I weave, but have not woven rugs. I help with a group of older weavers who weave for a major fundraiser every year. One of the weavers has woven small rugs and tapestries successfully in the past on the jack loom she uses. She recently wove a very good looking rug that is the largest rug she has woven yet, roughly two and a half feet wide and four feet long. She used cotton carpet warp for the warp, and two colors of denim for weft. It looked really nice when she took if off the loom and she had no problem with draw-in, but after she washed the rug there are clearly visible spaces between the wefts. You can see light between all the rows when you hold the rug up to the light. What can she do when she weaves the next rug so she doesn't run into this problem again?
Thanks for your help!
I understand that rugs must have the weft beaten down very hard. If beating hard is difficult, as might be expected as one ages, an easy solution might be to weight the beater. That means finding some heave piece of metal that could be afixed to the beater somewhere where it does not interfere with the weaving process.
Undoubtedly there are other ideas, too. Best of luck.
I've woven many fabric rugs on my jack loom, a 1964 Gilmore. I'm small (and gradually getting smaller...), so I've wrestled with the heavy beating that many weavers recommend. One totally successful strategy for me has been to squeeze rather than beat, change the shed, and squeeze again--and to concentrate on the fact that each pass also acts to re-squeeze the previous pass. Hmmm. Not sure I explained that well.
anyway: Denim is very difficult to work with because it is so strong and thick. It resists remaining squeezed into place. Extremely well-worn denim cut into thin strips will be easier. I'd recommend using a softer and fluffier fabric, something more malleable, such as flannel, for a next rug.
Don't give up!
Denim is a tough material for weaving rag rugs. If one is using it, then the older, the better. The washed out denim is softer and will pack better. Also cut your strips smaller. A general rule for fabric strips is 1-2 inches for soft cotton cloth like bed sheets. If you're using denim, it's probably better to go smaller like 3/4-1 inch max strips. Also try a test run with your strips in various sizes before starting the rug. You can always pull them out and try again. You might try a twill tieup for tougher fabric instead of plain weave. It tends to pack a little better. Also try cottolin, or poly cotton. It's stronger for the beating.
Double thread your last 2 heddles at each end for a strong selvedge and beat hard, change the shed and beat again. Twist your strips as you reverse the direction, it make for a clean edge.
Good luck. Rag Rugs are a BLAST!
I think that the clues are in the jack loom and that this is a wider work than she has done before. Rag rugs require a VERY high warp tension, which is hard to do on a jack loom. The wider the warp, the more difficult it will be to get this tension. My counterbalance rug loom has iron ratchets for the warp and cloth beams, with a 3' iron lever to tighten the warp. The supports are massive and the whole shebang weighs 300 pounds for a 4' wide loom.
I had added steel bars to the beater of my rug loom because I had heard many people suggesting that. I found that the motion was slow, heavy, and it took a lot more work, with poorer results. The energy transmitted to the fell by the beater can be measured: energy=1/2 mass x velocity squared. So you get more force transmitted to the weft by a fast beat, not a slow heavy one.
I hear so many say "I have woven rugs on my jack loom" - you just found out why this is not always a good idea. Off the loom with no finishing it looked all right, but after washing, everything loosened up. I see so many sleazy rag rugs at craft shows where daylight shines between the wefts and the weaver is beaming over the "excellent quality" of the rugs.
Let's just say, you can call a woven textile a rug, but for many beholders, it may not be.
i would love to hear the reason why a jack loom doesn't do rugs well. i have been making rugs on my counterbalance loom because i felt that the brake on the cloth beam of the jack loom was inadequate, and hoped to get someone to make a better one. so does this comment by sara von treschow mean that even with a better brake, it w on't help? the loom is extremely heavy, probably over 200 lb. it is a 45" hammett marcoux, and for everythinig else i love it. es
There are several features that make a good rug loom:
The frame must be substantial.
The shed should be counterbalance or countermarche. In these looms, the warp threads are pulled up and down to make the shed. It is much easier to have extreme tension and create a shed by moving threads up and down than it is by just raising some threads, which is what happens on a jack loom. The method of shed creation is why rug looms tend to be CB or CM.
The cloth and warp beams should have a ratchet and pawl or worm gear.
I weave all of my rugs on a J-made 60 inch jack loom. It does a perfect job, and you certainly can't see any daylight shining through my rugs! I also have four Macomber looms that would be fine for weaving rugs. My philosophy is if it works, then it is good.