Rugs are an endlessly fascinating format for weavers. As we have explored in two previous weave-alongs a wide variety of rugs can be woven on a rigid-heddle loom. During the Summer 2020 weave-along we are going to to shrink the scale of a traditional floor rug to create a mini-rug—larger than a mug rug, but smaller than a runner or placemat—to explore weft-faced colorwork.
By alternating light and dark colors, similar to Color-and-Weave, you can create a number of patterns. In the Western European tradition that I come from it is called Pick-and-Pick. You see similar colorwork in weaving techniques throughout the world. What makes each tradition unique are the materials, colors, format, additional design elements, and cultural meanings of the designs.
Weft-faced fabrics are created when the weft entirely covers the warp. This creates a dense, sturdy weave structure often used in rugs. These fabrics are woven on an open sett and the weft is packed firmly so all you see are the weft yarns. This is one of the few weaves where using a strong beat is a good thing! You can compact the weft so it covers the warp by just using the rigid heddle or use a tapestry beater or fork to pack the weft further. The harder you pack the weft, the clearer the colors and the denser the fabric.
Although we are weaving a mini version, I’ll talk about how to scale these beauties up to weave a full-sized rug.
Here is the who, what, when, and where info to date:
This weave-along is appropriate for just-beyond-beginner weaver. I assume that you have already woven a few projects and have a basic understanding of the direct warping process and weaving terminology.
We will weave two small 7 x 9-inch mini rugs that will allow you to explore six different weft-faced colorwork elements and ways you can combine them to create an endless number of layouts. We will also explore a couple of finishing technique from quick and easy to more a more elaborate fringeless finish.
You can use these little beauties as mousepads; round-up spaces for notions, keys, remotes, and various devices; under plants, as trivets and table toppers; to create a gathering place for special objects; or simply to enjoy or give as gifts.
8 or 7.5 dent rigid-heddle loom with an 8″ (20.5 cm) weaving width and at least two stick shuttles, an additional stick shuttle is helpful for scrap yarn. Tapestry beater or kitchen fork, optional.
Rugs yarns, warp and weft, are somewhat specialized, although don’t let that intimidate you. Rugs can be made from a wide variety of materials, but rugs that last and lay flat benefit from good materials. At this scale you can certainly be experimental. In general, you want a warp yarn that has a a good amount of twist and is strong. The weft should be firm, soft or highly elastic yarns are harder to pack evenly.
Spinners and specialty fiber buyers, if you are participating in the Livestock Conservancy’s Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em, there are a number of wools highlighted in this program that you can use in this project. Among them, but not limited to are Leicester Longwool, Lincoln, Navajo-Churro, Jacob, and Karakul. Let’s celebrate the sturdy, strong, sleek wools!
These are the yarns I’m using:
Warp: Shepherd’s Lamb 2-ply blanket warp (100% wool) available in white, 875 yd [800 m] per half pound cone (1,759 yd [1,600 m]/lb) or Maysville 8/4 Carpet, 800 yd [732 m] per oz (1,600 [1,463 m] yd/lb), available from Cotton Clouds in a variety of colors.
These yarn’s size are a similar a sport weigth yarn. You will need about 100 yds.
Weft: Shepherd’s Lamb blanket-weight singles rug yarn (100% Navajo-Churro) 225 yd [205 m] per 4 oz skein (900 [823 m] yd/lb), available in naturally colored, acid-, and naturally-dyed colors. When ordering be sure to select BLANKET weight.
If you are looking for a cotton alternative, I sampled Lion Brand’s 24/7 cotton and it worked well—just keep in mind that it is much shinier. It is also available from Cotton Clouds.
These yarn’s size are a similar to a worsted weight. You will need at least 100 yards of two different contrasting colors. The more colors you gather the more design options you can explore.
August 5: Registration link available, welcome information, tips on selecting yarns and modifying the pattern.
August 19: Warp
August 26: Weave
September 2: Finish
September 9: Share!
I host the weave-alongs at the Yarnworker School of Weaving, a community-funded, virtual classroom for rigid-heddle weavers. They are free until 30 days after the conclusion of the weave-along. For more information about the Yarnworker Weave-Alongs and School, check out this FAQ.
A big shout out to all the Patrons who keep these weave-alongs going. Patron producers get a vote in what we weave next.