Meet a Super Crafter: Elspeth Jackson

Elspeth Jackson

Meet Elspeth from Ragged Life who transforms old clothes into beautiful rag rug cushions, decorations and rugs.

In up to 5 steps, can you summarise your journey to becoming a crafter?

I've always been a keen crafter and have been rag rugging since I was a teenager, but in 2014 I started running rag rug workshops in my spare time to meet like-minded people and share my love of rag rugging.

After I'd been running classes for about half a year, I started to notice that more and more people were interested in the craft so I took the leap and left my job in Marketing to become a full-time crafter.

I started up my company, Ragged Life, to become the go-to place for all things rag rugging... workshops, kits, supplies and general inspiration.

Nowadays, I'm lucky enough to be one of the leading experts in the craft and in 2016, I had my first craft book "Rag Rugs, Pillows & More" published globally.

I've always been a crafter but now I'm fortunate enough to say that my job is my passion.

Why are you inspired to do what you do?

Rag rugging is a very old, traditional British craft that had fallen out of favour in the last fifty years. With the growing trend for mass-produced textiles, it was seen as an old-fashioned, fusty craft that didn't really have a place in modern homes. Why would you make a rug when you could buy one so cheaply? When I began rag rugging, I loved the upcycling element of using my old clothing which held memories, but I also loved the individuality of the craft - no two pieces look the same. Nowadays, I'm mostly inspired to create contemporary designs for modern living that bring rag rugging into the 21st century.

What reuse/upcycling project are you most proud of and why?

I've made so many rag rug pieces in the past few years that it's hard to choose between them, but I think one of my favourite projects is the rag rug pouffe I made for my book "Rag Rugs, Pillows & More". I'd never rag rugged anything that large totally in one colour before, so it was quite a leap of faith that it would look good in the end. Now I can't imagine it any other way - the block blue lets the rag rug texture do all the work and it's in pride of place in my parents' living room.

What is your most treasured tool that you use for your work?

My trusty latch hook. Rag rugging is a very simple craft so all you need is a latch hook, hessian and rags to get you started. Occasionally I rag rug on the train so I'm lucky that it's not an equipment-heavy craft.

What area of the LYC website do you use/like most?

I love looking around the 'Refashion & Upcycle' section of the Love Your Clothes website because there's ideas there for challenges that I'd never even thought about. What things can be made with a single sock, for example?

What do you think is the most important thing individuals can do to extend the life of their clothing?

Storing your clothing correctly is key to making it last longer. I find that using good quality clothes hangers makes a huge difference.

Who is your favourite designer and why?

Vivienne Westwood - she's not only at the top of her game, but also cares about the environment.

I never leave home without my…

Purse. I bought it from a local charity shop and it's made of recycled t-shirt offcuts.

My dream dinner party guests would be…

Vivienne Westwood, Kaffe Fassett, David Attenborough and Roger Federer - it would be quite an eclectic mix!

My favourite place to visit for inspiration is...

Is the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition because it's jam-packed with art in every form and has something for everyone.

The next place I want to travel to is...

Is South America because I'd love to do the Inca trail.

The next project I want to do (but never have time for) is...

Upholstering an entire sofa in rag rug - I think it would look amazing. Any volunteers?