Step inside the past with a new Vintage Daze Short Story, Amana Rag Balls. This snippet is written for Tuesday Tales, where a group of authors write to a word or picture prompt each week. This week we’re writing to a picture prompt. Keep reading to take a peek at Elsie Ackerman’s life in Middle Amana, Iowa in 1890. Then go check out the other delightful tales you’ll find at Tuesday Tales.
Fraulein laughed and bent down to the basket sitting beside her. She picked up an indigo colored ball and tossed it towards Elsie. “No, child. No weaving yet. In time. In time. Today…you learn the fine art of wrapping rag balls.”
Elsie caught the fabric ball and turned it around, examining the even strips wrapping around its circular form. She lightly fingered the fraying edges and noticed how the last bit was tucked underneath another strip, keeping the ball from unraveling. This should be easy enough, she thought to herself.
“Come. We’ll get you set up back here.” Fraulein stood and motioned for Elsie to follow her.
A table stood in the corner, piled with a towering stack of folded pieces of blue dyed fabrics. All were in the same indigo blue that the Colonies were famous for. Yet each piece had its own pattern and the variance of the whole composition appeared as a pleasing ocean of blue. A pair of sharp scissors laid next to a wooden ruler and an empty basket sat on the floor, waiting to be fed its daily allotment of rag balls.
“A half an inch wide. You’ll snip the edges at the selvage, then tear it into strips.” Fraulein proceeded to show Elsie the process and then how to wrap the strips into tidy balls. She stood and watched as Elsie copied her. When she was satisfied with her student’s first fumbling attempts, she returned to her loom leaving Elsie to work on her own.
The first thirty minutes weren’t bad. The duties were new enough and Elsie had to think her way through the movements that it kept her mind on task. But soon, the routine began to get monotonous. Elsie paused and her eyes wandered to the window. The field outside, lined with the log fences that fenced most of the community pastures, looked so inviting.