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,

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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,


  • Kris says:

    Your rug is beautiful! I’m looking forward to seeing it when it is finished. Thank you for sharing your final thoughts in the last paragraph. What a blessing to have the awareness of where our true creativity comes from – AND our wisdom! 🙂 Blessings, Kris

    • Karen says:

      Good Morning, Kris,
      Having “the awareness of where our true creativity comes from” is a major factor in finding enjoyment in this weaving journey. Thanks for your input!


  • Sharon says:

    Thank you for sharing your natural talents and sharing that it’s given to us by our Blessed One.

    • Karen says:

      Sharon, I am so pleased to have you share your thoughts! Our natural talents are gifts for sharing with others, right? If we keep them to ourselves, we really don’t have much chance to grow and develop.


  • linda says:

    Karen: some of us don’t have that wonderful Swedish machine your doing your very creative rug on. sooooo for those of us with jack looms here is a hint to getting enough “umpha” to pack that weft in as tight as Karen’s. Get a 1″ square metal bar as long as your beater bar, drill holes in it to match the tightening screws that hold the reed in place, get new screws long enough to go through the beater bar and the metal bar. Now you can add weight on the back side of the beater bar and “umpha” to pack that weft nice and tight.
    I guess my true talent is sharing all the tricks I’ve learned over these 45 years of weaving. I don’t love the weaving, BUT I love the correcting and designing , Helping and sharing. LP&J linda

    • Karen says:

      Linda, I’m very grateful that you are so willing to share your knowledge and experience!

      Thank you!

    • Linda Landry says:

      Thanks for the hint on how to pack a tighter rug. I have a counterrible
      balance and it’s always a challenge. Definitely will have to add weight to my beater! linda 2 🙂

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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,


  • linda says:

    I can’t wait to see this one. It looks like so much fun. The first weaving project was 44 years ago and it was a rug with Rya loops and a worked in pattern. I KNEW NOTHING. directions said to wind X # of threads for warp so I very carefully wound individual balls of warp , no warping board here and no idea I should have one. I ended up tying each to the back beam, taking ALL the balls across the 30′ of living room and hall, out the front door and down the steps… needless to say it was a challenge, but I’m still weaving and the rug lasted 40 years. Have a great time as you go you may as the designer/weaver change your mind about the design….GO FOR IT, LP&J, linda

    • Karen says:

      Wow, Linda, fabulous! I can just picture what a sight that was, warping your loom – and the joy involved in a brand new adventure. You really made me smile! And the rug lasted 40 years. Of course, it did – it’s a handwoven piece of love! 🙂

      And it is very possible that I may “adjust” the design as I go. That’s the great advantage of being designer AND weaver!

      Love to you,

  • Janie Payne says:

    I would really like to see a post of this finished please? I have made rag rug bags but not a rug yet, will have to be next weaving project!

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Sley, Sley Again

I have never re-sleyed a warp after weaving the sample. Until now. It’s a drastic measure; but it’s better than fighting with the warp the whole way. I’m doing inlay on a rag rug, with rya knots and other techniques. It didn’t take long to see that the ends needed to be spaced further apart. But this is why we sample, right?

Beginning sample of rag rug weaving with rya knots.

Rya knots quickly add bulk to the rag rug sample. Three rows of rag knots are already creating a little hill in the weft.

Cutting off a sample piece. Painter's tape as cutting template.

Four inches are marked on a piece of painter’s tape to use as a template for cutting the warp. I want enough length on the sample piece being cut off to be able to tie the ends in square knots.

It was not an easy decision to re-sley. I had anticipated an enjoyable day of rag rug weaving. Instead, I spent the day cutting off, pulling the ends out of the reed, switching reeds, re-sleying, dealing with extra warp width, tying back on, and beginning a new sample. Is this called learning the hard way? Nope. This is simply called learning.

Rag rug sample with inlay techniques.

Warp has been re-sleyed and is ready for weaving a new sample. First sample piece includes rya knots, loop technique, and HV technique on weft rep, using fabric strips for weft and weft inlay.

Rag rug sample, trying out rya knots.

After re-sleying, I start a second sample. I am happy to see that the rya knots fit into place without adding excessive bulk to the weaving.

Weaving, relationships, and purposeful living. Learning takes time–a lifetime. I want the Lord to teach me how to live. Even when it means messy beginnings and do-overs that use up my day. We have a lot to learn. Lord, teach me, and lead me on your path. More than a prayer in crisis, this is a lifetime prayer for a lifetime of learning.

May you know when to start a do-over.

Still learning,


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Happy Weaving New Year!

January 1st is more than just another day, isn’t it? It’s a time to review the past year and bring new dreams into the year ahead. This pivot point calls for gratitude. I am especially grateful for friends like you who walk with me on this weaving journey!

Thick and thin cottolin towels on this warp. One towel to go!

Thick and thin cottolin towels on this warp. One towel to go!

The end is near! The end of the warp, that is. Halvdräll on the loom.

The end is near! The end of the warp, that is. Almost ready for the final border of the halvdräll table square. There will be just enough warp left for a short sample piece.

First up in the new year I have thick and thin towels to finish, and the halvdräll is oh so close to the end of the warp (didn’t quite make it for Christmas). And one little girl is off the small tapestry loom, waiting for final finishing, mounting, and framing.

Little girl small tapestry.

Little girl small tapestry. After finishing the ends, the piece will be mounted on linen-covered foam board and placed in a frame.

Thank you for walking with me through 2015!

May you bring big dreams into the new year!

Joyful New Year,


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