Five Green Acres Mary Jo + Andrew Borchardt Poynette, WI
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I have no choice – we have cold feet.

I have no choice – we have cold feet.
February 5, 2009 Mary Jo

What might you get if you mix a little bit of DIY empowerment, a pregnancy-altered sense of urgency, budget constraints, and cold feet?  A rag rug of gargantuan proportion for the living room.  (of course)

We recently graduated from the IKEA rug that formerly graced our living room floor and transferred it, in all its pug-hair-encrusted, dingy glory to a new home in the playroom, where it was better proportioned to the space and far less aesthetically offensive.  Little did we realize the impact that a rug has on the heat retention of a room.  Even with slippers, mandatory to our dresscode, those hard wood floor are FROSTY, sucking every last joule of heat from an already paltry supply.  Digging into my bag of tricks, I consulted the usual channels of getting stuff:  craigslist, ebay, google searches, local stores, even Target. Nothing to satisfy the aesthetic or budgetary requirements.  I realized with some foreboding that I’d have to make it myself if I wanted to solve the problem now. And NOW was of utmost importance.  Did I mention that we’ve got a baby on the way?

I’ve made a rag rug before, but not even this fog of hormones will allow me to forget how LONG it took to make.  The process of cutting thrifted clothing into 1″ strips to crochet turned out to be so tedious that I required a months-long respite after each cutting session.  Maybe if I focus all my super-productive attention on a rug now, that would be different?  With some skepticism, I visited the Mecca of thrifted raw materials, our local St. Vincent De Paul Dig & Save, where you literally dig through pallet-size boxes of thrift-store rejects and buy them by the pound.  Visit on a Wed. and you’ll find the clothing to be half off, at 50 cents a pound.  If you can look past the grime, the smell, and the tedious method of digging and view the goods as fabric rather than clothing,  you can score some terrific raw materials for a steal.  It’s my fabric store of choice.  In fact, if you’ve ever met me in the flesh, chances are really good that I’ve mentioned Dig & Save somewhere in our conversation, so personally do I take the self-imposed mission to save these clothes from the landfill.  I consider myself something of a Dig & Save missionary.

Even with this perceived Life Purpose, there was little inspiration to be found from that visit, and “digging” with this belly was not so productive, so I hit the second tier of Getting Things:  antique stores.  Nothing.  Would we be resigned to frozen feet for the rest of the winter?  Not on my watch.

Problem, meet solution.  Yardage.  Like the kind normal people buy from a Fabric Store.  The kind that is rectangular in nature, not shaped as a yoke or sleeve or pant leg. The kind that doesn’t yet have any seams in it to cut out before use.  Aha!

Turns out our fabric store has a Red Dot clearance section, with bolts and bolts of fabric at $3 or $4 a yard.  Sweet.  I left with these three bolts of green, some 22 yards among them, and a smile on my face.

Cutting it into strips turned out to be a breeze, employing my rotary cutter, mat, and straight edge ruler.  With a little know-how, I was able to cut a whole yard of fabric into a continuous strip.

Of course, true to myself, I already had a healthy stash of Dig & Save greens that I’ll be working into the rug.

Cutting one basket of clothing into strips rather than 5 or 10 seems much more manageable to me, allowing me instead to spend the bulk of this time actually crocheting the strips, which I love to do.

It is indeed the perfect project to pair with our new-found kitchen-based lifestyle, rocking in front of the fire, crocheting rags together.  As I sat and rocked and crocheted last night by the fire, I felt as if the boundaries of time were blurred.  Surely some other woman has done the very same thing in this house, using the resources at hand to fill a void and nuture her family.  The luxury I have that she likely didn’t is that of choosing the materials to meet an artistic requirement, creating out of desire rather than necessity.

And if all of this seems like a convoluted way to say “I’m making a rag rug for the living room,” it’s only because I’m trying to rationalize the craziness for myself.  I’m in my third trimester of pregnancy, with a to-do list a mile long, and yet this project is of UTMOST IMPORTANCE.  Like everything else on that list, I might add. So let this be a test of Nesting Instinct:  can a woman half-crazy accomplish such a feat in the remaining 10 or so weeks before Baby arrives?  We’ll see.  I’ll be regularly posting about my progress, so stay tuned.

Oh – I almost forgot to mention.  The rug’s target size is 8ft by 10ft.  C-R-A-Z-Y.

Wish me luck!

Instant Gratification Magic: see the finished rug here! (edited 4/18/11)

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