Dianne here….This is a story about finishing a long-ago started project for someone else. It is about braiding, but I have recently seen several rug hooking friends finishing hooked projects for elderly friends or strangers whose partially hooked rugs have ended up in flea markets and thrift shops. What a kindness to the creator to have a modern rug hooker finish and sometimes repair the original. I may have one of my own as payment for the story I am going to tell today. I am sure as I hook, I will be thinking of the creator of the piece, wondering how and where and what she thought as she hooked.
But to the story. A rug hooking friend who is in my hooking guild approached me a year or more ago, asking if I would do something with her grandmother’s braids. Her grandmother was very special to her and was a braider. She left a number of varying length braids and my friend originally wanted to put them under hooked chair pads, not around, but under so the pads would be reversible. Note, the braids are straight braids, pinned at the start and rubber-banded at the end. About a year ago, I did create a start, jerryrigged the spiral without having doubles and butted the last row, but the finished chair pad was not very attractive-the colors didn’t go with the hooking, etc. I also made a small mat and small basket. She was happy with all.
Then about 2 months ago she came to me with 3 bags of braids she had arranged by color and asked if I would make 3 ‘rugs’ for her 3 daughters so they could have something from their great grandmother. She said whatever I could do would be fine, as large as the braids went, etc.
So I began…braiders will appreciate how lacing someone else’s braids is less than satisfying. They aren’t your colors, nor your desired width nor tension. In this case, all this was true: 2″ wide strips, fairly loosely braided, again straight braids AND as I started to make enclosed ends and repin to approximate a ‘start’ it appeared she was a right-opening braider. BUT because she was a good braider, and the wool weights were very similar, I flipped the braids over and laced them as though they were left-opening. And because the braids were loose, I could begin my lacing as though there were doubles (I prefer the enclosed end start which forces a tight spiral beginning), not perfect but with steam, they worked. I suppose I could have unbraided everything and rebraided to the left, but to me that would have made it ‘my’ rug and not the grandmother’s (plus I didn’t want to).
Here’s the center of the first ‘rug’. You can enlarge it I think. See the center? Lacing was a little wonky because it was on the ‘wrong’ side, and a number of seams showed, but I plowed ahead. When I came to the end of the first braid, I had to butt it to the second braid and continue as a continuous rug. Annie’s Fanny again came to the rescue and I continued. My mistake with the first ‘rug’ was not to lay out all the braids (think there may have been 5 in two variations) to see the lengths of each. When I was about 2/3 done with the braids, I realized that the last length of braid would not be long enough to be the last row. So I tapered where I was, making sure I had enough of the current braid to be the last braid, began a butted row with the short braid and butted the last row. Here’s the result. Don’t look too carefully! I didn’t measure and have given it to her but think it is about 18-20″ in diameter.
The second ‘rug’ was easier and I did spread out the braids at the beginning. I added a butted row of my own navy which makes it bigger and adds some contrast. The angle of the pix is not true; it is more circular than it appears.
I am hoping to receive an older rug hooking pattern and hand dyed wool in exchange for the braided mats. The pattern is called Persian Melody and the colors include beautiful salmon and teal in a small cut to be able to capture the detail of the pattern. With luck it may be one that has been started by someone years ago!