Rugs and Their Stories
Recycling is not a new concept!
Finding new uses for old things was important for homesteaders and Pioneers in early Utah.
Traditionally, rag rugs are made from leftover scraps of clothing, bedding, and sacks that are woven together. Twining is a weaving method that requires the use of a wooden frame (loom) with nails lining the top and bottom. The nails hold scraps of fabric pulled tight forming a vertical warp .Other fabric scraps, the weft, are twisted and woven horizontally through the warp creating a crocheted or braided effect.
Sadly, there is not much documentation of rag rugs before the 19th century. This is likely due to the fact that it was a common and uneventful aspect of domestic life. The introduction of machine produced fabrics gave rise to more rag rugs. Many people continue to make rag rugs today for their utility and to honor the hard work of their ancestors.
Deeanna made her first rug when she was 15 for a 4-H project that she submitted to the Wayne County Fair. She learned how to twine rag rugs from her mother, Linda Chappell, who learned from Grace Afton Durfee, Deeanna’s grandmother.
The warp was made from her father’s old coverall jeans. The weft was woven with bits of fabric from several of her mother’s old aprons, favorite shirts, and leftover fabric from some of the dresses that Linda had handsewn for her daughters.
Grace grew up during the Depression and lived by the motto, “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” Deeanna follows this principle today as she continues making rag rugs. Deeanna included scraps of clothing from her mother and father in this rug.
Grace finished this colorful rag rug a few months before she died at age 96 in 2008. This rug is one of Deeanna's most treasured keepsakes from her grandmother.
Grace Afton Durfee
Grace first learned to create twined rag rugs at the age of 22, during the height of the Great Depression in 1933 while living in Almo, Idaho. A neighbor from Scandinavia instructed her in the craft, and she eventually brought the tradition to Wayne County, Utah.
She taught community and church groups how to twine. Rag rugs made by local artisans can now be purchased at the historic Gifford House and other shops around Capitol Reef National Park.