I just want to let you know that I spoke to Kay on the phone today, and she assured me that she is still in fact fifty. She is also in the midst of a Colonial Heritage Tour that vastly outstrips the one I took last week in terms of visiting Buildings That Housed Presidents, Soybean Fields That Ken Burns Has Crossed, and Insterstate Miles Traveled With Entire Family In One Vehicle. I’m looking forward to comparing notes with her next week. If she ever comes back. She ended her conversation with “Farewell, dear friend.” She’s turning into Martha Washington.
Meanwhile, just a couple of teeny tidbits.
The Tailgate Rug is almost done. The question has been raised: “How do you make rag balls?”
The answer is that there are several ways to do it.
1. The easiest way to make rag balls is to BUY THEM AT A JUNK SHOW. Now, this gives you a lot of authenticity and the likelihood that the outermost layer of the ball will be at least five shades dirtier than the inside. Judging from my collection of junk show rag balls, people have completely abandoned the making of rag rugs for the Italian game of bocce. Grim. I mean grimy. I mean ech: filthy. Buying your rag balls provides the exciting drama of discovering whether your balls are “solid” or “fake.” People have been known to take a styrofoam ball and wrap a few measly layers of rag strips around it. And soak it in oil of bayberry. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I do not think either of these things is period correct.
OK, I have just discovered that people are distressing their rag balls on purpose. See? This leads me to conclude that there is nothing that people aren’t doing. People will do anything. I will tell you for free, not $3, that the best way to stain rag balls is to give them to your eight year old for one half hour in your back yard.
2. The much more labor-intensive yet possibly more satisfying method is to make your own rag balls. The potential to control your color improves considerably when you’re not relying on rag balls randomly found at junk sales. The balls I’m using for this rug are made from beat-to-hell denim, striped chambray, and a sort of Oxford cloth that seems to still have sizing in it. The strips of rags are 1/2″ to 1″ wide, folded in half, with the strips sewn together with a little square box of machine stitching. The narrower strips are easier to knit.
If you’re sewing averse, you can cut the strips in this way:*
Follow the pattern carefully, or else you’ll end up doing the Walk Through Paper magic trick. Which is a classic to be found here.
If you’re inclined to get all prissy and use your Amy Butler fat quarters and the fabric that Kaffe Fassett personally handed to you during a workshop, absolutely wash the fabric before you make rag balls. Knitting with stiff, new fabric is a soul sucker that I wouldn’t wish on even the woman who cut ahead of me in the drive-thru today CURSE YOU, WOMAN!
So that’s all for now. I am jonesing for a new sweater project, and I really ought to use yarn on hand. It’s kind of tricky, though, because I have tons of yarn snacks, but relatively little in sweater-sized quantity. Maybe I could do a mixed media sweater. Uh oh. I think this is how fiber art happens.
* I can’t find the source for this image, which has lived in my computer for three years now, so if anybody recognizes this, please let me know so I can credit it.