Saturday, February 26, 2011

Adventures in Braided Rug Tutorial (with Pictures for folks like me)

A couple days ago... perhaps yesterday - I can't remember- I embarked upon a new crafting adventure. I started out trying to figure out how to go about making non-frumpy curtains for Soph's room and what resulted was not curtains at all, but me deciding to make a braided rug instead. I'm a rather visual person, so I really like when instructions for various "new to me" projects have picture tutorials - alas I couldn't find one for the braided rag rug. Sure there were several videos - but I hate having to go at the pace of the person on the video, and there were a few drawn illustrations, but that just confused me more. I know I can't be the only visual person out there and have had a couple requests for a picture tutorial - so here it is. Sketch and I are making our tutorial debut -

Very little is needed to make a braided rag rug. Old Sheets (or shirts, jeans, curtains, tablecloths... whatever you can get your hands on - the only requirement is that you the same type of fabric for the entire rug), some scissors, yarn, a darning needle, a flat surface and time.

Start off by cutting "starter slits" about 2" long every 3-4" on whatever material you are using. Some folks like to cut the entire length of the material, I prefer to tear it. It goes much faster and is a great task for children. I find that kids truly enjoy destroying things - being given the a-ok to do so makes it even better. The kids were actually bickering over who got to do the tearing. They call it fun, I call it child labor. Tomatoes/Tomatoes.

You're going to want to put all your torn pieces in some sort of storage receptacle. If you don't happen to have a shopping cart on hand, any box, basket or bag will do. It's not a vital necessity, but it's preferable to having scraps of material strewn about the floor.

You are now approaching the fun part. Braiding. How you start the braiding is really a matter of preference. In my quest for directions I found that most people will cut slits in the top of the strip and then hang it on a door knob to start.
 Like so.... (slit in fabric above, hanging on door knob below)

I don't like this method. I think it sucks and is complicated. I prefer a less classy approach - I simply hold the ends down with my foot until I get 5-6 repeats done.

As you're braiding you're going to want to remove all the little threads that are coming off of the material. If you are using a woven cotton fabric (e.g. sheets) this will happen a bit. I like to cut them to prevent more fray - ripping them off works fine too if you want to work out some anger. Whatever suits you is just fine. Please trust me when I say you want to remove them. If you don't, braiding will be a huge tangled mess and will only cause frustration.

Much like the not so bright fish in "Finding Nemo" - you may find yourself chanting "just keep braiding... just keep braiding... braiding, braiding, braiding... braiding". The first braid is the most tedious, but I ensure you it gets much easier. I don't like staying hunched over the entire time so after I have a little bit of a braid going I will hold it between my knees. The shorter the strands get, the easier it gets to braid. (Yes - I am stating the obvious - but I am a simple minded person and was very excited when I realized this at 2am). What you will have is a nice long braid to begin your rug with.

There are several theories on how to progress from here as well. I am only going to cover what I find the easiest and most logical. If you'd like to read about the other ways you can do so here.

At this point I begin sewing together the braid into a spiral. This will be the center of your rug and also the most challenging part of the endeavor. It will go fairly quickly and once you get past the start it will be smooth sailing. 
Start by cutting a fairly long strand of yarn and tying it around the beginning of your braid. After securing a few knots for good measure, cut off some of the excess material. Loop the braid into a small, tight circle and take the needle and run it through the hole between the braided strands.

You will not have to actually sew through any material. Thanks to the wonderful space created by the braided strands all you have to do is slip the needle from the wrong side on the section to be attached and insert it in the aligning space on the section that has already been secure. Until you get a few rounds done this will be a bit of a pain in the rear. Hang in there! I promise it is totally worth it and gets way easier.

Just in case I was confusing, You will go from the wrong side of the non-attached section (bottom to top)

Then down through the right side of the already attached portion (top to bottom)

Now... this is very important. Make sure that when sewing, you do so on a flat surface. If you do not the rug will be wavy and wompy and will probably cause much anger and resentment. I prefer to work on a carpeted floor type surface. For those that don't like sitting on the ground a table works just as well.

Much like the "just keep braiding" tune, there is no doubt that in this first section of sewing the same tune will be once again running through your head. Eventually the braided section will come to an end and you will resume the braiding process.

I personally prefer to start the sewing process and braid as needed for a couple reasons.
  1. I get bored easily and breaking up the braiding and sewing works well for me. Just when I get sick of one I get to move on to the other and it makes me happy
  2. It is easier to make sure your rug will be round and the design flows the way you like if you are adding colors as you go rather than just hoping it doesn't look like a hot bag of ass.
When adding in a new strand to an existing strand, I prefer to stagger them. If all new strands are added in a straight line the result is a big lump that his hard to cover up. (I learned that one the hard way)
I tried several different methods of joining strands and I found this to be the most tidy as well as the least frustration. To start - fold the existing strand in thirds. This will resemble a tri-fold pamphlet.

Do the same tri-fold with the new strand, making sure that the fold is on opposite sides. This makes it easier to sew.

Run your needle and thread up from the new strand's tri-fold side and then across and back down. The top will look like this. (see below)

Tie the yarn in a couple of knots to hold it in place and then cut the remaining yarn, leaving a little bit of a tail. This will get worked into your next braid so it wont matter.

Continue braiding as before. When you get to the end of your material go back to sewing as before. Keep on going until the rug is the size that makes your heart smile. 
Since I had to start a new rug for tutorial purposes - here is the rug I've been working on for about a day. You can see how making the rug in a "braid as you go" way makes it easier to know when to change colors.

To get the pattern above is really quite simple. I started with 1 braid with all 3 strands the same. The next row I worked with 2 white/1 blue. When I thought that was long enough I moved on to 2 blue/1white, then 3 blue, then back to 2blue/1white. I plan on continuing the same repeat until I'm content with the diameter of the rug.

If you found this helpful - please (pretty please) let me know. If you thought it was ridiculous or a waste of your time let me know (I promise not to be offended). As always feel free to contribute and questions, comments or concerns. 

Good Luck and God Speed

Friday, February 25, 2011

Adventures in general

Up until this point, Sketch has mostly been hanging out with me and the girls. The Hubs hadn't shown much interest in the little guy, and therefore most of his adventures were somewhat dull. Last weekend, Sketch had a right of passage so to speak. He wandered out onto the porch while the Hubs and his buddy were playing some guitar and drinking some "adult beverages" - what follows may shock you

It started out innocent enough - playing a little guitar with the Hubs.

Then the Red Bull and Cadbury egg came into play... 

Well the sugar high that little Sketch experienced was a bit intense. He was no longer content with playing some sweet tunes and free styling with the guys so he decided he was going to go for a joyride. 
Good thing he didn't get pulled over - Sketch definitely isn't licensed to drive shopping carts.

After his crazy adventure weekend - he was pleased to get back to the "regular" adventures of us boring folk (read as the ladies in the house). Quite a few days were spent converting my "room of awesomeness" into Soph's bedroom. The girls really wanted to have their own rooms and I foolishly gave in to their request. The house still hasn't recovered. I find the best way to deal with the overwhelming feeling of not knowing where to start when "re-homing" displaced items is to avoid them. Instead the girls and I did some other fun stuff. 

Sketch wanted in on the action so he helped Soph and I work on our braided rag rug.

He felt a bit buried by the piles of braided sheets so he went to help Bee color the "Build and Create Dollhouse" instead.

Bee wasn't too keen on his not so awesome coloring skills and he opted to explore the new decor in the room. He met a pretty cool penguin from Croatia.

He noticed it was raining really hard and went over to the window where he came across some Sea Monkeys that just had babies. Sketch had never seen Sea Monkeys before and was a bit disturbed by how creepy they looked. He couldn't quite figure out why they were always swimming around "attached" to each other or where all the teeny little baby Sea Monkeys came from - that talk is for another day.

Then he admired the awesome wall art I made to brighten up the boring white walls. 

After such an exhausting day Sketch ate some lunch, contemplated the curious behavior of the Sea Monkeys and went off to take a nap. I'm a bit jealous of the nap.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Adventures in Inclement Weather and the Grandest adventure of all

Well, it's been raining here on the Monterey Peninsula for about a week now. Given that a large part of our agenda takes place at the park, rainy days tend to poss a challenge in adventures to do indoors (especially since we only have 1 car, so rain usually equates to stranded at home). Sketch has never been cooped up indoors for so long, so he was getting a bit irritated. Luckily Soph and Bee are "outside the box" girls (much like their mama) and we were able to think of some activities to keep the little guy occupied.

It was pretty miserable out. I didn't mind since it knocked the pollen out of the air. As you can see, Sketch was pretty bummed out.

We had a birthday party to attend later in the day, so the girls and I thought decorating wrapping paper would be a fun idea. Sketch had a great time, as did the girls. It kept them out of my hair for a bit, so I was quite pleased as well.

Bee loves to play games, and really wanted someone to play with, so Sketch joined in on the fun. Usually she plays against Soph, and rarely wins - she totally rocked the connect 4 when her opponent was a little owl. Sketch learned a valuable lesson - "You can't win all the time, but it's fun to play". Thank you Bee for sharing these words with Sketch.

Soph wasn't feeling the games. She's totally wrapped up in this "I want to be the maid" thing. I wish she realized that maids pick up as well as clean - but I'll take what I can get. She had such a good time spot cleaning the carpets the 1st time that she wanted to tackle the worst carpet of all... the living room rug. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I went with cream as the color for the most walked on part of our house - but I will look at it as character building. Soph likes to share her joys with others - so she taught Sketch the correct way to spot clean carpet - he was not as passionate.

It only took him about 3 minutes to wander off to see if the rain had stopped. No dice there - but the wind did do quite a number on my porch. Sketch and I were very displeased.

With Soph busy cleaning and Bee on a new quest for fun, we busted out Where's Waldo. As a kid I absolutely loved Where's Waldo - as an adult I still enjoy finding Waldo and his little followers.

Bee was once again faster than Sketch - this bummed him out a little bit, so while Bee continued searching for Waldo on his adventures, Sketch helped me out with folding. He's getting pretty good at the folding thing, he wasn't took keen on giving me a hand but when given the choice between sorting socks or folding, folding wins every time. (Stupid socks need to sort themselves)

Luckily we didn't do much folding before it was time to go to Soph and Bee's friend's birthday. It was Star Wars themed and Sketch came face to face with a Darth Vader pinata. Sketch didn't know that the freaky head on the table was just a pinata and was very intimidated by Darth.

He did thoroughly enjoy the amazing cupcakes.

As well as the awesome goodie bag treats. (I'm not sure who enjoyed them the most, Kristine, Sketch or the kids... I'm placing my bet somewhere between Kristine and Sketch)

We made it an early night because we had the most grand adventure the next day. That's right... after much waiting and many happy dances - it was finally time for Stitches West 2011!!!! Despite the weather we were all up bright and early to head to Santa Clara. Sketch wasn't quite sure why Kristine and I were so damn excited... until we entered. Holy Cow - talk about the happiest place on Earth! Fiber and Yarn and notions as far as the eyes could see. I imagine that this is what Heaven would be like. 

We met the founders of Ravelry - which could probably be defined as the absolute best website in the history of ever. If you knit, or crochet and have not looked at Ravelry you are seriously missing out on life. Kristine and Sketch were even lucky enough to snap a picture.

I bought my very first spindle ever at Carolina Homespun . One of the amazing ladies from Knitting Guild was there and totally posed for a picture with Sketch. (This was super exciting for Sketch since she has mad skills - I hope someday to also have mad skills)

After our long day of awesomeness - we drove home in the pouring rain. Sketch and I thought we were going to die and were so excited to arrive safely that the only logical thing to do was to admire the newest additions to my stash. This picture makes me happy just thinking about it.

Yup - that's right. Stitches West is on the list of best days of my life. It's right up there with giving birth to Soph and Bee and getting married to the Hubs. 

Curious about the amazing stuff in the picture? Well! I'm glad you asked! Starting with Sketch and going mostly counter clockwise - here is a list of where all the amazing stuff can be found. 
Sketch and I are now off to figure out what exactly is going to be made out of my wonderful Cashmere and what pattern should be used for my first sweater. Hopefully Sketch can steer me in the right direction. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Adventures in Rainy Day Cleaning

Sorry folks - no Sketch today. Seeing how a good number of Sketch's previous adventures involved housework he decided to take a personal day. Lucky for me, Soph opted to take his place.
Now... "lucky for me" is not a phrase I often use when referring to Soph helping me do anything related to cleaning. I definitely learned something new (and very important) today. My darling 6 year old loves to clean... she just doesn't like to "pick up". I fully intend on taking full advantage of this free child labor (please read as "character development"). We were so involved in our deep cleaning adventure that I didn't even get to knit today - I know... this is tragic. It is especially tragic because I am secretly (or not so secretly) having a torrid love affair with my stash. I can't seem to get enough - I'm perfectly content (ok not really) just admiring all the wonderful members of my little member's only club. The more I admire all the wonderful wools and colors the more ideas I have of what I want to do with all of my treasures.
Enough of that - I get a little excited when thinking about my yarn. Hopefully tomorrow will not only be a fantastic day for more cleaning, some schooling and if all goes as planned I will have a wonderful plan of attack for Stiches West on Friday. (Please note I am trying desperately to contain my excitement regarding Stiches West so that I wont seem like a complete fanatic)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Adventures in Sickly x3

Alas- Soph, Bee and I are sickly. The Hubs seems to be a bit under the weather, but I'm pretty sure us home-bodies got the brunt of the bug. Sketch and his little friends have been going out of their mind with boredom. They are definitely on their way to stir crazy, as are the rest of us. Now that the rain finally came and pulled all the pollen out of the air, maybe we'll start to take a turn upward. We were able to have a few adventures despite our less than favorable health conditions. I'm sure the innocent bystanders that have been exposed to our plague thank us - (You're welcome Monterey Peninsula, please remember that sharing is caring)

If I had to pick one person to blame for starting this joyous plague-like illness, I'm pretty sure it would be Bee. Don't be confused by the sad sad face. She started it. I'm willing to forgive her, after all she is rather pathetic looking in this picture. Sketch wanted to try and cheer her up, but was weary to get to close. After all, she was the epicenter.  

Since Sketch was feeling just fine, he was pretty bitter that we were cooped up indoors on such a nice day. Especially since he has a sweet new hat. 

Kristine came around and saved me from going stir crazy. Sketch was entirely beside himself to finally escape from our house - which should definitely be under quarantine. Despite his joy to escape, he's still a safety first kinda bird.

Our crazy night on the town was pretty exciting for Sketch. He got to go places he had never been before. Such as the Seaside Library, and the Borders Express at the Del Monte Shopping center. Both of which were mildly disappointing, with the except of a few sweet sweet finds - guess it wasn't really that disappointing after all.
He felt so at home in the teeny tiny little knitting section. I think his book selection may be a hint that I need to practice my "skills" a little more. I'm feeling kind so I wont let the bird get to me this time. (Last chance bird)
He truly enjoyed looking at the spoils of our excursion. I did too. They were pretty swell. He even helped me pick out what to knit next.
We opted for some absolutely adorable Russian Nesting Dolls. They're just about done, so expect a picture soon. (They really are cute enough to share)

Being that the Hubs is mostly well, he thought it would be a good idea to go to City Diner for some food. Probably because I haven't gone grocery shopping in... well - a shamefully long time. Nothing says awesome like 2 families of snot nosed kids that are hacking up portions of their lungs and their equally ill mothers in a food serving establishment.MmmmMMM! Eat up folks! 
It didn't seem to effect the Hubs' appetites, nor Sketch's.
My Hub got the Philipino Breakfast or something like that. Not really my cup of tea, but he enjoyed it. Hubs definitely grabbed it from Sketch just in time, because I'm pretty sure he was going to eat the heck outta that meat item. Pretty sure there would have been a fight if that had happened.

Sometime that day, or the next... (I have lost all concept of time) Bee spiked a pretty good fever. After we couldn't get it lower than 101 by day 4 I figured perhaps it was time for a trip to the ER (thank you Tri-Care and tax payers for paying for Bee's trip to the ER at 10:30pm on a Sunday). Bee hates the doctor. Actually, that may actually be the largest understatement ever - I think that doctors may in fact be the bane of her 3 year old existence. She was actually really great at the hopsital. Partially due to the fact that I accidentally lied to her and told her that good little girls who let the nurses take all their vitals don't get shots if they're just sick. 
Well paint me pink and call me Nancy - Her fever had nothing to do with being sick, turns out she had a pretty nasty UTI that evolved into a bladder infection which definitely required a shot of antibiotic in the rear. She's still pretty pissed at me. After the doctor gave her the shot she no longer wanted to lay on the bed for fear of another sneak attack. (Did I forget to mention that she had fallen asleep and knowing that she wouldn't let the nurse anywhere near her with a need when awake I just held her down and she woke up to a needle in the butt? Yeah - I'm a horrible mother... I accept that)
... I digress. So Sketch and Miss Piggie Bacon decided that since it was their first trip to the ER they should give the patient/doctor thing a go, Bee's request probably is what sparked their interest. 
Miss Piggie Bacon was a pretty decent doctor, and Sketch was a little anxious just pretending to be a patient. Luckily we got to go home a few minutes later. 
Bee is on her way to all better, her fever broke sometime Monday morning and she's been sleeping a lot - which she definitely needs. Hopefully we will be back to our regularly unscheduled adventures soon (or at least before we all lose our minds stuck in this house)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Adventures in Domestic Arts

It was a pretty mellow day here in sunny Monterey. Sketch learned the hard way that sometimes even when it's sunny out there are chores to be done.
So we started with some laundry. Sketch was super curious about the big machine that I put the dirty towels in to make them clean again. I'm not sure that Sketch fully realizes that although washing machines are great for towels they are not so great for little owls made out of wool.
So then we had to fold towels. Sketch and Gordie are pretty good at folding smaller things like dishrags and washcloths. I am definitely remembering this for future folding sessions. Luckily Sketch enjoyed folding towels way more than sorting socks.
After making Gordie for Soph, I promised Bee that I'd make a pig for her too. Sketch was very interested in where he came from and wanted to help with the construction of Miss Piggie Bacon. I didn't have the heart to tell him it was a little off kilter for him to help.... so I just let him add some stuffing.
Life isn't all laundry and knitting (though it should be all knitting - that is neither here nor there). So the two little guys took a little break and Bee tried to show them how to play on the Wii.
Sketch couldn't quite see from where he was so he moved a little closer to get a better view. I'm a little proud to see him wearing the safety strap. I'd hate to end up on "Sh*t My Kids Ruined" because my owl decided to get a little over zealous with the Wii controler.
We went to the park for a little bit. Then I caught Sketch trying to steal some of Kristine's chips. Not cool litter bird! Clearly we'll have to work on his manners. It happened to get really windy about the same time - so we didn't stay very long.
I left him to his own accord for 10 minutes and this is what I get. Damn bird got into my buttons. Not quite sure why - I think he may be jealous of the pigs' noses. Still - there is no excuse.
Then Sketch decided to rat out Soph and Bee. Yes, we both had a serious anxiety attack when opening the door to their room. I guess birds and small girls are not to be left to "do their own thing" quietly for more than 5 minutes at a time. I didn't have the time or energy to argue with Soph and Bee; I just wanted their room cleaned. So, I did it myself... mostly.
While Sketch took up residence in Bee's dollhouse. Can't say I blame the guy much.... it was the cleanest part of their room.

So, I did clean it up "mostly", and by "mostly" I mean I got pretty frustrated with the magnitude of their mess and quit. I think it's about time I return to the cleaning.