Add a ruffle of raffia to enliven (and lengthen) a checkerboard rug.
1. Separate and dye sisal squares. Cut the stitching that connects the squares of a sisal rug. Dissolve one box of powder dye in 2 quarts of hot water in a sink or tub. Double the dye for strong colors. Wear rubber gloves to immerse sisal squares until desired color is reached, about 5-10 minutes. Lay them flat on paper to dry overnight. (Color lightens as it dries.) Clean container with bleach water.
2. Hand-stitch the sisal squares together. Using a large needle and thread, string, or dental floss, sew squares together at the corners and in the middle of each side. Push the threaded needle through an existing hole in the sisal, loop needle through twice, then tie the ends together on the back of the rug.
3. Make the tassels. Loop raffia 15 times around a 7-inch length of cardboard. Slip a 10-inch length of raffia under and around the folded raffia at one end of the cardboard; center the raffia length and then knot it securely. Do not trim the tails. Slide raffia off, holding the knotted end. Center and wrap a 20-inch strand of raffia five times around the tassel, about 1-inch below the knotted end. Tie loose ends together and clip even with the bottom edge of the tassel. Clip all loops.
4. Attach the tassels. Thread a large needle with one of the raffia tails at the top of the tassel. Push needle through an existing hole along the edge of the rug; pull the tassel tight. Tie tail ends together on the back side of the rug. Space tassels 2 inches apart.
5. Care of sisal. For normal cleaning, vacuum, use a soft bristle rush, or hose out with water. Let dry. If a square of a sisal rug becomes damaged or soiled, clip the stitches and remove the square.
Replace or clean with equal parts vinegar and water. Lay it outdoors, under shelter, to let it dry completely. Damp sisal can rot indoors.
On the Fringe
To create a fun fringe, use natural or dyed raffia; both are found at import and crafts stores. Prior to use, unbundle the raffia and loosely hang it in a steamy shower room to help it relax. Yellow raffia inspired this rug's easy-to-live-with combination of natural and sun-drenched hues.