Strip Rugs

Dianne here….and Happy New Year everyone. It is even cold in California. Good weather to be braiding and rug hooking. I am making a round cushy chair pad for a friend’s piano bench. She has been going to the gym consistently and has ‘less padding’ for the hard bench!

But today I am writing about strip rugs. I had written a post awhile ago (this may be the link….or not about my first attempt at a strip rug for the entryway of our vacation rental. It wIMG_0639 (1)as hard finding someone to stitch the ends and the rug did not completely cover the area of the previous rattan rug so there is a slight discoloration you can make out on the sides.  so I wanted the next rug to cover more completely (same rattan rug but in front of the kitchen door) and find a better way to have it stitched.

I liked the way I worked with the pattern of the first rug so I found a lot of old 3″ rolls in my stash of what was probably Pendleton jacquard upholstery fabric. I had made a large round rug a few years agIMG_0574o by using strips from both sides of the jacquard weave but still had a lot left. the 3″ rolls yielded two patterns when cut into 1.5″ strips and I separated them and began braiding, taking care to match the design in the 3 like strips as much as I could. I took the young rug to Methuen and was surprised it was  widely praised for the design thatIMG_0621 was created by matching the braids. Friendly comments helped me decide to arrange the two sides of the pattern in groups of 2 and here is the photo at show and tell where you can see the pattern developing. I can’t say enough for the wonderful experience a Braid In such as Methuen New England Braids or Valley Forge or the Thetis Woolgathering, etc gives us in terms of community and welcomed advice!

So I continued and found a young man who recently bought a local upholstery shop in town and he agreed to try to stitch the rug as long IMG_0581 (1)as I was there to ‘lead’ him. He stitched twice and it worked! I took the rug out to the house and cut the fringe as straight as I could, then tapered the ends so they would not be as thick.

I am happy with the results, happier than with the first rug. The strips were 2 yds long and I was constrained to that length and to the width of the door. With flat wool there would have been more leeway and I could have cut the braids shorter but then I wouldn’t have been able to put the ‘design’ in the rug.

What these experiences have taught me is that strip rugs are easier than I thought; no increases and little problem with keeping flat. I think they could be a good project for a beginner; what do you think?

Zen about Christmas; Braid In Classes

Christine here.  Weirdly, wordpress won’t let me add photos today.

Like many of you, I’ve been madly shopping and wrapping presents. This year Christmas seems to have snuck up on me, catching me completely unawares. I just shut the refrigerator door on the Thanksgiving leftovers and then Surprise! There’s Christmas.

I spent a week running between stores and standing in check-out lines and staying up late wrapping presents and then suddenly… I sat down. Now I am sitting here mutinously and I don’t want to get up again. I don’t want to think about what everyone else wants for Christmas. I don’t want to think anymore about butterflying a pork loin or baking a bird. I am already ticked off at all the Christmas lights. I want to sit and braid and have everyone leave me alone.

My daughter is home from college and has somehow forgotten that her mother is not her servant; my son is hanging out in his room/cave and pretending he isn’t part of the family; my husband is just generally irritating because he’s my husband. Correspondingly, I’m sure I’m a real peach of a mom/wife at the moment.

But this is always the way it is, isn’t it? If we let ourselves focus on the annoying aspects of Christmas or anything else, then we ourselves become the annoyance.

I have resolved to achieve that zen-like space where you realize that it’s all fluff and feathers and not really something worth getting upset about. I’m trying to remember that the important thing is The Family Getting Together, and the rest is irrelevant.

It is not easy. I would rather sit here and scowl and sulk. I may have resolved to be zen, but I ain’t there yet.

The one thing that has been fun lately is about 100 emails back and forth with the teachers and the Teaching Committee for the Valley Forge Spring braid in. We finally… I think… have the list of courses. I just had one teacher withdraw for health reasons and a new teacher added, so I don’t have the final schedule, but I have the list:

Valley Forge Spring Braid In, April 29, 30, and May 1, 2016

Basic Braiders

  1. Beginning Braiding (Dot Pepe + others)
  2. 2-Braid Spiral (Debra Weinhold)
  3. Continuous Strip Rug (Debra Weinhold) (ends flip over front to back at edges)

Intermediate Braiders

  1. Annie’s Fanny Butting (LO & RO) (Christine Manges)
  2. Patterned Hybrid Basket (Dianne Tobias) (uses plaid selvedges from Pendleton to create butted, stacked plaid patterns)
  3. Braid Bowl (Kris McDermet) (butted, bowl-shaped braids around Hooked Center)
  4. Multistrand Braiding (Christine Manges)
  5. 6-braid Hexagon Trivet (Christine Manges)

Advanced Braiders

  1. Flowers in a Chair Pad (Anne Eastwood) (These are the pieced, 6-petal flowers over 2 rows each)
  2. Braided Landscape (Delsie Hoyt)
  3. Multistrand Butting (Christine Manges)

Non-braiding Fiber fun

  1. Felted Flowers (PeggyAnn Watts)
  2. Beginner & Intermediate Kumihimo (Debbie Wykosky)

On Jan 1, 2016  I’ll post the schedule and registration information on the Valley Forge website (

We’ll be doing things differently as a result of some feedback in a survey that Jeff Wykosky did for us with last year’s attendees. For one thing, Class Registration will be centralized through Nancy Young, who has very graciously volunteered to take on this huge task. Classes will be paid for individually above the cost of the braid in. And many of the classes will have kit fees.

These changes will hopefully take care of: 1. Rising costs to host the braid in, 2. Complaints that classes were too full because wuss teachers would never say no to more students (ie, me), and 3. Drop in students who came to class unprepared and then demanded teacher time.  So we’re trying to be more professional and I think a centralized registration for classes will help.

We’ve also revamped the Braid In registration form to make it (hopefully) much clearer.

Hope to see you there!

When you least expect it….

Dianne here  Just back from Thanksgiving down in LA with new daughter in law’s family. One comment: we have little control over the choices our kids make in spouses. They usually don’t consult us and we are even less asked to weigh in on possible in laws. Therefore it is wonderful when families get along together which was the case for this Thanksgiving. It was a great way to cement the marriage of our kids….and yikes they want to come up here next year! The wedding was in June and I made Marybelle’s Mom a purple braided basket and she sent me great soap she had made.

But I digress. We were able to stay at an old friend’s who was spending Thanksgiving with her son’s family in Phoenix. She offered her home which made our 5 day trip much more enjoyable than a hotel. So was I surprised when I went into her kitchen and saw two of my early rugs! I had forgotten I had made them a few years ago. When I talked to her on the phone after we arrived, she reminded me I had made the large round one for in front of her sink (my calculations were off so it was waaaay too big) and so I then made a small oval. She has an old house and the kitchen is in black and white. We thought black/white/grey and red would be good.

this was the originalIMG_0595.JPG

this was the correction

IMG_0594 (1).JPG

and THIS was at her back door! A machine braided rug. For shame! I had better get busy.