Proliferating in regions where the winters were long, the climate cold and the economy limited, American hooked rugs were traditionally made by pulling a narrow strip of cut fabric up through a foundation material with a special tool. Settling in coastal New England and Canada, the fishermen, farmers and the womenfolk who emigrated from Northern Europe, brought with them traditional crafts and a common culture that led to the evolution of handmade rugs that are now considered a significant category of American folk art. Motifs for American hooked rugs were often inspired by the maker's natural environment consisting of sea shells, fallen leaves, animals, the family dog, buildings, flowers, baskets, seascapes and landscape vignettes. From the early 1800s through the middle years of the twentieth century these original compositions allowed the rug makers an opportunity to freely express their creativity. Rag rugs were originally created out of necessity, with limited supplies and only the simplest tools used to braid and crochet useful floor coverings from scraps of discarded fabric. Because of their authenticity and beauty, antique American hooked rugs and rag rugs are keenly sought after.