Friday, December 31, 2010

Tips for Rag Rug Hems, Additional photo

In May and August, 2010, I wrote two entries with rag rug tips.  When reviewing my instructions today, I realized I should have had a photo showing my method for weaving the hems for rag rugs. 

Like many others, I dislike fringe on my rugs because they gradually wash away in the laundry, especially with cotton warp.  I prefer to weave about three inches in plain weave (1-3 vs 2-4) at the beginning and end of my rugs, so I can fold a hem about 3/4" to 1" wide.

When I first started adding a hem, I had the problem many other weavers have, with the hem drawing in much narrower than the body of the rug.  I do a lot of reading, and came across this tip, and it solved the problem:

Instead of weaving the hem like I weave the body of my rug (1-2 vs 3-4, giving me doubled warp threads), I use tabby.  Instead of angling the weft in the shed, I arc the weft, and throw a few bubbles in for good measure (see photo).
It gives a stretchy hem with very little draw-in.  By the time an inch is woven, the weaving at the edges will even out a bit.  The first inch doesn't matter too much, since it is folded into the hem and won't show.  Play around with the arc size and the amount of bubbling till you get a hem that isn't drawing in. 

Sewing the hem takes some other techniques, but I will have to save that for another time, when I have a rug finished and ready to hem.  My technique avoids broken sewing machine needles.  Stay tuned.  Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Davey Finished Weaving His First Project

 I am so proud of my grandson Davey.  He is eight years old, and when he came for a weekend at the end of November, we did some weaving.  He had been practicing on the rigid heddle loom, and was doing a great job, so I thought he was ready to start a pattern on my little four shaft loom. 

Here he is demonstrating the proper way to hold a shuttle.  He is doing very well throwing it through the shed and catching it.
Davey finished weaving today.  He is pretty proud of what he made.
I showed him how to wet finish it in hot soapy water till the water looked clean.  After rolling it in a towel to get most of the moisture out, he straightened it out on the counter and rolled it hard with the marble rolling pin.  It is hanging to dry now.  Hemming will be tomorrow after I get home from work.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sampling Wool - Angora Yarn

As part of my stash reduction, I picked out a yarn that I thought would make a nice little handbag.  I purchased two cones of wool mixed with angora yarn at an estate sale a while ago.

I got out my notes from a Magic in the Water workshop that I went to a while ago.  We made several samples with different wools, so I was able to compare my yarn with some of the yarns we used in the class.  Mine was similar to one that was sett at 10 epi, so that was my starting point. 

I checked out the shrinkage and decided that 10" in the reed would work.  I liked it already, since that was only 100 ends!  I wanted to make about six bags, plus have some to play around with, so I measured out about ten yards.  On the warping reel, it went quickly.

It was important to see how much the fabric would full, so I wove off 24" and cut it off the loom.  Staying up way too late last night, I did the wet finishing.  I agitated it by hand in hot soapy (Dawn) water for about 4-5 minutes.  I changed the water a couple times so the water would stay hot.
The sleazy cloth that came off the loom measured 9" W by 21" L without tension.  When the fulling was complete, I measured the sample again.  This time it was 8 1/2" by 18 1/2" L.  I could tell that it was going to be soft, even though it was still wet.  I heat set it by pressing between a couple towels.  After the pressing and air drying, the final measurement was 7 3/4" W by 18" L, for a loss of 3" in the width and 6" in length.  Definitely a cloth to dry clean or gently hand wash in cool water.

When I got up this morning, it was dry, and so soft. Notice the fine angora hairs on the edge.  The whole cloth has a halo.   It was no longer a sleazy texture. 

I plan on trying some other weaves and some experiments with dyeing using Kool Aid and Wilton food colors.  Here is a link to a description of the process:  Dyeing animal fiber with Kool Aid and Wilton food coloring

If it is not too hard, I will have a good project for grandchildren.