Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Q&A on rugs coiling up, buckling, cuping up, etc.

A youtube viewer of my videos, Rona, asks, "when making a rug do they tend to coil? or am I doing something wrong"

They do tend to cup up, this is very common, especially if you pull your stitches tightly as I do and my late grandmother did. She did hers so tightly she had to put piles of dictionaries on them for months to flatten them out.

The basic reason why this happens is that as you spiral your way outwards, each row is longer than the previous one. With my rugs, I've found they tend to increase by about an inch for each row on a round rug.

To address this, you need to add extra stitches called "doubles" or "duplicate" stitches, where you pass through the same bottom/base loop twice. If you don't, you wind up with a very thick stocking cap! (In fact, just for fun, I once made a stocking hat for our dog using very thin strips and this method.)

Generally, you need more double stitches early on- in the first 7 to 12 rows (when the rug is smaller than 16" across) than later.

For the first few rows, you might need doubles every other stitch.

Generally I recommend doing a double stitch every other stitch the first 4 to 6 rows, every third stitch the next 4 rows, and then go by feel.

This will vary by how tightly you stitch and which kind of material you use. The most fool proof method which I'll demonstrate when my wife is up to helping me do a video project is this: Look at the angle your needle is making between the baseloop and the top loop. If it is leaning backwards more than 30 degrees, its time for a double stitch.

Some people have trouble gauging this though, so a similar method to determine whether its time for more doubles is to just put the rug on a flat surface. If you can't make it lie flat easily, with very little effort, then you need to add more doubles.

If you are using a fabric which has spandex or a lot of give to it, you'll need to use a lot more double stitches, up to twice as many, which is one of many reasons I discourage beginners from using these materials until they are more confident with the technique.

Similarly in the opposite direction, plastic bags and very sturdy denim can be most unforgiving... they don't flatten out well.

If you have any more questions about this or any other issue, please post them. I love questions from you- it helps me know what I should be posting about, and helps me refine my teaching technique.

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