Quiet Friday: Attractive New Rag Rugs

Don’t be surprised to find one, or even two, of these attractive rugs gracing my home. Five new rugs are now finished and ready to be enjoyed! I designed one of these spaced rep rugs specifically for our Texas hill country home. One was woven by my young apprentice, Juliana. Her rug is already on the floor in her room. And at least two of the rugs are destined for my Etsy Shop. Soon, my looms will be active with new things. There is always something just finished to look back on with fondness, and something ahead to look forward to. Weaving is like that.

Spaced rep rag rugs.

Spaced rep rag rug. Karen Isenhower

Spaced rep rag rug

Spaced rep rag rug

Wool rag rug

Spaced rep rag rug

Spaced rep rag rugs! Karen Isenhower

May your Christmas be calm and bright.

Good Christmas to you and yours, my friends,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Ann says:

    Thank you for taking the time to share your weaving activities with us – I look forward every week to see what you are doing as I am in France, and there are not so many weavers around here, so I depend on the worldwide web for inspiration and encouragement.
    Happy Christmas to you and your family!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ann, It’s a pleasure to meet you! It’s a blessing for me to get to share what’s on my looms with like-minded people like you.

      Happy Christmas to you and yours!
      Karen

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Merry Christmas, Karen!
    I found your blog earlier this year and I just want to thank you for all your postings and inspirational messages. Thank you for sharing your weaving life with us!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, It makes me happy to know you are joining me in this weaving adventure! It means a lot to have friends with common interests and values.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours,
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    The rugs are beautiful, Karen, as is everything you weave. Are they for the hill country house? Wherever they live, they will add so much warmth to the room. Can’t wait to see what you create next!

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, At least one of the rugs will stay at the hill country house. The rest will go on Etsy. Your encouraging words go a long way with me. You always brighten my day.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours,
      Karen

  • Liberty says:

    Hi Karen,
    Thank you for all you do for us. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!!

  • JANET PELL says:

    Thank you for spending time sharing with us, your tips, help and your beautiful work. I so look forward to it every week.
    Happy Christmas to you and your family from Italy

    • Karen says:

      Hi Janet, Isn’t it wonderful that we can meet here, as if there’s no distance between us? Thank you for your encouraging words! That means so much to me.

      Happy Christmas to you and yours,
      Karen

  • Maggie Ackerman says:

    I never knew there was an actual name for rep weave that was not so tightly sleighed. I just thought it was me being lazy with the loom warping, but I love how the weft pattern shows and adds to the design. I’ve done a number of these and love them.

    Merry Christmas to you and thanks for your blog.

    Maggie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, I agree, the beauty of spacing the warps further apart is that the weft pattern shows and adds to the design. Maybe we should call it “Enhanced Rep Weave.”

      Happy weaving! And Merry Christmas to you,
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    It is so grand to see your work and know the joy you find in weaving. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and creativity.
    Wishing you and yours a blessed Christmas and God’s richest blessings in 2018.

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How Many Square Knots?

Would you like to tie 1,890 knots? These rag rugs have more warp ends than usual. Every four warp ends are tied into a square knot, and pulled tight. With 756 ends and five rugs, the knots add up! But it’s the best way I know to make the rug permanently secure. Hand-stitched hems will finalize the process. Three of the five spaced rep rugs are finished and hemmed. Two to go.

Rag rug finishing. Tying square knots.

Four warp ends are tied into a square knot. Plastic quilters clip keeps tied ends out of the way.

Tying knots on rag rug warp ends.

Sacking needles are used for easing the warp ends out of the scrap weft, and for wrapping the thread around to tie tight knots, as shown in this short video: Quick Tip: Square Knots Without Blisters.

Finishing work for rag rugs.

Progress.

Christmas is about a heavenly promise. Jesus is the promise of God. Jesus—the word of God in person. The promise of God is as near as our own mouths and our own hearts—we say it and believe it. The promise is brought to us by grace, which means all the knots have been tied for us, and the hem is stitched. It is finished. And we enjoy the permanent security of the Savior’s redemptive love. This is no magic carpet, but a handwoven rug with rags that have been made beautiful.

May you enjoy a promise fulfilled.

Have a grace-filled Christmas,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    That’s a lot of knots! Wondering, since the hems will be turned under could the ends be secured with machine zig zag stitching?

    Merry Christmas, Karen! Thank you for bringing me joy with your posts. I look forward to seeing them.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I have tried machine zig-zag stitching on some smaller pieces. It’s tricky to get the zig-zag stitches to catch every warp end. But you have a good point. That would certainly shorten the finishing time! I should do some experiments with that.

      It’s such a treat for me to know that you enjoy these posts!
      Merry Christmas to you,
      Karen

      • Karen, if you are worrying about catching every thread with the zig-zag, a row or two of close straight stitch would work. Personally, I use my serger, set with a closer than usual stitch, but not every weaver has one. It is much faster with either method.

        The only time I tied knots like you are doing was when I was binding the ends with a cloth binding. That many knots does give sore fingers!

        I enjoy your posts and your witness messages.

        • Karen says:

          Hi Jenny, Thanks for the pointer about using straight stitches or a serger. The Swedish weaving books that I have instruct to tie knots, so I’ve been following those guidelines. I always appreciate hearing other efficient ways to do things!

          Have a good Christmas!
          Karen

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    I learn so much from you, Karen, both weaving wisdom and spiritual wisdom.

    I am planning to attempt my first rag rug in January. I have already warped my Rigid Heddle loom but I am waiting for January when Ashford will have a Freedom roller available for me to roll the bulky cloth onto the front beam. I am both excited and apprehensive about the new challenge.

    Thank you for sharing your rag rug tips.
    Merry Christmas, Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I knew I wanted to weave rag rugs long before I had a floor loom on which to weave them. So, my first rag weaving was on my 32” Beka rigid heddle loom. I didn’t exactly make a rug, but some rag-woven fabric that I turned into little pocketbooks and things.

      I predict you are really going to enjoy the experience!

      Your kind words mean so much to me.
      Merry Christmas,
      Karen

  • Joanna says:

    I just employed an earlier tip, the treadle adjustment cheat sheet, and it’s exceptionally helpful in keeping me on the right treadle. Like so many others, I eagerly look forward to your posts and not just for the weaving tips. Due to a health issue I must avoid large groups so your loving words about our Lord are a major source of spiritual comfort. Thanks for everything!

    May He who gave Light to the world bring you joy this Christmastide.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, I’m touched by your kind thoughts. It is very satisfying to hear that my weaving tips and spiritual insights fall into welcoming hearts.

      Joy to you,
      Karen

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Quiet Friday: My Young Apprentice

Any handweaver who finds willing and able help is indeed fortunate. If you find an apprentice you love to have at your side, that’s even better. I consider myself especially blessed to have such an apprentice—a young lady who frequents my weaving studio and shares my delight in the wonder of turning threads into cloth.

Young apprentice. First time at the loom.

First time at the big loom.

Cotton and linen tubes of thread sorted and arranged by color.

Cotton and linen tubes of thread are all sorted by type and arranged by color. Thanks to my young apprentice.

Juliana assisted on this spaced rep rag rug project from start to finish. She helped me beam the warp and thread the heddles. I wove four of the rugs, and she wove one complete rug herself. It is only fitting for her to help with the cutting off! And, oh, what a joy it is to see freshly woven rugs roll off the cloth beam!

Finishing the rugs is still ahead. When we have them hemmed, I will bring you an update with pictures of our completed treasures.

Five rag rugs rolled up, ready for finishing.

Five rag rugs rolled up. Next step is to tie warp ends and hand-stitch hems.

Enjoy the slideshow video below that shows our process. And enjoy our cutting off celebration as shown in the following detail shots. (Photo credit: Christie Lacy)

Cutting off!

Cutting off!

Cutting off!

Cutting off - A few ends at a time.

Rag rug cutting off!

Untying the warp. Rag rugs just off the loom.

Releasing new rag rugs from the loom.

Taking new rag rugs off the loom.

May you keep your youthful delight.

Thankful,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Julia says:

    What a joy and delight for you BOTH! Juliana is beautiful and a wise one indeed to choose a true master at the loom for her mentor. It is always best, when possible, to learn from the most skilled, talented, and wise teachers.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julia, It’s when we teach others that we learn the most. I’m still learning, so it’s great to have someone to share in the process!

      Thanks for your kind and generous thoughts!
      Karen

  • Beth says:

    Juliana is as fortunate to have you as a teacher as you are to have her as an apprentice. She seems very captivated by the process. Looking forward to seeing your next joint effort.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, It is invigorating for me to witness this sweet young lady’s fascination with weaving. Her expressions of delight so often match how I feel about the process.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Marjorie says:

    If I move to Texas, could I be your *old* apprentice??

  • D’Anne says:

    Lucky Juliana to have you for. a teacher!

  • Jane Milner says:

    I am a returning weaver (had a 4 shaft table loom in the ’70’s…and now have a Glimakra Ideal. I’m wondering about storing my cones and tubes of fiber…how do you deal with dust and fading if they are stored on open shelves?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jane, Welcome back to the world of weaving! I’m sure you’ll enjoy getting back in the swing of things.

      My wool and other yarns are stored in a closed closet. The tubes of cotton and linen are on the open shelves, partly because I derive such pleasure having them in full view in my weaving studio, and partly because I like to see at a glance what I have available. The shelves are not in direct sunlight, so I’m not too concerned about fading, at least I haven’t seen that to be a problem. As far as dust goes, I don’t think too much dust settles on them because I’m moving them pretty often. I try not to keep a huge stash. I like to use as much of what I have on the shelves, and then add to that as needed for specific projects. I may not be the best one to ask about dust. It’s something I only see in other people’s houses. 😉

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • What a wonderful opportunity for you both! She can learn the joy of learning and of weaving at the hand of a mentor and you can share your love and knowledge with her thus learning more as well! I agree that teaching others is always the best way to learn more ourselves and the gift of sharing that knowledge is priceless! Bless you both!
    Charlynn

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charlynn, I couldn’t agree more. It’s a wonderful opportunity for both of us. This is a win – win arrangement!

      I appreciate your thoughtful words!
      Karen

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End of Warp Drama

At the final inches of weavable warp, my regular boat shuttle will not fit through the shed. I wove the first half of this final rug thinking I had more than enough warp left to complete a symmetrical design.

Spaced rep rag rug. Last rug on the warp!

Final rug on this warp. I planned a symmetrical design that reverses at the center of the rug.

This warp is almost finished! Rag rugs.

As the back tie-on bar comes over the back beam I am concerned about whether I have enough warp to finish the second half of the rug.

Drama at the end. I still need to weave the ending warp thread header. Time to pull out my secret weapon—a low-profile shuttle. No worries or fretting. The slim shuttle deftly (with a little prodding) weaves the eight picks of the warp thread header that concludes this final rug. Whew.

Low-profile boat shuttle fits through at end of warp.

Low-profile shuttle saves the day. I’m so near the end of the warp that there is not enough room in the shed for my regular boat shuttle to fit through.

End of warp drama! But I made it! Whew.

Very end of the warp is seen right behind the shafts. After the eight picks of warp thread header, I wove as many picks of scrap weft as I could…by hand.

When we face adversity, and our usual coping methods are not working, we feel the pressure and anxiety. It’s time to activate our secret weapon—a gentle and quiet spirit. Gentleness and quietness are beautiful embellishments to the hidden person of the heart. This humble spirit enables you to glide through the tightest situations. Best of all, those last picks you carefully weave will keep the lovely rag rug you’ve been working on from unraveling.

May your heart glow with gratitude.

Happy Giving of Thanks!
Karen

16 Comments

  • Beautifully said. Thank you and have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I just found you recently and I love reading your blog. Thank you again.

  • Annie says:

    Thanksgiving is always a time of reflection on all the wonderful blessings in my life. This year, your Christ centered blog has been added as they are always uplifting as well as informative. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and your work with us.

    May you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving, Karen.

    Annie

    • Karen says:

      Good morning, Annie, That means so much to me! It’s a great privilege for me to have friends like you that I can share with. I’m thankful for you.

      Happy Thanks-Giving,
      Karen

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I so enjoy reading your blogs and I always learn or am reminded of something important. Sometimes, it’s even about weaving. 🙂
    Blessings to you,
    Cindy

  • Joanna says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and the family, Karen. This time of year seems to me to be a bit like your end of warp: winding down but with one last stretch needing a little extra thought and care.

    I’ve got a question for you. I know that you use new cloth for yor rag strips, but do you wash and press it before cutting the strips? Your rugs are sooo beautiful!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna, Yes, these few remaining weeks of the year are a testing ground for our gentle and quiet spirits.

      I do wash and dry the fabric before cutting into strips for weaving. I want to pre-shrink it and rinse out excess dye, so I wash it in hot water and dry it in a hot dryer. I do not press the fabric unless it is too wrinkled to be able to fold it flat for cutting. In that case, just ironing the selvedges is usually enough.

      I appreciate your kind compliment about my rugs. Weaving rag rugs is one of my greatest pleasures.

      Happy Thanks-Giving to you and yours,
      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    Wow, that was close to the warp end, wasn’t it, Karen! May all your warps end so well. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, Yes, too close for comfort. When will I learn not to overestimate what I have left? I’ve done this too many times. When you get that far, though, you’re determined to make it work.

      Happy Thanksgiving you and your family, too!
      Karen

  • Patti Hawryluk says:

    Thank you for your insights! I live in Canada, so we have celebrated Thanksgiving about 5 weeks ago. But a reminded to be grateful is always welcome. May yours be full of both Thanks and Giving.

    Patti

    • Karen says:

      Hi Patti from Canada, We do need reminders to be grateful. It’s more important than the celebration of a holiday. Thanks for your kind thoughts.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Laurie Mrvos says:

    Beautiful post, Karen. Just received the two low profile Hockett shuttles I ordered after reading Handwoven’s article on Finnweave. Glad to have added them to my arsenal.
    Thank you for the beautiful words. I can always count on you for your words of wisdom.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laurie, I’m sure your new shuttles are beautiful! Yes, it doesn’t hurt to have a low-profile shuttle or two just in case the end of the warp comes a little too soon. 🙂 Of course, these shuttles are also good for proper things like Finnweave and damask weaving.

      I appreciate your sweet sentiments.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Lisa says:

    Thank you. Our family has been dealing with one adversity after another this year and I really needed to hear those words in particular today. I can’t tell you how many times standing at the loom has been what helps me make it through the next day.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lisa, It’s not easy to face continued difficulties. If I could be a small part of helping you through that, I’m glad. If only I could reach all the way through and give you a hug, I would. There’s always a new day. Hopefully, your trying times will transition to happier times soon. I’m glad you have your loom.

      Warmly,
      Karen

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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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