Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"Branching Out........."

I'm branching out a bit with my weaving. I'd woven with cloth strips (from now on I'll be calling them rags), but I hadn't realized there was a better way to get them ready until I took the double weaving class from Juanita, at Vavning Weaving Studio (, last November. I'd used scissors to cut them, which took quite a bit of time and let's face it, I wasn't too cautious that I cut them nice and straight. Not only that, but using scissors becomes uncomfortable after a bit, too. :(

During my class, which was one on one with Juanita, her husband Norm spent his time cutting rags and getting them ready for weaving. He was using a "rag cutter", which is what I ordered last Friday, and it arrived on Monday afternoon. I ordered a Fraser Rag Cutter from Great Northern Weaving Supply (, which is located just north of Kalamazoo, MI (where I attended college). They have always had wonderful customer service and orders arrive within a few days of placing them. I have always called them because I've had questions, and they are very knowledgable and super friendly.

Here is a photo of my collapsible "work station". I am very fortunate to have Rob living next door. I had the idea as to how I wanted to set up my cutter, but I didn't have a board wide enough for it's secure attachment. Rob came to the rescue! He has a number of "finished" pieces of oak trim, extras from his front room, that had actually been milled from a tree taken down from his backyard. Not only did he donate a piece of wood to my work station, but it also has true ""local" history, too. ;)

Cutting the rags is just one part of the process.....the fastest one actually. After cutting them, they are folded in half so the prints are showing on both sides. This is another thing I learned while at my class. My final project, woven after my sampler, was a woven bag, using processed rags of Juanita's. They were so nicely done that I'd thought they had been ironed, but they'd only been carefully folded and wound into a ball! The tension created by winding actually "pressed" the rag.

I spent my day yesterday cutting and winding rags. Obviously I took breaks and such, but basically I was working with the process on and off all day. This is all I finished......seems a pitifully small amount doesn't it? I'm going to weave a rag rug on the warp that I have leftover from weaving the Pendleton Wool Blanket Selvages. I had planned on using all of it for the selvages, but there wasn't enough of the 4th selvage for a 3' wide rug with a decent length. Not having woven a rug using properly processed rags, I'm not exactly sure how much I need for at least a 3' x 4' rug, possibly longer. Because of that, I am cutting up all 5 of the coils I have, weighing them, and then will re-weigh what is left over,so I will have a better idea as to what I need from now on. There are so many facets of weaving and this "old dog" continues to learn. ;) My thanks again to Rob for making my "Fraser Rag Cutter Work Station" a success!


Barb said...

DO you have a notebook where you keep all your notes, or do you keep them electronically? Also, given that there is a cutter to speed the process of cutting the rags, I be there's a machine for folding and winding! I could really get into this particular kind of weaving because of the potential to make things from stuff that would otherwise be landfilled. I wonder about worn out clothing, etc. Oh, and I've been thinking for awhile to try crocheting with rags using a huge crochet hook. Could be good for aging hands.

KarenInTheWoods and Steveio said...

Oh I love your little workstation!

There is a little folding device called a "Braid Aid" available in different sizes for widths of rags.

I used them a few times and wound perfect rag balls which would press the rags into a folded bias tape fabric. They make very neat placemats (won a first prize with the mats in a state cultural contest) .. but it's a lot of intensive work for a rug, just my humble opinion!

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dc said...

I about cracked up looking at all your precision in preparing the "rags" I am sure you will end up with quality work. Maybe I need to take a lesson here, as I let the rags turn and twist and it makes interesting textures and colors. In the past I have done randon rag balls with recycled fabric, I would pick colors I liked and sew strips together, then trim and wind into balls. I am now making rag balls of just one color so I can make rugs with alternating colors. You can see the random colors in my blog I did today. Anxious to see how your rag rug turns out.

Molly Bee said...

Very Cool!!!!!