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The Loom Or Rug Frame

( Originally Published 1914 )

This primitive loom or frame is exactly like the frame used in making the hooked rug; the proportions only are different. It is a rectangular frame made of four wooden bars which are one by two inches in thickness. There are two pieces fifty-three inches long which form the sides and two pieces thirty-two inches long which form the ends. These are fitted together at the corners with pegs and little iron shutter catches—the pegs in the ends of the longer pieces fitting into the holes at the ends of the shorter pieces. In fact exactly like the rug frame in the hooked rug. Pine, basswood or locust are the best woods for the frame. The broad side of the bars which is the two-inch dimension, should form the face of the frame and along this surface on the thirty-two inch pieces the double-headed carpet tacks which make the eyelets which hold the warp threads are to be driven. These double-headed tacks, forty-nine of them, are placed in a single row along the horizontal bars. They begin two inches from the edge of the upright bars with one-half inch between the point of one and the point of the next. The warp thread is run through these little eye-lets which are formed in this way by the tacks.


Mark a large "letter L" on the left-hand corner of the frame and a large "letter R" on the lower right-hand corner. Mark this care-fully and distinctly with .ink. On the lower horizontal bar of the frame, count off the eye-lets and mark the center one or No. 25 C and then mark the left-hand eyelets beginning from the center, numbers 24 to 1 L and the right hand beginning from the center or from No. 25 but not including it of course, 24 to 1 R. Turn the frame completely around and mark the eyelets on the other horizontal bar in exactly the same way. Then also indicate the center of the upright bar on either side by a large letter "C." The unbleached hammock twine used for the warp thread is not dyed. It is used in its natural color. The collection of these warp threads which forms the structure or framework of the rug is called the warp. The warp holds together the cross threads which are collectively called the woof. The warp in the needle-woven rug is one continuous thread and runs uninterruptedly up and down through the metal eyelets which are used for carrying it.

Measure off one hundred yards of warp thread from the skein of hammock twine and wind it on a wooden spool or bobbin. Any conveniently shaped smooth piece of wood will do. After it is wound, take the end and thread it through eyelet No. 1 L on the lower bar of the frame. Then carry it up and thread it through eyelet No. 1 R on the upper bar. Carry it from eyelet No. 1 R on the upper bar to eyelet No. 2 R also on upper bar. Thread it through eyelet No. 2 R before bringing it down to eyelet No. 2 L on the lower bar. Carry it then to No. 3 L on the lower bar and then to No. 3 R on the upper and back to No. 4 R on the upper and down again to No. 4 L on the lower. Continue this way, always passing from each eyelet to the next, threading two at a time on the same bar until the last two are reached, one on the upper bar and one on the lower bar.

Now unwind whatever remaining thread there may be on the bobbin and pull the continuous warp thread moving through all the eyelets until a free end of two and one-fourth yards is left over at eyelet No. 1 L on the lower bar. Carry this end to No. 1 R on the upper bar, then wind the end of the warp around the frame and fasten it securely by tying it. After it is tied pull all the slack out toward the other end as the thread must be doubled through the last two eyelets just as it was through the first two. Tighten up the warp again and tie the end to the frame. If there is any slacking in the thread the rug will be found uneven in the weaving; the double warp threads at the side of the rug hold the woof threads in place and strengthen the rug on the edges where it gets most wear. The space within the framework of the loom has now been filled up with warp threads except along the sides of the upright bars. Here about two inches remain open. The warp is now set up and we are ready to. put in the cross threads or in other words to weave the rug.


The old adage, "Well begun is half done," can never be more appropriately applied than to craft work. Indeed it might be said that preparation is the most important of all its phases. Get tools and materials together and in good order before undertaking to do anything and never work with poor tools. There are bound to be difficulties with every problem. But they are tremendously lessened through preparation. Have everything that you need within arm's reach and make a mental note of each thing so that nothing is forgotten. Getting up to hunt for a missing article after work is once started, is not only discouraging but it is demoralizing. Finish the work as you go along and do not leave anything thinking that you will come back to it later, that usually means that the thing is difficult to do and needs patience. Patience is cultivated by perseverance and both are just as important factors in rug-making as the tools and materials. Do not sit down to weave your rug when yon have less than two hours' time before you to devote to it.

The process of needle-weaving is exactly like darning a stocking. The threads are set up and the space is filled by weaving cross threads in and out through them. In one case a darning needle is used and in the other a hammock needle or a bodkin.

Begin the weaving at the bottom of the frame and with the needle threaded with a strip of unbleached cotton cloth, weave across three times in and out between the warp, going back and forth across the frame from side to side and then pack these rows down firmly with the comb, by putting in its teeth between the strands and the warp and combing it hard down against the woof just as if you were combing hair. Pack and weave down the woof threads until a space measuring three inches is filled. Measure this with a tape measure. These three inches will be unraveled after the rug-weaving is finished. It is put in in order to pack the other woof threads down against it. The ends of the warp which are left free after-wards when it is unraveled, will be knotted into fringe at the ends of the rug.

Next weave a space with hammock twine to measure one and one-half inches. This is called the heading and is always woven in rugs with the same kind of thread that is used for making the warp. After the heading has been woven in, weave four times across the rug with tone No. 2. Weave from edge to edge. Pack and press down firmly with the comb.

Then start tone No. 3 at warp thread No. 3 L and weave across to warp thread No. 15 L and back again to No. 3 L in order to have two rows of dark yellow or the iron buff on these warp threads. The warp threads mentioned in the count are always included in it, and must be covered by the woof.

Now drop off one warp thread on each side or step in and up to the two next warp threads No. 4 and 14 L respectively, weaving once back and forth thus again making two cross rows. Continue this process of stepping or dropping off one warp thread on each side and weaving twice across until warp thread No. 8, 9, and 10 L are reached and the woof is woven into them. We now have part of the center figure, a pyramidal form with a blunt end and the characteristically "stepped" sides.

Repeat this form with tone No. 3 across the rug warp threads No. 19 L to 19 R and also on warp threads 15 R to 3 R. This finishes in centers of three pyramidal figures. Do not press down hard on these figures with the comb. In putting in the pattern the worker must not comb down the woof hard until after the back-ground is woven in as the threads of the back-ground must be slipped in between the threads of the pattern. This cannot be easily done if the woof threads which make the pattern are too firmly combed down at first.

Take a strip of tone No. 2 and beginning on the outside edge of the rug at warp thread No. 1 L weave over to warp thread No. 3 L back to No. 1 L and so on back and forth until No. 8 L is reached. Carry the woof each time around warp thread No. 1 and around the warp thread at the inside which terminates that figure of the pattern. This fills up the space against the four rows of the same color at the bottom of the rug, reaches from the edge to the already woven figures of dark yellow made of tone No. 3. Repeat this on the right side of the figure.

Every time that tone No. 2 reaches tone No. 3 remember that it must weave over the warp thread which holds' the loop of that color and must be .slipped in between the rows of No. 3. Throughout the weaving of the entire rug, this occurs whenever and wherever a loop of woof of one color reaches the warp thread which holds the loop of woof of another color.

Now take a thread of tone No. 2 and beginning at warp thread No. 1, 2 and 3 L weave up on these three warp threads until with a gentle packing down, this woven strip measures twenty-one inches, and reaches up to the middle of the rug. Repeat this on the right (R) hand side. This band forms a narrow border on the sides of the rug, and is a serviceable feature because it brings a darker color on the edge where the rug would otherwise soil more readily.

Before beginning to weave the remainder of the pattern, cut a number of pieces of the ham-mock twine twelve inches long and beginning at the heading slip one through the woven portion of the rug and around the upright bar of the rug frame and tie it securely. Do this at intervals of four inches on each side of the rug.

This is to hold the edges of the rug in place, to steady them and to keep them at a distance of two inches from the inside edge of the upright bar of the frame, for there is always a tendency in weaving a rug to narrow its width by pulling together the warp threads and crowding them in toward the center of the rug. Fastening the edges to the bars overcomes this tendency and keeps the rug the desired width.

Now begin work again with strip of Tone No. 2. Start at warp thread No. 5 L and weave to No. 13 L and back again. Then step up to No. 6 L and across to 14 L and back. From No. 7 L to No. 11 L and finish with the usual two rows of cross on Nos. 8, 9, and 10 L. Always remember that where two warp numbers are given, the regulation two rows must be woven. Now repeat this on the right (R) side. When finished it should form a part of the border around the iron buff figures.

Go to warp thread No. 15 L and over to 19 L up to 12 L to 23 L stepping out one warp thread each time. Now repeat this on the (R) right side. The first rows of this weaving Nos. 15, to 19 L fall against the first four rows of tone No. 2, filling up all the space left there and continuing the border for the iron buff figures. To complete this border, go on as follows: at warp thread No. 12 L go to No. 16 L and from No. 11 L to No. 15 L from 10 L to No. 14 L. Re-peat this on the (R) .side.

To surround the remainder of the iron buff central figures begin at 18 L to 22 L to 19 L to 23 L to 20 L to 24 L. At 21 L just above, go to 21 R. From 22 L to 22 R. From 23 L to 23 R and finish with 24 L 25 center and 24 R. Now the right (R) side, on 22 R to 18 R to 23 R to 19 R to 24 R to 20 R. The central figure of the border at the lower end of the rug is finished and the border at one end is completed. Fill in all around these woven figures which are in tone No. 2 and 3's with the background tone No. 1 or the lightest tone in our color scheme. Comb and pack down firmly over the whole surface as the rows of the No. 1 strips are woven in. Keep on with the back-ground tone until all the woven figures are surrounded and the rows of woof run across from side to side of the rug border in tone No. 2.

Measure always from the heading and when enough of tone No. 1 has been woven to measure nine and one-half inches from heading be-gin again at warp thread No. 5 L to warp thread No. 23 L using tone No. 2. Go on to 6 L to 22 L to 7 L to 21 L and then repeat this in the (R) right-hand numbers. Then with tone No. 3 weave from 10 L to 18 L step-ping on up and dropping off one warp thread on each side of the yellow pyramidal figure until No. 13, 14 and 15 L are reached. Repeat this on the R side.

Surround with tone No. 2 from 17 L to 20 L stepping up from 16 L to 19 L from 11 L to 17 L up to 13, 14 and 15 L. Complete this border in tone No. 2 by weaving from 11 L to 7 L and up on until border joins the woven portion at 13 L.

Repeat this on the R side and fill up again with background until the finished portion of the rug measures fourteen and one-half inches.

Now we are ready to weave in one-half the central figure of the rug. Begin at 14 L weave to 14 R stepping up and across until 16 L to 16 R are filled up. Then take a thread of tone No. 3; weave from 20 L to 20 R until 24 L, 25 center and 24 R are woven across, surround this with the usual border of tone No. 2 by be-ginning at 20 L to 16 L until 20 L and 24 L are reached. Then repeat these in (R) right-hand numbers.

Now weave from 21 L to 21 R. From 22 L to 22 R. Then over to 9 L and to 9 R until 11 L and 11 R are reached and woven across with tone No. 2.

Start now with tone No. 3 at warp threads 15 L and R stepping up until 19 L and R are filled. Surround this iron buff figure on each side with the border of tone No. 2. beginning at 12 L to 16 L on up to 15L to 18 Land re-peat this on the R side. Now fill up around the central figure with the background tone No. 1. packing and pressing down firmly with the comb until when the measurement is taken from the heading, twenty-two and one-half inches of rug is completed. This is one-half of the whole rug.

Turn the frame around and repeat the whole process of weaving, from filling in against the frame with the unbleached strips to finishing the central figure. If when the second half of the rug is completed, there should be any space intervening between it and the first half which was woven in, continue the pattern toward the center from each half, until the space is filled up. The design of the rug is planned for just this emergency as some workers pack with the comb more closely than others, consequently do not fill as much space to the given number of rows of woof.

Now cut the threads at the top of each eyelet and knot each two warp threads together. Push the knots up close against the heading so that it shall be held very firmly. The loose ends of these threads form the fringe at the end of the rug. As there are fifty-one of them, they do not come out evenly when knotted two and two. Three may be knotted together in one of the bunches. Do not cut all the warp threads at once but only two at a time, as they are needed for tying together. Lay the rug on the floor and comb out the fringe and even it up by cutting off any longer ends. If there are any loose ends of woof thread on the surface of the rug, thread .these into the bodkin and slip them in between the woven pattern. Now the rug is finished. Its surface will improve by wear for as it wears it mats and felts together and the loose threads of the warp become as one even surface.

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