College Rug and Braid Gauge

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College dorm room (there are 4 tall sunny windows along that far wall, which helps)

Christine here.  We moved my daughter back into Dickinson College a couple Saturdays ago. Her room is tiny tiny tiny, but one wall is all windows and the sun was streaming in on move-in day. Given the heat and humidity, that amount of sun would have been awful, but as an upperclassman she gets an air-conditioned dorm, so the sun was a good thing. (Since moving to Pittsburgh 24 years ago, I have realized the importance of sunlight for a good mood and positive outlook).

We joined the long line of other sweaty parents hauling laundry baskets full of hair dryers and desk lamps and printers up and down the flights of stairs. We glanced at each other in commiseration as we held doors open for the next set of parents to troop through. Our load was lightened slightly by Katie’s boyfriend, who moved back in the day before, and who was instrumental in moving the furniture into a more functional arrangement. (Yes, the boyfriend is still around).

The last time I wrote how my daughter asked me to make an 8’ X 11’ rug for her college dorm room… 10 days before she left for school. Obviously, this was impossible. But, I was able to enlarge a 5’ X 7’ rug to 6’ X 8’, which – given that a good portion of her tiny room was taken up with bed, desk, and dresser – made it look like a room-sized rug.

Adding onto a rug a few years after its making is an interesting problem, and there are certain details that I’ve chosen to defer for a newsletter article with some diagrams (my newsletter will be starting up again in January: more information about that in the coming months). But one aspect that I’ll talk about here is: matching fabric.

The original rug was a hit or miss, so matching a fabric color was not exactly critical, although the general color theme had to continue. I was lucky enough to have a big bag of scraps left over from the original rug, and many of the scraps had already been torn into strips, so I was ahead of the game. I needed only to find a few more gray tweeds and herringbones for two of the strands, and a mix of pinks and reds and oranges for the other strand.

The thing I didn’t remember was…there was a reason that I didn’t use those strips before. Those strips were left over because they were lighter weight than the rest of the rug that was already braided. I didn’t realize it because the strips are the same weight as what I work with currently (medium-weight), so they felt perfect. I just didn’t remember that I had chosen to work with coat-weight wools for the rug.

hit-and-miss

Hard to see, but the “gauge” of the old rows is different from the new rows

If I had actually compared the new braid to the rug, I would have seen this. But, I braid on the first floor and the rug was up on the third floor, and I had decided (due to a bunch of appointments with long times in waiting rooms) than I would braid as much as I could before starting to lace, and I didn’t bother to drag the rug down until I wanted to lace. So the difference in braid-size wasn’t immediately apparent.

In retrospect, this was doubly stupid, because if one wants to enlarge a rug as rapidly as possible, wouldn’t you choose heavier weight fabric and bigger braids anyway?

As soon as I started to lace, the difference in gauge was clear. I had to make many increases, even on the straight of the rug, just to get the new braid on without stretching it. I wasn’t able to continue the “dot” pattern on the straight sides that existed in the rest of the rug.

So, dinking along with my comparatively skinny braids…I did manage to get an additional foot on all around, which was accomplished by totally focusing on braiding and lacing and neglecting all family members and pets for 10 days.

Whenever my husband talked to me, I complained about how I had screwed up and I would never manage to get enough rows on to make a size difference (it takes a long time to lace around a rug that size). My husband laughed at me and told me not to be ridiculous: I was obviously having a great time working on that rug for our daughter. He was right, of course. Boy was that fun!

13 thoughts on “College Rug and Braid Gauge

  1. Great job. It is almost impossible to see where you added on. The rug is lovely. Cheryl

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  2. I bet she didn’t notice and I’m betting she loves it. Things must be quiet around your house with no kids and no carpenters.

  3. I really like it! Exciting colors and the hit or miss ‘random-ness’ is perfect in the dorm room! I bet she will take comfort in the reminder of home and your love and support, too, even if she doesn’t admit it out loud ❤

  4. What a lovely, sparkling muted pink rug! Your daughter is fortunate to have it and the enlargement enhances the use for the dorm room. I get a chuckle about your sacrifice of family duties and attention in order to get the rug done (all too familiar). Bless your husband’s patience. It kind of goes along with the craft/art. We can only hope/pray in time the recipients of our labor can appreciate our gifts! Patsy

      • Cool. And I still have two of my grandmother’s rugs but unfortunately she stitched the braids on and they just haven’t held up well. I’m making mine for posterity with interlaced waxed or unwaxed linen and that’s definite! Loretta used to say braided rugs should last at least 50 years.

  5. Ahhhh…Dickinson! What a great college. My husband went there, back in the dark ages, and I spent a lot of time there visiting him. We drove through there a month ago as we headed to a family wedding and checked out everything new. How lucky your daughter is to get a braided rug! My mom made crocheted bedspreasd for my roomie and I one year… Here’s to the moms who will do something so special for their kids! ;-D

    • I think at college in particular, it’s nice to have those things from mom. (How cool that you’re familiar with Dickinson: usually people haven’t heard of it, despite it being a highly ranked school nationally).

  6. Christine … Although you grouse about it, the rug is perfect for a dorm room! It looks absolutely wonderful and I doubt other students have anything even remotely like it! As well, your daughter will keepsake this rug forever. It will always be a part of her life and yours.

    Not only that, but you have yet another subject to explain and have us explore for the newsletter!

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