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  • Writer's pictureKate

Activity of the day: Rag rug method 2

As promised, here's a second way to make a rag rug. This method is easier to set up and makes a tighter weave rug than a peg loom. It's also easier to see how the project will look when completed than on a peg loom: Two of our guinea pigs preferred using this method and liked experimenting with the patterns you can make, but the two who find learning new skills a bit tricky preferred the peg loom by a long way (and are half way through a second peg loom rug now, with a bit of help joining the fabric strips...).

It would also be easy to do woven tapestry and make pictures with this setup, with a bit of care not to pull the warp threads out of line too much.

There's also the advantage with this frame that one person can work on each end if you put it flat, so it's quite friendly!

You will need:

  • A solid frame about the size you want your rug to be- the rug above was made using a noticeboard as the loom; we've also used kitchen cupboard doors in the past (they make a good doormat or bath mat sized rug). You could make a small delicate mat with a picture frame if you removed the glass- or a huge rug with a door or table or ply sheet.

  • Nails or panel pins

  • A hammer (for the nails...)

  • Lots of scrap fabric

  • Optional: two lengths of dowel or metal rods as long as your frame, to make it easier to keep the edges of the rug from pulling inwards as you weave.

Step 1: Build your loom. Mark 2.5cm intervals across the top and bottom of your frame (or less if you plan to use very fine fabric strips). Hammer nails into your marks so you have a row of nail heads sticking out 1-2cm from the wood across the top and bottom of your frame. That's it! Done! If you have them available you can tie a rod to the final nail on each side top and bottom so you weave around the rods- we didn't do this and it's fine - though all our rugs are slightly hourglass shaped if you look carefully.

Step 2: Thread your loom. This needs a very long strip of fabric- so check out yesterday's post for how to tear and join fabric if you're not sure how to do that.

Once you have a very long strip of fabric, tie the strip to the top left nail, leaving about 10cm free at the short end.

Weave the strip up and down the loom going around two nails at each end, so you end up with warp threads running straight up and down the loom.

Once you get to the bottom right hand nail, tie the end of the fabric strip securely back onto the strip going up from the second to right bottom nail so the warp won't be able to undo once the rug is woven. Tie the other end of the warp strip onto the second left top nail''s strip as well. If that sounds confusing, just make it look like this and tie everything securely!

(we had a really long end left at the end so tied it off, then wove the rest in).

Step 3: Start weaving!

There are loads of options for weaving on this frame (as there are on the peg loom too- they're just easier to do on this one).

As well as the suggested option of tapestry weaving, the two easiest options are:

Single weaving: Tie the end of a fabric strip to the frame next to a nail at the end of a row. Weave the fabric over one warp thread and under the next until you get to the end of the row. Then go back, but going above the thread you went under last time.

You can change the pattern, going over two warp threads then under one, for example, to give a different effect.

Double weaving: This gives a stripy candy cane effect and makes a thicker rug than using a single strip. Join two different coloured fabric strips of different lengths together. Start at a corner of the frame and alternately weave one strip under a warp thread, then the next strip under the next warp thread. It's easy to lose track but if you keep the twist going the same way it will end up with stripes, or if you alternate you'll get chevrons. If you mix it up, it will look like our rug at the top of the post, which also has single weaving at each end!

You'll need to keep pushing the weaving towards the ends of the frame to make it dense, so you get a nice strong rug which won't be too wobbly once you've finished it.

This is an old rag rug bathmat made on a kitchen cupboard door using double weaving- the stripes go a bit funny when the fabric weights change a lot but you can see the idea:

Step 4: Finish off your rug.

The last few rows of weaving are a bit tricky. Push the completed weaving down (or up) quite hard so you have enough space to do as much weaving as you like. Once there's only a little gap left, spread the weaving back out again to fill the gap- it should still be dense weaving across the whole frame. Then weave the end of your current fabric piece up and into the rest of your weaving to hide it and the rug is finished!

Step 5: To remove your rug from the frame, get a smooth-handled spoon or similar, and gently lift the warp threads off the nails at one end of the frame as shown below. You should easily be able to take the other ends of the rug off the frame.

And you now have a lovely rug!

You can re-shape it a bit by hand if there are any bits you think are wonky, and loose threads can just be pulled off. If you've used clothes, sheets or similar, your rug should be machine washable (our bathmat rug has been through the wash many times over many years).

If putting the rug onto a wooden or tiled floor, you may want to use anti-slip underlay- and do be careful in any case, as rugs can slip or edges can cause falls.

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