Weaving the Christmas Runners!

Late afternoon and early evening are times when I am restless and can easily get into some trouble – like noshing in the kitchen, so I have been working at the during those times. Here is the warp all ready to weave. Looks a lot tidier now, doesn’t it? This is an important step as it (hopefully) gets the threads evenly tightened. 18″ looks very wide for placemats or a runner, but there is take-up when you weave. That means that the selvedges (edges) pull in. There will be strips of fabric woven through the warp, which also takes up space. And finally – when you wash a newly handwoven item, it shrinks as well, so you have to figure all this in. I will use these as runners in the center of a table and also as a placemat/runner for the two of us. Years ago, I determined that I liked a wide mat so the plate and napkin and glass have plenty of room to sit on the mat. Don’t you hate it when your glass tips over because the mat is too small?

{And now, for those of you who are quilters or sew garments, can you see why the length of the fabric is so strong?  It is literally one length of thread. Next strongest is the width or the weft.}

I use my trusty rotary cutter to cut the rag strips. For rag rugs, I like a thick piece of fabric, but for anything I use on a table, I cut 1.5″ widths. And then comes the fun part – seeing how all these crazy fabrics I collect will look when they are all squashed up in the mats. I used to use a rag shuttle for the weaving, but now I prefer to have a basket with all the strips of cotton in it. Then I pick and choose what fabric to weave next. And these are not quilting fabrics! Rag runners use gobs of fabric and so I go to the fabric stores with the awful cotton that feels like cardboard and is printed poorly and also wait until they go on sale. These fabrics are perfect for rag runners; all I’m looking for is good color and pattern.

Ta da! Here is one runner finished and the next one begun. The space you see in between the runners is for the fringe. At the beginning and the end of  each runner I do hem stitching. Can you see the stitching that gathers the warp threads into tidy bundles? This is perhaps overkill for rag runners, I learned to do it when I was weaving linen ones, but it’s a nice edge. It also means that when I take the woven runners off of the loom, all I have to do is carefully cut across the open threads and I am done!

This photo shows you the front beam, where the fabric is rolled up on when it’s woven. It’s exciting to see it accumulate as you work away.

I keep these mats rolled up in a Chinese cupboard and pull them out for the appropriate occasion! Here is a Summer runner that I wove to match these great (old) napkins I bought at Crate and Barrel. (This runner usually means that we are having margaritas….)

And here is a blue and white one which I use a lot on the sideboard to display my Asian blue and white collection.

It’s fun to plan these runners and collect fabrics for them.

3 thoughts on “Weaving the Christmas Runners!

  1. I love those placemats, the summer one just screams party! I agree with you about the width. The glass is always tipsy.

  2. What a great post on weaving a mat! Thanks for sharing it with us. I love rag weaving and it’s neat to see other people’s work. The bright colors just sing.

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