Strings and Threads

This is a good day to put new strings on my cello. And to make my looms look like stringed instruments. Cello strings are tuned by tightening them until they reach specific pitches. Warp threads are “tuned” by tightening small groups of ends, one group at a time, until all the warp ends are equally taut. When the strings and threads are tensioned as they should be, it’s possible to create beautiful things–music and cloth. The bow and the shuttle turn strings and threads into songs.

Dressing the loom for 8-shaft double binding rag rugs. Glimakra Standard

Sleyed reed is centered in the beater.

Glimakra Ideal is getting dressed for rosepath rag rugs.

Glimakra Ideal loom is getting dressed for weaving rosepath rag rugs.

You must accurately hear pitches to tune a cello. You must have a keen sense of touch to evenly tension a warp. These skills can be learned, but only by those who are interested in learning.

Leveling string goes across the warp ends at the beginning of the warp.

Evenly tensioned red warp has a white leveling string that goes across the beginning of the warp, producing an even surface for weaving. Warp ends are “tuned” for weaving.

This is when the loom looks like a musical instrument, ready to be strummed.

With a little imagination, the loom’s tied-on warp become the strings of a musical instrument, ready for strumming.

This reminds me of wisdom. Wisdom cannot be bought, and will never make sense to someone who has no interest in it. You can pay for knowledge and instruction, but wisdom only comes to those who have a heart to be wise. Let the music begin! 

New strings on the old German cello.

With new strings, the old German cello sings out with a rich and powerful sound. (Find me on Instagram as @celloweaver.)

May your heart be wise.

Happy music making,


  • Sandy says:

    Hi Karen,
    I have been very interested in this leveling thread and your method of tying on. I take my warps over the bar, split into two pieces, then tie those two pieces together on top. Can a leveling thread be used with this type of tie-on? How do you tie on and tension in the over/under configuration that you use?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sandy,
      For the leveling string to work, the warp ends must alternately go over and under the tie-on bar. I learned this from Joanne Hall and Becky Ashenden. You split the group of ends, with half going over, and half under the tie-on bar. You tension the warp as you tie the ends, not trying to make it really tight, but making it consistent all the way across.

      Joanne ties the ends at the front of the bar with a simple bow knot, described in “Learning to Warp Your Loom,” by Joanne Hall. Becky has a different method to tie the ends, described in “Dress Your Loom the Vavstuga Way: A Bench-Side Photo Guide,” by Becky Ashenden.

      The leveling string is tied through the holes on both ends of the tie-on bar. First tie one side, then weave the leveling string over and under the tied-on warp ends, pull the string tight, and secure the leveling string to the other end of the bar.

      Let me know if you have any more questions,

  • Sandy says:

    Thanks, Karen! I work on a rigid heddle loom, and I think Joanne’s book will probably be best for me.

  • linda says:

    Hi Karen: I too tie on without a leveling thread and after 45 years of weaving I’ve not had a problem. Just to show how different tieons can work ….I do not use a stick, but tie on to a metal bar that is inside a cloth attatched to the front beam. and Yes there are slits in the cloth.Very different from You, but always a success for me. I guess “different strokes———–same conclusion”. is the lesson. Love, Peace and Joy, linda

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda,
      I wouldn’t be surprised if most people tie on with the method you use. That’s a fine way to do it! It’s interesting how different methods can end up with similar great results.


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Two Looms at Once

I am happily dressing my two looms at the same time. First, wind one warp, and then the other. Beam a warp on the big loom (Glimåkra Standard); and then, on the baby loom (Glimåkra Ideal). Thread the big loom; thread the baby loom. Back and forth. Soon, two looms will be ready!

Threading the loom for an eight-shaft double binding rag rug.

Four shaft pairs are added to the four already on the loom. You can tell the shafts that have been used the most by the golden tone of the wood. 12/6 cotton is doubled in the heddles. Pumpkin and cinnamon colors combine to make a rich red warp.

Both looms are being dressed for rag rugs. Rag rug heaven! The big loom is threaded for double binding, using eight shafts. The baby loom has four-shaft rosepath threading. I am eager to get everything tied up so I can weave!

Glimakra Ideal is threaded for rosepath rag rugs.

Glimakra Ideal has rosepath, threaded on four shafts, for a series of rag rugs.

There’s an order to things in the universe, like there’s an order to dressing the looms. It matters how we live. It makes sense to live according to the way the Grand Weaver set things up. God knows who we are and what we need. And he provides the threads, like integrity, and other virtues, that are spun by his own hand. The individual pattern comes to life when the threads he has woven in our inner being become our outward expression. And we know the Weaver enjoys the work of his hands.

May threads of virtue be woven in your cloth.

Happy weaving,


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Rosepath Mug Rugs

Even though I am pleased with the miniature rugs, this project taught me that I would rather weave large rag rugs than tiny ones. After three mini rosepath rag rugs, and now, a few small mug rugs, I am nearly finished. (See Rosepath Miniature and One Mini Rag Rug to see the mini rag rugs.)

Mug rug being woven with string yarn. Customized mini temple.

Mug rug is being woven using string yarn for the weft.

I have a new project I’m excited about. That’s all the motivation I need to get the current project off the loom. The thread for the new project will be here soon. A new warp is celebration time! It means more weaving. But the aim of weaving is always to make cloth. Whether tiny rugs or monksbelt yardage, everything I weave eventually gets cut off. And for a weaver, the cutting off is party time, too! That’s when we get to see and touch the results of our efforts.

Rosepath mug rug. Glimakra Ideal.

Rosepath mug rug, woven with fabric strips. White scrap header is removed during finishing.

Sampler effect, rosepath mug rug, woven with stringyarn.

Sampler effect is made by varying the rosepath treadling on this mug rug.

You and I are here for a purpose. Though not all the same, every person is significant. Heaven knows your name. And when your name is written in heaven’s book, it’s like a new warp, and all the angels have a party! The cutting off party will be grand, too, with Jesus being clearly pleased at the results of his handiwork.

May you make angels sing.

Happy cutting off,


  • Janet says:

    What a sweet message this morning, thank you Karen.

  • Love your blog. it’s great motivation for getting back to my looms. my questions is how do you manage to get so much done? no husband? no kids? i need your secret.

    • Karen says:

      Maggie, Haha, I didn’t know I was getting a lot done. My three kids are grown and married. My husband is not very demanding. He’s my prince charming who lets me weave to my heart’s content. 🙂

      Happy weaving,
      Miss Weave-a-Lot

  • Annie Galloway says:

    That rosepath is just WOW! It looks like stone…love the effect! and really enjoy your blog as always. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie,

      Wow, now that you mention it, the brown one does look like stone. I hadn’t noticed that. Cool. Thanks so much for leaving your thoughts!


  • Charelne says:

    Very nice weaving…with a very GRAND message! God Bless You!

  • Katy T. says:

    I’ve been looking everywhere for a few tips on rosepath rag rugs and can’t seem to find much online, but your site keeps popping up. Do you mind me asking what size reed and epi you use?

    I’ve tried a couple of rag rugs in plain weave and twill and found that 12 epi seems to work ok, but your pictures look like a wider sett than that. Thanks for your help!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Katy,

      For rosepath rag rugs I use an 8 dent reed (or a 30/10 metric reed), and 8 epi. My warp is 12/6 cotton and I cut my fabric in 3/4″ strips for the weft. I’m dressing one of my looms for rosepath rag rugs now. I plan to start weaving the rugs by the end of next week.

      I’m glad you asked! I hope this helps.

      Happy weaving,

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Rickrack Rag Rug Hemming Video

Hemming a rag rug may be easier than you think. I have used my classic Bernina sewing machine to hem rag rugs; but now, I hem many of them by hand. It’s easier and faster than I once thought. I plan the rug’s hem into the weaving, using half-width fabric strips for the hem area, and end it off with 1 cm of a warp thread heading. After cutting off the rug, I secure and trim the warp ends. There’s only one thing left to do. Hem the rug! (Start with Tools Day: Rag Rug Finishing Video if you haven’t seen it yet.)

Weaving the hem on a rag rug. Video about hemming.

Hem is woven with fabric strips, doubled, cut 1 cm wide. This rug has a 6 cm hem, plus the warp thread heading, that will be folded under and stitched.

Tools and supplies

  • Steam iron
  • Long straight pins
  • Rug warp to match the rug (mine is Bockens 12/6 cotton seine twine)
  • Blunt tapestry needle

Rickrack rag rug. Video tutorial about hemming rag rugs.

Kitchen mat is embellished with woven thin stripes that give the impression of rickrack. It makes me think of rickrack-trimmed dresses my mother made for me when I was a little girl. (See Simplest Rag Rug Stripe to learn how the rickrack stripes are made.)

May you enjoy the work of your hands.

Happy hemming,


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Simplest Rag Rug Stripe

An isolated thin weft stripe makes a bold statement. One simple technique greatly improves the efficiency of weaving such a stripe in a rag rug. This method eliminates the need to weave weft tails in at the beginning and end of the stripe. So, besides being efficient, the selvedges look better too.

How to Weave a Thin Weft Stripe (Two Picks)

1 Weave up to the stripe placement. No need to end the weft if the same weft will continue after the thin stripe.

Rag rug on loom. How to make thin stripes.

2 Place the first pick of the stripe in the shed, leaving a long tail of about 6 inches / 15 cm, or more.

How to make thin weft stripe in rag rug. Step by step pics.

3 Beat in the first pick of the stripe.

Making thin stripe in rag rug. How to.

4 Change sheds. Lay the long tail into the new shed.

Making thin stripe in rag rug. How to.

5 Send the shuttle across for the second pick, catching the previous weft to carry it up the selvedge.

Make a thin stripe in a rag rug. How to and pics.

6 As the weft goes across for the second pick, bring the shuttle all the way out.

Second pick of thin stripe. Explanation and pics.

7 Pull enough of the second pick through the warp to cut a tapered edge that will overlap the tapered edge of the long tail.

How to make thin stripe in rag rug.

8 Overlap the two tapered fabric strips in the shed.

Overlap in the shed. Rag rug instructions.

9 Beat in the second pick of the stripe.

Rag rug thin stripe.

10 Continue weaving with the previous weft that was carried up the selvedge.

Rag rug on the loom. Thin stripe tutorial.

If you’re like me, you are always on the lookout for ways to enhance weaving efficiency. One little tip can improve the whole weaving experience. When you know there is so much more to learn, and you are hungry to learn, every morsel of insight is delectable.

Has your soul ever felt hungry? Mine has. The Lord is ready to fill the hungry soul with good. He fills the empty. He satisfies the hungry, meeting the deepest need. One sweet morsel leads to another, inviting us to keep coming back. Taste and see that the Lord is good.

May you be hungry for good things.



  • Ruth says:

    What a clever idea! Thanks so much for sharing. Too bad I can’t put a rug warp on today and cement this idea in my brain. Blessings.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, this technique works equally well with thread or yarn for any two-pick stripe. I’ve done it this way for thin weft stripes in towels and throws, too. So, go ahead and try it out on your next project!

      Happy weaving,

  • Debbie Moyes says:

    That’s a great technique! And as I am weaving rag runner/placemats I will try it. I see I need to read more of your blog, but a quick question – is your threading 11223344 – and if so, is the reason for the pattern or something else? I generally do just a tabby.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Debbie, I’m glad you have a project going that you can try this with.

      The threading is 1234, with 2 ends per heddle and 2 ends per dent. Technically, it is supposed to be weft rep, but I was not able to completely cover my warp, as true weft rep should be. But the weft rep effect is what makes the rickrack zigzag more prominent than it would be with just tabby. Most weft-faced weaving will produce a wavy line with 2 picks, as in tapestry weaving.

      Happy weaving,

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