8 questions with ‘Rag Rug Creations’ author Lynne Stein

We recently caught up with Rag Rug Creations author Lynne Stein to talk about her work, inspirations, and writing process. If you are looking for a new project to start up over Easter … read on!

9781408157565Why rag rugs? What do you want to explore about this topic that you feel has not been adequately covered elsewhere?

So many things!

I wanted to explore the medium’s capacity for translating visual imagery, including children’s art, in both a colourful and textural, tactile way, as well as the extent to which it can be a photogenic medium.

I also wanted to convey its versatility in the construction of both decorative and functional objects, and how it can be used very successfully in combination with other techniques and processes, such as felt making, fleece sculpture, beadwork …

rug sampleAli Rhind - Totems

Finally, to raise awareness. This is an inexpensive eco-friendly craft, and the basic techniques are easily learnt and satisfying; it is very suited also to collaborative making and group and family projects, and as such, is socially as well as creatively therapeutic.

Were there any surprises along the way during the book-writing process?

Firstly, the generosity and cooperation of many contributors, especially since I then had to omit the inclusion of some works from various makers and museum collections, because of image count limitations – this was difficult. I was also surprised by the utter indispensability of the internet, as a means of researching and connecting with people and organisations with such speed and efficiency.

On a more personal level, my actual enjoyment of writing also caught me by surprise – together with the almost-grieving process, certainly an anti-climax, when the book is “done”.

Writing the book also made me notice how bad my hands and finger nails look in many photos – I should have had a few manicures!

What was the best part of the process?

allotment veggie markers

I really enjoyed designing and making suitable projects for the book, and devising a range that might suit different ages and levels of experience. This came accompanied by a strong visual and pedagogical aspect: setting up photo shoots, considering best angles for shots, and how best to explain a particular project step or technique in visual terms.

Occasionally certain photographic locations led to some unexpected conversations and relationships with the people there, such as at the allotments for the Veggie Markers project.

How did you find working on a book whilst at the same time managing your workshops?

Tricky! Writing a book, as an author friend reminded me at the outset of writing mine, is “like being pregnant and giving birth.” A pretty good analogy. The whole process of putting it together is with you constantly from start to finish, even on holiday. I’ve ensured that I had the necessary tools and fabrics to work on certain projects whilst many miles away from home.

I have sat in cafes in Jerusalem writing, at the end of a day, running my textile project in the children’s dental clinic there.

My workshops and the people who come to them frequently present me with with new challenges, criteria, fresh ideas and inspiration. This all feeds into the thinking and making process; and all aspects of what I do, including talks and demonstrations, are, I think, mutually beneficial to one another, so long as they are sensibly spaced in the diary!

Oswestry workshop, April 2014

What is your favourite story, anecdote, part or image of the book?

postcard from Helsinki
Kaisa Takala, Minna Piironen, Hanna-Liisa Pykala, Postcard from Helsinki, 2010.

I loved that I finally managed to track down the makers of the interesting knotted plastic waste project in Finland, after snapping it whilst on a bus in Helsinki, and that this was followed by many emails with each of the design students involved.


Lynne Stein - headpiece

Another favourite is the image of Merc wearing one of the hair accessories. It suits her so well that it has had to become part of her permanent wardrobe!

When I made the first prototype my family weren’t impressed, until I later discovered that the designer Marc Jacobs was doing very similar headwear that season. Once they saw Merc modelling it, they changed their minds, and thought it was very cool!

What’s your favourite creation/project?

The bird really appeals to me. I really enjoy using the medium to construct quirky 3D characters, using fragile fabrics like nets and gauzes, and combining these with old buttons and beads for legs.

Lynne Stein - Bird
Lynne Stein, Bird, 2008.Hand-hooked, beading, stitch. Mixed fabrics and fibres, wire, recycled buttons and beads. The three-dimensional form is created by the template shape and the manner in which it is stitched.

I also like the tote bag idea. It is simple, doesn’t require a frame, and it’s a great way of creating something personal and unique. It is proving to be a great hit at workshops, and I am continuing the idea with the children at the clinic in Jerusalem in April.


What next?

Bookings for talks, demos and workshops, including the monthly workshops in my home/studio!

I am also working on the digital photographic reproduction of collaged and reconfigured fragments and elements of my work, for print processes, and creating printed box canvases, suitable for domestic, public and corporate spaces.

At the same time, I’m researching into the motivation for creative expression by exiled individuals and populations: the links that exist between making and crafting objects, and the longing for home.

Any advice/tips for your readers?

Start with something relatively simple, collect a varied and interesting fabric range of colours, patterns and textures and … play, play, play!

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And just so you can … here’s the pattern for Lynne’s fabulous Alice headband mentioned above. If you think you can beat Marc Jacobs we hope you show us the result @BloomsburyFashn!

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Lynne at work

Lynne Stein ’s work has been exhibited widely, and commissioned for a variety of public, corporate and domestic spaces.

She has taught extensively in community, educational and healthcare settings, and also runs private workshops. She has been the recipient of support from Arts Council England, and her work has featured in books and magazines, and on television and radio broadcasts.

Lynne recently ran a successful community project with AgeUK, in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. She also runs an annual interfaith community textile project within a children’s dental clinic in Jerusalem.

She has also been hard at work organising a launch party for Rag Rug Creations together with her local Waterstones branch in Knutsford, next Thursday 20th March from 7.30 pm. There will be a live band, drinks and canapes, plus the chance to meet Lynne and get a signed copy of the book. The following week, Lynne will be back for a workshop on Sunday 6 April 2014, from 13:00 to 16:00 pm, so everyone can have a go! No booking required.

You can see more of Lynne’s work here: www.lynnestein.com


  1. Lynne is such an amazing woman and artist. I remember seeing her work for the first time in Neston, Cheshire in 1993 and being completely captivated by it – and her! Congratulations, Lynne! Your work is beautiful! And such fun!

  2. Lynnes new book is delightful. I first met her many years ago at a lovely workshop in Halifax, and have admired her creativity and rugs since then. She has been very generous in sharing with the reader her unique design style. The combination of art, glorious texture, bold colour mixes and mixed media is inspiring.
    The book includes reassuringly clear beginner projects, and more inspirational ideas, supported by clear instructions.
    I am sure our group will be trying out of the projects soon… I want to make that hat as well….

  3. So this is my very first time acquiring weave from them before… Being A first-time customer I am quite content since the shipping was very fast since they’ve obtained
    and my relative proposed this seller, the communication was wonderful, and that I got just what I ordered….

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