Vermont Weaving Club: Rag Rugs

My birthday is next week and I got a little early present—a subscription to the Vermont Weaving Club! My in-laws normally get me a subscription box like FabFitFun each year but then I came across this one right before the July deadline so I signed up for that instead.

You can chose to get just the yarn and pattern or to get that and learning component for a little extra. I went for the learning version. I’ve been looking for some project kits to get me started so this sounded perfect. With the learning version you get “ a detailed weaving lesson followed by a Zoom session for show & tell and questions & answers.”. You can always drop that part if you want which is nice.

In line with my interest in upcycling, this box is a rag rug. They send you yarn for the warp (I wish it was thicker because we had to double it up) and you use fabric strips for the weft. I bought some flat sheets at the thrift store to use. It was finally cool enough to take them outside and cut them up. You’d be amazed how many particles come out of cutting up so much fabric!

I am maybe a quarter through warping the loom. It takes forever and I have to drag it out to use it and put it back before we eat meals or watch tv so I try to do the warping when my husband goes into the office. I’m paranoid something will bump it but it should be fine. It’s through the reed at least. I think it’s slightly off center and I’m debating about adding more before I get started to even it out but I’m also nervous I don’t have enough weft.

We will see! It sounds like a fun project.

T-Shirt Rug #2

I went to Savers on discount Monday and bought some t-shirts and a long jersey dress (you can see it in the rug, it’s the pink print) and cut it up to make this rug. I think it came out really well! The edges are a little cleaner, I think the trick is to pick loops that are exactly the same stretchiness. Slightly less stretchy is okay but you don’t want any one that is more than any of the others.

Each rug takes a lot of loops! My neighbor gave me some old shirts which will help. I need to get on people’s radar that I’m looking for them.

I also think it is easier to do the cutting on a different day than the weaving. It’s a lot of leaning over.

Upcycled T-Shirt Rug

I saw plans for making a giant potholder loom to make rugs with and really liked the idea. I think every culture makes rag rugs of some kind and has for hundreds of years. Making giant loops out of old t-shirts sounded very aligned with my love of reducing waste and weaving.

The only problem is that we don’t really have many tools or a workbench. We don’t have the space here in the city (we are at bursting with these looms!) and neither of us has a ton of interest in constructing anything so it isn’t a priority. None of our friends build things either!

I tried posting on my neighborhood Facebook group and got one taker who works at the local lutherie but then he ghosted me. Then he contacted me again after I updated my post saying I still was looking for someone. I responded and still haven’t heard back. I also emailed our local tool library and the maker space asking if any instructors did side projects or if they had any suggestions and didn’t get an answer.

During all that, I crowdsourced suggestions for finding someone to do some easy, reasonably priced woodworking online and someone suggested cold contacting random people selling homemade furniture on Facebook Marketplace. I sent out a couple messages and one guy who had posted some simple wooden boxes he makes messaged me back.

He had no idea what I was talking about but was game. I sent him some directions and Youtube videos. We did lots of messaging and then last week on a really foggy, misty night I picked them up.

I got him to make me one really big one (48×43 inches) and one still big but a little smaller at 38×28 inches.

They are both a little rustic (I said it was fine to make them out of scrap wood) but I think they will do the trick. He showed me the workshed he built himself out of scrap wood and he was very nice and helped me (in the rain!) attach the larger loom to the roof of my car when it wouldn’t fit. It was so close, I really thought it would fit. I have a Toyota Matrix and have hauled some massive items in there!

One weird coincidence— it turned out we graduated from the same high school, two years apart! No wonder people say the whole Baltimore area is one small town. I knew the names of some of the people he mentioned once we figured out we attended at the same time but we didn’t know each other. Our school wasn’t huge (I think there were 220 in my graduating class) but pulled from a large area and he lived in the opposite direction.

It was funny because during the whole searching for someone who has tools and a workbench I kept thinking that every dad I knew growing up had this set up and that I bet a lot of the guys from my very blue-collar/working-class high school must be those dads now. And I was right! I literally hired that guy.

It was also a little unexpected because neither of us live *that* close to where we grew up–he is in a different county and I live in the city limits (in high school half our block was in the city and half in the county and I went to a county school) on the complete opposite side. I had only mentioned high school because I hadn’t taken the bridge I had to cross over since I was in high school and was making awkward small talk.

He made me promise three times to send him a picture of a final project and told me he was happy to make me anything else. I might get him to make me a square one. If you are in the Baltimore area and want a box or planter or large loom made, I have a guy!

The day after I picked it up was super sunny and nice so I cut up some old t-shirts into loops and got to weaving on the smaller loom. Boy was that a workout! I think if I really get into making these I need to get an easel. I had it flat on our picnic table and it was a lot of bending over. My fitness tracker thought I did a very long exercise routine which I guess I did.

I was a little worried the nails wouldn’t be strong enough but one survived the 40-minute journey home over the bridge strapped to the roof of the Matrix and I made one on the smaller (still huge) and it was fine. He told me if I needed him to make any adjustments to let him know so if that changes, that’s an option.

I made a tiktok weaving it that has had 4.5k views which is unexpected because I don’t have many followers! It was fun making the rug and now I have to figure out how to source t-shirts to cut up.