The Crocheted Rug
( Originally Published 1914 )
However humble may be the kindred crafts of knitting and crocheting, much interest may be developed in them through a thoughtful consideration of their technical possibilities. Any one, you would say, can crochet even if she cannot knit. So much the better then, for more craft workers will find that even such a simple art as crocheting combined with thought and de-sign can be made worth while.
The crocheted rug in this chapter is related to the knitted rug of the preceding chapter through the tool used in making it, for they are both needle-made rugs. But here the likeness ends, for the crocheted rug is more closely related to the braided rug of the first chapter because of actual similarity in the construction. Though the. braided rug is made with a very different kind of needle from the knitting needle, its coiled construction is also characteristic of the crocheted rug.
In the braided rug, the three-stranded braid begins at the central point of the rug's construction, and grows around and around it in widening curves out toward the edge. The action of the braid in this rug gives its design a distinctive appearance and produces certain ornamental effects which cannot be obtained by any other manner of rug-making.
The stitch of the crocheted rug, which, decoratively speaking, is its unit of construction, has a line action similar to that of the braided rug, and also controls its design.
Two more examples of this type of construction are found in the coiled pottery and coiled basketry of the Navajo Indians. Both these crafts get their names from the type of their construction. The coiled pottery is only similar to the crocheted rug in its purely constructive features, for clay demands a different kind of surface decoration from cotton thread. The likeness in the coiled basket is closer to the crocheted rug for its material is more similar, and it too is built up stitch by stitch. The basket is made of grass fiber and the rug of strands of cotton cloth, and the stitch which is used to construct them is consistent with the material of which they are made. In both, the stitch, which is the unit of construction, produces the effect in .surface ornament of a succession of small squares, which follow the action of the coil from one widening curve to the other from the center of the rug out to the edge. Therefore as these structurally ornamental stitches produce the same kind of pat-tern in the rug as in the basket, any design which could be applied to one would also be suitable for the other, and the design for this rug has been adapted from a coiled basket made by the Navajo Indians. The colors used in it are colors which are also characteristic of the Navajo basket.
The design is abstract in character, for the stitch of the crocheted rug suggests a formal type of ornament. It is in fact almost geometrical but as the structural features in this rug are rather pronounced, this type of ornament .harmonizes well with them.
The most successful plans for any kind of handicraft are those which have a tendency to weld together surface ornament and structure. Almost every technique develops two styles of design, one which is structural and one which appears in various forms of surface pattern.
The one can be best interpreted by line; the other by spots of tone or color value. Thus structural features become ornamental through the repetition of tone or color value on care-fully selected points of the line action.
When the technique of any kind of handicraft shows a disposition to control the character of its surface ornament, it is well to respect this tendency because over-ornamentation is one of the evils of the present day. In-deed more often than not ornament is used to cover the defects in a weak construction.
Another example of the construction similar to that of the crocheted rug, and one which is more familiar perhaps than either the coiled pottery or the baskets of the Indian tribes, is the crocheted table mat, used under hot dishes for the purpose of protecting a polished table. These are made of white cot-ton thread. In this medium, surface pattern in tone and color cannot be carried out, and the only design which can be distinguished in these mats is that made by the action of thc stitches as they follow the construction. These mats are made in round, oval and hexagonal forms and the crocheted rug can be made in these same shapes.
The model crocheted rug is a round rug 38 inches in diameter; the colors used in it will be sharply contrasting tones of brown and yellow. It is necessary to use sharply contrasting tones of color in order to carry out success-fully the effect of the pattern. This rug could be suitably placed in a living-room, bedroom or bathroom.
TOOLS AND MATERIALS NEEDED
One wooden crochet needle; five-gallon cop-per kettle; a pair of wooden spoons; one ounce of lump alum; two ounces of extract of catechu; one-fourth ounce of copper sulphate; one-fourth ounce of bichromate of potash; twenty yards of unbleached cotton muslin.
PREPARATION OF MATERIALS
Divide the twenty yards into two lots of ten yards each, reserving one for the catechu brown and one for the peach-leaf yellow. Wash them as usual to remove the oil from the cotton, then tear them into strips one inch wide by the method recommended in the braided rug. Tearing the material before it is dyed makes the dyeing easier. Wind the torn material into hanks of a convenient size for dyeing.
DYE RECIPES FOR THE CROCHETED RUGS
Peach-leaf Yellow: This dye which is a beautiful and permanent straw-colored yellow is obtained from the leaves of the peach tree. These give a stronger color if gathered and used in the fall of the year but are valuable at any season.
After wetting the hanks of muslin which have been reserved for this color, immerse them in the dye bath which has already been pre-pared by soaking two quarts of green peach leaves in warm water with a small lump of the alum. Boil these together with the material for about an hour or until the desired shade of yellow is reached. Do not boil too long for then a brownish tone is apt to come into the dye. , Remove and dry, then rinse and dry and wind into balls for crocheting.
Brown with Catechu: This dyestuff which is the extract of several kinds of East Indian tree barks gives good and permanent shades of browns in tones of yellow and red according to the treatment used. It is a valuable color for the craftsman.
Catechu extract comes in the form of a dry paste. Take the two ounce piece of extract and after sewing it in a small cheesecloth bag, soak it in a quart of cold water in a porcelain bowl over night. In the morning add four gallons of boiling water and one-fourth ounce lump of copper sulphate. After the sulphate is dissolved, immerse the hanks of torn thread reserved for the brown and let it come to a boil in the dye kettle. Remove the kettle from the stove and let the hanks steep in it over night or until absolutely cold. Then take them out of the dye and let them dry thoroughly in the open air. Take a lump of bichromate of. potash about the size of a hazel nut, and dissolve it in two gallons of warm water. Dip into it each hank of thread dyed in the catechu and after taking each out, let it dry before using it. Then wind it into balls for crocheting.
Iron Buff and Gray with Tannic Acid over Iron Buff: It is impossible to get peach leaves to carry out the scheme with the straw-colored yellow; a very light tone of the iron buff used in the chapter on the needle-woven rug may be substituted for it and used in combination with the catechu brown, or gray may be substituted for the brown. This gray is developed by first dyeing the iron buff and then dipping it in a solution of tea leaves. This gray is perfectly fast to light and alkalis.
CROCHETING THE RUG
The stitch used in crocheting this rug is plain crotchetstitch. It looks more like cross-stitch when executed, than any other of the crocheted stitches. Make. one loop on the needle and then form a second by taking off the thread, then crochet both loops which are on the needle leaving one loop again on the needle. There are never more than two loops of thread on the needle at a time. Begin the rug by making a loop of the light yellow thread large enough to accommodate twelve stitches and crochet into it twelve stitches of the dark brown. The ends of the two threads, that is, the yellow and brown should be sewn together before the loop is made. Now tie a marker of white thread into this first round of stitches. The threads in the crocheted rug are continuous; while the thread of one color is being used, the thread of the other color is slipped under and the stitches are crocheted over it. This manner of using a continuous thread has two distinct advantages, it saves unnecessary piecing, and the thread which is not in use pads out the rug, making it more substantial. The thread underneath the stitch should be pulled up occasionally to keep the stitches firm.