I first came across peg looms at one fiber festival or another a few years back and was immediately enthralled. What I was seeing were gorgeous alpaca rugs and throws. My immediate thought, however, was that I might try my hand at peg loom rag rugs. The idea simmered for a time. And then a time too long.
I’m a tremendous fan of recycling and reusing. Much of my work involves the repurposing of old wools, cashmere sweaters, vintage and antique cloth and other materials. While my love affair with rug hooking is unequivocal, I’m always curious about other techniques, processes, and learning opportunities. New ways to use materials I may have collected, but aren’t necessarily my go to’s—cottons for example, are a constant tease. Weaving would seem an obvious destination for a girl with my fiber proclivities, but two things held me back: the space requirements of a number of styles of looms and the limitations of a shoulder injury. Here I circle back to my introduction to a peg loom and the possibility of it fulfilling my dream of creating rag rugs.
Unlike most looms I’d known, a peg loom is compact and requires very little space, is portable, and could work with the stash I already have. It is simply comprised of a wooden block base drilled to accept pegs. Each peg, in turn, has a hole drilled through the bottom diameter to accept your warp threads or yarns. That’s it. You can use as many or as few of the pegs as you like for a piece. The more you use, the wider your weaving will be. The length of your warp threads determines how long your weaving can go. When I divulged my plans to my hubby, thinking I could give this a go with a scrap of 2 x 4 and some dowels, he surprised me with a beautiful, well thought out finished maple piece. The pressure was on!
I had a few stops and starts with peg loom weaving. And I’m going to insert here a big thank you to Anne at Cape Newagen Alpaca Farm for the confidence building time she spent with me! The finished weave is a bit different than the more traditional under/over method. Fabric created on peg loom creates a weave that leaves only the weft visible. Rather than beating the weft into place as you go, the warp is cinched up at the end to create the density of the fabric.
My first few attempts found me experimenting with core spun alpaca, vintage flannel yardage, and recycled saris. The latter two were torn into strips that I joined as I went. I definitely have been bitten by the bug now and have more plans. I want to experiment with chunky warps and, alternatively, more delicate wefts. Visions of denim and antique silks are a tease. The possibilities are enticing. Rag rugs have always appealed to me, but different materials could make wonderful table runners or placements, window shades or pillows.