Rag Rug Weaving versus Tapestry: the Hare and the Tortoise

There are so many enjoyable aspects to participating in group projects at the Weavers Guild of Minnesota. The new location in the Open Book building in downtown Minneapolis is about seven minutes from home, if I am clever enough to avoid rush hour. Milkweed Press is a neighbor, and they display their books in the third floor hall — I rarely make it to the Guild door without picking up a book or two and sampling a page. The new space for weavers is cheerful, bright and welcoming, and space is dedicated for two looms available for study group projects. Here I am at the Glimakra loom warped up for the Rag Rug Study Group project.

Linda Soranno took this photo at the Weavers Guild Member Open House.

After work on the four Valley Grove tapestries last year, weaving a rag rug felt like flying versus walking. You don’t have to worry about sitting too much. It felt like I was walking around the loom to move the warp forward every five minutes. I like the Rumplestiltsken-like aspect of weaving a rag rug. I started with bags and bags of prepared fabric strips, the straw I would weave into gold, or at least a rug.

I used old sheets from my house (the blue flowered one is decades old), supplemented by sheets purchased from a thrift store.

Weaving at the Guild is social when you want it to be. Other members and people taking classes are respectful of people weaving intently, but it is also fun to share and explain what you are doing with people who stop by the loom. And I LOVE peeking at the variety of warp and weft choices of students taking classes.

One fun aspect of using fabric strips for weft is seeing how an original patterned fabric appears when squished into the warp. I especially liked the appearance of the white flowered fabric when woven.

I know that some rag rug weavers plan their projects carefully, and weigh their fabric strip weft to ensure they have the right amount. I generally just prepare too much, knowing the leftovers will appear in a future rug. This time was no different!

Having extra rags prepared will be a good thing, as I am traveling to Sweden to take a one-week rag rug course in June at Sätergläntan with Monica Hallén! I have never visited Sätergläntan nor taken a course in Sweden. Hallén is the author of several books on rag rugs, including one I own and love, I Trasmattans värld: från A–Ö (The World of Rag Rugs: from A–Ö). You can see a short video of Becky Ashenden leafing through the book here.

My friend Gayle Groebner was the next to weave her rug, and we are cutting them off the loom in a couple of days. Another fun aspect of weaving a rug is seeing it unwind from the loom. Was my design idea a sound one? Will it look good? We’ll see soon.

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