“Mask Up:” The story of A 2020 Rug

Of course “Mask Up” could only be a 2020 rug. What would we even have thought of that phrase on a rug in 2019?

Shortly before I moved my studio from the Casket Arts Building, I wove a rug using boxes of thick Swedish singles. I bought a pile of skeins at the Weavers Guild, secondhand, a few years ago. It’s like the “loaves and fishes” yarn; I wove with the yarn, yet the stash never seemed to be depleted. However, at this point, there was little of any single color, so my challenge was to make many disparate colors play well together.

I bought this book in Norway a while back, Åklebragder frå Jondal og king Folgefonna, by Kristi Skintveit.

I loved the krokåkle coverlets in the book with wide bands of krokbragd-crosses with stripes. It was not my intention to weave a replica of one in the book. I hung a photo of one I especially liked and started to experiment.

Here was my experience. It was so difficult to work with my motley yarn color selection when weaving these patterns. A gold that I thought would be bright turned dull against its neighbor yarn, or another color I thought would be appear strongly next to white still seemed pale. I would run out of a color I liked and have to estimate how another set of colors would “equal” the band I just wove. I did my best, but when I first took it off the loom, I was not happy.

The Pandemic Theme

I wanted to weave something to commemorate our year of isolation. I really liked a piece in Kristi Skintveit’s book, in which she included embroidery at one end of a coverlet.

It sparked my idea for embroidery at the end of the rug. I experimented with different stitches and threads, and ended up using a chain stitch with deep gray perle cotton. It was clumsy and tedious to sew.

In the end, I have become fond of the rug in the two months I’ve lived with it. The color contrasts are not so bothersome, and it fits so well in a corner of room with other weavings.

I will definitely return to this book and these patterns some day in the future.

One comment

  1. Hi Robbie, I love your Mask Up rug and story. Your quandary about color reminded me of a visit to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. His artifacts were included and I was fascinated by a red wooden box with bits of yarn. He would unravel the yarn a bit and blend it with another color. You can really see how this exercise influenced his brush strokes and colors. I used it as a teaching tool for middle school art classes. Fun and enlightening.

    In reading your post I was also reminded of a book called Interaction of Color by Josef Albers. It’s an excellent reference for any visual artist. I did the exercises in college using paper, but it would be interesting to see what would happen with fiber. It’s fascinating.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and inspiration. We’re masking up here. Stay safe. Dawnette Davis

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