Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Repurposed Yarn into Rag Rugs

My Methodist/German upbringing will not allow me to throw away anything 
that could possible be used at least one more time.  This is what lead
to me being up in the middle of the night chaining 12 strands of used
yarn into one strand.

The weekend house we bought on 'pill hill' in Crystal Falls, MI came
with hand crocheted window valances in the 3 bedrooms.  They were nice
with Packer green trim on one, variegated pink and blue trim on another and fushia trim on the third. 
Most of the yarn was an off white.  I had other plans for the windows.

A normal person would have washed up the valances and dropped them off
at the St. Vinnie's on the hill.  Instead, I decided the valances could
be deconstructed and the off white 4-ply yarn knit into a blanket to
replace the sleeping bags we were using.

As the deconstruction progressed it became apparent the yarn was a tiny
bit sun rotted in a few places.  That took the plans for a blanket from
one 4-ply yarn to two 4-ply yarns.  I should mention that I began
wondering if the yarn from the window valances was going to be enough
for a blanket, so I began buying odds and ends of 4-ply yarn at the 2nd
hand stores in white and off white, just to add interest.

The next change of plan happened when the blanket in progress weighed 5
pounds at 12" of knitting.  And... I had just acquired a 4 harness
floor loom with a 45", 15 dent reed (15 yarns per inch).  I would weave
a blanket  instead.

It took about half a year to set up the loom, make sure all the parts
were complete, there was a fresh coat of Danish rubbing oil on all the
wood and to warp up (thread) the loom.  

There was more play in the 4-ply knitting
yarn than the pearl cotton I was used to, but I was able to
get an even tension on the warp with a bit of attention to detail.  It
was time to weave.   There were laundry baskets full of repurposed 4-ply
yarn balls waiting to be woven.

This was sooooo exciting because I had dreamed of weaving on my own
floor loom for decades.  I stepped on the treadle, shot the beginning
scrap fabric through the shed, changed treadles to set the row before
pulling back on the beater bar.  Those of you who have woven know what
happened next.  Nothing.  The 4-ply yarn went through the reeds,
singly.  The tension on the 150 4-ply yarns lined up did not allow the
beater bar to budge.

A 10 dent reed was procured, the warp transfered one yarn at a time and I was able to weave ~ 12" of blanket before we sold the weekend house in Crystal Falls and bought the future retirement home in Wausaukee.

The loom was dismantled with the warp removed from the back beam and
carefully wrapped around a cardboard tube.  All was brought back to West
Allis to keep it from rusting in storage.  And it sat for a year in a
spare bedroom until the hardwood floors were nearing completion in
Wausaukee.  Brand new hickory hardwood floors that would need some kind
of protection in high traffic areas and warmness in the Winter.  I would
go pioneer and weave rag rugs for the floors.  The blanket would have to

The loom was set up.  I bought 60 yards of fabric at the Florence
Eisemann Sale to use as filler.  The first two rugs were woven last
Summer from 10 yards of fine navy corduroy.  There was enough fabric
left over for a comforter to match.

The loom was warped up for the next set of rugs over Winter shutdown. 
10 yards of cream colored cotton knit were earmarked for the filler. 
But I kept tripping over the yarn for the blanket.  By this time it had grown to fill a duffel bay and the bushel basket.  The balls for the filler kept falling out of the basket.  The duffel bag did not stay put.  The cardboard tube with the original weaving kept leaning toward me saying, 'walk on me..'.

I gave in and took a bundle of yarn and wove a couple of rows.  12 yarns 
produced a nice thick fabric perfect for a bedroom floor.   The yarn has 
been re-purposed again.   I hope for the last time.

The yarn was bundled into one long chain and loosely draped into and eventually over the handle of a bushel basket.  When one yarn ended another was added until all the yarns were ready to weave.

The final tally is 6 rugs 27" wide.  Five are 66 inches long and woven from the repurposed valance yarn project .  The final rug used up the remaining warp and some leftover navy corduroy from the earlier rugs.  That is just large enough to fit under a chair.  All the rugs will fit into the home washing machine, one at a time.  

The weavings were removed from the loom and taken to the Wausaukee home to finish the ends and put into use.  The unrolled visual on the snowbank is what the weaving looks like before finishing.  And the very last photo is the rugs in place.

Yes..  the colors are odd and I am not completely comfortable with them.  I pulled the colors on the comforter from a fabric I fell in love with.  That led to the colors on the warp.  What scares me is if I add any more purple tones to the room it will not only whisper but scream 'old lady'.