Rag Rug Rya

I have an enormous brown paper cartoon hanging under the warp, suspended by a contraption of wood, string, and rubber bands.The pattern area of this rag rug begins with rya knots. The dark colors of the rya pile contrast with a background of whites, off-whites and light prints. The rya knots follow a geometric design that I drew onto the brown paper with a Sharpie.

Rag rug with rya knots.

Brown paper under the warp hangs over a slat which is suspended with seine twine and rubber bands.

As the designer and weaver, I already see the finished rug in my mind’s eye, and understand what is needed to complete it. I am weaving this rag rug for our own home, so naturally I am already thinking about where it will be placed. This makes it personal, and the slow weaving process grants me the opportunity to know this rug, inside and out.

Tightly-woven selvedges on hefty rag rug with rya knots.

Tightly-woven selvedges. Doubled weft gives extra fullness and weight to the rug, as well as contributing to strong rug selvedges.

Yes, it is important for me to know my Maker, but even more important that He knows me. All of life has meaning when God knows you by name. He knows what is needed to give our lives purpose. And the slow process becomes that much more personal as he weaves the design that he has seen all along.

May you accumulate many meaningful moments.

Happy rug weaving,


  • linda says:

    I can’t wait to see this one. It looks like so much fun. The first weaving project was 44 years ago and it was a rug with Rya loops and a worked in pattern. I KNEW NOTHING. directions said to wind X # of threads for warp so I very carefully wound individual balls of warp , no warping board here and no idea I should have one. I ended up tying each to the back beam, taking ALL the balls across the 30′ of living room and hall, out the front door and down the steps… needless to say it was a challenge, but I’m still weaving and the rug lasted 40 years. Have a great time as you go you may as the designer/weaver change your mind about the design….GO FOR IT, LP&J, linda

    • Karen says:

      Wow, Linda, fabulous! I can just picture what a sight that was, warping your loom – and the joy involved in a brand new adventure. You really made me smile! And the rug lasted 40 years. Of course, it did – it’s a handwoven piece of love! :)

      And it is very possible that I may “adjust” the design as I go. That’s the great advantage of being designer AND weaver!

      Love to you,

  • Janie Payne says:

    I would really like to see a post of this finished please? I have made rag rug bags but not a rug yet, will have to be next weaving project!

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Tools Day: Teeny Tiny Temple

What if you start weaving a project and realize your smallest temple is too big? And that your smallest temple is the smallest one they make. I am aware that most people do not use a temple for something this narrow, 16.7 cm/6.5 in. width in the reed, but this is a rag rug. A miniature rosepath rag rug. And draw-in is inevitable, which leads to weaving headaches like broken selvedge warp ends. A temple helps prevent all that.

Smallest temple is too big. How I solved this dilemma.

Smallest Glimåkra temple is two inches wider than my weaving width.

I have seen makeshift temples that I could try, but my genius husband has a better idea. Why not cut down my little temple to the size I need? So he takes the tiny temple out to his workshop in the garage and turns it into a teeny tiny temple! (He does this knowing full well that I will need to replace the temple being cut.)

Cutting a temple down to make a teeny tiny temple.

Measure twice; cut once. Steve marks his cutting lines on the original temple parts.

Small temple is cut down to teeny tiny size.

Happy with the first cut, Steve is now ready to let the second piece meet the saw blade.

Small temple is cut down to teeny tiny size. It works!

Once cut apart, we wonder if a temple this tiny will work? Will there be enough length for the pieces to pivot as needed? There’s one way to find out…

Perfect! It works! And holes for the locking pin line up, too!

Teeny tiny temple in place on miniature rag rug. (6 1/2")

Teeny tiny temple does its job. Yay!

Start of a mini rosepath rag rug. Karen Isenhower

Start of a miniature rosepath rag rug.

Mini rosepath rag rug in the making.

May you cut your problems down to size.

A little weaving,


  • Nancy says:

    You have a real sweet husband. I enjoy reading your blog. Something positive that gives me a little lift every day. Keep up the good work.


    • Karen says:

      Hi Nancy,
      I am very thankful for my sweet husband. And I’m thankful for your encouragement! I’m so glad to have you in the journey with me.


  • linda says:

    Karen: maybe this is the time to spread your wings and fly? Your warp is so small I’m sure you can manage no pull in. I know the Rose Path is a leap…just ditch the stretcher. maybe at the end of the rug on leftovers? Trust…it will work. Your technical skills are all A’s I believe in you. Just let go of the “Blankie” and step off. I BELIEVE IN YOU, linda

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda,
      Your confidence in my ability is very heartwarming! I do like my tools. :)

      I can sew a straight seam on my sewing machine without using straight pins to hold the pieces together, but I use the pins because they are tools that help me focus on other sewing skills. I don’t have to think about the fabric shifting out of place. I see the temple as a similar tool. I can weave without it, but using the temple enables me to “forget” about that part and focus on other weaving skills. With rugs in particular, the temple helps me get very tight selvedges, which I consider the mark of a high quality rug. Even Jason Collingwood said he wouldn’t dream of weaving a rug without a temple.

      But, actually, you are right. With this narrow width, I really could weave it without a temple. :)

  • Anonymous says:

    I just recently had a need for a larger temple, and, oh, was it expensive. A 60″ is a lot of money.

    • Karen says:

      It would be fun to see your 60″ temple next to my 6″ temple!


      • linda says:

        WoW. that 60″ temple requires a 5’2” or more arm span. Either you’re tall, have a sliding bench , or are using a flying shuttle? I’m old, 5’5″ and am not comfortable reaching beyond 42″. linda

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Sley, Sley Again

I have never re-sleyed a warp after weaving the sample. Until now. It’s a drastic measure; but it’s better than fighting with the warp the whole way. I’m doing inlay on a rag rug, with rya knots and other techniques. It didn’t take long to see that the ends needed to be spaced further apart. But this is why we sample, right?

Beginning sample of rag rug weaving with rya knots.

Rya knots quickly add bulk to the rag rug sample. Three rows of rag knots are already creating a little hill in the weft.

Cutting off a sample piece. Painter's tape as cutting template.

Four inches are marked on a piece of painter’s tape to use as a template for cutting the warp. I want enough length on the sample piece being cut off to be able to tie the ends in square knots.

It was not an easy decision to re-sley. I had anticipated an enjoyable day of rag rug weaving. Instead, I spent the day cutting off, pulling the ends out of the reed, switching reeds, re-sleying, dealing with extra warp width, tying back on, and beginning a new sample. Is this called learning the hard way? Nope. This is simply called learning.

Rag rug sample with inlay techniques.

Warp has been re-sleyed and is ready for weaving a new sample. First sample piece includes rya knots, loop technique, and HV technique on weft rep, using fabric strips for weft and weft inlay.

Rag rug sample, trying out rya knots.

After re-sleying, I start a second sample. I am happy to see that the rya knots fit into place without adding excessive bulk to the weaving.

Weaving, relationships, and purposeful living. Learning takes time–a lifetime. I want the Lord to teach me how to live. Even when it means messy beginnings and do-overs that use up my day. We have a lot to learn. Lord, teach me, and lead me on your path. More than a prayer in crisis, this is a lifetime prayer for a lifetime of learning.

May you know when to start a do-over.

Still learning,


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Thread, Thread Again

I enjoy threading the loom, but who wants to thread the same thing four times? The first time, I thought the selvedge threading confused me, leaving me with extra ends. I took it all out and started over. It still didn’t come out right. I counted all the threads at the lease sticks. 404. And counted again to make sure. There must be a threading error, right? I started over again, vowing to be more careful this time…

Threading the loom for rag rugs.

Threading 404 warp ends goes quickly when there are two threads per heddle… Unless you make a mistake and have to start over two or three times.

Threading Glimakra Standard for a rag rug, two ends per heddle.

Rag rug warp, threading two ends per heddle.

I depend on my planning sheet. That sheet of paper has all the pertinent details. Besides the draft, it has the sett, width in reed, number of warp ends… Oops! I found the mistake. I miscalculated the number of warp ends. But I threaded the loom three times before I traced the problem back to this calculation error! I was working from a faulty planning sheet. Fortunately, I can adjust the selvedge threading to accommodate the extra threads, and thread the loom successfully. Finally!

Selvedge threading for rag rug on Glimakra Standard loom.

Two ends go through each heddle, except at the selvedges, where there are three ends per heddle, four times each side, plus two more times each side to make up for the miscalculation of warp ends.

Human promises can fail, like my faulty planning sheet. The Lord’s promises never fail. A weaving draft and project sheet are proven true as the loom is dressed and fabric is woven on the loom. The Lord’s promises are proven true as we live our lives by his directions. We can depend on that.

May you need to thread only once.

Truly yours,


  • Oh I feel your pain. Once is plenty with that number of threads. I hope the rest of the project goes smoothly.


  • linda says:

    welcome to the “I’m sure i did the math right…I checked 3x’s….it doesn’t look right….let me count again… i give up lets just see what happens when I weave” club. I’ve had ends left after threading, I’ve been short, and I’ve added more ends to the start side after it’s all threaded. This is where ingenuity and determination to get it on the loom comes in. Remember we can only strive to be perfect some little something will most likely be off. I’m not very religious, but I know only God is perfect, but my errors are fixable. President of THE CLUB, linda :)

  • Liberty says:

    Hi! I’ve done it so many times, but I’m getting better every warp!! The last warp I did didn’t have any mistakes first time!!! Shocking!!! Oh well it’s all learning!
    But I wanted you to know Sunday night I ordered thread for your beautiful cream and pink pillows!! I’m so excited about it can’t wait to try them. Thanks for the inspiration. Oh also I decided to use cotton but just for the price factor! I’ll let you know how it goes.
    Thanks, Liberty

    • Karen says:

      Oh Liberty, I’m so excited that you are doing the dice weave pillows! I think cotton will work beautifully. Please do keep me posted!

      Happy weaving,

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Happy Weaving New Year!

January 1st is more than just another day, isn’t it? It’s a time to review the past year and bring new dreams into the year ahead. This pivot point calls for gratitude. I am especially grateful for friends like you who walk with me on this weaving journey!

Thick and thin cottolin towels on this warp. One towel to go!

Thick and thin cottolin towels on this warp. One towel to go!

The end is near! The end of the warp, that is. Halvdräll on the loom.

The end is near! The end of the warp, that is. Almost ready for the final border of the halvdräll table square. There will be just enough warp left for a short sample piece.

First up in the new year I have thick and thin towels to finish, and the halvdräll is oh so close to the end of the warp (didn’t quite make it for Christmas). And one little girl is off the small tapestry loom, waiting for final finishing, mounting, and framing.

Little girl small tapestry.

Little girl small tapestry. After finishing the ends, the piece will be mounted on linen-covered foam board and placed in a frame.

Thank you for walking with me through 2015!

May you bring big dreams into the new year!

Joyful New Year,


  • Charlene says:

    What a lovely review of your year’s weaving work.

    A large and beautiful body of work.

    Thank you.

  • Elisabeth Munkvold says:

    Dear Karen,
    Thank you for seeing such beauty in life and sharing it with us! This was a very inspiring way to start a new year!

    Happy New Year!

  • Betsy says:

    Happy New Year! I really enjoy reading your blog and look forward to new posts.
    Warmest Wishes

  • fran says:

    Always nice to see what you are up to! Best wishes for 2016.

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Happy New Year Karen,

    I hope it is a wonderful year for you!

  • linda says:

    Your tapestry of the child is wonderful. It has given me so much pleasure to see how your weaving has become so absolutely gorgeous. I’ve has so much fun watching all the love you’ve put into your weaving. The article was a cherry on top of the most delicious desert anyone could have dreamed of.
    I still can’t believe all the time you devote, how quickly you work, and how “perfect “it all is. I hope 2016 is even more bountiful for you and more joyful. lp&j LINDA

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