Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Rug Is Taking Shape

No significant quilt content today---I've been too intent on the rug. 

I really like the way it's turning out! Here's the first plait:

It's almost 4 inches wide and has 12 laces. But I need to back up....

To recap, I started with 12 pairs of pants and was able to cut enough 2-inch strips (actually, just a shade narrower, to allow better travel through the binder-making tool) for seven 7-foot laces from each pair (with only a few scraps left over). I folded the strips, pressed them, and stitched them into laces. The colors grouped into two sets of six---one with more grays, the other with more beiges.

I originally planned to plait 6 different-colored laces (graded from dark to light) into one plait. (The photo above and below show the laces sewn together at their tops, in these sets of six, ready for plaiting.) The resulting 14 plaits would then be sewn together to make a rug. Here's the beginning of one plait:

Nice, but the plait would be at most 2 inches wide. I wasn't liking the design possibilities. Besides, that's a lot of plaits to sew together. Time to rethink.

I had never worked with more than 9 laces at once, but I figured that I might be able to handle 12. What the heck. I tried it.

Much better!

I had put two laces of each color next to each other (six colors, and a total of 12 laces) and expected the pairs to stay next to each other throughout the plaiting, but they didn't. They would have if I had done what I normally do, which is simply put the leftmost lace over the one to the right and continue to weave it all the way across, diagonally. However, that leaves the upper right free of plaiting, and with 12 laces, that's a fair amount of wasted lace length. Instead, I started with the next-to-last lace from the right and put it over the rightmost lace, then worked with the fourth lace from the right, weaving it all the way to right, then the sixth lace from the right, and so on. This allowed the plaiting to go all the way up to the the upper edge.

Serendipity! The outermost pairs of laces did indeed move along together, but the interior pairs separated. So, instead of a clearly defined light-to-dark zig-zag, I got a more subtle but, I think, very nice gradation.

I'm mulling the idea of sewing the plaits together by hand instead of machine. The only workable way of doing this would be to slip a blunt needle through the outermost lacing edge and weave it back and forth between the two plaits. But my suspicion is that I'll run into problems because the outer "loops" won't always line up with each other.

In any case, I'd really like to get this project all wrapped up by the end of this coming week, primarily because I have to get back to the wedding quilt---the wedding is only 5 weeks away, and I have lots of non-quilt-related stuff to do during that time, too. I ordered batting, and it should be here in a few days.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Seduced by Cotton Twill

The plan was to dig through three bins that might have suitable yardage for the wedding quilt backing. To get to them, however, I had to get past a bin overflowing with cotton twills ("khaki pants" in their previous life). In fact, I distinctly remember purposely overfilling that bin with the cut-up pants I'd chosen for my next plaited rug, specifically so that I'd notice and, hopefully, make the rug.

I know myself too well. Those almost velvety surfaces, the dense but not too firm hand, the subtle colors ... irresistible. All quilts have been temporarily supplanted. And we really do need another rug for the entry.

I never posted photos of my last rug project, so here they are.

I chose the lightest, most subtle colors and a complicated design with bilateral symmetry. 

The individual strips have anywhere from three to nine laces.
I love it! It's perfect with our tile, too. Twenty-six pairs of pants contributed, with enough fabric left over to fashion a large coffee table runner (not plaited---just made from the 2-inch strips). Plus the inevitable scraps.

The new rug will be a range of somewhat darker colors, although it's hard to tell in this photo. The darkest fabrics haven't been cut up yet. At the far left are the remaining whole pieces, to the right are six bundles of finished laces (all of which will be plaited together). In the middle are two sets of strips ready to fold and sew into laces (plus one bundle of laces). 

I'm deep into the project but, now, almost regret starting it. I'll be so busy with work (courtesy of a small avalanche of freelance projects) that I won't get to any quilts but the wedding quilt anytime soon. Ah well.