A finished interwoven braided rug.
PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
By adding one extra step to the standard three-strand
braiding process, you can produce a dense, sturdy
interwoven rug that's reversible to boot!
The supplies you'll need for this braided rug project are probably
already on hand, too: needle, thread, thimble, scissors, a
large crochet hook (about size K), and some tightly woven,
medium-weight cloth (such as worn sheets, tablecloths,
curtains, and clothing) that won't ravel excessively.
For a 2' X 3' oval rug, cut 300 strips of fabric at least
1" X 24." If you tear the material, the resulting
ravelings will make for an unsightly floor covering. Although the cutting process is
tedious, remember that the pieces don't all have to be
exactly the same size. Just measure the first one so
you'll know what to aim for, and "eyeball" the rest. Just be sure your errors produce wider, rather than narrower,
strips. (Variations in length are actually
advantageous, since the basted-on extensions won't all
appear in the same place and cause lumps in your braided
How It Works
To begin the rug, line up the ends of three cloth strips on
top of each other, make two diagonal cuts through all three
layers—so that they come to a point—then baste
them together at the tip.
Next, separate the strips, crush them slightly, and
make a loose 12" braid. Whenever your "weaving" process
takes you to the end of a strip, add on another by trimming
the ends diagonally, overlapping them about 1/4", and
basting them together.
When a 12" section is finished, turn the braid around so
that the working end is away from you (make sure to hold the "loose
ends" in place to keep 'em from unraveling). Look carefully
at what you've done. Notice
that— on each side of the midline—there's a
series of what I call "loops." During the first round,
you'll be working with the loops on the left. Then you'll
turn the corner and use each loop on the right .
To begin this part of the operation, insert the crochet
hook down and all the way through the first loop on the
left, then bend the loose ends of the strips
around to the left—to form a corner—and begin
to braid toward you. However, the first strip that comes
from underneath the others is
pulled—with the crochet hook—completely through
the first loop and is crossed over to the left as
you begin to braid again. The very next strip that comes
under is pulled up through the second loop.
Keep It Up!
Continue in this manner, pulling a strip (always the one
coming from underneath) up through each successive loop,
until you reach the last one on that side. This final loop
should be passed through by a second strip to
provide extra fabric for a flat corner. (The other
three "corner" loops should each have two strips
pulled up through them as they're "rounded.")
Turn the braid around again, make the second corner, and
continue to work, pulling one strip up through each
remaining loop on the other side of the original 12" braid.
Then repeat the cornering procedure: Use the last loop
twice, turn the work, and use the first loop twice.
That should bring you to the end of the first round and
will be the last time it's necessary to pull two strands
through a single loop.
Once the initial "circle" is completed, you'll work with
the outside braid loops of the previous round. Continue to
braid and pull one strip up through each loop until all the
strips are used. Then—to finish off your work of
art—pull all three strips through a loop, sew them in
place securely, and cut them flush with the rug.
The end won't be noticeable if the braiding is terminated
just before you turn a corner.
And one other thing: The secret to a rug that never puckers
in the center is loose, even braiding. Therefore, make sure
you loosen the previous "knot" after each pull-through. And remember, it's especially important that
you work loosely around the corners.
While it may take you a little time to get into the
"rhythm" of this rug making method, your pretty—and
durable—end products should last for years!