This rag rug could be a coverlet if woven in different materials. The distinctive block design from a Landes Block Drawdowns collection gives me an exciting approach for weaving a double-binding rag rug.
Double binding is a double-layer fabric in a simple two-block structure. In each block, one of two wefts appears on the face, and the other appears on the back. I switch weft blocks by reversing the order of the two wefts. It’s that simple. For example, one pick of dark weft is followed by a pick of light weft. This sequence is repeated for a few rows. To change to the next block, with the opposite arrangement of dark and light, start with one pick of light weft and follow that with a pick of dark weft, repeating for the remainder of that block.
A small change repositions everything. Simply reversing the weft order puts a different face on the cloth. What direction am I taking my life? Reverse course to make way for a new life pattern. When we are left alone in the dark, God comes and offers a better way. Give up my way, reverse course, and go his way. Everything changes in such an encounter. Darkness to light.
The monksbelt piece that adorns our entry is my favorite from all the projects in The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell. This current narrower version on the Standard is another heirloom monksbelt piece in the making. The ground cloth is weft rep.
This is snail’s-pace weaving, with 2 picks of 16/2 cotton for the ground weave between every 6/1 Fårö wool pattern pick.
“To weave [weft rep]…the weft must be longer than the width of the warp and so the weft has to arc across the shed. There are two ways to do this: with many small waves across the width or with a large and high arc…The tiniest bit of unevenness can quickly build into hills and valleys across the weft line…”
The Big Book of Weaving, p. 236
Weft Rep in Three Steps
1. Make a Mountain.
After throwing the shuttle, increase the length of the weft by making it into a large arc in the open shed. Put one finger through the warp to form the peak while keeping enough tension on the thread with your other hand to maintain a good selvedge.
2. Make Hills and Valleys.
Keeping the shed open, push the mountain down into hills and valleys to evenly distribute the extra weft.
Turn the mountain into hills and valleys with your finger.
Simply drag your spread-out fingers lightly through the weft.
TIMESAVER – Slowly pull the beater toward you (shed open), smooshing the weft into a wavy line. Stop two or three inches away from the fell line.
3. Flatten the Hills
Treadle for the next shed. On the closed shed beat in the weft. Two short pulses with the beater distribute the weft more effectively than a single squeeze with the beater.
Watch for little loops that may form in places where there is a bit too much weft. To correct, open the shed, pull that portion of the weft back into a little hill and redo.
TIMESAVER – Draw the back of your fingernail across the warp where you see excess weft. This is often enough to even out little bumps.
Slower weaving develops into a rhythmic pace that is comfortable. And the cloth grows, line by line.
Some of the monksbelt flowers have a different color for the three center picks. The new color is only temporary, so I simply carry the first weft color up the side for that short distance.
More than one shuttle doesn’t necessarily mean more difficult. Everything runs a little smoother when there is an efficient exchange of shuttles between your hands.
How to Handle the Exchange of Shuttles
For this example, the temporary weft starts from the left and goes to the right. Weave the first pick of the temporary weft, catching the shuttle with your right hand. (If the first pick of the temporary weft goes from right to left, reverse the right hand/left hand instructions, here and following.)
Transfer the shuttle with the temporary weft (active weft) to your left hand.
With your right hand pick up the shuttle that has the weft that will be carried up the side (inactive weft). Bring the shuttle all the way around the active weft and then lay the shuttle down again.
Transfer the shuttle with active weft back to your right hand and continue weaving.
Follow steps 2 – 4 until the section with temporary weft is finished.
Tuck in the tail of the temporary weft and continue weaving with the weft that has been carried up the side.
I have an efficient way to handle weft color changes. It’s very simple. This is for those instances when I need to end one weft thread and start a new one. As a rule, I take care of weft tails as I go. I don’t want to come back to them later if I don’t have to. If I tuck in each weft tail at the beginning of the row, thickness from the extra wefts builds up at the selvedge, especially if I’m weaving horizontal stripes. The method I describe reduces the extra wefts, and eliminates having to tuck any tails in.
Change to the shed needed for the next color. Take the shuttle with the first color into the shed for about about 3 cm (1 1/8”), and bring the shuttle up and out through the top of the warp.
Lightly beat (tap) in the 3 cm (1 1/8”) of thread. Carefully snip off the thread close to the warp.
Weave a pick of the next color, with the end of the new thread overlapping the 3 cm (1 1/8”) of the previous color thread. Position the new thread such that the end is outside the selvedge just a hair.
Beat in the new weft and continue weaving until the next color change.
Watch this short video to see me demonstrate this method of changing the weft colors.
May your choice of weft colors give a glimpse of your best qualities.
Knowing I would be away from my floor looms for a while, I put a narrow cottolin warp on my little Emilia rigid heddle loom to take with me. Mug rugs—perfect for travel weaving, to use bits of time here and there. I had some bulky wool yarn and a few rag rug fabric strips to take for weft. In a burst of hopeful inspiration, I grabbed a bag of Tuna/Fårö wool butterflies, leftover from my Lizard tapestry (see Quiet Friday: Lizard Tapestry) a couple years ago, and tossed it in my travel bag as we were going out the door.
Those colorful wool butterflies turned out to be my favorite element! They not only gave me colors to play with, they also provided variety, the spice of weaving. The forgotten Lizard butterflies will now be remembered as useful and pretty textiles.
How do you want to be remembered? Like my tapestry-specific butterflies put away on a shelf, our carefully-crafted words will soon be forgotten. Actions speak longer than words. Our deeds of faithful love will outlive us. Our actions that reveal the kindness of our Savior will stand the test of time. And that is a good way to be remembered.
May you be remembered for your deeds of faithful love.