4-Braid Spiral


4-braid spiral; tapered and surrounded by butted borders of the pattern “Stacked Picot.”

Christine here.  Just finished a rug I’m really pleased with.  I figured out a way to end my tapers without those little spikes of the wrong color into the row below, and I even have a second way to try a la Peggyann Watts, from her advice and photos, thank you!  Next rug.

Of course, I’ve been having so much fun braiding, that I haven’t yet managed to write up the whole process for the upcoming newsletter on Spirals.  So I’ve got to put my braids down and start drawing diagrams — when at the moment, moving on to the next one I have planned (which is 6 braids) is what I really want to do.

But the good things are:  it’s fall and cooling off, so I have fewer hot flashes already; I have no relatives or property in Florida (what a nightmare it’s been for Texas and Florida); my introverted son has actually made friends at college; my daughter is doing okay at her school.  My husband and I seem to be muddling along quite well by ourselves at home… in fact, it’s quite peaceful.


Anna Wilks’ 6-braid Spiral with blunt endings

I dredged up an old photo of a rug made by Anna Wilks that she had posted on the Yahoo rug braiding group, which I cannot even find anymore.  It has a 6-braid spiral, and I figure I’ll make something along the lines of this:


Spiked Tapers


This 3-braid spiral has 3 tapers; the tapers intrude into the rows below. See 6:00, where the blue intrudes into the navy.

Christine here.  In the photo left, you can see a spiral made with three braids.  (I’m working on pieces for the next newsletter, which will come out in October, on making spirals with more than one braid).  I have plenty of two braid spirals, and so I started on this 3-braid piece a few days ago.

I like it… except for the fact that I hate how little spikes of color intrude into the braid below as the taper loses its strands. See 6:00 for the worst example, where the medium blue intrudes into the navy.

You might be able to make out something similar at 10 or 11:00, where the dark blue invades the light braid, and at 1-2:00, where the light braid invades the blue.  The remainder of the braids are butted, so there are no taper spikes.

I am stating here firmly, so that I can’t weasel out of it, that I am figuring out how to make a taper that keeps its hands to itself and doesn’t intrude into the rows below.  I know it will involve some hand sewing, so some of you won’t be enamored of the technique, but I will be happier with it.  I hate the spikes.  They destroy the “line” of the spiral and are unattractive.  I am going to figure out how to fix this.

That’s all.


Freedom and Spirals

Lately, since dropping both kids off at college (Katie is a senior, Jack is a freshman) I’ve been getting phone calls from old friends: women I haven’t talked to in a few years, whose kids went to the same local daycare. Although initially these women were my only friends here in Pittsburgh, our lives have gone in different directions over the years. All or most of us from that era have recently sent kids to college. In the last week, there’s an email, or a text, or a phone call: “How are YOU doing?”

I think I’ve mentioned a few times that I’ve been greatly looking forward to the kids both going off to school. I’ve justified this attitude by saying that if we’ve done a good job as parents, then college is where they should be as they forge their own lives in that protected atmosphere.

I had visions of spending happy hours braiding away with my interruptions more limited: husband + dogs, rather than husband + dogs + kids. That’s a big difference.

Instead, it seems … well, weird. Not unpleasant. When my husband and I dropped off the second kid, we gave Jack a hug, told him we loved him, and walked by ourselves down to the parking lot. My husband swung his arms over his head and shook them out from all the heavy boxes and lifting, then commented, “I feel… free, somehow. Don’t you?”

It has been a very long time since we have been just partners instead of parents. These first few days of being partners again have required a little pleasant negotiation. It’s made me realize just how overwhelming – (even when the kids are recluses up in their room and try not to talk to you) – the sense of responsibility of a parent is. It’s a defining characteristic of one’s life. Now, for a brief time while they’re both off at college, that sense is lessened significantly.

And I have less stress about making dinner for my picky-eaters.

And the milk cartons don’t disappear as rapidly.

And the car is always available.

And… I feel a little weird. I’ve been wandering around, emptying out their rooms of the trash they left, throwing their dirty laundry into bins for washing, and delighting in sitting down on the couch with a cup of coffee to read my email, knowing that I won’t be bothered for awhile. I like it, but… it’s hard to let go of wondering when I have to get the car back for Jack to drive it to a guitar lesson. That watchfulness and concern suddenly have no direction.

I love it! And… it’s weird.

Enough of that. I have finally decided on my topic for the next newsletter: spirals. Two-braid spirals, three-braid spirals, 4-braid spirals, and 6-braid spirals. Adding strands, subtracting strands, staggered finishes and overlapping finishes and shaped finishes. Now that I have all these different ideas of things to make, how am I possibly going to finish all the samples that I want to make?  Luckily I’ve made a few over the years.

Braid In 42812 (12)
Pittsburgh Skies, 2011, made for the “Skies/Weather/Sunset” challenge of the Valley Forge Guild.

Part of my decision for making spirals is that I recently pulled out my old “Pittsburgh Skies” rug, made for the 2011 Skies/Weather/Sunset challenge from the Valley Forge Guild. The VF Spring Braid in was held at Bally Springs that year.  At the time of making this one, I had just recently figured out how to make 2-braid spirals, and I experimented a bit with adding additional braids into the spirals to widen the distance between the bands.  I also was experimenting with different ways to stack and to end the spirals.  I’m not wild about some of the things that go on in this rug, and in other ways I’m inordinately proud of this rug.  It taught me a lot about putting shapes together.

In any case, I’ll be working on writing up and diagramming  different ways to start all the spiral braids at once, or add in more as one goes along, over the next month, for the October issue of the newsletter.