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Handmade rugs making - a Step by Step guide
This is a quick guide that explains the steps in producing a handmade oriental rug (knotted carpet).
Good quality handmade carpets are stil made in the same way as they were hundreds of years ago. The steps for manufacturing a good quality hand-knotted oriental rug:
• Step 1. Procurement of the wool
• Step 2. Hand spinning of the wool
• Step 3. Dyeing the wool with natural colours
• Step 4. Preparing the loom & the warp
• Step 5. Knotting the rug
• Step 6. Cut the rug from the loom and cut uniformly the pile
• Step 7. Washing the rug & Drying
The process of rug making starts by shearing the sheep and extracting the natural wool.
Wool straight off a sheep must be cleaned and scoured; a process of cleaning the greasy wool. For natural silk rugs, the silk is extracted from silkworms.
Spinning is the process of transforming the wool by twisting the fibres together to form yarn.
Traditionally, fibbers were spun by hand using simple tools, such as the spindle and distaff. Spinning the wool by hand is a noble and long lasting process that makes a big difference in the final "feel" and "touch" of the hand-knotted rug.
An alternative method in spinning the wool consists of using a spinning wheel. This is obviously faster but would produce a second quality rug. If one use machine spun wool, the quality of the rug will be not as good as hand spun wool.
Once the raw wool has been spun to obtain yarn, it will be dyed in various colours needed for that particular rug.
There are 2 possible ways of dyeing the wool:
• Using natural plants, roots, insects
• Using chemical dyes
The traditional way of dyeing wool uses natural plants, flowers, some insects or roots of plants.
Read more about naturally dyeing the wool.
Oriental rugs, Turkish rugs, Persian rugs, Kilims and soumaks are all manufactured on a loom. The loom is usually in wood. Its width depends on the desired width of the rug to be produced.
So for example, if the weaver wants to knot a rug of 2 meter wide, the loom will be slightly wider than 2 meters.
Once the loom is built, the weaver will then tie what will become the warp of the carpet. The warp will be tied strongly as the loom will be used for many months. At this point, the weaver can start knotting the rug.
Knotting the rug is the crucial part where real talent of the weaver will be appreciated.
The finer and more homogeneous the knots are, the higher quality the rug will be. Obviously, the finer the knots are, the more time it will take to finish the rug.
A rug may take from 1 month up to 4 years to knot, depending on its size but mostly on the number of knots per square inch.
Knots are similar to pixels in a screen. The more you have knots per square inch (or square meter), the higher the precision of the design becomes.
Turkish rugs have a gordes knot - also known as double knot - where Persian rugs use a single knot. Double knots take more time to knot and are known to be stronger.
Once the rug is finished it will be cut from the loom. The pile will then be trimmed using special scissors in order to have a homogeneous length of pile.
Over the months of knotting, the wool used got dirty. Furthermore, as the rug was always attached to the loom, it tends to be hard. The final step of rug making consists of washing it at least 2 or 3 times in order to wash the wool and get a soft rug ready to be used. Finally, the carpet needs to be dried properly away from the sun light so that the colours can stabilize.