My Review of “Weaving Rag Rugs”

Tim Knisely’s New Book, “Weaving Rag Rugs”
Paperback – Color – 127 Pages – $24.95
Stackpole Books –

Weaving Rag Rugs - Stackpole Books
Weaving Rag Rugs – Stackpole Books

I love the fact that you can get so many different styles and a materials of rugs – such as sheepskin rugs, or a bayliss rug. I think it’s even more interesting that people can make them from scratch; sometimes with such intricate designs. As an experienced weaver myself, weaving a rag rug always seemed daunting. Tim Knisely’s new book answers all the questions that worried me. In fact, only one of my students ever wove a rag rug and it shrank 6-10 inches immediately after it came off the loom. Another weaver wove a rag rug for her bathroom and it came out long enough to run a few feet out of the bathroom and down the hallway!

Besides answering the basic questions, his enthusiasm, encouragement, and personal advice make it seem like weaving a rag rug is very, very doable. An example of his personal advice on page 26 is to “weave by the seat of my pants.” However, most of the book tells exactly what to do and what to watch out for.

The book is beautiful, filled with inviting projects and historical rugs, and full of vital information. A beginning weaver who has woven only one warp (even in a class situation) could use this book and not even know there were worry-some issues at all.

He talks about various warp threads to use and recommends polyester-cotton-blend 8/4 carpet warp which is a surprise and change from the 8/4 cotton rug warp I have known about since I began to weave.

His descriptions of how to choose the material for the rags is thorough and easy to understand. He also tells how to figure out how much material you need to have for the amount of rags you need for a specific size rug. (He recommends weaving it somewhat longer so the shrinkage I mentioned above won’t spoil your projects.)

Of course he tells how to calculate the sett-a big issue when the warps are so much thinner than the thicker rag wefts.

Another bug-a-boo for me was weaving a heading that doesn’t draw in. That is taken care of right at the beginning.

There is no “trouble shooting” chapter because he covers the issues in the well-titled chapters so you can easily find where to read about various issues. This said, the reader should read every word in the text.

How to prepare the rags has always daunted me and he gives excellent directions and hints. It isn’t such a hard, tedious job as I thought.

His photographs of making the warp and warping the loom are clear and being in color, they don’t seem at all intimidating. It is nice to see a man’s hands doing things-you have a sense he knows what he’s doing and has had a lot of experience teaching it.

So much for the techniques-they are covered well. The thing I like best is the section on projects. Each project has 2 ½” squares of photographs of the actual cloth that the rugs are made of. You also know what the cloth is like, how thick, etc. and each rug project shows the actual cloth that was used. There are large photographs of the rugs which is very helpful in choosing what kind of project you might want to make. The drafts are easy to read or work out if you’ve woven at least one warp previously.

I recommend this book highly-you’ll enjoy it even if you only weave rag rugs in your head.

Peggy Osterkamp
Author of “Weaving for Beginners”

Here is a photo of some balls ready for a rag rug found in an antique store years ago. I treasure them.

Antique Rag Balls - Peggy Osterkamp Collection
Antique Rag Balls – Peggy Osterkamp Collection

A Wonderful Testimonial

Getting this email from Judy Wheeler really made my day!

I just wanted to say THANK YOU!! for writing the New Guide to Weaving books. I have all three, and literally could not weave without them. I learned to weave many years ago at a weaving shop that was only in business a short while…

I love weaving, but it was always a struggle. Warping was difficult, tension was never good, and my projects rarely turned out like I had hoped. Then I found your books. Weaving is now so much more enjoyable and rewarding, and your books are just amazing! I always refer to them when weaving, but often I pick one up and just read it, because I always learn something new.

Thank you again!

Lovely, New Weaving Book

Kelly Marshall's New Book
Kelly Marshall's New Book

Here is a wonderful new book with my review. Kelly will be at Convergence to sign them. I can’t wait to meet her.

When I first saw this book, I immediately decided to call it “The Kelly Book”. I felt like I knew her right away-her taste and her home environment. In the introduction she tells what the book is intended to do as well as introducing herself and her background. I wanted to know her more and that did happen with almost every page that followed.

As I leafed through I saw beautiful photographs of furnishings for the home, different environments, sketches, and lovely textiles everywhere. There was a variety of colors-all enticing and beautifully coordinated.

Then I (a weaver) went straight to the Techniques and Tips chapter. She answered all my nagging questions about rep weave: how thick is thick and how thin is thin, for example. What thick and thin combinations were suitable for rugs, or throws, or upholstery was enormously helpful-and I felt that I could trust that she was telling me all I needed to know to make successful projects.  Other important things one needs to know were given; such as how to join new thick wefts and how to get lovely selvedges. She tells how to calculate the warp and weft quantities needed depending upon whether you want to make kitchen towels or rugs or many other projects for the home. I could see that she tells what yarns are used for all of the projects–including how much is needed for each color.

Then I went to the beginning and really read with interest where she introduces herself. She writes as though talking to the reader-telling where she came from, what inspires her and how she goes about making a color scheme.

The projects are all ones used in her home. She tells how she began choosing the colors-beginning in the bedroom–and then how she coordinated all the textiles in the rest of the house. The variety of the colors is huge-you would not recognize the same colors over and over in the projects. She brightens some, dulls some, or adds accents. She explains how all of her choices of color were made. It should be quite exciting to recreate some of these ideas for decor around the house, and I can’t wait to get started! I’ve heard that stores like Home Depot offer discounts on their products if we’ve got coupons from somewhere like Raise ( so maybe it’s time I grab those and get all my supplies in order, to start my projects.

There are complete instructions with photographs and drafts for 18 projects. However, the book also gives the specific information you need to change the concept and colors to another type of textile. For example, if a project is for a rug, you would have the information to use the colors and design in a throw instead, if you choose. This gives the weaver the opportunity to use her book as a starting point for creating original designs.

How she develops her color choices seems very clear and doable. Her tips given with all the projects are also clear as are the drafts and yarn requirements, including the exact names of the colors used and the sources for the yarns. She doesn’t leave you dangling with just the theory.

Many of the projects are significantly large requiring many warp threads and pounds of yarns. That she gives the essential amounts of yarn needed for each color is crucial.

In summary, this is a lovely and inspirational book-whether you weave the projects or use them as ideas for other projects. She explains her color choices so simply and completely that anyone would be glad for her lessons in color. Oh yes, her enthusiasm for Rep Weave is contagious.

Peggy Osterkamp,

Weaver, Artist,

Author of Peggy Osterkamp’s New Guide to Weaving Series and Weaving for Beginners


Kelly Marshall

Custom Woven Interiors Ltd

1500 NY Jackson Street #386

Minneapolis, MN  55413

Orders: 612-788-7800



A Special Testimonial

“Peggy Osterkamp has done more for getting threads on looms than any other person on the planet.”

At Convergence in Albuquerque last summer, Linda Ligon from Interweave Press stopped by my booth and left this message. I was overwhelmed. She said I could pass it along.
What an honor. My book, Weaving for Beginners, had just come out. The previous three books have more reference material–beyond what the beginner needs to know. These are the ones Linda was familiar with.

A Good Review for Weaving for Beginners

I got my issue of Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot today. It has a nice review of Weaving for Beginners which came out just about a year ago. Here are two quotes. I hope the post the entire review soon. It starts on page 11 in the magazine.

“The illustrations are helpful and align well with the text. This is important for a reference because there are few things more frustrating when learning something new than trying to understand a technique an author is explaining when the associated illustration or image is on a different page.”

“…this is a serious book for people serious about learning to weave.”

I’m proud of the seriousness. It’s interesting that my working title at the very beginning in 1992 was “The Serious Weaver.”

A Very Nice Testimonial for the Beginners Book

From a satisfied reader, Laurie Mrvos: “… I’m trying to figure out what I’m doing as a new weaver pretty much in a vacuum, and I have read your books, including this one, (Weaving for Beginners),  carefully and multiple times.  I keep saying, “thank God for Peggy Osterkamp”, because I couldn’t have figured out what I was doing without your books, and the other beginning weaving books I have are not as thorough and well written.  Thank you,  Peggy.  I’m so grateful for the enormous effort and care you have obviously put into your books.  I’m a happy beneficiary of your labors.”

Emails like that really make my day. I appreciate them so much.

I’m Still Teaching Weaving

Someone wrote to ask if I was giving up teaching weaving when I give up one room of my studio. I still teach privately in my weaving studio. There is still space for that. I love seeing people one-on-one. When I retired I decided a book for beginners was necessary for my good methods to get out to potential weavers. My new book, Weaving for Beginners, came out mid June and has been a huge success. I’m hoping that it along with my other three books will take the place of my teaching classes and workshops. Also, my DVD on setting up the loom is helpful. So, you see, you can not have me and have me, too. See descriptions of all my books and DVD here on the blog or order on my web site: Let me know if these suit you. PS There are two  wonderful reviews of my new book here on the blog. Use the Search button to find them.

Read a review of Peggy’s book in Handwoven Magazine

Weaving for Beginners
Peggy Osterkamp

“Whether you are learning to weave or teaching weaving, this book offers everything you need to know. Based on Osterkamp’s years of weaving and teaching using time-honored Europeanweaving techniques, Weaving for Beginners opens by guiding the beginner through the basics of equipment
and back-to-front warping and then presents a sampler cleverly designed to introduce balanced, weftfaced,
and warp-faced weaves on the same warp. The first project is followed by an in-depth discussion of
the benefi ts of back-to-front and front-to-back warping, with a section written by Patricia Townsend on front-to-back warping that includes mixing warp colors at the loom and specifi c instructions for weaving
a chenille scarf. Later chapters suggest future projects for the beginning weaver, explore hand-manipulated weaves, and teach the basics of rigid-heddle weaving.

Advanced chapters include an in-depth discussion on how to read and write a draft and then progress to drafting for block weaves, such as overshot and summer and winter. One might wish that the later chapters on sett, selvedges, project planning, and troubleshooting were laminated, because they are so packed with useful reference information that they are likely to be worn out over the course of a weaving career. Worksheets and formulas
for determining sett using grist, diameter, and weave structure; tips for good selvedges and diagnostics for poor selvedges; and well-illustrated, step-by-step instructions for repairing a fixed thread or threading error, finding a lost cross, or fixing weaving mistakes—all are designed to get the beginning-to-intermediate weaver off to a smooth and confident start.

The chapter on computer software and the chapter on knots are especially innovative and informative. Written by experts among Osterkamp’s students and colleagues, the computer chapter explains the benefits of WIF files, tells how to choose a weaving software package, explores the design capabilities of weaving programs, and gives a sample assignment to get the
reader started. In the final chapter of the book, Osterkamp answers your questions about what knot to use when and relieves all knot anxiety: snitch knots, lark’s head and double half hitches are all revealed through excellent illustrations. After you finish reading the “rabbit hole story,” you will never forget the weaver’s knot again.

Weaving for Beginners is clearly a labor of love by an outstanding teacher and a community of enthusiastic and dedicated weavers. It will be a welcome addition to many a weaver’s bookshelf, beginning weaver or otherwise.”

—Anita Osterhaug

Click this link for more info about the book:
“Weaving for Beginners: An Illustrated Guide”

Please share your thoughts about this post in the “reply” or “comments” section below. To ask Peggy a question please go to the “Q & A” page of this blog.