Avoiding the Stair-step in Rag Rugs

I now have a video that shows these two methods:  Video: How to Avoid the Stair-Step

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Method One:  Beginning New Round

I created this pictorial to show how to avoid the stair-step look when creating these Amish-Knot/Toothbrush rugs.  This method requires a little more effort, but can be well worth it if the stair-step happens to drive you crazy.

Method One:  Starting a New Round
1.)  When you are ready to join a new color.  “Finish” your rug as you normally would and weave in the ends.

2.)  Attach your new color working strip to a core strip.

3.)  Insert the needle through any knot on the last round.  The working strip should be on top and the core strip will be below.

4.)  Make a stitch in the same spot to lock in place.

5.)  Continue making your stitches as you normally would.

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Avoiding StairStep

Method 2: Alternating between core strip and working strip

With this method, you will need to plan ahead and have your core strip the color that you would like to add next to your rug.

Step 1:  Have the core strip the color you want to add next.  In this picture, I will be adding a ring of orange next.  Simply place your previous working strip (black) in the middle next to the rug and come from behind with your new working strip (orange).

Step 2:  Tie a knot around the core strip only.  This will help raise your knot a bit so when you complete your round it will be on the same level.

Step 3:  Make your first knot with your new working strip (orange).

Step 4:  Continue working around as normal.

Feel free to ask me any questions you may have.  I’m always glad to help if I can!

 

 

 

 

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Method One: How to Start a Round Rug

Previously, I wrote about choosing material and getting prepared.  You can view it here:  The Beginning of a “Rag” Rug.

We will now begin creating our rug.  At this point, you should have a working strip and a core strip joined together.  See How to Join Two Strips of Fabric/No-sew if you need help.

This is the method I learned with, but I just recently found a different way to start a round rug that is very similar to crochet.  So this will now be called Method One:  How to Start a Round Rug (One-Step Method).   If would like to see a video of the second method, click here: Method 2: How to Create a Round Toothbrush Rug

Pin the join near the top (Picture 1).  This can be a corkboard, your pants, anything that can hold it tight as you are beginning.  I have a table top ironing board that I like to use, and as you’ll see, it’s seen better days.  For this illustration, my working strip is blue and my core strip is pink.

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Picture 1:  Tying the beginning knots.  Creating the foundation.

The knot (or stitch as it is sometimes called) is over, under, over.  I’m sure there is a more catchier way of saying it, and when I remember what it is, I’ll share it with you!   Take your working strip, go over and then under the core strip, and back over the working strip.  I place my palm on top of the core strip and use my thumb for tension as I am pulling the working strip through.

For circular rugs,  make three (3) to four (4) knots, depending on the weight of the fabric (Picture 2).  Since the fabric I am using is medium weight, I tied three (3) knots.  In this picture, I marked the holes that were created with each knot.  These are the holes that you will be tying into as you go around.

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Picture 2:  Three Knots

Once you have made your beginning knots, unpin and turn it around to where the last knot you made is now on top, and your working strip and core strip are on the left of your beginning, foundation row (Picture 3). You will now start working in the round.

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Picture 3:  Turn around and pin near your last stitch.

Your first stitch will be in the very last knot (or hole) that you just finished with, which is at the top (See Picture 4).  Remember, the stitch is always over, under, over.  You are essentially tying into the rug and around your core strip.

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Picture 4:  Turn work around and pin near the top.  Begin working in the round with the last knot you just made.

Continue to tie knots into each of your beginning stitches.  When I am beginning my round rugs, I generally make two knots in the middle and at least two knots on the end to help create the shape (Picture 5).  This is called an “increase”, which you will need to do frequently throughout the rug.  At first, the increase is largely to help create the shape, and then it will become essential in keeping it flat.   I wish I could say that there was an easy formula to follow, but that is part of why I love this craft so much.  I don’t have to count or be exact.  No worries!   After a while, you’ll get the hang of it as long as you keep trying.

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Picture 5:  Increasing (two knots in one place)

 

One important tip:  Work on a flat surface!  If you do not, it will likely take the shape of your lap or whatever it is you are working on!

I’ve posted a video on YouTube of how to begin.   You can find it here or watch it on this Video: How to Begin a Round Rug.

I would love to hear feedback!  If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please leave a message!

 

 

He Waltzed in on Christmas

He was probably the last gift I ever expected to receive on Christmas, much less to see walking through my door, but there he was, waltzing in as if he owned the place.  Astonished by the brazen intrusion, we quickly shooed him outside, but he wasn’t about to leave, though, it seemed his mind was made up.  He followed the kids as they played in the yard, just begging for some attention, and with his stature and determination, he was hard to ignore.  Our visitor was a large Labrador mix with a missing collar.  My husband scolded me for giving him some water, but I explained to him that perhaps he just needed something to drink to continue on his travels.  It wasn’t long after that my husband gave him a piece of ham.

We didn’t expect to see him the next morning, but there he was, laying on our front porch.  He continued following the kids and me around the yard, and finally got the attention of our pup who seemed happy to have a friend like her.  He didn’t even chase my farm animals that roam around my yard!

I just knew someone had to be missing this friendly dog, so I made posters and hung them through out the neighborhood and at our local post office.  My husband talked with several neighbors and none of them knew who he belonged to.  I also placed his picture on Facebook pages for lost/found animals in my area.  Soon, I will take him to the vet to see if he has a micro-chip, but to be honest, I’m secretly hoping that I will get to keep him.  When I told my husband this, he was a little surprised, since I have never once brought home a stray or attempted to keep one that has wandered here.  When he asked me what I would call him, I told him “Buddy” and we both laughed, because how can you get rid of someone’s buddy?  I think he’s already won over my husband’s heart by catching a possum in our back yard.

I don’t know how long we’ll get to keep Buddy here, but he’ll be well loved and cared for.

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Update 1/4/2017:
Sadly, we haven’t seen Buddy since late last night.  I don’t know where he has gone to, but I’d like to imagine that he’s waltzed into someone else’s home who will also love him.

Toots the Hoot Owl

I love those thrift store finds that you cannot pass up, like those brightly colored sheets or really cool patterns.  Many times have I walked on, telling myself that I would only buy what I needed, only to find something I didn’t know I needed until I saw it.  This duvet cover was one of them.  I was anxious to see how it turned out worked in a rug and loved it!

Then I questioned if there was a better use for this material than a simple rug.  I wanted something more, something different and unique and that’s when I thought of making an owl.  I set to work right away!

 

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If you are interested in purchasing a rug similar to this one, now is your chance!  You can place a custom order and choose the colors that you would like.  Hoot Owl Special Order Rug

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Little Satsuma Tree and my Marmalade Adventures

This year my father’s little Satsuma tree was so full of fruit that he had to put baskets under the branches to keep the fruit off the ground.  He tended to it carefully, making sure it had enough water, and stayed warm when the temperature outside dipped.  Finally, they were ready to harvest and they were beautiful!  He gave us a bag full and we gobbled them up in just a few days, but there was more to come.

He blessed us with two large crates filled with these beauties on Thanksgiving Day and since then I’ve been thinking about all of the possibilities, and there are many !   Orange Marmalade, muffins, candied oranges, Orange Cream Bon Bons, etc.

 

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Canned in Light Syrup

 

My first project was to can the orange sections in a light syrup which is easy enough though the prep work can be a bit tiresome.  It takes a while to make sure all of the pith is removed and seeds are out.  Thankfully, this variety doesn’t have many seeds.  I was pleasantly surprised at how pretty they turned out, since I was afraid they’d turn a brownish-yellow.

And since I had syrup left over, I decided my next project was to go ahead and make some candied oranges.  Well, that didn’t go quite as planned since these oranges don’t slice very well, but I did the best I could.  They might not be the prettiest garnish ever, but they’re certainly tasty!  I hope that we can save a few to dip in chocolate.

 

My next project was to make marmalade.  It’s been a few years since the one and only time I tried, and  I ending up making three different batches with three very different results.  One didn’t set, one became taffy, and one I sliced the peel too large.  I had hoped to get it right this time.  I looked at numerous recipes online and finally settled on one.  I carefully measured, peeled and removed the pith and seeds, and followed the instructions.  It smelled delicious, it tasted awesome, but I’m afraid getting it to gel was a problem.  I had high hopes that it would set while in the jars, but it never did.  Tomorrow, my project will be to pour out the marmalade syrup into a pot and add pectin to see if that helps.

After reading a few more recipes, I thought I’d attempt it again while the other marmalade was cooling off.  So again I set out to peel the oranges, finely slicing some for the marmalade, and carefully removing the pith and seeds.  This time I placed all of the pith, seeds and remaining peels in a spice bag and cooked that with the oranges.  However, I didn’t think about the extra amount of water it took to cover it all.  It was a while later, when I removed the spice bag that I realized I had a problem, there was too much syrup to the amount of orange pulp that I had.  Sigh.

Then I had the brilliant idea of straining out the pulp and only placing the amount of syrup that I thought it needed.  I stirred carefully and watched my candy thermometer.  Finally, it reached the temperature I was looking for and passed the spoon test.  I crossed my fingers and poured them into the waiting jars.  And I finally have a winner!  Now, what to do with the leftover syrup from this batch?

 

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Today, I decided to salvage the first batch of marmalade that didn’t set.  I threw in the bag of peels from the previous batch, hoping to extract more pectin, but it never did seem to thicken.  As my last resort, I added a box of pectin and boiled it a little longer.  I believe my attempt has failed, but that’s okay, because I’m sure it’s still delicious drizzled over things.

It’s now the third day of my marmalade adventures with many pit stops that must be made (canning turkey broth).  I woke this morning and as I was tidying the kitchen I picked up a jar of the first batch and was so thrilled to find that it had finally set!   And since I was on a roll, I decided to attempt a third batch!  As of now, it’s syrup, but perhaps it will set in its own time or not.

 

 

 

 

 

The Baconater

This beautiful piece of art is my husband’s creation.  After a successful hunting trip and Thanksgiving tomorrow, we decided to break out this bad boy…the Baconater.  This masterpiece is made of a venison tenderloin that has been stuffed with cream cheese and spinach and wrapped in bacon.  Tomorrow, we will throw this on the grill and I’ll snap some more photos.

 

 

My Latest Projects

My church hosts an annual Christmas Bazaar where locals can set up a booth and sell their goods.  After encouragement from friends, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and set up a booth to display some of my art.  So these past few weeks have been one big flurry of projects and crafts, and I couldn’t have been happier creating them.

My first attempt at a Christmas Tree Skirt turned out into a u-shape so I gave up on creating one with an opening.  This tree skirt will have to be put on before you place the tree in the stand.

I’ve been wanting to do another Butterfly rug and set to work creating this one.  The wingspan measures 43″.

 

Traditional Teal and White Rug measures 33″ x 22″

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Sunflower Rug with Border measures 25″

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Some more handmade crafts which were a lot of fun to make.

I wish that I could say that it was a huge success, but I did have a lot of fun meeting new people and received many compliments.  I look forward to doing it again next year.

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Birthday Cake Jinx

That is the term I have decided to call this perplexing problem that I am faced with every time I make a birthday cake.  Something will go wrong.  Sometimes it will be only a minor problem.  Other times it will be a major problem, though I do have to add they all ended up tasting good.  It all started when my oldest son was turning two and we invited family over to celebrate.  Every single cake that I had made crumbled out of their pans.  Every. single. one.  I must have attempted three different times.  I even greased and floured them as I was supposed to do.  So you know what I did?  I formed all of the cake pieces and molded them into a “mud truck” and glued it together with copious amounts of chocolate frosting.  I can laugh about it now.

This same birthday boy, turning 12, requested a special cake this year for his birthday:  Snickers Cake.  I posted about this recipe the first and last time I made it:  The Humbled Baker.  It was a gorgeous and delicious cake, and yes, something went wrong on that one too though it all turned out okay in the end.

I expected to have similar results, though wary of what could go wrong.  I placed the three cake pans on cookie sheets and carefully placed them in the oven.  I thought everything was going smoothly until I opened the oven to check progress, and to my horror, the cake was bubbling over theirs pans, and not just the cake pans, but the cookie sheets as well. My entire oven was a complete mess.  The worst part was the cakes were not finished and the cake that covered the bottom of my oven turned into hardened concrete.

I was heartbroken.  I texted my husband, who knows about this problem of mine, and told him I highly doubted the cakes were going to come out of the pans in one piece.  He responded, “so dump it in a bowl and call it Snicker Scoop.”  And that’s just what I did.  Thankfully, everything turned out okay and the birthday boy loved his cake and I was happy.