Little Red Riding Hood woke up warm and cozy nestled beneath a pile of her grandmother’s soft, woolen quilts. It was a frosty winter’s morning, and the dawn sky was blue with cold: icicles hung both outside and inside of the little hut. (This being a fairy tale world, though, the icicles were made of spun sugar.) Little Red Riding Hood shivered at the thought of pushing the warm quilts back, and stepping down onto the cold floor with her warm little feet, but then she remembered that she had read Fran’s blog “Something for (Almost) Nothing” and had found a project for a little rug braided with cherry red fleece, and she had whipped it up just before being eaten by the wolf. She had cut long strips of the fleece, braided the strips into one long braid, and then had coiled the braid and laced it up into a little rug, just her size. And so she stepped down on to the little rug, expecting to sink into the soft warmth, but instead stepping on a magnificent cat, who immediately turned into a handsome prince. But that’s another story! The End.
And here are the directions for making the Little Cherry Red Rug, a rug that I hope will remind you of the fairy tale world that is somewhere in your heart, even as you prepare to face the day.
I recommended clicking here to read about rug braiding, before proceeding: http://colonialsense.com/How-To_Guides/Crafts/Braided_Rugs/Making_a_Braided_Rug.php.
Materials: About two yards of fleece, pins with colored heads, rotary cutter and mat or shears, large needle, and thick carpet thread. This will make an oval rug about 14 x 21″.
Note: The most inexpensive way to make this rug is with fleece remnants. Also, for traditional rug braiding, a metal device called a “braid-aid” is often used to fold strips as they are braided. The fleece is too fluffy to braid this way, so I came up with the pinning method.
Cut strips: Cut the fleece lengthwise into long, 3″ wide strips. The easiest way to do this is with a rotary cutter, ruler, and mat, but scissors can also be used.
Fold and braid strips: Beginning with one strip, start folding the long edges to the middle, and then fold this in half. Pin the folded strip closed for about six inches. Repeat with the other two strips. Using a spring clothes pin, clamp the beginnings of the three strips together, and begin braiding. Braid so that the smoothest, plumpest part of the strip shows. The rhythm of this process is to fold, pin, and braid. As you braid, remove the pins.
When you come to the end of a strip sew another strip on. I did this with hand sewing, but you can also use a sewing machine.
Lace braid together: When you have used up all your fleece strips, and have created your braid, it’s time to lace the braid into an oval. On a large, flat surface, smooth the first eight inches or so of the braid, and then start curving the braid back unto itself. (If you have been trying to braid so the smoothest part of the strip shows, you will have a “right side” and a “wrong side” to the braid. Do the lacing with the wrong side up.) Using a long (two to three feet) piece of strong string and a large needle, knot one end and hide in a fold, and lace the braid edges together. Bring string under one loop, and then under the next loop in the adjacent braid edge. Continue lacing as you form an oval from the braid.
End off: When you have about six inches of braid left, unbraid the strips, and weave the first strip under a loop, then weave the second strip under the next loop, and then weave the last strip under the next loop. This helps to create a smooth ending to the rug.
If you become interested in rug braiding, a good book to look at is The Complete Book of Rug Making: Folk Methods and Ethnic Designs by Cecilia Felcher. As well as having instructions for braided rugs, it has patterns for pretty crocheted and knitted rugs.