Messy Desktop

Screen Shot 2018-03-31 at 10.17.13 AMChristine here.  I have told you before in my comments about my marriage that my husband and I have an “Oscar and Felix” approach to household cleaning and life in general.  I am Oscar, and he is most definitely a Felix.

In John’s realm of the house, the folded T-shirts in his dresser are all the same size and neatly stacked.  The items on top of his dresser are the same every day and are returned to the same location.  He makes the bed every single day.  His desk is laid out and logical.

The same is true for his virtual “desk top” on his laptop computer.  He has a background of his dog Cindy from when he was a kid – a springer spaniel – and there are a couple of folders on his desktop, and nothing else.  All points of interest are accessed by clicking on items found in the folders.  It may take him about 6 sub-folder clicks to get to, but everything is there in logical trees of information.

He looks with disapproval on my own laptop screen.  I have a million photos.  They overlap.  Sometimes I have to search for them, moving other photos that have gotten stacked on top, until I finally find the one that I want.  I admit that sometimes I have to search for awhile, but I can usually locate the images that I want, after the requisite amount of muttering and resolutions to get things maybe just a little more organized.  I also have a couple of photo folders of stuff to look at, labelled “cool photos” and “more cool photos,” which are places to put photos when the search becomes impossible.

But a messy desktop is just part of my creative process, I defend myself.  I kind of… mostly… know where things are, and they are a source of inspiration for me.  I need all the photos there on the desktop.

I thought I would take a few of the photos on my laptop, and share with you why I like looking at them, and why they have their place on the desktop as a source of inspiration.


Take the photo left, for example.  Simple Christmas tree ornaments woven from palm fronds, I think.  But I look at this image, and I think about green wools and multistrand braiding.  Some Christmas, I’m going to figure this out.




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Okay what about this photo?  I think it’s from Wayfair, or one of those shopping places that annoyingly pops up when you’re looking at a website.  Anyway, isn’t this the coolest rug you’ve ever seen?  I want to make it out of braids.


hook-rugOk, what about this one?  It looks like a drawing, but I’m not sure that it is.  The original link is gone, but “hooked rug” is in the title.  It looks like it’s hooked in the center, and the border, but there are some of the surrounding outline-stripes that look braided.  Wouldn’t this be a cool braided rug?


The image right is labelled “green painting” and its link is:  Look at the lighter-colored spiral.  Doesn’t it look like a “lined triangle” multistrand pattern?  I want to make a two-braid spiral, with one of my braids a multistrand like this, enlarging by two strands every row to maintain the lined triangle pattern.  The other, greener braid I might keep a plain single color for contrast.



What about this?  This is a sand painting mandala in progress; it is being made by Buddhist monks.  Aren’t the colors amazing?  And the design — if simplified — is completely doable in braids.  Wouldn’t you just love to have a braided Buddhist mandala?




OK, you have to know where I’m going with this by now.  See the path of this lace?  What if you could have a braid that travelled this path?  Maybe not with as many wedge-shaped segments as this one has, but still, wouldn’t this be a really cool round rug?  You’d have to figure out whether you could simply lace all those curves in or, more likely, have to put in sets of double corners to get the braid to curve sharply back and forth.  You’d have to lace the curves to the struts on either side.  You could make each wedge-shaped section a different color…. and best yet, only one butt!



Left is a weaving pattern that I found googling around.  It reminds me of my green-and-black maze rug that I made several years ago, but it repeats the smaller units to make a larger pattern.  I love geometric designs.




More interesting geometrics.  Follow the path of one of the center black stripes and see where it comes from and where it goes.  We don’t often think about starting a braid on the side of a rug.




And what about the beading pattern, left?  Somehow, someone’s got to make this in braids.  Isn’t that the most interesting thing you’ve seen in awhile?  And only double corners:  none of the fussing with alternating triples.

So now you see why my laptop is such a mess, right?


Now where to put it?

Dianne here:  a disclaimer: just mentally add ‘rug’ to hooker every time I mention hooker; it works.

I have finally finished ‘my Persian’. Some of you may know or remember the story. I have taught, and finished a few small braided pieces for a hooking friend of mine using her favorite grandmother’s braids. A couple of baskets, a braided pad for under a hooked chairpad and finally 3 very small rugs for my friend’s 3 daughters, using the very last braids that had been hanging around for years. Not the most exciting ‘job’, but the braids were well done, tho wide for me and, oh those retro colors. In addition, they were straight braids so I had to jerryrig the starts to get a semblance of a curve (I talked her into rounds).

I realized it was all worth it  when she told me the daughter named after the grandmother cried when she was given the rug. My friend has since learned to braid, and I taught her how to braid around (and I finished) a beautiful hooked chicken rug which won a prize at the state fair….

(YAY! that they appreciated the braiding, right?)

All this braiding would have added up to a pretty penny so we bartered. She has been a hooker in the community for a long time and seems to inherit unfinished projects, wool and equipment from families of hookers who have passed on. She was working on this Persian (Persian Melody by Pearl McGown) one day at our hooking gathering saying she was finishing it as the hooker had passed. It was about 1/3 done and came with all the wool in a #3 cut (for you braiders who have not ventured into hooking, a #2 cut is the narrowest so 3 is very narrow, meaning you can get good detail but takes forever!). I admired the colors and the detail reminded me of the Malibu tile hanging I did in an ATHA class (#4 cut). The challenge of  trying to match exactly the pattern is what intrigues me about these two projects; it must be my left brain trying to escape in retirement where I have been nurturing my heretofore, unknown creative right brain.

So she gave me the project and the wool and I tried very hard to match the fine hooking of the original hooker, Gloria Gray.

Have any of you finished a project from someone else whom you never met?

It is an interesting experience; I find I often think about the person when working on the project, wishing I could meet them and hoping I am doing credit to her/him. In this case, Gloria’s hooking was so fine and so low (loops very close to the hooking backing) that a sharp eye can pretty easily see where she finished and I started, but with some steaming (and some more) only a sharp eye can probably tell.

I found I used this rug as a ‘go to’ project between others and it became a favorite,  ‘always there’ comfortable project and, as with some braiding, I found myself slowing down at the end because it was so enjoyable, kind of like a book you don’t want to end.

And then there was the question of finishing technique. That too. How would I finish this rug? I have never whipped the edges which is the classic technique for hooked rugs; I have always put a straight or fancy braid around mine.

My hooking guild gave lots of suggestions: “whip the edges in yarn, in wool, add a fringe: a BRAID? “Not very classic, Dianne, but that is who you are, it is your rug, after all”. They think of me as the braider who dallies in hooking. sigh.

This would make a lovely hearth rug but we have a wood burning stove/fireplace and I wouldn’t want to risk an ember igniting it and most of my floor space is covered with braided rugs, so on the wall it will go, and a fringe, though classic would flop….I really didn’t want to cave and whip the edges, so………..a braid and was excited to see that my wool stash included a large piece of the same green color as the background that came with the wool, so I did two rows in slightly different widths to give a frame to Gloria’s masterpiece. Wonder what she’s thinking of that?

My current thought is to replace this button rug in our family room with Gloria’s and hang the button rug landscape-wise above my husband’s new black ebony piano in an upstairs bedroom.

My final thought is that thinking of where to put this rug has given me an opportunity to look at what I already have on the walls; many of my ongoing hooked/braided mats, showing how I have improved over time,  plus some of my mother’s Chinese and Japanese paintings.



My old, hard-working, 2010 laptop

Christine here.  See this?  This is a photo of my laptop, a 2010 MacBook Pro, which I have used for drawing diagrams, making handouts, writing the newsletter, updating the blog or the VF website.  It has journeyed far and wide — Maine to Massachusetts to multiple locations in Pennsylvania — and it is the repository of many many hours of drawing and writing about braids.  It has been my companion on many adventures… usually related to braiding.

So, how did I pay homage to this critical and essential device?  I spilled coffee into it.  Freshly made coffee, still with those caffeinated aromas steaming from the cup, and brimming with just the right amount of skim milk added to it, and in my favorite green Tasmanian Devil coffee cup.  As I was lifting the cup toward my lips, the cup hit the corner of my laptop, and — splash, right into the keyboard.

IMG_1138After I swore, jumped up and got paper towels and wiped the thing off, I tried to type an email and sighed with relief.  But before long, a “t” kept getting added in after every letter.  I could backspace the “t” and keep going for a little while, but pretty soon the t’s just kept creeping across the page all on their own.  Finally, I could type nothing at all.

The one saving grace to this whole episode is that I had my husband back up the hard drive yesterday, because there had been some weird glitches in its normal functioning.  In fact, the convenient proximity of the coffee accident to the safety of the back-up made my husband recall the time when our daughter Katie really, really, really wanted a new phone and my “yes, Princess, whatever you want” husband was uncharacteristically firm about telling her to wait until she qualified for an upgrade.  So the next day, oops, she dropped the phone into the pool, and then she got the phone she wanted.

Believe me, I did NOT want to get a new laptop.  I wanted to go on using my old one and having it function perfectly.

shadySo I scheduled a repair appointment at the local Apple store and had a very cute young man with long brown wavy hair and little gold wire rim glasses and a surprising amount of height and muscularity tell me that my laptop was old enough to be considered… ah… “vintage.”  Because it is vintage, the store no longer stocks parts for it, and they no longer do repairs.  The latest models on which they do repairs are from 2011.  Even then, the 15” model like I have would cost over $1000 to repair.

Well, so the good news is that I bought a new laptop.  The bad news is the $3500 bite out of my finances.  (The cost of the machine, plus Tax, plus the Apple Care plan so that if I spill coffee into it in the next 3 years, everything will be fixed for me, plus the adapter so that my old USB port will function with the new USB port, etc).  Ouch.


My newly purchased MacBook Pro, still in its box, in the neat little form-fitting bag from Apple

And, my Adobe Illustrator program will NOT work ever again.  So I’m going to have to pay $29.99 a month to subscribe to the online Illustrator program and even be able to open my old diagrams.  Double ouch.

Sigh.  I have a feeling that everything in my life is slowly becoming “vintage.”  (Especially that white-haired husband of mine).  I am comfortable with vintage.  I am quite content with vintage.  I am kind of dreading the whole process of getting adjusted to a new machine.

But, it will be nice once it is set up and I’ve gotten used to it.