Tried and True: Outsmart the Rag Rug Weft Tails

What do you do with weft tails on a rag rug? Normally, you wrap the weft tail around the outer warp end and tuck it back into the shed. But what about color changes? If you have several color changes in a row, you can end up with extra bulk on one selvedge or another from those tucked-in tails.

3 Ways to Outsmart Rag Rug Weft Tails

  • TWO PICKS For a two-pick stripe, leave a tail of several inches on the first pick. For the second pick, lay the weft tail from the first pick in the shed. Lay in the second pick, and cut the fabric strip to overlap the weft tail in the shed. This eliminates any extra bulk at the selvedges. (All tails are cut at a steep angle.)
  • CARRY IT When feasible, carry the weft up the side. If a weft is out of play for only one or two rows, do not cut it. When another weft enters the shed, make sure it encircles the idle weft.
  • DISTRIBUTE Whenever possible, avoid tucking in weft tails two picks in a row. Wait, and tuck in the tail on a subsequent pick.

HERE IS AN EXAMPLE:

How to outsmart rag rug weft tails!
Gray weft ends with weft tail tucked in. White tabby weft tail is not tucked in.
How to outsmart rag rug weft tails!
Rosepath pattern weft for a two-pick stripe. Loooooong weft tail.
How to outsmart rag rug weft tails!
Tabby weft goes around the rosepath pattern weft, and is tucked in the shed.
How to outsmart rag rug weft tails!
Tabby weft comes through the shed and lays over the tucked-in tail.
How to outsmart rag rug weft tails!
Tabby weft is beaten in.
How to outsmart rag rug weft tails!
Pattern weft is laid in the shed, with tails overlapping near the center of the warp.
Tabby weft is beaten in, and weft tail is tucked in. In the middle of the rosepath medallion the orange print weft is carried up the side until it is used again. For the gray strip that follows the last white tabby pick, the weft tail is tucked in on the second gray pick.
How to outsmart rag rug weft tails!
Rosepath medallion with several color changes.

One more thing. Cut the weft tail extra long if you are tucking it in a row with weft floats, as in rosepath (Like the center pick in this medallion). This helps keep that weft tail from popping out of place. You don’t want those tails to start waving at you.

May you pay attention to the details.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

4 Comments

  • I’ve thought of doing a post like this as a visual for my students. Now I don’t have to! I will just refer them to your beautiful rug!

    One thing you didn’t mention was the single black pick. How I do a single pick is to cut the strip half the width of my other strips. I cut the length a bit longer than twice the width, allowing for the angle and the overlap and tapered ends. I insert it with a stick shuttle leaving both ends hanging out and beat. Both ends then wrap around the end warp or the weft being carried up the side and have the tapered ends overlap somewhere in the center.

    Excellent tutorial!

    Jenny Bellairs

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jenny, Basics like this are always good to review. Thanks for your encouragement!

      Your method for weaving a single pick is excellent, and eliminates another tail at the selvedge.
      I don’t usually take that extra step, though, of cutting a strip half width. So my single picks do have a long tail tucked in.

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Brilliant! Thank you.

    I’m working on a strip quilt project with an abundance of leftovers. 4″ will be cut down to 1″ widths and woven into the extra rose path warp on the loom.

    A very timely posting.

    Nannette

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Imagine Rag Rugs on the Drawloom

Rag rug weaving on the drawloom! I can only imagine the delight. In the meantime, the drawloom is getting dressed. It takes time to group the pattern heddles into units, add lingos, thread pattern shafts, thread eight ground shafts, sley the reed, move the ground shafts and pattern shafts to their positions, and tie on. After I finish all that I can think about adding all the single-unit draw cords and finish tying up. Whew!

Winding a warp for the next drawloom project.
Warping reel is in a corner of the drawloom studio. When not in use, the reel is folded up and pushed against the wall.
Warp chains of 12/6 cotton rug warp. Drawloom rag rugs!
Warp chains of 12/6 cotton rug warp.
Drawloom - rug warp is ready for threading.
Warp is beamed and ready for threading.

I became acquainted with the single-unit drawloom at Joanne Hall’s studio (see Drawlooms in Montana), but this is my first go at it on the drawloom in my studio. Because of the reward that awaits, I will gladly tackle all the tasks of dressing this loom. Weaving rag rugs on a drawloom will be phenomenal!

Pattern heddles and weights for prepping the drawloom.
Pattern heddles are hanging on the breast beam for grouping into pattern units. A lingo is hung on each unit.
Threading the drawloom.
Pattern heddles have been threaded. You can see the lingos hanging below. Ground heddles are now being threaded. Straight draw threading on eight ground shafts.

Joy sees hidden treasure. We go to great lengths to unearth high-value treasure. Jesus did this, seeing us as the reward. That’s what Christmas celebrates. Jesus left his splendor in heaven to come to earth as a baby. He entered this world and endured the worst because of the joy set before him. He did it all for the joy of having us in fellowship with God. We come to him and find that we are the Grand Weaver’s reward.

May your joy be full.

Joy to you,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    I must admit that I find this mind-boggling and will be sitting back, admiring your work on this one. 😉 Amazing!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, It’s all part of the process, so it just means taking a step at a time. I enjoy the steps to get there, but I sure am looking forward to weaving this.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Geri Rickard says:

    Ooohhh, I can’t wait to see this!

  • Janet giardina says:

    Good morning Karen,
    I’m just coming to the end of my first draw warp, 16/2, and I’m very curious to see the end result of using the drawloom to weave rag rugs and the 12/6 warp. Look forward to the process and end result.
    Janet

    • Karen says:

      Hi Janet, Congratulations on completing your first drawloom warp! I have wondered about weaving rag rugs on the drawloom ever since I began to understand what can be done with a drawloom. I’m eager to jump in!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Ooooh, I can’t wait to see how this looks!!

  • Joanne Hall says:

    Bravo, yes, joy indeed. I have loved this type of project, but I have not put it on my loom. I look forward to seeing your photos as you progress through this warp and weave the rug.
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, Your encouragement means a lot to me. It’s comforting to know that you are looking over my shoulder. We’re going to have fun with this!

      Joy indeed,
      Karen

  • Lyna says:

    Looks fascinating! How long is your warp? As complicated as dressing the drawloom looks, I’d be inclined to put on a looooog warp!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lyna, Yes, a long warp would make perfect sense. I’m still in the learning stages, though, so I want a lot of practice in dressing the drawloom. This warp is long enough to weave two large rugs.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Carol Berry says:

    Hi Karen,
    I am eager to see the rag rugs you weave on your drawloom. What is the sett, using the 12/6 rug warp? and why have you chosen an 8-shaft ground weave? Your blog posts are a joy!
    All the Best, Carol Berry

    • Karen says:

      Hi Carol, I’m using a 35/10 metric reed and the sett is 7 ends per cm. The ends are doubled. That’s close to 18 doubled ends per inch.
      I’m using a draft by Kerstin Ålsling-Sundberg from “Damast,” edited by Lillemor Johansson. Her draft calls for the eight-shaft ground weave. When I have more experience I’ll be able to tell you why.

      Thanks for joining in!
      Karen

  • Sue MacLeod says:

    I really enjoy reading your blog. It is so inspirational to see all that you do. I am looking forward to see the progression of this project.

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Process Review: Fresno Canyon Small Tapestry

The Park ranger had told Steve and me that if we were willing to drive six more rugged miles we would witness a spectacular overview of the Fresno Canyon that few people get to see. This is an opportunity we wouldn’t dare miss. And the park ranger was right. Oh, what a view! From this high point above the valley the view is phenomenal! I welled up with emotion as I looked over the glorious beauty of God’s creation.

The memory of that scene is in this small tapestry. Most of my small-tapestry weaving happens when we travel, where we make even more memories, which I store up in my heart. I pull from these stored treasures to weave tapestries that reawaken the fond memories.

Landscape - woven small tapestry.
Fresno Canyon photo printed in black and white is used for the cartoon. Instead of an exact picture of the image, I aim for a representation of the memory, expressed with color.
Relaxing in the Casita travel trailer. Wood carving and tapestry weaving.
During a brief rainstorm while at Caprock Canyons State Park, Steve and I relax in the Casita with our handcrafts. Wood carving and tapestry weaving.
Small tapestry in progress.
Warp is blue 12/6 cotton. Weft is triple strands of 6/1 Fårö wool. I use the tapestry needle to weave.
Weaving in the sunshine on a camping trip.
Weaving in the sunshine at Davis Mountains State Park after returning from a hike.
Small tapestry of a Texas landscape.
Finished weaving one Texas landscape while enjoying another.
Small tapestry with finished and braided edges.
Warp ends are woven and braided.
Linen backing for mounting a small tapestry weaving.
Linen is cut to size and pressed. Narrow rod sleeves are sewn into place.
Backing a small tapestry for framing.
Linen backing is hand-stitched to the back of the small tapestry.
Simple frame for a small tapestry.
Steve designed a simple frame for the small tapestry.
Finished Fresno Canyon tapestry.
Finished Fresno Canyon tapestry. A treasured memory kept and framed.
Texas landscape small tapestry - framed.

May your memories become treasures.

Thankful for you! Happy Thanksgiving,
Karen

15 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    This is beautiful, Karen! Such a creative way to display.
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Beth

  • Lynn says:

    Awesome,Karen! What a wonderful way to use the talents God has given you to display His glorious creation! And, I agree with how perfect this great way is to display it. Love your photos. How about one with your smiling face in it sometime? 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynn! It’s fun to weave scenes like this. I’m so thankful for Steve’s constant encouragement.

      Sure thing, I can put my smiling face on here. 🙂 Thanks, that’s a good request.

      Love,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Beautiful!! Good design with the gift of color. I hope your heart sings with memory every time you look at it.

    Happy thanksgiving!

    Nannette

  • Annie says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Karen to you and your family!

    What a blessing that you and Steve are able to meld your talents together to create such beauty.

  • Joanna says:

    Wow. What amazing textile shorthand, Karen. It’s all there, even for someone who hasn’t been there. I can almost smell the wonderful Texas blend of hot dust and baking evergreens perfuming the air and sense the vastness of the landscape. Just lovely.

    Am I correct in thinking Steve’s frames make it possible to change out your tapestries? Do you rotate them to prevent sun damage?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, You sure have a great description for someone who hasn’t been there!

      Steve’s frame is not made for changing it out. I’m not sure any two of my tapestries are exactly the same size. Not many been mounted or framed. This frame has a sawtooth picture hanger on the back, and just hangs on a nail on the wall. This one is hanging on a wall that doesn’t get direct sun.

      Happy Thanksgiving,
      Karen

      • Joanna says:

        And a happy Thanksgiving to you and your family too. We have so much to be thankful for despite the crazy state the world is in.

  • D'Anne says:

    Very nice, Karen and Steve! You’re two very talented people. Hope you will enjoy a lovely Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Linda Landry says:

    Hi Karen,
    I don’t know if you noticed: In the picture of your tapestry on the cement patio in front of your Casita, your tapestry seems to have a moon landscape in a dark sky. I had to take a long second look to realize that what I thought was a moon was in fact the tire to the Casita!
    Great work! Your talent to recreate beautiful landscapes is definitely a blessing! You must take after our (heavenly) Father for your creative skills.
    Linda

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Wary Weaving

Sugar Pie has been waiting in the wings. Now, his nose wriggles up to the fell line. The day that Ari and Lucia went with me to visit my neighbor, their attention went to the cute furry thing in the rabbit hutch. At first, the bunny was wary, but before long, Sugar Pie was nibbling carrot slivers from Lucia’s hand.

Beginning the bunny in the large pictorial tapestry.
First pick of brown for the bunny’s nose.

Now, I’m the wary one. The rabbit will make or break this tapestry. I made notes when I wove the rabbit on a narrow sample warp several weeks ago. With careful review of my notes, I am inching forward, giving attention to value contrasts that shape and define the animal. The good news is that when I reach the end of Sugar Pie’s soft, furry back, I will be at the tapestry’s finish line.

Color changes are outlined on the tapestry cartoon.
Color changes are outlined on the cartoon with colored pencil.
Pictorial tapestry in progress. "Siblings"
Ari and Lucia, two of my grandchildren, in a moment of childhood wonder. This tapestry tries to capture that wonder.

In trying times, our senses are heightened. Will we flourish, or merely squeak by? In all the confusion, where is clarity? In the chaos, where do we find calm? The Lord extends an open hand. The open hand is an invitation. Come and taste. Trust. Find deep satisfaction that reaches the soul. Courageously inch up to the greatest challenge of your life.

May you step into a worthwhile challenge.

With you,
Karen

3 Comments

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Tried and True: Five Steps for Rag Rug Selvedges and a Quick Tip Video

What do you look for in a handwoven rag rug? How do you detect quality of craftsmanship? I look at the selvedges. First thing. I look for selvedges that are nice and tight, and that have a uniform twist at the edge. A few simple steps, consistently practiced, produce the kind of quality you can see and feel. It’s one more reason I find delight in weaving rag rugs.

Rag rug selvedges. Short quick tip video.
Rag rug selvedges. Weft is snugly wrapped around the selvedge warp ends.

Five Steps for Firm Selvedges on a Rag Rug

  1. Throw the shuttle, leaving a loop of the fabric-strip weft at the selvedge.
  2. Hold the weft out taut, and turn the weft under twice at the selvedge.
  3. Untwist the weft in the shed, straightening it, as needed.
  4. Pull the weft tight against the selvedge.
  5. Position the weft in the shed and beat it in.
Weaving a rag rug. Tutorial video of a quick tip.
Beater swings forward to beat in the weft with its just-formed firm and tidy selvedge.
Filming a short video on weaving rag rug selvedges.
Set up for filming the short tutorial. My husband does the filming and proves his patience through several retakes.

Watch this Quick Tip video for a short demonstration.

Rag rug on the loom. Tutorial about selvedges.

May the quality of your work be the first thing noticed.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

26 Comments

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