Affordable Art

This is made from bedsheet fabric. I playfully call it 'Moonlit Water'. And that's Phil the cat.

This is made from bedsheet fabric. I playfully call it ‘Moonlit Water’. And that’s Phil the cat.

This will be my first year in participating in the Fuller Lodge Affordable Arts Show that runs from November 22 – January 4. Fuller Lodge is located in downtown Los Alamos, NM and is free admission to the public. I am very happy to say that I will be joining many other talented artists. Many of these artists have been featured on the Fuller Lodge facebook page, if you want to check them out.

Made from upholstery fabric, this rug turned out pretty handsome.

Made from upholstery fabric, this rug turned out pretty handsome.

So, what rugs of mine will be there? Well, a little bit of everything. I have 2 sock rugs, several wool shags, 3 cotton shags, 2 flat cottons, one upholstery rug, and a wool sweater rug.

All my rugs are recycled from waste fabrics. For the most part, these are the selvedge edges of blankets or bedsheets that would normally end up in a landfill. Instead, I turn them into rugs. All the socks and sweaters used in my rugs had holes, tears, or stains (or were lonely socks that had lost their mates). Now they are hardy, usable rugs. All the rugs are washable in a cold water cycle with air drying (no heat).

Here are a variety of wool shags for the 2013 Fuller Lodge Affordable Arts Show.

Here are a variety of wool shags for the 2013 Fuller Lodge Affordable Arts Show.

This is a cotton shag, which is cotton and rayon.

This is a cotton shag, which is cotton and rayon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are both cotton shags, which I nicknamed the Adobe Sisters.

These are both cotton shags, which I nicknamed the Adobe Sisters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

These 2 rugs are made from socks. Yep, lots and lots of socks.

These 2 rugs are made from socks. Yep, lots and lots of socks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a blue & brown wool sweater rug (with sock rugs behind it).

Here is a blue & brown wool sweater rug (with sock rugs behind it).

 

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Mistaking It: Skipped Warp Thread

Here we have a warp thread that was not captured in the weft during 1 pass.

Here we have a warp thread that was not captured in the weft during 1 pass.

I’ve decided to continue highlighting my weaving mistakes and how I go about fixing them. I hope everyone gains some info, perhaps even amusement, from these posts. I know I enjoy putting them together.

In this post I want to point out a mistake on a finished rug. This particular rug is made out of upholstery selvedge, my first such, and it turned out quite rich and lovely. While prepping it for a show (vacuuming, measuring, and tagging), I saw I had a mistake. I was tempted to set it aside to deal with another time, or perhaps to be the first of what would eventually be the bargain bin. But then I decided that a lazy Saturday afternoon was really the most ideal time I would ever have for fixing it, and it really was a sweet little rug and deserved the extra attention.

Cut the thread and then back out the warp thread a few inches. Measure out a repair thread.

Cut the thread and then back out the warp thread a few inches. Measure out a repair thread.

So, as you can see from the photo, I have a yellow warp thread that was missed during one pass of the weft, creating this solid line over 3 passes of weft. I dug out the matching warp thread spool from the stash and set to work. First, I had to cut the errant thread and then I used my tapestry needle to pluck it out of the weave in each direction over 3-4 inches.

Pick an end, tie in the repair thread.

Pick an end, tie in the repair thread.

Then I hazarded a guess as to how much replacement thread I needed by measuring out the distance plus half again with loose thread from the spool. Keep in mind you will want plenty at either end for tying in and also that the replacement thread will be pulled tight once you weave it in. Then I picked an end and tied in the new thread, leaving a tail ~3 inches long to tuck in. Using the tapestry needle once again, I tucked in first one tail (from the new thread) and then the other tail (old thread). Each one is woven in perpendicular to the warp and parallel to the weft, using the needle to weave it in and out of the warp.

With tapestry needle, weave in the tied off ends.

With tapestry needle, weave in the tied off ends.

I found this goes much smoother if you have more thread to play with than you actually need, as your tapestry needle needs some give to maneuver in and out. Also, I find it easier if I bunch up the rug a bit, creasing along the weft where I have chosen to weave in the tail. A few choice words later, and you have tucked in your ends.

Using tapestry needle, guide the repair thread in & out of the weft.

Using tapestry needle, guide the repair thread in & out of the weft.

Next, I used the tapestry needle to weave the new thread along beside the other warp threads to the other end. You need to make sure you weave it in the proper location. Having tucked in your ends and pulled them tight, you may have pulled the knot where you tied in to one side or another. So, check just by pulling on your your knot to verify which other two warp threads your old thread sits between. This is where your new thread should sit as you weave it in & out of the weft.

Once you have woven it in, pull it tight, but not so tight as to be tighter than the surrounding warp, as that would look odd and wash & wear funny. Tie in at this end and tuck the ends in as you did on the first end. Once complete, you are ready to snip off the ends of those tails – without snipping any other warp threads, otherwise you will get extra practice at this process ;).

Once the repair thread is woven in and attached at both ends, you are left with the tails of the tie ins.

Once the repair thread is woven in and attached at both ends, you are left with the tails of the tie ins.

Completed, I could not easily tell that I had spliced in a bit of thread to correct my woven mistake. How did this mistake come about? I’m not sure on this one. I have seen it happen (and caught it on the loom so I could fix it there by unweaving and reweaving) when a nearby warp thread had a knot with long tails (potentially from tying in a new spool when warping the loom) that tangled in the thread in question, back in the heddle, holding it down when it should be up, causing the weft to skip the warp thread until it becomes untangled. In this case, I am not sure as there was not a knotted warp thread nearby to this mistake. Whatever the cause, at least it is fixable with ~10 minutes effort and a few cuss words every time I jabbed a thumb with the tapestry needle.

Once repair is made and tie in tails trimmed off, this is what it looks like.

Once repair is made and tie in tails trimmed off, this is what it looks like.

To Sew The Ends Or Not?

If you don't sew the ends, you need to overlay perhaps 3 inches or more.

If you don’t sew the ends, you need to overlay perhaps 3 inches or more.

Recently, I made my first cotton rugs. For all three of them, I mixed each, having two distinct colors twining through each rug. On the first one I had this lovely deep golden selvedge edge material that would be remarkably boring all on it’s own. But then I also had this softer, pastel yellow in strips (that would also be remarkably boring by itself). I decided that they should be smushed together into one beautiful rug.

Here you can see an end that escaped the warp.

Here you can see an end that escaped the warp.

I also made the snap decision to not sew the pastel yellow strips together into long lengths suitable for filling a shuttle. My mom, Sandy Voss of Cabin Textiles, has does this before too and prefers sewing the ends for several reasons. She strongly recommended that if I wasn’t going to sew the ends, then I needed to give them a lengthy overlap of at least 3 inches. This is done to help ensure that the ends won’t wriggle free over time (think the type of usage such a rug might see) and create a hole in the weft. Additionally, unsewn ends are more prone to sticking up through the warp and will require a little trimming before the rug could be considered ready for sale and/or use.

From my personal experience of making this rug, I found it a pain in the backside to lay each pale yellow strip in and fuss with the overlapping ends. I think it doubled the amount of time it took me to weave this rug. I also had a very direct comparison to the selvedge edge I was twining with it – it being one unending streamer of deep gold. This selvedge edge laid in swiftly with minimal fussing.

Here is a simple blue & white cotton rug.

Here is a simple blue & white cotton rug.

The next two cotton rugs I made, I sewed the ends of the blue bedspread strips. Yes, it took me a little while to sew all those little ends, but it saved me time and hassle on the weaving side. Plus, I feel that it makes a more durable product in the end. Those sewn ends are not likely to worm their way out over time, even with many, many washings, and create a hole in the weft. Also, I found there were way fewer little ends that stuck up upon vacuuming that needed a trimming.

Rag Rug Festival 2013

Here is Sandy Voss of Cabin Textiles at her loom at the Festival.

Here is Sandy Voss of Cabin Textiles at her loom at the Festival.

This was my first year assisting my mom, Sandy Voss of Cabin Textiles, with Rag Rug Festival held by the New Mexico Women’s Foundation in Santa Fe, NM August 9th, 10th, & 11th. This year the Rag Rug Festival was held at the International Folk Art Museum on Museum Hill, instead of the Udall Building as in years past. The artists, somewhere between 30-40 (my guess), had most of Friday to set up prior to a special ticket preview night that went to 8PM. There was light food and a small bar and a full array of fashions on display by artists and patrons alike. I live an hour and a half north of this shin dig and I was beat by the time I got home. I was quite surprised by the variety of arts on display as I had assumed the bulk of the wares would be some sort of woven art. While there were perhaps 6 rag rug weavers on display, there was also felting, gourd art, silk painted clothing, jewelry, hats, bags, scarves, quilting, and a number of other things.

Some Enchanted Weavings brought her stripper and sewing machine to demo.

Some Enchanted Weavings brought her stripper and sewing machine to demo.

Both Saturday and Sunday the Rag Rug Festival, sprawled over three rooms, was open to the public 10-4 and the museum from 10-5 for free. My mom brought one of her looms to demonstrate making a rug. All artists were asked to bring something to demo, so I saw a spinning wheel, some henna art, sewing, and a stripper (not as exciting as some of you are thinking – it’s actually a wheeled blade for cutting fabric into strips). I brought some sock loops to show customers the basics of creating long strands of sock loops for weaving. I also had some left over warp that I made into braided plant hangers. But, really, folks were way more interested in watching me untangle Pendleton shag (the selvedge edge of the blanket that usually goes to the landfill if not put to use by artists) for my mom to weave. By far, the loom was a draw. I let little kids climb on it as I know how tough rag rug looms are. Several adults wanted to give weaving a try too.

Here is an UpCycled Fashion felt owl.

Here is an UpCycled Fashion felt owl.

Saturday had more sales for Cabin Textiles, but less traffic. There were lulls where either one of us could go walking for an hour or so and see the other artists. This is where I walked around taking pictures for this blog. Most folks were quite happy to let me take pictures. Some wanted to know why and I told them because my grandma reads this blog and most found that quite amusing, even sweet. If anyone still had doubts as to my innocent silliness, I told them who I was and that I was helping my mom for the weekend and once folks heard my mom’s name, everyone was cool with me taking pictures. Someone was kind enough to explain to me afterwards that sometimes nefarious types take pictures of folk art with the intent of reproducing that type or style and selling their items as original ideas. If I find such nefarious folks, I will personally tweak their noses. Anyway, this points to just how much I have to learn about shows.

The ladies of the NaNeelzhiin Women's' Craft Circle put on a beautiful display.

The ladies of the NaNeelzhiin Women’s’ Craft Circle put on a beautiful display.

Sunday had more traffic, and plenty of it chatty, but less sales. We heard the same from more than one vendor. In some ways, we were busier because we had more folks wanting to try the loom or talk about local weaving classes (like at the Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center). I had another bag of shag to untangle. I also brought some chocolate candies to share with artists and patrons alike, though I think we and our neighboring vendors ate more chocolate than the wandering customers. I got to do plenty of people watching over the weekend, a favorite past time. It was very interesting to see the huge variety of people who came through the doors. Some were just visiting the museum and happened upon the Rag Rug Festival, while others are repeat customers year after year. Some folks spend much of their year in other countries and make a point of visiting Rag Rug Festival when they are in NM. I did manage to break away for about an hour Sunday to see the rest of the museum. They have a very eclectic doll and figurine collection in a very, very large room. Also there was a Japanese kite show on display that was quite something.

Quilt work by The Common Thread.

Quilt work by The Common Thread.

The museum provided large dollys for bringing items in and hauling them out. However, the museum guys were not allowed to load, unload, or handle the items in anyway. They did make an exception for my mom’s loom. After all, it is unlikely the museum staff would be blamed if the loom went missing later, which I think was the concern for all of the smaller items. They did have a nice big freight elevator we got to ride in with our items. As you can imagine, the artists had to dress not only to impress but to also be able to haul their own wares about. Many vendors said that attendance was way down from years past, though the museum said their average weekend attendance was up (remember, this is the first year having the Festival in the museum). Also, there was very little advertising. I don’t know the reason for this, but even an internet search turned up very little information. I also overheard a few patrons expressing their frustration at the limited number of rag rug vendors (6?) on display compared to the rather eclectic variety of arts on display.

Gourd antler mask by Eye of the Beholder. Stunning!

Gourd antler mask by Eye of the Beholder. Stunning!

This being my first time helping out with this Festival, I had a great time. I had intended to simply give my mom support during the core hours of the day (like from 11 or 12 to 2) so that she could take a break if she wanted. But all 3 days I found myself staying until closing because I was enjoying the camaraderie of the show, chatting with the customers, letting kids use the loom as a jungle gym, and exploring the museum. One of my knitting friends was able to make it by and it was so great to catch up with her (thanks P.H.!). Taking pictures was also fun as it gave me a great excuse to talk with the other artists and ask them about their work.

Colorful bags by Subedi Enterprises.

Colorful bags by Subedi Enterprises.

So, who all did I harass for pictures? Let me say two things first: I am a bit shy in social situations, so if the artist was busy with customers, I didn’t approach to snap away pictures; second, I always made sure to ask if I could take pictures and a few folks were a little suspicious at first, which only increased my shyness. So, this is only a few of the many wonderful artists that were present at this show.

I thank each of these artists for indulging my latent reporter skills and letting me take pictures.

Necklace & earrings by Shamana Jewelry.

Necklace & earrings by Shamana Jewelry.

Eye of the Beholder, Fine Art Gourds, Joanna Bradley (lovely lady, my mom and I gave her some shag and left over warp for decorations, so much fun to joke around with). Contact info: swdirect@comcast.net, 575-522-3479

Shamana Jewelry, Rebecca Swallows (she shared an innocent thong, as in flipflop, joke with me, haha!). Contact info: rebzoe@hotmail.com, 575-921-5502, 575-585-9420, 204 St. Francis Dr., Tularosa, NM 88352

The Common Thread, Southwest Women’s Fiber Arts Collective (Granma D. – the picture of the mice is just for you). Contact info: http://www.fiberartscollective.org, 575-538-5733, 107 W. Broadway, PO Box 636, Silver City, NM 88062

These little Badgersong 'donuts' were quite the eyecatcher.

These little Badgersong ‘donuts’ were quite the eyecatcher.

Badgersong Art, Andy Hunter (I think the two of us laughed so loud the other room could hear us!). Contact info: hunteralh@yahoo.com

NaNeelzhiin Women’s Craft Circle (these ladies were right across the aisle from us and were often entertained by the kids playing on the loom). Unfortunately, they were out of business cards and I could not find any contact info on the internet for them.

Rag rugs by Some Enchanted Weavings.

Rag rugs by Some Enchanted Weavings.

Some Enchanted Weavings, Ann Lumaghi (her booth was right next to us & she let me take plenty of pics – thank you!). Contact info: annlumaghi@newmexico.com, 505-685-4503,

Subedi Enterprises, Duka Subedi (her son, husband, and mother were there with her and it was great to see the family effort). Contact info: duka_aarpan@yahoo.com, 505-948-6638, 8409 Gutierrez Rd, NE, Albuquerque, NM 87111

UpCycled Fashion, Anita Marie Moss & Jean Nichols (they let me chatter away about the farm & goats, because they are cool like that). Contact info: UpCycledFashion.com, jean@upcycledfashion.com, anitamarie@upcycledfashion.com, 575-587-0202, 575-587-2200, PO Box 237, Penasco, NM 87553

TDLT Fiber Artisans, Lise Poulsen (the felted vases were quite the eye catcher!). Contact info: lise.poulsen@mindspring.com, Tejedoras de Las Trampas, 575-758-1730, http://www.gauchoblue.com/TDLT.html, TDLT@GauchoBlue.com, PO Box 114, Penasco, NM 87553

Artist Renee Brainard Gentz showed off some fabulous pieces made from silk.

Artist Renee Brainard Gentz showed off some fabulous pieces made from silk.

Fiber artist Renee Brainard Gentz (such lovely silk pieces). Contact info: http://www.rbgentz.com, rbgentz@gmail.com, 505-242-5703

These felt 'vases' by UpCycled Fashion are great.

These felt ‘vases’ by TDLT Fiber Artisans are great.

The Common Thread mice were well behaved and too cute.

The Common Thread mice were well behaved and too cute.

Felt goats (I do so love goats) and felt baby boots by UpCycled Fashion.

Felt goats (I do so love goats) and felt baby boots by UpCycled Fashion.

Another cool bag from Subedi Enterprises.

Another cool bag from Subedi Enterprises.

Shawls & scarves by Some Enchanted Weavings.

Shawls & scarves by Some Enchanted Weavings.

Another beautiful piece from Shamana Jewelry.

Another beautiful piece from Shamana Jewelry.

Potholders & scarves by Some Enchanted Weavings.

Potholders & scarves by Some Enchanted Weavings.

This gourd was cut open and decorated inside & outside by Eye of the Beholder.

This gourd was cut open and decorated inside & outside by Eye of the Beholder.

Here is the backside of that same hollowed out gourd, by Eye of the Beholder.

Here is the backside of that same hollowed out gourd, by Eye of the Beholder.

Art Through The Loom Show: Setting Up at Ghost Ranch

Wall hanging by Caroline Rackley.

Wall hanging by Caroline Rackley.

As some of you know, the Art Through the Loom guild show at Ghost Ranch near Abiquiu, NM is the first show that I have my rugs in. This show runs from mid-July through mid-September. On July 16th, several of us made the trek to Ghost Ranch to set up the show. The reception for the show was held the following Saturday, July 20th. Unfortunately, I did not make it to the reception because we had a lovely summer flash flood the day before and I was still tending to the after math – both in cleaning and in recovering physically from my Friday exertions of shoveling and bailing water.

However, I did take lots of pictures the day we did set up, so I can share with you all some of the great art work that was displayed in this show. I am new to the guild, so I am still learning who all the other artists are; any mistakes in labeling the pictures or spelling folks’ names are my own.

Necktie rug by Elaine Anaya.

Necktie rug by Elaine Anaya.

In a previous post, I expressed concern that I would forget to bring something important to the set up of the show, like business cards, water bottle, or even my rugs. So, I packed the truck the night before with everything but the water bottle. I even brought extra hanging tags just in case I needed to correct something or replace one on one of my rugs. I managed to have 15 rugs ready for the show. I hadn’t been out to Ghost Ranch in perhaps 7-10 years and I wasn’t sure which building we would be in. So, I planned to be 15 minutes late so that I would (hopefully) see several other vehicles, including my mom’s, in front of the correct building. It worked, though the sign on the building said it was closed. That was easily fixed by turning the sign around and lugging my rugs in.

Practical weather forecasters by Gloria Padilla.

Practical weather forecasters by Gloria Padilla.

The ladies at ghost ranch who allow us to invade the space and help set up are awesome: Lorraine, Cheryl, and Judy – Thank you!

I also wish to thank John Curran for doing so much ladder work. Much of the wall pieces must be hung from the ceiling instead of attached to the walls. If John had not volunteered, I am sure I would have been sent up and down the ladder repeatedly as I was the youngest there. It’s a wee secret of mine that I have a ladder phobia, which I didn’t particularly want to share with the other guild members in full on color vision. I don’t know what the clinical term for this fear is, though climacophobia is close. If the ladder is anchored into a wall, etc., I have no problem. But a free standing ladder is extremely difficult for me to use. So, a big, big thanks to John and later, Cheryl for doing the ladder work.

A mix of things: hotpads by Nancy Woodworth, towels by Michelle Rudy, more hotpads by Caroline Rackley.

A mix of things: hotpads by Nancy Woodworth, towels by Michelle Rudy, more hotpads by Caroline Rackley.

I learned the check in process for items. Several folks brought not only their own work, but the work of others. So we had plenty to check in, make sure all the items match the paperwork, and stick on the scannable barcodes. I do like sticky barcodes – makes things simple for whoever is doing checkout and makes me as an artist feel like we are in the 21st century.

I spent most of my time harassing three ladies: Michelle Rudy, Caroline Rackley, and Nora Curran. Michelle got me started on checking in my mom’s (Sandy Voss’s) hats. This was a good thing to learn on because it was hard to mess up. Next, I artistically mussed up the kitchen weavings table, which included items by Michelle, Caroline, and Nancy Woodworth, so that someone with a more critical eye could come along later and make it look nice. Then I had fun placing little baskets holding Hues by Heather skeins of yarn. Hues by Heather is created by Erika Schwender. These baskets were later consolidated and placed in other strategically located places.

The Hues by Heather skiens are by Erika Schwender. The pillows are Judy Lucero.

The Hues by Heather skiens are by Erika Schwender. The pillows are Judy Lucero.

Caroline and I spent some quality time comparing pocket knives, checking in Debra Dubois’s items, hanging Pamela Colton’s dolls, and joking around. She makes the mullet look cool and I look forward to seeing her at future functions. So as not to pester Caroline the entire time, I then spent time with Nora tying knots, arguing with dowel rods, discussing pickles, untying knots, and fussing with clamps. We eventually got one, yes a single, item ready for hanging.

Eventually, we had a little lunch break in the partially covered center patio area. John & Nora’s sheep dog was out there in the shade. I shared an apple with her and gave her a back massage. She was very sweet. We watched the mud swallow chicks being fed by their parents. After lunch, we had a few more things to see to, cleaning up, making sure the Ghost Ranch staff had all the paperwork they needed from us, etc. After that, we peeled off here and there. I had planned to take pictures of us all dressed at the reception and capture a few pictures of the scenic landscape of the area when I came back for the reception. Alas, who expected flash flooding encroaching on my livingroom?

Wall hanging by John Curran.

Wall hanging by John Curran.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wall hanging by Linda Bentley.

Wall hanging by Linda Bentley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dolls by Pamela Colton.

Dolls by Pamela Colton.

 

 

 

 

 

Shawl by Sally Rupert.

Shawl by Sally Rupert.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thumb rings by Caroline Rackley.

Thumb rings by Caroline Rackley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wall hanging by Alex Sullivan.

Wall hanging by Alex Sullivan.

 

 

 

 

Wall hanging by Bettye Sullivan.

Wall hanging by Bettye Sullivan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wall hanging by Gloria Padilla.

Wall hanging by Gloria Padilla.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On our lunch break watching swallow chicks.

On our lunch break watching swallow chicks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nora & John's dog on a water break.

Nora & John’s dog on a water break.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My rugs mixed with other artists's rugs.

My rugs mixed with other artists’s rugs.

 

 

 

 

Crazy hats by Sandy Voss.

Crazy hats by Sandy Voss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A shag rug (reds) and a sock rug made by me.

A shag rug (reds) and a sock rug made by me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prepping for My First Show

My first business cards.

My first business cards.

This month, I will be entering my first show, the Art Through the Loom Ghost Ranch Show. Now I grew up going to shows and art fairs, fiestas, and festivals, gallery openings, etc. with my mom for her weavings (Cabin Textiles). These things are usually pretty tame affairs; it’s a bunch of fiber artists being polite in public, dressed nicely, and usually worn out from trying to get their craft done earlier in the day and silently wondering how early they can duck out without being rude.

So, I have no real anxiety about the 2 hours at the reception standing around in a skirt making small talk about the weather. No, my anxiety is about the details of pulling my pieces together. Business cards, sewing the tabbies, using my new vacuum, selecting the rugs to go, and how to display them.

These rolled rugs are waiting to have their tabbies sewn.

These rolled rugs are waiting to have their tabbies sewn.

I finally have business cards and hanging tags. These were two important things. The business cards can have all my contact info, whereas the hanging tags simply have my name and business name on it, along with cleaning instructions. Each rug will get a hanging tag in which I will write the dimensions and price, leaving space for the Ghost Ranch bar code sticker. Of course, on set up day (a few days before the reception), I will forget my business cards and have to bring them at the reception. I think the Ghost Ranch staff keep a few business cards from each artist at the front desk? I will learn. Details.

Next is learning the sewing machine. I know. Some of you just had your eyes bug out. I grew up in a weaver’s house and never learned the sewing machine. I will probably do a separate post on this for comedy’s sake. Anyway, each of my rugs has tabbies at each end that need to be folded over and sewn. Straight lines, people. That’s all I need to master. Wish me luck.

These rugs are awaiting the sewing of the tabbies, a vacuuming, and tags.

These rugs are awaiting the sewing of the tabbies, a vacuuming, and tags.

I purchased a little hand vacuum specifically for my rugs. I have cats and dogs. I live on a little farm. Each rug WILL be vacuumed before leaving this house. So, the guest bedroom is pet free and the guest bed makes the perfect flat surface for vacuuming, measuring, and tagging.

What to take? Well……I have sock rugs and shag rugs right now. I am planning tentatively to take 10-15 rugs. I am also entering a show in August and I want to make sure I will have enough for both. The sock rugs are limited in number right now simply because they take so much prep. I have cut up and looped all the colored socks I had. I have a huge bag of light grey and white socks that need to be dyed before they can be turned into rugs – but that is unlikely to happen before either show. So, the Ghost Ranch show may get more shag rugs in the mix as I hold back more sock rugs for the August Rag Rug Festival.

Tying on the Warp: Mistakes & All

Each thread must be tied onto the correct thread from the previous warp.

Each thread must be tied onto the correct thread from the previous warp.

Once you have warped your loom, there is the next chore of tying on. If you read Warping the Loom, then you know we have a Union floor loom for rag rugs. This loom came to us with about 10 rugs worth of black warp on it, set at 32 inches wide. The new warp is much brighter and set at 28 inches wide. Here in this post I will reveal to you all the mistakes we made; experienced weavers may snort laugh a little. That’s fine; we do. First off, the threads should be tied on in the same pattern you had them on the spool rack. It’s best to keep this pattern for each section, though a few mistakes won’t kill your warp.

Each individual thread from the new warp needs to be tied onto the correct one from the old warp. We had left the old warp threaded through the two harnesses and the reed. In retrospect, I wish I had not cut them as short as I did as leaving the old warp about 16 inches long caused for a lot of pulling and inadvertently pulling the warp completely out in a few places. The alternative is to pull the old warp out completely and just re-thread everything. If you have a sley hook (aka threading, heddle, or reed hook), this might not be too bad. I do not have a sley hook. This is also what you would do if you have warped your loom for the first time and don’t have old warp to tie on to.

Our loom is a 2 harness loom. So, the threads must alternate. It doesn’t matter if you start with the back harness or the front harness; just keep the threads alternating. You do not want two threads side by side in the same harness as this can lead to a visible line the length of your rug. Typically, you just follow the pattern set by the previous warp, correcting any mistakes as you go, trying not to introduce new ones…..like some blogger you may know ;). In tying on, use an overhand knot, not a square knot. Square knots come undone under tension and you will be cussing mightily as one after another pops loose. The overhand knot will only get tighter under tension. This is really more important for when repairing a broken thread. The knots you tie here for tying on the new warp will most likely not be under any tension, but I try to get myself in the habit of using the overhand knot instead of the square knot.

At 20 threads per section, 14 sections, that's a lot of knots!

At 20 threads per section, 14 sections, that’s a lot of knots!

So, I was going from a wider warp than the new one I had just put on. This meant that I had to drop a section of the old warp on either side. The problem was that the old warp was mostly black and I could not tell where the section ended with ease. In retrospect, I could have simply counted off 20 threads, as I know that is what is in each section. Alas, I had left the wee tiny OCD bit of my brain locked in the canned vegetable cupboard to do some organizing. I really should have invited it to the tying on party. So, that was mistake number one. I was off by a number of threads and this became noticeable towards the end. Thankfully, with this model loom, there was an easy fix that my mom clued me in to: the reed has a little bit of wiggle room and simply by loosing the bolts on the reed bar and sliding the reed down ~8 threads, this problem was solved.

My second mistake was really a beginner’s mistake. In fact, I was a bit embarrassed over this one and didn’t even tell my mom. Now, she hasn’t discovered this little website of mine yet, not being particularly computer savvy. I’m sure I can trust you all to keep it on the hush-hush, right? OK, I tied on 3 sections, 60 threads, straight to the old warp without taking the threads over the back beam. Yes, round of applause. Did I grow up with a weaver for a mom or not? I was quite exasperated with myself when I figured it out. True, I was paying attention to an audiobook, but …..Yeah, invite that OCD part of yourself to the tying on party. Now, there was an easy fix to this one too. Yes, it involved a wrench. Bill simply unbolted one corner of the back beam and swung it in enough to wrap the warp around it as it should be, then rebolted the beam. Took like 2 minutes.

Here, we have puled the new warp through. My dog Tanuki is supervising.

Here, we have puled the new warp through. My dog Tanuki is supervising.

While tying on to the old warp, I found a few mistakes that had to be corrected. The first one was that two threads were going through the same harness eyelet. Oops! Mistakes get introduced to a warp through the course of weaving. Typically, a thread breaks for one reason or another, and it can pop all the way to the back beam if under tight enough tension. So, mistakes happen while re-threading that broken string back through when you tie it back in. I’m sure I will be introducing mistakes to my current warp and when I re-warp in a few weeks, I will be finding and fixing those mistakes too. For this double threaded eyelet mistake, I continued to just tie on and when I finished tying on the entirety of the new warp, that was when I fixed it. There may be more mistakes exactly like this. To fix it, keep tract of how many doubles you have, then simply move your warp thread by thread out towards the edge that many number of eyelets and dents. (Dents are the spaces in the reed that the threads go through. Yeah, I didn’t know that either until I was doing this tie on by myself and calling my mom every 2 hours with questions.) In my case, I had only 1 double, and it was located in the first section I tied on, so I only had to move a few threads over 1. When you do this, you need to make sure you keep the threads alternating front and back harness. If you have a 4 harness loom, same principle, you just need to pay extra attention.

The next mistake I found was that three eyelets were completely empty. Ooops. This was all me. I must have accidentally pulled the old warp out. So, I had to take the appropriate 3 threads of the new warp and unwind those three from the back beam enough to make it all the way through eyelets and dents. Once I got those three all the through, I went ahead and tied them together in front of the reed so they wouldn’t be tempted to pop back through to be with their friends.

Success! Ready to cut off the remaining old warp & tie on new warp.

Success! Ready to cut off the remaining old warp & tie on new warp.

The next was an odd one: I found a thread going through a back harness eyelet, an empty front harness eyelet, and then the next thread going through a back harness eyelet. Yet, there was not a blank space in the dents. If there had been an empty space in the dents, I would have done the same thing as in the previous mistake, just with a single thread. In this case, I pulled one of the back harness threads (old warp) out of it’s eyelet and put it through the front harness eyelet, making sure to preserve my alternating. Then I continued to tie on the new warp as I had been doing. Yes, this left an empty eyelet in the middle of the warp, but it won’t cause a fuss.

Now that I had my warp tied on (14 sections at 20 threads a piece), all 280 threads, I was ready to pull the new warp through. The front of the loom still shows the old warp (black threads), so I grabbed those in perhaps 40-60 thread bundles and gently pulled. To get all those knots through the eyelets and dents, some wiggling, jostling, and even cajoling of the threads must be done. You don’t want to break any of them; you just spent how many hours hunched over the back beam, squinting and counting and redoing your work? So, go with the cajoling, even a few epithets if you feel strongly about it, but do not break your threads at this point. There will be plenty of time for that later.

The new warp is tied onto the apron, ready for weaving.

The new warp is tied onto the apron, ready for weaving.

Once the new warp was pulled through, I pulled a few extra inches through the give myself some thread to work with. I cut off the old warp and all my knots. Yes, hours spent putting those knots in only to cut them off later. Perhaps I can find some arts & crafts class that can use such silly bits of thread? Anyway, now I had my new warp ready the be tied on. For the apron on my loom, I have tie on slots for each section on the back beam. So, I grabbed the first 20 threads (first section) at one end and tied it on. Then I went to the opposite end and did the same thing. I bounce back and forth while tying on and once all sections are tied on, I tighten down each section by hand. Once satisfied that my tension is even, I usually tighten it up a bit with ratchet. Now I am ready to start weaving.

There's some minor wear & tear to this apron.

There’s some minor wear & tear to this apron.

I took a picture of one edge of the apron to show how it is wearing. My mom made this apron for this loom and when she makes an apron, she gives it enough material to wrap around the front beam 3-4 times. This means that once I have too much wear on that edge (like it is messing up the tension on one side of the warp), I can simply cut off the damaged section, sew a new loop for the rebar, and put in new slots for each section to tie on to. If you have a factory or store bought apron, you may not have enough excess material to do this and will have to replace the whole thing. If you can sew straight lines on your sewing machine, you can make yourself an apron out of heavy canvas material and save yourself some trouble down the line.

This is the new warp as seen on the back beam when under tension.

This is the new warp as seen on the back beam when under tension.