Somewhere, at a dinner table, a parent cajoles a reluctant child—
“Come on, just try it. You might even like it.”
Could be peas. Could be curry. Could be papaya. I resisted winter squash when I was young, but at some point, Mom won and – what do you know? I do like it!
Rug-weaving is like that too. I wove a few rag rugs because I had rags and I had a loom. I didn’t spend much time thinking about color schemes and I didn’t weave more than what we needed around the house. I never learned any other rug technique either, like looped pile, knotted pile, soumak, or the like because those just didn’t interest me. That is, until this summer.
Our guild had duplicate copies of many books and offered the extras for sale to members. I picked up a copy of Peter Collingwood’s The Techniques of Rug Weaving. Wow, what a packed volume! After paging through several chapters of step-by-step instructions and diagrams, I just had to give it a try. I threaded up the loom for some play time.
After putting on a good strong warp, I experimented with knots, loops, edges, and chains. A few rows here, a few there, just enough to give me a little idea of what the surface looks like. Then on to a more focused sample.
First up, Ghiordes knots. Collingwood says these are the most common knots and are fairly secure in the warp after a few shots of plain weave binds them in. This is the brown section on my sample. I wanted those knots to be really secure and after one row, I thought they looked a little skimpy so I made sure to pack them in.
Next, I tried Sehna knots in green wool. After realigning my fingers a bit, I think I got the hang of it, sort of like wrapping a figure-8 around two warp ends. I was aiming at a good thick pile and was not disappointed. The knots snuggle right up to each other so much that I had a hard time getting my temple to bite the edges.
Finally, I did some single warp wraps or Spanish knots in gray. The yarn just wraps around a warp thread a couple of times, over-under-over, to end up on the surface. These knots are the least secure but with four shots of plain weave ground before and after a row of knots, they stay put. I finished a couple inches and decided it was time to cut off the samples to see the results.
Sure enough, the pile is thick and cozy, but all those knots in close proximity to each other curl the piece towards the back. Another thing I noticed was the width. At the beginning of the sample, the temple wasn’t set wide enough and the brown part is ½” narrower than the gray. And of course, I didn’t have quite enough warp to do a proper edging at one end.
I’m enjoying my little adventure into new weaving territory. This is quite the change of pace from the dish towel cottons and fine damasks I’ve been weaving recently. I’ll get back to those soon enough, but not before another knotted pile sample.
Then those looped piles are intriguing.