If you're itching for a repetitive project to fill your longer fall evenings or just really want an excuse to rewatch all four seasons of Hart of Dixie on Netflix, you're in luck! Will this handwoven rug take you hours upon hours to make? Yes. Will your enthusiasm fade after the first two episodes? Yes. Will you grow weary of it 1/3 of the way through and be tempted to throw up your hands in surrender only to realize if you don't power through the tedium, you'll have an awkwardly large loom forever leaning against your wall mocking you? Yes.
But then…then you'll realize you're about halfway up your loom, and suddenly it's starting to feel like you might finish this thing! Once you graduate from weaving while sitting to weaving while standing, you'll find yourself resisting the urge to take hourly selfies in front of it. You'll finish that final episode of Hart of Dixie, Season Four and not even notice because you're laser focused on your last section, and suddenly you're finished! Woohoo! You're also the very proud owner of a one-of-a-kind, 4.5" x 6" handmade rug that will surely impress anyone that darkens your door.
Be warned that should you complete your own handwoven rug, your friends will threaten to steal it from your home or request you make them one for Christmas. It's just par for the course. Tell them you're happy to point them in the direction of a good tutorial.
My design inspiration came from this image that was highlighting a specific technique. I was so charmed with the static lines that I decided to mimic them in my own pattern and settled on five colors that I knew would create a bold statement. It's not so technical that it requires a lot of counting and not so simplistic that it's underwhelming. I'm so happy with how it turned out!
– two 2" x 2" x 8' pine boards
– two 1/2" x 4" x 8' pine boards
– twelve 1.5" wood screws
– box of 2" nails with small heads
– power drill and bit to match screw size
– 100 yards of cotton twine
– five spools of jersey yarn in 150 yards each
– tapestry needle for finishing work
Step One: Cut down your 2" x 2" x 8' boards to 6' long with a handsaw or have it cut at your local lumber store. Cut both of your 1/2" x 4" x 8' boards in half (or have it cut at your local lumber store), and then set one of your halves aside.
Create a rectangular shape with a third 4' board resting in the center. The 4" wide boards should rest on top of the 2" x 2" x 6' boards. Pre-drill two holes in each corner where your boards overlap and two holes on each end of the center board. Add your screws.
Step Two: Place one of the cuts from the 2" x 2" x 8" boards under one of the 4" wide boards for support. Hammer nails across the top board so that they are evenly spaced. I suggest about 3/4" apart and at least 3/4" from the edge of your board.
Step Four: Starting in one corner, tie a loop-knot and wind your cotton warp up and down and up and down across the entire frame. Tie a loop-knot and hook over the last nail.
Step Five: Divide your warp up evenly into five sections by marking the center of each section with a strip of the jersey yarn for that section. This will serve as a guide so you don't end up with crooked columns.
Step Six: Start weaving your center section with a 5' strip of jersey yarn with your fingers. Leave a 4" tail on the back and weave through about 20 warp rows (10 nails). If you're looking for more thorough steps on weaving, check out this tutorial.
Step Seven: Weave back the way you came but weave past the row you started by another row or two. Create little rainbows as you push your yarn down so you're not pulling too tightly on the warp rows.
Step Eight: Continue weaving back and forth so that no two weft rows are stacked evenly. You want to create a zigzag effect.
Step Nine: Weave your next section in and make sure you fill in the gaps by weaving all the way in. It's like dancing the cha-cha. If one of your jersey yarns is thicker than the other, you may want to weave two rows of the thinner yarn for every single row of the thick yarn to help them stay even all the way up your rug.
Step Eleven: I suggest working on one strand of color until you run out and then moving to the color next to it so that you're still working from left to right while you are working up your loom. If you just do peach all the way up and then burgundy all the way up, your warp strands might start to pull in and you'll get a less even rug. Be sure not to pull tightly as you weave to avoid the hourglass shape!
Step Thirteen: If you haven't already, lay your loom flat on the floor. This will keep your rug from stretching out unevenly as you unhook the top warp rows from the nails. I had about 2' of space between the top of my rug and the top of the loom. Tie each pair of warp rows in a knot closely to the top rows of jersey yarn.
Step Fourteen: Use your needle to stitch each knotted pair of warp down the back side about 4". Continue all the way across the top. Trim excess. This will hide your ends. You can also tie knots in your yarn tails on the back side. If they are too thick, you can leave them alone and it's unlikely they'll unravel, but be careful when you wash it. I suggest spot treating your rug or hand washing it and letting it dry flat or over an even surface.
The total cost of this project was about $85 worth of supplies (minus my drill that I already had) and about 15 hours of my time. It's incredibly satisfying to finish any kind of creative project, but this is one you'll want to keep forever. I love knowing I have the skills to create beautiful pieces for my own space that help reflect my personal style and that I (mostly) enjoyed the time it took to bring it to fruition. You will, too! –Rachel
If you need another fun challenge, you can also try this woven rug I made from cotton sheets. It's still working hard in my studio and has survived the washing machine more than once!