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

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Tools Day: How to Set a Temple and Video

The temple is one of my favorite tools. I have a collection of them. I happily use a temple for almost everything I weave. And I certainly wouldn’t dream of weaving a rag rug without one!

Temple instructions and video.

Temple in place.

Rag rugs are especially susceptible to draw-in, and a temple helps reduce that by maintaining the proper width of the rug. Draw-in distorts the shape of a rug, contributes to uneven warp tension, and can make selvedge threads break. A temple also aids in getting tight selvedges, and enables the firmest beat possible. (My favorite temples to use, even for rugs, are the wooden ones made by Glimåkra.)

How and why to use a temple for rag rugs.

Spaced rep rag rug, using fabric strips and warp thread for weft.

Temple Tips:

  • Set the temple to the proper width. (The video below shows how I do it.)
  • You can set the temple into the cloth as soon as there is is enough woven for two or three teeth to sink into. Then, move the temple up when you have woven enough to set all the teeth into the cloth.
  • Even with a temple, place adequate weft through the shed. The tool works best in conjunction with careful weaving practices.
  • Watch out for the sharp points! I get pricked when I forget and reach around the selvedge to straighten something out.
  • Make sure the temple is far enough back from the fell line that it won’t scrape the edge of your beater. I have a scar on my beater because it was hitting the temple. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice until the damage was done.
  • Move the temple frequently. For consistency at the selvedges on a rag rug, I move the temple at least every inch.
  • Remove the temple by moving the slider with one hand, while holding the center part down with the other hand. Keep the pin in place and the temple will draw up in the center. Then, disengage the teeth from the cloth on both sides.

Spaced rep rag rugs on the loom. Tutorial for using a temple.

Width in the reed for this rag rug is 90 cm on this 100 cm loom. I keep a supply of temples so that I have what I need for any weaving width.

 

May your tools serve you well.

Happy weaving,
Karen

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Not Just Any Old Weft

The weft makes or breaks a weaving project. 16/1 linen weft requires careful weaving, but the quality of Swedish Bockens linen won’t disappoint. If you use superior quality warp thread, like this Swedish Bockens Nialin (cottolin), it makes perfect sense to choose a weft that equals that degree of excellence.

Platväv table runner. Linen weft.

Plattväv table runner. Black 16/1 linen is doubled for the pattern weft in this plattväv design. The background tabby weft is golden bleached 16/1 linen.

When I weave useful items on my loom, I want them to stand the test of time. I want these plattväv towels and table runner to outlive me. So, no skimping on quality. Time and patience are woven into the cloth, with artisan details and carefully applied skills. Perfection? No, not this side of heaven. But making the most of what I’ve been given is one way I show gratitude to my Maker.

Plattväv table runner. Linen weft.

End of towel kit sample warp has enough room to weave a companion short table runner with plattväv squares. All weft tails will be trimmed after the fabric has been wet finished.

End of warp closes in.

Weaving as far as feasible. End of warp closes in.

We have much to be grateful for. The Lord’s enduring love is of measureless worth and quality. It’s the basis for our unwavering hope, which sustains us through every adversity. This isn’t a knowledge of the love of God. This is the actual love of God, poured into willing hearts. Love changes everything. This love is the weft that makes perfect sense for the completion of something as valued as you or me. What if every fiber of our being reflected the love of God? How beautiful!

May your finest qualities be seen and cherished.

Love,
Karen

PS Plattväv towel kit is in development. The kit includes a pre-wound warp and sufficient weft to weave four hand towels, and one companion short table runner/table square. PLUS, special access to one or two short instructional videos.

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Quality Rug Warp

After a few weeks of having to refrain from weaving, I am thankful that there was warp to weave one more rug. The quality of warp thread matters because it is the core of the rug. Never underestimate the value of good, strong warp thread for weaving rag rugs.

Rosepath rag rug almost complete!

First hem is going around the cloth beam. Weaving is almost complete!

I like to use 12/6 cotton from Bockens. This rug warp is a six-strand thread with high twist. The smooth, nearly-unbreakable thread enables me to ratchet up the tension on the warp. That high tension helps produce sturdy, tightly packed rugs with tidy selvedges. Knowing you are making a rug that will last is a very satisfying and enjoyable weaving experience.

Cutting off never gets old!

Cutting off never gets old.

Rosepath rag rug just finished. Karen Isenhower

Ta da! Hems are folded under for the picture. As soon as the hems are stitched, this rosepath rag rug will have its Etsy photoshoot.

With finishing nearly complete, this rag rug will be enjoyed on the floor of someone’s home. Most people aren’t aware of the structural elements of a rag rug, but they do notice quality in the finished work. People, too, have an inner core–the heart. The heart matters. The strength of our inward framework determines our outward attitudes and actions. Since true quality is found in a life that serves others, most everything comes down to a matter of the heart.

May your quality of life be noticeable.

Happy weaving,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Barbara says:

    It’s amazing how a bunch of leftovers can be combined into something so beautiful. I’m so glad you are back to weaving again.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks, Barbara, it’s good to be back in the saddle. I’ve seen you turn leftovers from the refrigerator into a beautiful meal. Now, that’s amazing! 🙂

      Karen

  • Martha says:

    Beautiful rug! Have you tried linen rug warp or poly/cotton rug warp in your work. Both of them are supposed to last far longer than cotton.

    Love your article in Handwoven magazine – lovely.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Martha, That’s a good discussion point. I have used linen rug warp for a wool rug. It’s great for that; and I think it would work well for rag rugs, but it raises the expense considerably. I’m not sure I’d find buyers for that.
      I haven’t tried poly/cotton rug warp. Some of the comparisons may be against the popular 8/4 cotton rug warp, which will certainly have a shorter life.
      It would take a lot to wear out the 12/6 cotton in a rug.

      I’m glad you saw the Handwoven article! Thanks for the compliment.

      Karen

  • D'Anne Craft says:

    Wonderful to hear you are back at the loom! Take care of yourself so you can weave on and on and on………….

  • Sandra says:

    I live in Calgary, Alberta. Our closest weaving supply shop just closed this past summer. Where would you suggest the best place would be to order 12/6 rug warp cotton? Would like to buy Canadian..

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sandra from Calgary, Welcome!
      It is disappointing to see weaving shops close…

      I’m sorry, I am not familiar with Canadian sources. I usually purchase Bockens 12/6 cotton from GlimakraUSA.com or Vavstuga.com, both in the USA.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Quality Rag Rugs

Does this color enhance or detract? Is there enough contrast between background and pattern? Is five centimeters of plain weave between pattern sections too long, or too short? I ask myself questions as I weave a new design. I consider all the technical aspects, as well. Warp tension, treadling finesse, and shuttle shuffling. Attention to detail matters.

Rosepath rag rug on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Design elements are planned before weaving, and then adjusted as weaving progresses on the loom.

Details begin in the planning stage with design, choice of materials, and colors. While weaving rosepath rag rugs, consistency counts. I aim for a consistently firm beat and good, tight selvedges. All of these elements contribute to quality. And as I grow in my weaving skills, overall quality improves.

Rosepath rag rugs require extra attention at the selvedges.

Rosepath rag rugs require extra attention at the selvedges.

Rosepath rag rug on the loom.

Yellow dash is made with a single weft pick. The single fabric strip is cut long enough to securely tuck the ends back into the shed.

A person’s character is defined by their motivations. It’s not what you do, but why you do it. It is not enough to look good. I can buy a cheap rug that looks good. But if I could examine how it was made, I might find the shortcuts that diminished its quality. Our inward motivations are revealed in our outward behaviors. The cheap rug fades and comes apart all too quickly. By examining our own motives we build quality of character. The result is not only lovely, but durable, too.

May your quality control efforts succeed.

With you,
Karen

6 Comments

  • i just love reading your blog posts and following what you are up to! You inspire me to weave more my friend! Have a most beautiful day! I love your quote about a person’s character being defined by their motivations. I know I weave because it completes me, I love it and I see you do too!

  • linda says:

    Often a project changes when seen on the loom. Spacing of pattern and negative morphs into, for that project, a perfectness that was not planned. When I weave, Quilt, knit, or sew hand woven I stand back and revise. Very much like life. What we start out planning to do at 20 years old morphs into what we’ve done by 60. ENJOY the journey; we only have one. LP&J, linda

    • Karen says:

      Linda, So true! You give a great description of how we make revisions through life’s turns and tangles. And to enjoy the journey is a great way to live!

      Karen

  • Just wondering if you use a floating selvage on your rose path rugs. I’ve seen that recommended in some books. Thanks.

    • Karen says:

      I do not use floating selvedges for rosepath rag rugs. I prefer to take the weft on the ski shuttle over or under the outer ends as needed. The important thing is to catch every outer warp end – with floating selvedges, or by manipulating the outer warp end as needed. I explained the way I do it in point 1. in Rag Rug Selvedges Made Easy.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

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