Rag Rug in Spaced Rep Splendor

Spaced rep rag rugs have a graphic vibrancy that grabs my attention. Like regular rep weave, spaced rep is warp dominant. Unlike regular rep weave, the warp in spaced rep doesn’t completely cover the weft. That’s where rag weaving comes in, because the fabric-strip weft shows between the warps. The rag weft provides just enough color variation to satisfy a rag rug weaver like me.

Warp (12/6 cotton) is beamed and threaded. Ready to tie on.
Oh, the exhilaration of a new warp on the loom!

The pattern for this rug comes from Älskade Trasmattor, by Hallgren and Hallén, p. 87. The threading has dark and light ends that alternate, with four distinct blocks (five, if you count the plain weave block). And thick weft (fabric strips) alternates with thin weft (12/6 cotton rug warp), with four different treadling sequences. All of these factors work together to make the geometric pattern in the rug. It sounds complicated. Truly, though, it is merely a collection of simple systems that all work together. And the possibilities are endless.

Spaced rep rag rug. Pattern from Älskade Trasmattor, by Hallgren and Hallén, is modified for the floor space I have in mind.
Geometric pattern is primarily seen in the warp threads. The dark fabric strips for weft highlight the pattern even more.
Cherry wood ski shuttle by Steve for the fabric weft, and an open-bottom boat shuttle for the warp thread weft.

You are intricately and wonderfully made. To people who know you, no doubt, you look complicated. Your maker, however, knows your simple systems that all work together. The Lord knows you by name. His plan for you follows a masterful design. In the grand weaver’s hands, the possibilities are endless!

May the pattern of your life set you apart.

Happy Weaving, and welcome back to my studio,
Karen

Combination Drawloom – Simple and Engaging

I am constantly improving my methods of operating the drawloom. I pull and release draw handles and draw cords, check for errors, and throw the shuttle for each unit of threads (six times per unit with the current setup). Everything is in order. And, while I’m actively absorbed with this mental and physical choreography, I experience freedom from every other care.

Hem of towel is bleached 16/1 linen weft, and then green 16/2 linen weft. The pattern area of the towel is woven with royal blue 16/1 linen weft.
Solid row of pattern across the warp requires that all pattern shaft draw handles are pulled. It always seems thrilling to me to see all the handles down at once!
Lower border of the towel is the easy part. Pattern shafts are used for making a repeated pattern, and no single unit cords are involved.
Pattern shaft draw handles are now relegated to the side borders. The center body of the towel uses single unit draw cords to create non-repeated pattern. The single units give me freedom to design a (planned) random snowfall expression.
Snowflake Towel 01 is wrapping around the cloth beam. Snowflake Towel 02 is going over the knee beam. Snowflake Towel 03 is being woven. Snowflake Towel 04 will be the final towel on this warp. (But, who knows what I’ll be able to weave after that to the very end of the warp?)

These snowflake patterns are delightful to weave. There is enough consistency with the border pattern shafts to make it simple. And there is enough (planned) random snowflakes using single units and pattern shafts to keep it engaging. All I have to do is follow the graphed chart. As I weave, the snowflakes emerge, as if by magic. But it’s not really magic, is it?

Standard procedure is to always have a temple in place. I have rubber bands on the first and last draw handles for the side border pattern, and on the center handle for the border pattern (not pulled in this photo).
Everything works together! …for the good of the fabric being woven.
Sometimes one single unit is enough to make the next row of pattern.
I keep the chart at eye level and constantly refer to it. Closely following the chart is the only way I can hope to weave something worthwhile on the combination drawloom.

If you believe in Jesus you must walk with him. And as you do, you come to know the truth. Truth is found by walking in it. The pattern on the chart is true, and gives direction. The delight comes as we see the real-time results emerge in our own hearts. That’s freedom in its purest form.

May your search for truth bring freedom.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

Tried and True: Cheater Bar

UPDATE: I no longer use the cheater bar, as it could put too much force on the loom parts. Instead, I loosen the front ratchet first, and then I am able to loosen the back ratchet.

I have a tool that makes me stronger than I naturally am. Warp tension is extremely tight on my loom when I am weaving rugs. After advancing the warp, and locking the pawl on the cloth beam, I tighten the ratchet on the warp beam as much as I can. Then, I put all my weight into tightening the cloth beam. And then, with a bit of oomph, I lean into the handles on that cloth beam wheel to turn it one more notch on the ratchet. I pat myself on the back for exhibiting such strength. But wait, I have just created a problem. The next time I need to advance the warp, I’m not nearly strong enough to release those front and back pawls.

Meet my simplest tool: The Cheater Bar.

Cheater Bar is PVC pipe to use as a lever.
PVC pipe, 1 1/4″ x 24″

With this amazing helper, I can safely release even the most extremely tight warp tension. (But NEVER use the Cheater Bar to tighten the warp.)

Slip the end of the pipe over a handle on the ratchet wheel.
Force of the lever makes it easy to release the ratchet. CAUTION! Do not use the lever to tighten the warp beam or cloth beam. You could easily tighten it more than the loom is made to handle.

I never knew I could be this strong. Celebrate the moment! (A play on words. Steve tells me “moment” is a physics term that has to do with a force’s tendency to cause something to rotate about a specific point or axis.)

Good tools make hard things easier.

May you find strength you didn’t know you had.

Happy weaving,
Karen

Tried and True: How to Count to Three – and Other Weaving Tips

We weavers are resourceful. We enjoy finding solutions that make our time at the loom more efficient, while raising the quality of our weaving. We’ve done some of these little tricks so much we don’t think about them anymore. And then, some innovations are things we think up on the spot because necessity, as you know, is the mother of invention.

Keep Count

Necessity: Keep from losing my place with treadling repeats.
Solution: A strip of blue painter’s tape with “3 2 1” and a rubber band, placed on the breast beam. Move the rubber band on the tape (from right to left) to track repeats.

Weaving tips - low tech solutions.
I need help counting to 3 when it comes to treadling repeats. On the Glimåkra Standard loom, I am able to loosen the warp enough to lift the breast beam so I can put a rubber band on it. Without a removable breast beam, one could use a separate small piece of tape instead of a rubber band to keep track.
Keep track of repeats. Blog post with tips and tricks.
Low tech solution for keeping track.

Shuttle Catch

Necessity: Keep from fumbling the catch, having to reposition the shuttle in my hand to send it back across the warp.
Solution: Keep my eye on the shuttle. If I turn my head to watch the movement of the shuttle, my catching and throwing improves immediately. This makes my selvedges improve, too.

Weaving tips and tricks. Easy tip on how to catch the shuttle perfectly.
It is easy to throw and catch the shuttle without actually looking at your hands. I have to consciously remember to turn my head to follow the shuttle with my eyes.

Leave No Trace

Necessity: Keep from leaving slightly perceptible lines in the woven cloth that reveal every time I stop to move the temple and advance the warp.
Solution: When it is almost time to advance the warp, I move the temple and then weave one or more pattern sequence(s) before advancing the warp. This helps me leave no trace of starting and stopping.

Tips and tricks for the weaving loom.
Almost ready to advance the warp, I remove the temple and reposition the pins on my guide tape. Then, I put the temple back on, near the fell line.
Tips about when to advance the warp.
After moving the temple, I weave one or more complete treadling sequences before advancing the warp.
Three simple weaving tips for efficiency and quality!
After advancing the warp, I know exactly where I left off because of my tape-and-rubber-band counter. My eyes are on the shuttle to continue this segment of weaving.

Do you have a simple tip that improves your efficiency and/or quality at the loom? Please share in the comments.

May you notice what you’re doing.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

Tried and True: Simplify Subtle Color Changes

When I pick up a color of thread I don’t want to have to guess if it’s the right color. Four of the five blues in the weft sequence are close neighbors in value. The one color that is easy to identify is the navy blue, which provides a good contrast among the blues.

Five blues in 8/2 cotton. 8-shaft twill.
Weft color order follows the sequence of the warp color order. Five blues for this 8-shaft twill in 8/2 cotton.

The weft order matches the warp order, and is marked out on a ribbon. I am using a separate boat shuttle for each shade of blue. But how do I know which color is which, when the difference is subtle from one color to the next?

Simplify Subtle Color Changes

  • Give each color a number. Write the numbers next to the colors of the warp order on the Project Notes.
Project Notes for weaving with 5 blues.
Weft colors are the same as the warp colors. The Project Notes show all the details. “1, 2, 3, 4, 5” is added to the sheet to give each color a simple number.
  • Label the thread tubes with a small piece of blue painter’s tape. Each tube of thread is numbered to correspond with the numbers on the Project Notes.
Make removable labels with blue painter's tape.
Handy blue painter’s tape is used to make removable labels.
Five blues are labeled for simplicity.
Thread tubes are labeled with their identifying number.
  • Label each boat shuttle with its assigned color number, using a small piece of blue painter’s tape.
There are five blues for this 8-shaft twill.
Each boat shuttle holds its own color.
  • Place wound quills under the rubber band of their respective thread tubes.
Simplify subtle weft color changes.
When I wind an extra quill I place it with its thread tube so I don’t accidentally pick up the wrong color quill.

It is easy to keep track of these five numbers as I follow the weft sequence that is marked on my reference ribbon. Now, it’s shuttle #4’s turn…

Simplify subtle weft color changes.
Next in line…

May you find a way to simplify.

Happy Weaving,
Karen