For all but 2 or 3 of the last 31 years we have been meeting my parents at Rollag, MN for the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion. You can check it out here http://www.rollag.com/ It has become a family tradition we enjoy. There are old tractors, buildings, steam and gas engines, a parade, great food, a train to ride, old time music and a ladies activities building. Several years ago we met a woman in the ladies building making round rugs on a metal ring. She called them Wagon Wheel Rugs. I found it interesting, I've always loved handcrafts and this was something new. I was to learn later that it was not new but rather an old art.
Year after year we would visit with the woman and I got braver about asking questions and one year I said to my mom, "If I could find a ring, I think I could do this." Mom looked at me and asked "Well, do you want grandma Mabel"s?" This was the first that I had any idea that my dad's mother had made rugs like this. Dad and Mom dug it out of an old outbuilding, I got it, cleaned it up and got started weaving! It is in reality an old iron buggy wheel rim.
My first rug took more than 36 hours to complete and many yards of fabric. Since then I have made several dozen using recycled cotton and poly cotton sheets. The large size, my buggy wheel rim, takes 3 full size rugs and the smaller is 30 inches (pictured) and takes 2 full size sheets. The one pictured is made on a round piece of scrap iron my hubby found and I also have used bike tire rims.
I have been fortunate to demonstrate the rugs at art shows, threshing shows and community days. Another connection with my past. Grandma didn't teach me how to do this but it's something of hers I can share with this generation.
I don't know much about the history of these unique rugs but I did find that it is believed they were made by the women on the wagon trains as they crossed our great country. I would love to learn more, if you have info, please pass it on!