Things You'll Need:
- Long fabric strips or ribbon
- Safety pin
- Weaving tool
Use cotton or wool fabric, if possible.
- Do not use stretch fabrics. This will make your knots uneven, causing your rug to buckle.
Tying Amish knots is a fairly simple crafting technique that results in beautiful and useful rag rugs. The Amish knot rug, also called a toothbrush rug, uses castoff sheets, clothing, curtains – any type of fabric that can be torn into long strips. An over-and-under weaving technique known as the Amish knot is used to fashion the strips into a colorful, durable piece. The rug can be a small circular doormat or a full-room carpet, depending on the amount of fabric and time you invest.
Tear fabric into long strips at least 2 feet long and about 1 or 2 inches wide. You can also use thick yarn or ribbon, but fabric is preferred.
Create a weaving tool by cutting off the head of a toothbrush, filing that end to a blunt point and drilling a hole in the opposite end. Weaving tools can be purchased or can be created in other ways as well, according to Needlepointers.com – by bending heavy wire, such as a coat hanger, into a whisk shape and taping off the non-looped end, for instance. Crochet hooks can be used, as can giant leather needles.
Gather all of the tools, fabric and supplies together in one place so everything is available when you begin knotting.
Beginning the Rug
Take two long strips of fabric. Fold about 1 inch of one end over and, using your scissors, snip a half-inch slit in the fabric close to the end, keeping the end intact. Repeat this step on the opposite end and both ends of the other strip of fabric.
Weave one end of the fabric through the slit on another piece of fabric, then bring the tail of the piece you are weaving through the slit in its own end, creating a knot.
Pull fairly hard on the knot to make it tight and small. The knot will disappear into the rug once it is weaved. This technique will be used whenever you reach the end of a piece of fabric and need to attach another.
The Starter Knot
Pin the two knotted strips to a sturdy piece of fabric using a safety pin. A bedspread, the arm of an old upholstered chair or couch or a heavy quilt work well. The safety pin should be at the knotted end.
Pull the unknotted end of one of the pieces through your weaving tool and secure with a knot or tape so it doesn’t pull away.
Stretch out both pieces of fabric flat against the surface on which you are weaving.
Take the piece with the weaving tool and cross over the other piece. Tuck under the piece and come back up through the loop that was created when you crossed the two. Create a loose knot. Do not pull the knot tight, as you will need to weave fabric through it later.
Repeat this process until you have about four loose knots side by side. Do not be concerned about how it looks at this point. It will all come together.
Making the Amish Knot
Take the fabric and backtrack it on itself, laying the strips beside the knots you just made, going the opposite direction. You might want to put a safety pin at this end temporarily.
Take the strip that has the weaving tool and cross it over the straight strand and hover over the strip of knots. Poke the weaving tool into the last knot hole you made, then bring the tool up into the loop you created by crossing over the original strip. Create a loose knot as you will need to poke the tool through it on the next pass. You have just made your first Amish knot.
Continue up the row of knots, poking through the next knot, looping under the straight strip and up through the loop.
Release the safety pin when you get to the end and backtrack the fabric on itself again on the opposite side of the knots, going the opposite direction.
Repeat the process, going around in a circle around the rows of knots you are creating. Do not be concerned if the first few rows look bad. As you continue around, the piece will flatten out, and your creative efforts will be noticeable.
Finishing the Amish Knot Rug
Continue the knotting process until you run out of fabric. Attach the next piece in the same manner used to start the first two knotted pieces.
Knot fabric strips over and over again until the rug is the size you want.
Make the last knot, pulling it tight this time.
Make an additional knot at the same place, also pulling it tight.
Cut the fabric tight against the last knot.
Elizabeth Ireland began writing professionally in 1997 as a reporter and columnist with the "Lancaster (Pa.) Sunday News." She now serves as the marketing and communications manager for Elizabethtown College, where she earned an associate degree in corporate communication. Ireland also covers rock climbing, cycling, the outdoors, home remodeling, relationships, cooking, higher education, fitness and the environment.