Quiet Friday: Rya Rag Rug

I wasn’t happy with a simple “X” for the design area, but I struggled to come up with something better for this rug. And then, Steve and I went to the symphony. There, on the floor, in the long hallway, was the inspiration I needed for the pattern design on this rug!

Design inspiration for a rug.
Design inspiration is found on the floor on the way to the symphony.

Despite all that went wrong from the start, and how many things I had to undo and do over, I must tell you that I really did enjoy weaving this rug. The rya knots and loops made it fun and interesting. And this unique fluffy rug will always remind me of that sweet symphony date with my honey, when he patiently waited as I pulled out my iPhone to snap a few shots of the floor. Now that’s love.

Counting warp ends on the warping reel.
Counting warp ends on the warping reel.
Dressing the loom starts with pre-sleying the reed.
Dressing the loom starts with pre-sleying the reed.
Ski shuttle and temple for making large rag rug.
Ski shuttle holds doubled weft–fabric cut into 3/4″-wide strips.
Cutting fabric strips for rya knots.
Three different lengths of fabric strips are used for making the rya knots.
Placing rya knots in large rag rug.
Adding more rya knots.
Large rag rug with rya knots and loops.
Loops are made with the help of a wooden dowel.
Rag rug with inlay, using a brown paper cartoon under the warp.
Brown paper cartoon under the warp has the outline for the pattern. Lines on the cartoon, showing where to change the inlay technique, are inked onto the warp as a guide.
Making loops on a rag rug. Fun!
Making loops.
Extra warp width after re-sleying the reed.
After weaving a sample at the very beginning, I re-sleyed the reed, spreading the warp ends further apart. Excess warp ends, because of the increased width, are chained on both sides. Future band loom warps?
Another do-over.
Don’t ask. Almost finished weaving, and another do-over happened.
Cutting off!! Time to celebrate!!
Cutting off! Time to celebrate!!
Handwoven rag rug with rya knots and loops.
Sculpted inlay appearance is achieved by graduated lengths of the rya strips and heights of the loops.

Rag rug with rya and loops. Karen Isenhower

May your design inspiration come from unanticipated places.


One Mini Rag Rug

I am calling this miniature rag rug experiment a success! Oh what fun to play with colorful fabric to make rosepath designs in rag rugs. This sample size is great for trying out various designs and color combinations. Pure delight for a rag rug weaver like me!

Mini rag rug on the loom with rosepath design.
Mini rag rug on the loom with rosepath design.

I am cutting this first “rug” off. After finishing the ends and hemming the little rug, I will see if adjustments are needed before weaving the rest of the warp. It’s the details I’m interested in–sett, weft density, finished dimensions, selvedges, design, balance of color, size of hem. All of these assessments affect my plans for the remaining warp. I am excited about weaving more of these mini rugs! I smile to think of it.

Small rosepath rag rug sample.
Warp is tied on and ready for weaving the next small rag rug.
Mini rosepath rag rug with favorite coffee mug. Karen Isenhower
Favorite artisan coffee mug is right at home on the cute little rug. Finished rag rug measures 6 x 10 1/2″ / 15 x 26.5cm.

The Lord is intricately involved in the lives of those who belong to Him. He delights in details that require His guidance. It is as if the Lord is holding my hand, especially when I need guidance to navigate life’s challenges. The Lord delights in helping us. After all, what He is making is much more exciting than anything found on our looms.

May you find delightful details in the work of your hands.

Happy weaving,

Storm Troopers in a Rag Rug?

There are some crazy prints embedded in my rag rugs. I buy cotton fabric in five-yard lengths. When I scan the fabric bolts at the store, I look for specific colors and interesting patterns. More prints make it into my rugs than solid colors.

Fabric for another interesting rag rug!
Drawn to a bolt of fabric with a touch of blue on a mostly-white background, I was surprised to find the popular sci-fi vehicles in the print. Storm Troopers can hide in plain sight on this rug.

Unusual prints can add hidden surprises to a rug. Take Star Wars prints, for example. No one will know that the Millenium Falcon or Storm Troopers are in the finished rug. After all, the fabric has been sliced into strips, and is used only intermittently as weft and inlay. But the weavershe knows, and smiles about it. Am I a Star Wars fanatic? No, not by a long shot. I selected the fabric for its colors and effect. I wanted to make something new out of these popular movie prints.

Rag rug with rya knots and loops.
Where are the Storm Troopers? There are a few hiding among the rya strips, and some are in the weft rows that stand out as black and white.
Creating loops on a rag rug.
Loops are created on the rug, using a wooden dowel. And a five-yard strip of Millenium Falcon fabric waits on the ski shuttle, ready to be hidden in the weave.

This is what our Savior does for us. Jesus takes us as we are and makes us completely new. We each come marked with unusual prints, and wonder what can be made of us. Jesus is not patching and fixing things, leaving us in our original state. He is making something completely new. Our personality and individual features are still there, for our Grand Weaver finds a way to make them into something good. Perhaps he smiles at the thought.

May your unusual prints bring a smile to your Maker.

With you,

Ability Is Not Enough

I love a challenging project! It is marvelous to have something on the loom that takes effort, concentration, and problem-solving skills (as long as there aren’t too many problems to solve). This inlay rag rug project includes all of the above, and it’s on the big loom–my favorite. This is handweaving at its best!

Rya rag rug on the loom. Karen Isenhower
Rya knots slow the weaving process. Fabric strips are cut to a specific length and the cut pieces are hand-tied around pairs of warp ends.

I am constantly evaluating the pattern, and making needed adjustments with color in the background and with the rya, and spacing the rya knots. Is this working? Or not? Take out a few rows, try putting something different in, step back for a better overall view. Moving and thinking, and beating it in hard, like it should be for a rug. The momentum of the hanging beater makes the hard work easy. And fun.

Rug rug with rya knots on the loom.
Weft is firmly beaten in. The momentum of the hanging beater provides the strength I need to be able to tightly pack in the weft.

Ability by itself is not enough. Wisdom works with ability to produce craftsmanship of highest quality. Our Creator gives us insight that enhances our natural talents and learned skills. When wisdom partners with ability, creativity flourishes. And what a joy it is to be in the middle of that process.

May you excel in joyful creativity.

Very happy weaving,

Rag Rug Rya

I have an enormous brown paper cartoon hanging under the warp, suspended by a contraption of wood, string, and rubber bands.The pattern area of this rag rug begins with rya knots. The dark colors of the rya pile contrast with a background of whites, off-whites and light prints. The rya knots follow a geometric design that I drew onto the brown paper with a Sharpie.

Rag rug with rya knots.
Brown paper under the warp hangs over a slat which is suspended with seine twine and rubber bands.

As the designer and weaver, I already see the finished rug in my mind’s eye, and understand what is needed to complete it. I am weaving this rag rug for our own home, so naturally I am already thinking about where it will be placed. This makes it personal, and the slow weaving process grants me the opportunity to know this rug, inside and out.

Tightly-woven selvedges on hefty rag rug with rya knots.
Tightly-woven selvedges. Doubled weft gives extra fullness and weight to the rug, as well as contributing to strong rug selvedges.

Yes, it is important for me to know my Maker, but even more important that He knows me. All of life has meaning when God knows you by name. He knows what is needed to give our lives purpose. And the slow process becomes that much more personal as he weaves the design that he has seen all along.

May you accumulate many meaningful moments.

Happy rug weaving,