Fourth generation rag rug maker, Delores “Dee” Nierman weaves on a barn loom that was built in 1864 for her great-grandmother, Sarah Cox Collins. She explains, this loom has “seen many, many miles of rugs and carpets come off of there.” While Dee weaves on the loom that came to her from her mother, Dee can trace weaving through both sides of her family tree. Dee’s niece for instance, Margaret Luckey, makes rugs on a loom from Dee’s father’s side of the family. After Dee’s father died when she was only two years old, her mother would weave to support the family. She recalls, “We needed a little income, and my mother would weave some rugs. And when I was young, I wound the shuttle. I’d be too little for my feet to reach the treadles.”
Although she learned the craft out of necessity, weaving has remained an enjoyable practice throughout Dee’s life. She explains, “That's where I do my thinking... [about] the years gone by, my childhood, some happy thoughts. You know the world’s so busy nowadays, and I just enjoy having my time for myself to do my own thinking – my own thoughts.”
Known locally as the “rag rug lady,” Dee has long been an ambassador of fiber arts in southern Indiana. She and Margaret participate in regional fairs and festivals, where their rugs are met with an enthusiastic market. As Dee puts it, “you’ve got to either sell the rugs or stop making them!” In addition, she has demonstrated her craft at area school and libraries, moreover, she has often opened her home to anyone interested in learning more about her rugs and family tradition.