Stony Creek Drawloom Rag Rug

I have woven umpteen rag rugs. But never one like this! Eight-shaft satin on the single-unit drawloom brings its own challenges, from managing draw cords to getting a decent shed. Add rag weaving to the mix and we have a whole new experience!

Cutting off drawloom rag rug.
Cutting off in 1-inch sections to make it easy to tie back on for the second rug on the warp.

Finishing has its own set of new challenges. My go-to method of tying knots to secure warp ends is unwieldy in this instance because the threads are extremely dense. By quietly doing some detail studies on a sample, I find a way to finish this unusual rug: Secure the ends with the serger. Then, sew two rows of straight stitches on the sewing machine for added security. Sew a narrow bound hem using some of the fabric that was used as weft in the rug. Steam press to finish.

Drawloom rag rug finishing details.
Serger cuts off the ends as it overlocks the edge. I pull out the scrap header little by little just ahead of the serger needles and blade.
Finishing drawloom rag rug - steps.
Two rows of straight stitching.
Bound hem on a drawloom rag rug.
Lightweight woven fusible interfacing backs the fabric used for the narrow bound hem.
My Grandma's thimble.
My Grandma’s thimble helps me hand stitch the back side of the bound hems.
Drawloom rag rug finished!
Finished and pressed.
Stony Creek Rag Rug woven on single-unit drawloom! (Design by Kerstin Åsling-Sundberg)
Dream come true! Stony Creek Rag Rug (Design by Kerstin Åsling-Sundberg)

I have another rag rug to weave on this warp. It will still be a challenge. With what I’ve learned, though, I’m anticipating a satisfying weaving and finishing experience.

We know what to do in normal circumstances. It’s in unusual times that we fall into dismay. Private time with Jesus turns confidential fears to confident faith. He treats our challenges like personal detail studies, showing us the way forward. His grace enables us to conquer the next challenge with confident faith.

May your confidence grow.

With faith,
Karen

31 Comments

  • Nannette says:

    Thank you for the beautiful description of a beautiful rug finish.

    Hem finishes is something I’ve struggled with. My sister works in a medical rehab facility and asked for personal medical masks to be given to staff and residents.. Finished with.my least favorite finish….. binding. And God provided a beautifully done technique for my next rugs..

    Now, onto the orchard in transit. The first nursery let me know fruit and nut trees/bushes are on their way to turn the retirement property into a perma-forest.

    Will I reap the fruits of the all the trees? Only God knows. But God will make sure a hungry soul will find them. Your posting this morning fed my soul. .

    Blessings to all.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, Rugs can be finished in so many ways. I’m glad you have a use for this option of bound hems.

      Thank you for your kind words.
      Blessings to you,
      Karen

  • Geri Rickard says:

    Oh Karen, what a wonderful rug! It looked perfect in your lovely home!

  • Kay says:

    Absolutely lovely. You have inspired me to do a rag rug in the near future.

  • Beth Mullins says:

    It’s beautiful, Karen! I really like the bound finishing. Bravo!

  • Linda Miller says:

    Love reading your posts. Thank you for reminding me to find God in everything.

  • Betsy says:

    It’s just gorgeous, Karen! Wonderful job!!

  • LJ Arndt says:

    Such a beautiful rug. It makes me realize I need to start using the draw attachment on my loom and get to know it better. Your posts are so inspiring.

    • Karen says:

      Hi LJ, Oh I hope you do get familiar with your draw attachment! The possibilities are endless, and it is so much fun.

      Thank you, thank you,
      Karen

  • Martha says:

    Very beautiful rug, you worked hard on this one and it shows. Stunning! Job well done.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi Karen!
    What a nice rug!The colors, the neat finish…
    I just admire the way you work.
    Best regards
    Eirini

  • D'Anne says:

    Beautiful rug! You do exquisite work, Karen!

  • Gail Bird says:

    Beautiful rug.
    Enduring thoughts concerning confident faith.
    Thank you.

  • Elisabeth says:

    What a beautiful rug! I’m impressed you could secure the warp threads like that, I really like how it opened up for that beautiful finish.
    Do you think the warp ends could be secured like that when making a wowen hem for a regular rag rug, too? I struggled to secure warp ends without tying knots, I tried but wasn’t able to “catch” the warp threads with the sewing machine needle.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, Thank you!

      I have had the same experience on other rugs with trying to secure warp ends with the sewing machine. The needle doesn’t catch all the ends. What made the difference with this one is that there are so many threads close together. The serger was able to catch most of the ends. I set a short stitch length on the sewing machine, too, to make even more certain that every warp end would be stitched, with two rows of stitching.

      I will still tie knots on a usual rag rug, with the normal 3 epc sett. The sett on this one is 7 doubled ends per centimeter. A big difference.

      Also, I’ve learned some things. For the next rug on this drawloom warp I will weave a longer header, instead of the 8-pick header I did on this one. Then, I will be able to secure the ends AND fold it under, which will help to secure them even more.

      Long answer. 🙂 Thanks for asking.
      Karen

      • Elisabeth says:

        Thank you! This explains the difference. I have a problem with a few warp ends on one of my door mats which has a wowen hem. I have been able secure them on the back (not very pretty) and it has endured several rounds in the washer since 🙂

  • Tercia says:

    Beautiful and a great piece…saving that and need to give it a try!

  • Janis Schiller says:

    Having seen a small section of this rug up close and personal when it was on your draw loom, all I can say is WOW when I see the finished piece.
    Fabulous job

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Drawloom Rag Rug Color Transition

This is a huge project. Four shades of blue from dark to light span the nearly one-and-a-half-meter-long rug. I have reached the final color-transition section. I am eagerly awaiting the day this rug will be rolled out!

Rag rug on the drawloom. Color transition.
Transitioning from one color to the next.

My measuring ribbon shows me where to make the color changes. I alternate two weft colors (C and D) through the transition area to blend the hues. All the while, I stop after every half-unit of four picks to manage the draw cords. A graphed chart tells me exactly which of the 164 draw cords to pull or release. In this way the graphic designs are woven into the rug, row by row. I weave in quiet, allowing me to put full attention on each move.

Drawloom rag rug.
View of the underside of the rug as it goes from the breast beam to the knee beam.
Single unit drawloom rag rug.
Draw cords are arranged by tens, alternating black cords and white cords. I pull the cords as they correspond to the prepared chart hanging at the left side of the loom.

We need hope in these unsettling times. Jesus invites us to admit our fears and failures, and put our trust in him, and follow him. And this is the message Jesus gives his followers: I am always with you. The Lord gives strength and courage. As our Grand Weaver, he has his full attention on us. So be strong and take courage.

May you have hope that lasts.

Love,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Linda Cornell says:

    Thank you for the words of encouragement today.

    God bless you.

  • Linda Adamson says:

    Please send a photo when the rug is finished. Happy Easter! He is risen!

  • Nannette says:

    Pretty colors. I noticed the pattern is reversed on the back. Or, is there an actual back once it is cut from the loom?

    We now have a Palm Sunday grandson. He came quickly. 15 minutes from leaving the house.

    In their hospital, dads were allowed in with admission, but have to stay the entire time. They are not allowed in if they leave. This is where modern technology comes to play. 31 seconds of video played over and over by the toddler who is fascinated by his baby brother.

    We are watching the toddler and entertaining him with driveway chalk art. The neighbors are enjoying this as much are he is.

    The stories to be told at future Thanksgiving tables…. none of which are relevant to your beautiful weaving. Except… the enjoyment of God’s gifts.

    And of course. This is Wisconsin. The game playing with this year’s election. It makes my head hurt.

    This is a remarkable Holy Week.

    Thank you for making the world a better place.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, You are correct, the pattern is reversed on the back. Who knows, maybe I’ll use the back as the main side. Or, probably flip it over from time to time.

      I’m glad your new grandson had a healthy entrance. Congratulations!

      With resurrection in mind,
      Karen

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Quiet Friday: Square Dots

It was six weeks ago that I began winding the warp for these towels. The thread for my next Glimåkra Standard project is due to arrive tomorrow. Just like I like it—revolving door weaving. I have no doubt that this set of towels will become family favorites. They are a feast for the eyes, and a tactile delight for the hands. Seeing the color on the reverse side takes my breath away. This whole experience has been the weaving satisfaction that I’ve come to cherish!

"Square Dot" towels. Satin dräll. Karen Isenhower

Square Dot towels. Ten shafts, ten treadles. Two block five-shaft satin dräll. 8/2 cotton warp. Weft is 8/2 cotton and 22/2 cottolin, and 16/2 linen for the white stripes on the red towel.

I did face difficulties near the end of the warp. The shed started deteriorating with some of the shafts, but I was determined to finish off the last towel to its full length. That meant coaxing the low profile shuttle through for a few inches. Consequently, I did have more errant floats to repair than usual. But, isn’t it wonderful that we can fix just about anything in this weaving adventure?

Fixing floats on a towel that was at the end of the warp.

End of warp. What I didn’t see at the loom is that one shaft in particular was not behaving. There were at least eight floats along that one warp end. After repairs and washing and pressing, the errors are barely noticeable.

I made a warp from thread on leftover quills to weave up some hanging tabs on my band loom for three of the towels. And I found a linen piece in my “band stash” that is perfect for the red and white towel.

Enjoy the slideshow that I made for you with details of the process.

May you weave some family favorites.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Oh, these are lovely! Both sides!

  • Karen, these are beautiful! Your color choices are wonderful.

    Does your pattern have a balanced tie-up? I’m ready to try a ten shaft pattern on my ten shaft counterbalance loom, but it would have to be a balanced tie-up in order for me to use the dräll pulleys. Is the pattern readily available? Where would I look?

    I enjoy reading your blog posts.
    Jenny B

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jenny, Thank you! Managing color choices is one of the things I enjoy most in my weaving space, so I really appreciate your compliment.

      You can find this draft in The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell, p.172 (mine is “Sample 8”).

      Joanne Hall tells me that it is possible to tie up the two block satin with a counterbalance tie-up. The tie-up on countermarch is a little easier than a counterbalance tie-up, but she has seen weavers able to weave this very fast on a counterbalance loom.

      I’ll be interested in hearing if you try it.
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

      • I have the book. I’m excited to give this pattern a try. It has so many possibilities. My loom has been empty for over a month due to lack of inspiration and other life problems getting in the way. Hopefully I can get something on Julie in a few days.

        Hopefully you won’t mind if some of mine end up similar to yours. I think it was the colors that attracted me to the weave first, and then seeing the reverse side made me love them even more.

        Thanks for steering me to the pattern.

        Jenny B

        • Karen says:

          Hi Jenny, I would be thrilled to pieces and honored if you chose to weave something similar to mine! Oh I do hope your inspiration at the loom returns quickly, and that some of the weight you carry is lifted.

          The reverse side is amazing!

          In case it helps, here are the colors I used: (All Bockens)

          Warp – 8/2 cotton #471 lt red (it’s coral to me)
          Weft –
          1. 8/2 cotton #557 slate with band of 22/2 cottolin #2003 silver
          2. 8/2 cotton #470 beige with band of 22/2 cottolin #2004 gray
          3. cottolin #2080 red with band of 16/2 linen #0005 golden bleached
          4. cottolin #2017 rust with band of 8/2 cotton #470 beige (This one has the least contrast, and it is also my favorite.)

          Very happy weaving to you,
          Karen

  • Kay Larson says:

    They are just lovely! I look forward to seeing your next project.
    Kay

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kay, It won’t be long before you see my next project! I’m pretty excited about it…as always. 🙂
      Thanks so much for your kind words!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Joanne Hall says:

    That was a great slide show. And yes, the two block satin is such a beautiful weave. And your colors are so nice. Thanks for taking the time to share what you are weaving.
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, I appreciate your thoughtful words. That means so much to me! I’m accumulating a long list of things that I want to do more of, and this two block satin weave is one of them.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Liberty says:

    Oh Karen, I love these, my favorite color! Thanks for the slide show, it’s fun to see your whole process!!

  • Ruth says:

    Such beautiful work AGAIN! You are an inspiration and offer such an open and positive approach to fixing weaving issues. I recently finished an M’s and O’s table cloth with many floats over the last couple of inches of weaving due to a decreasing shed. Like you I was determined to have the whole length of that cloth. I thought I’d fixed all the floats but keep finding them as I use the cloth. Enjoy your new favorites.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, Oh I have floats in cloth that I use, too. They do like to hide when we have that needle out. Haha! But really, it’s a mark of distinction because it proves our fabric is handmade.

      Your kind words are a sweet encouragement to me. Thank you so much!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Angela W says:

    I’m new to weaving and discovered your blog. It has been very helpful. Thank you for all the good information especially your glossary. But what I have found most wonderful are the words of hope and encouragement to trust in our Lord. I really needed that right now. Blessings to you, Karen.

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Valentine Towel

“That red would make a very cheerful towel.” She was right! It is very cheerful. When someone whose weaving expertise I admire mentions a color, I want to use that color instead of the one I originally planned. This towel, with its red-and-white cheerfulness, is a testament to the positive influence of another person. The towel also makes me think of valentines. Perfect timing for this week. Do you remember giving innocent sentiments of love to classmates in elementary school on Valentine’s Day?

Cotton 10-shaft satin dräll towels.

Beginning of towel with red 8/2 cotton weft. Golden bleached 16/2 linen is used for a decorative band on the towel.

Colorful and cheerful square dot towels.

White linen border near the end of the red towel. Ten shafts and ten treadles for five-shaft satin dräll.

Square Dot towels. Red and white on coral!

Predominant red on the reverse side of the towel is cheerful indeed! One “Square Dot” towel remains on this warp.

Give. Now, we offer each other genuine expressions of love, not limited to one day of the year. When you give love you are giving something of great value—a part of yourself. God loved all of us by giving his dearly loved son. That’s the love that holds us and keeps us. His love influences us for the better. He so loved us, and so we love.

May the day of love come every day for you.

Love,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Beth says:

    These are lovely! I can’t wait to see them completed.

  • maggie leiterman says:

    The weaving is lovely! Thanks for sharing! Your comment about classmates in elementary school reminded me of a box of mementos that I have tucked away in a drawer.The box and the content of the box belonged to my mama (1915-2005,) the content of the box is a collection of valentines that she cherished that were from her classmates and others. I cherish them and I hope someone in my family will take care of them after I go to the great beyond.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, How special to be the keeper of your mother’s treasures! It’s always fascinating to think of the childhood of a previous generation. Thanks for telling about it!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Martha says:

    Karen that towel is just lovely, the pink and red compliment each other perfectly. Yummy!

  • Joanne Hall says:

    Those thoughts of valentines bring us back to a most delightful time in our lives of giving and sharing. And thank you Karen for continuing to share with us.
    Joanne

  • Elisabeth says:

    A beatiful color combination! And what a wonderful idea to pull out a special towel to celebrate those special days. These beautiful towels could even double as tabletoppers. And the red towel would make a statement for Christmas, too 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, It’s one of the joys of weaving that we can set aside particular towels or fabric for special occasions! And yes, I will probably use these as lovely table runners, too. I like to keep a handwoven topper – towel or square or runner – on my kitchen table to set the atmosphere in the room.

      Great input, as always! Thanks,
      Karen

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Weft Auditions for Square Dots

I found sixteen weft colors to audition. And I am eliminating all but six—one main color for each of four towels, plus two border colors. This is five-shaft satin dräll hand towels with an 8/2 cotton warp. Good weft options on my shelves include 8/2 cotton, 22/2 cottolin, and 16/2 linen in various colors. And this time, we have square dots!

Weft auditions for 5-shaft satin dräll hand towels.

The warp is tied on and the lamms and treadles are tied up. All ten sheds (one for each of ten treadles) are checked and small adjustments made in the treadle tie-ups. Weft auditions commence!

Trying different weft options. Cotton, cottolin, linen.

Similar colors in different fibers. Teal in cotton, cottolin, and linen. Coral warp as weft would be an interesting monochrome option.

There is one qualification. The colors must fit the color palette of our Texas hill country home. A sample piece of thread doesn’t tell me enough; neither does a whole tube of thread. Twisting two colored threads together gives a decent clue, but even that is not enough. When the warp and the weft threads interweave on the loom the true colors are seen. And that’s when I can tell you which colors I will keep.

Weft auditions! Colorful hand towels.

Sample includes sixteen weft colors (two or three rows for some). Four are chosen for the main colors for a set of hand towels. Two extra colors are selected to use for border designs.

Square Dots cotton hand towels in 5-shaft satin dräll.

First towel has Slate 8/2 cotton weft, with an accent of Silver 22/2 cottolin for a border stripe.

Isn’t that the way it goes with truth? Hearing words isn’t enough; even extensive hearing isn’t enough. Paying attention to what you hear is good, but it mustn’t stop there. We need to understand. Hear and understand. The meaning of the words intersect with thoughtful reflection. Truth enters through understanding. And that’s when we can see which threads to keep.

May truth be woven into your life.

With you,
Karen

11 Comments

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Love your message, Linda! Thanks for your spiritual insights shared with us.

    Question: What is the white thread that looks almost like a basted thread, across the groups that are tied on for this warp? I can see that you were able to go right into weaving without a heading. Is that a technique or just good warping?
    Thanks for any suggestions you can offer! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joyce, It’s a lifelong journey to hear and understand, isn’t it?

      You are seeing the leveling cord. I use a length of seine twine (12/6 cotton rug warp) to go over and under each tied-on section of threads. The threads must be tied on with half of the bundle going over the tie-on bar and half going under the tie-on bar. The leveling cord is pulled tight, and the ends of the cord are tied through the hole at each end of the tie-on bar. This simple technique flattens out (levels) the warp, and enables weaving from the very start. No scrap weft necessary.

      It’s that simple. 🙂
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

    • Karen says:

      Joyce, I should have pointed you to this post I wrote about the leveling string – Tools Day: Leveling String.
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Love the stripe!!

  • Joanne Hall says:

    I like the white. And that red would make a very cheerful towel.
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, The white practically pops off the fabric. It does look good. And the canary red is spectacular on the coral warp, which surprised me. Now I’m tempted to use the red, even though it didn’t make the final four, just because you said so.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    I must say that I like the sample with all the colors! At least for one trowel. I never heard of a leveling string. Perhaps because it wouldn’t work on a Rigid Heddle loom.

    I was so focused on the different colors of square that my brain did not compute the stripes. The comments about listening and understanding definitely apply to someone like me because I tend to get lost in the details. This was a very needed reminder.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I like the multi-colored sample, too! It may end up being a short towel, or something… You may be able to use a leveling string on your rigid heddle loom. I haven’t done that, but it might be worth some experimentation.

      Taking listening to the level of understanding is a constant challenge, and worth the effort it takes.

      All the best,
      Karen

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