Last weekend I attended Fort Umpqua Days in Elkton, Oregon (pic source). I enjoyed watching the period recreations (e.g., blacksmithing, dyeing, baking in big cast iron pots, etc.). Not surprisingly, I especially liked the room at the fort used by the Elkton Fiber Group where the members demonstrated an array of fiber-related arts and crafts, including spinning, carding, and weaving. (For more information about the Elkton Fiber Group, contact ECEC.)Admiring a cotton rag rug in progress on a 200 year old handmade loom brought over many years ago by a Norwegian immigrant to Oregon, the weaver told me she also buys “wooly worms” – selvedge edges of Pendleton’s wool blankets – from Pendleton Woolen Mill to use as rug weft. The mill store is in Portland so I knew I’d have to pay it a visit.
Two days later, however, I stumbled across a surprisingly good find at a local thrift shop: two very large bags of strips of variously colored fulled wool wrapped into wheels, each strip about 2in/5cm wide, as well as 2 cones of linen thread (rug warp weight). As I was on my bike, there was no way I could bring them home, so I paid for bags, cycled home and returned with my car.
Most of the wool strips are plain weave, though there are several tweed and a few textured:
I pulled out my scale and tape measure and did some calculations. The 2 in/5cm fulled wool strips totaled 33 lbs/720y (14.9k/658m). Quite a find for $20, wouldn’t you say?
My hunch is that these beautiful items belonged to a maker of braided wool rugs, as also included in one of the bags is a partially completed, beautifully braided and stitched, heart-shaped wool rag rug. Further, there were more colors and yardage needed for a unfinished single small wool rag rug, each roll carefully wound tight and fastened closed with a pin.
I’m always amazed by fiber-related surprises I’ve found at thrift shops! Have you ever been surprised by fiber supplies or related accessories at thrift shops?