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

14 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

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Tighter-than-Tight Warp

This Glimåkra Ideal is a super sturdy little loom. I call it the “Baby Loom,” but it’s not a baby in strength. She can handle anything I put on her. The warp is so tight on this rag rug that I have to release the front ratchet and loosen the warp a bit before I can even budge the ratchet on the back beam to release it.

Rag rug reaches the cloth beam.

Spaced rep rag rug reaches the cloth beam.

I like having a super-tight warp for rag rugs. It means I can get firm selvedges. And, I can put the momentum of the hanging beater to its best advantage, thoroughly packing in the weft. Best of all, I know this tight warp gives me a foundation for good strong rugs.

Tight selvedges on this rag rug.

Tight warp makes it possible to keep tight selvedges. At the selvedge, fabric strip is turned twice, and then pulled to snugly wrap around the outer warp ends.

Spaced rep rag rugs. Designing on the loom is fun!

Designing on the loom is fun with the thick (fabric) and thin (warp thread) wefts. I make notes on paper so I can repeat the designs across the length of the rug.

I want my trust in the Lord to be so tight that nothing can move it out of place. To be that certain, that focused. The Lord looks for people who trust him completely. He searches high and low for those whose hearts are completely his. He gives them his strong support—unwavering strength of support. Ratchet up the warp. We can trust the Grand Weaver and his loom.

May your warp be tighter than tight.

Happy weaving,
Karen

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Rag Rugs with a Zillion Threads

It thrills me to weave rag rugs again! This is spaced rep, and I am weaving almost the full width of this 100 cm (39″) Glimåkra Ideal. That means there are zillions of threads involved. 724 warp ends, to be exact.

Getting ready to weave spaced rep rag rugs.

Spaced rep is warp faced, but the weft is not completely covered. There is enough space between warp ends for some of the fabric-strip weft to show.

This is a type of warp rep, but it is not completely warp faced because there is space between the warp ends. It is also similar to the thick-and-thin weaving I have done with hand towels. Thick weft (fabric strips) alternates with thin weft (12/6 cotton rug warp). Pattern blocks change with two thick picks in a row.

Stripes for spaced rep rag rugs.

Stripes on the warp beam and back beam is a handsome sight.

With all those threads these rugs are made to last. They will outlast me, I’m sure. And my children, and grandchildren. But eventually, even these rugs will wear out.

Testing weft options for some rag rugs.

Testing weft options and trying out block patterns.

Everything but God ages and wears out. Even this earth and the heavens that we see will someday wear out. That’s when it’s good to know the Maker. He keeps those who have made him their trust. And, when we wear out and come to and end, he has a place for us where we will enjoy him forever.

May you make things that last and last.

Happy weaving,
Karen

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Warp Chain Optimist

Is there a better picture of optimism than a warp chain? Especially warp chains that are sitting on the loom bench ready to become something! Anticipation electrifies the weaving space because fabric-making is about to happen!

Warp chains for a spaced repp rag rug.

Four bouts of 12/6 cotton rug warp for spaced rep rag rugs. The warp is eight meters long.

The Glimåkra Ideal is getting dressed for weaving rag rugs. Hooray! And the Glimåkra Standard is getting dressed for double weave baby blankets. I keep a regular cycle of weaving, cutting off, and starting over.

Warp chains of 8/2 cotton for baby blankets.

Three bouts of 8/2 cotton for double weave baby blankets, gifts for friends. The warp is three meters long.

Dress the loom. Weave a sample. Plan the next project and order supplies. Weave what’s on the loom to the finish line. Cut off. Do the finishing work. Wind the warp for the next project, and put the warp chain(s) on the loom bench. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Every beginning has an end. Every warp. Every life. And even every day comes to an end. What will I make of that warp? This life? This day? Our life is a mere shadow, fading quickly. To honor our Grand Weaver, we want to value every day we’ve been given. And when our hope and trust is in Him, we know the fabric he is weaving will last forever.

May you value this day you’ve been given.

Happy weaving,
Karen

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Rya for the Rest

This loom doesn’t get first priority. This sweet little loom is at our Texas hill country getaway. Usually there are several fixer-upper projects to be done around the place. But I’m glad the loom is there. It calls to me to come and sit down, to get absorbed in linen threads and colors. The loom is a resting place for me. A place where ideas take shape and new dreams begin.

Sweet little hand-made loom.

Sweet little loom sits in a corner of the living room beckoning me to come and rest for a while.

Rya knots and inlay. All linen.

Green weft butterfly weaves the background. A yellow bundle, not seen, hangs under the warp and is added here and there for the “dots” in the green. Rya butterflies are in assorted combinations of colors. All linen.

I’m at the rya section of this tapestry and inlay sampler. It is a fun exercise in creativity. The rya knots are tied using a continuous weft bundle. After a few rows are woven I clip the loops that are formed, and trim them down a little to shape the pile.

Linen rya knots!

Explosion of linen threads. Several sizes and types of linen are combined in the rya butterflies that are used to make the rya knots.

Weaving linen rya knots. Weaving from the front.

Weaving from the front means that all the loose inlay weft tails, and spliced wefts, are hanging down on the back.

Make time for rest. We need periods of rest built into the rhythm of our lives. Intentional rest acknowledges our human limitations and inadequacy, which leads us to put our trust in the Lord. And that is where the best hopes and dreams get their start.

May you enjoy sweet rest.

With you,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Cindy Bills says:

    Thank you for reminding us about our need to rest in the Lord. I needed to hear that today. 🙂 I, too, find rest at my loom. It is a place of creativity and prayer as I look out my window onto the pond and wildlife in my front yard. Our place requires a lot of upkeep, especially in the summer. It’s nice to have a chance to sit for a while and like you said, create and dream.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cindy, It sounds like you have a beautiful setting for creativity at your loom. I’m happy you found a nugget of encouragement today.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Linda Cornell says:

    Thank you for that good reminder; to rest in the Lord.

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