This was one of the first “extra” projects we got to do after finishing the core set of projects at the Vävstuga Immersion Program (see here for my first blog post on this program). From the very first time we saw a sample of a rep rug, we all wanted to make one. I’m so glad that we had enough time to do it.
A “rep rug” has a warp rep structure. In this structure, the weft is not visible, so the pattern is carried in the warp. This means that the warp is sett quite densely. Alternating thick and thin wefts are used, and one side is the reverse color of the other. For this rug, we used maxi “string” yarn, which is a yarn composed of many singles that are basically not plied together. Instead of the string yarn, you can also use rags, which is something that I definitely want to try in the future. The thin yarn is the same as the warp, 8/2 cotton.
This particular pattern is an old one. But we changed it slightly, which required us to use 10 shafts rather than 8. The color scheme was inspired by one of our teacher’s samples. Although it looks fairly complicated, the treadling is actually not too hard, because one treadle is used for the thick weft and then the opposing treadle is used for the thin; these treadles always have to follow each other in this way. I have a little video showing all of the sheds. I love how you can really see the blocks of color in the warp.
The hardest part about weaving this rug was actually how physical it was. To make a sturdy rug, you want to crank the tension as tight as possible which can get hard on your shoulders after awhile. You also want to beat as hard as you can, using two hands. So that I didn’t beat my body up too much, I deliberately only wove a quarter of this rug a day. The other tricky bit was the selvedges. To get a sturdy edge, you have to twist the weft, but it’s hard to do it exactly right. Too little twist and it won’t won’t wear well. Too much and it starts to pull the weft too tight. Here is a video of me weaving the rug.
I wanted a nice long rug because I was intending it to go in my entrance hall. My rug actually ended up being the perfect length for my space, 108″. I am so happy with how it turned out, and I love seeing it every day. I have seen old rep rugs that have had a lot of use and they hold up amazingly well, so I expect that I will have this rug for many years to come. Even so, I am definitely itching to make another one!