California Dreamin’


Chinatown in San Francisco

Christine here. I’ve been having a great time visiting Dianne. My family has, of course, been just devastated by my absence (“Can I have the car while you’re gone?”) but they have been bearing up well from what I hear.

I flew into San Francisco and met up with Dianne and her husband there. We stayed at a historic hotel and walked all over Chinatown and up to Coit Tower, where there were beautiful murals from the Depression era that had been painted by WPA artists. They took me out to a fascinating sci-fi play called The Nether, and then we came back to their house in Davis.


Dianne’s very organized fiber room

Dianne lives in a beautiful mission-style home in Davis, California and her home is dismayingly NEAT and ORGANIZED. Even her fiber room is sunlit, with a big work-table, and her fabric is laid out on shelves so that you can see everything. Any tool I asked her for, she could locate it in 10 seconds because it was in the exact location it should be. No jumping over piles, lifting up wool, opening up multiple plastic bins, and swearing to find things.


Dianne is putting a braid of velvet, sparkle, and wool around “Witch’s Consort,” hooked by Kelsie Dore and designed by Tish Murphy

Dianne and I have been working in the fiber room. Dianne has been working on a commission piece: she is putting a braid around a rectangle hooked by Kelsie Dore and designed by Tish Murphy; the pattern is called, “Witch’s Consort.” The braid has sparkly velvet, black velvet, and black wool and is looking just perfect.

I’ve been working on my maple leaf, but I ran out of wool, so I’ll show the progress on that in another post. Then I am going to teach a class to some local Pittsburgh rug hookers on putting braids around squares and rectangles, so I rug-punched a rectangle so that I’d have something to demonstrate with. I like how the branches, which are hooked vertically, got a bit distorted and kinked by the surrounding loops pushing on them.



I tried, at Dianne’s urging, to punch with the stretch velvet, but it just doesn’t look as good as hooked stretch velvet due to the technique – after stretching in the punch downward, when stretch velvet is released from the punch it scrunches up into a little nubbin against the foundation. It looks much better when hooked.

I haven’t refined my rug punching technique enough to get all of the loops perfect and even… and sometimes the ¼” strip twists within the punch tool and I get some wonky loops. But, for someone who finds rug hooking tedious (sorry!!) it is a nice quick way to approximate the look.


We dyed velvet outdoors on Dianne’s back porch

We also did some dyeing. Dianne purchased some stretch velvet and dyed it with a sort of dip-dye method in an electric frying pan. Here’s a photo of the velvet and of a braid with the dyed velvet.


Some of the lovely dip-dyed velvet braided up


The stretch velvet dyed many colors

We’re having fun! Unfortunately, I have to return to the family today…. Too bad vacation has to end.


6 thoughts on “California Dreamin’

  1. So happy for you both getting to spend time together doing the things you love with the extra treat of the sightseeing in SF. Those are the things you always remember. Times with friends. The housework can wait.

    • Dianne here: Thanks Kris; we missed you! We also went to farmer’s market and Indian food in Christine’s honor. If she can try hooking, I can try spicier food! And my fiber room is not that neat nor my house that tidy!

  2. Where do you buy your stretch velvet? I have some but am always looking for a cheaper source.
    I wish I had a small stash of wool kike yours. ;My 2 car garage is full of shelves and wool, where I dye my wool and actually have a small space to park my van.
    I love to read about all that you do and it is so inspiring.

  3. Your wool room does look very neat. Mine is a mess because I just can not pass up wool.
    We’ll be in San Francisco in MY on our way to and from Hawaii. We’ll be visiting grandkids.
    I hope you had a chance to check out Scrap. Diane may have told you about it. It is a place that they sell odd lots of donated items At times I have found wool.

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