Friday, December 24, 2021

Workshops, Rug Weaving and More

rags to riches mat

Rag rugs were once utilitarian floor or bed coverings that could be made at a minium cost using recycled materials.  When yarn and fabric were scarce, worn cloth could be cut and sewn into strips to create weft "yarn".  The warp was usually a strong cotton thread like seine twine and the loom was set up for plain weave.  Over time, weavers developed different techniques for making their rugs distinctive.  Some depended upon how the rag strips were joined others involved how the weaving was done.  The mat in the picture would be typical of a "hit and miss" pattern where the colours are spread randomly though out the piece.

  At some point in their weaving journey all weavers seem to be drawn to rag weaving.  Perhaps it is the link with weavers of the past.  Perhaps it is the desire to repurpose items instead of discarding them.  

cloth and the two strips it was woven from

While the weave structure may be simple, good technique is required to produce a rug that will lay flat and stand up to heavy use.  The beat must be tight, the width must be consistent and special treatment is needed to protect the fringes.

The thick weft can also create problems with the edges and that is what prompted our workshop committee to organize a Finnish Rag Rug Workshop.  

We are lucky to have talented members like Rita Deverney who are willing to share their knowledge.  Rita took 14 students through the process using a combination of lectures, demonstrations and hands on weaving.  Students prepared their "rags" at home and wove samples on guild looms that had been warped with seine twine by the instructor.  Time on the looms was spaced out to limit the number of people in the studio at one time.

Braided selvedge using 3 strips

   A characteristic feature of Finnish rugs is the braided selvedge which is created by the specific ordering of 3 shuttles each carrying a separate rag weft.  In the example, 3 different colours were chosen to highlight the braiding.  It produces a secure decorative edge that adds to the strength of the rug and protects the edge from wear.


  Below are some of the rugs woven by the workshop participants.  

students rag rugs

In house workshops and studio projects wrapped up for 2021.  The studio looms are bare and having a well deserved rest.  This year they made blankets galore, tea towels, table mats, wash cloths, lace mats, rag rugs and mug rugs. 


Interested in workshops for 2022??  Here is a preview of what is coming up.

Optical Illusions starts Wednesday January 19th 2022 (8 weeks). 

optical illusions 

 This on-line course is taught by Linda Wilson.  Linda will take you through an exploration of optical illusions created by clever manipulation of colours in the warp and weft.  Log Cabin, Shadow Weave and Parallel Threading will be covered with examples for both 4 and 8 shafts.  Students will work on their own looms using drafts that will be provided. 

Cost members $75, non-members $95 

We are also planning for workshops on Transparencies and Working with Linen

For more information contact our Workshop Registrar Gillian Best at 

Friday, December 3, 2021

Sales Wrap Up

hand woven napkins

Elegant Threads has come and gone for another year.

We hope you managed to attend but if you missed it we've posted some photos here to give you an idea of what you missed.  You will also find more pictures on our face book page.

Our guild sale took place on a dreary, rainy weekend in November.  Thank you to all those tough rain resistant folks who showed up to help and to shop. Covid protocols were in place to make it a safe event for all and everyone was very cooperative.  Our display covered 3 large rooms with lots of space to allow for social distancing.  As always there was no admission charge for our event and people seemed to appreciate that.

mobius shawl

Members had plenty of works to show.  While we had seen photos of some pieces at our Zoom meetings, it was wonderful to see them in the flesh, experience the feel and drape of the fabric and observe the true colours.  Ours is a very tactile craft. 

 Our wall of scarves included some nuno felted pieces, casual wool scarves and elegant silk and rayon scarves that mimic necklaces. 

wall of hand woven scarves

This was the first event that has involved more than two or three members so it was a chance for members to re engage with eachother.  Even masked, talking in person is an improvement over distance communications.  It was also a chance to share the ideas and techniques that we have been working on in isolation.  The show always inspires you to try something new.

Purples and blue-reds were popular colours for tops.  Tea towels and scarves covered the entire rainbow. 

knitted jacket and scarf

woven and knitted tops

It is always interesting to see how different people interpret the same theme or idea.  Take for example the variety of blankets in the photo below.  Some are mohair with a high loft and even some "bling" while others are sturdy warm wool pieces that you could wrap yourself in on a cold evening.  Three in the photo started with the same warp threads.

wall of blankets

socks galore

lace knitted shawl

Many of our members include knitting amongst their talents so that we had a lovely selection of knitted items.  They ranged from practical bed socks in warm wool blends to delicate lace shawls.  Warm socks were a hot item this year.

lace knitted shawl

Finally we would like to thank all of the people who helped to put on this event.  The sale committee organized the effort but it takes the combined effort of many people to publicize, set up and staff the event.  A special thanks goes to the faithful spouses who transported props to and from our storage locker and did it cheerfully.  And a special thanks also goes to the Qualicum Beach School of Dance for allowing us to use their space.  


We are busy for the rest of December, counting money, putting our studio back together and making last minute Christmas presents because we sold that scarf that was intended as a gift.  It was a nice scarf and it went to a good home.