This is my blog to share my adventures, misadventures, exploration, and experimentation with fibre- and as it turns out, with life as well. There is some of both. One thing leads to another. Collecting, spinning, weaving, dying, learning, building a web of relationships. Here we are: welcome.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Rag rugs and the warp from hell

My very first weaving project, in the fall of 2010, was a real rag rug, as in real rags.  I cleared out a bunch of old clothes from my closet, drawers, and stored boxes, and cut them up into strips. These were things I doubt even the thrift shop would want.  The resulting rug is a little rustic, a little uneven, full of bumps where I cut through seams.  But it was satisfying and fun to weave.  Attractive in a funky sort of way, and comfy, even with the bumps.  It is my bedside rug. 

The loom came warped wtih blue cotton rug warp (courtesy the previous owner), so I used it. That rug warp fought me every step of the way, hanging up and needing constant adjustment. I thought the problem was the way it had been warped (badly) by the previous owner,  Well, that was part of it.  Then when I went to use the same rug warp from spools that also came with the loom for two smaller rugs, I found out it was more than bad warping. It was bad warp.
I  combined the blue rug warp with some 3/2 orange mercerized cotton to create some contrasting stripes. Each rug was to be about 24 by 30 inches when finished plus fringe, making for a little over 3 yards of warp, a pretty short warp.  But the blue was so ... so ... um ... grabby (cheap, short staple cotton) that it tangled every inch of the way, on anything it could: itself, the heddles, the reed, me.  I finally liberally slathered hand lotion on my hands, and ran them down every inch of every warp thread.  It worked.  FINALLY I got the loom warped!  (This is not the ultimate warping horror story, however. That comes later.) 

Working on the first rug
The weaving was easy, and by this time I knew how to keep the selvages even.  The "rags" are commercial fabric factory mill ends, sewn, rolled and cut into rounds of  strips (from 1 to 3 inches in width), then sold by the pound.   I had acquired a box of these, mostly cotton, at the studio sale.  (And now know two sources for these wonderful rags.)  So here are the results, one a gift for one of my daughters and the other a gift for her daughter:

Darcy's rug, for the back door

Keely's rug, for her jungle bedroom

The "barrel" look is due to my camera: the rug selvages are straight, I am proud to say.

Also glad to say that the blue warp from hell has been relegated to utility string, and I now have several spools of well-behaved 8/4 rug warp.  Some of which is about to be warped up for two more rag rugs. 

By the way:  8 is the size of the threads, and 4 is the number of them twisted together, so it refers to the size of the yarn or thread.  Each material (cotton, linen, wool, etc) has its own sizing convention, so part of being a weaver is figuring out how the heck to pick materials that play nice together, and more or less turn out the way you expected them to.   Weaving is sometimes a surprise.

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