Rags into riches. . . Wyndham woman Raewyn Leitch shows Gore Spinners, Weavers and Dyers Club president Nancy Inch how she cuts up woollen fabric into strips to make rag mats. Mrs Leitch gave demonstrations of her work at the club’s open day on Saturday. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

No-one ever showed Raewyn Leitch how to make rag mats but she has been making them since she was a teenager.

Mrs Leitch, of Wyndham, demonstrated how to make the mats at the Gore Spinners, Weavers and Dyers Club open day at the Gore Baptist Church on Saturday.

Her grandmother made the mats and Mrs Leitch used to watch her, she said.

‘‘You just absorbed what she was doing and learnt.’’

In the school holidays Mrs Leitch used to travel by train to her grandmother’s house in Palmerston.

In the early days her grandmother used sacking as the base for the mats but later used canvas.

‘‘It wasn’t dusty.’’

Mrs Leitch’s father also helped her get started making the mats.

‘‘Dad took a screwdriver to the blacksmith to get a hook made for me.’’

After she married she did more rag mat making and soon people were asking her to show them how to do it.

Later she started to sell them.

She always gave her students a piece of canvas to draw a picture of how they wanted the rug to look before they started hooking the strips in to make the mat.

She even helped some primary school pupils to make a rag mat.

‘‘They did some lovely stuff [and] we had a lot of fun.’’

Club president Nancy Inch said usually the club day was held during the week and in May. However group members who worked during the day could not usually attend the event.

‘‘We shifted it to a Saturday to accommodate them and it’s worked extremely well.’’

About 80 people attended the open day.

Member Sarah Le Roux, who spoke about the crafts she had learned as she had lived in different countries, was a ‘‘very entertaining speaker’’, Mrs Inch said.