of different wool. I liked the look of the 2 layers of different wools. Now how tight to shir? I tried keeping it loose and then pushing it up tight. The tight worked for me. Using 2 different wool layers sown together with a running stitch, pushing them up tight, aligning the different wools and then coiling them I got a braided look with a funkiness. I loved how the colors worked into each other.
First I’d do a section with the running stitch, push up tight, untwist/straighten the wools and then stitch along the last coil. In stitching the rug coils together I just push the needle through multiple layers and then push it back out. In and out every 1/2″ or so.