Quiet Friday: Checkered Rug

I have another rag rug warp on my Baby loom (Glimåkra 100cm Ideal), playing with the magic of double binding again, this time with four shafts and four treadles. Ten yards / nine meters of warp. I planned an additional twelve inches / 30.5cm between rugs for cutting off and tying back on, so I can cut each rug off as it is finished. Here is the first rug.

Winding warp for another rag rug.

Small warping reel is used to measure the ten yards / nine meters of 12/6 cotton rug warp.

Beaming the warp under tension, using warping trapeze and weights.

Warp chains are undone and lengthened out over the warping trapeze. Several pounds of walking weights hold the bouts under constant even tension for beaming the warp.

Tying on.

All tied on. Ready to weave.

Designing a rag rug.

Design concept is created; and fabric colors are chosen.

Double binding rag rug on the loom. Karen Isenhower


Using a temple for weaving rag rugs.

Temple is always in place when I am weaving a rug. I fitted two different temple parts together to get this warp width. Notice the lengthwise gaps between the temple parts…but not a problem.

Rag rug on the loom. Nearing completion.

Around the breast beam, and over the knee beam, to wrap around the cloth beam. Warping slats are placed between the cloth beam and the rug the first time around to make a smooth surface for the woven rug-cloth.

Rag rug on the loom. Woven hem.

Hem is completed with 12 picks of rug warp. Three inches of scrap fabric header comes next, and then the rug is ready to be cut from the loom.

Hand-hemming rag rug.

Warp ends have been knotted and trimmed; and hem folded under and pressed. Now, hemming with a needle and rug warp, the last step is almost complete. The only thing left is to sew on my label.

Checkered rag rug. Karen Isenhower

Notice the subtle changes in color and depth of color where the warp colors change–purposely not aligned with the block changes.

Home sweet home. That's what rag rugs are for.

Home sweet home. A patterned rag rug makes a house feel like home.

May you finish what you started.

Happy Weaving,


  • Betsy says:

    Hi Karen. A beautiful rug! Do you have a suggestion for a good source for rag rug patterns and drafts? I really like your designs. Betsy

    • Karen says:

      Most of my favorite books with rag rug patterns and drafts are not in English. But weaving drafts work in any language, and the pictures can inspire many different ideas.
      Here are some of the rag rug books that I refer to often for design ideas:
      Alla Tidors Trasmattor
      Älskade Trasmattor
      Trasor och Tekniker: 35 nya mattor (I did find this one in English from a used book seller – pricey$$$ – Swedish Rag Rugs 35 New Designs)

      I’m always on the lookout for Swedish weaving books, which sometimes have rag rug drafts in them.
      The books I mentioned happen to be carried by Vavstuga.com. (Not affiliated; just offering a source.)

      The Big Book of Weaving and Happy Weaving also have one or two good rag rug drafts for starters.

      Hope that helps!

  • Joanna says:

    Ooh, pretty! It looks like blue skies and fresh green meadow grass, absolutely lovely.

  • linda says:

    note: any pattern can be used for a rag rug even colonial overshot, summer winter, ….as long as the floats are not too long. just plan on using a plain weave between shots of pattern and make the floats over 2 or 3 warp threads. Of course this means you’ll need a 4 harness loom if your using a floor loom. another note: If you weight the beater bar with a metal rod screwed to the beater bar not as much muscle is needed to beat the weft into place. So get out that draft paper and design. linda

  • linda says:

    I love this sight it keeps me on my toes. I couldn’t remember what bouble binding was; I know it as double weave. The double binding moniker must be Swedish…Beckey again. The last three fridays when I’ve been by the studio/school it’s been closed. when i do see her I’ll say hi for you. Love Peace and Joy (LPJ), linda

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How I Remember Woven Details

A picture works better than memory. By the time I get to the opposite end of this rug, I doubt I will remember the details of this starting hem. Technology makes it simple. This is one reason I keep my iPhone handy when I am at the loom. Click. Now I have a visual record of the hem that will do the remembering for me.

Take picture with smartphone to remember hem details.

Four picks of rug warp between hem sections gives a good edge when turning the hem under.

Some things are worth the effort to remember. Remember the good. When times are difficult, waiting to see the Lord’s goodness requires strength and courage of heart. It requires remembering the good from before. Wait for the Lord with faith–the faith that looks like courage. Faith is that picture of good that made an impression on your soul, that’s been tucked away for a while. Maybe it’s time to pull it out and remember.

May you build many good memories.

Yours Truly,


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Rag Rug Tapestry

Bold striped hems and four white stripes across this rug stabilize the unpredictable design. This is the rug that uses up several remnants from my fabric stash. My main agenda was to use up fabric.

Double binding twill rag rug.

Final rug from this warp of double binding twill rag rugs. The striped hem is created by alternating picks of dark and light fabric strips.

I like rugs for the way they give the impression of a pathway. A place to put down your feet and walk. This rug does look like a path to me. Like a tapestry, this rug tells a story. I can see irregular changes of scenery. And the white stripes are like scheduled events that add structure and definition. It is good to have a path for your feet, and for your life.

Life is filled with changing seasons, and with schedules and interruptions. It isn’t always easy to see the right path. The Shepherd leads us on a path lined with goodness and mercy. These qualities are woven in. Like this double binding rug, mercy is always on the other side of goodness. And goodness backs up mercy. When these elements of kind-hearted design can be seen in our lives, though only as remnants and fragments, that is when we know we are on the right path.

May goodness and mercy follow you around.

Happy Weaving,


  • Fran says:

    You said it well, Karen; this is the best rug yet! Almost a tapestry!

    • Karen says:

      Fran, you have made my day!
      You are in good company. This is my husband’s favorite rug, too. He is the one who pointed out to me that it looks like a tapestry.

      Thank you!

  • Beautiful rug. Love the pathway imagery and how the path changes color. What a great use of your stash.


  • linda says:

    I was actually thinking pictorial tapestry. More So. west Indian or NE seaside with boats and light houses. The rug is very nice, as is all your work, but I’m challenging you to go big and be UNSAFE. love, peace and joy, linda

    • Karen says:

      I love the idea, Linda. I’m not sure how soon I’ll be able to tackle that. I have a few project ideas lined up for the looms that will last me awhile. I’ll let the idea simmer and brew, though, so I can add that to my list of accomplishments one day!

      Thank you!

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Quiet Friday: Rag Rug Bag

Think of this as an experiment. A first try. A specimen with which to work out procedures and details. I like the bag, and I will certainly use it; however, there are a few things that I will do differently when I make the next one. And I do intend to make another one, or two, or three. Experiments are like that. One idea leads to another. This warp was all about double binding rag rugs. As always, though, it is delightful to have some warp left at the end for play.

Weaving bag handles into the rag rug bag.

Length of 1-inch/2.5 cm black cotton webbing is woven in. The webbing that extends beyond both selvedges will form the bag handle. Rag weaving continues for a few inches before placing the webbing ends back into the shed.

Placing bag strap ends in the shed.

Both ends of the webbing strap are tapered, and then overlapped in the shed before beating them in.

Temple maintains the weaving width.

Temple maintains the weaving width as the rag weave continues past the woven-in handle straps.

Securing warp ends of rag rug.

Warp ends are secured, as usual. First, square knots, and then cut off to 1/2 inch/1 cm.

Stitching up a rag rug bag.

Sewing the sides of the bag, right sides together. I am using the four rows of woven rug warp at the beginning of the woven hem as my stitching line.

Creating lining for rag rug bag.

After turning the bag right-side out, and pressing the seams open, I created a simple flat lining, with added pocket, to fit inside the bag.

Pinning lining into the rag rug bag.

Lining is pinned into the bag, matching seams and mid-points at front and back.

Lining is inserted into the rag rug bag.

Lining is stitched into place with narrow topstitching.

Rag rug bag, with handle woven in. Karen Isenhower


Finished rag rug tote bag! Karen Isenhower

Fun tote bag to carry to and fro.

Next time… Find a strap that is not as stiff, so it will beat in better. Weave in a strap that is the same color as the warp. Make the strap longer. Find a way to secure the cut ends of the strap (this is the biggest issue). Possibly use a band woven on my inkle or band loom for the strap.

What would you use for the strap? Can you think of a good way to secure the ends of the strap together? What other suggestions or thoughts do you have to improve a bag like this? I would love to hear your ideas.

May your experiments lead to fresh ideas.

Always trying new things,


  • Mary Linden says:

    Tape used to bind hooked rugs is softer and can be dyed. Your weaving is inspiring. My loom has been empty too long.

  • Love the idea of weaving the band directly into the warp! Instead of sewing a band on your woven product afterwards.

    Each time I am excited to receive a post from you!
    Kind regards,
    The Netherlands

    • Karen says:

      It is very nice to hear from you, Tjitske! Yes, if we can make it work to weave the band into the warp, it will be fun to make more bags!

      Your alpaca weaving in your Etsy shop is beautiful!
      Happy Weaving,

  • Sara Jeanne says:

    I’ve been enjoying your weaving blog since we met at Vavstuga.
    Some things that I’ve observed when making ‘rug’ bags:
    Use the overlay technique for the strap rather than a single weft shot.
    Use a 1/2″ webbing for the strap.
    When laying in the returning strap, pull the ends up through the warp and hand stitch down the ends with carpet thread.
    Weave a wide heading at each end of the piece to allow for hemming, and to assist in making a box bottom on the bag.
    Really like your colors and the introspection your weaving brings to the process.

    • Karen says:

      Sara, what a great help you are! I’m taking notes…

      – I am not sure what you mean “Use the overlay technique for the strap rather than a single weft shot.” Could you explain that a little more?

      – I have not found 1/2″ webbing. Do you know a source for that?

      – Hand-stitching the ends together is a good idea. I had considered that, but was too lazy to actually do it. It wouldn’t be hard, though.

      – The wide hem is a great idea, too. I had thought about a box bottom, too, but decided to make this one quick and simple. (Lazy again.) In the future, I’ll probably do a box bottom. That’s not hard, either.

      I really appreciate you chiming in! It’s great to get your perspective and a piece of your expertise.

      Happy Weaving,

      • Anonymous says:

        Hi Karen,
        Glad to offer some tips!
        For overlay, throw your rag shot, and with the same shed open, lay your strap on top of the rag shot. You may have to add another strip of rag to that particular shot so that the strap and rag shot are the same size. The strap lays better with equal sizes.
        As for the 1/2″ strapping, try The Shaker Workshops. They have a web site. I’ve been lucky enough to find quite a bit of 1/2″ cotton strap at my local Goodwill store.
        Hope this helps.
        Sara Jeanne
        PS you are many things Karen and lazy is certainly not one of them!

  • Joanna says:

    Ooh, a bandwoven strap, for sure. How about a strap with tubular weaving sections for where the hand would grip? How about a bandwoven strap with narrower ‘bits’ woven by cramming warp ends? You could use those sections where they act as war, rather than strap.

    • Karen says:

      Hi, Joanna,

      Great ideas!! I can see what you’re talking about… Yes, that would make a wonderful handle for a handwoven bag.
      This gives me another idea! What if… Instead of cramming warp ends (since there is no reed on the band loom, the best I can do is pull the weft tighter), what if I bandweave the tubular handle, and flat sides of the handle, and leave a length of unwoven warp before and after? The unwoven band warp could be the weft in the rag weave. And the band-warp weft could be woven in two consecutive sheds, making a very secure connection for the handle. I’m getting excited about this idea!

      Thank you!

  • linda says:

    Opinion: a hand woven band would really make a statement, especially if the bag is a suttle tone on tone. The stitching of the strap ends is a great idea….
    Question: is everyone a Quilter too? I noticed the symbols next to each name is a quilting square. love, eace,joy, linda

    • Karen says:

      Linda, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I like the idea of a subtle tone on tone bag. A handwoven band would certainly be the best choice for that!

      (The little quilt icons are generated by the website. I had just a few options for what type of icon to use. Quilt blocks seemed the most appropriate for this space. Better than little aliens or something like that. :))

  • Laurie Mrvos says:

    I love how your mind works, Karen. I think you’re on to something here. As always, I certainly reading your posts. Be well.

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Something Old in a New Way

This rug is using up bits and pieces. Normally, I begin with a few choice fabrics in five-yard lengths to create a specific rag rug design. Not this time. With the exception of the grey print, there is not enough of any one color to suit me. Some favorite prints are here, but in very small amounts. Other fabrics have been around too long; it’s time to use them up. And some, like the denim, are in short lengths, which means annoyingly frequent joins. My task is to take these misfits and make something worthwhile.

Double binding rag rug on the loom.

Double binding rag rug that is using up fabric stash pieces. Wide white stripes across the width in regular intervals give definition to the uneven assortment of fabric scraps.

Even though I can’t guarantee the results with this mishmash, I am taking the dive. It is good to try something new, or do something old in a new way. Take fabric that is leftover, outdated, or unsuitable for anything else, and turn it into an artisan rag rug. Can I take ordinary and turn it into extraordinary? It is worth a try.

Do what you know, and take it further than you think you can. Go where you don’t usually go. Step out a little deeper to practice what you already know. Let the struggle push you to find new horizons. You could end up with a charming rag rug.

May this be your day to go a little deeper.

Happy Weaving,


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