The No Sew Rag Rug

First off, I need to acknowledge the contribution of Shanan to this piecemeal rug technique; she watched movies, tried different adjustments, and came up with a rug so large that I can barely lift it. Also, Rebecca was willing to be my first real student, and helped point out the design flaws by making fun of me once she became more skillful than I am.

I finally filmed the rug video with my web cam because it was the only way I could upload. Frankly, I’d be surprised if it was very helpful (and, oh, I am so weird on video). I wasn’t able to get good closeups with the web cam, either. Why does amateur p_0_r_n_0_g_r_@_p_h_y look so easy? Must inquire….Essentially, if you aren’t dedicated to the idea of making this rug, this video is like watching paint dry. However, if coupled with some photos explaining details, I think it’s…functional. These rugs are very simple; after you begin the rug with a small braid, the rest of the work is just one half-hitch knot after another. It’s the perfect movie-watching craft.

Oh, dear. I might make another video. I really have taught a lot of people to make these things.

Here’s a gallery showing an (almost) finished rug, the lockerhook tool, and photographs of beginning the rug, making the half-hitch knot, and attaching new strips of fabric.

Also, I’ll answer any questions, even if I have to crouch on the desk in front of my web cam and demonstrate knots. Just email me at the blog.

I have some lingering guilt over calling this the No Sew rug, since you need to make about 8 stitches (or whip out a hot glue gun – I fear them). But I liked the little rhyme.


Our Lady of the Unfinished Object

I can't believe this...they discontinued the sport-weight alpaca in "Caribbean Sunset."

They discontinued the sport-weight alpaca
in “Caribbean Sunset.” I may have to intercede.

These days, I am continually ripping out my knitting. I’m trying to figure out why – I mean, it’s really noticeable. Even non-knitters watch me and cringe. It’s not as if my knitting is getting any worse, although I admit I used to felt dropped stitches into oblivion. (Oh, felting – so forgiving. I love you.) And I never used to be a perfectionist about knitting. The closest I’m getting to an explanation is that I feel more confident in my skills, I’m trying more difficult projects, and I really want to master all these increases and decreases and sizing and my greatest fear…cables.

Knitting was something I never imagined I’d do (in spite of Grandma Sofia, She-Who-Knitted-Socks-In-The-Dark). It’s made me so happy. Being a mother was something I wanted, but couldn’t imagine doing well, mostly because my parents were odd, to the point that I did better in boarding school. No lessons there. But unimaginable motherhood has made me more than happy – it’s finally made me feel alive. I had definite goals for my academic career and my marriage, and they were both disastrous for me.

In spite of that, I know I need to plan ahead more, but there seems to be something seriously askew in the way I plan. For one thing, I think I plan on finishing things. I always think I’m going to arrive…somewhere. I never do. And I’ve become very tired of that lingering sense of unease over not being done.

So I salute everyone who has given up their guilt over unfinished objects and endeavors.

Speaking of planning: Rebecca and I just recorded a video on making “no sew” rag rugs that is so Lucy and Ethel (and so poorly edited by me) that I may make another one on my webcam that doesn’t involve misplacing tools and giggling. It’s meant primarily as promotional material for classes I’d like to teach, so maybe I shouldn’t seem quite so flighty. Either way, I’ll post some kind of how-to video this weekend, partly because la belle couseuse over at Silk and Wool requested instructions. Apparently she has a large pile of old baby clothes to dispose of and has made some beautiful crocheted rugs out of them. Head on over there if you like to crochet and have boxes of old clothing to use up. I certainly would never, ever hoard fabric like that. But I hear that other people do.

My knitting app: be kind

This is not even version 1.0; it’s an infant. I made it at the Windows phone app studio, and ended up using a template designed for insect collections, which is why a beetle still appears at the beginning. There are only six stitches and three patterns on it, but the general setup works nicely, and should save me from overrunning my data allotment when I’m starting a new dishcloth in the ferry line.

My intention, in the near future, is to make a beetle-free app from scratch that incorporates a library of about fifty stitches, and will let me change the patterns I have stored. If any knitter with a Windows phone would like to look at this baby version and give me some feedback, I can (apparently) email you an address at the app studio where you can scan it on to your phone. If you have photos of swatches accompanied by instructions, email them back to me, and I will definitely send the final version to you.

Here’s a list of the stitches I’ve included on the app: feather and fan, seafoam, drop stitch, basketweave II, double moss stitch, and the seeded rib stitch.

And here’s a list of the patterns: the linoleum dishcloth, the Exeter hat, and the idiot dishcloth. (I can make idiot cloth without instructions – there’s a reason we call it idiot cloth – but it’s nice to have it on there to show beginning knitters.)

It’s not much, but I’m amazed I’ve gotten this far. I do love making things.

If you’ve ever tried to teach a child to knit…

French children don't drop stitches.

French children don’t drop stitches.

If you’ve ever tried (or wanted) to teach a child to knit, I have a traditional rhyme for you, from “Knitting Daughter” by Perry Klass.

For knit stitch:

Under the fence, catch the sheep, back we come, off we leap.

I could be the last knitter in the world to learn this; sometimes I’m staring out the window when instructions are being given.

And here’s a rhyme for purling, but it lacks the insouciance of the leaping sheep.

Image of knitting child from A Good Yarn – they generously offer other free images.

Engineering paper: an interview with Bill Lee

The examples shown in these pictures all started with a flat sheet of paper and were folded into the amazing objects you see. I learned very early in life to respect the mental capacity to design and the skill it takes to make something.
– Bill Lee, 1/10/14

This is actually Nadia’s interview, but she’s feeling antagonistic toward the WordPress dashboard right now, so I’m slapping it together. The person she spoke with is Bill Lee, a retired engineer who comes to our library and orders fascinating books. He once persuaded me to knit a mobius strip out of plastic tubing. It was not fun (broke a needle), but I hope to see strange fluids traveling through it someday.

Bill has a spectacular collection of origami, all created by a man named Joe Hamamoto. Bill doesn’t do origami himself, but he loves it from an engineering perspective. He’s a very private person, so we were grateful that he was willing to answer Nadia’s emails and let me clamber all over his living room photographing these beautiful things.

One of my favorite things about Mr. Hamamoto’s art is that he uses things like old envelopes and calendars. I think Bill forgot to mention that (so I just did), but, as with Paige’s interview, I thought Bill’s story of how and why he acquired his treasures really didn’t need much editing, so here it is:

These examples of Origami came to me by way of my sister Doris Scott of San
Pedro, CA, who has been studying, folding and teaching Origami for several
years. These pieces were folded by her teacher Joe Hamamoto, more about him

My sister’s interest in folding began with her teaching a “gifted
class” of elementary students. She was looking for activities that would
challenge the students while providing a physical outcome that was fun
to make and that they would like to keep. While my sister
had been doing things with paper all her life, it was when our mother, Ethyl
Lee, who had been doing paper folding with a
Japanese friend, showed my sister some examples of folding that
Doris saw the perfect activity for her students. The folding was such a hit
and my sister enjoyed teaching the students folding so much that she began
to look for more ideas. While at an arts and crafts exposition she met
Mr. Joe Hamamoto who was exhibiting his work and folding. Mr. Hamamoto got
started folding after a career as an electronic design technician. He
decided that he would fold a thousand paper cranes for his daughter’s

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Relevant links:

Here’s one from Bill about origami in space, which, as Nadia says, makes the link between Bill and origami more obvious. Also, I found a book called Kusudama Origami, which appears to offer instructions for Hamamoto-like creations. There are only two library copies, according to Worldcat, one at the Library of Congress and one at the British Library in West Yorkshire, so if you just have to see it, you may have to get it on Amazon. For people like me, here are two sites with paper folding projects that wouldn’t require a decade of training: Kate Lilley’s page on accordion paper folding, and the most fun you can have with a piece of printer paper at