Several (or more – I've lost track) weeks ago I got it into my head that it would be fun to make braided rugs. I've got all sorts of fabric stockpiled from when I used to quilt a lot, and I "inherited" fabric from my late maternal grandmother, who also quilted and sewed clothes for us when we were little and appreciated home-made clothing. She also knitted and crocheted and drew and painted and played piano. Oh – and she also made some rugs. There was a great big braided rug under the kitchen table, for one…and I remember she also dabbled in rag rugs – the knotted kind that are shaggy on top and bumpy on the bottom.
Anyway, I thought – hey! I know how to braid! I'll braid some rugs!
Of course, all this burst into my head after we'd started the whole Renovate the Bedrooms project, when all my big green Rubbermaid Totes O' Fabric had been dragged into the kids' room and stacked BEHIND a ton of other stuff. Stuff I'd need to move waaaaay out of the way in order to access my fabric stash.
But no matter. I was determined! I was inspired! I was probably procrastinating about something, too, so naturally I was very enthusiastic about THIS new idea and less so about whatever else I should have been doing.
So one day I heaved and hoed (ho'd?) and managed to drag those Totes O' Fabric into the hall and down two flights of stairs into the basement, where I'd decided to set up shop.
I lead a kind of nomadic creative life in this house. I would love to just have one room for ME and all my Totes O' Stuff, but alas, that ain't gonna happen.
Anyway, I got the totes downstairs, and set up a banquet table to work on. I also brought down my jewelry-making stuff so I could dabble in that as well. And my sewing machine. The ironing board and iron were already down there so I could keep Bill appropriately wrinkle-free for work.
I dug through bushels of fabric – cottons, cotton blends, corduroy, satin, velvet, and wool. Aha! Wool! That's what they braid rugs with, right?
I also discovered – to my delight – that I had a more varied supply of wool than I'd thought. All I could really remember were lengths of dark gray, red, and a medium gray pinstripe – wools I'd used back in college when I decided I could make some clothes for myself. I also ended up making some really warm quilt tops out of some of the scraps. I have no idea what happened to any of that stuff – the skirts or the quilts. It was all several lifetimes ago….
Anyway, so all I thought I had were two grays and a red. They'd look nice together, but I kind of wished I had more splashes of color. Turns out I did. There were other blacks and grays…some blue and black large-square gingham pattern…and a yellow that my grandmother had used decades ago to make me a cape/poncho kind of thing – it buttoned up the front and had slits in the sides for my arms – and a matching beret.
So, in short, I had more parts of a rainbow than I'd thought. Good.
And so I washed my wools. And dried them. In the dryer.
Yes – I did. Because if there were any dyes that might run, I wanted them to run NOW, and not some day in the future when they were braided with other colors and running might result in black dye bleeding into yellow. And I wanted the wools to go ahead and shrink if they wanted to. But do it NOW, while you're all separate, and not later, when you're braided together into one size and come out later fit only for a doll house.
That was my reasoning.
And as they came out I folded them all neatly and stacked them in color-coordinated piles and placed them on top of a tote.
And I moved on to denim.
Because I ALSO had thougth it would be cool to use denim for a rug. And I'd been saving old jeans, lower-leg portions of the kids' pants (once holes in the knees had convinced me to transform the jeans into shorts) for SOMETHING. Didn't know what, but maybe a quilt? I didn't know. I just stashed them. Because I am genetically predisposed to do so.
Anyway, after I'd washed all the jeans (not that there was any dye left to run anywhere), I started in with the scissors. I cut up leg after leg after leg, ridding myself of seams and zippers and waistbands. But not the back pockets. For whatever pack-rat reason, I have saved all the back pockets. For something. SOMETHING.
And once all the legs had been trimmed of hem and seam and waistband, I started in on the cutting them into strips part of my program.
I cut a variety. Mostly strips that were either two or three inches wide and as long as the leg it had come from. I made some even wider, for variety. I ended up with lots of shades of blue, in lengths that ranged from Bill's extremely long legs down to tiny lenghts Julia had outgrown.
Then I folded them for braiding. Not that I was even necessarily going to braid them. I'd become sidetracked by weaving. But whatever – I folded them the same – outer edges in to the center, and then fold those halves together like a book. I ironed fold after fold after fold. I gave some of the shorter lenghts to Julia so she could mess around with them, too. I also stitched three of the longer short ones together so she could practice braiding – something everyone should learn to do, of course. I'll teach Alex at some point, I'm sure.
Anyway, once I'd got all my lenghts ironed, I kind of stopped.
Yes. That's right. Production ground to a halt, as they say somewhere.
Rug-making is on hold until I have a bit more elbow room down in my little corner of the basement. I have nowhere to work on a project. I WILL – I confiscated the two sliding doors from the closet Bill and I shared before the closet was chopped in half to make a doorway to Alex's bedroom. And I'll make me some tall sawhorses and use those doors as my work table. But at the moment, there's no space for it.
I did start with the weaving. Just to see what it would look like.
And I am in love.
I took some of the short lengths and wove them together, and here's what I have:
I used the darker denims for one direction, and the lighter shades for the other. Can't you imagine this on a larger scale? And it's reversable! And pretty rugged, too.
I like it.
So I can't wait to make something bigger.
Which is why I will be oh, so happy when the bedroom project is done.
Anyway, that's where I am with the whole rug-making idea. I'm in limbo.
But the whole weaving fascination is alive and well and busy in my head.
I remember a loooooooooong time ago – I think I learned this at my cousin's farm house in NH – oddly enough from my older male cousin. I think. I don't know. Maybe I need more gingko biloba or whatever that is so I remember this stuff better. But somewhere, some time ago, I learned to weave on a little makeshift loom. I think I learned it while we were visiting the farm, and maybe when we got home, my father made me a small wooden loom frame thingy so I could weave my own stuff. I remember weaving with yarn, and I think I made some sort of…flat, woven thing of yarn. I don't remember much else.
BUT – hey, wouldn't it be cool to make myself a BIGGER frame and weave me some rugs?
So that's another project percolating.
But for now, it's all still on hold until the other projects – projects that affect ALL of us and not just the projects that satisfy my artsy side – are the main priorities.
So I did this instead.
We needed bread, and I made enough dough for four loaves. I baked three of them in standard loaf pans…
And here's what I did with the other quarter of dough:
I cut it into 16 pieces, rolled each one into a snake and wove them all toghether. The edges are kind of messy looking – I didn't really know how to finish it, so I kind of looped the ends under each other. I should have trimmed them all to the SAME length first, but live and learn.
Then Julia, who wanted to help, brushed the top with melted butter…
And into the oven it went.
We had it with dinner.
Alex, in particular, loved it. I don't know if he loved the bread itself, just because it's homemade bread, or if he loved the pattern, or what. Doesn't matter, as long as we're all content and well-fed.
Of course, next time, I'm thinking I could sprinkle salt and pepper and herbs on top…maybe some minced onion and garlic…freshly grated romano cheese…oh, the possibilities!