A Survey of Rug-Making Techniques, from Twining to Weaving

Twining has traditionally been used to make rag rugs. Like weaving, it uses a warp, which is usually made from cords or fabric strips. In the case of twining, though, the fabric strips being woven in are not passed over and under the warp “threads” as they are in traditional weaving. Instead, two strips are twisted around each other between each pair of warp threads. If a solid color of fabric is used throughout, the rug will look almost knitted, but this is usually not noticeable because most people change colors frequently or use print fabrics instead of solids.

Twining makes thick, sturdy rugs. Although it does require a warp, it doesn’t always need a loom. Some people never use one; they just spread the warp out in their laps or on the floor, pulling the warp ends as they twine. Even if you do use a loom, it doesn’t have to be an expensive, complicated floor model. (See the next section.)

Depending on the direction of the twisting (clockwise or counterclockwise), twining can produce some interesting effects. It can even be used to make tapestry-like “pictures.”

Over, under, over, under…. People have been making rugs on looms for a very long time. The kind of loom used, though, varies with the type and size of the rug being made, and also to a certain extent on the culture, as people all over the world have come up with some very ingenious ways to make what they need. Here are just a few examples of looms that can be used to make rugs:

Floor looms can make very wide or long rugs (long because the warp is rolled around a bar at the back of the loom, and the woven part is rolled around a bar at the front).

Table looms can make narrower rugs that can still be quite long.

Frame looms (wooden frames with nails spaced at small intervals along two opposite ends) are easier to warp than table or floor looms, but the size of the rug is limited to the size of the loom.

Wall looms may be nothing more than a couple of horizontally-placed dowels. The top dowel is usually attached to the top of the wall or the ceiling, and the bottom dowel is suspended by the warp. These looms can be easy to weave on, but only if there’s a way to adjust the height of the woven part.

Woven rugs can be made with yarn or fabric strips. What’s important is that the warp be strong and tight. Weak warp threads will break easily, causing the rug to fall apart, and loose warp threads will make it almost impossible to weave the rug evenly.

There are a lot of different rug making techniques, but most rug makers never use more than one or two, choosing to develop their skills in those areas. In any case, each method has enough variations to keep anyone interested-and busy-for a lifetime.

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