Promoting traditional textile crafts across Dorset
On Sunday, twelve of us attended a workshop by Riitta Sinkkonen Davies on “Weaving New from Old”. This followed on from her talk at the guild meeting on Saturday, where she described the Finnish approach to rag weaving. Rag weaving is hugely popular in Finland, and is used for much more than just rugs. One particularly interesting aspect is the idea of giving a new life to once cherished but now unused clothes. If you don’t want to part with a garment but it is just taking up space in the wardrobe you can turn it into something useful and keep it around.
For the workshop we were told to bring a loom, preferably 4 shaft, with a 12″ wide 4-5epi rug warp. It was interesting how much variety this simple instruction gave rise to, with several of us having to rework the warps before we started. Then to cutting the rags. The rags are cut or torn into long strips, turning at the ends unless the fabric is very long (e.g. bed sheets), to give a continuous weft of several yards.
We were told to take three shuttles with different wefts, to give a subtle variation in colour through the resulting fabric. The key to a good Finnish rag rug is to get a weft faced fabric, using narrow wefts and beating them hard. The result can be a sturdy, hard-wearing fabric for rugs or pot-stands, or a softer, finer fabric for clothing such as jackets or waistcoats, depending on the choice of weft fabric and how narrowly it is cut.
By the end of the day everyone was making good progress and seemed to be enjoying it. The variety of colours and effects was quite impressive.