Quality Rag Rugs

Does this color enhance or detract? Is there enough contrast between background and pattern? Is five centimeters of plain weave between pattern sections too long, or too short? I ask myself questions as I weave a new design. I consider all the technical aspects, as well. Warp tension, treadling finesse, and shuttle shuffling. Attention to detail matters.

Rosepath rag rug on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Design elements are planned before weaving, and then adjusted as weaving progresses on the loom.

Details begin in the planning stage with design, choice of materials, and colors. While weaving rosepath rag rugs, consistency counts. I aim for a consistently firm beat and good, tight selvedges. All of these elements contribute to quality. And as I grow in my weaving skills, overall quality improves.

Rosepath rag rugs require extra attention at the selvedges.

Rosepath rag rugs require extra attention at the selvedges.

Rosepath rag rug on the loom.

Yellow dash is made with a single weft pick. The single fabric strip is cut long enough to securely tuck the ends back into the shed.

A person’s character is defined by their motivations. It’s not what you do, but why you do it. It is not enough to look good. I can buy a cheap rug that looks good. But if I could examine how it was made, I might find the shortcuts that diminished its quality. Our inward motivations are revealed in our outward behaviors. The cheap rug fades and comes apart all too quickly. By examining our own motives we build quality of character. The result is not only lovely, but durable, too.

May your quality control efforts succeed.

With you,
Karen

6 Comments

  • i just love reading your blog posts and following what you are up to! You inspire me to weave more my friend! Have a most beautiful day! I love your quote about a person’s character being defined by their motivations. I know I weave because it completes me, I love it and I see you do too!

  • linda says:

    Often a project changes when seen on the loom. Spacing of pattern and negative morphs into, for that project, a perfectness that was not planned. When I weave, Quilt, knit, or sew hand woven I stand back and revise. Very much like life. What we start out planning to do at 20 years old morphs into what we’ve done by 60. ENJOY the journey; we only have one. LP&J, linda

    • Karen says:

      Linda, So true! You give a great description of how we make revisions through life’s turns and tangles. And to enjoy the journey is a great way to live!

      Karen

  • Just wondering if you use a floating selvage on your rose path rugs. I’ve seen that recommended in some books. Thanks.

    • Karen says:

      I do not use floating selvedges for rosepath rag rugs. I prefer to take the weft on the ski shuttle over or under the outer ends as needed. The important thing is to catch every outer warp end – with floating selvedges, or by manipulating the outer warp end as needed. I explained the way I do it in point 1. in Rag Rug Selvedges Made Easy.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

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Tools Day: Warping Slat Spacers

Rag rugs are not finished when you cut them from the loom. In fact, they can fall apart if you are not careful. A rag rug is not secure until warp ends are tied into knots. You need to leave space on the warp between rag rugs to make room for the eventual knots.

One way to leave space on the warp is by using warping slats as spacers. Simply weave about two inches of scrap header after the end of a rug. Then, insert warping slats in alternating plain weave sheds. And then, weave another scrap header. Now, you’re ready to start the next rug.

Warping slats as spacers between rag rugs.

Weaving is finished. It is time to cut these rugs from the loom. Four warping slats are seen between two rag rugs as the rugs are being pulled off the loom.

I leave about eight inches (20 cm) of warp between rugs. This gives me enough length for tying the needed square knots. If you are leaving fringe, add enough to include the desired fringe length. When you insert the warping slats, keep them centered so that they can go around the breast beam and cloth beam without catching on the sides of the loom.

Warping slats are used as spacers between rag rugs.

Full-width warping slats are placed carefully so that they do not extend beyond the weaving width on the right or on the left. This view is looking down on the end of the breast beam.

It is easy to separate the rugs after they are off the loom. Cut between slats using a rotary cutter, with a cutting mat underneath.

Warping slats are used as spacers between two rag rugs on the loom.

Double binding rag rugs are ready to be removed from the loom. The two rugs will be cut apart by slicing the warp between the middle two warping slats.

May you make the best use of your time and tools.

All the best,
Karen

2 Comments

  • n says:

    Why do you tie square knots if you are going to hem the rug? N.

    • Karen says:

      N., The knots stabilize the weaving. Without something to hold the weft in, even turning the edge to make a hem would loosen the weaving. And, if the hem comes undone in the life of the rug, the knots will still be there holding the rug together.

      Thanks for asking!
      Karen

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Young Weaver

I had a visitor this week. You might be surprised to see what a seven-year-old can do. Young Jamie picked out her colors, wound fabric strips on the ski shuttle, and wove a small rag rug. Almost all by herself! She helped me advance the warp, and remove warping slats as they came off the back beam.

Young weaver at the loom making her first rag rug.

After twisting the weft at the selvedge, Jamie angles the weft in the shed before beating. And this seven-year-old has plenty of strength to pack the weft in tightly with the beater.

It was rewarding to see my little friend catch on so quickly. She believed me when I told her she could weave a rag rug; and she trusted me to show her what to do. Weaving was a success because Jamie listened well, and followed my instructions. After she left, I wove the warp thread header, cut the rug from the loom, and tied the knots, leaving fringe. Now Jamie has her own little handwoven rag rug!

First rag rug by a seven-year-old weaver. Glimakra Ideal floor loom.

Warp ends are secured with overhand knots. The fringe adds a playful touch to Jamie’s first rag rug.

Trust in God is a bold thing; it is confidence in God through all of life’s challenges. Beware of anything that tempts you to question your trust in God. He comes beside us and faithfully guides as we walk through life. God is someone we can trust. When we listen well and follow instructions, he weaves something good through our hands.

May you listen well.

Trusting,
Karen

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Odds and Ends Rag Rug

What can you do with odds and ends? Plenty. I do use new cotton fabric for my rag rugs. But I refrain from buying new fabric until I absolutely have to. It’s a good challenge to combine available colors from previous rag rug projects to make a new design. There are two piles of color for this double binding rag rug. The blue pile and the brown/black pile. The color blocks switch places in the rug about every seventeen centimeters, with a three-pick white chain pattern in between.

Double binding rag rug. Red warp shows up as little red spots.

Collection of blue fabric, and a collection of brown and black fabric form the basis of this double binding rag rug.

I enjoy combining multiple shades of a color, such as the blue in this rug, to add character. Every odd fabric strip finds a place to belong. It ends up looking cozy and friendly. All the mismatched pieces somehow fit together.

Double binding rag rug.

Chain motif draws a line where the colors switch. Three picks form the chain. Print, white, print (the center section shows the reverse.)

We belong to somebody. We belong to the one who made us–the Creator of everything. He weaves the fabric strips together to make his beautiful design. Scraps become useful, and colors are mixed and rearranged in interesting ways. Together, the woven mixture has a purpose. A rag rug, made from odds and ends like us, puts the creativity of our Maker on display.

May you know where you belong.

Love,
Karen

2 Comments

  • Fran says:

    Very nice rug it will be. I used to make scrap quilts with many odds and ends; it was a challenge to get good balances , but I found it needed one or two dissonant shades to be special. A double binding rug is on the list for me if I ever get this honeycomb warp off. I just buy cotton sheets from the thrift store, and prefer prints mostly for rugs.

    • Karen says:

      Fran, yes, getting a good balance in the colors is always a challenge. I like your point about including one or two dissonant shades to make it special! That’s a great tip!

      Karen

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What Rag Rugs Should Be

My goal for every rag rug I weave is to make a pleasant footpath that lasts through many, many seasons of wear. What makes an exceptional rag rug? Quality of workmanship and design. Tightly-packed weft, snug selvedges, and high quality materials produce a strong rug. And, great design includes an interplay of weave structure, color, detail elements, and functionality.

Tightly-packed weft in a double binding rag rug.

Tightly-packed weft in a double binding rag rug gives no hint of the opposite colors that show on the reverse side.

Double binding rag rug on the loom.

Double binding uses a two-block threading that determines where color changes can occur in the weft pattern.

Double binding rag rug being woven with two ski shuttles.

Two ski shuttles are used for weaving the two layers of a double binding rag rug. Consistent tight selvedges contribute to a long-lasting rug.

Strength is like a quality handcrafted rug that handles daily foot traffic. And joy is like the artist’s design, the colorful pattern, that is woven into the rug. Strength and joy go hand in hand. We see this in creation. And in our Creator, who gives of himself to those who come near. Be refreshed with strength and joy.

May you be refreshed.

With you,
Karen

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