Feature: Get Warped. Free weaving tutorial about how color appears in woven fabric by rigid-heddle loom expert Liz Gipson
All the Sheeps
We love them, those noble Leister Longwools, charismatic Karakul, reliable Romney, long-locked Lincolns, adorable Churros—I mean look at that face—but what is a knitter to do with them? Weave! All these wools on the strong side of the wool spectrum, are perfect for long-lasting rugs. Rugs don't have to be woven on specialized looms and they don't have to be huge—small throw rugs, table runners, placemats, table squares, and coasters—work up beautifully using rug-weaving techniques and materials.
I hear it all the time, you can't weave a rug on a rigid-heddle loom, which is just fiddle-faddle. All you need to weave a rug are good materials and yarn held under reasonably good, even tension. Rugs benefit from a firmly packed weft, which will make many rigid-heddle weavers happy as you are always being schooled to press your yarn into place lightly. In the case of a rug, you can give it a good whack. If desired, you can also use a tapestry beater to press the yarns firmly into place, although for many rugs styles this isn't necessary. How firmly you pack your rug is somewhat up to your taste and the intended use. The harder you pack the weft, the clearer the colors and denser the fabric.
Earlier this year, I hosted a weave-along for the Simply Striped Rug from my first book, Weaving Made Easy. For support, I posted a video on my YouTube channel where I talk about weaving on open setts for weft-faced fabrics, ply-splitting for seamless joins, using a tapestry beater, the concept of an open and closed shed on a rigid-heddle loom, and a bit about selecting your materials. (Oh, and you get to meet my dog, Buster.)
If you watch the video, you will notice I squeezed a lot of yarn in front of the camera. If you give yarns spun from the soft side of the spectrum a good squeeze, it tends to compress quite a bit. You can often feel the contours of your fingers as they press towards one another. Wools on the sturdy side, don't give way as much under pressure, all you feel is a firm mass of yarn. That's what makes them great for interiors—this, and a whole lot of other yarn geekery, such as how they are prepared and spun.
In my new book, Handwoven Home, I have a number of rug projects from the classic rag rug to decorative Krokbrag. By adding rugs into your repertoire, you can use all the sheeps—from soft to strong.
Pattern: Round Up Rug
Small tabletop rugs are a great way to round up all the little objects that get scattered across all surfaces of our home and keep them from getting lost in the clutter.
This project is similar to the one I weave with my students at New Mexico Tech, when introducing them to the weft-faced rug weaving techniques of the Southwest. It uses a singles Churro yarn dyed by the storied dye house and gallery, Weaving Southwest. This project highlights the particular loveliness of toothy, hand-dyed yarns.
Width: 7.25 inches/18cm
Length: 9.25 inches/23 cm with .5 inch/1cm fringe
Warp the loom following the project specs. For tips on warping, check out my first Get Warped column.
Wind three shuttles, one with scrap yarn, one with red-brown, and one with indigo.
It is a good idea to weave a header before you start your project. A header will spread the warp and give you a firm foundation to work from. Use scrap yarn that is the same weight as your weft yarn and pack it tightly as you would the fabric itself.
You can use the ply-splitting technique as demonstrated in the video with a singles yarn. To do this, untwist the yarn a bit and split the yarn in half. You want to twist the yarn until it appears flat, although this may take a practiced eye to see. Spinners, you know what I'm talking about!
I find using a tapestry needle helps to get a tidy split. Insert the tapestry needle in the middle of the area you want to split and put pressure on the yarn width-wise, instead of length wise. This will allow the fibers to split along the natural staple instead of pulling them apart.
Begin the rug by laying in a red-brown pick and working a ply-split join to manage the tail as demonstrated in the video. Weave a second pick of red-brown, packing firmly.
Weave the third pick with the indigo, starting it on the same side as you did the last red-brown pick. If the red-brown was laid in right to left, start the indigo right to left; if the red-brown pick was laid in left to right, start the indigo left to right.
Weave the next red-brown pick capturing the indigo by going under it if the selvedge thread is down and over it if the selvedge thread is up.
Keep weaving, alternating between the red-brown and indigo, capturing the indigo with the red-brown, and firmly packing the weft for about 9.25 inches/23 cm.
Weave a footer using the same yarn as the header to keep the yarn in place as you work the finishing.
Remove the cloth from the loom, leaving yourself enough length in the fringe to work the edging—about 4 inches/10cm is sufficient. For more tips on finishing, see this Get Warped column.
I use a variation of the Philippine Edge to work a quick, secure finish for weft-faced weaves. It gives the appearance of little knots.
To work, hold the first 2 warp ends under tension. Wrap the 3rd end around the first two and snug it up to the edge of the fabric (photo 1).
Bring the end that you just used to wrap the previous two down to line up with the fringe and grab the next end over (the 4th end). Use the yarn next to it (the 5th end) to wrap these two yarns.
Keep stepping the yarn over, incorporating the active yarn from the previous wrap into a new pairing and wrapping the pair with the next warp over.
If you have two ends left unworked at the end, tie them into an overhand knot. If you have one thread left at the end that is not encased, bury this end in the fabric and trim flush with the surface.
Using a rotary cutter and a self-healing mat or a large pair of sharp scissors, trim the fringe to .5 inch/1cm There is no need to wet finish.
ABOUT THE DESIGNER
Liz Gipson is a lover of yarn and that from which it comes – namely the mills and fiber-bearing critters and plants. She is the author of the newly revised Weaving Made Easy and has four video workshops for rigid-heddle weaving published by Interweave. Her new book, Handwoven Home, has just been released.
Curious about the warped side of yarn? Visit Liz's website Yarnworker, for know-how and inspiration, or hang out with her @yarnworker on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Ravelry.
Pattern & images © 2017 Liz Gipson. Contact Liz