Our Rag Rug Materials Explained

Here at Ragged Life, we love nothing more than saving fabrics from going to landfill. That’s why, over the years, the number of rag rug materials that we stock on our Online Shop has got larger and larger. You should see the fabric mountain that is our studio!!!

In this blog post, we wanted to give an overview of all the various rag rug materials that we stock on the Ragged Life Shop, with some of their key characteristics and examples of how they look when rag rugged.

We sometimes have more in-depth blog posts available like this one on our Ragged Life Blanket Yarn or you can find more details on the individual product listings on the Ragged Life Online Shop, but either way, we hope you find our overview below useful!

Ragged Life Blanket Yarn:

What is blanket yarn?

Our cosy blanket yarn is the 100% wool offcuts from blanket and scarf production in the Yorkshire mills. During the finishing process, a selvedge edge is cut off the blankets and scarves. These warm and woolly strips would normally be sold off as waste product for pulping into insulation, but not on our watch 😉

This “blanket yarn”, as we call it, comes in long strips which makes it perfect for the loopy technique of rag rugging but also saves time for shaggy and short shaggy rag rugs too.

We get such variety of yarns from the mills. Everything from lovely lambswool to cosy cashmere. What all the blanket yarns have in common is that they are super soft and thick, so the coverage is brilliant. This means you see your creation come together in no time. The best part of blanket yarn is that they come in a wide array of beautiful colours and patterns. Every time we pick up a new batch, we feel like we’ve just come back from Santa’s grotto.

Ragged Life Rag Rug Materials, including Woollen Blanket Offcuts for Rug Making and Extreme Knitting
The blanket yarns come in all colours and patterns

Is blanket yarn best for a particular rag rug technique?

You can use blanket yarn for all the traditional British techniques of rag rug making (shaggy, short shaggy and loopy), as well as peg loom weaving, locker hooking, twining and ribbon weaving. Other clever crafters even use it for extreme knitting, crochet, edging and much more. The only technique we’ve tried that it doesn’t lend itself to is coiled rope rag rugs. Its thickness, and therefore bulkiness, when wrapped around cord makes it harder to get under your sewing machine foot.

Tips on usage:

In the shaggy, short shaggy and loopy techniques of rag rugging, we recommend cutting the blanket yarns in half lengthways to make them easier to pull through the holes of the hessian. You will also need to rag rug slightly further apart than normal to compensate for the thickness. The plus side of this is that it it means that your hessian takes a lot less time to fill.

In terms of rag rug materials, blanket yarn feels soft and cosy regardless of what technique you use.

As blanket yarn is a recycled material, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to match colours if you run out. It’s therefore better to build your designs by mixing a few shades together from the beginning e.g. use three balls of different greens rather than three balls of the same green, or build up the design symmetrically so changes in colour become part of the design. Our 1kg Lucky Dip Blanket Yarn Packs are a good way to blend lots of individual shades together.

As with other rag rug materials, patterned blanket yarns look more dappled when rag rugged and can create their own new pattern, particularly in the loopy technique. Plain colours stand out strong and create distinct bands of colour.

Remember, you don’t have to rag rug a project completely in blanket yarn. You could buy one or two balls to supplement the fabrics you have at home. A little blanket yarn can add thickness and body to a design.

How is it sold?

We buy our blanket yarn from the mill in huge bales and then the Ragged Life team lovingly wind it up into 250g balls ready to be photographed and put onto the online shop. We never know what we’re going to get, sometimes we get repeats but there are also one-offs, which we’ll never see again.

After balling up, we are left with smaller balls which we pull together in our Lucky Dip Pack. This consists of a minimum of 10 small balls of mixed plain and patterned blanket yarn, weighing a combined 1kg+ in weight. With this bundle, you can fully experience the range of our wonderful blanket yarn treasure trove.

Buy 250g balls of Ragged Life 100% Wool Blanket Yarn on the Ragged Life Online Shop here. Or, for more information and photos of our blanket yarn, check out our full blog post here.

How much do I need?

As with any rag rug project, it is hard to calculate how much yarn you will need, but to fill our Medium Sized Rug hessian (100 x 60cm) in the shaggy technique you will need eight 250g balls (two 1kg lucky dip packs), or four 250g balls (one lucky dip pack) to fill it in the loopy technique.

Sari Silk Ribbon:

What is it?

Sari silk ribbon is a long strip of recycled sari silk material. It is generally either the offcuts from full saris that are left over during manufacturing or salvaged remnants of old saris that are no longer fit to wear. These strips are sewn or tied together to make beautiful and colourful “ribbons” of woven silk.

Ragged Life recycled sari silk ribbon skeins arranged in rainbow order in pink, blue, green, cream, grey and duck egg blue.
Skeins of Ragged Life sari silk ribbon – the perfect rag rug materials

Is sari silk ribbon best for a particular rag rug technique?

When you search for sari silk ribbon, you’ll find plenty of ideas of how it can be used, including, but not limited to knitting, crochet, mixed media art, gift wrapping and jewellery making. However, we mainly use it in our rag rug projects. Here are some of the reasons why it’s so great to work with:

  1. Silk has a beautiful sheen, which adds depth and lustre to any rag rug project. If your project is looking slightly flat then even a small amount of sari silk ribbon will help to elevate it.
  2. Sari silk ribbon comes in pre-cut strips. These tend to be the perfect width to loopy rag rug and short shaggy rag rug with, reducing the time taken to prep your fabric.
  3. Sari silk ribbon is super soft. It feels amazing in a cushion or rug.
  4. If you run out of a certain colour, we can get more of it. This means you won’t have to change your design part way through a project.

In terms of rag rug techniques, we’ve used our Ragged Life Sari Silk Ribbon for the shaggy, short shaggy and loopy techniques, as well as twining, peg loom weaving, coiled rope rag rugs and locker hooking. It really is very versatile and comes in beautiful vibrant or subtle shades.

Tips on usage:

Depending on how the sari silk ribbon is made, sometimes it has a frayed edge from tearing, and sometimes it appears more finished. Both sorts of ribbon look great and have their place in rag rugs. Rag rugs are all about texture after all!

As our Ragged Life sari silk ribbon is made up of woven silk lengths, which have been sewn or hand tied together, sometimes there are small knots or bumps in the fabric which are harder to pull through the hessian. If you are struggling to pull anything through the holes of the hessian then we recommend cutting it out.

As sari silk ribbon is one of the lighter-weight rag rug materials, it works particularly great for pictorial or design led pieces. Sari silk is fine, so you can fit more loops into an area, which means you can build in more detail if you would like to. It pulls through very smoothly in the short shaggy technique too.

In the shaggy technique, if your weave of hessian is particularly loose, we recommend doubling up two strands of sari silk into one hole of the hessian to ground it in there securely. When locker hooking, sometimes we double up strands as well to give better coverage of the rug canvas.

As sari silk has a glossy sheen, it gives whatever you are making a more luxurious and professional look. That’s why we particularly recommend it for adding interest to pieces.

You don’t have to rag rug a project just in sari silk ribbon. You can buy one or two individual skeins to fill in gaps of colours you are missing in a design. Often the more textures in a project, the more interesting it looks!

How is it sold?

You can buy our sari silk ribbons individually in 100g skeins (plaits), giving you the opportunity to really mix up your colour palette and get creative, or in pre-selected groupings of five skeins (each 100g), if you prefer us to do some of the design work for you. 

Ragged Life recycled sari silk ribbons in 100g skeins
Buy our sari silk ribbons in 100g individual skeins or in colour groupings of five

How much do I need?

Calculating how far your fabric will go is never easy, but after having done a bit of experimentation, we’ve worked out that it takes three 100g sari silk ribbon skeins to fill one of our 40 x 40cm cushion hessians in the loopy technique and four skeins to fill the same area in the shaggy technique.

If you are caught short (not in that way!), don’t worry as you always buy more of the same shade to continue your project.

Chenille Yarn

What is it?

Sometimes when we go to the mill, we come back with beautiful chenille yarn, which we’re simply unable to resist. It is mostly cotton, as opposed to wool, and has vibrant stitching and an interesting fringe and texture.

Balls of chenille yarn with stitching. Strips for rag rugging.

Is chenille yarn best for a particular technique?

When you cut chenille, it ravels (falls apart) more than our blanket yarns, so it isn’t really suitable for the shaggy or short shaggy techniques, which require a lot of horizontal cuts. It creates too much mess! However, this rag rug material looks great loopy rag rugged, particularly in a cushion, like below (where it is mixed with bits of blanket yarn).

We haven’t yet tried the chenille yarn with any of the new rag rug techniques from our latest book “Rag Rug Techniques for Beginners”, but we suspect it would work well for peg loom weaving and locker hooking.

Tips on usage:

Like our 100% Wool Blanket Yarn, our chenille yarn is best cut in half lengthways to loopy rag rug with. It just makes it a little easier to pull through the holes of the hessian. The chenille will shed a little, but once it is in the hessian, it will stop and will only give a slightly frayed look instead.

We particularly like to mix chenille in with other materials as it helps it shine when sat next to more basic materials, such as t-shirt material.

How is it sold?

You can buy 250g balls of chenille yarn for £7 each on the Ragged Life Shop here. We’ve individually listed the different colours, so you can be more bespoke in the shades you choose.

How much do I need?

The coverage is very similar to the blanket yarn, so it would take approx four balls to fill our 100 x 60cm medium size rug hessian in the loopy technique.

Mohair:

What is it?

Mohair is a yarn made from the hair of the Angora goat. It is durable and resilient and has a lustre and sheen like few other materials. It feels warm in winter being nice, woolly and thick, but also cool in summer.

It almost feels like sacrilege to use mohair to make rag rugs, but the mohair that we use is waste material from the Yorkshire mills, so it’s just posh recycling. Sometimes when collect mohair from the mills, it comes in long strips, which we ball up into 250g balls. Other times, we come back with mohair scraps or large pieces. It just depends on what they have.

Balls of mohair strips for crafting
Sometimes the mohair comes in balls, sometimes scraps and sometimes larger pieces.

Is mohair best for a particular technique?

We’ve used mohair strips for peg loom weaving and loopy rag rugging, but the sky’s the limit in terms of what it can be used for, particularly if you sew the lengths together (which doesn’t have to be particularly neat). 

How does it look?

Like our blanket yarn, these mohair strips are 100% wool and exceptionally soft and fluffy. I used it for one of the peg loom projects in the new book and it created the softest rug in existence. It does generate a fair bit of fluff while you’re working with it, but it’s worth it for the cushy rug it creates.

How is it sold?

At the moment, we have a few 250g balls, which are made up of approx 1m strips of beautiful woven mohair, listed in the “One-off Wonders” section of the Ragged Life online shop. However, keep your eyes peeled for mohair pieces and scrap bundles coming soon…

Blanket Pieces

What is it?

These are large and small offcuts from the same blankets we get our yarn from. These blanket pieces range in size, sometimes enough to upholster a whole chair, and sometimes only enough for a few squares of a patchwork. All the blanket pieces are 100% Wool and comes from the British mills. Some even come with the fringe edge of the blanket still in tact.

pile of pink, orange and colourful rag rug materials

Are the blanket pieces best for a particular technique?

Anything you want! We have known people make them into scarfs, small blankets, lining for coats, cushion covers and the like… If you are a creative person you will absolutely find a use for them.

Personally, we’ve used them to back cushions (see below) and if we need the colour, we sometimes cut the smaller pieces up to do the shaggy, short shaggy and loopy techniques of rag rugging.

The blanket fringe

How does it look?

The wool is such high quality that you can make anything feel amazing. It’s soft and cuddly, squishy and warm. The choices are endless, honestly. As with any craft, colour is key, so choose colours you like and you can’t go wrong.

How is it sold?

We sell these pieces by the gram. So each piece is weighed and priced individually. You can find a selection of these blanket pieces for sale in the “One-off Wonders” section of the Ragged Life Online Shop. If you would like to know the measurement of a specific piece then get in touch and we’ll do our best to help out.

Thanks for reading!

Right, that was a summary of the rag rug materials that we currently stock at Ragged Life. If we haven’t covered anything in this blog post then you can always ask us by emailing hello(at)raggedlife.com. And as usual, if you’d like more inspiration, stay tuned to the Ragged Life Newsletter for more mindful streams of consciousness or comment below to let me know what you thought.

Big love,

Elspeth x

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