I thought it might be fun to do a short series of blog entries on the process used to create items on the loom. Recently I had a client ask me to make her a large area-rug for her home. I documented every step of the process with photographs and will share them along with the story of Creating a Rug.
The rug project was challenging for a few reasons.
~First, while I had been considering adding rugs to the list of hand-woven items I make on the loom, I had never made one before. I admit to being a bit nervous because when I read on weaving websites about rug-making, everyone talks about using sand-bags to hold down the back of the loom while working - my loom was already limping along after a broken screw and I hoped the weight of the rug wouldn't cause any new problems. (I know I have mentioned my loom's broken screw before - yes, it has finally been repaired.)
~Second, the client requested a very large rug - 4 foot wide by 8.4 foot long (approximately 1.2 meters wide by 2.5 meters long). While I am able to make a 4 foot wide item by weaving the material folded in half and double-thickness, the rug was going to be quite thick before being folded in half and the entire length was not going to fit on the front beam of the loom in a single piece. The only option was to make the rug in two halves then sew them together.
~Third, once I had the two halves - I was going to have to sew them together and it was uncertain if I would be able to use my sewing machine for this - half of the rug would need to be rolled up and squeezed through the small opening in my sewing machine during stitching. If the rolled-rug was too thick, I was going to have to hand-sew this heavy rug.
Step One - Calculating yarn needs
In any project, the fist step involves math...and lots of it. With a finished-size given to me by the client, I need to figure out how much yarn I will need. Since I was going to be weaving the rug in two halves, I needed to decide if I was going to warp the loom once or twice. Since warping the loom can sometimes take as long, if not longer, than the actual weaving does - I decided to warp only once.
I had taken pictures of the yarn-options in the local store and sent them to the client to choose from - being a 'rag rug' the yarn was made from long strips of excess t-shirt material that the company balls up and sells. They sell the yarns by weight though, not length -- so i had to guess how much of each color yarn I was going to need. The rug was to be made using tan, brown, yellow, light green, teal, coral and purple yarns.
The client had told me what colors she wanted me to use for the rug, but didn't have a prefernce for the warp/fringe -- as long as it went well together. I was happy to find a tan cotton yarn that would be strong enough to use as warp for a rug - and the store even had enough of the same yarn to use a single color for the entire project.
Shopping was done - time to get to work!
Step Two - Measuring the warp
One of the best purchases I made to accent my loom was the purchase of my warping board. Every strand of warp comes off at the same length. This project was going to take every bit of space I had on the warping board (182" for each thread) and I was going to need 576 threads total. Most projects I am able to measure all of the warp at one time - but this was too many strands and too thick of yarn - so I had to measure everything in a few bundles and carefully transfer each bundle onto the front of the loom.