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Rag Rugs Tour
1. Tambour
2. Shirred 
3. Standing wool

4. Knitted
5. Flat Wrap
6. Amish Knot

7. Chain Braids
8. Broomstick & String Crochet
9. Crocheted

10. Fabric Tapestry
11. Anchored Loop
12. Hooked, Poked, Prodded, Bodkin

13. Needleworked
14. Toothbrush rugs
15. Braided rugs

16. Knotted & strung shags
17. Loom woven
18. Patched (penny rugs) & sewn shags
19. Frame made rugs
20. Wagon wheel & frame braids 
21. Odds 'n ends



Rag Rugs Tour
#19 Frame Woven, Twisted Warp and Twisted Weft Rugs

Frame Woven and Needlewoven Rugs
This group of rugs includes all sorts of varieties of rugs which were made by using a frame (not a loom) as the basis for weaving, and in their simplest form, not even a frame is needed. Most commonly, the rag strips were tied to a stout wooden frame, and woven together as each strip is added. Note that in these types of rugs, the weaving characteristically began at the center of the rug and worked outwards toward the edges. (See top photo.)

There are a wide variety of frame designs which were used to create rugs, including pegged frames, slip frames and non-rigid frames which are hung on a wall. Occasionally, more elaborate rug frames were used, such as free standing frames which most resemble quilt frames, but with rolling take-up bars, allowing for longer rugs to be woven in a single piece. (See black and white photo.) A wide variety of fabrics were used in frame woven rugs, from very light cottons, and recycled stockings to heavy wools and denims. The fabric strip ends were left for a fringed edge or the edges were bound to cover the strip ends for a more finished look.

Weaves & variations. Most commonly a simple tabby weave (below left) is used for frame woven and needle woven rugs, but sometimes simple twills (below center) and diagonal set ups were used.

Even with the tabby weave, the use of fabric strip for warp and weft allowed for striking patterns (above, right a tabby weave with special setup to create pattern). Less common is the technique where string was used for parts of the warp and/or weft to create particular weaving patterns with rag strips.(See photo below.) Other textural variations included the addition of non-weaving techniques to the weave or after the rug was woven (such as knotted shag, anchored loop, etc.) or layering a decorative weave over a tabby or twill.

Twisted Warp Rugs
These are an interesting and quite clever variation of frame weaving. In these rugs, the warp strands are twisted with each row to secure the string or rag weft. Most often made on hanging frames, the warp loops rotated with each row, allowing a weave with a finished edge on all four sides of the rug without binding. 

Twisted Weft Rugs
Also called "Braid Weaving" and the "paring weave" at the turn of the century, and a more recently coined term of "Twined Rugs". With these rugs, a fixed warp (of string or rag strips) is secured to a frame, and the weft strands are used in pairs, being twisted around each strand of the warp. This weave was also used on loom woven rugs to create interest between sections of 'plain' weave. (Because the rug's surface appearance is identical with both twisted warp and twisted weft rugs, it takes a close examination of the edges of the rug to determine how it was made.) 

Recommended Reading: 
"Fabulous Rag Rugs from Simple Frames" by Diana Blake Gray
Forty different techniques (woven and non-woven structures) for rug making with frames (see our catalog)

"Twined Rag Rugs" by Bobbie Irwin. 
A full exploration of the twined rug structures. This is the book to order if you are chiefly interested in the twisted weft rugs. It is a great reference and good companion to the book above.Available from directly from the author for $19.95 + $3.00 for book rate shipping (or $4.25 for priority mail shipping). Send check or money order to Bobbie Irwin, 62600 Jeremy Road, Montrose, CO 81401, or you can email Bobbie at irwin@rmi.net. If you would like your book signed or personalized, just let Bobbi know. 

(more vaiations at the next stop)

Show me:
Books & Supplies for 
Frame Woven Rag Rugs 


I am interested in information and instructions on making a Rug that is Braided and then Woven. This is a 2 step process, the rug is not sewn together. Can you advise on information for this project for my Mom. Thank you, Christine 

Hi Christine, Sorry there isn't a booklet on these rugs at the moment... but I am working on a book of the various frame made rugs (due out this fall) which will have it. But I can give you some basic directions to give to your Mom. (I'll make sure she gets a copy of our current brochure.)

These types of rugs were called "Cross-woven Braids", and though they can be made with a 3-strand braid, they were most often made with braids of an even number of strands (most commonly a 4-strand flat braid-- see book on multi-strand braids if your Mom doesn't already know how to do this one). You make the braids as long as you want the rug, and make as many braids as you need to get to the width you're after. Sew across the end of each braid (by hand), to keep it from unravelling. 

You can do the weaving by just laying the braids side by side on the table, but it is a bit tricky to keep things even. It is much easier if the ends of the braids are tacked to a frame or a board. When securing the braids, make sure that the 'braid loops' line up across the rug so that the weaving will be neat. If the braids are wool, and the weaving is to be done with a wool strip, have the weaving strip double-folded and basted so that it doesn't unfold as you weave with it. 

You can weave with strips that are about 6" longer than the rug is wide. These will leave about 3" of strip at the edges for an interesting finish. Or, you can weave a 'clean' edge by sewing on more strip as needed (use a bias joint to sew on more strip--see joining fabric strips on the website for directions). 

If the weaving is to be done with a light strip (like a cotton rug), use a long needle with a large eye for the weaving. If the weaving is to be done with wool, use a rugmaker's bodkin (they look like a pair of tweezers with a ring to hold the end). 

For the actual weaving, it is a simple over one, under 1, going through the braid loops across the rug. If you are doing a 'clean edge' take the weaving strip around the outside edge and start back the other direction, weaving under the alternate loops from the row before. If you are doing a fringed edge, make sure that the weaving in each row picks up the alternate loops from the row before. 

When the weaving is done, and *before* you take it off the frame, handsew the first and last row of weaving to the braids to have a nice strong end.

Note that you don't want the weaving done "tightly", it will buckle the braids!

Well, that should get her started. Feel free to write back if she's got any other questions. Best, Diana 

ps. On the braided rugs tour stop there are some directions about dealing with the ends of strip type braided rugs. You might want to print off a copy for your Mom. 

Hi, I am so happy that I found your web site! I have been searching for a site like yours for several days now! I am a 53 year old mother of one adopted son with fetal alcohol syndrome. As you may know, children like my son take up every minute of a parents day. Needless to say I had no other life during the years of caring for John. Last year he was able to get in to a facility that helps young adults with disabilities be independent. It has given him a chance at independence (which was very important for him) and it has given me the opportunity to do something for me, something that I have always wanted to do. 

When I was young (maybe 8) a friend of my mother made me a rag rug. I loved that rug, the texture, the variegated colors, the rustic look of the raveling threads incorporated into it. What I want to do is make my own loom. I have a simple idea of what I need to do but no more than that. Do you have any suggestions? I don't want these arts to be forgotten either. I will appreciate any help you can give.Thank you very much. Sincerely, Ellen 

Dear Ellen, What a lovely letter! I'm so glad that after all of these years you're able to do some things that you've always wanted to do. The good news is that you really don't need a loom to make wonderful rag rugs (unless you really want a loom for other things). I'm currently working on a book about all of the rugs that can be made on a frame, and all of the different styles of frames that have been used over the years. So at the top of my head are, of course, the frame-made rugs. And a frame is *much* easier to build than a loom. 

First, decide how large you want your rug to be, and get some 1"X 2" lumber that will make a frame that size. (If you want a really large rug, you might think about doing it in sections which can be stitched together.) Then, the simplest way to make a rug is to tie rags to the frame, so that they run the length of the frame. (leave extra length, since the rags will tighten up in the weaving, and you'll need to loosen the rags a little to keep weaving.) Then beginning in the center, just start weaving rags across, over and under, working toward each end. If you're looking for information about looms and weaving rugs, the Interweave Press has several very good books on the subject. I think their address is www.interweave.com.Hope that helps, Diana 

What type of rag rug is done on a frame that has nails about one inch apart on 2 ends and you wrap the fabric strips around the nails and then shorter strips of fabric are braided around the long strips. I took your tour but was unable to identify this type of rug. Do you know of any sources telling how to make the frame and the technique of braiding the fabric. -- Dee 

Hi Dee, The type of rug is called a twisted weft, aka. braid weaving, aka. Twining. The weft is done with two strands, and they are twisted around each warp strand (not actually braided, though that is how the rug looks when finished). The type of frame that it is on is called a pegged frame.

 Hope that helps, Diana - 

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