THE volunteers at Colne Valley Museum are keen to preserve the traditional skills which would have been in use in the 19th century.

So, this weekend visitors can see them demonstrating various ways of making the rag rugs that helped to cover the cold stone flagged cottage floors.

Rag rugs were made from pieces of woollen cloth, usually from ends of rolls from the mill or discarded clothes, ‘prodded’ into a Hessian backing. This was often from the sacks in which the fleeces had been delivered to the mills, and the wooden ‘prodder’ made from the pin used to fasten the sacks of wool.

These pieces or ‘clips’ are placed very close together which helps to keep them in position as well as making for a warm and efficient floor-covering.

The making of them often involved the whole family, some cutting the cloth while others worked at the rug frames, which can be seen in use at the museum. A simple geometric pattern was followed, usually a black edge – black cloth was very common – and in the centre a red diamond or heart was a popular design, representing the ’heart’ of the house.

These extremely hard wearing rugs helped to cover and give some warmth to the stone floors of the cottages. The newest rug – often made for Christmas – would take pride of place in the parlour if there was one, or in front of the fire in the living kitchen; the one from there would be downgraded to a passage way perhaps, and from thereon moved about, probably ending its days in the wash kitchen.

Visitors can ‘have a go’ at the different methods and take a practice piece home with them.

No booking is required and materials are free.

Rag-Rug kits and other craft kits are also available from the museum shop.

‘Rag Rug Weekend’ is today and tomorrow from 2pm to 5pm. Normal admission charges apply: Adult: £2, Child/Conc: £1.For details call 01484 659762 or go on line at: Web: