A while ago I finished a weave. That moment when you cut the warp is a scary one, especially when the warp is handspun. I have saved all my handspun thrums simply because I can’t bear to throw them away. In my current weaving project I reuse my saved thrums.
I have always felt bad for the thrums left behind. Up until now I haven’t figured out what to do with them, but I haven’t been able to throw them away. I have just sighed and put them in a cupboard.
A couple of years ago I saw the prettiest chair pads made just like a rya rug – a woven square with gordian knots covering the whole surface. This was the perfect project for my thrums!
Rya chair pads
After having cut down my latest weaving project from the loom – and carefully saving the thrums – I started warping for my chair pads. We have eight kitchen chairs with the ugliest cotton pads with foam rubber filling. I am ashamed to say that they are at least fifteen years old and leaking out all their innards. So I warped for eight pads, that’s four meters of warp. I haven’t warped four meters before and I hope I am not in over my head.
I am a beginner at weaving and I only have a rigid heddle loom. But it does what I want it to do and on a level that I understand. The sweet thing about being a beginner is that I don’t know what rules I’m breaking. Trial and error are my guides.
The warp yarns are also my handspun that have been lying in my stash for quite a while without a designated project.
The warp is a Shetland 2-ply from a fleece I bought a couple of years ago. The weft is, well, whatever I have really. And I have a lot of yarn just waiting to be useful. I do spin more than I use my handspun. The weft for the first chair pad is hand-combed and worsted spun Värmland wool.
I have left a 2 cm border on each side edge without knots and 4 cm between each pad. This way I can make a folded hem around the pad for sturdiness.
The knots are made mostly with my saved thrums. The first thrums are from another warp yarn – a hand-dyed jeans blue Swedish Leicester yarn spun worsted from hand-combed tops. I will also use old skeins of handspun that I haven’t found a use for. Probably lots of white and natural colour yarn. And I have the freedom to make stripes, patterns or whatever my heart desires.
This is how I make my Gordian knots for this project:
- I make my knots over three warp threads, leaving one warp thread between each bundle of three.
- I use a doubled piece of yarn (resulting a loop in one end of the knot).
- After having lifted the three warp threads slightly I put the middle of the doubled yarn over the three threads, then under the outer warp threads and up in the middle.
- I slide the knot down to the weave and pull it snug.
After the knot “shuttling” I make three regular shuttlings and repeat these four shuttlings. The knots in the second repeat are moved one warp thread to make a more harmonious pattern.
Helpful tools and techniques
To get the yarn ends for the Rya knots in equal lengths I use a wooden board around which I wrap the thrums in bundles. I cut the bundles at the edges of the board and get equal lengths.
To make it easier to pick each individual piece of yarn I bundle them together and tie the bundle on the middle. That way I can place the bundle on the weave and easily pick out individual yarn ends as I make the knots. I use a tapestry beater to beat the knots and the weft yarn tight.
The weaving of a muppet
As I happily knot away I realize how much yarn I will need for my eight chair pads. I ran out of blue Leicester thrums after two thirds of the first pad and continued with white finewool/rya thrums. This will be a very effective stash buster project!
I also realize how much time this will take. Each four row repeat take around ten minutes to finish. I’ll be lucky if we can place our new year’s bottoms on these. But when we do, I expect I will want to sit on them all the time.
I’m still very much of a beginner at weaving. But that doesn’t stop me from treasuring the moments I bring out my loom. The repetitions of the knotting and the shuttlings help me unwind and allow my thoughts to come and go. Feeling the very muppetness of the knots gives me such joy. I smile at the prospect of sitting on these pads. They actually look like real things! I think I’ll name this first one Groover.
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