header pic from here

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Work in Progress - Chevron Rug

Here's just a little update on my rug's progress
(I haven't been able to work on it for a week or so since we're in the middle of moving)

That is the front - and this is the back, which is the side you work it from:

I'm really hoping to finish it next week...we'll see!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Great Inspiration

My whole thought process about making rugs is that they should be simple, modern, and fresh.
I am still working on my first rug (I'm also packing up our house, as we move in 1 week...so the rug kinda had to go on hold), but these are some things I would like to try.

Really the possibilities are endless.  You can follow my rug board on Pinterest here

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Rug That Started It All

This is the rug that inspired me to think about rug making.

It was hooked quite some time ago by a sweet Amish lady (the grandmother of a man at our church).
Look at that detail and shading!

Doesn't it look like something straight out of Anthropologie?
Perhaps some day I will have developed the skill to make something as beautiful as this.
That's the hope.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Making wool strips

Once you have decided on your pattern, the next step is to cut your wool into strips.  Many people prefer to use yarn as a way of avoiding this step, but I believe the end result is worth it.  
The wool strips look very nice and are super sturdy.  
There's no perfect way to do this, as long as your strips are precise.
This is my method.
100% felted wool
rotary cutter
self-healing mat
clear ruler

Step 1:  If you have bought 100% wool clothing from a thrift store(this is what I do) then you will need to felt it.  Remove the linings/waistband/zippers and simply wash it in your washing machine in hot water, then dry it on high heat.  When you take it out of the dryer it should look something like this:
Step 2:  Make sure your starting edge is even, then lay your ruler 1/4" over the edge of the fabric.

Starting at the edge closest to you, run your rotary blade along the ruler.  When you get almost to the top, stop - leaving about 1/4" uncut.

Move the ruler over 1/4".  

Begin at the top and cut down - stopping 1/4" from the bottom.
Cutting it in this manner will create nice long strips of wool 
- meaning you will have to stop to rethread less later.
Continue this process until you have cut the entire piece.
Step 3:  At the tops and bottoms where you left 1/4" you will have little tabs.  Just snip these off as close as you can without cutting through the strip.
It will look like this:
 You'll still have a little extra sticking out, but I haven't noticed it affecting the rug making 
- and it sure is nice to have long pieces.
So that's it!  Now you're ready to start punching.  A tutorial is coming soon.
warmly yours,

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A History of Needle-punch Rug-Making

Thousands of years ago long cold winters called for warm floor coverings.  One option was to use animal skins, but another was to shear the sheep and spin the wool.  Not only did these wool floor coverings protect cold feet, they were sturdy and when dyed, beautiful.  Thus the art of rug making was born.

Many different tools were developed to aid in the art of rug making:  looms, hooks, needles.
In Russia a group of religious people began to use needles and yarn to embroider their clothing. 
They used special needles called punch-needles. 
The embroidery looks like this:

Sailors noted this technique as these people sailed to America.  They adapted the technique by using a larger needle and made rugs as a way to pass the time at sea, probably selling their products when they reached port.
Rug making has continued, mainly through the use of hooks, and needle-punched rugs were considered a rather lowly form of rug making. 
This was mostly because it was difficult to punch loops that were small and uniform in size.
In 1995 Amy Oxford designed a wonderful punch needle tool that makes 1/4" loops using 1/4" wool strips.  This punch needle mimics the rug hooking look exactly, but is much easier and faster!

You can make wonderful rugs for your home. 
That is why I am designing many fresh and modern patterns for punch needle rug making!
Wikipedia defines punch needle rug making like this:
"Using either yarn or strips of cloth, you work with the punch tool from the back side of the pattern. The Monk’s cloth backing is tightly stretched on to a frame. Every time you punch the needle down through the backing, it makes a long thread on the right side of the rug. Then, as you lift the needle, it automatically makes it into a loop. These loops pack together to create a rug so solid that chewing dogs and clawing cats are its only enemy. As long as you use the tool correctly, it will automatically make all the loops the same length."

Now, wool is expensive - usually around $24 for a half yard.  So here's the thrifty and green secret.  Hit up your local thrift store and buy 100% wool clothing.  Bring it home, cut out the linings and zippers, etc.  Wash it in hot water and dry it on high heat.  This will felt it and voila!  You have nice felted wool ready to be cut into strips.  I bought an entire cart full of wool clothing for only $16!!! 

Making rugs does not have to be expensive.  My husband built my frame from reclaimed wood, and he is planning on selling kits/plans so that you can build your own for a cheaper price. 

This is a craft that everyone can do!
Stay tuned here for my patterns and examples of the rugs I am making - as well as rug punching inspiration from around the web.