Friday, July 17, 2009

How Area Rugs are Made Part 1

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The construction of area rugs all comes down to two areas: man versus machine. If area rugs are indeed a flooring solution for the way you live, any rug you choose will be constructed by either human hands or factory machines.

And while modern technology enables us to mass produce area rugs in a wide spectrum of design, color and sizes, there are differences between machine made and handmade rugs. Differences you should be aware of.

Machine made rugs are less expensive and are not considered long term.

With factory made rugs you’ll have flexibility and variety; you can find the same design, or one close to it, in different sizes and different colors from different manufacturers.

Handmade (also called hand knotted) rugs are custom made, one-of-a-kind designs that incorporate creative (often brilliant) uses of color.
Plus, handmade rugs are often created with natural dyes that provide longevity to the colors. These rugs offer you built-in lasting power.

The bottom line is the bottom line. Handmade rugs are investments (often very valuable investments) that last a lifetime and then some.


Three elements tie any handmade rug together: weave, knot and dyes.


1. Weave
Weave refers to the technique used in making handmade rugs.
There are three major techniques: pile weave, flat weave and hand-tufted.

Pile Weave: knots to you.
Pile weave or knotted weave refers to the method of weaving used in most rugs.


In this technique the rug is woven by a creation of knots.
A short piece of yarn is tied around two neighboring warp strands creating a knot on the surface of the rug.

After each row of knots is created, one or more strands of weft are passed through a complete set of warp strands.

Then the knots and the weft strands are beaten with a comb securing the knots in place.

Even though all pile rugs are woven with knots, different weaving groups use different types of knots.

The weaving process begins at the bottom of the loom and moves upward as the horizontal rows of knots and wefts are added.


Every single knot is tied by hand. A rug can consist of 25 to over 1000 knots per square inch.


A skillful weaver is able to tie a knot in about ten seconds, meaning 6 knots per minute or 360 knots per hour.

That means it would take a skillful weaver 6,480 hours to weave a 9x12-foot rug with a density of 150 knots per square inch.

If we divide this number by 8-hour working days, it means it would take one weaver 810 days (approximately two and a half years) to weave such a rug. Can you think of a more painstaking job?

However, a rug as large as a 9x12 is usually woven in a workshop or master workshop setting by two or three weavers, so the above time can be reduced by half or third.

But can you imagine the time and labor if the knot density is even higher!
Handmade rugs are beautiful, functional and exceptional works of art created with great patience. And deep pride.


Flat Weave: knotless, yet boundless beauty.
Flat weave refers to a technique of weaving where no knots are used in the weave.


The warp strands are used as the foundation and the weft stands are used as both part of the foundation and in creating the patterns.

The weft strands are simply passed (woven) through the warp strands.
These weavings are called flat weaves since no knots are used in the weaving process and the surface looks flat.

These rugs have a special beauty, quality and personality all their own. Search for one that matches yours.

Hand Tufted: glue, guns and good value.

A hand-tufted rug is created without tying knots into the foundation, but rather by pushing wool or acrylic yarn through a primary backing, creating a “tuft”.
Then, using a latex glue to hold the tufts in place, a rug maker will apply a secondary foundation, or “scrim”, which is then covered by a third and final cloth backing to protect your floor.


The final step involves shearing the tops of the looped tufts to create the pile.

The height of the pile is determined by how much yarn is cut off, and how far the initial loop was pushed up.

Hand-tufted rug makers use a tool called a “tufting gun” which holds the yarn to push through the primary backing that is stretched in place on a frame.

This method of rug making is less time consuming than hand-tying each knot, but still requires a high level of craftsmanship to efficiently and accurately portray the intricate designs.

The design is determined by transferring a pattern onto the primary foundation, this acts as a template showing the craftsman where to push through each colored tuft.

Hand-tufted rugs can be made faster than hand-knotted rugs, therefore they are generally less expensive than their hand-knotted counterparts.

The tufting method creates a highly durable and beautifully accurate handmade rug that will weather foot traffic for years to come.

If traffic is a concern of yours, this may be your weave of choice.
All information is taken from World Floor Covering Association.

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