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’t. …until now. What took me so long? Uncertainty. I haven’t 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 Väv 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’s 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

16 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. 🙂

      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

  • Marilyn says:

    Karen,
    I discovered your blog today. Someone shared your link in a group that I’m a member of. Thank you for sharing your rug weaving experience, but most of all, thank you for the way you share Jesus.

    In Christ Alone,
    Marilyn

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marilyn, It’s a pleasure to have you along! I’m grateful that I get to share what’s in my heart. Thanks for your encouragement.

      In Christ alone,
      Karen

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Twenty-Seven Mug Rugs

Twenty-seven coffee mugs sitting in a row… on these new mug rugs! Wouldn’t that be a lovely sight?! Twenty-four of the mug rugs are identical. The last three, however, are different. I ran out of string yarn near the end of the warp, so I switched to fabric strips for the weft. There is just enough spacing between warp ends that some of the fabric print shows through. I love the results! These last three mug rugs are set apart. Brought about by a shortage of string yarn.

Making rep weave mug rugs.

Fabric strip from a past rag rug project is used for the thick weft in this rep weave mug rug. The cotton fabric strip is 3/4″ wide.

Rep weave mug rugs with fabric strips.

Beautiful batik fabric with crimson and purple deepens the color of the red cottolin warp ends.

Six yards of rep weave mug rugs!

Cutting Off! Six yards of mug rugs.

Rep Weave mug rugs with cute short fringe.

Finished with machine zigzag stitches and a short fringe. 25 mug rugs with black string yarn weft. 1 mug rug with fabric strip weft. (Not shown: 2 mug rugs from the set-apart pile that have already been dispersed as gifts.)

Realizing our personal shortages is the beginning of humility. It’s not easy to acknowledge shortcomings. But humility begins with honesty. And it’s the answer for those who want to find the path to God. It’s our honesty about our shortcomings that catches His attention. God hears a humble prayer. The God of the universe gives one-on-one attention to the person who comes to Him in humility. Amazing! We come to the end of our personal supply, and He supplies the needed weft that sets us apart.

May your humility make you different from the norm.

With you,
Karen

~ATTENTION~ Towel Kits ~

Thank you for your fantastic response regarding the towel kits I am offering! Many of you have expressed an interest in knowing when the kits will be available for purchase.

A small number of towel kits are ready! The River Stripe Towel Set, Pre-Wound Warp and Instructional Kit, for $150 per kit, will be listed in the Warped for Good Etsy Shop tomorrow, Wednesday, March 29, 2017, around 10:00 am CT.

If you are not already on the Towel Kit notification list, and would like to be notified when the next batch of towel kits are ready, please send me a message HERE.

Thank you!
Your weaving friend

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Plain Rosepath

This is a stash-busting rug, using leftover cut strips from previous rugs. Like my other rag rugs, I start with a plan. Then, I get out my fabric and make my color selections. It’s plain rosepath, without tabby picks in between, perfect for a stash buster. Snip, snip, snip. Fabric snippets are taped to my idea sheet. These are my blueprints–weaving draft, treadling order, and idea sheet with fabric snippets. I am weaving!

Rosepath rag rug on the loom.

Without tabby picks the rosepath pattern takes on a compressed form.

I can, and do, make adjustments at the loom. But I keep one question in mind. Will my choices along the way fit with the overall design of the rug? My idea sheet serves as a guiding compass. It’s a reminder of the big picture that forms a cohesive design.

Idea sheet for rag rug design.

Idea sheet hangs from the beater clip on the Glimakra Ideal loom. The treadling pattern, penciled on graph paper, and fabric snippets provide a quick reference while weaving.

Guiding principles shape our lives and enable us to make wise decisions. A compass sets the course. Use a true compass. Live in a way that pleases God. This is a valid compass for all choices and decisions. The Grand Weaver has the comprehensive design. Amazingly, He weaves our leftover fabric strips into his design, and uses them to make something useful and beautiful.

May you see your part in the overall design.

Happy weaving,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Linda de Roy Landry says:

    Karen,
    I do enjoy and look forward to reading all of you postings. Though we have not met in person, I think of you as a kindred spirit as we seem to think alike in more ways than one. Thank you for sharing and blending your faith and knowledge of weaving. It always adds a ray of light to my day and some inspiration to my weaving.
    Kind and warm regards, Linda

  • JANET PELL says:

    Dear Linda, I want to thank you for your blog, I dont make many comments but I wanted you to know that I am brightened and inspired so much by you.
    Im English and live in Italy, in the 11 years I have lived here I have only met one other weaver, I am a self taught weaver and love it, but its a lonely trek, so wanted you know how your encouragement lifts my days.

    • Karen says:

      Janet, It blesses me tremendously to know that my words and pictures reach someone like you. Good for you for pressing on, even without the camaraderie of other weavers. I’m so glad you are coming here. Make yourself at home. 🙂

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Jane Smith says:

    Yes, I agree with Janet. Like her, I am pretty much a self-taught weaver who travels a lonely path. Blogs like these remind me of something that I think CS Lewis said: “We read to know we are not alone”. I am English, living in South Africa.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jane, You make me so happy! I love the thought of connecting weavers to a community. And it’s great to hear someone quote one of my favorite authors!

      Thank you for encouraging me today.

      Karen

  • Jane Smith says:

    I really like the idea of “connecting weavers to a community”, Karen, and this blog certainly helps to do that.

    In fact, you’ve got me thinking!

  • Sandra says:

    Karen, your words and connections to weaving ( and weavers! ) is indeed inspiring. Also a self taught beginner weaver living in Alberta Canada, though I too travelled far as my husband and I moved when the military needed us to. I have found many ways to learn this artform, but I would much rather read your words and follow your journey by reading old and new posts, than join groups on Ravelry.com for inspiration. You are a great teacher and I will try to be a better “listener” … so much thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sandra,
      You have encouraged me more than you know. It’s exactly for you, and others like you, that I write. I truly cherish the connection we have as weavers and long-distance friends.

      Your friend,
      Karen

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How Is Your Stash?

My rag rugs start with leftovers. It is a great place to begin. By leftovers, I mean fabric strips that are left from previous projects. Unlike many traditional rag rugs that are made from recycled fabrics, I use all new cotton yardage for my rag rugs. I only buy more fabric when my supply starts to run low, or when I need a specific color that I don’t have in my supply. That’s the difference between a stash and a supply. A stash is for keeping and admiring. A supply is for using up with a purpose. A stash grows without limits. A supply is replenished in relation to the need.

Planning a rosepath rag rug.

Planning session for a new rosepath rag rug. After gathering a selection of fabrics, I snip fragments to tape to my working chart.

Rosepath rag rug on the loom.

After several plain weave stripes, the rosepath pattern is taking shape on the loom.

I have to be careful about treating my things, my time, and my ideas as my stash. For me to keep and admire. It’s better to be a giver. The generous have an endless supply. They never wonder about having “enough.” Generosity is a virtue. Those who are enriched by God can always be generous, since he is faithful to replenish the supply.

May you always have enough.

For you,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Fawn Carlsen says:

    Thank you very much for explaining stash and supply. I have too much stash which never gets used. I am afraid that I will run out. But I have made a big change. I no longer have a stash, only a supply. I will allow myself to use what I have and love doing it. Then if I need more, I will get more. But not until I need to. Your post entirely changed my attitude. I am happier now.

    • Karen says:

      Dear Fawn, It is so sweet for you to take the time to tell me these words made a difference for you! I think we all struggle with stash vs. supply mindset. Making a decision, though, like you did, is a powerful thing in turning the corner! Way to go!

      Love,
      Karen

  • I hope you don’t mind that I shared your wise words today on Facebook, along with a link to this post. We truly are blessed when we share our abundance.
    Jenny B

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Odds and Ends Rag Rug

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

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

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

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

Double binding rag rug.

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

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

May you know where you belong.

Love,
Karen

2 Comments

  • Fran says:

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

    • Karen says:

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

      Karen

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