Bold Color and Weave

Remember the placemats I started on my Texas hill country loom in Colors on Trial? The pattern in the fabric looks nice and pretty. But it doesn’t display the striking color-and-weave effect that I expected. The problem is not the threading, nor the colors.

Color and weave using single weft instead of doubled weft.

Nice and pretty, but lacking the boldness of the planned color-and-weave effect.

Aha! I overlooked an important detail on the treadling draft—the weft is supposed to be doubled. That changes everything! Since there is very little excess warp for this project I need to back up and start over.

Backing up the weaving. Clipping through weft threads. Yikes!

Backing up. After loosening warp tension, I carefully clip the weft threads down the center of the warp. I go at a snail’s pace to avoid accidentally snipping any warp ends.

Backing up. Weft removal, one pick at a time.

Removal, one pick at a time. I press the treadles in reverse order to pull out each row of weft threads.

Weft has been removed. Now ready to start over!

Back to the start. Sufficient weft has been removed. Now I am ready to start over.

I am losing the nice and pretty fabric. But it is being replaced with something better—fabric with a bold color-and-weave effect.

Two double-bobbin shuttles with color and weave.

This is the color-and-weave effect I was looking for! Two double-bobbin shuttles carry the weft threads.

Color and weave for placemats.

First placemat is a “Joseph’s coat” combination of colors. Bold color-and-weave effect has a striking pattern.

I would like my life to be nice and pretty, easy and comfortable. But if I get closer to the Grand Weaver’s intentions, I see something different—a bold strength of purpose. Not necessarily easy. God’s will is better than mine. When we aim to understand his will, we see details that we’ve overlooked. It affects how we walk through life. We take his doubled weft threads to replace our well-meaning attempts. The result is a beautiful display of striking life-changing effects.

May you be mindful of the important details.

With you,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Annie says:

    I love your analogy and courage to cut out all that work. It did look nice before but wow! Such a great difference with such a small change. An encouragement to make small changes in life as they may lead to great overall improvements.

    Have a great day, Karen!

  • Cynthia says:

    Hi Karen, I used to work for your husband in Tulsa. Love your work. My cousin weaves and I have shared your blog with her, she sure enjoys.

  • Ruth says:

    Good Morning Karen,
    Thanks for sharing your technique for unweaving. To correct mistakes I’ve literally thrown the shuttle across my warp threads to take back many inches of weaving. This seems a much gentler way to save a warp. I like your calm approach to correcting an error and enjoying the outcome. Blessings to you and yours, Ruth

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, I do think removing the weft this way is less damaging to the warp. Even if I don’t clip through the center, I usually cut the weft and pull it out rather than send it back with the shuttle if it’s more than one or two picks. This is especially important if the warp is linen, which is much more susceptible to breakage from abrasion than this cotton warp I have here.

      One thing I enjoy about weaving is that just about anything can be corrected!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • SM says:

    These are, as all your projects are, beautiful! Is this a little like doubleweave? You see the back on the front and the front on the back?

    • Karen says:

      Hi SM, I appreciate your sweet compliment!

      This is much simpler than double weave. This is actually plain weave with two treadles. It’s the arrangement of stripes in warp and weft that give it visual complexity. This fabric is the same on front and back. It’s amazing what can happen with color and weave!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Share the Joy of Weaving

What a delight to share the weaving experience with a friend! Two of these hot pads were woven by friends with no prior weaving experience. Miniature rag rugs make great hot pads, and provide a perfect learning experience for a guest weaver.

Rag rug hot pads.

Tenth hot pad, woven on 12/9 cotton warp. Fabric strips, previously cut for rag rugs, are used for the weft.

Ten rag rug hot pads are cut from the loom!

Ten hot pads are cut from the loom.

Ten hot pads ready for finishing.

Ten hot pads ready for finishing.

Finished handwoven rag rug hot pads.

Ends are tied in overhand knots and trimmed. Ready to be used!

I hope you are finding opportunities to share your joys with friends. The Christmas season reminds us that we have someone greater who shared His joy with us. He stays by our side, waiting for any call for help, but allows us to make the mistakes that teach us life lessons. As with weaving, every error can be forgiven. There is a remedy for any hopeless situation. Take courage, God is a rescuer. He sent Jesus on a mission to rescue us. And absolutely nothing can stop the mission of God. I am amazed at what he can do with the threads of a willing soul. Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King.

May you share your joy.

Merry Christ – mas,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Merry Christmas, Karen! Thank you for sharing your beautiful work!

  • Lindy says:

    Hello, I love these hot pads but have a question (I’m new to weaving): what are the little white cloth strips on the corners of these pads and what did you do to them – they aren’t in the finished pictures?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lindy, Great question! The white you see is the scrap weft header. I weave two or three inches with throw-away fabric strips (mostly from old worn-out bedsheets) before and after every rag rug, or mini rag rag. The purpose of the scrap weft is to hold the weft of the rug in place. The scrap weft is removed a little at a time as I tie the warp ends into knots to make the weft completely secure.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Jill Kendall says:

    Beautiful & glorious words, Karen!
    Merry Christmas from North Carolina!

  • Norma Sliper says:

    Please tell how I can get your patterns for weaving mug rugs, placemats, and pot holders..

  • Darcy Damrau Steck says:

    Hi Karen,
    I recently discovered your blog while researching swedish rosepath. Your weaving is an inspiration thank you for sharing your experience. I am a self-taught weaver and have learned that rosepath can be woven as boundweave, on opposites or with tabby between pattern picks. Can you tell me how this pattern was woven and where I can find a draft?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Darcy, Rosepath was the thing that drew me into Swedish weaving practices. You will find drafts for rosepath (rosengång) in almost any Swedish rag rug book. The rosepath in most of these mug rugs is woven with tabby between pattern picks. A couple of them have just the rosepath, without tabby.

      Have fun with your rosepath exploration! (I haven’t done a lot of the other types of rosepath, but if you put “bound rosepath” and “rosepath on opposites” in the search field you may find some examples of those.)

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Tips for Taming String Yarn Weft Tails

Those pesky string yarn weft tails! There is a lot of starting and stopping with these mug rugs. Normally, tucking a weft tail back into the shed adds a bit of extra thickness at the selvedge. So, what about this very thick weft? It has the potential to throw everything off balance. A few easy tips help minimize the distortion the thicker weft can cause.

Taming String Yarn Weft Tails

  • Begin the thick weft on alternating sides. This will prevent one selvedge from building up more than the other.
  • Taper the end of the string yarn, cutting it at a steep angle.
  • Starting about 1 3/4″ inside the selvedge, send the shuttle through the shed toward the selvedge, going over or under the outermost warp end. Pull through until almost all of the weft tail is caught.
What to do with string yarn weft tails.

Starting the shuttle from the inside, going outward, is an easy way to catch all the separate threads of the string yarn.

Taming string yarn weft tails.

  • In same shed, send the shuttle back through to the other side, aware of encircling the one warp end.

Tucking in string yarn weft tails. Tips.

  • Beat. (Beat on open shed. Beat again. Change sheds. Beat again.)

How to manage string yarn weft tails.

  • Continue weaving.

Rep weave mug rugs. String yarn weft tails - tips!

  • To end the thick weft, leave a 1 3/4″ tail, and taper the end of the string yarn, as before. Lay the tail back in the last shed, going around the outermost warp end. Beat.

Things happen that throw us off balance. From personal celebrations to unexpected losses. Don’t be afraid. Putting trust in the Lord minimizes the inner turmoil. The Lord is my light. He lights my way. What is there to be afraid of? Wholehearted trust in the Lord pushes fearfulness away.

May you walk in a lighted path.

Happy weaving,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Hey Karen,
    Just wanted to say congratulations on another great project and article in the newest Handwoven Mag! I’m so proud of you! Thanks for all you hard work and help with our weaving!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liberty, Thank you so much! It’s my joy to add my little two cents to the whole wide weaving world. My copy came in the mail yesterday! There are a lot of great projects in there.

      Thanks, friend,
      Karen

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Quiet Friday: Risky Way to Fix a Threading Error

We all have threading errors from time to time. This time I completely transposed the threading on shafts one and two. I saw the error when I started weaving; the pattern in the cloth was not as it should be. After a few days of contemplating, arguing with myself, and studying the error, I decided on an ingenious and risky fix (I hinted at it in My Best Weaving Stunt to Date!). Switch the two mis-threaded shafts. Yikes! One slip up could bring the whole warp down–figuratively and literally. I caught myself holding my breath several times through the process. Gently hopeful, but not 100% sure that my plan would work. Thankfully, it did work.

The threading went from this

Threading error and a risky fix. Switch 2 shafts!

Shafts 1 and 2 (counting from back to front) have been threaded incorrectly. Shaft 1 should be 2, and 2 should be 1.

to this

Risky way to fix a threading error. Video.

Shaft bars 1 and 2, upper and lower, have been switched. The operation was similar to transferring lease sticks in the back-to-front warping process.

Here’s a short video that shows the maneuvers I did to correct the error. No re-threading needed! The kuvikas square within a square wins!

May you be brave enough to take appropriate risks when needed.

Happy Problem Solving,
Karen

22 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Whoa! That was some ingenious maneuvering!

  • Julia says:

    Brilliant! Of course in the video it looks completely smooth and safe! The dramatic music helps to relate some of the risk that was involved, however.

    • Karen says:

      Julia, It makes me smile that you mentioned the music. I was hoping the music would help convey that risk factor.
      I did feel quite accomplished when I finished the operation and found it worked!

      Karen

  • Marie says:

    A quick thought, if shaft 1 and 2 are in the wrong threading sequence, why not change the tie-up. Risk factor very low.

    • Karen says:

      Marie, That may be what I should have done. But when I tried changing the tie-up on my weaving software, I got confused and couldn’t get it to work out. I could visualize the results of switching the shafts, so I went with that. On one occasion at Vavstuga, I watched Becky do a masterful switching of heddles from one shaft to another, so I think I was inspired to try something heroic. 🙂

      Karen

  • Marcia Cooke says:

    Having actually dropped shafts (don’t ask), I am not brave enough to do it on purpose! Kudos!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marcia, I have *almost* dropped shafts before, so I know how it can happen! But this was not much different than transferring the lease sticks to the back of the reed. That always makes me nervous, too. Every step, I stopped, looked, and thought it out before making a move.

      Karen

  • Peg Cherre says:

    My question was just like Marie’s. Seems like a much easier way to go. Maybe the fact that you were on a countermarche loom made this more complex????

    But your fix was impressive!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Peg, I don’t think the countermarch made a difference. My problem was I couldn’t quite figure out how to change the tie-up. Seems kind of simple now, but it stumped me at the time…

      At least now we know this can be done…

      Karen

  • ellen santana says:

    way over my head, but congratulations. maybe you should work for nasa. es

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ellen, I’m afraid NASA wouldn’t want me. My math skills are just strong enough to plan a weaving project, and not much more than that. But, if they need someone to move heddles around, they can call me.

      Karen

  • Karen says:

    Now, that made me hold my breath! Well played…..

  • Martha says:

    Whew, I was holding my breath just watching the process. Well played!

    • Karen says:

      Martha, These Swedish countermarch looms are so adjustable and flexible, otherwise it wouldn’t be possible at all. I’m glad I have Texsolv heddles!

      Karen

  • Alison says:

    Well done. Clever girl Karen. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Nanette says:

    I don’t think this would work with a jack loom with solid frame shafts, do you? But maybe changing the tie up would be easier on that kind of loom, too. Anyway, I was proud that I thought of changing the tie up even before reading the comments! And, actually, couldn’t figure out even with the video just how you did it. I won’t even ask how you happened to make such an error…just thank you for sharing that you did!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nanette, You’re right, this wouldn’t work with a jack loom with solid frame shafts, or with metal heddles. Hopefully, you’ll never make this kind of mistake, but changing the tie-up should work.

      I don’t know how I made that mistake, either. My brain was just thinking in reverse for those two shafts. It took me quite a while to even see the error, because my brain kept seeing the two sets of heddles in reverse.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    I’m totally confused, not unusual. Was what you were doing was moving the heddles from S1 forward to S2’s position and S2’s heddles back to the S1 position by putting the heddles on a temporary stick and dragging them forward or backward and then re-inserting the shaft stick? Don’t the heddles and the temporary stick get hung up on the other heddles or the warp? I’m astounded! Very well done indeed.

    • Karen says:

      Joanna, You described it perfectly! That’s exactly what I did. I only had to put in a temporary stick (a warping slat) on the first shaft heddles. Then I could move the second shaft to the first shaft place. I then repeated the process under the warp. The only things that got in the way were the shaft bar cords that hold the upper shaft bars. I undid them and reconnected after the transfer. And the shaft-to-lamm cords under the warp had to be released, and then reconnected.

      I decided to do it when I surveyed the situation and thought, if only I could just slide those heddles forward on the warp, and slide the others back. That got my wheels turning.

      Karen

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How to Begin a Rag Rug

It is not enough to be pretty; a good rag rug must also be sturdy. Four crucial steps give a rag rug the solid foundation it needs to get off to a great start, and to be ready for the strong beat required to make a rug that lasts.

How to Begin a Rag Rug

1 Space

  • leave enough warp to tie and finish ends after the rug is cut from the loom

Assuming there is a sample at the beginning of the warp, leave space after the sample. Leave about 4″ (10 cm) of empty warp. Then, using two warping slats, place one slat in each plain weave shed. The slats act as a spacer, and as a firm backstop for beating in the waste rags. (Leave about 8″ / 20 cm of space between each rug, from header to header.)

How to begin a rag rug. Four crucial steps.

Empty warp is followed by a pair of warping slats, scrap weft, warp yarn header, and beginning of hem. Measurements are marked on twill tape for reference while weaving.

2 Waste rags

  • a place to attach the temple
  • prevent the header from unraveling when the rug is cut from the loom

Weave with scrap fabric strips, 1 – 2″ (2.5 – 5 cm) wide, for 2″ (5 cm). Attach the temple as soon as possible.

3 Header

  • secures the rug weft
  • gives the rug a firm edge

Use warp yarn to weave a 3/8″ (1 cm) weft-faced header. Arrange the weft in small arcs across the width of the shed. Treadle the next shed and beat in the weft.

Weaving header for rag rug. How to.

With temple in place, the header is woven with 12/6 cotton, the warp yarn. Forming small waves in the weft places more weft in the shed, which helps prevent draw-in.

4 Hem

  • thinner rag weave, to be turned under and stitched

Cut fabric into narrow strips, 1/4″ (.5 cm) wide. Weave hem to desired length, with enough to fold under itself for finishing.

–Repeat the four steps in reverse order at the end of the rug.–

How to begin a good, sturdy rag rug!

Ready for the body of the rug! A good, strong beat will not disturb this layered foundation.

It takes courage to live by faith. Courage is the backbone against which life circumstances can push. Faith is knowing God has a higher purpose for the circumstances we find ourselves in. A rag rug with this firm starting point will not only look good, but be ready for a purpose. And so will we.

May you live courageously.

With faith,
Karen

13 Comments

  • Gerda says:

    This is a very timely post for me. My rotary cutter arrives on Tuesday and I am planning my very first rag rug. I finally have a Toika Liisa up and running so can undertake to weave something that requires heavy beating. Do you add any weights to your beater to get more sturdy rugs? Thanks so much for taking the time to explain, photograph and film. Your posts are a great read and so much more than just showing your achievement. Much appreciated! Looking forward to seeing your rug finished (and mine started)!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Gerda,

      I’m excited for you and your new adventure with rag rugs! I do not add weights to my beater. I can get a very strong beat with my overslung beater, because of the natural momentum in the swinging beater.
      My practice is: 1. place the weft 2. beat in that open shed 3. change sheds 4. beat twice
      After a while, you get a pretty good rhythm with that sequence. Though, with rag rugs it’s never “fast,” but that’s okay with me. 🙂

      Very happy weaving!
      Karen

  • Susan says:

    Thanks so much for the post. May I ask what end per inch are you using?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Susan,

      The sett for this project is 8 ends per inch. I am using an 8 dent reed, with 1 end per heddle and 1 end per dent. (Except for selvedges, which are 2 ends per heddle/ 2 ends per dent/ 2 times each side.)

      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    Thank you for sharing your techniques for weaving rag rugs and increasing my knowledge and excitement for weaving rugs. I had not thought of using narrower rags for the hem – I’ve always used coordinating yarn. Your rag technique will be used on my next rug. I am looking forward to seeing your finished project along with any tips you have for finishing your hems. Several people I weave with use glue and/or another adhesive to secure the warp ends in addition to the knots they tie before the hem is sewn down. I’m curious to learn of your techniques. Blessings!

  • Tobie says:

    This post is so timely.
    I don’t seem to get sturdy enough weaving. I do not know if my weft is too thin or I am not beating hard enough. I weave on a Macomber which is a heavy loom.
    I’ve been using t-shirts for weft and now have some old sheets to dye and cut. How wide are your strips?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tobie,

      I’m glad this post came at a good time for you!
      I cut my strips 3/4″ wide unless the fabric is very lightweight, in which case I cut them a little bit wider. I use only pre-washed cotton fabric. I’ve never used t-shirts or knit fabric for rugs, so I can’t tell you anything about that.

      Several factors contribute to a solid, sturdy rug. Here are a few that come to mind:
      –Tight warp – I don’t know how much you can tighten the warp on your Macomber, but I keep the warp very tight on my Glimakra.
      –Find the sett that works for your weft and your loom. My usual sett is 8 epi. If the weft is not packing in tight, you might try 6 epi.
      –Strong beat. I beat once with an open shed, then change sheds and beat twice. Some people add weight to the beater. I haven’t needed added weight with my overslung beater.
      –Make sure your selvedges are tight. Loose selvedges will weaken the entire rug. I twist the weft twice and pull it tight around the outer selvedge.
      –Use a temple. This helps with the beat and with getting tight selvedges.

      Hope that helps,
      Karen

  • Kathy says:

    This is wonderful information! Thank you! I just got an older Kessenich loom, which is pretty heavy and solid, and I’d like to try a rag rug soon. Are you using plain weave for the rug? When you twist the weft twice, do you turn the ski shuttle around itself, too? Also, do you iron the fabric strips in half? Or do you iron both long edges to the center? If you iron both to the center, do you fold it in half so they are on the inside? Thank you so much! Kathy

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kathy, Great questions!
      Many of my rag rugs are patterned weaves, like rosepath, which includes plain weave for the hem and between the pattern picks.
      When I twist the weft, I do not turn the ski shuttle around. By holding the other end of the weft taut I can easily straighten the fabric strip in the shed.
      I do not iron or fold the fabric strips at all. I cut them 3/4″ and lay them in the shed as is.

      Happy rag rug weaving!

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