Fun with Rug Hanging

Christine here.  In preparation for submitting rugs to the Schwenkfelder museum, I have finally started working on various hanging techniques.  Although I detailed several of the options before, in my post on the Guild Meeting 9/13/14, I have found that 2 of the techniques seem to be the easiest for me:

1.  Foam Board Backing

2.  Sleeves or Casings.

The foam board is 3/8″ deep; I purchased a couple sizes at a local hobby store (Michael’s)  along with an exacto knife and a metal ruler.  I already had a quilter’s rotary cutting mat which seems to be holding up well against the knife cuts.

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Photo above shows my equipment for working with foam board:  cutting mat, metal ruler, packing tape for taping sections of foam board together, metal ruler, exacto knife, pencil, scissors for stabbing holes through the foam board, and a tapestry needle with lacing thread for lacing through the back loops and the foam board.  Also in the upper right are my reading glasses, which are an essential part of any kit!

As you can see, I chose 2 shapes to back with foam board:  a circle that was too floppy to hang neatly from a top mount only, and a flower.  I’m also going to hang a long shape with a triangular top on foam board.  I think it works best for the floppy and irregularly shaped items.

When cutting out the foam board, always cut along a ruler edge.  I traced the outline of the rug onto the foam board (make sure the rug is face down on the board for tracing, and that the shiny side of the foam board is up).  Then I sketched 1″ inside the outline and cut it out.

When making the lacing holes, be sure to space the sets of holes at least 1/2 to 3/4″ apart, and about 1″ inside the edge.  Any closer and they could tear through the foam.  Make the holes with an awl or, as I did, the point of long skinny scissors.  Stab the threaded tapestry needle down through a hole, grab a back loop on the rug, and back up through the next hole in the foam.  Yes, it is a bit awkward, but it’s not that difficult.

Tighten up your lacing thread, and tie off at the beginning.  Not one loop of lacing thread showed on the front.

For hanging, I cut small triangles out of the top and covered the sides with tape.  I also tried putting lacing thread back and forth through two spaced holes, but it didn’t look quite as neat.

A couple times I taped the edges of foam board together, front and back and around the edges, with clear packing tape and it seemed to be very stable.

One other nice tip about foam board:  if you’re like me and always put off burying your tapered ends and other nonsense on the back of the rug, these flaws will be completely covered over and you never have to deal with them again!

The second method I used was sewing a sleeve or casing onto the back of the rug.  This worked better for 1.  Rugs with a straight edge or 2.  Really big rugs with multiple casings.

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Above photo shows a casing sewn onto the back of a square chair pad, with dowel ends cut to protrude beyond the casing but short of the edges of the rug.

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The trick to a casing is to sew it loosely by hand to the back loops of the rug, and to leave enough room in the outer portion of the casing so that it will accommodate a 3/8″ or 1/2″ dowel without tenting the front of the rug.  Also, make sure the casing is wide enough so that you’re catching the rug about 3″ apart — it makes the support of the rug more stable this way.

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With a really big rug, you may have to sew on two casings to support the rug sufficiently.  In the above photo, you can see that I sewed 2 casings onto the back of my carnation rug.

For cutting the dowels, I went to the hardware store and spoke to a very nice lady.  I wanted a small sawing option that did not involve the big heavy hand-held saw that is down in the basement.  The lady told me that a nice, neat option that is very light was to purchase a mitre saw with a box.

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This turned out to be just perfect for cutting dowels!  It’s very easy to trap the dowel against the inside of the box with a couple fingers, then cut straight across with the nice, sharp, not-heavy-at-all saw.  A few saws and voila, perfect cut!  Found it on sale for $7.98 at Home Depot.

Christine Manges

Bonanza!

Dianne blogging….My rug hooking guild president got a call from a daughter of a former braider with those beautiful words: “Do you know anyone who would like some wool?”

As I am the only braider our president knows, she contacted me as well as putting the offer in our guild newsletter. Bonanza!  The daughter lives about an hour away, and is a quilter but alas not a braider or rug hooker….but wanted her mom’s stash to find an appreciative home.

So Friday I took home 6 storage boxes home and began the Christmas opening! The wool was mostly in rolls but there were about 6 flat pieces of 3-4 yds each….I prefer to store my wool flat and only cut/tear for individual projects, not store my wool in rolls as I adjust the width of each wool to account for different weights of wool for the 3 strands in a braid. Do you also?

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It seems to me that older generations of braiders stored their wool more in rolls….Of course I have a laundry basket full of individual rolls waiting for the next hit and miss rug or a small basket, but most of my wool is stored flat.

imageThe daughter said the wool had been stored in these boxes with newspaper on top for many years. Some of the papers dated back to the early 90’s.

So the bonanza needed to be washed but first examined. It was a glorious California day and I spent the afternoon opening each box and sorting into what I wanted and what I didn’t which went back into the boxes. The rolls had been secured with rubber bands, most of which had rotted. Many of the rolls were very thick and very narrow strips. I enjoy making ‘tiny braided’ projects but not with such thick wool. Not sure what my benefactor had intended for these.
All I wanted needed to be washed. Unless I know whom/how/where wool has been stored, I don’t want to take a chance in bringing it into my stash. I saw a very few moth holes and the wool was old so I opted for washing in hot, the rolls in mesh bags and a hot dryer.
Unfortunately my washer is a front loader without an agitator so the good news is the woI ol did not felt much; the bad news is the thinner wools including some of the flat wools did not….even in hot with a tennis ball.
The mesh bags were a good idea but most of the rolls came apart in the bags so needed to be rerolled after drying. The rolls which had very small strips were discarded…amazing what one is willing to discard during a bonanza!
So, the stash is enlarged and the local thrift store accepted the rest. When my husband dropped off the boxes, the volunteer said she wanted to learn to braid!

And I am making a basket for the daughter from 2 of her mom’s wools and darker blue from mine. i will put in some homemade jam and send this week. Continuous bottom and butted sides….

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Thank you anonymous braider for sharing your stash; Know it is appreciated!

As I am learning this blog-thing, I should have taken pix from the start of the bonanza….need to start thinking of those things….

PS: We are having trouble adding comments to some posts. Any expert in wordpress out there, please correspond to me at thebraidingpost@gmail.  Thanks…Dianne

Yet again: Procrastination

Those of you who read my newsletter know that I’m a bit neurotic.  One of my many quirks is that I’m an awful procrastinator.  I can get just about anything done other than what I’m supposed to be working on.  The more I have to do, the worse it gets.

So, what am I doing?  I’m braiding.  Here’s my current work area (which tends, much to the annoyance of my family, to be my dining room table):

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Whenever I’m procrastinating, I am drawn to my softest, loveliest wools… often with a little cashmere or silk in them.  I delight in the smooth softness of the strips as they slide through my hands while I’m braiding.  This is not the time for the heavy melton wools that can be a bit stiff and make your hands ache after an hour or so… it’s the time for those lovely washed and felted pieces that are buttery soft and sensual to work with.

Here’s my work station:  laptop and earphones for listening to my current paranormal romance mystery by Kelley Armstrong:  “No Humans Involved.”  Scissors, lacing thread (I finally started putting a rubber band around my lacing thread, and it has really cut down on my terrier’s wandering off with the spool and draping lacing thread from the kitchen to the living room), tapestry needle for splicing, ruler for cutting new strips, and needle and thread because I’m too lazy to set up my sewing machine yet again.

My procrastination rugs always seem to end up with softer colors, also — not the somewhat dramatic rugs with sharply contrasting colors that I tend to plan out better.  The procrastination rugs are purely about comfort.  Here I’ve chosen a soft peach, a peach/brown plaid, and a soft brown tweed.  I’ll make a color change in another few rows, but I like a large calm center to most of my comfort rugs.

What am I putting off?

1.  Putting hanging sleeves on the back of several rugs to submit to a museum Oct 4.

2.  Cleaning my house for a weekend guest.  (This is a several day process).

3.  Working on my newsletter, which usually comes out in the first couple weeks of October.  It is, frankly, a whole lot of work and while I have a bunch of articles started, I haven’t managed to finish anything.

4.  Finishing my class handout for the zig zag bag I’ll be teaching at the upcoming Methuen braid in.

Eventually, I will have to face all of the above and get them done.  But at the moment… I’m just going to go back to braiding.

Christine

Rug braiding; huh?

Dianne blogging…..so a quick post to share a common issue I bet we all have.  I am going to a wine county weekend with a group of friends of friends, 6 couples in total.  I know maybe 2 well…

Undoubtedly the discussion eventually will get around to what we all do, retired vs not, etc. etc.

I will say I am into fiber arts since retiring as a pharmacist. They will say, huh?  I will say well, rug braiding and rug hooking. They will say, huh? I will repeat and when they finally ‘hear’ braiding, they will say, “oh my (fill in the blank) used to do that”. I will say, great. and then what?  The conversation usually dies. What is your experience?  Better than mine?  Unfortunately I did not bring any fiber art other than sock knitting to show and tell.

Unless they pick up on the rug hooking part; then I have to listen to all the comments, we hookers have heard before. What do you do? As a relatively new rug hooker, this annoys me more than the braiding issues.

Stay tuned and look forward to your comments….Dianne

Comments?

Several readers have contacted me personally to ask how to post comments….You need to click the bubble at the top right of the post title which will open up the comments, either for you to read or (at the bottom) to leave a comment.

If you want to follow the blog on a regular basis, there are two ways I know:

A Half-Post

Remember we said we were still figuring out the wordpress program and that we weren’t completely savvy to the blog process just yet?  When I tried to insert a photo in the last post, I hit the “publish” button instead of the correct one… so a half-written post got sent to your email boxes and not the full article.  If you have any interest in reading about how to hang braided rugs, you have to go to the blog itself to read the article.

I WILL figure this out… eventually!  Christine

Guild Meeting 9/13/2014

As many of you know, the Valley Forge Rug Braiding Guild is the group that I belong to.  We met this past Saturday and it was great to see everyone again after the summer off.

We spent a good bit of time discussing the very exciting opportunity for us:  the local guild has been invited to exhibit our braided rugs at the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center in Pennsburg, Pennsylvania.  The Schwenkfelders were a group of immigrant Germans who, like the Amish, the Mennonites, the Hutterites, etc., came to the US seeking to practice their own religion and create their own community in PA/Ohio/New York and elsewhere.  The curator, Candace Perry, manages the exhibits and obviously has a passion for the fiber arts, in addition to being very knowledgable about the illuminated manuscripts, fraktur designs, and painted chests that are featured in their displays.

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Dan Burmeister won first place at the Middletown Grange Fair for his denim rug.

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Judy Burmeister won a first place in the wool braided rugs category at the Middletown Grange Fair.

How we got connected with this museum is a bit of an interesting story.  The SLHC has a very interesting embroidered wool rug (penny rug) from the 1800s that was part of a huge rug display put on by the American Folk Art Museum in New York City in 2007.  The curator of the that display was our Speaker at the 2013 braid in.  One of our members, Dan Burmeister, knew about that museum and suggested that the guild go there for a visit and to see that penny rug specifically, as well as the other PA German arts on display.

Somehow I didn’t make it to that visit, but Nancy Young did and made a nice connection with the curator.  We set up a guild meeting at the SLHC, and Candace took us around some of the exhibits.  She saw the rugs that many of us had brought with us to work on, and suggested that we have an exhibit of the local guild’s braided rugs.  That exhibit is now scheduled for Nov 8 – Feb ??, and the rugs will be selected for the exhibit October 4.

Isn’t this amazing??  I am so excited for everyone in the guild to have this opportunity!  I have often felt that braided rugs are an under-appreciated form of art/craft.  Just as scrap quilts used to be considered a peasant craft that was utilitarian and not necessarily beautiful… just as hooked rugs were notoriously thrown out to cover the wood pile…. I think braided rugs are a form of beauty that just has not received its proper attention just yet.  We are on the cusp of having braided rugs become an important branch of fiber art.

The curator has told us she will select 30-40 rugs, depending on size.  They will be hung on the walls and there will be no roped-off flat table display areas, so she has expressed a preference for smaller rugs.

Much of our guild meeting Saturday was spent discussing the practical issue of:  how do we hang rugs for display?

A few solutions came up:

1.  Lace a dowel onto the back.  Lacing through the back loops and around the dowel, the lacing thread doesn’t show at all.  Slight problem:  the portion of the rug above the dowel might tilt forward a bit.

2.  The museum suggested hanging the rugs on carpet tacking, which is those small strips of wood with the nails sticking out every which way.  I think that might work for a chair pad or other very small item, but it makes me wince to even think about hanging a heavy braided rug this way — I think the nails might tear through the loops.

3.  Marjorie K. suggested using a hanger, around which twist-ties are put through the back loops in multiple places and then twisted around the hanger.  I think this sound like a great idea.

4.  Many quilts and hooked rugs are hung with “sleeves” sews onto the back, which are an inch shy of the edges on either side.  A dowel is inserted through the sleeve, and the dowel is hung by 2 nails on either side.  It is important to make the sleeve looser on its outside aspect, so that the dowel doesn’t fit so tightly that it creates a ridge in the rug.

For really big rugs, the rug can be divided into thirds and 3 sleeves can support each third of the weight.

5.  A tip from Delsie Hoyt of Kingdom Moon Rugs is to hang an unusually-shaped rug by cutting the shape out of foam core board, binding the edges with library tape or duct tape, and then making holes for lacing every few inches.  She attached a triangular picture hanger(s) with a small screw through the foam core board.  I’m wondering if just a taped-off window in the board might not be suitable for hanging on top of a nail.

6.  Finally, for either the whole rug or for any part that is not laying flat against the display wall, small clean headed nails can be worked between the loops and, with the rug covered, nailed into the wall.  A whole rug can be hung this way if enough nails, spaced about 3 inches apart, are used.

As I experiment with hanging several weirdly-shaped rugs over the next couple weeks in preparation for the October 4 selection day, I promise to have photos of my various attempts!    –Christine

Camelia City Rug Show

This is Dianne blogging (if anyone knows how to vary the font for 2 people in wordpress/twenty eleven theme, let me know)…..

Today was my rug hooking guild rug show. I live in Northern California and there are not many braiders around me. And despite my efforts to teach privately and in groups to just about anyone expressing an interest, it still is true, there aren’t many…..However, there is a lively group of rug hookers who have a nearby guild. I have been a member for a couple of years and they have warmly embraced me as a braider.

I also am a rug hooker, coming rather reluctantly to the art, but now enthusiastic about how braiding and hooking can compliment each other (gee, good idea for a book: McDermet, Manges, Tobias; Combining Rug Hooking and Braiding (Schiffer, 2011). Kris McDermet, our good friend and co-author very patiently encouraged me in my hooking, color planning and dyeing despite my reluctance. Well, now I AM hooked and on both. My new hooking friends often ask ‘which do you like more?’ (reminds me of my kids when they were young). I can honestly say, I enjoy both and when hooking a project, I am constantly thinking of the braid that will finish off the hooking….

Anyway, today was my hooking guild rug show and amongst many beautiful ‘rugs’, there was a group of 4 houses that were done from  kits by Molly Colegrove, a NY rug hooker who makes wonderful wooden hooks. Several of us decided to order the same kit and interpret the pattern individually, often using other wool, etc.

Here are the four mats from today’s show:

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Can you tell which one is mine?  Yes, the one with the braided frame!

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If you enlarge mine you may note the windows and the braid have been hooked/braided with a deep orange velvet. As some of you know, I have a deep affection for velvet and add it whenever possible to my hooking and braiding. This beautiful drapy velvet came from a long dress given to me and thankfully too small for me! Have any of you tried braiding with velvet?

So one reason for this post is to plug velvet. The other is to celebrate the diversity you see in these 4 mats hooked from the same kit. Most of us used some wool other than what was provided (I dyed the dark blue night sky wool) but beyond that, look at the differences. My friend Teresa interpreted the design as a haunted house and put a witch on the roof instead of a bird and made the small houses tombstones and a pumpkin. My friend Betty hooked her background in a lighter blue and carried blue into the bird to give a happy feeling and Eleanor felted her bird and houses to give another look.

This type of ‘challenge’ hooking is pretty common in the rug hooking world and our group wants to do another, this time with one of us drawing a design and each of us choosing our own wool palette.  Wouldn’t it be fun to do the same with braiding, maybe not with a rug sized item, but the ‘challenge’ would be to work with the same wool and create a braided object of a certain size….maybe a table mat or basket challenge?

What do you think?

We are off and running!

Hello from Christine and Dianne…  with much enthusiasm and a degree of anxiety, we are beginning this blog!  We have talked about it for at least a year and have struggled through WordPress hurdles we never anticipated…finally Dianne’s daughter-in-law helped us out with some clear and concrete direction for the blog set-up, so here we are at The Braiding Post.

For a few years Christine and Dianne served as moderators for the Yahoo Braided Rugs Group.  Increasing frustration with difficulties with the site (Dianne could only make her posts show up about half the time) made us explore new options for the braiding and hooking community.  We’re not completely comfortable with the blog format just yet, however, so that we don’t LOSE our enthusiasm, we are jumping off into the blog abyss.

Here are our goals:

1.   Share our love of braiding… and combining braiding with hooking.

2.  By commenting on articles, the larger braiding community should be able to ask and answer questions of each other.

3.  We are absolutely obsessed with braiding and hooking and need an outlet for talking about our obsession.

4.  Although we haven’t developed all of our pages yet, we plan to have supply lists, a calendar, website links, and any other pages that will prove useful to the community.

Most of our posts will be in a “here’s what we’re working on” format.We’ll talk about the things that are going well with our braided and braid/hook pieces, and what we’re encountering difficulty with.  We hope to include lots of photos for clarity.

Other posts will serve to directly answer questions that you raise in comments or emails.

So, here we are and we hope this works out. Check out our ‘about page’.  Look forward to your comments.

Yours in Braiding,

Dianne and Christine