Couple of old rags and t-shirts got a new life as a plaited rug. Hulda managed to also use up a pair of old hospital pyjamas (not Hulda’s, even though many people who know her well could imagine her discharging herself when she feels like it, even before the treatment is finished and escaping the hospital with the tubes still up her nose) and couple of bed sheets. The materials won’t cost a thing (unless the hospital sends a bill) and the joy one gets out of recycling is really the best thanks you can get. And the rags would’ve otherwise been thrown to the bin. If your work of marvel should be too colourful for your own floor, you can well imagine it in the next door retro flat. Or in the outdoor toilet at your godmother’s summer house. On the second thought, it might scare the flies…Hm, the summer and the flies. Oh yes, and the cost of this production..you are now 75 cents poorer, that’s how much the hot glue costs. Per rug, a small rug.
And this is how you do it:
Cut the t-shirts into four centimeter wide strips, like in the picture, and make the ends thin by cutting diagonally. You can cut single, short strips or a longer one. It is good to keep one of the strips in the plait short, to avoid any knots. Miss Ketonen cuts the sheets diagonally across the weave, in that way the fabric will stretch and looks better in the rug.
Plaiting and Attaching:
1. Thin the first 20-30 cm of the strips, in the knot at the beginning they should be as thin as possible. Tie three strips together and start plaiting.
2. After the start the plait will get thicker eventually.
3. When you change a colour or add another strip, put the slanted ends in diagonally, thus the change will be imperceptible.
4. When plaiting, leave one of the strips short (no more than 50 cm) so you can get it out of the mess of the strips and you won’t get all knotted up.
5. A clothes peg will come in handy when you want to take a rest.
6. If you want you can make the centre of the rug right in the beginning. If so, cut out the knot and start forming a circle from the plait.
7. By now you have already taken a piece of sturdy sheet or the like and cut out a rug sized circle (depending how big you want it to be) and marked the centre with a small hole for example. Add hot glue and plonk your circle of plait on it.
8. Continue the glueing in the beginning few cm:s at the time. When you’ll get into the swing of things, you can go as fast as you like. Hulda for example manages 15 cm:s at the time.
9. And Voila! Here we go! Yee-haa! A rug with a diameter of 80 cm takes about 2-3 big hot glue sticks, and Hulda always hoards a one kilo packet at the time from the Cash and Carry, so one stick will cost about 25 centimes and the hot glue for your little rug will come to merely 70 centimes.
And keep going like this. You can glue the plait little by little into a circle or if you are adventurous, like Hulda, braid a huge pile of plait all at once. And then you can sit and wonder how the circle grows and all the colours you have used..
When it looks like the rug is the size you want, thin the ends of the strips again and tuck in the last bits with scissors or similar, hiding them from sight. Cut out the extra fabric at the bottom and turn the rug upside down.
Then it is time to utilise all those old tins of paint you got from George next door. Yes, those ones that have been waiting to be thrown out to hazardous waste bin for the past five years. Suitably dry and full of lumps and perfect for this job (if the paint is new, now is the time to leave the lid open for a few days). Use a brush or a roll to spread the paint onto the reverse side of the rug, cover with a piece of plastic and flip it again like a pancake right way around. And here we are, nearly ready now. Come back now and then, tread and trample on the rug and the next day it should be dry enough to turn around and remove the plastic. After that leave it to dry for one more day the reverse side up. It’s ready!
The rug will stay together even without the paint but it’ll be much sturdier with it. And the paint won’t come off the rug, ever, even given time. That we have seen with George’s clothes, still speckled with the very same paint, to this day. So it will withstand a wash at the pier and a robust grip. The rug, I mean. At summer when it’s hot, you can dry the rug in the sunlight, horizontally (next to Hulda), in the winter it will need an underfloor heating to dry (like Hulda). It is very thick after all, and has some character. The rug, I mean.
P.S. Hulda always boils all the old sheets and t-shirts in her cauldron, to get rid off any dust and bugs. A more modern person would probably use a 60° wash and a dryer, if they happen to have that at home. Sometimes Hulda also dyes old, shabby sheets with the ’red sock’-technique. If you forget one in your cauldron, your old, white sheets will turn a pretty shade of pink, Hulda knows that very well.
Hulda’s Bonus Tips:
The hot glue (the cheapest one from cash-and-carry) can handle a 40° wash. And the plait stayed glued to the base fabric. If you try another type of glue, make a short trial plait, glue it into a base fabric and wash it. That way you don’t have to worry if it will stay glued when you make the rug. I used just enough hot glue to attach the plait into the base and the paint will make it solid.
Hulda used a paint that is meant for the indoor walls. Next door neighbour George has some paints for outdoor fences but those he can get rid off by himself, Hulda doesn’t want toxins like that anywhere near her house. The paint that is thick like yogurt is the best, anything thinner might just go through the rug and spoil it. So if the paint is new and very runny, leave the lid open mixing every now then until it is thick enough. And don’t bother being frugal with it, you can splash it onto the rug to your heart’s content.
The paint will be dry in about a day and when the plastic comes off easily. Remember though to let it dry reverse side up for another couple of hours. A bin bag cut open from one side would be a suitable piece of plastic to use but a see-through one is more practical and easier as you can make sure not to make a mess with the paint.
If you use thinner fabric strips for the rug, it is good to plait it in layered (double, triple or more), depending on the thickness. Get a feel of the work and see what looks good. A little rug with a diameter of 80 cm will weigh about 1kg. If you buy the material from someone else at the village, a generous one kilo should be enough.
Miss Ketonen has used this very same method to make also much bigger rugs, so she could have one exactly the right size to fit in her kitchen. When the rug is that big she does need George from next door to help her wash it though, since it does get awful heavy when wet. But if you throw some thick towels on the wet rug and tread on them for a while, it does get much lighter and will dry faster. Hulda has danced on the wet rugs too, on top of the towels, with bare feet, one summer evening. Not with George though.
And remember, there is always something that can go wrong…So be sure to make a small trial piece, with the same materials you will use for the rug, and put it through a wash. Hand wash, if that is the way you are going to wash your rug as well, and if you’ll take it to the laundrette make sure to take note of the program they use for the wash. All the materials (fabrics, glue etc) are indivuduals. During her experiments Miss Ketonen noticed that one paint dissolved in the water and couldn’t withstand the wash. The best paints were the ones meant for wet spaces. She can recommed for ’Luja 20′ from Tikkurila and Aqua Futura 20’ from Teknos (both water-dilutable), and turpentine diluent Miranol alkyd paint from Tikkurila which is also meant for indoor use. This information for people living in Finland like Hulda.
Write down your comments and questions, Hulda will tell you if she knows the answer. And if you want more new ideas and instructions, start following Huldas blog. She will write something eventually, she is only just beginning her blogging career, you see. Also you can attach a photo of your own rug and Hulda will publish it if you agree. Would be exciting to see everybody else’s creations!
And here’s a few more photos to clear up the changingof a colour/extending another one.