Rag Rug Playground

This is a rag rug playground! I am weaving miniature rugs—rosepath rag rug hot pads. My small countermarch loom is perfect for this exploration. Without tabby or with tabby? Planned weft or hit and miss? Vibrant colors or soft neutrals? Weft inlay or plain and simple? So many possibilities! My “idea bank” is exploding.

Mini rag rugs for hot pads.

Reverse treadling adds a diamond design element at both ends of this mini rug.

Handwoven hot pads. Mini rosepath rag rugs.

Color choices are inspired by views outside this Texas hill country window.

My goal is to weave as many different versions as possible. No two alike! Sure, they all have the same 12/9 cotton warp and all-cotton-fabric-strips weft, but with all sorts of variations. Most will be gifts. Handwoven hot pads, making it to the kitchens of friends, to serve them well.

Rosepath detail in mini rag rugs. Making hot pads.

Rosepath detail.

Rosepath rag rug hot pads on the loom.

White fabric strips are used as tabby weft to highlight the blue rosepath pattern.

Rosepath inlay with mini rag rugs--hot pads.

Deep purple fabric strip is used for weft rosepath inlay over a plain weave background. Woven hot pads wind their way around the cloth beam, separated by scrap weft and warping slats.

There is no one like you, with your hopes, dreams, and pains. You touch others like no one else can. Your life makes a difference. Your life matters because it matters to God. Your Creator had good things in mind when he formed you. Lord, place us where we will best show your handiwork, where we can humbly serve those you’ve given us to love.

May you live on purpose.

Your friend,
Karen

13 Comments

  • Angela Roberts says:

    Great inspiration as always, creatively and spiritually xoxo
    Thanks

  • Annie says:

    It is good to be reminded that our Heavenly Father has made us all as uniquely diverse as your hot pads. Perhaps there is the bit of the weaver in him.

    And I can’t quite decide which hot pad I like best! But it seems fun experimenting!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, It’s fun to have a project on the loom that allows for experimentation.

      Yes, I’d say our Heavenly Father positively has a weaver side to him.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Gayle says:

    Love the variations, we want to see them laid out on the floor when you cut them off!!!

  • Janet says:

    Fantastic idea and I need some office gifts!! How do you finish your ends?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Janet, I plan to tie the ends into overhand knots and then trim them to about 1/4-3/8″ or so. I could have woven hems on them with thin fabric strips and then turn the hems under and stitch, but I haven’t done that this time. It’s possible to bind the edges (after tying knots) with fabric, but that doesn’t always stay looking great, especially if they are washed frequently.

      These weave up nice and fast! …Besides being so much fun to do. Great idea for office gifts!

      Happy weaving!
      Karen

      • Karen says:

        One more thing… If you plan to tie knots, it is helpful to have at least 4 inches of warp for tying. So I try to put about 8″ between mats, with scrap weft and slats. You can tie knots with less than 4″, but it can get a little tricky. I always regret it when I shorten the distance to try to save warp.

  • Kathryn says:

    Hello Karen,

    These are beautiful! What a wonderful way to play with new patterns and colors while using up fabric scraps. Plus, they’re very useful!

    Can you tell me, how long is your warp and how many potholders do you think you’ll end up with? I don’t have a lot of cotton fabrics laying around, but I’m sure wool scraps would work just as well, don’t you think? In fact, with wool being naturally fire retardant, they might be a good choice:)

    Thank you for sharing. I always look forward to your blog posts!!

    Kathryn

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kathryn, I wish I could tell you how long the warp is. This started as a tapestry/inlay project. After finishing the first of four panels, I decided I didn’t want to weave three more. The original warp was probably about 5 or 6 yards. Instead of cutting off the rest of the warp, I decided to do something fun and easy – hot pads! I have not been counting, so I can’t even tell you how many I have so far – maybe 6 or 8. And I’m guessing I’ll get 3 or 4 more.

      If I were planning this from the start, I would figure the length of the hot pad (mine are about 5-6″ long), plus 4″ on both ends for tying knots (or 2″ on each end for weaving hems, plus the 4″ for knots). Multiply by the number of hot pads you want. Add about 15% take-up and shrinkage. Add loom waste. (Hmm… maybe I should do a blog post about project calculations…)

      I think wool fabric would be a great choice for hot pads. I didn’t know about wool being naturally fire retardant. That’s good to know!

      Thanks for asking great questions!
      Karen

  • Limor Johnson says:

    Hi Karen,
    What is the sett on these beautiful rugs? What size reed are you using?

    Thanks for sharing, great work and pictures,
    Limor

    • Karen says:

      Hi Limor, The sett is approximately 6 epi. I’m using a metric 25/10 reed, the rough equivalent of which is a 6-dent reed. One end per heddle, and one end per dent.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      All the best,
      Karen

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Treadle Adjustments on a Countermarch Loom

The countermarch loom is known for having a clean shed, so that is my goal. Is that possible for ten shafts and ten treadles? The first treadle I step on reveals that treadle cord adjustments are definitely needed!

How to evaluate the shed and adjust on countermarch looms.

Before making any adjustments, a few of the sheds look impassable, like this one.

I learned the basics of making adjustments to treadle cords from Learning to Warp Your Loom, by Joanne Hall, and The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell. I also gained valuable experience from Vävstuga Basics, with Becky Ashenden.

Here’s how the process looks for me, with this ten-shaft, ten-treadle project as an example.

I keep the following note on my iPhone. It helps me remember how things work.
I fill in the blanks for each treadle, noting which shafts are too high or too low. Then, using my iPhone note for reference, I make the needed adjustments.

Note on iPhone for making countermarch treadle adjustments.

  • The first time through, I am primarily interested in the bottom of the shed. I make adjustments to clear the shed enough to be able to weave a little bit.
  • Weave an inch or two. It is surprising how the shed cleans up with a little bit of weaving.
Adjusting treadles on countermarch loom.

Bottom of the shed has threads on one or two shafts that need to be lowered. After making those adjustments, this treadle will have a clean shed for weaving.

  • After weaving that first inch or so, I go through a second, and a third time, if needed, to get a clean shed on each treadle. Adjustments for the top of the shed are only needed if there are threads that will interfere with the shuttle.
Clean shed of a countermarch loom. Tutorial.

No hindrance for the shuttle here. This is the kind of shed I hope to see on every treadle.

When I first see a messy shed, I think, “How will I ever get my shuttle through that?” But it turns out to be little adjustments here and there. It’s not too difficult if you understand the loom.

Five-shaft satin dräll in linen. How to adjust countermarch treadles.

After all treadle adjustments have been made, the shuttle glides freely through the shed. And pick by pick, linen threads become cloth.

Nothing is too difficult for the one who made heaven and earth. Our Creator knows how to help us. He hears our prayers for help, and little by little, we see what He is doing as the shed clears and the shuttle glides through, unhindered.

May little adjustments clear the way for you.

With you,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Cathy M. says:

    Thank you! I’m bookmarking this. I was recently gifted an old Toika countermarch and I’ve only worked with jack-style looms. This will be invaluable to me as I begin learning!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cathy, I am excited for you! I hope you enjoy your new countermarch loom as I do mine. Let me know if you have any questions along the way as you get going.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Thanks Karen! If you don’t mind, I think I will copy your notes to keep handy in my studio. I am hoping the same type adjustments will work with my ten shaft counterbalance loom. Getting under my loom is the hardest part for me. It’s like playing in a jungle gym! Hopefully your notes will simplify the tie-up process. I have a six shaft weave to tie up today and will try your procedure.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jenny, The process should work for you with your counterbalance loom. You’ll just have fewer tie-ups. It’s always exciting to start a new project!

      Here are the notes. You should be able to copy and paste from here. Let me know if this doesn’t work for you.

      Treadle adjustments:

      Bottom of shed—
      Thread is high – move shaft down – shorten treadle cord
      Thread is low – move shaft up – lengthen treadle cord

      1- 3 is high
      2-
      3- 4 is high
      4- 8 is low
      5-
      6-
      7- 4, 5 are high
      8-
      9- 2 is high
      10- 3, 5 are high

      Top of shed—
      Thread is high – move shaft up – lengthen cord
      Thread is low – move shaft down – shorten cord

      1-
      2- 5 is low
      3-
      4-
      5-
      6-
      7- 2 is low
      8- 1 is low
      9-
      10-

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Marjorie says:

    I agree with Cathy M — for a beginner like me, this post will help me get those wonderful sheds the countermarch is known for. My first warp looked like the picture you showed, and I was overwhelmed. Thanks also for including the references: I have both books and will look at them again.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marjorie, I’m so happy you are persevering through the learning stages! It’s all downhill from here. 🙂 I know that overwhelming feeling. Those two books have been steady references and friends for me to help solve all sorts of problems.

      I’d love to hear about your clean sheds the next time you put on a new warp!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Karen, I hate to bother you, but I tried saving your form, but is is like a photo, so I can’t edit it would you mind e-mailing a copy to me? Thanks!

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    As I was reading this post, I thought that living life is very much like adjusting the shed/treadles. When things aren’t going well, sometimes we just need to patiently figure out which area is where the problem actually lies and then start with small adjustments in that area only to solve the problem.

    I often need to be reminded of this as I tend to want to scrap the entire project!

    Have a blessed weekend, Karen. And I am also keeping the notes you created for my future loom. Thank you for sharing!

    Annie

    • Karen says:

      Annie, Yes, that’s a great reminder to me, too. Those small adjustments can make a world of difference!

      I appreciate hearing your thoughts.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Susie Redman says:

    Hello Karen
    Thank you for your clearly written help. I was given a beautiful Glimåkra Countermarch loom a couple of years ago and I’m learning something new every time I weave another project.I have noticed a horrible shed where pressing one treadle – on my current 4 shaft project. I didn’t know where to begin with making adjustments -from the top or at the treadles. I shall follow your advice and try to make some small adjustments with the treadle cords.
    Susie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Susie,
      It doesn’t hurt to start from the top. A while back, after adding some shafts, I had a terrible time getting a good shed. I was pulling my hair out until I finally looked closely at every cord, starting at the top. I found two cords from the jacks that were crossed and connected to the wrong shafts. That solved everything! 🙂 Also, sometimes a poor shed is actually an indicator of crossed warp ends somewhere. What I have learned is that there is always a solution! But often, it takes a little bit of detective work.

      I’d love to hear how your shed dilemma works out!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Karen, your post comes at the most opportune time for me as I’ve just spend the better part of today pretending to be a pretzel under the new loom trying to make sense of a million cords and lamms only to find a shed looking very much like your top picture as my results . I have read and reread the books you mentioned and was just going to begin the process of finding where I needed to make adjustments when I read your process here and it all clicked! I’ve added your process to my phone as well and will attempt to work through each step as you noted in the morning. Thank you again!!
    Charlynn

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charlynn, It does take some time to learn how it all works. It gets easier the more you do it. I’m glad this post came at a good time for you! Hopefully, you are very close to smooth sailing.

      All the best,
      Karen

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Tools Day: Countermarch Loom Pros and Con

When my long-held dream of weaving on a floor loom became a possibility, I started my journey with questions. What are the pros and cons of the different types of looms? After considerable research, a winner emerged—the Swedish countermarch loom!

Pros and Con of Countermarch Looms
(My experience is with Glimåkra. Other countermarch looms may differ.)

Pros

  • Weave anything. Rag rugs to lace-weight fabric.
  • Hanging beater. Swinging beater has momentum that enables a firm beat. No strain to shoulders, arms, or wrists. Asset for weaving rag rugs, and superb control for cloth with an open weave. Beater placement is adjustable, making it possible to weave longer before advancing the warp.
  • Rear-hinged treadles. Pressing treadles is effortless, no matter how many shafts. No strain on back, legs, knees, or ankles, even with robust weaving. Because treadles are close to each other, I press correct treadles with sock- or bare-footed ease…without having to watch my feet. Ample foot rest makes it easy to trade feet when using many treadles.
  • Clean shed. Stepping on a treadle raises and lowers shafts at the same time, so a great shed is not only possible, but usual.
Horizontal countermarch. Info about CM looms.

Glimåkra Ideal with horizontal countermarch. The cords from the countermarch jacks at the top of the loom go straight down through the warp to the lower lamms. The lower lamms connected to treadles cause shafts to lift when a treadle is depressed.

  • Even warp tension. Because shafts are both raised and lowered, tension is equal on raised and lowered warp ends. Even warp tension is good for all types of weaving. This even tension makes a tight warp possible. Perfect for linen, and for rugs.
Vertical Countermarch Loom - info about CM

Gimåkra Standard loom with vertical countermarch. Cords from the countermarch jacks go over the side of the loom to the lower lamms below. The upper lamms (not pictured) attached to treadles cause shafts to sink when a treadle is depressed.

Threading ease of countermarch looms.

Bench sits in the loom for threading heddles. I call this my little playhouse.

  • Texsolv heddles. Heddles can be easily added or removed from shafts (shafts are also easily added or removed). Quiet. Easy to thread.
  • Perfect fit. A petite person like me can weave on a large loom (my Standard is 47”/120cm) as comfortably as someone with longer arms and legs. Able to sit in upright posture for weaving.
  • Wooden. The loom is primarily wood. Bonus if you appreciate natural beauty of wood. Held together with wooden wedges and a few bolts. No screws or wing nuts.
  • Scandinavian clarity. Because of the Swedish loom, I adopt Swedish weaving practices and have an interest in traditional Scandinavian textiles. The loom fits the style. Streamlined design, precision, systematic and logical processes, and beauty with function.

Con

  • Treadle tie-ups. Shafts are connected to upper lamms and lower lamms. Treadle cords with a bead at one end are hung in the lamms. Lamms are then attached to treadles. Treadle tie-ups normally fall under the Pros category, because this is what enables the loom to have the clean shed it’s known for. But since I just finished tying up ten shafts to ten treadles (that’s 100 treadle cords), this is my least favorite part right now. 😉 (The weaving pleasure more than makes up for it, though.)
Countermarch treadle cords. Pros and cons.

One hundred treadle cords hang from upper and lower lamms. The only thing left is to attach all the cords to treadles. 😉

Treadle cords for 10 shafts! 5-shaft satin coming up!

Treadle cords are attached. Little anchor pins lock each cord into position under the treadle. After a few adjustments, the shed on each treadle is good. The loom is dressed! Five-shaft satin dräll coming up!

Conclusion:
When I weave on my Glimåkra Standard countermarch loom, I am soaring like an eagle. I’m sailing with the spinnaker up. I am a pipe organ maestro. I am dreaming while fully awake. This is everything I imagined weaving could be, only better.

Countermarch looms - pros and con.

Testing weft options. Gorgeous handcrafted damask shuttle, Chechen wood, made by Moberg Tools. Five-shaft satin dräll–a weaver’s dream.

For more in-depth information about countermarch looms, comparisons of looms, and other fantastic resources, see articles written by Joanne Hall, found at Glimåkra USA.

May you live your dream.

Very Happy Weaving,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Annie says:

    This article is exactly what I needed to read, Karen. I have been looking online at websites at the various looms, trying to decide which one I think would be best. I narrowed it down to countermarches for the versatility and sheds but was confused about brands, sizes, etc. This really helps. However,l I have a large learning curve before I jump into buying one unless a great used one suddenly appears.
    Many blessings, Karen.

    Annie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, It was your previous comment that prompted me to write this. So I thank you for that!

      Take your time with research and questions. As you narrow it down, you’ll gain confidence about making the right choice for your circumstances.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • JAN says:

    Great descriptions/instructions! Yes, sitting on the floor tying up the treadle cords for any contramarsch loom is tedious, but as you said, the results are well worth it. Sounds like you have written an ad for Glimåkra. The same, even somewhat better results can be obtained on an Öxabäck loom, a.k.a “Ulla Cyrus”?

    • Karen says:

      Hi, JAN, Yes, the tie-up can be demanding, but I can see that you enjoy what comes as a result, too.

      I’m afraid you’re right. It does sound like an ad for Glimåkra. I’m very happy with my Glimåkra looms, so I may be a little eager about my own experiences.

      Öxabäck has a wonderful reputation! I haven’t yet had the pleasure of weaving on one. I’m sure there are details about the Ulla Cyrus and other countermarch looms that I would really appreciate!

      Thank you,
      Karen

  • Joan says:

    Check out Vavstuga Weaving Studio’s way of tying up the treadles. Becky has figured out how to ditch the legged pegs for knitting needles. So much easier!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joan, I think Becky’s ingenious method of using knitting needles for tying up treadles is fantastic! I learned it at Vavstuga Basics a few years ago. I use that method when weaving with two, four, or even six shafts.

      When weaving with eight shafts, however, I have found that I can get better sheds by tweaking the tie-up after weaving a few inches. And it’s easier to pop out and replace individual pegs than to pull out the knitting needle and redo the whole treadle. So, with eight or more shafts, I prefer the old-fashioned method of pinning each treadle cord.

      Thanks for your input!
      Karen

  • Esther Bauer says:

    I have a 4 shaft Glimåkra. I love it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi, Esther, I can spend hours on my 4-shaft Glimåkra. It’s such a weaver-friendly loom. It’s good to hear of your experience!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Kayleen Andresen says:

    I have a Glimakra 4 shaft. I have found it to be great to use. I have had to dismantle it to move and it is very easy to assemble again. My least favorite job is changing the tie up.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kayleen, Thank you for bringing up how easy it is to dismantle and re-assemble. I didn’t think of including that in my list. That is definitely a big plus!
      Changing the tie-up is one of those things of which can be said: “I didn’t necessary like doing it, but I like having done it.” It does give me a good sense of accomplishment!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Gerda says:

    Thanks Karen, very clear and I love your conclusion. Such prose! It is exactly how I felt when I finally had my Toika countermarch up and running, after years on a counterbalance (which is still very useful, and I like it too). I have graduated to 8 shafts, 8 treadles, this week going to 10 treadles: more texsolv to cut, more crawling to do… 10 shafts comes in a year or so, lots of soaring and playing to do first. Living the journey and reading your blog faithfully!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Gerda, There’s such satisfaction in weaving on a loom that functions so beautifully for the task. That’s great that you are graduating little-by-little adding treadles and shafts. There’s no hurry, because even 2 or 4 shafts is sufficient to have a grand time at the loom.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Make Magical Fabric

Another magical experience at the loom! Double weave lets you weave two separate layers of fabric simultaneously. And then, the top and bottom layers can switch places in defined blocks. I don’t know who thought this up, but they were brilliant!

Double weave cotton baby blanket on the loom.

Cotton baby blanket for a dear friend’s first grandchild. This friend is amazed at the weaving process, and says that this woven fabric looks calming. Careful arrangement of the two shuttles ensures that the double-weave selvedges are woven closed.

The hard part was tying up the treadles. For a countermarch, working with eight shafts requires a more delicate balance under the loom. For a while, I was concerned that I might not get more than two decent sheds on this. But after several adjustments, I finally got a great shed with every treadle! Someone who looks at the final cloth will never know the effort that took place behind the scenes. But they may wonder at the amazement of handwoven cloth. Or not. (You’ve probably met someone who is not duly impressed with handwoven goods.)

Double weave baby blanket on the loom.

Long stripes in the middle of the baby blanket. I added dashed lines at the ends of the stripes for added detail interest.

Double weave cotton baby blanket on the loom.

Beginning sample reaches the cloth beam. Sample area at the beginning of the warp was used to test weft colors and to practice getting the appropriate weft density.

What do we see as ordinary that, truth be known, is full of wonder? One person may interpret an unusual event as an amazing sign from God. Another person experiences the same event and considers it nothing more than happenstance. If I say I won’t believe until I see evidence, I will never find evidence that satisfies me …even if I come face-to-face with a miracle. Keep the wonder. When you see handwoven cloth, let the work of the Maker’s hands bring wonder and awe. And know there are significant hidden details that are beyond our grasp.

May your fabrics be magical.

Happy weaving,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Betty A Van Horn says:

    WOW – it is absolutely gorgeous – two ‘sea colors!’ I definitely want to be on the look out for His amazing provision.

    Blessings!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betty, These are enjoyable colors to work with!
      If we keep our eyes open to look for His provision, we will certainly see it in our lives.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Julia Weldon says:

    Gorgeous weaving, as always! Each day we all see miracles right before our eyes. Our very lives are a miracle.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julia, It’s fascinating to think of the intricacies of how we are made. It’s not hard to see the Creator’s handiwork if we are looking for it.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    What a lovely gift to be weaving. So interesting to be working on a double weave blanket for my son and his wife at the same time you are doing the baby blanket. Gifting to special people is part of the joy of weaving.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, I agree, it’s a joyful thing to give handwoven treasures to special people. That’s cool that you have double weave on your loom, too.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Hi Karen,
    I’m dressing my loom right now for dish towels in the same way, I’m excited to try it! I’ll let you know how it goes.
    Hugs,
    Liberty

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If a Warp End Is Frayed…

I noticed that a warp end was starting to fray, but I kept on weaving. I thought I could make it past the weak spot. Well, I was wrong. The warp end broke. So much for happy weaving! A broken warp end at the selvedge is no fun, especially on a weft-faced piece like this. Looking back, I wish I had taken time to splice in a new length of thread when I first noticed the weakness. But at the time, I didn’t want to be bothered with that. I just wanted to weave.

Tapestry / inlay sampler on small countermarch loom.

Weaving right along. I start to notice some abrasion on the warp end at the right selvedge. I’ll be extra careful. I can keep weaving and enjoy myself, right???

Broken selvedge end on the right. Ugh.

Warp end on the right selvedge frayed to the breaking point. Gone! The weaving must be removed far enough back to reach at least 1/2″ of the warp end in front of the break. That reaches back into the red portion–the first section of the sampler.

Tapestry / inlay sampler on small countermarch loom.

Pin is inserted to secure a new selvedge warp end. The fourth end from the right showed some fraying, so I am splicing in a new piece of 12/9 cotton warp. Learned my lesson.

Original selvedge warp end is now being spliced back in (green flathead pin). Second splice is complete, with thread tail hanging out, to be trimmed after this is off the loom.

Tapestry and inlay sampler. Spliced warp ends fix frayed threads.

Two sections of the tapestry and inlay sampler are complete.

We tell ourselves if we do what we want, we will be happy. That’s a delusion. Happiness will fail you. It doesn’t last. I was only happy weaving until the thread broke. There is something better than happiness. Faithfulness. It’s better to be faithful in the moment, even if it puts a delay on being happy. Faithfulness lasts. Next time, I hope to choose the long satisfaction of faithfulness over the short-lived gain of happiness.

May your broken selvedge ends be few.

Faithful weaving,
Karen

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