Twined Rag Rugs 101


Some of our readers may already know this, but one of my favourite hobbies is making twined rag rugs. What it that, you ask? Well, it is basically weaving with rag strips, but with a twist (literally). Rag rugs in general are having a come back, but I thought some of you might like to know more about this lesser known technique.

What are they?

Twining is a process of weaving rag strips in and out of the warp (up and down strips) on a loom, twisting them while you weave. You can use either rags or cord for the warp. The rag strips are generally joined together either by knotting or stitching them together.

Where do they come from?

Rag rugs date quite far back into history. They were most often found among the poorer population, who valued economy and thriftiness as a way to survive. Since they were often too poor to buy carpets and rugs from the store, they would use their old clothes and rags to create rugs for themselves. These rugs were strategically placed to extend their lifespan as much as possible. The newest rugs were used at the front door, from there they were placed in the lounge room, then on to the bedrooms, next the kitchen and then, finally, the back door. By that time, they were generally so ragged and worn out that they would then be thrown out. As store bought rugs became cheaper and cheaper, handmade rag rugs faded out until the tradition was nearly forgotten. Fortunately, more and more people are beginning to hear of this beautiful and thrifty craft.

What do you need?

In order to make twined rag rugs, you will need some tools. Not many, but some. Most of them you probably have already. You will need: rags, a loom, a needle and thread (if you intend on sewing the strips), a medium sized crochet hook or a piece of bent wire, scissors and a rotary cutter and self-healing mat. The rotary cutter and mat are not essential, as you can do the work with scissors, but it will save you a lot of time. The loom can be very simple or quite complex. It can be no more than a picture frame. The more complex types do offer you quite a bit more flexibility with what you can make. If you have someone handy to make one for you, like I do, that's fantastic. The crochet hook is just for helping to thread the rags through when you are finishing off the rug.

What materials can you use?

Pretty much any type of material will make great rags for twining, but the main thing to remember is colour and feel. If the colour is dirty or faded, your rug will look faded. Have a good feel of the fabric you want to use as rags. Is it knitting or loose weave? Chances are, it will unravel when you use it. Is it wool? It might feel itchy in a rug. Is the fabric plastic-y? Will that feel nice and soft? Of course, it depends on what result you want. Some people use strips from plastic bags as their rags so that the rugs can be used outside. Experiment and see what works for you.

What can you make?

Depending on what type of loom you have, you can use twining to make anything from lounge room rugs to place mats, including chair mats, bedroom rugs, potholders, cushions, coasters and bath mats. Basically, anything with four straight sides can be twined on a rag rug loom, providing your loom has those dimensions. Can you see the benefits of an adjustable loom? In reality, only your creativity is the limit.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this brief introduction to twined rag rug making. If you have further questions, feel free to leave a comment below and I will see what I can do.

Written by Sabrina

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