Process Review: Weaving Rhythm

“With so many looms, how do you decide what to weave every day?,” I was asked. The answer lies in my Weaving Rhythm. I have five floor looms. I happily aspire to meet the challenge of keeping all of them active.

Glossary

Weaving Rhythm ~ A pattern created across time, through a regular succession of weaving-related tasks.

Arrange individual tasks to keep each loom consistently moving forward in the weaving continuum.

Weaving Continuum ~ The cycle for each loom that is continually repeated.

When the first few centimeters are woven on a new project, begin planning the next project. When finishing is completed for the current project, wind a new warp and dress the loom for the next project.

First Things First ~ Prioritize daily tasks to maintain the Weaving Rhythm.

  1. Finishing
  2. Dressing
  3. Weaving

Do some finishing work first. Do some loom-dressing tasks next. The reward, then, is sitting at one of the dressed looms and freely weaving for the pleasure of it.

Weaving bath towels on the Glimakra Standard.
Glimåkra Standard, 120cm (47″), vertical countermarch. My first floor loom. Weaving the third of four bath towels, 6-shaft broken and reverse twill, 22/2 cottolin warp and weft.
Weaving hanging tabs for bath towels.
Glimåkra two-treadle band loom. Weaving hanging tabs for bath towels. 22/2 cottolin warp and weft.
Glimakra 100cm Ideal. Sweet little loom.
Glimåkra Ideal, 100cm (39″), horizontal countermarch. My second floor loom. Dressing the loom in 24/2 cotton, five-shaft huckaback, for fabric to make a tiered skirt. Ready to start sleying the reed.
Hand-built Swedish loom.
Loom that Steve built, 70cm (27″), horizontal countermarch. My third floor loom. Weaving the header for a pictorial tapestry sample, four-shaft rosepath, 16/2 linen warp, Tuna/Fårö wool and 6/1 tow linen weft.
Sweet little Glimakra Julia 8-shaft loom.
Glimåkra Julia, 70cm (27″), horizontal countermarch. This is my fifth (and final?) floor loom. Weaving the first of two scarves, eight-shaft deflected double weave, 8/1 Mora wool warp and weft.
Weaving lettering on the drawloom.
Glimåkra Standard, 120cm (47″), horizontal countermarch, with Myrehed combination drawloom attachment. This is my fourth floor loom. Weaving some lettering for the seventh pattern on this sample warp, six-shaft irregular satin, 16/2 cotton warp, 16/1 linen weft. 35 pattern shafts, 132 single unit draw cords.

Give Thanks ~ Live with a thankful heart.

Every day I thank the Lord for granting me the joy of being in this handweaving journey. And I thank him for bringing friends like you along with me.

May you always give thanks.

With a grateful heart,
Karen

22 Comments

  • Den says:

    Your weaving is always an inspiration. I look forward to each post. Thank you.

  • Karen says:

    You amaze me! I have too many different hobbies and have to dedicate hours each day to different projects!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, You have some wonderful experiences with using your gifts. I have so much more I want to learn about weaving, and I enjoy digging in to this weaving arena.

      Happy weaving and everything else,
      Karen

  • marianne poling says:

    I love your idea of a “weaving rhythm…” immersing oneself in a “weaving life” that will increase skills and enjoy the gifts weaving brings every day! I tend to weave as a “reward” after all the daily tasks are completed. unfortunately, weaving gets pushed to the back of the line and then I don’t weave as much as I would like to. This was eye-opening for me and I am going to try and find my “weaving rhythm!”

    I really enjoy your blog!
    Marianne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marianne, I like that you identified increasing skill and enjoying the gifts. That does explain why I focus on getting a good rhythm. There are always other necessary things to do to care for family and friends, but it’s good to be mindful of being stewards of the gifts we’ve been given, too. All of life deals with finding priorities and balance.

      Thank you for your thoughtful words,
      Karen

  • Elisabeth says:

    Thank you so much for inspiring me to think through my own processes and priorities! My challenge is that I make things in a variety of techniques: knitting, weaving, sewing, and quilting…I am so happy I eliminated the rest of them

    Since I only have one floor loom I decided to think of these techniques as my “looms”. Each “loom” requires a slightly different process, and it was very useful to actually take the time to think through each of them, what part do I enjoy the most and what do I tend to put off. You have mentioned that you put finishing first to make sure it gets done. It is interesting how people are different, finishing is the easiest part for me, while dressing the loom tends to be put off, even with a warp waiting.
    Another interesting part for me is to pay attention to which of the different technique requires almost no motivation to get going. Do you see a difference when it comes to your looms? Or the kind of projects you are working on?

    Thank you again for inspiring me to learn and grow!
    Love, Elisabeth

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, From one thinker to another… There’s a fascination to figuring out structures and processes in life. I’m glad to hear this post prompted you to think through some things. You have certainly helped me to think through things, too.

      As far as motivation on different sorts of projects, I do find that I tend to be drawn to the fascination of the drawloom, to weaving a tapestry, and to weaving rag rugs. I need no motivation for those at all. Even so, I find enjoyment in every stage of the process on every one of the looms.

      Thanks for helping me think,
      Karen

  • Pamela Graham says:

    Wow, impressive! You are clearly an inspiration. I am curious about the drawloom; I thought you could only add a drawloom to a VERTICAL countermarch loom.
    Thanks,
    Pam

    • Karen says:

      Hi Pam, It is certainly easier to add a drawloom to a vertical countermarch. We (meaning Steve) modified the horizontal countermarch to fit with the drawloom frame.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Karen!

  • Helen P. says:

    Hello. I liked reading your posts a lot and here last I can see that you have a Glimåkra Ideal, I have the same. Unfortunately, I have a lot of problems getting the scales accurately, even though I know how to regulate various things. Maybe you can help me. Do you have an approximate measure of the basic binding to the Ideal loom. That is, the measure from shaft to short stool, the measure from short stool to long stool, the measure from long stool to tramp. Just like that, as a guide. Thanks in advance. Sincerely, Helen Pedersen.

    • Karen says:

      Hello Helen, Yes, I have a Glimåkra Ideal. Approximate measurements – from bottom of shafts to the short lamms is about 18cm, from short lamms to long lamms is about 18cm, from long lamms to treadles is about 23cm. The warp is not tied on yet, so these measurements are not exact.

      How many shafts are you using? Sometimes with more than 4 shafts, it is a little tricky to get everything to balance.

      Thank you,
      Karen

  • Nannette says:

    Hi Karen,
    I noticed you begin planning the next project while weaving the current project.
    Just one future project? 😉

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!

    Nannette

  • Angela M Roberts says:

    Amen xoxo

  • Angela M Roberts says:

    One Question ? Do you keep them all warped and working,Simultaneously ??
    Or one at a time ?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Angela, Each loom is on its own independent schedule. They are rarely synchronized so that they are all in weaving mode at the same time. Usually, the looms are operating in different phases of the weaving continuum. So, each day I decide which loom to focus on next. I can only weave on one loom at a time, so sometimes a warp sits on the loom for a while until I can get back to it.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Hi Karen,
    I have a similar process, and have three looms that are usually active.
    When I was a fairly new weaver, I remember Anita Meyer saying that she has one project in the planning stage, one project in the weaving stage and one project in the finishing stage, and then working within the rhythms of her days. I follow a similar rhythm and it keeps me happy. I also have a fourth stage which is documentation and learning. Documentation so that I don’t forget what I have done, and learning because learning is a continuous lifelong adventure.
    Thanks for the inspiration today.
    Barbara

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barbara, You have a great system. Documentation is important, yes. I include it in my finishing stage. And I’m with you, learning is a lifelong adventure!

      Thanks for your great input,
      Karen

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Tools Day: Warping Slat Spacers

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 warp ends 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 weave sheds. And then, weave another scrap header. Now, you’re ready to start the next rug.

Warping slats as spacers between rag rugs.

Weaving is finished. It is time to cut these rugs from the loom. Four warping slats are seen between two rag rugs as the rugs are being pulled off the loom.

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.

Warping slats are used as spacers between rag rugs.

Full-width warping slats are placed carefully so that they do not extend beyond the weaving width on the right or on the left. This view is looking down on the end of the breast beam.

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.

Warping slats are used as spacers between two rag rugs on the loom.

Double binding rag rugs are ready to be removed from the loom. The two rugs will be cut apart by slicing the warp between the middle two warping slats.

May you make the best use of your time and tools.

All the best,
Karen

2 Comments

  • n says:

    Why do you tie square knots if you are going to hem the rug? N.

    • Karen says:

      N., The knots stabilize the weaving. Without something to hold the weft in, even turning the edge to make a hem would loosen the weaving. And, if the hem comes undone in the life of the rug, the knots will still be there holding the rug together.

      Thanks for asking!
      Karen

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How to Begin a Rag Rug

It is not enough to be pretty; a good rag rug must also be sturdy. Four crucial steps give a rag rug the solid foundation it needs to get off to a great start, and to be ready for the strong beat required to make a rug that lasts.

How to Begin a Rag Rug

1 Space

  • leave enough warp to tie and finish ends after the rug is cut from the loom

Assuming there is a sample at the beginning of the warp, leave space after the sample. Leave about 4″ (10 cm) of empty warp. Then, using two warping slats, place one slat in each plain weave shed. The slats act as a spacer, and as a firm backstop for beating in the waste rags. (Leave about 8″ / 20 cm of space between each rug, from header to header.)

How to begin a rag rug. Four crucial steps.

Empty warp is followed by a pair of warping slats, scrap weft, warp yarn header, and beginning of hem. Measurements are marked on twill tape for reference while weaving.

2 Waste rags

  • a place to attach the temple
  • prevent the header from unraveling when the rug is cut from the loom

Weave with scrap fabric strips, 1 – 2″ (2.5 – 5 cm) wide, for 2″ (5 cm). Attach the temple as soon as possible.

3 Header

  • secures the rug weft
  • gives the rug a firm edge

Use warp yarn to weave a 3/8″ (1 cm) weft-faced header. Arrange the weft in small arcs across the width of the shed. Treadle the next shed and beat in the weft.

Weaving header for rag rug. How to.

With temple in place, the header is woven with 12/6 cotton, the warp yarn. Forming small waves in the weft places more weft in the shed, which helps prevent draw-in.

4 Hem

  • thinner rag weave, to be turned under and stitched

Cut fabric into narrow strips, 1/4″ (.5 cm) wide. Weave hem to desired length, with enough to fold under itself for finishing.

–Repeat the four steps in reverse order at the end of the rug.–

How to begin a good, sturdy rag rug!

Ready for the body of the rug! A good, strong beat will not disturb this layered foundation.

It takes courage to live by faith. Courage is the backbone against which life circumstances can push. Faith is knowing God has a higher purpose for the circumstances we find ourselves in. A rag rug with this firm starting point will not only look good, but be ready for a purpose. And so will we.

May you live courageously.

With faith,
Karen

13 Comments

  • Gerda says:

    This is a very timely post for me. My rotary cutter arrives on Tuesday and I am planning my very first rag rug. I finally have a Toika Liisa up and running so can undertake to weave something that requires heavy beating. Do you add any weights to your beater to get more sturdy rugs? Thanks so much for taking the time to explain, photograph and film. Your posts are a great read and so much more than just showing your achievement. Much appreciated! Looking forward to seeing your rug finished (and mine started)!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Gerda,

      I’m excited for you and your new adventure with rag rugs! I do not add weights to my beater. I can get a very strong beat with my overslung beater, because of the natural momentum in the swinging beater.
      My practice is: 1. place the weft 2. beat in that open shed 3. change sheds 4. beat twice
      After a while, you get a pretty good rhythm with that sequence. Though, with rag rugs it’s never “fast,” but that’s okay with me. 🙂

      Very happy weaving!
      Karen

  • Susan says:

    Thanks so much for the post. May I ask what end per inch are you using?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Susan,

      The sett for this project is 8 ends per inch. I am using an 8 dent reed, with 1 end per heddle and 1 end per dent. (Except for selvedges, which are 2 ends per heddle/ 2 ends per dent/ 2 times each side.)

      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    Thank you for sharing your techniques for weaving rag rugs and increasing my knowledge and excitement for weaving rugs. I had not thought of using narrower rags for the hem – I’ve always used coordinating yarn. Your rag technique will be used on my next rug. I am looking forward to seeing your finished project along with any tips you have for finishing your hems. Several people I weave with use glue and/or another adhesive to secure the warp ends in addition to the knots they tie before the hem is sewn down. I’m curious to learn of your techniques. Blessings!

  • Tobie says:

    This post is so timely.
    I don’t seem to get sturdy enough weaving. I do not know if my weft is too thin or I am not beating hard enough. I weave on a Macomber which is a heavy loom.
    I’ve been using t-shirts for weft and now have some old sheets to dye and cut. How wide are your strips?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tobie,

      I’m glad this post came at a good time for you!
      I cut my strips 3/4″ wide unless the fabric is very lightweight, in which case I cut them a little bit wider. I use only pre-washed cotton fabric. I’ve never used t-shirts or knit fabric for rugs, so I can’t tell you anything about that.

      Several factors contribute to a solid, sturdy rug. Here are a few that come to mind:
      –Tight warp – I don’t know how much you can tighten the warp on your Macomber, but I keep the warp very tight on my Glimakra.
      –Find the sett that works for your weft and your loom. My usual sett is 8 epi. If the weft is not packing in tight, you might try 6 epi.
      –Strong beat. I beat once with an open shed, then change sheds and beat twice. Some people add weight to the beater. I haven’t needed added weight with my overslung beater.
      –Make sure your selvedges are tight. Loose selvedges will weaken the entire rug. I twist the weft twice and pull it tight around the outer selvedge.
      –Use a temple. This helps with the beat and with getting tight selvedges.

      Hope that helps,
      Karen

  • Kathy says:

    This is wonderful information! Thank you! I just got an older Kessenich loom, which is pretty heavy and solid, and I’d like to try a rag rug soon. Are you using plain weave for the rug? When you twist the weft twice, do you turn the ski shuttle around itself, too? Also, do you iron the fabric strips in half? Or do you iron both long edges to the center? If you iron both to the center, do you fold it in half so they are on the inside? Thank you so much! Kathy

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kathy, Great questions!
      Many of my rag rugs are patterned weaves, like rosepath, which includes plain weave for the hem and between the pattern picks.
      When I twist the weft, I do not turn the ski shuttle around. By holding the other end of the weft taut I can easily straighten the fabric strip in the shed.
      I do not iron or fold the fabric strips at all. I cut them 3/4″ and lay them in the shed as is.

      Happy rag rug weaving!

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