Christine here: One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to push myself to try things outside my own comfort zone, which is braiding. I don’t think I’ll ever run out of ideas of things that I want to try next in braiding — I have about 20 rugs sketched in notebooks that I want to make — but I think we are all aided in our creative journeys by mixing things up now and then.
My friends Dianne and Kris have been encouraging me for years to get into rug hooking and…. I have tried, I really have. I find it tedious. I accidentally pull out loops as much as I place them. My loops are twisted, of unequal length, and on top of all that it’s time consuming.
Kris or Dianne — I forget just who now — suggested that I try rug punching. I took a 3 hour private lesson from Amy Oxford up at her school in Cornwall, Vermont. While my impression was that most people use heavy rug yarn for rug punching, Amy did show me several pieces she had made that were made (at least in part) with 1/4″ wide wool strips. She helped me learn how to work with the strips of fabric. After all, I sure have a lot of wool, so I figured I should just use what I have. ( www.amyoxford.com)
Then, I got tapped to teach rug hookers how to frame their pieces with braids. I said, Sure! After all, I can do anything with braiding, right? Then it hit me that I would have to have class samples that were hooked to show them how to attach the braids.
So, I dragged out all that rug punching stuff and the cutter that I had purchased and started working.
I can tell, just from the progression of the 3 pieces that I’ve made, that I’m getting better. My first piece has a lot of twisted loops, but I learned how to straighten out the long 1/4″ strips before I started punching, and to straighten them out again when I changed direction. My second piece I made too crowded, and my 3rd piece is the best — loops and rows more neatly spaced, and fewer twisted loops.
The best part of all of this? Each piece took me less than 3 hours from start (picking out fabric) to cutting to punching to finish (steam pressing on the back). I don’t remember exactly how long my first rug hooking piece took me, but it was nightmarishly long — several evenings. What a difference!
Here are examples of my class pieces. They are in various stages of completion so that I can demonstrate each technique needed to attach braids. No, they are not perfect, but they will “do,” and best of all, it went quickly enough that I might actually try it again.
By this last piece, which I think looks pretty good, I was much better. No, it’s not as perfect as the rug hooked loops my friends make. But, I can see that if I kept up with this, I could probably get to an almost equivalent point in the appearance of the loops. And it was FAST!