origin of this rug is an old Scandinavian technique that was used to
make mittens, hats and even milk strainers of all things. The original
complex technique was brought to the United States by immigrants long
ago. It was modified during the 1930's to the easy method that we use
today. This is thought to have been done by WPA workers in Minnesota.
These rugs were very
popular during World Wars I and II as well as the Depression. All of
which were times when fabrics and money were scarce.
Though a toothbrush
rug looks similar to a braided rug, it takes half as much fabric, 9
yards instead of 18 yards for a 2' by 3' rug. In the decades following
the Depression, the Toothbrush Rug all but disappeared, until the early 80's when the
craft was rediscovered and passed along to students from all walks of life.
A very interesting
article by Lila Nelson appeared in the fall 1987 Weaver's Journal
which traced the history and several of the various techniques used for
making toothbrush rugs.