Braiding (and hooking) with other fibers

Dianne here…..

It has been awhile since I have blogged. To be truthful, I have been writing and responding more to the Rug Braiding Group on Facebook than blogging here. We are up to more than 470 members and the discussions can be lively with admiration for posted ‘rugs’ and advice and answers for questions by members. If you haven’t joined, suggest you give it a try: just search groups for Rug Braiding. FB will ask me to approve you and away you go. For those of you who do not want to get involved with FB, this is a pretty narrow way to do it. My understanding is that the group postings including yours only stay in the group and are not shared with your ‘regular’ FB friends unless you share.

Another reason I check FB frequently is that my youngest daughter is traveling in South America while on a leave of absence from her techy job. She is as unplanned as I am planned and so it is so nice to be able to talk and text through FB Messenger and (don’t tell her) I can tell when she was on last, so if less than 24 hours, I don’t worry as much!

Anyway, I was asked recently to write an article for my ATHA Hooking Guild on Hooking with Other Fibers. I pulled up a bunch of pictures and realized that I have experimented with quite a few other fabrics for both braiding and hooking. The article and pix for them will include a number of braided items and this post for you will include a few hooked items….so Kris McDermet can be extra proud that I am a combo….and just ask me sometime how difficult I was when Kris, an ultimate in rug hooking, offered to teach me and lead me along…..we often laugh about it now.

My first braiding with velvet was a tiny braid mat. I  found a velvet remnant that perfectly matched the wool combination I was using. I remember telling Christine what I was doing and she said “Oh velvet, that sounds great but isn’t velvet kind of fussy?” I have often laughed at the truth of her words, but I’ve grown to appreciate it anyway! I probably gave away that mat but enjoyed the texture contrast.

So I began to buy velvet remnants for possible non-rug braiding projects, first incorporating the velvet with wool and then using all velvet.  I tried to use all the colors in my everyday dishes for this table mat. You can see my stash of bought velvet was growing!

The first time I hooked with velvet was for this hanging

I was a little bored hooking the dark charcoal wool, so I tried some random black velvet on impulse; I liked the look and added maroon velvet as stems and in the braid. I wrote an article for Rug Hooking Magazine about incorporating velvet into hooking and got some good feedback, so kept going!

My friend Kris McDermet and I began to make ‘braid bowls’ with hooked bottoms and braided sides.

This velvet bowl is hooked with hand dyed velvet, wool and chenille and the braid is more of the velvet. By now I was dyeing the stretch velvet and trying to use it up so I could dye more.

We went to Iceland last year and I bought some unspun yarn and found it hard to knit but easy and fun to hook. This Difranza doorstop kit was in my UFO stash and I didn’t use the wool provided but finished it by hooking the cat outline with heavy black yarn, the grey unspun yarn and hand-dyed velvet for the

background which made it go so much faster.

The duck was another UFO. I had hooked the duck with the kit wool but left the background unfinished and when I saw it recently I didn’t like the yellow background wool so used some velvet. 

This heart was hooked with hand dyed velvet, unspun wool and ‘as is’ wool and braided with velvet.

I have braided with denim and am making a third jean rug for my blue bathroom. I think I have shared the second one in previous posts. The variety of blues in jeans is amazing and the rugs  will be washable.

As mentioned in my last post, I have recently experimented with braiding cotton for table mats. Here is the finished William Morris quilting jelly roll, a cotton and velvet mat made from scrap sheeting and an all cotton mat from retro cotton fabric and gingham.

So what’s your experience braiding (and hooking) with other fibers?


3 thoughts on “Braiding (and hooking) with other fibers

  1. Great article Dianne! I love trying some ‘sparkle’ type fabrics and my favorite is Charmeuse silk because of its lovely shine on one side. When braiding, I tear 1 3/4″ strips of silk and line with a scant 1″ of wool and braid in the normal way. I usually use 1-2 strips of silk in a braid-using 3 strips is complicated because you actually have 6 strips to manage-not impossible but I also like the look of silk next to wool. Well that is my excuse! I also hook with silk by tearing it into scant 3/4″ to 1″ strips-squish it together and hook in the traditional way. The trick it to keep the the shinny side up-it tends to turn to the dull side quickly. I’ve tried hooking and braiding with various polyester sparkle fabrics using the same techniques as above and it works well. It is fun to hook with yarn and roving though I find the roving slippery. Wonderful yarns are being made now full of sparkle or small beads etc! I”m not so sure all these other fabrics are good to walk on but they look pretty and add variety. Have fun experimenting!

  2. I just finished a multi strand out of cotton, since so many people have cotton. Let me just say plainly that while it is pretty in a tweaky colorful way, I HATE IT. Compared to wool, it just is not pleasurable. I like wool! But, it is kind of pretty. I just don’t enjoy the process.

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