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How to make rugs

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The subject of Home Industries is beginning to attract the attention of those who are interested in political economy and the general welfare of the country, and thoughtful people are asking themselves why, in all the length and breadth of America, there are no well-established and prosperous domestic manufactures.

We have no articles of use or luxury made in homes which are objects of commercial interchange or sources of family profit. To this general statement there are but few exceptions, and curiously enough these are, for the most part, in the work of our native Indians.

A stranger in America, wishing—after the manner of travelers—to carry back something characteristic of the country, generally buys what we call “Indian curiosities”—moccasins, baskets, feather-work, and the one admirable and well-established product of Indian manufacture, the Navajo blanket. But these hardly represent the mass of our people.

We may add to the list of Indian industries, lace making, which is being successfully taught at some of the reservations, but as it is not as yet even a self-supporting industry, the above-named “curiosities” and the Navajo blanket stand alone as characteristic hand-work produced by native races; while from our own, or that of the co-existent Afro-American, we have nothing to show in the way of true domestic manufactures.

When we contrast this want of production with the immense home product of Europe, Asia, parts of Africa, and South America—and even certain islands of the Southern Seas—we cannot help feeling a sort of dismay at the contrast; and it is only by a careful study of the conditions which have made the difference that we become reassured. It is, in fact, our very prosperity, the exceptionally favourable circumstances which are a part of farming life in this country, which has hitherto diverted efforts into other channels.

These conditions did not exist during the early days of America, and we know that while there was little commercial exchange of home commodities, many of the arts which are used to such profitable purpose abroad existed in this country and served greatly to modify home expenses and increase home comforts. To account for the cessation of these household industries, it is only necessary to notice the drift of certain periods in the short history of America’s settlement and development.

We shall see that the decline of domestic manufactures in New England and the Middle States was coincident with two rapidly increasing movements, one of which was the opening and settlement of the great West, and the other the establishment of cotton and woolen mills throughout the country.

In short, the abundant acreage of Western lands, fertile beyond the dreams of New England or Old World tillers, threw the entire business of production or family support upon the man. The profit of his easily acquired farm land was so great and certain that it became almost a reproach to him to have his womenkind busy themselves with other than necessary household duties.

The cotton and woolen mills stood ready to supply the needed material for clothing, and it was positive economy to push the spinning-wheel out of sight under the garret eaves and chop up the bulky loom for firewood....