I know how to write music. I am experienced in playing improvisational music on my cello. And I don’t have a problem making up a tune to sing on the spot. But nothing touches the richness of music’s beauty like getting out the Beethoven Sonatas at the piano, or Bach’s Six Suites for the cello, or singing from an old-fashioned hymnal. Likewise, I do know how to write a weaving draft from scratch, but I usually find my starting point in one of my favored weaving books. There are countless designs and dreamy pictures. From simple to extraordinary. Sometimes I follow the instructions precisely. But most often, the improviser in me examines the elements and finds a new version to “play.”
Here are just a few of my favorite weaving books, and a sampling of what they have produced.
New year 2017 is beginning! It’s time again to take account of where we stand in our life’s dreams and goals. What can we check off the list? And, what is still in progress? And, maybe there’s something new to add. But first, let me count my blessings. I’m filled with gratitude, thankful for you! What a JOY it is to have friends like you to walk through this weaving journey with me.
Rag rugs are not finished when you cut them from the loom. In fact, they can fall apart if you are not careful. A rag rug is not secure until warpends are tied into knots. You need to leave space on the warp between rag rugs to make room for the eventual knots.
One way to leave space on the warp is by using warping slats as spacers. Simply weave about two inches of scrap header after the end of a rug. Then, insert warping slats in alternating plain weavesheds. And then, weave another scrap header. Now, you’re ready to start the next rug.
I leave about eight inches (20 cm) of warp between rugs. This gives me enough length for tying the needed square knots. If you are leaving fringe, add enough to include the desired fringe length. When you insert the warping slats, keep them centered so that they can go around the breast beam and cloth beam without catching on the sides of the loom.
It is easy to separate the rugs after they are off the loom. Cut between slats using a rotary cutter, with a cutting mat underneath.
What can you do with odds and ends? Plenty. I do use new cotton fabric for my rag rugs. But I refrain from buying new fabric until I absolutely have to. It’s a good challenge to combine available colors from previous rag rug projects to make a new design. There are two piles of color for this double binding rag rug. The blue pile and the brown/black pile. The color blocks switch places in the rug about every seventeen centimeters, with a three-pick white chain pattern in between.
I enjoy combining multiple shades of a color, such as the blue in this rug, to add character. Every odd fabric strip finds a place to belong. It ends up looking cozy and friendly. All the mismatched pieces somehow fit together.
We belong to somebody. We belong to the one who made us–the Creator of everything. He weaves the fabric strips together to make his beautiful design. Scraps become useful, and colors are mixed and rearranged in interesting ways. Together, the woven mixture has a purpose. A rag rug, made from odds and ends like us, puts the creativity of our Maker on display.
My goal for every rag rug I weave is to make a pleasant footpath that lasts through many, many seasons of wear. What makes an exceptional rag rug? Quality of workmanship and design. Tightly-packed weft, snug selvedges, and high quality materials produce a strong rug. And, great design includes an interplay of weave structure, color, detail elements, and functionality.
Strength is like a quality handcrafted rug that handles daily foot traffic. And joy is like the artist’s design, the colorful pattern, that is woven into the rug. Strength and joy go hand in hand. We see this in creation. And in our Creator, who gives of himself to those who come near. Be refreshed with strength and joy.