Thursday, May 7, 2015

The next big change

I am thinking hard about how to get a rug for the family room.  The challenge is, as always, in the constraints:

Time:  I want it in place within the next two months.

Money:  Within the next two months, I'll have at most $50 to put into a rug. (And no, I'm not going to go into debt for a rug!) Craigslist rugs start at about $100 around here.

Size:  It needs to be about 8 feet by 10 feet.

Texture:  It has to not present a tactile annoyance when I walk on it or sit on it. Wool is as scratchy as I am willing to go. Also, I am unwilling to deal with a rug that is shedding; my children shed enough craft scraps on the floor already.

Color:  It has to accept the beige and brick colors in the room, but also to transcend them.

Washability:  We have another round of potty training coming up in a few months.

Style:  I prefer patterns based on those found in nature.

There are many ways of crafting rugs traditionally:  braiding, hooking, weaving, crocheting, knitting.  Of these, I have braided, hooked, and crocheted rugs before.  Braided rugs wear well, but are time-intensive to make, and I don't enjoy the technique.  Hooked rugs (here I am talking about using a hook to pull loops of a strip of fabric up through a backing) are more creatively satisfying, but take even more time and materials. Crocheting a rug is relatively fast, but again it takes a lot of material, and the result is not easy to clean (or move, with a rug of that size).

Wool is my preferred material for any of these, because it is more durable, and because there is the possibility of mellowing or even of transferring the colors:  simmer the wool fabric (or yarn) in water with some detergent--use a large pot that you will never cook in again, because dyes are very toxic and bad for you--and a fair amount of the dye will come out into the water. Then put in a different wool fabric, and the water will dye it.

For less-traditional rugs, there are canvas dropcloths, which can be painted.  A dropcloth costs about $30-$40.  However, I don't like the texture of painted fabric, and in my experience, unpainted dropcloths will pill and look cheap under heavy wear.

So my top choice at the moment is to make a "floor quilt" out of upholstery scraps and samples, which I can get from ArtScraps for $5/grocery bag. This is what my patchwork couch cover is made of, so I took the cover off the couch and tried it out as a rug. The cover is made from less than one bag of scraps, and is about one-third the area of an 8x10 foot rug, so I would need two or three more bags full to turn the couch cover into a rug. Then I would need a new cover for the couch, which would have to be in a single solid color or (more likely) a subtle print, to keep the room from being too visually busy.

A dropcloth that is lightly painted and stenciled would be my second choice. Complicating the decision is the upcoming YMCA Garage Sale, which on its final day sells things by the bag and by the grocery I could perhaps buy a heaping cartful of clothing (for about $35) to recycle into a crocheted rug.

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