:|:|: COTTON RUGS :|:|:
WEAVING A LASTING COTTON RUG
A cotton rug is put together in several steps, starting with natural fiber cloth that is washed, shrunk and cut into long strips that are used like yarn for the weft. Printed fabrics may be ironed to enclose the plain side and make the colored print more prominent. The ends of the strips are cut at a long angle so that each new strip is spliced in as it is woven, making a smooth join instead of the characteristic lump found in traditional rag rugs.
The loom has already been warped with a very high tension, which may have taken anywhere from three hours for a small loom to three days for my 12-foot-wide Glimakra loom. A header is first woven in a tighter weave structure to provide a sturdy binding edge at the beginning of the rug, and then the rag strips are thrown back and forth across the warp stretched out on the loom. After each throw (pick) the weft is beaten firmly down, and the weaver works the treadles to change the shed and throw another weft pick from the opposite side. As the strips come out of each edge they are twisted tightly to provide a strong, smooth edge. As new colors are added the previous color is encased into the new color at the beginning of the row, making a neat transition. When the rug is completed another header is woven to bind the end. Once the rug is cut off the loom the warp ends are knotted firmly to hold them in place. These warp ends can be twisted and knotted one more time in a durable and decorative fringe, or the header can be turned under and sewn in a bound edge.