Sunshine in Pittsburgh



Christine here. This morning I was about to respond to an email with my usual Eor-like fervent pessimism when I noticed the sunshine streaming in over my braiding detritus left on the coffee table.

Sunshine is not a frequent visitor to my home.  We are surrounded by trees that block the sun in summer, and the lake effect makes 285 days per year cloudy and overcast in Pittsburgh.  The sky is usually a dim white to gray.  But today, it is a beautiful clear and cold blue.

One of my resolutions for the coming year is not to use this blog as purely a ranting place to vent my less than happy mood.  So I’m starting, today, with appreciation of the sunshine.  It may be brief, but it is beautiful.

I had some good news today:  I heard that the Valley Forge Rug Braiding Good swept the awards at the Pennsylvania Farm Show with first, second, and third places (I’m the second).  As soon as I get a photo of the 3rd place, I will post them all.  I’m so pleased with the guild for promoting rug braiding in this state.  It is a wonderful craft… and winning is always satisfying, too!

I have been working on the next issue of the newsletter, but I have been seriously hampered by the presence of house guests.  No matter how lovely they are, house guests always drive me bats.  They impair my ability to live in the state of creative chaos in which I am most comfortable.  I have to spend my time curtailing the natural entropy and refrain from being impolite.  It is truly a stressful condition, no matter how kind or amusing the guests are.

My natural de-stress mechanism is always to reach for an oval rug, so this is the one I’ve been working on:


It is a combination of peaches, pinks, browns, and camels.  At various points I have thought it was a boring sort of rug, but I like its calmness.  I was considering introducing some soft turquoises, but at this point I think I’ll just keep it calm and pink and brown.

The newsletter that I’ve been working on will have a few variations on 6-braid spiral hexagons, as well as butted pentagons.


6-braid hexagon

I made one for Christmas, but it has a hole in the center of it that I’m not certain everyone will like.  I’ve been experimenting with ways to fill in the center hole, and it’s harder to figure out than you might think.


6-braid hexagon but too tight in center.

The next hexagon I made, the blue and white one, was so full in the center that it has a little hat shape sticking up.


6-braid hexagon with partially filled center hole.

The next version that I made, with hot pink and maroon, worked a bit better but still is only partially filled in the center — and the loops are pulled quite tight to do so.

I’m left with considering braiding half of the braids a tad longer, and the other half shorter, so that 3 of the braids will reach into the center and the other 3 will rest just outside of the center.

The experimentation process — trying new designs, seeing what works — is always my favorite aspect of writing the newsletter.  Unfortunately, each “experiment” takes time to braid and lace, and I have a newsletter to get out!

Between getting the guild website up to date with information on the braid in, cleaning my house for guests and entertaining the guests, I am pretty far behind on the coming issue.  But, it will get done… sometime… before the end of January.


10 thoughts on “Sunshine in Pittsburgh

  1. Wow that was inspiring. For the last month I have been watching way to much TV with no projects in my hand. Today is another cloudy day. I need to take your energy and get going. Thanks for your time in posting. Dave

  2. I hear you, Christine, about guests. Some of my children and grandchildren were her for the holidays. I love them to death but…. I can’t seem to get any braiding done. That is my stress reliever. I have just today finished puting the house back together and it feels wonderful knowing that I now will have time for braiding. Looking forward to the next newsletter. The hexagon seems to be a real challenge. Perhaps extra pieces of fabric could be woven into the circle(hole) to cover it. I have thought about this when ever I find hole in the center but I have never really tried this technique. HYou could also try a tinyl circle with only a few loops. Didn’t someone try a 4 loop center or fewer once?

  3. I hear you, Christine about guests. Some of children were here for the holidays and I could not get any braiding done. That is my stress reliever. They were on California time so everyone went to sleep very late. Just today i finally finished putting the house back together and feel happy that I now will have time for the braiding. My work room is still a disaster. I am looking forward to fondling the wool and deciding if i can bear to sell any of it at the braidin. There is certainly enough of it for many people and I am not getting any younger. I was thinking about the hole that is left. Could you take some pieces of wool and weave it in the fill the hole or perhaps try a tiny center with perhaps 4 loops. I think someone found a way to make some very small ones. The wool would have to be very narrow. Looking forward to the next newsletter.

    • Thanks for the suggestion, Carol. Yes, Marjorie Kauffman in particular has come up with a zillion variations on centers — from as small as a 3-loop (it’s more a a celtic knot than anything)… to 13-loop centers. I think, for the class I’m teaching on the 6-braid hexagon at the braid in, that I’m just going to have to show all the different variations and let people pick which one they want to make! Christine

  4. Peggyann here, you are probably full up on about one more? We use pointed corners to fill in spaces as we braid. How about starting with a RRRRL ? Braiding very tight. It might be pointy enough to close the hole without distorting the hexagon.
    Company is like the grandchildren. It’s good to see them come but great to see them go..oh I know, that’s not correct to say. But I said it any way.

  5. Love that you started out so upbeat and sunshiny happy, and then reverted to our beloved ranting Christine (about the guests)! I stick to the old adage … fish and guests begin to smell after three days! Terrible but in some ways true.

    Braid on …!!!!

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