Current Project: Stepped Spiral

Christine here.  What I’m working on now is a stepped spiral with 12 braids at once.  I started it at the recent guild meeting, and it is coming along nicely…. although I’m running out of the orchid pink in the center and may have to scale back the design a bit.

The center is continuous and tapered, then one butted row is attached.  (I tried to continue the center braid as one of the spokes, but it threw off the symmetry of the design, so I had to butt the last row of the center.)  In keeping with my new fascination with using light shading to dark colors, the idea is to have the spokes radiating outward in step-wise fashion, transitioning to darker colors as they spiral.  You can see my darker pinks that I plan to use off to the left in the photo below.  The eggplant will continue throughout to define each radiating spoke, but I’m running out of that color also, so I might have to cross my fingers and dye some fabric to match.

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I sketched this design after seeing the Man in the Maze image (see below) which apparently is a popular Native American motif in the Southwest.  I was trying to figure out how to make the Man in the Maze in braids, and came up with the above design instead.  I love spirals, and I love corners, so this design was a logical outgrowth.

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Man in the Maze

Then I googled various permutations of step-wise spiral, jagged spiral, etc (to see if this exact design was found anywhere else… and I came across the Nazi Secret Service Symbol,  the “Black Sun.”  This image below is from a sales website:  http://germanring.lv/en/political-and-civil-/578-ww-ii-german-black-sun-ring.html.  The Nazi symbol apparently also sometimes had a swastika symbol in the center.  I found one website that described the black sun symbol as a combination of a sun image with its rays, and lightning in the jagged portion.  So the symbol is supposed to have the power of both the sun and lightning.

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I was rather horrified when I read this.  Clearly Nazi imagery is not what I had in mind.  I was relieved when I later found that the symbol pre-dated the Nazis.  They may have used it, but it was not originally theirs.  It has been found in Iron Age brooches from graves in the Alsace Lorraine areas of France and Germany, around 400 to 600 AD.  The brooches were used to decorate women’s clothing.  Here are some examples:

Aren’t these dear?  If you google “Zierscheiben” (the German word for these iron brooches) you’ll come up with some lovely ancient designs for women’s jewelry.

So, with some relief, I am continuing with my stepped spiral braids, which clearly are related to ancient women’s jewelry and not to the Nazi Secret Service!  And, I guess nothing that we come up with is completely new — although I think whatever copyright existed in the 400’s has probably expired by now.

Zig Zag Strip Rug Finished

Christine here.  I’ve been working on the zig zag strip rug, and I finally finished it.  I like the shading of colors through the rug and I think I’m going to explore that more in the next few rugs I work on.

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Zig Zag Multistrand made with 4-strand braids

Here’s a close-up of the braids:

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Close-up of Zig Zag Multistrand

The edges were finished with 2 rows of machine stitching in a shallow zig zag stitch.  I was surprised at how smoothly and easily the rug fed through the machine — everyone always stresses about whether they’ll be able to sew their strip rugs, but I had no problem.  I think the 4-strand braids are a bit flatter than 3-strand braids, which may have helped.

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Fringe Finishing the Zig Zag Rug

The fringed edge is cut 3.5″ from the outer row of stitching, and then each end is split up its middle to make it lay flatter.

The rug was a lot of fun to make, and has given me all sorts of ideas for other multistrand strip rugs.  If only I had more time!!

Rectangle Strip Rug

Christine here.  On to another type of rectangle:  the Strip Rug.

For this year’s spring braid in, I signed myself up to teach a multistrand strip rug.  (Registration info for the braid in:  www.ValleyForgeRugBraidingGuild.com:  click on 2015 Braid in).  I often sign myself up for teaching topics that intrigue me but that I haven’t really done a lot with.  I made a multistrand rug of all 5-strands a couple years ago but I wasn’t very happy with it:  the colors I chose really didn’t work.  In the photo, I haven’t yet trimmed/fringed the right side.

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5-Strand Multistrand Rug

As you can tell in the photo above, I tried to get a diamond pattern going with the hot pink, but it got lost in the confusion of too many colors.  I decided that when I made another one, I would limit my color palette and keep the contrast strong.  And not use hot pink with gray, green, and lime.

Since then I’ve been eternally writing a book on multistrands (I really am finally making some progress on it) so when I taught a zig zag patterned purse (just 3 strands, in a spiral of two braids) at the Methuen braid in last year, I thought about using the 2-braid spiral technique with multistrands also.  Here’s a 4-strand tote bag made with one strand slanting left, and one strand slanting right.  The advantage of using two braids slanting in opposite directions is that e-lacing isn’t necessary (except for a couple short stretches).

4-Strand Spiral Tote Bag

4-Strand Spiral Tote Bag

So, this time I kept the color palette restricted and focused on creating constrast.  The pale white plaid and dark olive drab colors are… pretty boring.  But the technique was fun.  I plan to make another one in colors that are more vibrant.

I had so much fun with the 4-strand zig zag that I decided to make one as a class sample for my Multistrand Strip Rug class.  Here it is so far:

4-strand multistrand rug

4-strand multistrand rug

The center colors are a dusky rose and pale cream; I plan on having a few more rows of the cranberry/cream before moving to a burgundy or dark brown with cream at the edges.  This rug also avoids having to e-lace anything — if you can’t tell, I’m not fond of e-lacing.

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I’m always attracted to really strong patterns, and this rug is turning out to be a lot of fun to make.  For my next one, I plan on using similar colors but placing the cream only in the left-slanting strips, with a camel in the right-slanting strips.  I’m hoping that using the 2 slightly different shades will make the rug appear textured — as if the ridges are 3-D.

I thought this multistrand strip class would be a really simple class to teach, but I’m having a lot of fun with this simple idea.  I just hope I have enough time to make all my ideas before the class!

Poor Man’s Rectangle

Dianne here: I think we can agree that my co-blogger Christine’s multistrand rectangle featured in the last blog post is stunning and her description of ‘fixing’ it a lesson in ingenuity and perserverance.  I vote for it to replace one of the those Oriental rugs she describes as covering her floors! Enter my first attempt at a rectangle rug, in this case a continuous rectangle. We three co authors had every intention of making all braided/hooked items that we provided instructions for in our book “Combining Rug Hooking and Braiding; Basics, Borders and Beyond”, we really did….but after a couple years of writing and writing and writing (more time in editing truth be told), we just wanted to meet our publisher’s semi-annual submission deadline of August 1 and not have the “book albatross” around our collective necks for another 6 months….

The rectangle instructions in our book (pages 63-66) were drafted and diagramed by Christine and

edited by Kris McDermet and myself, but I had not made one until now…..My goal was for a smallish 34 x 21″ rectangle in dark colors for a high traffic area between my kitchen and garage entry.  I had bought this remnant fabric at Pendleton a few years ago in 3″ wide, very long strips separated by short fringe from the loom.  Perhaps it was bedspread or throw fabric, not sure but the colors reverse on the other side and it is very soft.

Pendleton remnant

Pendleton remnant

I have not washed it and have cut it in half width-wise for 1.5″ strips and have made baskets with black and red strands and made a large round rug for an extra room over the garage we keep saying we are going to rent out….. So I thought this would be perfect for the high traffic area rectangle. I began the continuous rectangle at home, and then had the good fortune to spend a few days with Christine in Atlanta and got her expertise as I went along. Those of you who read this blog know I am very partial to round rugs rather than oval but this rectangle was a pleasing challenge ONCE I got the hang of the braid, stop, count, braid, lace, unlace, relace, repeat!  The alternate lacing became somewhat second nature as I went along but it is still much more slow going than ovals or rounds. As you can see, it is NOT perfect and despite some steaming, pulling and prodding and one extra ‘fudge’ loop, the NE corner is not as clean an angle as one could wish….but I am pretty pleased and want to do another.  The last 3 rows are butted and the last 2 have a strand of black although that only provides a subtle change to the experienced eye!

finished!

finished!

I think you can enlarge it to see the fabric design.  As Christine said, using the same fabric for all 3 strands makes it more challenging….agree, but it is also such a pleasure to work with all the same weight wool.  Counting loops, ensuring loop sequence would be easier with contrast however! Here it is almost finished with Cisco, the wool loving fox terrier, who jumps into my wooly worm and odds and ends bins for naps in my fiber room when my lap is not available (hard with a hooking frame on my lap!)  Interested in hearing and seeing your experiences with rectangles. Are butted rectangles any easier? 🙂

Cisco guarding the butt!

Cisco guarding the butt!