Tried and True: Five Steps for Rag Rug Selvedges and a Quick Tip Video

What do you look for in a handwoven rag rug? How do you detect quality of craftsmanship? I look at the selvedges. First thing. I look for selvedges that are nice and tight, and that have a uniform twist at the edge. A few simple steps, consistently practiced, produce the kind of quality you can see and feel. It’s one more reason I find delight in weaving rag rugs.

Rag rug selvedges. Short quick tip video.
Rag rug selvedges. Weft is snugly wrapped around the selvedge warp ends.

Five Steps for Firm Selvedges on a Rag Rug

  1. Throw the shuttle, leaving a loop of the fabric-strip weft at the selvedge.
  2. Hold the weft out taut, and turn the weft under twice at the selvedge.
  3. Untwist the weft in the shed, straightening it, as needed.
  4. Pull the weft tight against the selvedge.
  5. Position the weft in the shed and beat it in.
Weaving a rag rug. Tutorial video of a quick tip.
Beater swings forward to beat in the weft with its just-formed firm and tidy selvedge.
Filming a short video on weaving rag rug selvedges.
Set up for filming the short tutorial. My husband does the filming and proves his patience through several retakes.

Watch this Quick Tip video for a short demonstration.

Rag rug on the loom. Tutorial about selvedges.

May the quality of your work be the first thing noticed.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

24 Comments

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Tried and True: Leftover Linen on the Band Loom

Remember that time you miscalculated when planning your warp? You found the mistake when you were threading, and you ended up with an extra group of ends. If you have ever done something like that, then you understand where this leftover linen warp came from.

New warp on the Glimakra band loom.

This little linen leftover warp is now on the Glimåkra band loom. I removed two ends to get a warp with symmetrical colors. It’s perfect for making hanging tabs to go on the leftover linen waffle weave washcloths. The weft on these band loom shuttles is from one of the little linen warp chains I mentioned last week. (See Put the Linen Back to Use.)

Leftover linen to use as weft on the band loom.
Linen from a leftover warp chain fills the little band loom shuttles.
Band Loom weaving.
Weft tails show the color variance–turquoise and blue–in the leftover linen used for weft, indistinguishable in the selvedges of the woven band.

When the thread comes to an end on the shuttle, I follow this simple process to begin a new weft.

  • Place the ending weft through the shed, leaving a tail of at least 1/2”.
How to change the weft on the band loom.
  • Without changing sheds, lightly tap the weft in place with the band knife.
  • Bring the new weft on a shuttle through the same shed, going in the same direction as the previous weft’s shuttle, leaving a tail of at least 1/2”. (There is now a weft tail extending in both directions.)
How to overlap wefts on the band loom.
How to add a new weft. Glimakra Band Loom.
  • Without changing sheds, lightly tap the new weft into place with the band knife. (This helps to make a snug fit for the two wefts in this shed.)
  • Change sheds. Beat firmly with the band knife.
  • Send the weft back through.
How to end one weft and begin another on the band loom.
  • Beat firmly, and continue weaving.
Instructions for ending and starting wefts on the band loom.
  • After weaving 1/2” further, clip off the weft tails; or, clip all the tails after the entire band is woven and has been cut from the band loom.
Linen band weaving for hanging tabs on linen washcloths.
Weft tails are left extended on this band. I may trim some of them later to 1/4″ for effect, to be used as hanging tabs on the leftover linen waffle weave washcloths.

May you put your leftovers to good use.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Beth says:

    Your ribbon bands add such a nice touch. Asking because I have no knowledge, how does a Band loom differ from an Inkle loom in what can be made with them?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, There’s no difference between the band loom and an inkle loom in what can be made on them, except maybe the width. I can weave up to about 4” wide on the band loom, though I normally use it for narrow bands. I also can put on a much longer warp on the band loom than on the inkle loom. This warp on the band loom right now is probably about 5 or 6 meters long.

      The band loom is not as portable as an inkle loom, but the main advantage for me is how much faster I can weave bands on it. I can weave a band about four times faster on the band loom than on my inkle loom. The reason for this is that it has two treadles to open the sheds, making both hands free to do the continuous weaving.

      I guess the other reason I use the band loom whenever I can is it’s just plain fun!

      Thanks for asking!
      Karen

  • Karen Simpson says:

    Morning Karen…..I, too, have a question. Please. Do you sit and weave on the side of the loom, beating sideways….or at the end as with a regular tinkle…
    Thanks so much..I always enjoy your blog..

  • Nannette says:

    The extra beating of the filler overlap blends the change so it is indistinguishable from the rest of the band. Who’d a thunk?
    Thank you for the lesson.
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, It is surprising what a big difference this little action makes. You really cannot see where the weft changes after I clip off the weft tails.

      All the best,
      Karen

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Tried and True: Rag Rug with Surprising Rosepath Inlay

The first rag rug on this 12/6 cotton warp is well underway. This rug is mostly plain weave, with one simple rosepath repeat every ten centimeters. I am weaving the rosepath motif without tabby between pattern picks. The treadling is 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1. The dark brown motif contrasts with the surrounding light-colored plain weave. It almost looks as if a thick chain has been laid across the rug. I transform the otherwise dark rosepath “chains” with a simple bright inlay strip.

Rag rug with rosepath motif.
Rosepath motif stretches across the plain weave surface.

Rosepath with Inlay

  • Weave the first four picks of the rosepath pattern, treadling 1, 2, 3, 4 (or, if using a different treadling sequence, weave up to the center pick).
  • Lay in the center pick (treadle 1, in this example). Wait to beat it in.
How to do rosepath with inlay.
Center pick of the rosepath motif is arched in the shed.
  • Measure and cut the inlay strip to size, tapering the ends.
How to add an inlay strip to rosepath rag rug.
Inlay fabric strip is measured against the weft in the shed and cut to size.
  • Put the inlay strip in the shed, laying it directly on top of the fabric strip already there.
Making a rosepath rag rug with an inlay strip.
By pushing the beater back I can send the inlay fabric strip through the shed with a ski shuttle.
Rag rug with inlay.
Place the inlay fabric strip directly over the fabric strip of the center pick in the motif.
Inlay instructions.
  • Beat in the weft as usual.
One type of inlay on a rag rug.
Both weft layers are beaten in together. The inlay strip stays visible on top.
  • Continue weaving to complete the rosepath pattern, treadling 4, 3, 2, 1 (or, as needed, for a different sequence).
Rosepath with inlay.
Finished rosepath motif.

You can accomplish a similar effect by weaving in a separate fabric strip for the center pick. In that case, cut tapered ends that are long enough to twist and tuck back into the shed. And carry the weft strip from the previous pick up the side.

The inlay method eliminates the extra bulk at the selvedges, and adds a slight thickness to the center pick, helping to give it a raised look. I am leaving the inlay weft tails loose, but you could cut them a little longer and tuck the ends in, if you prefer.

Rag rug with special rosepath motif.
Weft tails are free at the sides, like little flags at the ends of the rosepath rows.
Glimakra Ideal loom--great tool for dreaming up rag rugs!
Glimåkra Ideal loom–great tool for dreaming up rag rugs!

May you experience the simple pleasure of doing something unexpected.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Annie says:

    Beautiful! You explain it so well that I’m adding it to my to do list. Thank you

  • Marjorie Clay says:

    How wide is your Ideal? It looks bigger than mine!

    I admire your weaving so much! I started too late to achieve such mastery, but I love weaving. Warping, not so much! It is still too much of an adventure!

    Marjorie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marjorie, My Ideal is 100cm (39”). The warp on the loom is almost full weaving width.

      Thank you for the compliment! I’m not that much ahead of you. I was also a very late beginner. So it’s certainly not too late for you to gain mastery in the areas you pursue. Maybe someday I can help you to love warping, too, as part of the whole beautiful process.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth Munkvold says:

    How pretty! I love the variety of colors in the background stripes, too! When you do it this way, is the bright rose path center fabric visible on the back?

    Elisabeth

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, I’m using up fabric strips from previous rag rug projects, so I have a mixed assortment that I’m using here. I like the way some of the prints turn out when woven. That center inlay strip really appears only on the top side, except for little bits of color here and there. The reverse side shows the all-brown rosepath motifs, but a little lighter in color because the darkest side of the fabric is facing the top.

      Karen

  • Vida Clyne says:

    You are amazing. such beautiful colours. I made a couple of rag rugs a few years ago but did it the cheap way using old denim jeans that took forever to prepare. I am currently finishing a throw in alpaca and considering what to weave next. so many weaves to explore. I love warping by the way, it is always a challenge to try to get the perfect warp. Thank you for for your inspirational blog.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Vida, I’m very happy that you like these colors! I’m sure your denim rag rugs are terrific. I’d like to make some denim rag rugs some day. Isn’t weaving an exciting field? There’s no end to what we can explore with our looms!! I agree with you about warping. It’s great to have a continual challenge.

      I appreciate your kind words so much!
      All the best,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    The loom is waiting a little while longer. There is work to he done on the outside of our primary home and more preparation on the inside of our retirement home.

    I look forward to one home and all my crafts under one roof. And finding a way to keep the wild creatures on the out of the basement.

    Today a coyote walked though the yard. Something to get used to.

    Your weaving provides order in my wild world. It is beautiful and functional.

    Blessings
    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Transitions are challenging. You have a lot to look forward to. We haven’t seen any coyotes on our property, but plenty of other wildlife – armadillos, roadrunners, gray foxes, blackbuck antelope, and so on.

      Making beautiful things that are functional is a huge weaving goal of mine. Thank you for your thoughtful encouragement.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Very pretty rug Karen!

    Another technique you can use when weaving a single pick of a color is to cut that strip twice the width of the rug plus overlap but only half the width of the other strips. Lay it in the shed with both ends hanging out. Wrap them around the edge thread and arch them back in the same shed, overlapping the tapered ends. I think it is less fussy than trying to tuck the ends in at the edges.
    Jenny

    PS:
    My loom is working fine, although I did have to stop after weaving a bit and fix one shed that went wonky. I have seven of the twelve table napkins woven for our guild exchange. I’m hoping each warp will become easier to set up the treadling.

  • Joan H Harvey says:

    I notice you are using a metal temple on this rug. Do you recommend metal rather than wooden temples for rag rugs?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joan, I’m glad you asked! I prefer a wooden temple, even for rag rugs, but I don’t have a wooden one the right size for this rug, so I’m using the metal one instead. I like the wooden temple because it is lighter weight, and I can set it closer to the fell line without damaging the beater. The metal temple can gouge the beater if I set it too close to the fell. I’ve done that. Ouch! I guess it’s time for me to order another Glimakra temple. 🙂

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Tapestry Butterflies and Video Tutorial

Wool butterflies are my crayons. I use them to color the spaces of my color-by-number cartoon that’s under the warp. I am using Borgs 6/2 Tuna wool and Borgs 6/1 Fårö wool in this tapestry, combining strands of various colors to get just the right hue, value, and intensity. Getting that right is the hard part. Winding butterflies is the easy part. Especially if you learned it from Joanne Hall, as I did.

Pictorial tapestry beginning.
Start of new tapestry. Butterflies are composed of specific colors to achieve desired results for contrast, shading, and depth.

It is essential to know how to make a good butterfly when you want to weave a tapestry on a big floor loom like this. A good butterfly is compact enough to easily pass through warp ends. And secure enough to stay intact through all those passes. It also needs to have a tail that is simple to extend. A good butterfly never ends up in a knot or a jumble of threads, but instead, gives your hands pure delight as it flows through your fingers to color your tapestry.

Colorful tapestry butterflies.
Detail of colorful tapestry butterflies.
New butterfly is ready to fly in.
New butterfly is ready to find its place in the mix.

This video shows how I make my tapestry butterflies.

May your days be colored with delight.

From the crayon box,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Beautiful colors! 🙂 Nice, simple video. 🙂

  • Charlotte says:

    Good morning, dearest! What a lovely way to start my day…a fresh cup of coffee and your sweet video. I am so thankful that we were able to take Joanne’s workshop. I finally finished my sample and realize how much I like the movement in the cloth. There isn’t a cartoon in mind, for me. But, I hope one day to dream up something and put it on the floor loom.

    Thank you for blessing me with your faithful love and kindness…

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charlotte, I, too, am grateful for that pictorial tapestry workshop! Movement in the cloth is a good way to describe it. It’s such a satisfying way to do tapestry.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Well, isn’t that slick?! Thanks to you and Joanne for sharing this trick!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, It is slick! Before I learned this simple method, my butterflies were nothing but trouble, coming undone and ending up in knots. Something so simple can make a huge difference.

      Have a great day!
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Thank you for the video on butterflies, Karen! I have tried them from a book illustration and was thoroughly disappointed. They were loose and sloppy so I bought tapestry bobbins instead.
    I am saving this video for a future planned project.

    May you have a blessed day. I am looking forward to seeing what you create with with these butterflies.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, It’s nice to have butterflies that hold together. I had trouble with mine, too, before learning this method.

      This tapestry will give me many hours of enjoyment! I’ll show it little by little.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Butterflies were used on a cardboard tapestry loom for a 1973 high school art project. The slick wrapping was not taught.

    It would appear there is more to learn, even I areas I was confident..

    Don’t know about West Texas, but after a humid, rainy and sunless Monday..Tuesday is dry and cloudless. Beautiful day! New skill! God is in the heavens today.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, You have a great memory. It’s sweet that you remember these details from a high school art project.

      In this part of Texas (not quite considered West Texas), sunshine and scattered clouds have been the norm. Every day is a good day!

      Blessings,
      Karen

  • Allison Grove says:

    Thanks for this video. I’ve struggled with using butterflies, but now realize I haven’t been winding the tail end tight enough and too few times. Allison

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Tried and True: Designing with Fibonacci

Before starting, I sketched out several versions of the finished blanket, showing different sizes and arrangements of the rectangle blocks. My favorite version is one with a random look. This twelve-shaft double weave has three blocks. Block 1 is a solid color across the warp. Block 2 has a narrow, vertical contrasting rectangle. Block 3 has a wide, horizontal contrasting rectangle. The warp threading determines the width of the rectangles. But the height of the rectangles is determined by the treadling pattern. I decided to use a Fibonacci sequence of numbers in random order to guide my treadling options as I weave.

Double weave blanket.
Rectangles vary in size.

Low-Tech Random Fibonacci Sequence

1 Determine the desired range of the Fibonacci sequence. 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13

2 Determine the number of repeat options for each block (one repeat is 4 picks per double-weave layer).

  • Block 1, solid color – 2 repeats every time
  • Block 2, narrow rectangle – 2, 3, 5, 8, or 13 repeats
  • Block 3, wide rectangle – 1, 2, 3, or 5 repeats

3 Write each number of the sequence on individual squares of paper. Make three sets of these numbers. 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13

4 Fold each paper square in half and place in a container at the loom. Mix thoroughly.

Designing with random Fibonacci numbers. Low tech!
Fibonacci numbers are ready for eyes-closed random selection.

5 Randomly select a paper square to reveal the number of repeats for the next narrow or wide rectangle block.

Fibonacci numbers as design tool.
Assignment for the next rectangle block – three repeats. The lines indicate that this number can be used for Block 2 (narrow, vertical) or Block 3 (wide, horizontal).

For this blanket I have a woven hem and border, and then two repeats of Block 1 (solid color) between alternating Block 2 (narrow) and Block 3 (wide) rectangles of varying heights.

Double weave wool blanket.
Back side has reverse colors.
Double weave Tuna wool blanket.
Block 1 (solid blue across) stays a consistent size between the white rectangles.

Surprise is built in which makes it hard to leave the loom. “Just one more block,” I tell myself…

Double weave blanket. Fibonacci for design.
View of the cloth beam reveals the variety of sizes of rectangles. Eager to see it off the loom!

May you be greeted by random (happy) surprises.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

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