I learned how to hook rugs when we lived in Massachusetts; New England and the Eastern part of Canada are where rug hooking in this country evolved. As well as seeing lots of hooked rugs in that part of the country, you also see lots of braided ones. I resisted learning how to braid as it was just one more thing to have on a to do list. Then I saw hooked rugs with braided edges – talk about a perfect combination! That has been in the back of my mind for years and years, so imagine my delight when I saw a class on how to combine the two at the biennial ATHA Show! I couldn’t sign up fast enough.
It turns out that many people were anxious to take classes and there were way more registrations than ATHA imagined. They begged the teachers to add another session so that more of us could take classes and happily Kris McDermet agreed to, and I got into her evening class. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Maria, of the Star Rug Company . In a recent blog she said that I was “an overachiever”, but the supply list did say that we were to hook a 6″ square and a 6″ circle. Being the do-bie that I am, I did get both done.
Braiding is not really difficult, but there are a lot of steps, and more supplies than you might think. We ripped our wool strips and then put the Braid-aids doodads on the ends. These are not strictly necessary, but Maria didn’t use them and thought I was having an easier time of it. (They are the metal things on the right hand side of the photo)
Another nice tool is a braid stand. If you have ever tried to braid without having something to pull on (like when you braid your hair, your head holds the hair tight) you know that it’s very difficult to keep the sections even. This one is from the Dorr Mill Store and is quite inexpensive. (The stand is the wooden thing on the left. I had to ship a box home because of the size of it!)
Kris had taught a day long class. She had a half hour break (and I’m sure it was no break at all) and then we arrived around 4. Her able assistant was her very charming husband Stewart and I must say, he was a treat! As our class was a bit shorter than the day class, she offered to get together early the next morning with us, to go over how to make the corners on our square pieces. (See the snowman above.) Interestingly enough, they “make” themselves; it’s all in how you braid. I love the look of this and now I want to add braiding to all my hooked pieces!
The real overachiever of the class was TJ! You may need to click on the photo to see her piece in better detail. The little elf’s face is peeking out from a (braided) wreath and do you see his little fingers??? They are pieces of wool that she rolled and then painted fingernails on with a marker. It is a darling idea and so well done.
Kris has just published a wonderful book all about braiding and hooking called Combining Rug Hooking & Braiding. She has loads of examples and many really lovely braided variations. Look at this cute piece that she did for a guild challenge!
Kris has been at it a long time and so she can braid every which way and immediately see what you’re doing incorrectly, which makes her a capable teacher – and she’s very patient! Thanks so much to Kris (and Stewart!) for a really great class.