New England Braids offers rug braiding classes and retreats where you can create a family heirloom. Our workshops are open to all levels, including those who have never tried rug braiding.
Although a braid seems like such a simple thing at first, the braided rug design options are endless — fabrics, textures, colors, patterns, rug shapes, number of braiding strands, and more. New England Braids’ classes offer an opportunity to immerse oneself in a traditional art, meet new people, relax, and improve skills. Attendees who are new to the craft usually start by making a small oval mat and then graduate to a larger project. Experienced braiders may choose to master advanced projects such as special shapes and corners. Everyone benefits from observing the skills of others as they learn the craft.
New England Braids classes teach the basic techniques in making a traditional braided rug from planning to completion. Participants are guided step-by-step through the process of making a braided rug from strips of wool fabric and learn about types of materials, tools, and how to figure quantity of materials needed. Also covered are how to braid, starting the rug, lacing, following color patterns, adding new colors, tapering and butting the last rows.
Our braiding retreats offer quiet relaxation and give you the option to work on a current braiding project or start a new one. Often we have local rug braiding teachers available to guide you and wool and rug braiding supplies for sale.
As a young girl I was always looking for some craft to keep me busy. I started with knitting, making mittens and sweaters. When I married I decided to decorate my home with all my creations. My crewel work and needlepoint adorned the walls. Each year I entered my current pieces in the Rochester Fair.
Early American Decorative Painting was my next endeavor, followed by cut and pierced lampshades. I started a braided rug in the 80’s but put it away. After my move to Rochester, my sister-in-law interested me in rug hooking which I pursued for several years. That rug remains in a corner, unfinished, of course. My interest always went back to finishing the braided rug I started earlier. Being unable to find a rug braiding teacher nearby, I asked a friend to check when she went to the Common Ground Fair in Maine. Luckily, she brought me back Nancy Young’s information. I would go to Nancy’s and braid away the weekend once a year. Usually I forgot what I learned the prior year and began to call myself “the remedial rug braider”!
After going to a weekend in 2006 called Maine Braids in Cape Elizabeth, ME I decided to look into a rug braiding get-together. The first one in Alfred, ME had only 5 of us. I then worked with Nancy Young to find a venue near the Textile Museum in Lowell MA. After searching the internet I found a retreat house in Methuen, MA called St. Basil’s. It fit the bill perfectly….everything under one roof! We have been meeting there ever since in October for a weekend of classes with wonderful teachers that are the best in the country.
When I retired, one of my goals was to see more people get back in to rug braiding. I’m happy to say that this has been happening. The classes and art of rug braiding has really come a long way.