Dianne & Christine’s Excellent Adventure

Dianne and Christine’s excellent adventure started in Buffalo, NY, where Dianne landed on Monday at the Buffalo airport.  Christine picked her up and we proceeded east:  destination Oneida.


Oneida Community Mansion House & Museum

Oneida, NY is home to the Oneida Community Mansion House and Museum, where the braided silk tapestries of Jessie Catherine Kinsley are on display.  We had seen two of the braided tapestries at the Sauder Village display, but we wanted to see the whole collection.

Jessie Kinsley (1858 – 1938) was born into a religious utopian commune called the Oneida Community.  This utopia included some interesting ideas about marriage and child-rearing.  Overall, it was a good cooperative community that was a happy place.


One of the panels in “Bewitched,” by Jessie Kinsley.  Exquisite borders, velvet braided tree trunks, and notice how she wove some sparkle through the braid in the top border.

Jessie married when the community broke up and raised a family.  As a widow in her 50’s, she turned to braiding as her artistic outlet.  She collected scraps of silk and velvet, braided them together, and made beautiful landscapes that were embellished with braided people, sheep, trees, etc.  Many of the tapestries were quite large, covering entire walls, although she also made smaller ones; they were often inspired by poetry that she embroidered onto the works.  More info:  http://www.oneidacommunity.org


Dianne in the sun outside the museum

We then headed northeast to Burlington, VT.  Relying on our GPS while we chatted away, and with only an hour remaining before we were due at a reception, we suddenly found ourselves on the edge of a lake at an empty ferry dock.  We were quite dismayed, because Lake Champlain is a BIG lake with no bridges.  We thought we were going to have to drive an hour south or several hours north to get around the lake, but then the ferry sailed into view and we were saved.

In Burlington, we made it to the opening reception for Kris McDermet and Anne Cox, the two featured artists at the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild’s rug show, “Hooked in the Mountains.”  Many of Kris’ beautiful hooked and braided pieces, as well as collaborative works and student works, were on display.


Kris McDermet in front of one of her rugs in her Featured Artist Exhibit at “Hooked in the Mountains,”  Essex Jct, VT


Also on display was the Contemporary Braided Art Rug exhibit.  It was a real treat to see all of the rugs on display, and right across from Kris’ exhibit!  There were a few new pieces added to the display from the Sauder Rug Hooking Week exhibit.  This exhibit will also travel to Philadelphia in the spring, where it will be shown at Schwenkfelder Museum.

THEN if that wasn’t enough, we drove to Methuen MA where we are attending the New England Braids conference.  Dianne is teaching “Beyond Wool for Hooking and Braiding” and Christine is teaching a small braided flower.  It is always so much fun to see everyone and see the beautiful braids that everyone is making.

Truly an excellent adventure!




We Need A Museum List

Christine here.  We rug braiders don’t have a national museums, like the quilters and rug hookers do.  Maybe in the future there will be enough recognition of the Art of Rug Braiding to allow the creation of one.  For right now, we are very pleased when we even get our braided rugs on exhibit, as in the recent show in Sauder Village of Contemporary Braided Art Rugs.

I am delighted to say that the Sauder exhibit — or at least, a goodly portion of it — will travel to two other sites:  (1) The Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild’s “Hooked in the Mountains” show, October 17-21, in Essex Junction, VT, and (2) the Schwenkfelder Library and Museum, in Pennsburg, PA… in the spring, but dates uncertain.  I’m hoping that we can either build an trip to the exhibit into the VF Spring Braid in weekend, or else suggest that people stop on the way to the braid in (it’s about 40 minutes south of Bethlehem, PA).

But in looking for braided rugs that are permanently on display… that’s hard to find.  So I thought we should create a Museum List, so that when we’re traveling, we have new and innovative ways to aggravate family members while we go gaze reverently at antique textiles.

I have a few places that I know of for us to start with, and I’m hoping that other braiders from around the country will write in with other destinations for braided textile art.

  1. Screen Shot 2018-10-04 at 10.56.05 AM

    One of Jessie C. Kinsley’s braided silk tapestries on display at the Oneida Community Mansion House Museum in Oneida, NY

    Oneida Community Mansion House Museum.  This museum in Oneida, NY is home to the large collection of braided silk tapestries made by Jessie Catherine Kinsley.

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    Jessie Catherine Kinsley           (1858-1938)


    The Oneida Community was one of those breakaway religious communes striving for utopia that grew up in New York in the mid-1800s.  Jessie was born in that community, and after her death, the community collected and displayed her braided pieces.  These large braided works are wall pieces, and the museum is definitely worth a visit!  You can also stay at the mansion, which is a hotel, if desired.

    Oneida Community Mansion House Museum
    170 Kenwood Avenue
    Oneida, NY  13421

  2. Screen Shot 2018-10-04 at 10.56.21 AM

    Pinwheel Braided Rug, by Annette “Nettie” Nelson, is part of the collection at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum

    The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in Colonial Williamsburg, VA has Delsie Hoyt’s great grandmother’s pinwheel braided rug in their collection.  I don’t think it’s always on permanent display, but the rug is clearly valued — it was just part of an exhibit that traveled to New York City in 2017.

    Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum
    326 Francis St W, Williamsburg, VA 23185

  3. The Shaker Village in Mount Lebanon, NY is home to three of the 5 known knit and braided rugs made by Elvira C. Hulett (c. 1805 – 1895).
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    Knit and braided rug, made by Elvira C. Hulett, part of the permanent collection of the Shaker Village in Mount Lebanon, NY

    These stunningly beautiful wool and cotton rugs have complex knit designs that are surrounded and, in some cases intermixed, with rows of braid.  The rug shown here is a knit rug with a 5-strand braid then a 3-strand braid.

    Shaker Village/Mt Lebanon
    202 Shaker Road, New Lebanon, NY 12125

  4. Screen Shot 2018-10-04 at 10.57.23 AMAnother Shaker Village, this one in Pleasant Hill, Kentucky, has at least two rugs of mixed textile techniques that feature braided borders in their designs.  The beautiful horse rug, above, has a 5- or 6-strand braid at the edge, I can’t quite tell which.  The Shakers were amazing in their innovative rug designs!

    Shaker Village/Pleasant Hill
    3501 Lexington Road, Harrodsburg KY 40330

  5. Screen Shot 2018-10-04 at 10.56.32 AM

    Country Braid House made the new rug for the Nancy Hanks Lincoln Hall in the Lincoln Boyhood Memorial and National Park in Lincoln City, Indiana

    The Lincoln Boyhood Memorial and National Park has a huge, 20 foot diameter braided rug in use in the Nancy Hanks Lincoln Hall.  The photo above shows the new rug resting atop of the old one, just to make sure the size was right.  The rug was made by Country Braid House (https://www.countrybraidhouse.com/),  and the new rug was installed earlier this year (2018).

    A braided rug was chosen for the hall honoring Lincoln’s mother because they wanted the very best of what would have been available in her lifetime.  There is an interesting history on the making of the first rug for this site, and while I won’t go into it here, let me pique your interest by bringing up:  state mental institutions and the US Navy.

    Lincoln Boyhood Memorial and National Park
    3027 East South Street
    PO Box 1816
    Lincoln City, IN 47552
    Does anyone know of other sites where braided rugs are on display or at least part of a museum’s collection?  Let me know!



9/15/2018 Meeting

We had a nice time at the meeting on Saturday.  We’ve already got several things lined up for the spring braid in (April 26-28, 2019) for our guild:  our speaker will be Susan Feller — more about her in another post — and so far we have several classes lined up.  I hope we’ll get a few more…

Classes so far:
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  1.  American Star Chair Pad.  Instructor:  Deb Weinhold.  Isn’t this a great design?  It requires knowledge of butting, but other than that it’s a simple arrangement of colors, and a little tricky lacing to make the star.
  2. IMG_1314Wrapped German Buttons.  Instructor:  Heidi Boldt Diefenderfer.  Using a ring as the base, the ring is wrapped to create intricately designed buttons.  Heidi had several of these buttons displayed on her challenge piece for last year.  The designs possible range from very simple to incredibly complex.
  3. IMG_0595 (1)Wrapped Fringe Strip Rug.  Instructor:  Marjorie Kauffman.  Marjorie developed this method of making a strip rug with two advantages:  no sewing across the ends, and no fabric -wasting — or at least, dramatically less than the typical method.  She has devised a way to color-plan at the start of each row, so that each row begins at the exact location that will make the Starts straight across (no shifting each row up and down to match up a zigzag).  Likewise, the Finishes are also straight across, which limits the fabric waste.  A very neat technique!
  4. nettiesswirlPinwheel.  Instructor:  Delsie Hoyt.  Delsie is ready to teach the pinwheel method again.  Yay!
  5. Maker:S,Date:2017-8-31,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-YNeedle-felted Pillow.  Instructor:  Mary Bird.  (I think Mary can do ANYTHING).  Using a background of wool fabric, create a needle-felted pillow.  You’ll have to purchase some basic supplies and some fleece to felt with, but look at how beautiful this is!  We’ve also seen some felting onto braids — I’m remembering one of Heidi Diefenderfer’s challenge rugs, and another by Pam Rowan — so once you learn this technique, it can be applied to braids as well.  Mary says the felting deeply incorporates the fleece into the base fabric, so it doesn’t slowly shed away:  it’s applied very firmly.
  6. IMG_18103-D Kitty Cat.  Instructor:  Jenn Kiarsis.  I wish I had a better photo of these.  Jenn will teach how to braid and embellish these kitty cats.  This photo shows two of them snuggled together on her recent exhibit rug, “Bedroom Buddies.”  Aren’t they sweet?
  7. P1060220BraidBowl.  Instructor:  Kris McDermet.  Learn to hook a small center for the bowl, then how to pad and line the hooking so that butted braids can be attached for the sides.
  8. Beginners
  9. Butting

I usually try to come up with something a little tricky to teach at the braid in… so far my mind is a blank, but hopefully I’ll come up with something.  I think we need a few more braiding-only projects, as well:  we’ve got a lot of adjacent techniques represented, which is fun, but I think we need some Just Braiding classes.

Other cool things coming up:

Kris and I finished the Contemporary Braided Art Rug exhibit at Sauder Village in August.  Some of those rugs will be on display at the Green Mountain Rug Hooking Guild’s exhibit, but not quite all — there just isn’t space.  That show, “Hooked in the Mountains,”  (Oct 17-21), has two featured artists:  Kris McDermet and Anne Cox.  If you’re going to the Methuen Braid in (Oct 19-21), do try to catch the show in Essex Jct., Vermont just before going to Methuen.  https://gmrhg.org/2018-rug-show-and-school/

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AND, we have another opportunity for the show in the Spring of 2019!  The Schwenkfelder Museum in Pennsburg, PA has agreed to display the Contemporary Braided Art Rug Exhibit either starting in March or starting in January… depending on whether another exhibit is pulled together before us or not.  The exhibit will remain up through the VF Spring Braid in.  I’m not sure whether we’ll have a few van-loads drive Saturday afternoon down to the exhibit (40 minutes) or whether we’ll ask people to go there first.  In any case, it’s a tremendous opportunity for all of us who have rugs in the exhibit — please try to see it in person; the photographs don’t really do the show justice.

Here are some photos from the meeting:  (next meeting Oct 27)



Judy is showing her pretty pinwheel


Look at the neat label that her friend printed up for her.


Marjorie made a sweet little watermelon rug


Robin and Sharon working away


Eileen finished a pretty hit or miss rug


Colleen was able to join us!  She is starting on a dining room rug.



Dianne’s Debut at Sauder Village

My hooking friends were so supportive of my vending at Sauder through the months of preparing and worrying-they asked me to write an article for our guild newsletter.

Reprinted from the Camellia City Rug Hooking Guild newsletter

September 2018

By Dianne Tobias

When my two friends were asked to curate the special exhibit on rug braiding at this year’s Sauder Rug Hooking Week, they were offered a vending opportunity. Knowing I love to dye stretch velvet and taffeta for hooking and braiding, they asked me to be the vendor.

That was last August……I was grateful….and then intimidated….and then grateful and said a wavering “yes.”

I had heard Sauder was the biggest rug hooking show in the country, attracting wonderful rugs, the Celebration finalists and this year a Celebration Hall of Fame for those who have won Celebrations more than 5 years.

As an inexperienced vendor but passionate about my velvet, I was ‘in.’ I began making small braided items like snippet baskets, putting them in a covered bin and asking a few braider friends to make small braided items I could sell. And I dyed about 150 pieces of velvet, strips and taffeta. When it came time to open the bin, I was surprised at how industrious I had been!

Full bin!

Since I was flying and my two friends were driving with many of the commissioned braided rugs for the exhibit, they brought some props for my booth. At the last minute I asked Christine to bring her large braided fish in case we needed height in the booth. It ended up being a hit and covering the white wall which we could not attach anything to! A trip to the Dollar Store to get two mop handles and wire and we hung the fish. I learned one needs to be flexible to be a good vendor!


Dianne Tobias in her vendor booth  a Sauder Village 2018

I wanted to highlight the hand dyed  fabrics so I hung my frog, Jeremiah, in the booth. He brought interest to using other fabrics.

Jeremiah, designed by Karla Gerard, hooked with mixed fabrics by Dianne Tobias.

The show was amazing; I only have ATHA to compare with, and this was much larger, perhaps 500 rugs hung in a huge Founder’s Hall.

In addition to the special rug braiding exhibit, there were smaller special exhibits: “Healing Mats,” Maud Lewis, a famous Canadian folk artist whose life was portrayed in the film Maudie; a couple vendors have licensed rug hooking patterns for some of her paintings, Jessie Kinsley from the early 1900s who braided landscapes with silk and embroidery and I am probably forgetting others.

Goose Girl, designed and hooked by Jessie Kinsley.

Here are a few pictures of the braiding exhibit  As a vendor, I was pretty tied to my booth and didn’t ‘get out much!’

Fddleheads by Cathy Winship


                                                                  Moons by Kris McDermet

Sauder is in Archbold, Ohio, somewhat near Toledo. There is corn, corn and soybeans. The town is small. Sauder Village is a historical recreation of an old village with a spinning house, weaving house, blacksmith house, etc. There is the huge Founder’s Hall which hosts many events such as Rug Hooking Week during the year. If you get the chance I would recommend a visit! Ω

Japanese Fan, designed, hooked and braided by Dianne Tobias.

Editor’s Note:

Dianne is a member of our guild who enjoys hooking with velvet and other fabrics. She hand dyes alternative fabrics and sells them via her website at http://www.thevelvethook.com.

Kaleidoscope designed, hooked and braided by Mary Bird

Setting Up at Sauder


Kris McDermet is up on a ladder hanging rugs for the exhibit

Well, Kris McDermet and Dianne Tobias and I got to Sauder Village on Sunday to set up the rug exhibit.  Actually, Dianne is here for manning the vendor booth for braiding stuff + her own business, which is “The Velvet Hook” (TheVelvetHook.com).  But Kris and I are here to teach classes and most importantly, to set up the Contemporary Braided Art Rug Exhibit.

We are finishing the exhibit set-up later today and it will be on display through Saturday late afternoon.  Over 5,000 people are expected to stroll through the exhibit, which also includes exquisite hooked rugs from “Celebrations,” and several other exhibits besides ours.    But ours is the “special exhibit” this year and the braided rugs have a place of prominence within the exhibit hall!

We have a bit less space available to us for display, in part because a few of us went way over the size restrictions for the rugs, so we have a slanted board taking up some display area (darn it!)  We’ll still have everything up, but it will be a little more cramped than we hoped.  However, all of the braided art rugs will still be up, plus the chair pads.  I think we may have to sacrifice a few of the antique rugs, though.

It turns out that hanging rugs for an exhibit is a LOT more complicated than I realized.  Sometimes you hang two rugs next to each other and it just absolutely makes both rugs look bad.  The colors not only have to work with adjacent rugs, but also with the “flow” of color across the exhibit.  Then the space issues further restrict placement.  Then there’s also the matter of making the overall display interesting.  I guess I thought that we had, on each panel, room for one rug on top, and one rug on the bottom.  But if we had them just stacked like that all across the display, it would be boring.  We have some things hung at an angle, some square things we tried on point… all to make it look good.  And to fill the spaces, so that we have room for everything.


Kris in our sunroom

Placement of the rugs within the exhibit is just so much more complicated than I realized!!

But, back in the hotel room, we have an exquisite suite for the 3 of us.  Kris had reserved the room 2 years ago in anticipation of having the three of us stay here, and I think we have the premier suite.  There’s a sun room, and a living room, and a kitchenette/dining area, plus sleeping areas.  It’s huge, and sun-filled, and the only problem is thermostat control among the three of us (ie, I’m having hot flashes, and they aren’t).


Walkway to our suite on the second floor

Here’s a view of the area where our room is located.  It’s just a lovely place.

Today I’ll get some photos of Dianne working on setting up her vendor booth, and some more photos of setting up the exhibit.

Changing My Name to…

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My beautiful daughter

Last weekend, I moved my daughter into her new apartment out in Landenburg, PA.  Where is Landenburg?  She lives less than a quarter mile from Delaware, in that rounded little southeast corner of Pennsylvania.  It is 5 hours away from Pittsburgh and NO, she doesn’t have a job to support herself yet, so the costs are all on us.  My husband has given her 6 months to get on her feet and find a job or he threatens to move her back home.  (He misses her terribly and texts her silly cat and dog pictures 10 times a day from what I can tell).

So the house has been in upheaval.  Somehow, with Katie moving out, everything in the house has been shifted or moved or is being re-evaluated.  Even my husband’s and my roles are changing.  Even with one child still at home, things are just… different.

There are bags of clothing in the hallway, containing items that she decided to give to Good Will rather than take with her.  I haven’t yet taken the bags there yet, in the misguided belief that I will go through my own clothing soon also.  An abandoned fan and printer sit on the front porch that I also need to get rid of, since her apartment is air conditioned and they have no space for a printer because the apartment is so small.  And her bedroom doorway stands strangely open into a stark space without the usual mayhem of laundry baskets and journaling supplies laying everywhere.

The dining room is also in upheaval.  I’m in the midst of working on my rug for the exhibit, and the dining room is where I usually work on rugs, so that means no sit-down family dinners.  Instead, we eat in the living room in front of the TV or a laptop, catching up on episodes of “Timeless” (a favorite time-travel show) or watching bad 1950’s-60’s sci-fi.  We used to watch PBS News over dinner, but the current machinations of politicians have enraged me so much that I just refuse to watch it.  Yes, I know that’s a cop out, but I don’t feel empowered to change anything presently, so stamping around the house yelling angrily about politics furthers nothing.  I will resume watching the news in October, when the November voting opportunity looms, and until then I want peace in my house, and in my own mind.


My dining room table

The exhibit rug has grown, and grown, and I am way past all ideas of fitting into the size requirements. As a co-curator, I decided that I had some leeway, but this is getting ridiculous.

I finished the roughly oval center about 4 weeks ago, and since then I’ve been working on making 4 roughly identical corners, which will turn the oval into a rectangle.  I thought I would be finished by now.  I hoped that it would be finished by now. But I had forgotten how incredibly long it can take to make little curlicues and triangles and oddly-shaped fill-ins.

I have changed my name from “Procrastination Princess” to “Queen of Fill-Ins.”  I think that’s an improvement.


The back of a taper, with frayed ends sticking out.  

One good thing:  I have always been unhappy with long skinny tapered ends.  The ends always seem to fray and either create lumpy loops in the row below where the ends are buried, or if I try to keep them out of the row below… just don’t look good.  Here is an example of a taper that I am NOT happy with, left.  It is held in place with a pin because it doesn’t lay right without the pin — I’ll have to re-work this.  Not happy with it at all.



The front of a new taper, reduced down to one strand that doubles back on itself to rejoin the original braid.  

I have now figured out how to drop from three strands down to one, twist it around itself in a “twisted center,” and rejoin the 3-strand braid.  It makes a MUCH better-looking long skinny taper.  So that’s at least one good thing that has come all of my sitting and braiding.


Another thing that I’ve enjoyed is the process of figuring out how to place triangles around an oval to make it into a rectangle.  First, there are two different triangles that are mirror-image of each other:  2 pink, and 2 blue.Screen Shot 2018-07-01 at 9.12.44 AM

But, I couldn’t make simple triangles for my rug…  I had to put spirals inside them.  And, since the “oval” isn’t just an oval, I traced the outside edge of the corner of a rug onto a large piece of foam core board, then sketched how I wanted to fill it in.



The lower left is my tracing of the outline of a corner of the rug’s center.  The upper right is a rough idea of my design for the corner, drawn onto a piece of foam core board.

For awhile I was stymied as to how I was going to get a mirror-image of this design without spending a lot of money at a copy center (to get a large photocopy made and then trace the design on the back).  But after making the first corner, I realized it was easy:  I just turned the braided corner onto its back, and there was my mirror image all ready for me.

So, while I am probably going to be braiding up until the last week before the exhibit, I am learning some cool stuff along the way that I will find useful in the future.

Eventually, I will even be able to have a family dinner at the dining room table again.  I’m hoping to change my name back to just Christine again, once this nightmare of a rug is completed.

Wheel Rug, Revisited


Shaker “Wheel” rug.  http://www.willishenry.com/auctions/05/DougTowleCatalog/DougTowleCatalog.htm

Christine here.  In the July 2014 issue of the newsletter, I wrote an article on the “Wheel Rug,” which is a large central circle (or rarely, oval or square) surrounded by a lot of smaller circles. No, I didn’t give it that name; it was a name given to similar rugs in the early 1900’s, when the style was popular and common in both crocheted and braided rugs.

Since the next issue of the newsletter (if I can ever get it finished) is about flower rugs, I was thinking about wheel rugs, which are kind of flower-like, right?  So I decided that I wanted to make a large wheel rug.  Then I wanted to figure out how big a given number of braided rounds would need to be in order to fit neatly around a larger center circle.  I didn’t want to do this by trial and error.  I wanted to know ahead of time just what I was in for, and not have to add or subtract from a central circle in order to get everything to fit properly.

Another Shaker Wheel Rug -- from http://www.willishenry.com/auctions/05/DougTowleCatalog/DougTowleCatalog.htm

Another Shaker Wheel Rug from the Doug Towle Catalog

I took my usual course whenever I have a math question:  I went to my Math Professor husband and said, “Please figure this out for me so that I get a formula.”  He looked at my example of a large circle surrounded by 18 smaller ones drawn out on the back of an envelope and frowned.  “I’m grading quizzes,” he said, hedging.  “Whenever you can get to it,” I said.

He returned 2 days later with a formula that involved the radius of the center circle, and the cosign of something else… and a theta symbol… and my eyes crossed.  But he was proud of himself for figuring it out, so I sat there and listened to his (long) explanation of different approaches he had taken and how he finally figured out how to solve the problem and generate a formula for me.  I thanked him for all of his hard work, patted him on the back in congratulation, and promptly buried his formula calculations in a stack of papers that I will surreptitiously throw out.

I like math, I really do, but my last course in trigonometry was 39 years ago.  The cosigns and the theta in the formula creeped me out.  I’m good with algebra, but prefer to leave trig alone.

So, I did what I should have done to begin with:  I googled it. “Size of circles around a center sphere,” and this wonderful website came up:  https://rechneronline.de/kreise/circles.php.  It has blanks for you to fill in the size of the center circle, the number of small circles you want to place around it, and it will do all the math for you and spit out the exact size of the smaller circles that you need.

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This is the sort of image you get when you pick your sizes and colors from the rechneronline.de/kreise/circles.php website

Now, the only problem – and it’s a minor one – is that we’re used to thinking of our braided circles in terms of diameter.  The website requires you to enter the radius of the center circle, and it gives you an answer for the size of the outer circles with their radius also.  So you just have to remember that the diameter that you want is two times the radius.

Example:  I have a 72” (6 feet) diameter circle, so I enter the following:

Radius center circle:  36
Number of outer circles:  20
Gap between outer circles:  0
Click on “calculate and plot” and you see:  Radius outer circles:  6.6”.
So, the diameter of the outer circles is 2 times the radius or 13.2” to place 20 of them around a 6 foot center round braided rug.

And look!  You escape trigonometry.  Wonderful!


Messy Desktop

Screen Shot 2018-03-31 at 10.17.13 AMChristine here.  I have told you before in my comments about my marriage that my husband and I have an “Oscar and Felix” approach to household cleaning and life in general.  I am Oscar, and he is most definitely a Felix.

In John’s realm of the house, the folded T-shirts in his dresser are all the same size and neatly stacked.  The items on top of his dresser are the same every day and are returned to the same location.  He makes the bed every single day.  His desk is laid out and logical.

The same is true for his virtual “desk top” on his laptop computer.  He has a background of his dog Cindy from when he was a kid – a springer spaniel – and there are a couple of folders on his desktop, and nothing else.  All points of interest are accessed by clicking on items found in the folders.  It may take him about 6 sub-folder clicks to get to, but everything is there in logical trees of information.

He looks with disapproval on my own laptop screen.  I have a million photos.  They overlap.  Sometimes I have to search for them, moving other photos that have gotten stacked on top, until I finally find the one that I want.  I admit that sometimes I have to search for awhile, but I can usually locate the images that I want, after the requisite amount of muttering and resolutions to get things maybe just a little more organized.  I also have a couple of photo folders of stuff to look at, labelled “cool photos” and “more cool photos,” which are places to put photos when the search becomes impossible.

But a messy desktop is just part of my creative process, I defend myself.  I kind of… mostly… know where things are, and they are a source of inspiration for me.  I need all the photos there on the desktop.

I thought I would take a few of the photos on my laptop, and share with you why I like looking at them, and why they have their place on the desktop as a source of inspiration.


Take the photo left, for example.  Simple Christmas tree ornaments woven from palm fronds, I think.  But I look at this image, and I think about green wools and multistrand braiding.  Some Christmas, I’m going to figure this out.




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Okay what about this photo?  I think it’s from Wayfair, or one of those shopping places that annoyingly pops up when you’re looking at a website.  Anyway, isn’t this the coolest rug you’ve ever seen?  I want to make it out of braids.


hook-rugOk, what about this one?  It looks like a drawing, but I’m not sure that it is.  The original link is gone, but “hooked rug” is in the title.  It looks like it’s hooked in the center, and the border, but there are some of the surrounding outline-stripes that look braided.  Wouldn’t this be a cool braided rug?


The image right is labelled “green painting” and its link is:  www.tokiarts.co.nz.  Look at the lighter-colored spiral.  Doesn’t it look like a “lined triangle” multistrand pattern?  I want to make a two-braid spiral, with one of my braids a multistrand like this, enlarging by two strands every row to maintain the lined triangle pattern.  The other, greener braid I might keep a plain single color for contrast.



What about this?  This is a sand painting mandala in progress; it is being made by Buddhist monks.  Aren’t the colors amazing?  And the design — if simplified — is completely doable in braids.  Wouldn’t you just love to have a braided Buddhist mandala?




OK, you have to know where I’m going with this by now.  See the path of this lace?  What if you could have a braid that travelled this path?  Maybe not with as many wedge-shaped segments as this one has, but still, wouldn’t this be a really cool round rug?  You’d have to figure out whether you could simply lace all those curves in or, more likely, have to put in sets of double corners to get the braid to curve sharply back and forth.  You’d have to lace the curves to the struts on either side.  You could make each wedge-shaped section a different color…. and best yet, only one butt!



Left is a weaving pattern that I found googling around.  It reminds me of my green-and-black maze rug that I made several years ago, but it repeats the smaller units to make a larger pattern.  I love geometric designs.




More interesting geometrics.  Follow the path of one of the center black stripes and see where it comes from and where it goes.  We don’t often think about starting a braid on the side of a rug.




And what about the beading pattern, left?  Somehow, someone’s got to make this in braids.  Isn’t that the most interesting thing you’ve seen in awhile?  And only double corners:  none of the fussing with alternating triples.

So now you see why my laptop is such a mess, right?


Now where to put it?

Dianne here:  a disclaimer: just mentally add ‘rug’ to hooker every time I mention hooker; it works.

I have finally finished ‘my Persian’. Some of you may know or remember the story. I have taught, and finished a few small braided pieces for a hooking friend of mine using her favorite grandmother’s braids. A couple of baskets, a braided pad for under a hooked chairpad and finally 3 very small rugs for my friend’s 3 daughters, using the very last braids that had been hanging around for years. Not the most exciting ‘job’, but the braids were well done, tho wide for me and, oh those retro colors. In addition, they were straight braids so I had to jerryrig the starts to get a semblance of a curve (I talked her into rounds).

I realized it was all worth it  when she told me the daughter named after the grandmother cried when she was given the rug. My friend has since learned to braid, and I taught her how to braid around (and I finished) a beautiful hooked chicken rug which won a prize at the state fair….

(YAY! that they appreciated the braiding, right?)

All this braiding would have added up to a pretty penny so we bartered. She has been a hooker in the community for a long time and seems to inherit unfinished projects, wool and equipment from families of hookers who have passed on. She was working on this Persian (Persian Melody by Pearl McGown) one day at our hooking gathering saying she was finishing it as the hooker had passed. It was about 1/3 done and came with all the wool in a #3 cut (for you braiders who have not ventured into hooking, a #2 cut is the narrowest so 3 is very narrow, meaning you can get good detail but takes forever!). I admired the colors and the detail reminded me of the Malibu tile hanging I did in an ATHA class (#4 cut). The challenge of  trying to match exactly the pattern is what intrigues me about these two projects; it must be my left brain trying to escape in retirement where I have been nurturing my heretofore, unknown creative right brain.

So she gave me the project and the wool and I tried very hard to match the fine hooking of the original hooker, Gloria Gray.

Have any of you finished a project from someone else whom you never met?

It is an interesting experience; I find I often think about the person when working on the project, wishing I could meet them and hoping I am doing credit to her/him. In this case, Gloria’s hooking was so fine and so low (loops very close to the hooking backing) that a sharp eye can pretty easily see where she finished and I started, but with some steaming (and some more) only a sharp eye can probably tell.

I found I used this rug as a ‘go to’ project between others and it became a favorite,  ‘always there’ comfortable project and, as with some braiding, I found myself slowing down at the end because it was so enjoyable, kind of like a book you don’t want to end.

And then there was the question of finishing technique. That too. How would I finish this rug? I have never whipped the edges which is the classic technique for hooked rugs; I have always put a straight or fancy braid around mine.

My hooking guild gave lots of suggestions: “whip the edges in yarn, in wool, add a fringe: a BRAID? “Not very classic, Dianne, but that is who you are, it is your rug, after all”. They think of me as the braider who dallies in hooking. sigh.

This would make a lovely hearth rug but we have a wood burning stove/fireplace and I wouldn’t want to risk an ember igniting it and most of my floor space is covered with braided rugs, so on the wall it will go, and a fringe, though classic would flop….I really didn’t want to cave and whip the edges, so………..a braid and was excited to see that my wool stash included a large piece of the same green color as the background that came with the wool, so I did two rows in slightly different widths to give a frame to Gloria’s masterpiece. Wonder what she’s thinking of that?

My current thought is to replace this button rug in our family room with Gloria’s and hang the button rug landscape-wise above my husband’s new black ebony piano in an upstairs bedroom.

My final thought is that thinking of where to put this rug has given me an opportunity to look at what I already have on the walls; many of my ongoing hooked/braided mats, showing how I have improved over time,  plus some of my mother’s Chinese and Japanese paintings.



My old, hard-working, 2010 laptop

Christine here.  See this?  This is a photo of my laptop, a 2010 MacBook Pro, which I have used for drawing diagrams, making handouts, writing the newsletter, updating the blog or the VF website.  It has journeyed far and wide — Maine to Massachusetts to multiple locations in Pennsylvania — and it is the repository of many many hours of drawing and writing about braids.  It has been my companion on many adventures… usually related to braiding.

So, how did I pay homage to this critical and essential device?  I spilled coffee into it.  Freshly made coffee, still with those caffeinated aromas steaming from the cup, and brimming with just the right amount of skim milk added to it, and in my favorite green Tasmanian Devil coffee cup.  As I was lifting the cup toward my lips, the cup hit the corner of my laptop, and — splash, right into the keyboard.

IMG_1138After I swore, jumped up and got paper towels and wiped the thing off, I tried to type an email and sighed with relief.  But before long, a “t” kept getting added in after every letter.  I could backspace the “t” and keep going for a little while, but pretty soon the t’s just kept creeping across the page all on their own.  Finally, I could type nothing at all.

The one saving grace to this whole episode is that I had my husband back up the hard drive yesterday, because there had been some weird glitches in its normal functioning.  In fact, the convenient proximity of the coffee accident to the safety of the back-up made my husband recall the time when our daughter Katie really, really, really wanted a new phone and my “yes, Princess, whatever you want” husband was uncharacteristically firm about telling her to wait until she qualified for an upgrade.  So the next day, oops, she dropped the phone into the pool, and then she got the phone she wanted.

Believe me, I did NOT want to get a new laptop.  I wanted to go on using my old one and having it function perfectly.

shadySo I scheduled a repair appointment at the local Apple store and had a very cute young man with long brown wavy hair and little gold wire rim glasses and a surprising amount of height and muscularity tell me that my laptop was old enough to be considered… ah… “vintage.”  Because it is vintage, the store no longer stocks parts for it, and they no longer do repairs.  The latest models on which they do repairs are from 2011.  Even then, the 15” model like I have would cost over $1000 to repair.

Well, so the good news is that I bought a new laptop.  The bad news is the $3500 bite out of my finances.  (The cost of the machine, plus Tax, plus the Apple Care plan so that if I spill coffee into it in the next 3 years, everything will be fixed for me, plus the adapter so that my old USB port will function with the new USB port, etc).  Ouch.


My newly purchased MacBook Pro, still in its box, in the neat little form-fitting bag from Apple

And, my Adobe Illustrator program will NOT work ever again.  So I’m going to have to pay $29.99 a month to subscribe to the online Illustrator program and even be able to open my old diagrams.  Double ouch.

Sigh.  I have a feeling that everything in my life is slowly becoming “vintage.”  (Especially that white-haired husband of mine).  I am comfortable with vintage.  I am quite content with vintage.  I am kind of dreading the whole process of getting adjusted to a new machine.

But, it will be nice once it is set up and I’ve gotten used to it.