Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Weaving Rag Rugs with Tom Knisely

The Tuesday Weavers at the Rocker Beater loom.
The Tuesday Weavers are excited about the new Rag Rug book by Tom Knisely, and he offered to answer some questions from some of our weavers.

TWHow do you know if your loom is sturdy enough to weave rugs?  Would the baby wolf be strong enough?
TK:  I prefer a loom that is heavy and sturdy with a lot of weight to it.  A floor loom is great for this sort of rug weaving.  A baby wolf is intended to be a folding portable loom that you can take to workshops if you care to.  I shy away from this sort of loom for rag rugs, although it can be used for other rag weaving if used in the right application.  The baby wolf would be fine to use for rag placemats or table runners or the finer rag weaving for clothing such as sakiori.

TW:  Rule of Thumb:  How wide do you cut fabric depending on kind of fabric:  blue jean, burlap, cotton, knit.
TK:  I usually cut my cotton shirting fabric about 1 1/2" wide and 2" if it's thinner fabric.  Denim is best cut about 3/4" wide and knits I cut approx. 2" wide, and then pull them tightly to stretch the knit fabric.  This helps to prevent unwanted draw in.   You mentioned burlap, and that seems like a good thing to use to get rid of old burlap, but burlap is made from jute and that rots if it gets wet and not allowed to dry out.  Think of the root ball on a tree at the nursery.

TW:  How do you determine what kind of warp to use?  Does it depend on the weft or size of the project?
TK:  I tend to use 8/4 cotton carpet warp or linen, but the chapter on materials will tell readers of other alternatives.  I like the cotton carpet warp because it is available in so many colors and for me it makes it easier to design rugs around.

TW:  What kind of fabric would you recommend we not use?
TK:   For your first rag rug, stick to cotton fabrics or cotton blends.  These are so easy to use.  I prefer not to blend a lot of different fabrics together in a rug such as wool with cotton and polyesters. 

More Tuesday Weavers at the Rocker Beater loom.
TW:  What patterns could be converted to use for rugs?  How long could floats be?  Do you have a favorite weave structure/yarn combination?
TK:  I like using plain weave and simple twill weaves because these give the best sturdy structure.  Try to avoid any weave structure that is going to result in long surface floats.  I stay with anything that doesn't have a float that spans more than 3/4" in length.  You would not want anyone to catch the heel of their shoe on a float and trip.

TW:  What proportions do you prefer when planning a rug?
TK:  I like to think about the overall size of the rugs when I weave them.  My average rag rug is approx. 26" by 48" or up to 60".  You want to think about washing these rugs.  They do get dirty on the floor, and you want to be able to put them in the washer comfortably and not crowd the washer.  Larger rugs just get washed outside on a sunny day and scrubbed on a deck or picnic table at my house.
  I hope this helps your readers and make them want to try a rag rug of their own.    Thank you for reviewing my book.  Have a great weekend coming up.   Tom

  Tom:  thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.  We LOVE your new book!!!

Happy Rag Rug Weaving!


Maggie said...

Well, isn't that cool? Congratulations, all of you, for being part of that!

Bonnie said...

Very interesting.