The 21 Year Old Rug Is Completed!!!

Perhaps if you have worked at a project on and off for many years, you will understand my surprise when after clipping and clipping and filling in skipped spots, I realized that The 21 Year Old Rug was finally done! How could that have happened?

I did a little happy dance and then started the finishing process. First I laid a piece of plastic and then a towel on the wooden floor. The rug went next and then I laid a sheet on the top. I filled the iron with lots of water and steamed over the sheet/rug many times. This is called blocking and if you work with any sort of fiber, you know what an incredible process this is. I took some photos, but you really can’t see the difference. I hook quite evenly, but even so, it becomes so smooth as the wool blooms. It certainly “could” be finished as is, but I think the braid will really make it special.

I googled adding a braid to a hooked rug and my blog came up! And not much else. Though I do remember how to do it, I did not want to do it the way my instructor showed the class. She lines, or covers, the whole underneath of the piece with flannel and then adds the braid. I asked her if she did this for floor rugs as well and she replied that she did. For many reasons, I don’t want to do this but the main one is that the flannel will be covered with cat fuzz the minute it lands on the floor! And how would I get the cat fuzz off of the flannel on the rug back? It’s tricky enough to vacuum the front of a hooked piece.

I did a lot of measuring and trimmed the burlap. I serged the raw edge and then carefully folded the edge using many pins, so there was a thin edge to lace the braid on. Then I hand sewed twill tape on the back. This would have been a lot simpler if the backing were not burlap, which is fragile and reacts badly to wet and heat. But you remember, this is a 21-year-old rug and I think I probably bought the pattern 25 years ago…

Almost done!


The braid is a bit tricky to begin, as you need to make blunt ends for butting at the end. Because of the way the corners are handled, I braid and lace and braid and lace and then do the special corner braid. Here is my little frame, which holds the wool strips firmly so that I get a tight braid. I can hear some of you saying “ahhhhh…” and it is fun to do!

Braiding frame


The ending – butting both ends of the braid – is SO not fun! I spent more than an hour trimming the wool pieces on the right and then sewing the ends and then trimming again and sewing. I was so anxious about cutting them too short. Not the end of the world, but it would have been nasty to repair. I was able to get a “perfect butt” {don’t laugh!} meaning the colors matched, but I am not happy about where the seams are butted and sewn. I may go back and sew them some more.

Butting the braid

So here it is! It will sit by Peter’s side of the bed as he always said he wanted it and kept encouraghing me to finish it. O happy day!

21 year old rug completed


Home Again &amp Some Finishes!

I always find it refreshing to be away from home! Ten days away is long enough to have lots of fun and get tired of hotel rooms. Then, when I return, I have all sorts of new ideas and energy and I see everything here with “fresh eyes”. Usually I run around cleaning, but Peter left the house sparkling, so I attacked several projects waiting to be completed.

Because we were to bring completed hooked pieces to display at the Midwest fiber and Folk Fest show, I decided that I should get the braided edge completed on Welcome Tulips. The off white and green are off the bolt fabrics and I tinted a beige stripe with fuchsia dye. This is the first project I have braided since class and with the help of Kris Mc Dermott’s directions, it went fairly well.

As I hooked this next piece, I thought it would be a pillow. When I was done hooking it I went to a nearby home deco store and found the wonderful trim you see Jasmine lying on. I basted it close to the hooking and then tried to sew it all together – several times. It finally went in the to-be-finished pile. In looking at it when I got home, I decided to finish it as a mat and frame it. If you read rug hooking blogs then you know that making hooked pieces into pillows is a challenge.

Here it is in an Ikea frame. I glued some Japanese paper onto the masonite backing. Then I attached the mat using sticky hook and eye fasteners. Of course the sticky tabs do not stay on the burlap backing, so I will have to sew them on. Finishing is never easy…

I can’t quite remember when I started this little Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt. I made it using the very fun Paper Pieces and just so you get the scale, they are 1/2 inch on a side. There was a partial seam to finish, so it was quickly completed. Here’s the back of the quilt  – I just love this look. Perhaps I should make an “art” quilt showing the backside of English Paper Piecing!

I spent one evening in front of the TV popping out the paper pieces. Then I appliquéd it on a backing fabric. When I was working on it I really debated how to finish the edge of the quilt. In my real quilts, which we use, I fill in the spaces with partial hexagons and trim them. I thought I might do that but it seemed too fussy and un-necessary. Here it is in another Ikea shadowbox frame.

This is Katie’s Leaves, the last pattern I designed for my rug hooking class at Pieceful Gathering. I decided to finish it as a pillow. As with the hooked piece above, it was not as easy as I thought it would be, but here it is. This time I sewed wool fabric to the mat to enlarge it and then had to hook a row of loops as you just can’t sew close enough to the hooking. It’s on a 12″ pillow form. Next time I want to make a pillow I have a new idea to try.

So! I think these are my first finishes of the year; better late than never!

P.S. Don’t forget to leave a comment if you would like to win a big, beautiful bunch of floral fabrics on Wednesday!

Braiding & Hooking

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.