The Summer Weave-Along will round out a summer like none other in living memory. I don’t have the words for all the challenges we face as a global community. What I can offer is the opportunity to weave together. May your time at the loom provide you with some peace, hope, and beauty.
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 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 it is called Pick-and-Pick. You can 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 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 you have already woven a few projects, have a basic understanding of the direct warping process and weaving terminology, and are ready for an adventure.
We will weave two small 7 x 8-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 techniques from quick and easy to more to a more elaborate fringeless finish.
You can use these little beauties as mouse pads; 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.
The pattern is included with the registration materials. Within it, I give a shout out to one of my favorite fiber organizations, The Livestock Conservancy. More info about them under Yarn.
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.
Rug 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 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! I highly encourage you to check out this program and join in.
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)
This warp yarn is a blended wool. If you wish to use Navajo-Churro warp to qualify as an official Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em project, you would need to purchase their 100% Navajo-Churro Warp.
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 sizes are similar to a sport weight 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. (Patrons click here for a discount code for this yarn as a thank you for your support.)
If you are looking for a wool alternative, I sampled Lion Brand’s 24/7 cotton and it worked well—just keep in mind that it is much shinier. It is available from Cotton Clouds or your favorite weaving retailer.
These yarn’s size are 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!
Weave-alongs are hosted here at the Yarnworker online weaving school. They are free until 30 days after the conclusion of the weave-along.
A big shout out to all the Patrons who keep these weave-alongs going. Patrons have free access to past weave-along and Patron Producers get a vote in what we weave next.
Please stay safe, wash your hands, give each other some space, and wear a mast when interacting with others. It is the least we can do to look out for one another.
- Welcome + Weaving the Header and Finding Your Beat
- Starting Your First Color + Ply Split Join
- Adding Second Color + Dots + Weft Interlacements + Bubbles and Angles
- Stripes + Shuttle Placement and Carrying the Weft
- Columns + Advancing
- Closed Columns
- Offset Columns
- Using a Supplemental Beater
- Planning Your Designs
- Adding More Weft
- Wrapped Selvedges
- Starting Second Rug
- Weaving Resources
About the instructor
Yarn is a big part of who I am—growing it, spinning it, and then making it do tricks, particularly the over/under kind (i.e. weaving). Passing this love on to newcomers is what makes my heart happy. I spend my days weaving, writing about weaving, teaching others to weave, and enjoying this thing called life.
I host Yarnworker, a site for rigid-heddle know-how and inspirations. I dream-up, films, edit, and hosts the courses myself from my home in central, New Mexico. To learn more about me and the Yarnworker community, visit yarnworker.com