String Crochet
(Baling Twine) Rugs

by Diana Blake Gray
Master Rugmaker

I first came across string crochet rugs in a reference in an 1869 Godey’s Ladies Book Magazine. It was just a short paragraph describing in general terms a “clever” rug that the correspondent had seen. The rug was made of baling twine crocheted over burlap sacking and being used as a door mat. She did not offer any further information. I just took her basic idea and tried it out with cotton yarn and sewing fabric. It worked like a charm.

String crochet worked back and forth in rows

The next reference to the technique was in Needlecraft Magazine, Sept. 1925
Question: I have seen some table-mats or hot dish mats which looked almost as if woven, but on close inspection, seemed to be made of a strand of material worked over with crochet. Can anyone send something of this kind? Mrs. R. J., New Hampshire
Note: The editors of the magazine did not respond. The request refers to the string crochet method. Of course the making of rag rugs was a rural pursuit, often ignored by the needlework publications.

In 1985 I included the string crochet method in A Rugmakers Sampler, but it wasn’t until the following year that I found an example at an antique store and it was just a dollhouse rug. In the early 1990s, I included the basics of string crochet in the first edition of Crocheted & Fabric Rugs, which elicited the following letter. In 1985 I included the string crochet method in A Rugmakers Sampler, but it wasn’t until the following year that I found an example at an antique store and it was just a dollhouse rug. In the early 1990s, I included the basics of string crochet in the first edition of Crocheted & Fabric Rugs, which elicited the following letter:

Detail of Roseann’s string crochet rug made by her Grandmother

Dear Diana,
A quick Grandma story . . . When they were alive, both my grandmother and grandfather made rag rugs on looms. I remember seeing mounds and mounds of rags rolled into balls for the loom. When she died, I got an oval rug that I thought had been made (somehow) on their looms because it looks just like them — after reading my “Crocheted and Fabric Tapestry Rugs” from cover to cover,
I realized it is string crochet!

My sister is excited for me to make one for her as it seems I’ve got the only one of Grandma’s left. Unfortunately, she’ll have to wait. I’ve got so many other wonderful ideas from your book, I’m sure I won’t get to it for quite some time. Roseann

Over the years I’ve played around with the technique making rugs and totebags and have come to appreciate the versatility of the string crochet. Currently the only instructions available are in a bulletin (it is NOT in the Handbook).

Publications in our catalog
Rugmakers Bulletin #14: String Crochet Rugs (basic instructions for both the back-and-forth and oval shapes)

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