Monday, June 4, 2012

An Artisan Who Sells Her Shirret Hand-mades

Artisan is a French word for fine design, as in Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Coco Chanel. There are many of you who are selling the Shirret rugs and objects you make at summer and church fairs.

Many people around the country make shirret, and show it, and their friends even collect it. Irene Young of Pocasset Cape Cod and Shirley Massachusetts sells her Shirret in the popular Falmouth and Sandwich Farmers markets on weekends. I first met Irene at Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft fair in Western Massachusetts. My children and I camped and brought our rugs and supplies to wool fairs for a lovely 20 times over 5 years. It was such fun.

Irene showed my 13 year old daughter Juliet, who Shirrets, the wee bunny she had in her hands that she'd just bought. We could relate, because we had a purebred Giant German Cashmere orange bunny, named Thistledown Jack, the Pumpkin King. 

We started seeing Irene everywhere we showed Shirret then - at Vermont Sheep & Wool, NY State Dutchess County New York Sheep & Wool, Connecticut Sheep and Wool, Maryland Sheep and Wool, and even at Park Slope Brooklyn Sheep and Wool. Pretty much.

When her friends are learning to Shirret from her, if they make a stitching 'mistake', she says "Don't tear it out!  Make it into something - make it a flower if it suggests that. Just DO it." In fact, the stitches in Shirret are totally hidden inside the fabric, so I make mistakes all the time and it doesn't matter.

At her booth at the Farmers Market in Sandwich or Falmouth, she says "Everything here was made by an American woman - I made it all.  Forget fair trade - this work is made here."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

If you Crochet, You Can Make cheerful Shirret Rag Rugs

If you can crochet a chain stitch and a double crochet stitch, then you can Shirret.  Recycle old fabrics by cutting up wool skirts, curtains, madras bedspreads, even knit sportswear. We cut free 'yarn'! from stash fabric. Cheap and cheerful "rag" rug making, but the rugs are luxury and look expensive, from a designer collection for the home.

I manufacture the special steel rugmaking needle you need. It was made before the Civil War and again in the 1930s.  60,000 people learned to make Shirret rugs because my granny and mom Louise McCrady taught, travelling all over the midwest and throughout New England, either personally or with their book. Then, many of you have traveled and moved and taught others to Shirret.

Louise's book, first published in 1968 and revised and updated in 1997, THE ART OF SHIRRET is filled with how-to drawings, photographs, written how-to instructions, and patterns for round rugs, oval rugs, rectangular rugs, and quilt rugs. We are THE SOURCE for SHIRRET, a pretty word Louise McCrady created to describe her very pretty rugmaking technique, in 1968.

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