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Shades of Heather

Rag rug

by Heather Ritchie
Heather Ritchie moved to the Yorkshire Dales 35yrs ago from Sunderland. It was there she learnt to make rag rugs from a farmers wife out of sheer necessity to cover cold stone floors. Her first rugs were made out of lisle stockings and recycled sacks. Functional rather than decorative. She started to experiment with colour and design, attended workshops, travelled to the States for workshops and was invited back to teach, also in Australia. Suddenly the humble rug became a thing of beauty and was now Heather's favourite pursuit. Life has never been so exciting and the village of Reeth is firmly on the rug maker's map. Many of her rug making friends from around the world descend on the village and stay for her workshops. Gone are the days of old sacks, the hessian is specially made and her husband Les makes all the hooks in many different sizes using beautiful hard woods from sustainable forests from around the world. Heather with her friend Cilla Cameron started the first British rag rug school which is held in Reeth annually bringing international teachers. It is now a firm favourite with rug makers from around the world.

Heather's latest venture is to start a rug making work shop in Zanzibar, an island off the east coast of Africa. After a visit to the island, showing the local women and children the technique, she is now working towards a return visit to help them set up a work shop to help self dependency. Heather has applied for charitable status. It is to be called "Rug Aid" Heather has been teaching the art of rug making for many years now, teaching at home in her studio and abroad.  She loves nothing better than to help keep this age old craft alive and to pass on any knowledge she has gained over the years.

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