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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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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Rosepath Unlimited

This seems unreal, like pulling an item right out of my imagination and touching it with my hands. It is exhilarating to watch a concept sketch develop into a tangible rag rug on the loom. Even though I enjoy designing at the loom, I relish the challenge of preparing a design in advance. In order to make a workable sketch I must study, think, and explore. It’s in this process that I realize the design options are limitless for rosepath rag rugs. This compels me to keep pressing in to learn and explore even more.

Beginning a new rag rug.
Hem, woven with narrow strips, follows the gold warp thread header. First wide border of the rug uses an assortment of green fabric strips.

The concept sketch is a scaled-down map of the rosepath rag rug. Each square on the gridded paper represents 6 centimeters. The sketch shows me which fabrics to use where, and specifies the placement of each design element—borders, plain weave, rosepath diamonds, dashes and dots of specific colors, etc. I add notes to the page as I weave, like specific treadling sequences and measurements, so that I can mirror them on the second half of the rug.

Concept sketch by the loom is my roadmap for weaving the details.
Concept sketch sits at the windowsill by my loom. I use it as a roadmap for weaving the details.
Weaving rag rugs with a temple. Always!!
Stretched-out temple is a necessity when I weave rag rugs. The wooden Glimåkra temple is my favorite because I can place it near the fell without risk of damaging the beater. This makes it possible to move the temple frequently, adding to weaving consistency.
Designing a rosepath rag rug.
Deep purple “dots” at the center of the rosepath diamonds serve as accents among these colors for a Texas hill country home.

Nothing can measure the greatness of the Lord. His greatness is truly limitless. Greatness is compelling. We step closer to search the unsearchable, and know the unknowable. God reveals himself, sketch after sketch, until we finally realize that we need all eternity to fully know him.

Rosepath rag rug - My favorite thing to weave!
Satisfaction of watching a concept sketch become a tangible rag rug.

May your concepts become tangible.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Charlotte says:

    Ooooooooh honey girl! I do adore your newest creation!!!! The red certainly “pops”!

  • Rachel Lohman says:

    Beautiful! Out of curiosity, how wide is your Glimakra? And how wide will your rug be when finished? And do you have two rugs on the loom and do you separate them with wooden slats? Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rachel, Thank you!

      This loom is a 100cm (39″) Glimakra Ideal. The width of the warp in the reed is 90.3cm (35.5″). I expect to lose around 12% in width from take-up, so I’m planning for a finished width of about 79cm (31″). Yes, I do have two rugs on the loom right now, and will have at least one more before cutting off. And yes, I do separate them with warping slats. I put a minimum of 8″ between rugs so that I will have enough length to tie the ends into knots for finishing. Great questions!!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Yeah!! Ditto what Charlotte and Rachel said!!!

    You took the warp in a direction I did not realize. So much to learn.

    Thank you.
    Nannette

  • Linda Adamson says:

    Lovely rugs. What are the Blake bands keeping the cover on the loom bench in Place? More fabric strips or large elastic bands?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, The black bands are bungee cords, to my embarrassment. I put them on as a temporary “make-do” solution to see how I would like having this rug piece on my bench. And so they stay. I like the rug cover for my bench, but haven’t taken the time to make it more permanent.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Robin Chandler says:

    Do you have a weighted beater?
    I didn’t like the recommendation to drill holes and add weighted bars, so I put ankle weights on both ends of my beater for rugs, seems to help.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Robin, I do not have a weighted beater. I tried adding some walking weights on both ends a few years ago, but I couldn’t tell that it made a difference for me. The overslung beater is such an advantage on these looms. I can lean back (like Jason Collingwood teaches) and let the momentum of the beater do a pretty good job. People in my house think I get a pretty powerful beat on my looms. 🙂

      Happy Rug Weaving,
      Karen

  • Karen says:

    It’s going to be AMAZING!

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Tried and True: Rag Rug with Surprising Rosepath Inlay

The first rag rug on this 12/6 cotton warp is well underway. This rug is mostly plain weave, with one simple rosepath repeat every ten centimeters. I am weaving the rosepath motif without tabby between pattern picks. The treadling is 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1. The dark brown motif contrasts with the surrounding light-colored plain weave. It almost looks as if a thick chain has been laid across the rug. I transform the otherwise dark rosepath “chains” with a simple bright inlay strip.

Rag rug with rosepath motif.
Rosepath motif stretches across the plain weave surface.

Rosepath with Inlay

  • Weave the first four picks of the rosepath pattern, treadling 1, 2, 3, 4 (or, if using a different treadling sequence, weave up to the center pick).
  • Lay in the center pick (treadle 1, in this example). Wait to beat it in.
How to do rosepath with inlay.
Center pick of the rosepath motif is arched in the shed.
  • Measure and cut the inlay strip to size, tapering the ends.
How to add an inlay strip to rosepath rag rug.
Inlay fabric strip is measured against the weft in the shed and cut to size.
  • Put the inlay strip in the shed, laying it directly on top of the fabric strip already there.
Making a rosepath rag rug with an inlay strip.
By pushing the beater back I can send the inlay fabric strip through the shed with a ski shuttle.
Rag rug with inlay.
Place the inlay fabric strip directly over the fabric strip of the center pick in the motif.
Inlay instructions.
  • Beat in the weft as usual.
One type of inlay on a rag rug.
Both weft layers are beaten in together. The inlay strip stays visible on top.
  • Continue weaving to complete the rosepath pattern, treadling 4, 3, 2, 1 (or, as needed, for a different sequence).
Rosepath with inlay.
Finished rosepath motif.

You can accomplish a similar effect by weaving in a separate fabric strip for the center pick. In that case, cut tapered ends that are long enough to twist and tuck back into the shed. And carry the weft strip from the previous pick up the side.

The inlay method eliminates the extra bulk at the selvedges, and adds a slight thickness to the center pick, helping to give it a raised look. I am leaving the inlay weft tails loose, but you could cut them a little longer and tuck the ends in, if you prefer.

Rag rug with special rosepath motif.
Weft tails are free at the sides, like little flags at the ends of the rosepath rows.
Glimakra Ideal loom--great tool for dreaming up rag rugs!
Glimåkra Ideal loom–great tool for dreaming up rag rugs!

May you experience the simple pleasure of doing something unexpected.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Annie says:

    Beautiful! You explain it so well that I’m adding it to my to do list. Thank you

  • Marjorie Clay says:

    How wide is your Ideal? It looks bigger than mine!

    I admire your weaving so much! I started too late to achieve such mastery, but I love weaving. Warping, not so much! It is still too much of an adventure!

    Marjorie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marjorie, My Ideal is 100cm (39”). The warp on the loom is almost full weaving width.

      Thank you for the compliment! I’m not that much ahead of you. I was also a very late beginner. So it’s certainly not too late for you to gain mastery in the areas you pursue. Maybe someday I can help you to love warping, too, as part of the whole beautiful process.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth Munkvold says:

    How pretty! I love the variety of colors in the background stripes, too! When you do it this way, is the bright rose path center fabric visible on the back?

    Elisabeth

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, I’m using up fabric strips from previous rag rug projects, so I have a mixed assortment that I’m using here. I like the way some of the prints turn out when woven. That center inlay strip really appears only on the top side, except for little bits of color here and there. The reverse side shows the all-brown rosepath motifs, but a little lighter in color because the darkest side of the fabric is facing the top.

      Karen

  • Vida Clyne says:

    You are amazing. such beautiful colours. I made a couple of rag rugs a few years ago but did it the cheap way using old denim jeans that took forever to prepare. I am currently finishing a throw in alpaca and considering what to weave next. so many weaves to explore. I love warping by the way, it is always a challenge to try to get the perfect warp. Thank you for for your inspirational blog.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Vida, I’m very happy that you like these colors! I’m sure your denim rag rugs are terrific. I’d like to make some denim rag rugs some day. Isn’t weaving an exciting field? There’s no end to what we can explore with our looms!! I agree with you about warping. It’s great to have a continual challenge.

      I appreciate your kind words so much!
      All the best,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    The loom is waiting a little while longer. There is work to he done on the outside of our primary home and more preparation on the inside of our retirement home.

    I look forward to one home and all my crafts under one roof. And finding a way to keep the wild creatures on the out of the basement.

    Today a coyote walked though the yard. Something to get used to.

    Your weaving provides order in my wild world. It is beautiful and functional.

    Blessings
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Transitions are challenging. You have a lot to look forward to. We haven’t seen any coyotes on our property, but plenty of other wildlife – armadillos, roadrunners, gray foxes, blackbuck antelope, and so on.

      Making beautiful things that are functional is a huge weaving goal of mine. Thank you for your thoughtful encouragement.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Very pretty rug Karen!

    Another technique you can use when weaving a single pick of a color is to cut that strip twice the width of the rug plus overlap but only half the width of the other strips. Lay it in the shed with both ends hanging out. Wrap them around the edge thread and arch them back in the same shed, overlapping the tapered ends. I think it is less fussy than trying to tuck the ends in at the edges.
    Jenny

    PS:
    My loom is working fine, although I did have to stop after weaving a bit and fix one shed that went wonky. I have seven of the twelve table napkins woven for our guild exchange. I’m hoping each warp will become easier to set up the treadling.

  • Joan H Harvey says:

    I notice you are using a metal temple on this rug. Do you recommend metal rather than wooden temples for rag rugs?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joan, I’m glad you asked! I prefer a wooden temple, even for rag rugs, but I don’t have a wooden one the right size for this rug, so I’m using the metal one instead. I like the wooden temple because it is lighter weight, and I can set it closer to the fell line without damaging the beater. The metal temple can gouge the beater if I set it too close to the fell. I’ve done that. Ouch! I guess it’s time for me to order another Glimakra temple. 🙂

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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