Fish Hooks Restoration: The Living Room (Part 2)

Back when buying Fish Hooks was merely a dream, I started an inspiration file of photos, fabric swatches and  paint chips, just in case. First into the file was this page from an L.L. Bean catalogue.

Braided Rug, LL Bean, Seaglass

In all honesty, I doubted Tom would like this rug, since he usually prefers more modern decor. Surprisingly, though, he agreed that it would be perfect in an island cottage. We both really liked the muted sea glass tones — so much so that our entire Fish Hooks colour scheme evolved from this picture.

Several years later, the purchase of Fish Hooks was complete. The house had been moved and, at long last, it was time to consider furnishings.

After restoring the living room set we’d found in the attic, we needed an area rug. Immediately, I thought of the one from L.L. Bean.

Not only did we like its informal feel, but braided rugs are entirely authentic to the era in which Fish Hooks was built. At that time, there was little shopping — and even less disposable income — on Green Turtle Cay. Resourceful residents recycled worn garments and linens into rugs, several of which are displayed at the Albert Lowe Museum.

The good news was that, years later, L.L. Bean still sold those braided rugs.  The bad news? That “Starting at $59.50” note on the original ad? For the size and shape we wanted, it would cost nearly $1,000 for the rug, shipping and duty!

So, I decided to go the traditional route and make a braided area rug. In an attempt to be as authentic as possible, I scoured Salvation Army and Goodwill stores here in L.A. in search of old sheets. I found few suitable linens though, and none in our desired colours. Eventually, I gave in and bought lightweight cotton fabric in six muted shades of green and blue.

Tearing the fabric into 4″ strips and braiding it was fun and relaxing.

IMG_1629 2_edited-1Stitching the braid into a rug was a different matter entirely. I sewed it together and ripped out the stitches four times before I figured out how to get the finished product to lie flat.

IMG_1634 2_edited-1

The secret, I discovered, is to stitch the rug on a flat surface, and check every few rounds to ensure it’s still laying smooth. As the rug grows in diameter, you also have to increase the number of loops you incorporate into each stitch. Wetting and pressing the finished piece works out any remaining ripples.

bahamas, green turtle cay, abaco, fish hooks, rag rug, sea glass colours

I have to admit — the final result is even more beautiful than I’d hoped. Not only does it remind me of the shimmering greens and blues of Bahamian waters, but I love having made what I hope might someday become an heirloom.

There’s just one problem. As much as Tom and I like this rug, Wrigley loves it. The moment I first set it on the ground, he hopped on and gleefully claimed it. As I finished the rug, I had to shoo him off repeatedly — only to have him sneak back as soon as I turned away.IMG_0147 (2)

Clearly, if we want to use the rug for its intended purpose, I’m going to have to make you-know-who a small one of his own. Luckily, I think I have just enough fabric left to do so.

Rug 3_edited-1

To learn more about making braided rag rugs, here are two online sources that I found particularly helpful:  The Contrarian Mom, and this very detailed brochure from 1962 courtesy of the University of Nebraska.

20 thoughts on “Fish Hooks Restoration: The Living Room (Part 2)

    • Thanks, Seasweetie. Wrigley is what Tom and I call a poundcake. He’s a mixed breed, like a Bahamian potcake, and he actually does look a lot like the potcakes, only smaller. But we adopted him from the pound here in Pasadena. We really wanted a potcake, but our condo complex doesn’t allow dogs over 20lbs, and potcakes weigh 35-55lbs full-grown.

  1. Amanda. It is absolutely beautiful. I love it!!! Would look great in my bedroom too. You do really good work!

  2. Your rug is absolutely beautiful – and it looks like it was purchased. Congratulations.
    By the way, I love the updates on what you and Tom are doing to Fish Hooks. Challenges galore but wow what you two have accomplished is truly amazing.

    • Thanks, Sandi! Glad you’re enjoying the blog. It’s a big job Tom and I have taken on, but we’re enjoying it, and we’re really loving the chance to do some of the work ourselves. Big hugs to you.

  3. Well, look at you! How very resourceful — and it looks beautiful! (I think I had the rose/pink version, or very similar, in my college dorm room.)

  4. The LL Bean rug was beautiful and that “starting @ $59.50” price was amazing. In the end though, I like your handmade creation much better and I think it will be a family heirloom. Just think: making rugs and quilts were just something people regularly did in another time. If you needed/wanted it you had to make it. I think Wrigley approves too (happy little smiling face).

    • Aw, thanks, Gina. That’s very kind of you. Yes, it does feel good that I made the rug — you’re right, that’s how it was done back in the day. I think one of my (and Tom’s) favourite parts of this Fish Hooks project is the chance to get “hands-on” and do some of the work ourselves. Nice to do things the old fashioned way.

      • Oh forgot to ask! How long did it take to make it, and how do you care for it? Washing machine alright?

  5. I just found Pirates’ gold: your blog! You are living my dream, restoring a Bahamian house on Green Turtle. I have wonderful memories of being there 25 years ago: meeting Miss Emily; snapping photos of the Lowe Sculpture garden; dinner at the Bluff House; walking down the quaint Main Street. I hope to return soon with my old boyfriend from that time. We reunited after 25 years, are now engaged, and waiting to complete a boat restoration (1968 Hatteras fishing yacht) to bring us back to Green Turtle once again.

    • Oh, my goodness. Thank you, Carolyn for your kind note! Hope you and your fiance (Congratulations, some things are worth waiting for!!) come back to the cay soon! Your boat restoration sounds amazing. Are there photos?

      Amanda

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