THE LONGEST RUG
I have a problem in my house, and it's that there's this very long hallway that needs a rug.
This isn't an especially unique problem. A lot of houses have hallways. I may even be so bold as to assume that the vast majority of suburban homes in America have at least one hallway.
But this is about me home and my hallway, so let's exacerbate here.
If I'm going to be pedantic, the real problem isn't that I have a hallway in need of a rug. It's that if you go shopping for runner rugs and put in the dimensions of rug that I need (15'x2'), you are inundated with two aesthetics. Hotel Gauche and White Woman Fantastical. Neither of these come remotely close to something I want to see in my house every day, even if I am stomping my feet all over it.
The solution, clearly, is to make my own rug. So simple.
I came across some interesting readings about the history of weaving and binary, and multiple instances of weaving stories and words into actual textile pieces. This was done with binary code and it's a fascinating history to go through. I liked this idea a lot, of having an actual concept woven into the rug and being a kind of conduit of energy and intent in the house. At the same time I was thinking about what kind of material did I want to use, how would I do the weaving, all of that. Here is where we currently are:
What I'd like to do is develop a relatively simple alphabet:knot code system that will let me assign a knot or tie or weave to each letter of the alphabet, in lieu of using binary. There is a rug I step on pretty frequently that has many different rows of many different knots, braids, bumps, etc. I love this rug, it is visually interesting and feels really lovely on the feet. All the rows are the same cotton fabric and the same color, but the differences in weave style give it lots of variation in texture and shading. This is the style I want to mimic.
Additionally, because this rug will be LOOOOOOOONG, I will need a way to temporarily set up and take down the loom I am using it for. I watched this phenomenal video on using a peg loom to weave a rug, and think it's absolutely the ideal option for me. The loom itself takes up a very small amount of space and I can make it relatively inexpensively, and at least somewhat with scrap materials. I can also bundle the rug as I am making it to tuck it away, pack up the loom, keep the rug safe, etc. This feels like a relatively easy choice for making a large project over an unknown period of time and in a restricted space.
I want to use 100% cotton for the finished rug, and want to keep the rug itself not too bulky. There is a lot of math that can be used in weaving to determine how much your textiles will compact in the weaving process so that you can look at your raw materials at the start of a process and then figure out how much they will condense and compact against one another by the end, and how thick or bulky your end product will be.
I will not be doing this math.
Instead, I am just going to opt for collecting large flat sheets from Scrap and TROSA and using them for the weaving process. Similar to the moon_tapestry, I want to use materials as I am able to collect them, and think a bit creatively about what my options are.
When I was initially trying to find a rug to buy, I was spending a lot of time getting caught up on color options. My house is incredibly grey - the exterior is entirely grey with black shutters, black roof, black door. The interior is identical with the kitchen being the worst offender with it's white, grey, and black combination of counter, floor, cabinet, hardware, backsplash, and wall. 1).
The hall rug is a little tricky in that I would prefer it be a lighter color, but I am not entirely sure that I trust my weaving abilities to create a strong/tight enough rug to be able to withstand washing. It would perhaps just have to be entirely hand washed/scrubbed. And hand washing a 15' long rug honestly sounds miserable. But, perhaps, a good meditation practice. The alternative is choosing a darker color that will show fewer stains and dirt, and which will require much less cleaning.
The final alternative is to let the rug get dirty and not give a shit, but I have realized that is a non option, which amuses me greatly.
The majority of sheets I will be running into will be white, cream, ivory, etc. I am not really interested, either, in trying to dye all my textiles and get them to look a certain way. So I think the best route here is to just go with the lighter color choice, embrace the variations across the white spectrum, and work with sheets as I get them. I want to prioritize the material itself anyway, over the color - I don't know the exact name for this kind of cotton, and it gets tricky when you are working in linen world compared to garment world. All the cotton names change which is little frustrating. But I know what it feels like in my hands and should be able to eventually find the words and the label, making this process much faster.
I think, too, that I should only start with one fitted sheet at a time - not buy 10 fitted sheets and then have n leftover to have for some future project. I don't yet have any idea what the rate of fill will be for weaving. I have a pretty good idea of how I am going to make use of the sheets in the weaving process, but I want to make sure I am not buying up Durham's stock of second hand linens to then just have most of them sit in a closet for all eternity.
The only other component for the rug that I will need is the cordage that will serve as the warp. I will need to do a little more research about what kind of material is suitable for this, but I would ideally like to keep this to a relatively thin/light cotton rope, twine, etc. Again - shooting to have a not-bulky rug that I can work with here. I am not trying to weave a super strong rug that will last oodles of generations. I want it to hold up to years of use and love; I don't need it to wind up in a museum in 100 years.
The peg loom is very simple, and nicely modular. You have a narrow board that is the width of the maximum size of a weaving you would want to do. In it are holes set about 1“ apart. These holes only go about half the depth of the board, not all the way through. The size of the hole corresponds to the size of the pegs that will sit in them - a .5” diameter hole will accommodate a .5“ diameter peg. 2)
At the bottom of each peg, a small hole is drilled which is where the warp is threaded through. I have also seen versions of this loom style where the pegs do not have holes drilled in them; instead the warp just sits inside the loom board at the bottom of the peg hole, and the peg sort of pins it in place. I much prefer the option of having the peg actually hold the warp somehow, especially since I think this is a rug that I will be weaving for at least several months, picking up and moving around from room to room (and probably even house to house as I travel, go on holiday, visit partners, etc). I need this project to be sturdy.
While the idea is that your peg loom board should be the width of any weaving you want to accomplish, I - again - want this to be fairly portable and lightweight, and so I will only be making a pegboard that is slightly larger than my final rug width (slightly larger simply so I can comfortably accommodate all of the pegs).