Friday, 3 July 2009

Penny Rugs

I have enjoyed a little two hour workshops making a tiny "penny rug" which is a traditional craft from the U.S.A and stems from the original recycling days when little mats were made from old blankets and wool clothing. Now that recycling is important again Jacqui Calladine, who lives in Kinver, Shropshire, England, presents this little historical session introducing the craft. She uses old woollen blankets hand-dyed with Procion dyes and vinegar. The colours all blend well together as they are muted. The finished product is about 8" square.

I like the way the wool can be cut and won't fray - but it's not like any bought wool felt that I have come across. It is slightly prickly on a hot summer's night. We simply arranged our cut circles in a way which pleased us and blanket stitched them on.
I think it was a fun idea with lots of potential for expansion!

Yesterday I visited the Ferrer's Craft Centre at Staunton Harold in Leicestershire to meet my old (she won't like that word) friend Linda Alton (Linda Loup designs). She has been making superb silver jewellery for a few years and is now going to Uni to study art which she didn't have chance to do in her younger years. Lucky lucky Linda!
This is the church near the craft centre which is part of the Caulke Abbey Estate. What an English scene. I can hear Elgar!

There was a very interesting artist called Michelle Holmes who makes machine and hand embroidered pictures which I loved. She has an exhibition near Bath in the Summer which I shall try to get to.
Meanwhile I have also picked some bumper crops at the allotment and shall be making this recipe tonight which was sent to me from my friend Keith. I like a man who has recipes up his sleeve! Here it is:

Serves 4

900g new potatoes
Light olive oil
450g broad beans in pods
340g cherry tomatoes
Handful salad leaves
12 olives(of choice)

2tablespoons champagne vinegar (apple cider or white wine vinegar for us normal people).
6tablespoons extra virgin olive oil A handful of fresh mint leave (stalks removed)
1 garlic clove, peeled & chopped

* Preheat oven(200C/400F/ gas mark 6)
* Toss the potatoes in a roasting tin with a little olive oil, salt & pepper.
Cover & roast until tender (about 30mins) then set aside to cool.
* While the potatoes are roasting, pod the beans. Bring a small pan of water to the boil & add 0.5 teaspoon salt.
* Drop the beans into the water & cook for 1-2 mins.
* Drain & plunge into iced water to stop them cooking & set the colour. If the beans are big you may want to pinch
off the outer skin revealing the tender bright green bean inside.
* Cut the toms in half, place them in a colander over a bowl & sprinkle with a little salt. Wash & dry the salad leaves.
* Combine the dressing ingredients in a blender with a fat pinch of salt & blend until smooth.
* Preheat the griddle. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise, or quarters if they are big.
* Place the potatoes on the hot grill, & grill until they are golden and crisp & defined grill marks appear.
* Toss the potatoes, beans & toms in the mint dressing. Adjust seasoning if necessary with a splash of vinegar, salt
& pepper.
* Loosely arrange the leaves on a serving platter (plate for non aristocracy!!), spoon the veg over & garnish with a few black olives.


  1. I love working with wool.... A penny rug has been on my "to-do" list forever.

    Recipe looks yummy. I'll have to try it when my potatoes are just a little further along.

  2. i love the look of the penny rugs and have not seen them before.

  3. the penny rug is very sweet - lovely pastel colours - i have been collecting second hand wool blankets from opshops.
    what a beautiful setting for that church, and what a scrummy looking haul from the allotment, and a great recipe. i was going to poke fun at you for having champagne vinegar (are you secretly Nigella?) but i see you stopped me in my tracks!

  4. A post full of riches! I must bookmark this and come back tomorrow! I could reach in and touch the felt...the harvest bounty....

  5. what a pretty rug you are making!

    {thank you for playing along on my give away post from the other day , and for your kind words about my blog :)}

  6. This post appeals to almost all the senses! Love the colours and the idea behind the penny quilt, and that idyllic view of the church near the craft centre. What an interesting recipe, and your allotment produce looks wonderful - so fresh and juicy.

  7. It's absolutely new and enchanting too...Rugsin a different mold...I loved it...

  8. What a lovely idea for the Penny blanket. Recylced woolen items - blankets and jumpers esp if felted even now seems to be a bit underated. This is a nice idea and the colours are gorgeous.
    The recipe sounds delicious and if we didn't already have a homemade chicken and mushroom risotto I would be seriously tempted, perhaps over the weekend.

  9. I love your rugs,nice collection pictures ..get more beautiful and gorgeous rugs as i got.

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