The Handweavers and Spinners Guild of Victoria offered a Rug Weaving workshop as part of their 2014 summer school. The class was taught by expert weaver Gerlinde Binning, who is highly respected in the guild for her expertise and life spent as a professional weaver and teacher.
We received warp yarn ahead of the class and were told to warp our looms with a warp length of 3-4m with 62 total ends, including one floating selvage on each side. Threading on a four shaft loom was 1,2,3,4 and the set was 5 epi. I dented my 8 dpi reed 0-1-1.
Dressing the loom was a bit stressful as this was my first time up close and personal with my new (second hand) Ashford four shaft table loom. I left the task too late and was under pressure to get the warp on the loom ahead of the class. To further complicate matters I used my new warping mill for the first time on this project. Too much new equipment resulted in more fatigue (and swearing) than usual.
The workshop was held over two 5 hour sessions with a short lunch break each day. I managed to complete three of the four samples that were in the program. I didn’t do the rya because I was keen to finish my krokbragdt. Rya doesn’t seem particularly difficult so I figured I can do that at some later stage.
Visually, the krokbragt impresses me the most. It’s credited with being a traditional Norwegian style of weaving. The Weaver’s Idea Book has a good section on how to do krokbragt. In my sample the lifting order is 124, 13, 324. You overlay the colour order on the lifting order, work out your repeats and that’s it. It’s actually not difficult once you get your head around it. Abrian Curington tells me that applies to double weave, too. I’m looking forward to finding out.
The double faced twill pictured above was quick and fun to weave. Each pick uses three strands of carpet wool. You open the shed once to put in the top colour, change the shed to put in the other colour and then beat. This makes the rug reversible and you can design it with different colours on each side. If I can get my hands on enough carpet wool, I'd love to try this one at home.
Rag rugs are the style I’m most likely to do at home, soon. I’ve harvested all the back, front and sleeve sections from Tinker’s worn out business shirts and they weave up well, as you can see in the photo. You do need another colour to brighten the tedium though. Not unlike going to the office, really. Making rag rugs isn’t as hard as some of the books would have you believe. Using a temple is probably a good idea.
I did all the finishing of the samples at home. The rag rug edge is finished with overhand knots on one end and a modified Philippine Edge on the other.The Philippine Edge is described in Peter Collingwood's The Techniques of Rug Weaving and also in abbreviated form in The Weaver's Companion. I found a link to the relevant part of Peter Collingwood's book here . The illustration and description in the The Weaver’s Companion are quite sparse and this is what lead to it being a modified Philippine Edge. I mis-read the instructions and therefore skipped a warp thread before tying the next loop. Doing this locked the previous knot and seemed to give a good finish. There’s probably an error and if it’s not there’s probably a name for this finish somewhere. Nothing is new in weaving. Nothing attractive anyway. (This is the cue for all the textile artists who make horrendous birds nests of fibre and call it art to write angry comments.)
General tips and lessons learned:
When your tutor tells you to weave a warp yarn header, don’t skip that step to get started on the project quicker. Just do it. She’s your tutor for a reason. You will regret not following instructions when it comes to finishing your piece.
Leave big gaps between your samples. If you don’t, fringing/finishing will be a PITA.
You don’t need to wet finish rugs. Well, that’s a relief.
Our tutor suggested that 90 cm is a comfortable and practical rug width for home weavers.
Secure your warp well when attempting a hemmed finish. I didn’t and ended up in a whole lot of trouble while attempting to hem the double faced twill sample. You can’t tell from the picture, but as finished, my sample would not withstand actual use as a rug.
Carpet wool is hard to find. I’ve done online searches in both Australia and New Zealand and haven’t found a supplier yet. If you know of one, please let me know. New Zealand makes high quality home and commercial carpeting, so there must be a source of short ends somewhere.