Can I Cut it Off Now?

Four rugs woven, with hardly enough warp left to weave anything worthwhile. I am eager to cut off the planned and finished rugs, and move on to the next thing. There is only a short span of warp left, so why waste time weaving a runt-sized rug? It won’t hurt to cut it off now. I am not losing that much of the warp.

Coming to the end of the warp.

When the back tie-on bar comes up over the back beam, you know you are at the end of the warp. I have heard that there is a saying in Sweden that when the end of the warp comes over the back beam you must complete the remainder of the weaving in one sitting.

All I have left are scraps–fabric strips that were cut for previous rug designs. …Wait a minute… Could this be an opportunity in disguise? A chance try out another design idea, using fabric strips that are already cut? If I think of this as a welcome challenge, instead of a waste of time, I start seeing everything differently.

Little square rug on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Design limitations help expand creative ideas. This piece uses only fabric leftovers from previous rugs, and is limited to about 26 inches / 66 cm of warp.

The natural progression of a negative thought goes from bad to worse. Unless something intervenes to stop the progression, it can end in results far worse than cutting off a rug warp too soon. Giving thanks to God breaks the negative progression, and opens us up to an unseen world. A world of beauty and purpose. A place where scraps are used to make new and beautiful things. And where using the rest of the warp is never seen as wasted time.

May your Thanks-giving celebration begin early and continue far beyond the norm.

With gratitude,
Karen

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This Takes Effort

The cloth beam is filling up with rugs. The fuller the cloth beam gets, the more muscle it takes for me to crank up the warp tension. I put all my weight into it. Literally. First, I agressively turn the wheel at the back beam to tighten the ratchet. Then, I grab two spokes of the breast beam‘s wheel, put a knee or foot on another spoke, and pull back with all my might, adding an appropriate grunt!

Simple block design for patterned rag rug. Karen Isenhower

Because of tight warp tension, it is possible to firmly pull the weft around the selvedge ends, creating snug edges on the sides of the rug.

Why keep the tension so extremely tight? Because of the outcome–good rugs. Rugs that are sturdy, have snug selvedges, and lay completely flat. Hopefully, my effort will outlast me, as the rugs continue to serve people long after I’m gone.

It takes tremendous effort to hold on to courage when hope is slipping. After cranking up the tension for so long, the thought of keeping it up becomes overwhelming. One word of en-courage-ment from a friend breaks through hopelessness: God will see you through. Hope is restored, not based on feelings or positive thoughts, but based on believing God.

Keep up your courage. Only a few more turns and you’ll be there. The rugs will be finished; and you will know you did what you were called to do. Keep up your courage, friend.

May your good efforts outlast you.

Pulling for you,
Karen

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Quiet Friday: Double-Binding Rag Rugs

Ordinary has never appealed to me. I remember some outfits I wore as a girl that were far from ordinary. For example, I had a corduroy cape with a Peter Pan collar, that had slits for the arms. I wore a corduroy brimmed cap to match, with a striped feather on the brim. Did I know any other ten-year-old girl wearing such a thing? No, not really. But I thought the outfit looked “cool” and stylish.

When I make a rag rug, I am not aiming for ordinary. I like the idea of making a rug that no one has imagined before.

Double-binding rag rug on loom.

Autumn Clouds rag rug on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Rag rugs on the loom.

Black and White and Red rag rug on the loom.

Simply red squares rag rug.

Double-binding rag rug on the loom.

Black and White.

Nearing the end of Black and White and Red rag rug.

Black and Red Squares rag rug on the loom. Karen Isenhower

May your ideas be far from ordinary.

Your friend,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Fran says:

    Very lovely rugs, Karen! I like the white background ones, myself. (from this distance.)

    • Karen says:

      Fran, Thank you for letting me know what you think!
      I’m glad to hear you like the white background ones since that is something new that I am trying. I’m eager to see what it looks like when it’s off the loom.

      Karen

  • Helen Hart says:

    Wonderful work. May I ask if there is a pattern in one of the rug books etc? Like yur weavings very much.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Helen,
      I’m very glad you like what you see here! I start with ideas from books, and then I adapt them to suit the designs that I have in mind.

      Here are some of the books I use as resources, that include double-binding (or double-faced) rugs:

      The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell, p.96, “Checked Fabric.” This is not a rug, but I have used this draft to weave rag rugs, using a sett of 8 epi.
      Swedish Rag Rugs 35 New Designs, from VävMagasinet, p.36 and following.
      Happy Weaving, from VävMagasinet, p.64-67.
      Rag Rug Handbook, by Janet Meany and Paula Pfaff, p.73-75

      I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any more questions.

      Karen

  • Angelique says:

    Beautiful rugs! I especially like that top one, what a great and unusual pattern. I haven’t done any rugs — I’m inspired to try now!

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Tools Day: Colored Pencils

Graph paper and 24 Prismacolor colored pencils. The first scribbles look silly to me, but if I keep going, design ideas keep coming and it turns into play. One idea morphs into another, and I soon have too many designs to use on this rug warp. I am weaving double-binding rag rugs right now. My favorite one is always the one I am working on. And then I start a new design… and that one becomes my favorite. Rag rugs are especially rewarding to weave because of the abundant design options. The saddest part for me is coming to the end of the warp. Maybe I need to put on longer warps…

Designing double-binding rag rug patterns.

Colored pencils and graph paper help get ideas flowing for double-binding rag rug designs.

May you come up with fascinating designs.

Happy Designing,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Sara Jeanne says:

    Hello Karen!
    The double binding rag rug technique is a wonderful way to experiment with color combinations, isn’t it? Have a wonderful colorful day!
    Your ‘Vavstuga’ pal,
    Sara Jeanne

    • Karen says:

      Hello Sara Jeanne, thank you so much for showing me what the possibilities are with double binding! Before that, I was already fascinated with double binding, but I only had a small idea bank.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Helen Hart says:

    Hi, I enjoy your blog. This type of rug weaving sounds interesting. I have several rug weaving books. Can you tell me which book you got this pattern from? Thanks so much. Helen Hart

    • Karen says:

      Hi Helen,
      I have seen double-binding rag rugs in several books, especially in some of the Swedish weaving books. I’m not near my books right now, but I can send you the names of some of them at the end of the week.
      For my double-binding rugs, I have adapted what I’ve seen in books to suit my preferences, but the drafts are all similar.
      Karen

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This Rug Paints a Picture

Pretend this rug is a painting. Can you guess what the picture is? I have an image in my mind as I weave this rag rug. Sunset over land and sea. I saw a beautiful sunset last night that used these very colors! It was spectacular! And when the sun is setting in one place, it is seen rising somewhere else. (Do you remember when I wove another rag rug similar to this one? You can see it HERE.)

Weaving sunsets into a rag rug on the loom.

Moving the temple out of the way gives full view of the rug in progress. Blocks of color in this double binding weave hint at quilt blocks.

We count on the sun rising and setting every day. So, why do we worry? We tell ourselves there is not enough time, the day is too short. We can’t seem to make ends meet (did a weaver make up that phrase?). The one who positioned the sun knows how time works. And, surely, our Maker knows how to make our ends meet.

Most people worry. But you do not have to worry. Your heavenly Father knows precisely what you need. He is glad to provide for you from his kingdom resources. When I weave an imagined sunset into a handcrafted rug, it is a simple replica. When we see the actual display of sunset colors in the sky, let it be a reminder to put our trust in the One who is weaving our story.

May your ends meet.

Happy weaving,
Karen

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