Wool Rag Rugs?

I have a generous selection of gorgeous wool yardage that was given to me a few years ago. I had said I would weave rag rugs with it. But I haven鈥檛. …until now. What took me so long? Uncertainty. I haven鈥檛 seen wool rag rugs. What warp should I use? What sett? What problems await? I felt timid about walking into the unknown.

Cutting wool fabric for rag rugs.

Wool fabric has been washed and dried before cutting into strips for rag rug weaving.

Wool strips for a spaced rep rag rug.

Four different wool fabrics have been chosen for this spaced rep rag rug.

Last week I came across a recent V盲v magazine. Lo and behold, here is a spaced rep rag rug with wool fabric weft! My loom is already dressed for spaced rep rag rugs. Here I go!

Spaced rep rag rug with wool fabric strips.

After a warp thread header, narrow fabric strips are woven for the hem of the rug. The wool selvedges are surprisingly soft.

Wool weft rag rugs.

Weaving in the morning. A pick of brown 12/6 cotton warp thread follows the pick of wool fabric, except when changing blocks. Weaving consecutive fabric strips changes the blocks.

Ten years ago a kind, elderly gentleman sat next to me on an airplane. He gave me sage advice I never want to forget,

Put your future in the hands of the one who holds the future.

We speak of past, present, and future. But for the Lord, the present has already been. The future has already happened. It鈥檚 as if the wool rug that I try to imagine and weave has already been positioned in the foyer of the Father’s house to comfort road-weary feet that enter. Amazing!

May your future be better than you imagine.

All the best,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Julia says:

    Oh YES! A wool rag rug sings of warm toes in winter. Beautiful, beautiful.

  • Beth says:

    Lovely! I’ll bet the wool will be a bit more squishy to the foot than cotton.

  • Nanette says:

    After a similar gift I wove some wool rag rugs years ago, but I used wool warp (commercial New Zealand “rug wool” from R & M) and they seemed much appreciated as gifts. But I spaced the warp (probably 6 epi) and wove them bound weave in twill and plain weave patterns. Now, I have received another such gift and am planning to do the same. (And thanks for the reminder about pre-washing…can’t remember if I did or not!) Really like your blocks, tho….!

  • Karen says:

    I was lucky to take a Shaker rug workshop from Mary Elva Erf many years ago. We wove lovely runners with wool….and the book came out a couple of years ago….love those chevron patterns in the runner……
    This for after the rugs!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, I’m glad to know about this book by Mary Elva Erf — I just ordered a copy! Looks very interesting. Thanks so much for the tip.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Laurie Mrvos says:

    Karen –
    This rug is gorgeous. Those tones are so lovely and calming. Love the texture. I know it will be cherished, wherever it ends up. Beautiful work.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laurie, I am very pleased with how it is turning out so far. The proof is in the putting–how it looks and feels when I put it on the floor. 馃檪

      Thank you so much for your kind compliments!
      Karen

  • Kathryn says:

    Hi Karen,

    I just love your blog:)

    This is a beautiful rug.

    This post came at a good time for me. Last year I bought an entire bolt of beautiful wool yardage with the intention of weaving a rag rug. However, I wanted to do something different versus my usual plain weave rag rug.

    As a relatively new weaver I have never done rep weave, nor have I ever heard of spaced rep weave. However, it looks like the perfect weave for rag rugs due to the fact that it compliments both the warp and weft.

    I’m going to give it a try, but can you point me in the direction of a resource where I might be able to find a pattern/draft for warping/weaving using spaced rep? Or, can you share with me the set you used? Also, it looks like you cut your wool rags at around 1″ — is that correct?

    Thanks so much for all the inspiration:)

    Kathryn

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kathryn, It makes me happy that you enjoy what you find here.

      You’re right, spaced rep weave is a great choice for rag rugs because you can design with the warp and enjoy the colors and patterns of the fabric weft.

      For this rug I started with a draft in Favorite Rag Rugs by Tina Ignell, a rug called “A Night in June.” I don’t know if the book is still in print.
      My warp is 12/6 cotton, in three different colors. I changed the design somewhat from the book, but it’s the same general idea.

      I am using a metric 40/10 reed, which is equivalent to a 10-dent reed. 1 end per heddle, 2 ends per dent. So, the sett is 8 ends per cm, or 20 ends per inch. This is woven on 4 shafts with 2 treadles, threaded like rep weave.

      I am cutting the wool strips at 1.5 cm, which is about 5/8″. I normally cut rag rug fabric at 3/4″, but because this is a closer sett I am cutting the strips a little narrower. And for the hem, I am cutting the strips just a little more than 1/4″.

      These are great questions. Thanks for asking! I look forward to hearing how your wool rag rug is coming along!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kathryn says:

    Thanks so much Karen for the thoughtful reply. Recently, I was lucky enough to locate a copy of Tina’s book from a used bookstore here in Oregon. It’s a great source of inspiration!

    Happy weaving:)

    • Karen says:

      Kathryn, I am so happy to know that you have a copy of the book! I know it can be hard to come by. Yay, you have some great projects there you can try.

      All the best,
      Karen

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Weaving Southwest Habitat Class

I just spent three days at Weaving Southwest in Arroyo Seco, New Mexico, studying tapestry techniques with Teresa Loveless. It was a great experience! “Habitat, a Study in Verticals” is a fun and informative class, with exceptional personal attention given to each student. The looms are Rio Grande walking looms that were designed by Teresa’s grandmother, Rachel Brown. You weave standing up!

Spectacular rainbow near Arroyo Seco, New Mexico.

This stunning double rainbow over the mountains greeted us on our first evening in Arroyo Seco. Images like this inspire countless artisans in New Mexico.

The emphasis for this class is vertical joins in weft-faced plain weave tapestry. Teresa uses memorable words and phrases that help students remember techniques. Just ask me about threads kissing! Besides the vertical joins, we also practiced other tapestry and shuttle techniques, including pick and pick, color gradation, and hatching. Finishing techniques, like sewing in loose threads, stitching slits, braiding fringe, and blocking the finished piece were covered at the end of the last day.

Rio Grande walking loom at Weaving Southwest.

Standing in front of the Rio Grande walking loom I used at Weaving Southwest, after weaving the first portion of my design.

Weaving Southwest class.

Five students in the class each have a loom.

We had a fabulous selection of Weaving Southwest’s own rug wool in rich, fabulous colors. To take advantage of the hand-dyed wool’s unique features, I chose background colors that had an almost variegated appearance.

Color gradations in tapestry class at Weaving Southwest.

Color gradation with three shades of red, using “wavy lines.”

Tapestry class at Weaving Southwest.

Pick and pick, creating vertical stripes of color, is one of my favorite techniques. Maybe I will make an entire wool rug using pick and pick.

Tapestry class at Weaving Southwest

Just enough time to add some hatching at the end portion of my piece. Fun!

I will show you my finished piece in an upcoming post. And I will share a personal conversation I had with Teresa, talking about her big dreams.

May you learn something beautiful.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

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Pointers for Exploring New Mexico Fiber Arts Trails

Do you know that New Mexico has a guide to rural fiber arts destinations across the state? Last week, Steve and I dusted off the New Mexico Fiber Arts Trails, driving 1,100 miles through mountainous deserts and lush Rio Grande River valleys. We reveled in views of God’s creation, like cottonwood trees in brilliant yellow, and the Sandia mountains turning purple and watermelon pink in the setting sun. We visited interesting studios and shops all along the way, and encountered weavers who are true artisans.

Cottonwood trees in New Mexico at their golden peak.

Cottonwood trees at their golden peak along the Rio Grande River.

Four Pointers for Your New Mexico Fiber Arts Trails Adventure:

1. Call ahead.聽Some of the stops are one-person studios, attached to a residence. Some places have changed their hours or days of the week that they are open. We drove two hours one day to visit a special shop, only to find a note on the door that said they were closed that day of the week.
2. Ask good questions.聽I like to ask a weaver a question that only another weaver would ask. Instead of introducing myself as a fellow handweaver, I like to let them figure it out by the questions I ask.
3. Wear something handwoven.聽My handwoven cap opened the door to conversation with other weavers.
4. Resist adding to your stash. I knew that I would have the opportunity to purchase beautiful yarn, but I decided in advance not to add to my stash. I gathered information instead; and now I have more resources to choose from when it is time to order yarn.

My Favorite Stops:

Albuquerque
Sacramento Mountain Weavers (not listed on the Fiber Arts Trails), Kelly Stewart
Located in historic Old Town, this shop has a Glim氓kra Standard loom (like mine). Among other things, Kelly has woven rag rugs from聽strips of soft leather.

Majestic mountains and colorful cottonwood trees in New Mexico.

Majestic mountains and colorful cottonwood trees set the scene for exploration along the New Mexico Fiber Arts Trails.

Edgewood
Robin Pascal Fiber Artist
Robin’s studio is nestled in a scenic hillside covered with trees and wildlife. Her handspun yarn proved irresistible to me. This is where I broke my own rule of not adding to my stash.

Handspun and hand painted yarn by Robin Pascal.

Too pretty to pass up, I came home with some of Robin Pascal’s beautiful handspun wool/silk, and a little skein of her hand painted cotton flake yarn.

Arroyo Seco (just north of Taos)
Weaving Southwest, Teresa Loveless
Amazing tapestry weavings on display! Teresa is the granddaughter of acclaimed tapestry weaver and author, Rachel Brown. Teresa carries her grandmother’s legacy by teaching tapestry techniques to interested students. There are Rio Grande walking looms in the teaching studio, where you do all the weaving standing up, not sitting. Who knows? You may see me taking a class from Teresa. Her passion for tapestry weaving is contagious.

Weaving Southwest in Arroyo Seco, NM. Beautiful tapestries, yarns, and looms inside!

Enjoying the cool air in Arroyo Seco, Steve and I stand outside one of our favorite stops on this adventure.

Ranchos de Taos
Old Martina’s Hall Restaurant, Tapestry Exhibit (not listed on the Fiber Arts Trails)
Art Through The Loom Weaving Guild Show,聽August 20th through February 28th, 2015
This outstanding tapestry exhibit is not to be missed if you are anywhere near the vicinity! Downstairs and upstairs, every room in this restored, old dance hall is adorned with exquisite聽pieces of traditional and contemporary woven tapestries by nineteen different artists.

San Francisco de Asis, serene historic chapel in Ranchos de Toas, New Mexico

Serene historic chapel, San Francisco de Asis, is across the street from the renovated old dance hall, Old Martina’s Hall. We enjoyed an impressive tapestry exhibit at Old Martina’s Hall.

Chimay贸
Trujillo’s Weaving Shop (not listed on the Fiber Arts Trails), Carlos Trujillo
The first thing we saw when we entered the shop was a huge, rustic Rio Grande walking loom. Carlos was at the loom, weaving. He clearly loves designing at the loom, using unique color combinations in traditional designs. His grandfather built this impressive loom. Two women in an adjacent room filled with looms allowed me to watch over their shoulders as they wove traditional Chimay贸 patterns. One of the women showed me聽the small, narrow loom they now use for weaving coasters, and told me, “This was the loom Carlos learned to weave on when he was a little boy. As he grew, blocks were added to raise the loom to fit him.”

Chimay贸 weaving is a craft carefully handed down from one generation to the next.

Chimay贸 weaving, a skilled craft, is passed on from one generation to the next.

Chimay贸
Centinela Traditional Arts, Irvin Trujillo
Irvin allowed me to watch and ask questions as he wove in the massive weaving room in the far end of the shop. It was inspiring to watch this master weaver at work. I found Irvin to be unpretentious, even though his expertise is astounding. You should see his intricate tapestries that hang in the showroom of the shop! Weaving is second nature to Irvin, who has been creating with wool on a loom since he was a young boy.

Rio Grande River in New Mexico.

Rio Grande River in New Mexico is the subject of many woven tapestries. Artisans often find creative ways to interpret this beauty.

Magdalena
Cat Brysch Creations Studio
Cat’s nine looms are clothed in colors that describe the terrain and sky of this beautiful mountainous desert. She took the time to explain each loom’s fabric to me, as I marveled at her skill of blending colors in the warp.

Weaving studio in little sleepy town in New Mexico.

Surrounded by mountains, the little sleepy town of Magdalena is home of an active weaving studio. The scenic views that Cat enjoys every day influence her selection of colors and textures in her weaving.

Pie Town
If you go as far as Magdalena, you might as well go another 56 miles to Pie-o-neer in Pie Town, New Mexico. The green chile stew is fantastic, but if I had known how good the hot-from-the-oven double cherry (tart and sweet) pie would be, I would have skipped the stew and ordered two slices of pie! Steve said the same about his slice of warmed peach pie. It was a great way to end our聽Fiber Arts Trails adventure.

Pie Town, New Mexico - best pie ever!

Nothing like a really good slice of homemade pie!

New Mexico scenery.

Scenic desert after dessert.

May you go on explorations and adventures.

Your traveling weaver,
Karen

7 Comments

  • Bev says:

    I love the picture of you and Steve in your hats outside the Weaving Southwest studio. You two seem to fit right in. What beautiful fall photos you took along the way! Blessings to you, Karen!

  • Helen Hart says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your trip and writings. I have been to a few of these places–I so appreciate your photos and want to go back. Helen in Cheyenne, WY

    • Karen says:

      Helen, it’s always fun to see how other weavers do things, isn’t it? I think it’s fascinating to visit other studios, and see a wide variety of weaving styles. I always learn something!

      Karen

  • Melanie Sharp says:

    Thanks for posting this. I was just in Taos earlier this month for the Wool Festival, and of course, had to make it to Weaving Southwest in Arroyo Seco as well. Fun little town, isn’t it? I hope you got to have icecream at the Taos Cow next door to Weaving Southwest!

    • Karen says:

      As a matter of fact, Melanie, I did! I had delicious veggie pot pie at the Taos Cow for lunch, and caramel pinon ice cream for dessert. Very tasty!
      One of these years, I would like to make it to the Taos Wool Festival…

      Karen

  • […] as I enjoyed the experiences of V盲vstuga (V盲vstuga Autum, V盲vstuga Autumn II)聽and New Mexico (Pointers for Exploring New Mexico Fiber Arts Trails), I have been eager to put my hands to the tasks of weaving here in my own little studio. Winding […]

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Conversation with Jason Collingwood, Part 2

At Jason Collingwood’s Plain Weave Rug Workshop in Waco, Texas last week, I completed a technique sampler. I was not one of the fastest guns in the West, so I have a couple yards (or more…) of that linen warp still on my little loom. One piece of advice Jason gave in class was to use the intricacies of these techniques sparingly–to keep it simple when it comes to rug design. That is what I am aiming for as I finish off this warp, hoping to end up with some miniature rugs (the warp is only 11 1/4″ wide) as design samples.

Jason Collingwood Plain Weave Workshop Sampler

Finished sample of plain weave rug techniques. The sample begins with countered twining that extends past the selvedge with a four-strand braid. My favorite technique is the crossed weft combined with meet and separate, seen at the far end of the sample.

Jason was kind enough to converse with me on topics that would benefit you, my blog friends. You can catch the first part of that conversation, covering Jason’s perspective as a rug weaver and a teacher of rug weaving, here.

Now, enjoy Part 2 of our conversation.

Me: Once someone has mastered the technical aspects, and is producing quality handwoven goods, they may want to sell what they have produced. What advice do you have for someone just starting out?

Jason: You need to be very determined. You have to accept that it’s not going to happen instantly. And you have to be prepared to sacrifice certain things in life that a normal job may give you–be that security, spare income, or, possibly, medical insurance coverage.

Me: It’s challenging to get started, then?

Jason: I look back to my early years, and it’s interesting鈥 And Akiko, my wife, is a very successful ceramicist now, but when she started off, to save money, she would walk across London four or five miles, with a little dolly on wheels. She would buy her bags of clay, put them on the dolly, and wheel them back across London. And you know, there are all these early little sacrifices that you don’t see, when you see the person in the galleries successfully selling their work.

Me: Your father, Peter Collingwood, was well-known as an extraordinary rug weaver. But you still needed to put in a lot of hard work, yourself, for people to associate Jason Collingwood with high quality handwoven rugs. So, if someone aspires to succeed as a weaver, how can they make it work?

Jason: I think you need to have determination, and some amount of grit, and self-discipline. At the end of the day, there’s no one telling you to sit at that loom, and weave again the same things you did yesterday, and again, and again, and again. I think it’s just perseverance. As long as you are producing something of quality, eventually, if you persevere, it’ll pay off.

Me: Okay, that gives hope to someone willing to work hard. If we look beyond the present challenges, and work, with determination, we have something to look forward to.

Jason: You know, those barren early years are almost like an investment in your future life, your weaving life. I mean, I didn’t particularly enjoy those years, but I think they were almost a necessary test of whether I was going to stick it out. I think a lot of people would’ve folded in those early years, and said, Okay, this isn’t working. But, you know, it was kind of a test of my resolve that I carried on.

Me: Thank you for sharing your story! Your insights bring considerable value to weavers, but also to people in other fields interested in improving their craft. I appreciate the encouragement of your example of determination. Thanks again!

 

Please visit Jason Collingwood’s website, here, to see the stunning rugs he weaves and sells, as well as descriptions of his workshops. You can also enjoy the artistry of Jason’s wife, Akiko, at her website, here.

May your determination and perseverence pay off.

With some amount of grit,
Karen

2 Comments

  • Christina Stopka says:

    Lovely Karen – it was fun to visit the workshop and see what everyone was doing – wish I could have joined in the fun!

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Conversation with Jason Collingwood, Part 1

Last week I had the privilege to sit down with Jason Collingwood, internationally acclaimed rug weaver, for an interesting conversation, covering several topics. This, the first of two parts, focuses on Jason’s experience as a rug weaver and a teacher of rug weaving. The second part, in my next post, focuses on Jason’s views of what it takes to become a successful artisan.

Jason Collingwood Plain Weave Rug Workshop

Jason Collingwood, at my little loom, demonstrates a selvedge technique used for plain weave rugs. I am watching every move.

Me: Your father, Peter Collingwood, wrote the comprehensive book, The Techniques of Rug Weaving. Just how important is technical skill for creating handwoven rugs?

Jason: I’m passionate about technical competence. That is number one, because if you don’t get that part right, what you are producing is not going to be satisfactory.

Me: Is it possible to look at a rug and tell if it was woven with technical competence?

Jason: One of the defining parts of a good rug is the selvedge. Always check out people’s selvedges. If they’ve got a neat selvedge, then it’s a sign of a good rug weaver.

Me: What is it that sets you apart from other rug weavers?

Jason: Well, there aren’t many rug weavers to set me apart from. I remember when I started weaving–and I did endless shows–there would be maybe five or six rug weavers in the same show. And for the past fifteen years, or so, when I’ve done shows in London, I am the only rug weaver. So, whether that’s survival of the fittest, or they went on and got proper jobs (with a grin)

Me: You have excelled in producing high quality handwoven rugs, even though few people have been able to do that. How do you account for your success?

Jason: I think what possibly sets me apart is that I’ve just done this one thing for twenty-six years now. Most weavers, be they rug weavers, or other, probably have other strings to their bow, and do other things. By just concentrating on one thing, your name perhaps becomes associated with that product, and that helps you in the long run.

Me: Have you considered weaving other items besides rugs–like scarves, for instance?

Jason: I don’t think there’d be any benefit for me, suddenly trying to weave scarves, and sell scarves. I don’t think I’d be adding anything to the world of weaving scarves.

Me: You teach in your studio in England; and you travel around the world teaching rug weaving. Is there any piece of advice that you want your students to grasp?

Jason: One overlooked bit of advice is that you have to accept that the technique that we’re weaving in, and the looms that we’re using, place limitations upon you. You need to work within those limitations. Do not try to make the loom or technique do things that it doesn’t want to do. I think too many people have preconceived ideas of what they want to produce from a workshop; and then they try and make the structure achieve these ideas. Sometimes it just technically doesn’t produce the design they want, and they get frustrated.

Me: How can a student get the best results, then?

Jason: I think you need to understand the structure, and work in harmony with the structure. And then you will be much happier with your finished product, because you are not fighting the structure.

…To be continued…

Please visit Jason Collingwood’s website to see the beautiful rugs he creates and sells, and descriptions of the classes he teaches. I was fortunate to take Jason’s Plain Weave workshop last week at Homestead Fiber Crafts in Waco, Texas, where my little Glim氓kra Ideal had her maiden voyage. It was an excellent class that I would recommend to anyone interested in learning basic rug weaving techniques.

May you find your one thing, and grow in expertise.

Still learning,

Karen

 

2 Comments

  • Doug Gagnon says:

    I have taken 2 classes with Jason. He covers a lot of material in his classes.
    One finishing technique he covered was a method to finishe without fringes. I believe he had a red sample. I am trying to use this technique but cannot remember how to do it nor can I find it in my notes.
    Is there someone that can explain the technique?

    Thanks

    Doug Gagnon

    • Karen says:

      Hi Doug,
      I do remember seeing Jason demonstrate a few finishing techniques. I’m not positive which one you are referring to, but I will go take a look in my notes from the workshop and see if I find something that answers your question.
      In the meantime, I have a short video on tapestry edging that is very similar to one of the edgings that Jason described. Besides the “braided” edge that I show in my video, Jason also showed us how to weave each of the ends back into the rug using a sacking needle.

      I hope this helps,
      Karen

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